Senators News: September 19th

-The Sens roster for tonight’s game against Toronto has been released and the lines are: Michalek-Spezza-Ryan, Greening-Zibanejad-Neil, Prince-Pageau-Petersson, Kassian-Grant-Schneider; Karlsson-Methot, Claesson-Wiercioch, Wideman-Phillips; Anderson will get the start, with Lawson playing a period.  The Leafs feature: Raymond-Bolland-Kulemin, Broll-Kadri-Abbott, Van Riemsdyk-Colborne-Clarkson, Devane-McClement-Ashton; Percy-Phaneuf, Gunnarrsson-Marshall, Rielly-Ranger; Bernier gets the start.

Bobby Ryan repeatedly says there are no hard feelings towards former coach Randy Carlyle and that whatever friction once existed was all part of his maturation process.

Nichols transcribes Bryan Murray’s latest interview on The Team 1200 and there isn’t much to take from it save the following comments:

We’ve got a couple young guys that are just starting – they’ve played part of one year or a full year in the American (Hockey) League only – that look like they’re kicking at the door [this presumably applies to Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mark Stone, and Shane Prince]. (Buddy) Robinson looks like he is a candidate. He’ll probably have to start (in the minors) at this point, but he sure looks like a player to me so… There are is a good number of young people here that are going to play games at some point during this year. You want players to have the chance to play in the National Hockey League and it’s not fair to hold people back after you’ve worked with them and they’ve worked really hard within your organization to be recognized and become members. But, because of numbers, you can’t do it for them right now. It would be very hard to lose them, but we’ll try to do what’s right for the organization and then hopefully, if it doesn’t work out for an individual, hopefully get him to a place where he gets a chance to play in the league.

It sounds like an acknowledgement that the logjam at forward will ultimately be resolved by player moves, as well as confirming that Robinson (and likely all of the other names bandied about) will start the year in Binghamton.  Nichols references Murray not getting much back if he has to move a player, the reasoning for which comes from the quote here:

The GM [Murray] said he’d look to trade these guys for a ‘soft pick’ and look for teams that may have injuries, or where they may address a need

Travis Yost (the link above) speculates the most likely candidate to be moved is Stephane Da Costa and I have to agree.  He was a late signee and Binghamton is brimming over with forwards.  I’m not sure how much value he has as trade bait, but definitely more than the other waiver-eligible players on the roster.

Travis talks about how much he likes Kyle Turris‘ contract and in the midst of that posits these points which I fully agree with:

This is one or more of: (a) textbook late-bloomer; (b) a player more comfortable in a new, expanded role; (c) a player maybe misused in his previous role; (d) a player who decided to grow-up.

Darryl Dobbs looks at roster battles in the Eastern Conference and hits the nail on the head for Ottawa:

J-G Pageau vs. the numbers game

Brian McGrattan unintentionally explains one of the reasons why enforcers are a dying breed:

I’m always willing, it’s just that there’s not anybody willing to fight me.

If he runs out of dance partners, what will he do?

Ryan Kennedy writes about the non-suspension of Jordan Nolan and gives us this chestnut:

But could he not have at least let up a little bit, still separating Klesla from the puck, but not from the Czech’s senses? I’ll let an expert on the subject weigh in: Raffi Torres

I love that that’s who Ryan turned too–the guy with every reason in the world to tell people no one has any choice when it comes to making hits (it’s a great example of confirmation bias, cf Mark Parisi yesterday).  There’s no point in browbeating Kennedy on the subject, but it’s worth bringing up his sentiment because it’s so common in hockey media.  The way to get hits like this out of the game is to suspend them heavily–they will disappear overnight.

-Elmira news: they’ve signed defenseman Dylan Quaile, who played for them briefly last year after finishing his CIS career; they also signed Alexandre Carrier, a QMJHL tough guy who spent last season in Trenton (after a year of pummeling players in tier-2 Austria).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: September 18th

-Ottawa defeated Calgary 4-2 in a pre-season game no one saw.  I’m not sure why the marketing geniuses that work for Ottawa, Calgary, and the NHL can’t figure out that it’s worthwhile to show the games (even if only by streaming it online).  Alas!  Prospects scored all the goals for the Sens (Buddy Robinson is working on his Brandon Bochenski award) and Michael Sdao had to fight twice after delivering a big hit–not that anyone has seen either the hit or the fights.

-The Sens had their first cuts at camp, sending Chris Driedger, Francois Brassard, Ben Harpur, and Vincent Dunn back to junior; there’s nothing surprising about the moves.

-Speaking of junior age prospects, Curtis Lazar signed his ELC.

-A number of stories have appeared discussing which Sens prospects are not waiver exempt (Cory Conacher, Eric Gryba, Mike Hoffman, Stephane Da Costa, and David Dziurzynski), wondering how it will impact roster decisions.  I think the simple answer is not much, at least to start the season.  The Sens have a bloated NHL roster which I think already includes Conacher and Gryba; the other three players will sail through to Binghamton along with dozens of other players.  The threat of a waiver claim is much larger during the season and that could impact call-ups, but that’s about the only impact I foresee.

Mark Parisi writes an interesting piece about how fans scapegoat players, but includes a defence of Matt Kassian which doesn’t make a lot of sense.  It’s too bad, because Mark’s general point about how fans indulge in confirmation bias when looking at players is spot on.  Unfortunately, Kassian doesn’t fit the criteria.  Kassian does one thing: he fights–that’s all he brings to the table.  Most people who object to Kassian do so under the belief that his skill set doesn’t belong in the NHL and his roster spot is better used–which is an entirely different kind of criticism.  Even in the context of enforcers he’s not really established (Minnesota buried him in the AHL for the bulk of his five and a half seasons there).  Part of me wonders if Parisi simply picked Kassian to provoke a reaction.  I wish he’d picked someone like Chris Phillips who, despite incredibly positive coverage in the media, is often a lightning rod for criticism among the fanbase.

Amelia L writes an excellent piece about Bryan Murray (perhaps spurred on by Jeremy Milks‘ blog a few days ago), looking at his time with Ottawa and his background (although I don’t see the link between his handling of Paul Kariya/Paul Coffey/etc and Daniel Alfredsson‘s departure–none of the other moves involved murky finances).

Peter Morrow joins the endless list of would-be Hockey’s Future writers attempting to cover the Sens (replacing, I presume, Jason Menard).  He gives us the updated list of the Sens top-20 prospects according to HF:

1. Mika Zibanejad
2. Robin Lehner
3. Curtis Lazar
4. Cory Conacher
5. Cody Ceci
6. Patrick Wiercioch
7. Mark Borowiecki
8. Jean-Gabriel Pageau
9. Matt Puempel
10. Chris Driedger
11. Mark Stone
12. Shane Prince
13. Mike Hoffman
14. Fredrik Claesson
15. Stephane Da Costa
16. Derek Grant
17. Marcus Hogberg
18. Andre Petersson
19. Mikael Wikstrand
20. Vincent Dunn

I won’t get picky about the order of the players here, but there’s one comment I’ll address: Peter suggests Borowiecki could wind up in the lineup, but without a trade I don’t see that happening this season (presumably he’d be replacing Gryba).

-Here’s my updated look at post-lockout AHL Success Stories.

ESPN continues “expert” rankings, this time looking at forwards: Jason Spezza clocks in at #33, Kyle Turris #68, Milan Michalek #71, and Mika Zibanejad #94.  Yes folks, there’s no Bobby Ryan (but Chris Kunitz is #44!).

-Some Elmira news: the Jackals signed CIS grad Justin Gova; the winger spent five seasons at Guelph where he was a very productive player.  The Jackals now have ten players signed along with three on PTOs.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

AHL Success Stories

Continuing my updates of undrafted success stories (post the 04/05 lockout), here are the players who made their way from being AHL professionals into the NHL.  The way I’ve separated out minor league pros from other undrafted players is the time they spent in the minors; logging either 200+ minor league games or at least spending three full seasons before seeing action at the NHL level (this is by necessity arbitrary, but seems like a reasonable way of making the macro decision on players en route to the highest level).

2005 (6)
Matt Carkner
(D) 184 NHL games
Spent an eternity in the AHL (246 games) before getting his shot; now a regular in the midst of a three-year deal with the Islanders
Keith Aucoin (C/RW) 143 NHL games
Played 310 minor league games (including the UHL and ECHL) before getting his shot with Carolina; he signed a one year, one-way deal with St. Louis
Jeff Hoggan
(W) 107 NHL games
Played 189 games (three seasons) in the AHL before getting his shot; he’s now retired
Mike Glumac (RW) 40 NHL
NCAA grad played 196 minor league games (ECHL included) over three seasons before seeing spot duty with St. Louis; after three years in Germany he’s playing in the KHL
Mark Cullen (C/LW) 38 NHL games
College grad played 189 AHL games through three seasons before getting the call; entering his second season in Austria
Rob Collins (C/RW) 8 NHL games
Played 231 AHL games before getting his shot with the Islanders; spent seven years in Germany before joining Brampton in the CHL
2006 (1)
Jesse Schultz (RW) 2 NHL games
Undrafted WHLer played 204 games in the minors before Vancouver gave him a shot; he’s begun his fourth season in the CHL
2008 (1)
Jared Ross (C/LW) 13 NHL games
208 games in the minors (including the UHL and ECHL) before getting a cup of coffee with Philadelphia; in his third season in Germany
2009 (2)
Maxim Noreau (D) 6 NHL games
QMJHLer played 205 games in the minors before getting the call; in his third season in Switzerland
Charles Linglet (LW) 5 NHL games
Undrafted QMJHLer played 331 AHL games before getting his cup of coffee with Edmonton.  He’s entering his fourth season in the KHL
2010 (2)
Andrew Desjardins (C/LW) 135 NHL games
Played 223 games in the minors before establishing himself with San Jose; signed a two-year, one-way deal with the Sharks
Stephen Gionta (C/W) 13 NHL games
Played 258 AHL games before seeing action; in the second year of a deal with Jersey which is two-way this season
2011 (4)
Pierre-Cedric Labrie (LW) 33 NHL games
QMJHLer played 255 minor league games before Tampa called him up; on a one-year, one-way deal with the Lightning
Mike Angelidis (C/LW) 7 NHL games
Played 339 games in the minors before getting his cup of coffee with Tampa; on a one-year, two-way with the Lightning
Bracken Kearns (C) 5 NHL games
CIS grad played over 400 minor league games before getting a call-up from Florida; he’s in the last year of a two-way deal with San Jose
Greg Rallo (C) 1 NHL game
Played over 300 AHL games before getting his one call-up with Florida; he remains with the Panthers organisation on a two-way deal
2012 (3)
Mike Kostka (D) 35 NHL games
College grad played 307 AHL games before seeing action with Toronto; on a two-way contract with Chicago
Steve Pinizzotto (RW) 12 NHL games
NCAA grad played over 260 games in the minors before the Canucks gave him a shot; now on a two-way deal with Florida
Matt Anderson (RW/C) 2 games
Played 312 minor league games before getting a call-up from Jersey; now in the KHL

That’s only 19 players over eight years (nearly a third of whom appeared in the aftermath of the lockout), which is the smallest group of undrafted players to reach the NHL outside the CIS.  Among these players only four are regular NHLers and all of them are of the depth, support variety.  While the road through the AHL to the NHL exists there are no diamonds in the rough above, just hard-working support players who eek out their existence on the margins of the league.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: September 16th

-As expected, Jared Cowen re-signed with Sens, inking a four-year deal with a 3.1 cap hit.  It’s a reasonable deal for both sides (I agree with Travis Yost that the money is largely based on projection rather than his body of work) and suits the Sens internal budget as his numbers essentially replace Chris Phillips’ once the Big Rig is gone.

-I missed yesterday’s pre-season game against Winnipeg (a 3-1 win for Ottawa; here are The Raaymaker‘s thoughts along with a few comments from Yost), but caught some of the post-game on The Team 1200 and was struck by a line Paul MacLean gave that Yost wound up Tweeting afterwards:

Smith and Condra very good .. Kassian didn’t hurt us at all

That’s the bar for Kassian–not that he helped the team, not that he was an asset, simply that he didn’t hurt the team.  That, folks, is the essence of a modern enforcer in today’s NHL.

Don Brennan adds to the off-season story of Andre Petersson (previous material is here) via Bryan Murray:

He [Petersson] indicated to me that watching the call-ups that came up and got a chance to play important roles here (last year) was a big message to him. “(He said) ‘I just want a chance to do that, too.” I said to him, injuries and your performance have really not allowed us to benefit from drafting you. He told me that he was going to do everything in his power to get ready for this year, come to camp and show us that he was a player. And he’s done that, for the most part. The other question I had was, what happens if you don’t make the team. Are you going to sulk? Are you going to go down there and complain about not getting a chance? He said ‘absolutely not.’ Whatever decision is made at the time, he will live with. but he wants to prove to us that he’s legitimate, and going to be an NHL player down the road. And he looks like an NHL player, there’s no doubt about it.

Petersson himself said:

I just want to get off to a good start this season, show my best to the management. I don’t know where I’m at right now. I feel on the ice I’m way better than I was last year, in the beginning. Now I know I can take a hit, and I can skate 100%. I’ll take it from there. I feel this is a new start for me, this year. I feel like I know what I’ve got to do, to be as skilled as I can be.

What’s interesting to me about all this (beyond the obvious) is how quickly management can sour on a player.  He was second on the team in scoring in 11-12 as a rookie and received an NHL call-up that season, but clearly there were some underlying issues that belied the numbers which made it easy for Murray to dismiss him after his injury-shortened year.  I think Petersson‘s main issues going forward are his defensive work and producing consistently–he’ll never be a fourth-line player so has to produce enough to play in the top-nine.

THN has slowly and painfully previewing the entire league and finally reached Ottawa, predicting them to finish third in their division.  Here’s their reasoning:

Despite serious injuries to cornerstone players Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek, the Senators surprised much of the hockey world last season with a stellar performance. All three of those contributors have pronounced themselves healthy for this year – and they will get to play alongside former Ducks winger Bobby Ryan, Ottawa’s big summertime addition, as well as improving youngsters Kyle Turris and Mika Zibanejad. The Sens also signed former Leafs winger Clarke MacArthur to improve their depth on the wing, especially in the wake of Daniel Alfredsson’s shocking departure for Detroit. But perhaps the biggest reason to like Ottawa’s chances (other than their coach and last season’s Jack Adams winner Paul MacLean) is their quality of goaltending. With veteran Craig Anderson and youngster Robin Lehner patrolling their pipes, the Sens arguably have the best one-two punch in the league and could use one of them in a mid-season trade to improve their fortunes in another area.

The loss of former captain Alfredsson could lead to a leadership and/or emotional void in the Sens’ dressing room, but the bigger concern for Ottawa lies in the health of the stars who missed large amounts of time last season. Of the three, Spezza’s health is most worrisome; he’s missed at least 20 games in three of the past four seasons, is now 30 years old and coming off surgeries to his knee and back. Compounding that issue is the internal salary cap ceiling Sens owner Eugene Melnyk has placed on his franchise. If there’s ever a need for an injury replacement, GM Bryan Murray will be forced to look within the organization. And after the Ryan trade that sent Jacob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen to Anaheim, there’s less depth for him to lean on.

Last year, Ottawa excelled despite the fact all of its key players were hit with the injury bug. Because of this, it’s hard to say if the Sens would still have been a playoff team after 82 games. Surely they couldn’t deal as well with that much bad luck again – and in a different format that provides stiff intra-division competition no less. The big guys have to stay healthy, namely new captain Spezza. If they do, Ottawa could prove itself a force.

There’s not much analysis here (it’s mostly a summary of what’s happened), but THN echoes a common them that the Sens should benefit from coaching (something I think has limited value in terms of wins and losses) and goaltending.  I don’t think Anderson‘s goaltending numbers from last season are sustainable, but the position is a strength.  I put no stock at all in the Sens suffering from an “emotional void” in the absence of Alfredsson, but injuries are a major concern and anyone who thinks that either Spezza or Michalek are going to play full seasons are delusional (each has only managed one in their last four).  I disagree that Ottawa has shed too much depth in acquiring Ryan, but they don’t have a player of Silfverberg‘s caliber to call-up this season.

ESPN ranks goaltenders (via unnamed “experts” grading them from 1 to 10) and Craig Anderson is 7th, behind Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Tuukka Rask, Sergei Bobrovsky (!), Pekka Rinne, and Jimmy Howard.

-Ottawa named Jason Spezza as their new captain.  The captaincy is not something I get worked up about, but it provided a ton of fodder around the blogosphere.

Travis writes a long and engaging look at Marc Methot‘s Corsi numbers in the context of both a conversation with the player and the larger context of the numbers themselves (compared to a team’s overall numbers, his partners, and his matchups).

-Here’s my updated look at CHL and CIS NHL success stories.

JP Nikota does a great job of illustrating how simple stats (time of possession) correlate to Corsi and Fenwick (he’s doing it in a Leafs context, but it’s well worth reading).  He concludes:

it looks as though Fenwick and Corsi numbers mirror TOA so closely that it’s no longer really worth tracking

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

CHL and CIS NHL Success Stories

Continuing my updates of undrafted success stories, here’s a look at players who developed in the CHL (Canadian junior) and the CIS (Canadian Universities) who eventually made their way to the NHL.  As in my other articles I’ve focussed on the post-lockout NHL because of the different parameters in which players are viewed (particularly undersized players).  Any CHL or CIS player who logged 200 or more games in the minors I consider a graduate of those leagues rather than their junior/university background.

CHL (24)
Chad Larose
(W) 508 NHL games
An undersized forward who went undrafted out of the OHL, he played 125 games in the AHL before making the jump to the NHL in 05-06; he remains with Carolina; currently a UFA
Mark Giordano (D) 385 NHL games
OHLer played 144 AHL games before making the permanent jump to the NHL in 06-07; he remains with Calgary
Martin St. Pierre (C/LW) 38 NHL games
OHL grad spent a season in the minors before getting a two-way deal from Chicago and getting his cup of coffee; on a two-way with Montreal this season
Dan Girardi (D) 488 NHL games
Inexplicably not drafted out of the OHL, he played 111 AHL games before making the permanent jump into the NHL in 06-07; he remains with the Rangers
Mike Wall (G) 4 NHL games
The WHL graduate spent most of his career bouncing around the minor leagues, but played 4 games with Anaheim in 06-07; he’s now retired
David Clarkson (RW) 426 NHL games
OHLer played 123 games in the AHL before making a permanent jump to the NHL in 07-08; signed with Toronto in the off-season
Jerome Samson (C/RW) 46 NHL games
QMJHLer played 135 games in the AHL before getting a chance with Carolina; is on a two-way deal with Winnipeg
Brian Lashoff (D) 31 NHL games
OHLer was signed as a free agent by Detroit and after serving time in the AHL earned himself a three-year, one-way deal
Ryan Wilson (D) 199 NHL games
OHL graduate only played 71 AHL games before making the jump to the NHL in 09-10; he remains with Colorado
Michael Haley (C/LW) 52 NHL games
OHLer played 116 minor league games before suiting up for the Islanders; in the final (a one-way) year of his deal with New York
Nick Holden (D) 7 NHL games
WHL grad played 130 AHL games before getting his first taste with Columbus; signed a two-year, two-way deal with Colorado
Brenden Dillon (D) 49 NHL games
WHLer signed an ELC as a FA with Dallas and saw a game in his rookie season; he’s entering the final year of his rookie deal
Brandon Mashinter (LW) 17 NHL games
Signed directly out of the OHL, he played 79 AHL games before getting a look in the NHL; re-signed to a one year, two-way deal with the Rangers
Matt Fraser (LW) 13 NHL games
WHLer was signed by Dallas and got a call-up in his rookie season; traded to Boston and is on a two-way deal
Brandon Manning (D) 10 NHL games
WHLer was signed by Philadelphia and was called-up in his rookie season; signed a one year, two-way deal with the Flyers
Jason Akeson (RW) 1 NHL game
Signed an ELC right out of the OHL, playing 76 AHL games before getting his cup of coffee with Philadelphia; in the final year of his rookie deal
Antoine Roussel (LW/RW) 39 NHL games
Frenchman out of the QMJHL made his way into the Dallas lineup after 146 AHL games; in the second season of his ELC
Tyler Johnson (C/RW) 14 NHL games
WHLer signed an ELC out of junior and played 75 AHL games before hitting the NHL; remains with Tampa in the final year of his rookie deal
Michael Sgarbossa (C) 6 NHL games
OHLer suited up for Colorado in his rookie season
Mark Cundari (D) 4 NHL games
Signed out of junior to an ELC the OHLer played 175 AHL games before getting his audition with Calgary; on a one year, two-way contract with the Flames
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (RW/LW) 2 NHL games
QMJHLer played 76 AHL games before getting a cup of coffee with Columbus; he’s entering his second year of his ELC
Matt Konan (D) 2 NHL games
Signed an ELC out of the WHL; 50 minor league games before getting his games in his rookie season; two more years left on his rookie deal
Carter Bancks (LW) 2 NHL games
WHL grad played 93 AHL games before getting a cup of coffee with Calgary; he’s on a tryout with the Flames this season
Ryan Stanton (D) 1 NHL game
WHLer played 151 AHL games before a call-up from Chicago; signed a two-year deal with Chicago with the second a one-way deal

There’s been a considerable increase in players getting signed out of junior and then suiting up for an NHL team, but with (thus far) only five NHL regulars it doesn’t stand out as any more (or less) than other undrafted routes to the league.  None of the high-profile players here are stars, but the ceiling seems to be pretty high (a surprising fact given how well-scouted the CHL is)–it’s worth noting that the best of these players were picked up very early on (post-lockout) and that may indicate scouting has improved since.

CIS (3)
The least likely route to the NHL (Mathieu Darche would be one that predates this and Bracken Kearns would be included if I was categorizing things differently).
Joel Ward (RW) 353 NHL games
Played 66 AHL games before getting his NHL call-up; became a regular in 08-09
Darryl Boyce (C/LW) 84 NHL games
Debuted with Toronto in his rookie season (07-08), but didn’t start getting regular call-ups until 10-11; split last season between Hamilton and Finland; currently a UFA
Kevin Henderson (LW) 4 NHL games
Played 167 AHL games before making his debut with the Predators; signed a new two-year, two-way contract with Nashville

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: September 13th

Scott considers Cory Conacher‘s place on the roster and believes his high shooting percentage makes him second line material.  I think the sample size (and even the theory) are a little weak, but it’s food for thought.

Travis Yost ponders the potential lineup for the Sens (admitting early guesses are likely going to be off the mark).  Beyond the obvious Michalek-Spezza-Ryan unit, he has Conacher-Turris-MacArthur as the second line (I agree with Travis that Conacher could easily be replaced by another player), Greening-Smith-Neil returning as the third (I wasn’t a big fan of this line last season, but clearly MacLean likes it), and finally Pageau-Zibanejad-Condra (Travis worries about Pageau on the fourth line, but it’s worth remembering that’s where he started in Binghamton last season).  Notably excluded from this lineup is pressbox regulars Matt Kassian and Jim O’Brien.

Bruce Garrioch offers up five players to watch in training camp: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mark Borowiecki, Shane Prince, Cody Ceci, and Mike Hoffman.  These aren’t radical choices, but there are a pair of tidbits worth mentioning: 1) Tim Murray called Prince the “most talented” player at the rookie tournament, 2) Hoffman is waiver-eligible.  The latter makes it very unlikely that he’ll suit up with the roster other than as an injury replacement (not that I thought he would crack the forward lineup anyway given how many one-way contracts Ottawa has at forward).

Jeremy Milks writes an entertaining piece about Bryan Murray’s tenure as GM of the Sens.  The best part are his comments on Eugene Melnyk:

Contrast that with Murray’s more volatile boss, owner Eugene Melnyk, who not only conducts himself much differently in public and elicits direct anger from the fans, but is arguably Bryan Murray’s biggest headache these days.  The latest in an increasing number of very public fiascos was Melnyk going on Toronto sports radio yesterday (as he always does, virtually ignoring the local Team 1200 in the process) and attacking Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and deputy mayor Steve Desroches for a perceived unfairness in the casino process. He’s claiming losses of close to a $100 million dollars the past decade and doesn’t know how the team will “survive”. Coincidentally, his President Cyril Leeder abruptly resigned from every city board he could think of, which is very unlike Leeder, who is well-known for his commitment to the community. There are also hints the Senators won’t be involved civically in the future (outside of charities) unless Watson and his fellow martians start playing ball with the team.  Before that it was a potpourri of ugliness, from forensic investigations into Matt Cooke’s skate slicing of Erik Karlsson, a public battle over bonus money with former star Dany Heatley, unproven allegations of shaky finances, a drastically reduced team budget and the Alfredsson affair which turned sour after a promise of fair money to the franchise icon was broken by the organization, at least according to Alfie himself.  Melnyk granted the Ottawa Citizen an interview and, in my view, disparaged the character of the city’s favourite adopted son in a see-through pre-emptive strike before Alfredsson’s first local news conference. Melnyk was still angry and defiant an entire month later, which seems to be his most defining characteristic lately. Meanwhile, Melnyk is out there spitting venom. Let’s be honest here. We’re all just waiting for him to mutter the familiar words “move the team” any day now, aren’t we?

-Some Elmira bookkeeping: Andrew Rowe was signed by Hartford (AHL), while the team re-signed Matt Carter and invited three players from their Pro Placement Camp to the main camp: defenseman Scott Morongell (ACHA grad), forward Brett Leonard (spent last season in the FHL), and goaltender Mike McDonald (a tier-2 NCAA grad).  I wouldn’t expect much from the invitees (as a look at last year’s training camp roster illustrates).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News: September 11th

-Sens training camp is underway and there are no real surprises in the roster other than the appearance of Scott Greenham (who played with Bakersfield in the ECHL last season along with a cup of coffee in Binghamton; he also attended the Sens rookie camp awhile back).

Nichols peaks behind ESPN’s paywall to take a look at Corey Pronman’s top-100 prospects.  The following Sens made his list: Cody Ceci (#65), Robin Lehner (#92), and Mark Stone (#99).  Nichols tries to provide explanations for the rankings, which suggests Pronman does not.  I have mixed feelings about Pronman’s analysis, but it’s good enough to be considered if nothing else.

Jeff Ulmer tries to look ahead at the Binghamton Senators, but he seems a bit behind on Bingo news; he thinks Andre Petersson might not report (Petersson made an impassioned plea to stay), he missed Marc Cheverie signing with the Colorado Eagles (ECHL), speculates that Daniel New will be with the team (we know he’s signed to an AHL-deal), doesn’t know Danny Hobbs is signed, and he thinks Jack Downing will be there (he is attending Boston‘s training camp).  Regardless, it’s a good effort from Jeff and hopefully he’ll continue to provide Binghamton news (I posted my early look at Binghamton over a month ago and nothing has changed enough for an update to it yet).

-It’s clear Eugene Melnyk can’t keep his mouth shut, however much that would help his cause.  He hit the radio to rant about his casino dreams and Nichols provides us all with the transcription (without commentary, which I believe is a first from him).  Here’s a great sense of Melnyk’s inability to put his thoughts together:

Well, the Canadian Tire Centre is the arena – which it was renamed. It used to be called Scotiabank and we renamed it the Canadian Tire Centre. A sign just went up. It looks gorgeous and we’ve got about 80 acres of land there. There was supposed to be… So for seven years, going back to the (Dalton) McGuinty days, I came in and said, ‘You know, if there’s going to a chance, I’d love to build a casino out there (near Scotiabank Place),’ because if you go across the (Ottawa) River from downtown Ottawa maybe fifteen minutes and you’re at Lac Leamy – which is a nice casino. And (McGuinty) said himself, he said, ’90-percent of the (license) plates are (from) Ontario and all the problems come back to our province and (Quebec) gets all of the cash, so we’re very open to this.’ So we started working on a plan and then all a sudden the OLG gets involved and everybody else gets involved and says, ‘This is going to be a big, master plan.’ So, you know, we’re ready. I’ve got casino operators. I’m really a land operator; I’ve got about 80 acres of land around Kanata and the City is growing that way. It’s growing west, west, west. And it’s like Mississauga was 30 years ago. Then, all of a sudden, these guys come out and it was hilarious. People submitted… The OLG, and this is where there is a lot of bull going around… The OLG went to everybody and said, ‘Okay guys, tell us where you don’t want a casino because we’ve got all these submissions and we don’t want to spend hundreds of hours on looking at submissions when you guys aren’t going to approve a casino in this area – like next to a national monument or something.’ So Kingston comes in and they’ve got this little, tiny square in the middle of the town and said, ‘Look, that is the only place that we don’t really want.’ Then you go to Ottawa and (the City) has blacked out the whole city other than (Rideau Carleton Raceway). And I said, ‘You can’t do that – that’s called sole-sourcing.’ It’s illegal, for one. You can’t do it and they go ahead and they try to do it.

Incoherent doesn’t come close to describing this rambling.  The above can be summed up in one sentence: “I planned on having a casino and thought I would get it–that didn’t happen and I’m pissed.”  Regardless, there’s plenty more from the Eug, who complains that there was no bidding process and rants about the mayor not allowing him to compete for it.

No, not me; they owe everybody. Like I said, I don’t care if I win, lose or draw, just do it right. Do a competition

Irrespective of the casino process itself, anyone who thinks Melnyk doesn’t care if he wins needs their head examined.  Here’s a better reflection of what he really thinks:

Bring CFL football back to Ottawa (for) a third time and they gave a $400 million gift of land to a group of insiders there

The Eug would very much like that kind of deal.  As I said awhile ago if Melnyk was still in great financial shape he could have applied real pressure to the political process to help strong-arm himself either the casino or his MLS franchise, but without the money to grease the political process he’s left to whine and complain.  Varada does a great job at taking a serious look at what having a casino means to the city as well as Eugene’s other statements (I highly recommend reading it, not just for the article itself, but for comments from Travis Yost and Michael Slavitch on the minutia of procurement works in government).

-A shoutout to Daniel Wagner for linking my ECHL success stories blog–he writes an engaging story about Sacha Guimond‘s efforts in cracking the Canucks lineup.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)