Senators News: October 1st

-It has been a day since the Mika Zibanejad decision was made and opinions and arguments proliferate.  For me, it’s not the end of the world for either the player or the team, but it’s sad that finances played any part in that decision (something very poorly disguised since Melnyk can’t keep his mouth shut).  For Binghamton fans I say rush out and enjoy Zbad while you can–he won’t be there long.  Nichols sums up the hockey side of the decision:

I’m all for sending guys messages, but it’s worth reminding fans that this is the time of year when asset management plays just as much a part of the decision-making process as a player’s performance in the small sample size known as the NHL preseason. Of the players remaining from last season’s roster, only Kyle Turris (Ottawa’s leading scorer) had more points than Zibanejad’s 20 (7 goals and 13 assists). So it is somewhat interesting to see that 4 or 5 games worth of preseason hockey have undone what Zibanejad did over the course of 42 meaningful NHL games last season. I mean there was very little not to like with Mika‘s rookie campaign. By scoring chances at even-strength he ended the season in dominant fashion. As a 19 year old his points per game stacks up very well against recent history. Even things that were an initial weakness like faceoffs, showed growth, first 21 games last year he won 43%, last 21 games he won 47%. Through the preseason he was winning 57% of his faceoffs.  Furthermore, Zibanejad‘s shot per game rate (3.25) was the third highest in camp — better than Ryan, better than Turris, better than MacArthur.

So performance (which wasn’t questioned during the pre-season until he was sent down) is not really the issue.  Along with the obvious financial savings, Nichols echoes my point that the Sens are trying to manage the asset that is Stephane Da Costa.

Da Costa has done little (4 goals and 7 points in 37 NHL games) to restore faith that he’s going to going to be an NHL player or the second coming of Adam Oates. Now that he’s in the final year of his contract and no longer exempt from waivers, Da Costa showed up in camp 10 lbs heavier than he was last season – thanks to spending the offseason training with his brother Teddy in Poland. I can’t imagine Da Costa doing enough to earn his keep [at the NHL level].

One correction for Nichols: Da Costa signed a one-year contract, so he’s not at the end of the ELC (which he seems to imply here).  I think the ship has sailed for Da Costa–I believe management is aware of it, but they would rather move him for something than have him spend another season in Binghamton taking playing time away from other prospects.  I see the roster move as a last ditch attempt to squeeze some value from the Frenchmen.

Nichols transcribes Bryan Murray’s interview on whatever The Team 1200 is now, but there’s not much to take from it.

-Gary Bettman was talking and both Nichols and Travis Yost had thoughts.  Travis believes Bettman admitted to the NHL having a critical list of troubled teams.  I like how vaguely Bettman speaks:

They [Phoenix, New Jersey, and Florida] were probably never as bad off as was being suggested.

They probably weren’t?  If they weren’t in trouble he would be preaching it from the mountain tops, so clearly they were.  It’s a good illustration of how the commissioner speaks.  Another interesting comment:

We believe that under the system we have, every team should be in a position to afford to be competitive – that is the goal. I suppose in any particular year, a club could have some issues either on the revenue side or the expense side which could cause them not to have the bottom line performance that they want, but overall, the long-term goal is to keep everyone competitive in a way that they can afford to.

To me this admits that Ottawa should be financially sound and that their problems are not derived from the mechanism of the NHL system and rather from ownership issues outside of that.

Hockey’s Future has been counting down it’s top-50 prospects and Robin Lehner clocks in at #34.

Lehner heads into the 2013-14 season having firmly established himself as the Senators goaltender of the future. He will begin the year as the backup to workhorse veteran Craig Anderson, but should see a fair amount of starts of his own. Standing at 6’4 and over 220 pounds, Lehner‘s greatest asset is his size and athleticism, which he has learned to use to his full advantage over the past couple of seasons. He is also very experienced for a 22-year-old, having already played three full seasons at the professional level. Like many talented goaltenders, Lehner‘s own mind can sometimes be his worst enemy. He can get easily agitated, which has affected his game. That said, even if he remains hot-headed throughout his career, he carries himself with enough confidence and has enough skill that it is only a matter of time before he is an NHL starter.

Worsteverything writes about the pre-season saying it was the most over analysed one yet, but I didn’t find the coverage any more exhaustive than previously (in fact, this year featured more complaints from bloggers about the pre-season than I can remember).  He’s right to echo the point that performance in pre-season means nothing going forward (but see above).

-Various predictions are making the rounds and Allan Muir see’s the Sens losing the Cup final.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)