As the Sens season winds down to its disappointing conclusion the organisation has signed a few players to ELC–one expected, one hoped for, and 0ne off the radar:
Goaltender Chris Driedger (3-76/12) has wrapped up his CHL career in Calgary and has signed an ATO to play for Elmira in the ECHL. Driedger established a career high in save percentage (.918, slightly above the .915 from last year) and has a good chance to back up Andrew Hammond in Binghamton next season if (as I suspect) the oft-injured Nathan Lawson goes elsewhere. For an extensive scouting report on the goaltender go here.
The hoped-for signee is Ryan Dzingel (7-204/11); the seventh round pick had another year of NCAA eligibility, but choose to turn pro with an ATO with Binghamton where he’s expected to play. There was nothing left for Dzingel to prove at Ohio State as his numbers have improved in every respect each year (37-22-24-46 this year, leading his team in scoring). Here‘s a scouting report on him.
The surprising player is collegiate free agent Garrett Thompson; the 24-year old Ferris State grad finished his senior year tied for the lead in scoring (43-16-16-32) and has signed an ATO in Binghamton and is expected to play. Thompson was not ranked when he was draft eligible nor was he heavily recruited. Described as a hard-working, meat and potatoes player he doesn’t look like an NHL-caliber player on the surface, but the team wouldn’t sign him to an ELC if they didn’t believe he had that potential, so we’ll have to see what happens.
The addition of two more forwards adds to the glut in Binghamton and we have to assume more roster moves are planned (beyond trading away Andre Petersson and the rights to Jeff Costello), even if purely through attrition (ie, letting contracts expire at season’s end). The Sens also need to make decisions on Francois Brassard and Jarrod Maidens or lose their rights to them (both were 2012 draft picks)–I suspect neither will be signed (I consider signing Mikael Wikstrand a foregone conclusion).
As for the NHL team itself, rumours have surfaced that Paul MacLean’s head might be on the block. MacLean’s player usage, assuming it’s completely his decision, is so perplexing even Travis Yost has no idea what he’s doing:
Chris Phillips, Chris Neil, Zack Smith — are regularly being sent over the boards, rewarded with ice-time when things maybe aren’t going in the team’s favor. Why? I have no discernible idea. I hear often how these guys give an “honest shift”, playing hard through and after the whistles. That’s fantastic. They’re killed in the areas where hockey matters, energy or not, and they’ve certainly contributed adversely to this team’s position in the standings more than a lot of the other guys. I have no idea why so much time this season has been spent sending messages and banishing productive players and rewarding guys who just get obliterated against the competition, but that’s more or less what’s occurred here.
He’s not the only one confused. If MacLean stays presumably this puzzling player usage will continue, but if Bryan Murray shares his coaches philosophy I’m not sure a new voice will be any different. Time will tell.
A little more Binghamton news: the always disappointing Ben Blood has been sent down to Elmira. There’s no reason to expect Ottawa to retain his rights once the season (and his ELC) is over.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)
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