Wrapping up Ottawa’s 2013-14 Season

It’s time to clean up the blood and entrails of the Sens 2013-14 season, the one Rob Vollman was convinced would result in a President’s Trophy for the Sens.  Looking back Daniel Alfredsson‘s decision to jump ship for Detroit has paid off, while the Sens inability to release dead weight like Chris Neil and Chris Phillips remains as inexplicable as management trading for Matt Kassian last year (hard to believe he played 33 games this year).

Ottawa finished 37-31-14, putting them fifth in their division, eleventh in the conference, and twenty-first in the league.  The Sens won’t benefit from a top-ten pick as they peddled it for Bobby Ryan over the summer and as the 2014 draft class is considered weak, I’m not sure how much they’ll profit from their other selections.  Assistant GM Tim Murray was allowed to jump ship to Buffalo mid-season, which was good for Tim, but a rather odd move for the organisation given how integral he was for their prospects and system.  This was a season that saw Mika Zibanejad demoted to Binghamton for no particular reason while penny-pinching ownership buried Jim O’Brien‘s one-way contract in the minors (if the guy is such a disturbance loan him to Europe or another AHL team–Binghamton was an odd choice).

Reports that Jason Spezza will be moved seem to have a solid basis and whatever the merits of that decision (assuming they find a dance partner), I can’t help but look at his price tag and wonder how much the motivation to move him is attached to it.  For me, a player with chronic back problems is always an incident away from being out of the lineup anyway, so why not make the transition to Kyle Turris fronting the team (there’s no possibility of the Sens getting a #1 center in return for their captain).  Can the Sens keep Ales Hemsky without Spezza?  Time will tell, albeit Hemsky may not want to stick around for the gong show that is Eugene Melnyk.

The logjam on the blueline going into next season should see some player movement (it still boggles my mind that the Sens bothered signing Joe Corvo over the summer).  A lot of fans have latched onto Mark Borowiecki‘s one-way contract as making him being a lock on the team, which I don’t buy (besides the aforementioned O’Brien they also buried Corvo‘s salary in the AHL).  Murray has to make a decision on Eric Gryba (RFA) and there’s no guarantee Cody Ceci is in the lineup, but whatever the roster is I don’t think they’ll move Patrick Wiercioch who was so poorly used this season.

Speaking of reports/rumours, Paul MacLean may be on the hot seat.  It’s an easy out for management to lay the blame for a disappointing season on the coaching staff, but there actually were a lot of perplexing decisions this year (using the Chris‘ on the powerplay; MacLean’s addiction to the Greening-Smith-Neil line; etc).  Did the Sens miss the playoffs because of MacLean?  I don’t think so–ultimately that responsibility is on the roster and (therefore) management, but perhaps it’s time for a fresh voice.

I’ve included stats below (keep in mind plus/minus is meaningless); it’s bemusing that Erik Karlsson can think of his year as subpar–sure he can be better, but a middling year from EK is better than virtually every other defenseman.  Milan Michalek coming off the books is good–Mr. Glass is a good player, but the years have not been kind to him.  Of the young forwards who spent time in the NHL (Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Stephane Da Costa, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Derek Grant) it looks like Stone is most likely to make the jump next season.  I think Ottawa keeps Hoffman (he’s an RFA), but I can’t figure out if he’s Ryan Shannon or something more.  There’s a lot of talk about Curtis Lazar making the jump directly to the NHL (he can’t play in the AHL), but with a young player I take a wait and see attitude.

A little more generally, this year we saw analytics triumphantly predict Toronto’s failure, allowing older hack journalists (Steve Simmons, Damien Cox, etc) to embarrass themselves the entire season by mocking them.  Corsi, Fenwick, and all the other tools are in place are allowing fans (if not management) to understand what a player like Erik Condra accomplishes, along with exploding various long-held myths (like hits having any importance at all).

 

1. Erik Karlsson (D) 82 20 54 74 36 -15 |
2. Jason Spezza (F) 75 23 43 66 46 -26 |
3. Kyle Turris (F) 82 26 31 57 39 22 |
4. Clarke MacArthur (F) 79 24 32 56 78 12 |
5. Bobby Ryan (F) 70 23 25 48 45 7 |
6. Milan Michálek (F) 82 17 22 39 41 -25 |
7. Mika Zibanejad (F) 69 16 17 33 18 -15 |
8. Marc Methot (D) 75 6 17 23 28 0 |
9. Patrick Wiercioch (D) 53 4 19 23 20 -1 |
10. Zack Smith (F) 82 13 9 22 111 -9 |
.    
11. Cory Conacher (F) 60 4 16 20 34 8 |
12. Colin Greening (F) 76 6 11 17 41 -15 |
13. Ales Hemsky (F) 20 4 13 17 4 -2 |
14. Erik Condra (F) 76 6 10 16 30 0 |
15. Jared Cowen (D) 68 6 9 15 45 0 |
16. Chris Phillips (D) 70 1 14 15 30 -12 |
17. Chris Neil (F) 76 8 6 14 211 -10 |
18. Eric Gryba (D) 57 2 9 11 64 9 |
19. Joe Corvo (D) 25 3 7 10 10 -7 |
20. Cody Ceci (D) 49 3 6 9 14 -5 |
21. Mark Stone (F) 19 4 4 8 4 5 |
.    
22. Mike Hoffman (F) 25 3 3 6 2 -2 |
23. Stéphane Da Costa (F) 12 3 1 4 2 2 |
24. Jean-Gabriel Pageau (F) 28 2 0 2 12 -5 |
25. Matt Kassian (F) 33 1 1 2 63 -1 |
26. Derek Grant (F) 20 0 2 2 4 -3 |
27. Mark Borowiecki (D) 13 1 0 1 48 -2 |
1. Andrew Hammond 1 0.00 1.000 |
2. Nathan Lawson 1 10.00 .800 |
3. Craig Anderson 53 3.00 .911 |
4. Robin Lehner 36 3.06 .913 |

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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4 Comments

  1. If they do some trading, hopefully they get someone back who will improve the team.

  2. I think this summer will be one of change for the Sens. The old core of Spezza, Michalek, Anderson and Phillips are not the leaders of our team anymore.

    Its obvious Sens management is looking to trade Spezza this summer evident by their end of the year comments. (Its funny that they thought one year of captain Spezza would replace over ten years of captain Alfie. It takes years to build a captain/leader. Its a shame they seem to be pinning this season’s failure on Spezza’s lack of leadership)

    I think the biggest issue for the Sens this summer is to resign Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur and Marc Methot to longer term deals.

    Secondly, find trading partners for Spezza and Anderson and try to get young pieces and/or draft picks in return.

    Thirdly, identify who is staying on the backend. Karlsson, Methot and Ceci for sure. Phillips due to his new contract will be back. Now between Cowen, Gryba, Borowiecki and Wiercioch decide which one(s) are staying and which one(s) are going.

    Fourthly, decide if making a trade is worth while to get either a top 9 forward who can score and also brings toughness (Chris Stewart, Evander Kane or Ryan O’Reily?). Or go after a top 4 defenceman who can take some pressure off Karlsson (Alex Elder?).

    Next, take a look at the UFA market. A guy like Steve Downie or Dave Bolland (or both) would really help the Sens in terms of toughness and hard work. And maybe an offensive guy like Hemsky may want to return.

    Next, make Karlsson the captain. All teams are going with their young superstars as their captains. Karlsson has the work ethic and drive to be the example for the whole team to follow. I think he can put this team on his back and lead us to the next level.

    If the Sens can find a trading partner for Anderson, let Lehner have the net. He is a goalie that needs to play a lot of games and needs to continue developing his game.

    Here is my projected line-up:

    MacArthur- Turris – Ryan
    Stone – Zibanejad – Hemsky
    Z. Smith – Bolland – Downie
    Greening – Da Costa – Neil
    Hoffman

    Karlsson – Elder
    Cowen – Methot
    Ceci – Phillips
    BoroCop

    Lehner
    ???

    • I wonder if anyone is interested in Spezza? -26 for a so called class forward is not a great way to attract offers. I should be interesting summer, they need to make changes if they have ambitions to make the playoffs next year.

    • Thanks for all the thoughts! I agree with a lot of what you wrote, although I have a few disagreements: the better analytics gets the less impressed I become with “tough” players, but I’ll grant you management still subscribes to the idea. It’s clear the Sens won’t be major players in the UFA market, both because they have become an increasingly disliked destination and ownership’s unwillingness to spend. As for the logjam on defense, I don’t see Borowiecki staying with the team unless moves are made. Ceci isn’t a lock on the roster either. The organisation is sold on Cowen, so if it’s a question of Gryba/Wiercioch I’d much prefer the latter, but I wouldn’t be adverse to them letting Methot go either. Regardless, given the state of the organisation it’s devilishly difficult to figure out what they’ll choose to do.


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