Senators News (September 27th)

There has been a lot of handwringing and nail-biting over the contract situations of Marc Methot and Bobby Ryan (Nichols goes through the Sens bungled handling of the latter).  I’m less concerned about the now-injured Methot, who as a complimentary player is always going to be easier to replace (internally or externally), than I am with a legitimate top winger, but is anyone surprised at this point that the Melnyk/Murray combination has stumbled?  I’ve generally been kind to Murray as GM, especially given that his hands have been tied for a while, but the team is beginning to become a circus.  I didn’t have much faith that Ryan would stay long-term after he was acquired and if he walks (or the team is forced to trade him), it will make trading for him nothing short of a disaster.  All that being said, it’s early in the process and if the Sens struggle this season (as I expect) the org might throw everything (including the kitchen sink) to sign him as a good-will gesture to jaded fans.  It will be interesting to watch as the season unfolds.

Bryan Murray has told anybody and everybody that he’d like to add a top-nine forward.  Irrespective of whether the Sens need such a player, it’s a pretty firm slap in the face to the organisation’s much vaunted depth.  Personally I don’t think it’s something worth addressing–this isn’t a team that’s going to compete for a Cup this season so there’s no need to add that kind of player.  I’d rather see various young players tried out in that position, although I’m not sure Paul MacLean can be weaned off the Smith-Greening-Neil (and/or Legwand) Koolaid long enough to give anyone else those kinds of minutes.

The Sens have an even record in the pre-season (2-2); the games aren’t the relevant other than for player-evaluation, but I’ve found Paul MacLean’s opinions increasingly inscrutable so we’ll have to wait and see what comes out of it.

Speaking of MacLean, Rob Vollman takes a look at who used their players effectively in the 2013-14 season (Ottawa is the 21st slide and, as expected, is all over the place in who was and wasn’t used correctly (all the names you would expect in the bad column are there).

Ottawa has reduced their bloated training camp roster by returning Ben Harpur, Nick Paul, and invitee Matt Murray to junior (no surprises here, although there was a certain amount of hype behind Paul).  Most of the rest of the players expected for Binghamton have been siphoned off into their own group, with the exception of Fredrik Claesson, Matt Puempel, David Dziurzynski, Buddy Robinson, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (the latter of whom is nursing a minor injury).

Jeff Ulmer takes an early look at Binghamton’s projected forward group (I’m not as certain as he is that Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman are locks to be on Ottawa’s roster), although he doesn’t include potential lineups.  Jeff has a lot more faith in Chris Driedger as a goaltender than I do at the moment; hopefully he’ll be ready for backup duty in Binghamton, but I don’t think he’s a lock by any stretch of the imagination.

As training camp rolls on I thought I’d take a quick “where are they now” from last season (both the Sens and BSens):

Ottawa
The blueline and goaltending has lost no one since the end of this past season, but a few forwards have moved:
Jason Spezza – traded to Dallas
Ales Hemsky – signed in Dallas as UFA
Matt Kassian – is on a tryout with Phoenix [now released]

Binghamton
Stephane Da Costa – signed with CSKA Moscow in the KHL
Ludwig Karlsson – included with Spezza in the Dallas trade
Jim O’Brien – signed with Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the KHL
Nathan Lawson – UFA is searching for a team (he may be on a PTO, but if so I haven’t seen it)
Ben Blood – released after his ELC he remains a free agent (as above)
Tyler Eckford – remains a UFA (as above)
Corey Cowick – still a UFA (as above)
Wacey Hamilton – UFA (as above)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Advertisements

One-Thousand Posts

What oh what to do for post #1,000?  A short retrospective seems most appropriate, although the usual updates will follow below.

A lot has changed in the blogging world since my first effort nearly ten years ago.  Back then there were relatively few blogs dedicated to the Sens and for a while it was essentially Jeremy Milks at Black Aces and The Silver Seven.  Most of the coverage of the Sens for fans was from the traditional media which then (as now) does a middling to poor job (between The Ottawa Sun, The Ottawa Citizen, and TSN 1200 I think the Citizen does the best job at the moment).  I started this blog back in 2011 and at the time there was still space for daily news coverage of the team.  My driving motivation at the time was to have a single source that included all the vital news about the team and organisation.  These days (and this is why I don’t do the daily posts anymore) I think Nichols at The Sixth Sens and Travis Yost over at HockeyBuzz cover that material better than anyone.  I still think B-Sens coverage is lacking in general (hats off to Jeff Ulmer’s efforts), with prospect coverage an embarrassment (over the past ten years Hockey’s Future still hasn’t found a good writer for the Sens), and the draft coverage is bad to awful.  It’s these latter categories that primarily keep me posting here–offering content where I can contribute to Sens coverage in a meaningful way.

So what have you, the readers, come here for?  Going by the numbers I can take an educated guess (although given how WordPress originally computed views, there’s some ambiguity about the 2011 numbers):
1. My 2011 wrap-up of the Sens Development Camp – this was in the early days of the blog when I was still able to post links on HFboards
2. My look at Redline Report’s 2013 NHL Draft Guide – this guide is expensive and not widely available, so the opinions are something draft junkies are keen to read
3. My review of Ottawa’s 2011 Draft – the best Bryan Murray draft and also when I was able to link on HFBoards
4. My initial (2012) look at free agent college signings in the NHL – I still haven’t seen anyone else look at this and I think it (along with my update) are a valuable resource for those wanting to see how such players pan out
5. My initial (2012) look at undrafted success stories in the NHL – as above

I’m happiest with my work on the draft (both predictive as well as tracking how accurate scouts are), and the impact of undrafted free agents.  I have the most fun with my draft work and I feel like in the next couple of years I’ll have enough data to make some conclusions draft itself.  On the whole I’m someone interested in facts, data, and statistics, albeit I’m not great on Corsi/Fenwick–either due to age, stupidity, or having traditional stats drilled so deeply into my brain I go into a Don Brennanesque-stupor when I try to work with them.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is what referral-sites bring people to a small blog like this: links on a well-established hockey forum are a big boost, Twitter is terrible (but necessary), and Reddit is good.  The quality of your material isn’t particularly important, nor really is the substance, although long-term both of those do matter.  There are a lot of voices in the hockey blogging world, which makes it harder to be heard (as a comparable, I also blog about Dragon Age (the video game), and get over ten-times the views).

As for my favourite people covering the Sens, the two referenced above go without saying; I am also a big fan of Amelia’s pieces on The Silver Seven.  I have no direct connection to any of these fine people and simply appreciate the quality of their work.

Enough reminiscing, back to news & notes.

The NHL has implemented rule changes which, as per usual, are a mixed bag of pointless, middling, and interesting.  The push against diving is only going to piss people off and there’s little chance officials will call it consistently; the spin-o-rama change is pointless; otherwise the changes seem solid, albeit we’re stuck with the NHL’s awful officiating.

Ottawa’s training camp roster is out and there are some interesting forward PTOs on the docket (not that I expected any FA signings for the Sens): 31-year old Brad Mills (34 NHL games) and 25-year old Nick Palmieri (former Devil has 87 NHL games under his belt).

The Sens rookies went 2-1 during the rookie tournament with no particularly surprising performances.

The Sens announced a two-year agreement with Evansville, which replaces Elmira as their ECHL-affiliate and will alleviate the roster crunch in Binghamton.  The former IHL franchise was formerly affiliated with Columbus and did not make the playoffs in either of those two seasons.  The most interesting player currently on the Evansville roster is former Pittsburgh draft pick (4-120/08) Nathan Moon.

Bryan Murray admitted the obvious that the Sens defense corps wasn’t any good…and yet he’s brought back the exact same group.  I’m not sure that the hope those players will improve this year is genius or stupidity, but time will tell.  Whether or not the difficult trade talks with Marc Methot means he could be moved remains to be seen.

ESPN‘s assessment of the Sens as a franchise was predictably punishing, but doesn’t mean much other than Melnyk can’t use it as a prop to the franchise.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News (September 7th)

It has been a long time since my last look at the Sens, but the summer has been largely uneventful (thanks to all of you who continue to check in).  The main developments were the three extensions signed in August (for Mark Borowiecki, Craig Anderson, and Clarke MacArthur).  Of the three I’m happiest with the latter, surprised and disappointed by the former (Nichols offers excellent thoughts on all three and the most persuasive thing for me in regards to Boro is that he could sit for an entire season and still be a “good teammate”), and think the Anderson retention makes some sense given the paucity within the organisation to find someone else to play with Robin Lehner (given their budget they certainly aren’t going to sign anyone of significance; Travis Yost is less kind about the move).  Fortunately, two of the contracts are reasonable and Anderson‘s isn’t that far off.  In terms of implications, I have no idea what the Sens are going to do with Patrick Wiercioch, who has no discernible place to be on the roster as it stands.

The Sens have announced their rookie camp roster (I’ve highlighted the invitees):

Goaltenders: Chris Driedger (Calgary – WHL, Elmira – ECHL, Binghamton – AHL), Andrew Hammond (Binghamton – AHL, Ottawa – NHL).

Defencemen: Travis Brown (Moose Jaw – WHL, Victoria – WHL), Fredrik Claesson (Binghamton – AHL), Mitch Jones (Plymouth – OHL), Ben Harpur (Guelph – OHL), Stefan Leblanc (Sudbury – OHL, Mississauga – OHL), Alex Lepkowski (Oshawa – OHL, Greenville – ECHL, Rochester – AHL), Matt Murphy (Halifax – QMJHL), Troy Rutkowski (Elmira – ECHL, Binghamton – AHL).

Forwards: Jakub Culek (Elmira – ECHL, Binghamton – AHL), Vincent Dunn (Gatineau – QMJHL, Binghamton – AHL), Ryan Dzingel (Ohio State – Big Ten, Binghamton – AHL), Alex Guptill (Michigan – Big Ten, Texas – AHL), Darren Kramer (Binghamton – AHL), Curtis Lazar (Edmonton – WHL), Tobias Lindberg (Djurgardens – Swe-Jr., Djurgardens – Allsvenskan), Max McCormick (Ohio State – Big Ten), Nick Paul (North Bay – OHL), Francis Perron (Rouyn-Noranda – QMJHL), Shane Prince (Binghamton – AHL), Matt Puempel (Binghamton – AHL), Buddy Robinson (Elmira – ECHL, Binghamton – AHL), Garrett Thompson (Ferris State – WCHA, Binghamton – AHL).

The depth at forward within the organisation is on display here, as is their thinness on the blueline (I’m most interested in the players I haven’t seen yet, as always).  As for the invites, Travis Brown was drafted by Chicago back in 2012, but went unsigned–the left-shooting defenseman had good numbers (74-14-39-53) with Moose Jaw and Victoria last season; Mitch Jones is a rugged, undrafted and undersized player who had unimpressive numbers with Plymouth last year (62-3-11-14); Stefan Leblanc went undrafted this year, but appeared on a number of lists–he enjoyed a solid season (54-5-23-28) split between Mississauga and Sudbury; Alex Lepkowski is a former Buffalo draft pick (2011) whose unremarkable numbers (25-0-4-4 OHL) left him unsigned and nothing he did last season (spent all over the place) makes him interesting; finally Matt Murphy passed through the draft but was considered, he had decent numbers with Halifax last season (64-10-26-36).  Both Murphy and Leblanc will return to the draft, but I don’t think there’s any chance these players will be signed (especially now that Ottawa has no ECHL affiliate).

Of the prospects this is a make-or-break season for Rutkowski, Culek, and Kramer.  All have marginal upside and need to excel at something or be let go or cut loose.  As always performances at the camp aren’t great indicators, but it’s a fun event regardless.

I’m not the biggest Corey Pronman fan in terms of his ability at assessing prospects, but he does publish a lot and has offered a list of the Sens top-ten (take it with a grain of salt folks, with Nichols pointing out a few potential issues, but it is fun):
Curtis Lazar
Mark Stone
Mikael Wikstrand
Matt Puempel
Miles Gendron
Andreas Englund
Nick Paul
Fredrik Claesson
Quentin Shore
Shane Prince

The Sens have endured a partial scouting overhaul with the departure of Tim Murray and others.  Within a piece is data from Travis Yost and Amelia that illustrates just how tiny the Sens staff is (a puzzle for a budget team).

Jeff Ulmer offers a brief look at the Binghamton Senators under Bryan Murray (as opposed to the John Muckler regime).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)