Senators News (March 9th)

Ottawa continues to tease fans with a playoff race.  I don’t see them succeeding and think the organisation would draw the wrong conclusion if they did, but it does add some fun to the end of the season.

The Sens have expressed interest in Boston University goaltender Matt O’Connor, who fans may remember attending the 2011 development camp (right after he finished his rookie season with Youngstown in the USHL).  The twenty-three year old O’Connor has posted career numbers in his third year in the NCAA and the pursuit of him is an indictment (at the time) of the goaltending depth the organisation thinks it has.

Speaking of goaltending, as Andrew Hammond finished his career run I’ll be interested to see what the organisation does with him.  An RFA at the end of the season, there’s nothing in Hammond‘s history to suggest his current success is going to continue (as Ary M illustrates); if I were in Murray’s shoes I’d move him at season’s end while his value is at its height.

Nichols re-hashes the obvious in the aftermath of the trade deadline: the Sens were in a box Bryan Murray put them in, stuck with unmovable contracts.  Via the same link it’s clear that Murray has no idea what analytics is, which confirms one of the major reasons why the organisation hangs on to useless players who are perceived as “gritty”.

The always thoughtful Amelia correctly points out that the Sens weren’t the first team to give away Ben Bishop in a bad deal–St. Louis traded him to Ottawa after all (for a second round pick they used to select Tommy Vannelli; currently playing in the WHL).  That may come as little solace to fans, but it’s worth remembering.  For Ottawa, they have Tobias Lindberg left from dealing the big goaltender.

Amelia also mentions the prospective call-up of Buddy Robinson, who other than being 6’5 has no real reason to appear.  I’d much rather see Cole Schneider if a forward is being recalled, but that seems unlikely (in part due to the waiver situation).

Speaking of the deadline, the folks over at The Silver Seven offered their thoughts and there was one point in particular I wanted to echo:

The most surprising move of the day for me was Despres for Lovejoy. Lovejoy is worse, older, and more expensive (though Despres will become more expensive when he becomes an RFA in 2016). If the Penguins truly think they have too many good, young defencemen, why trade for an old defenceman? I can’t help but think that not trading at all would’ve been better than Lovejoy as a return.

Prospect update (players signed are in green, those for whom decisions must be made this year are in red).  It’s worth pointing out that Ben Harpur has had only 9 points in his last 30 games, so his numbers are inflated by a very hot start.  The Swedish league has just entered its playoffs, while the BCHL is already in the midst of the post-season.

SHL (Sweden)
Mikael Wikstrand (DOB 1993, DL, 7-196/12, Frolunda) 46-5-15-20
No points in his last game; he finishes 14th in overall scoring by a defenseman (13th in PPG among players with more than 20 games played)
Andreas Englund (DOB 1996, DL, 2-40/14, Djurgarden) 49-2-3-5
No points in his last two games
Marcus Hogberg (DOB 1994, GL, 3-78/13, Linkoping) 12-11-4 2.30 .917
He’s 0-0-2 since last time; he finishes 10th in GAA and 8th in save percentage

CHL
Francis Perron (DOB 1996, C/LW, 7-190/14, QMJHL, Rouyn-Noranda) 59-25-47-72
Five points in his last three games, putting him to 23rd in overall scoring
Tobias Lindberg (DOB 1995, C/RW, 4-102/13, OHL, Oshawa) 61-28-42-70
One point in his last two games, dropping him to 22nd in overall scoring
Nick Paul (DOB 1995, LW, 4-101/13 Dallas, OHL, North Bay) 53-34-28-62
Three points in his last three games; up to 34th in overall scoring
Vincent Dunn (DOB 1995, CL, 5-138/13, QMJHL, Rimouski) 46-19-13-32
No points in his last game
Ben Harpur
(DOB 1995, DL, 4-108/13, OHL, Guelph/Barrie) 53-5-24-29
One point in his last three games
Miles Gendron (DOB 1996, DL, 3-70/14, BCHL, Penticton) 54-5-12-17
Has three points in four games in the playoffs

NCAA
Quentin Shore (DOB 1994, C/RW, 6-168/13, U Denver) 33-9-12-21
No points in his last two games
Robbie Baillargeon (DOB 1993, CR, 5-136/12, Boston U) 22-2-11-13
Has not played since last time
Shane Eiserman
(DOB 1995, LW, 4-100/14, U New Hampshire) 31-4-9-13
No points in his last two games
Kelly Summers (DOB 1996, DR, 7-189/14, Clarkson) 33-6-4-10
No points in his last two games
Chris Leblanc (DOB 1993, RW, 6-161/13, Merrimack) 27-5-4-9
No points in his last two games

NCAA-III
Tim Boyle (DOB 1993, DR, 4-106/12, Endicott) 18-3-8-11
His season is over

I’ll be posting my usual interesting-prospects-in-Europe article at some point, but as a teaser here are some interesting 24 and under players who might attract NHL interest (they are organised by league; for the issues of comparing stats in Europe to production elsewhere, I wrote about it here):

Toni Rajala RW/LW DOB 91 4-101/09 Edm 5’10 SHL 31-14-13-27
The former Oiler prospect has already established himself as a PPG player in the AHL; after a brief stint in the KHL he produced at about the same clip in the SHL; he’s undersized and has been dumped by one organisation already, but given how dysfunctional Edmonton is I’m not sure it’s a true black mark; I suspect he’d be given an opportunity elsewhere, but Rajala may not want to come back to North America to play in the minors so soon

Tim Heed D DOB 91 5-132/10 Ana 6’0 SHL 50-10-27-37
Another former draft pick, he enjoyed a breakout season right after Anaheim’s rights to him expired, finishing second in scoring by a blueliner behind former free agent wunderkind Cory Murphy (but ahead of him in PPG); he’s also tops among the 24 and under crowd (including forwards), so there’s a lot of reasons for teams to approach him

Kristian Nakyva D DOB 90 6’0 SHL 55-10-19-29
Brought over from the Liiga after three strong seasons, he posted similar numbers in the SHL (a better league) and finished fifth in scoring by a defenseman; I’m not sure if his numbers are remarkable enough to be signed, particularly given that he doesn’t have typical NHL size, but it remains a possibility; he’s someone I identified back in 2013

Joel Lassinantti G DOB 93 5’9 SHL 1.88 .928
The diminutive goaltender might still be draft eligible (I get a bit fuzzy about the European rules as they vary from league to league), assuming he’s not eligible he’s 2nd in GAA and save percentage, so the only thing holding him back is his size

Lino Martschini RW DOB 93 5’6 NLA 50-23-24-47
At just 5’6 I’m not sure what it will take to get the opportunity to cross the pond; he’s 1st among 24 and under players and 4th in overall scoring; it took Mats Zuccarello (who is about the same size) leading the SHL in scoring and a successful Olympic experience to get his shot with the Rangers, but even then he left the team for the KHL for part of a season before becoming fully established

Inti Pestoni RW DOB 91 5’8 NLA 30-9-15-24
Passed over in the draft largely due to his size (a common theme), he’s put up good numbers in an injury-shortened season–currently 2nd in PPGs among 24 and under; I suspect his size will keep him off the radar again this year and that he’ll need a bigger season to overcome that

Joonas Donskoi RW/LW DOB 92 4-99/10 Flo 6’0 Liiga 54-17-28-45
The Panthers never signed the Finn who enjoyed a breakout season with Karpat (fifth in overall scoring); the Finnish league is a good league, but not on the level of the Swedish (Eric Perrin leads the Liiga in scoring); the numbers are still significant enough to get noticed and as a former draft pick teams can much more easily assess the risk of signing him

Markus Hannikainen LW DOB 93 6’2 Liiga 55-18-25-43
I think he may still be eligible for the draft (see above), but assuming he’s not eligible, he’s 9th in overall scoring and 2nd in the 24 and under group (behind Donskoi above); his numbers might be getting inflated by teammates Perrin and Jani Tuppurainen, so that’s something for GMs to consider

Charles Bertrand LW/RW DOB 91 6’1 Liiga 55-12-28-40
The Frenchmen is in the midst of a true breakout season with Sport, sitting at 13th in overall scoring and 3rd amongst the 24 and under crowd; not only are these career numbers for him, but he’s also doing it on a talent-deprived team, so he should earn some looks from scouts if nothing else

Eetu Laurikainen G DOB 93 6’0 Liiga1.98 .936
The former Swift Current Bronco sailed through the draft as a WHL backstop, but has had a remarkable season back in Finland where he’s 6th in GAA and 2nd in save percentage; a bit undersized, Finnish goaltenders have a well-deserved reputation for technique that might overcome that objection, so I could see him signed

Yasin Ehliz RW DOB 92 5’10 DEL 48-11-34-45
The German league is not generally a place where free agents are signed, but it does happen occasionally; Ehliz has his size against him, but he’s made good progress in the DEL; he’s 13th in league scoring and 1st among players 24 and under

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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