Senators News (May 20th)

It’s desperate times for news in hockey land so things like a potential new assistant coach and predictions are all the blogosphere has to talk about.  It’s been awhile since I posted however, so there are a few things to cover from earlier in the month.

matt o'connor

The Sens signed Matt O’Connor to an ELC, having already promised him they will move a goaltender to make room for him.  It’s an odd way to set up a trade, as now other GMs know Murray is under the gun to move someone.  While I’ve advocated moving Andrew Hammond (something echoed by Nichols at the 6th Sens), it seems like the organisation is more likely to move Robin Lehner (I mean, why sign a guy his age O’Connor as the goaltender of the future unless you are going to move the other guy who was anointed as that already?).  By himself, I don’t think there’s a lot of value to be had for Lehner as he’s not already established as a #1 goaltender (think of the Ben Bishop trade, albeit Lehner is under contract and the former was not).  How many assets do they want to move for O’Connor?  There are red flags all over this move (which seems unnecessary in the first place as goaltending has not been Ottawa’s problem), but Murray has an itchy trigger finger with younger players (he was going to move Patrick Wiercioch because he wasn’t tough in the corners), so my only hope is that it’s not a complete disaster.  Elliotte Friedman, insider that he is, has no clue what the Sens are planning (other than not speculating about Hammond–perhaps the desire to keep him is due to cost–he was just re-signed).  Trevor Shackles worries about Murray’s NCAA free agent track record (making a few errors as he goes), but it’s worth keeping in mind how hit and miss such players are.  I still don’t understand why the organisation doesn’t sign prospect Marcus Hogberg, incidentally.

wikstrand

Speaking of Sens prospects, Mikael Wikstrand signed a deal with Frolunda not long ago, but his agent recently implied he may be coming to North America anyway.  If that’s the case he must have an opt-out with the team, but I have to wonder if it’s the same as last year where he either makes the NHL roster or he goes back to Sweden.

corey pronman

Speaking of draft picks, one of these days I’m going to have to find out why Sens bloggers have all drank the Corey Pronman Koolaid–based on what, exactly?  No one ever says, so perhaps its mere accessibility (if ESPN pays him to do it, he must do it well, and certainly almost no one checks his results–although I have, and let’s not forget he liked Ben Blood).  Granted, nkb from The Silver Seven (linked above) doesn’t seem that familiar with prospects, so that’s worth keeping in mind.

lindberg

Tobias Lindberg (still unsigned) and the Oshawa Generals won the OHL title; Vincent Dunn‘s Rimouski team won in the QMJHL, but the prospect was let go by the team prior to the playoffs after repeated suspensions, so I have to wonder what the Sens have saddled themselves with.

Close-up of a fortune teller looking into a crystal ball --- Image by © SuperStock/Corbis

More players from my list have been signed, as the Oilers picked up Finnish goaltender Eetu Laurikainen and San Jose signed Joonas Donskoi (the former Panther draft pick).  Another player, Andreas Martinsen, was on my list back in 2012 and has been signed by Colorado (out of the DEL, which is quite unusual).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Senators News (May 5th)

chris-lee-and-brad-watson

It has been a month or so since I last posted a news update.  In the interim the Sens finished their remarkable run to make the playoffs (leaving a little egg on the face of a snarky Bob McKenzie from a few days before the end of the season), before falling 4-2 to the Habs in the first round.  The accolades came pouring down before the season’s end (and after), and it’s a season that has to be viewed as a success (I didn’t see the Sens as a playoff team even before the season started).  Clearly Dave Cameron benefitted from injuries to useless veterans, along with the improbable run of Andrew Hammond.  Has the organisation finally figured out that they are saddled with useless players?  There are small signs the message is finally getting through.  As Nichols says:

Pundits will be quick to point out how Ottawa’s success cannot be sustained and that eventually they’ll regress. The pundits are right, but no one in Ottawa really cares.

As Luke Peristy says:

By far the weirdest thing about this whole “improbable run to make the playoffs” thing is the knowledge that we’ve already seen the most absurd thing the Senators are going to do this year.

Going back to does the organisation get it question, caution has to be exercised–Dave Cameron dumping Mike Hoffman onto the fourth line is a worrying sign.  This is also the same brain trust that tried to sign David Clarkson, give Jared Cowen an enormous seven-year deal, signed David Legwand, and so on and so forth.  Bryan Murray has an addiction to aging veterans and “tough guys” that’s clogging his internal budget.

Prior to the playoffs, Scott Cullen offered his thoughts on potential edges in the series via shooting percentage and found that Ottawa has a slight one over Montreal, which as determinants go did not amount to much in the series itself.

matt o'connor

Nichols notes that the Sens promised NCAA free agent Matt O’Connor that if he signed with them they would move a goaltender.  Nichols wonders if the space promised would be in the NHL or AHL, but I think it’s safe to say it would be the latter (and despite comments from his agent I take that posturing to get more teams to bid for his services).  I still don’t think any team can offer O’Connor as clear an opportunity as Edmonton and that’s where I imagine he’ll sign (especially with Peter Chiarelli as the new GM).  It’s still concerning that the Sens are apparently prepared to move Robin Lehner (or Craig Anderson) to make room for an unproven NCAA goaltender and (presumably) Andrew Hammond (although I’m less certain of that).  As I’ve said before, I’d rather they move Hammond and stick with the current tandem.

Speaking of roster decisions, the Sens have apparently pre-emptively loaned Mikael Wikstrand back to Sweden for next season.  This is truly bizarre, as it would burn the second year of his ELC (the first already went up in smoke this season).  I’d like to think he has an opt-out in his contract, but without further details I can’t say.  Given how weak Binghamton’s blueline was this past season, I have no idea why they wouldn’t bring him over.

Prospects

miles gendron

Nearly all the Sens prospects have wrapped up their seasons, but Tobias Lindberg and Vincent Dunn are still playing (Miles Gendron won the BCHL championship).

Three players from my free agent list have already been signed: Columbus inked Markus Hannikainen, Nashville signed Kristian Nakyva, and Artemi Panarin signed with Chicago.

One major chestnuts in the fires of traditional hockey commentators is the importance of faceoffs.  You need a good faceoff guy, right?  So the analytics guys at TSN took a look at numbers and it turns out faceoffs don’t actually mean much in terms of generating goals (the best number they could find over the last eight years was Patrice Bergeron whose totals equal four goals throughout the entire season–no one else was even close to that).  Presumably on the defensive side this also means that losing faceoffs has an almost meaningless impact as well when it comes to goals against.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)