Reviewing the Senators 2015 NHL Draft

I’ve been asked to go beyond my light comments about the Sens draft and give more detailed thoughts and analysis, so here it is.  All sources cited in my previous post are used along with anything else I can get my hands on.  This is the first year Bryan Murray has drafted without his nephew (Tim Murray) since the disastrous 2007 class (picked with John Muckler’s scouts, admittedly).  Without Tim, we saw Murray favour size and strength over smaller, skilled players.  Pick-by-pick, here we go (ppg=points-per-game; AR=aggregate ranking–for that see the link below):

Thomas Chabot (1-18; DL, 6’2, QMJHL 66-12-29-41, 0.62 ppg; AR #20)
Technically lead the Saint John Sea Dogs in scoring from the blueline, although first rounder (#13) Jakub Zboril was actually well ahead of him in ppg and 2016 draft-eligible Luke Green was only slightly behind.  He was selected roughly where the scouting consensus landed (see my aggregate ratings); he’s seen as a good skater and puck carrier with a high hockey IQ; his defensive play was criticized by Pronman/McKeens (and praised by FC), and there was a call for him to increase his strength (McKeens; the latter seems almost like an ad hominem addition to most scouting reports), although some said he was quite strong (RLR; you can see how scouts can watch the same player and come to very different conclusions).  Craig Smith (of Hockey Prospectus) projects him this way:

Chabot will most likely never win a Norris trophy, score 20 goals, or be a top flight point producing defensemen. Think of Jay Bouwmeester post Florida Panthers type of player. 25 plus minuets of ice time against other teams top units is more than acceptable for any pick in any draft. Closer to home comparison, he will have similar production and value as Cody Ceci.

For Smith he’s a home run pick and with largely universal praise from the scouting community it’s easy to see why; he’s a safe bet to be an NHL-talent and what remains to be seen is his ceiling.

Colin White (1-21; RW/C; 6’0, USHL/USDP 74-27-44-71, 0.95ppg; AR #21)
This is the pick the Sens acquired from Buffalo in the Robin Lehner trade (notably not Buffalo’s own pick, but the Islanders’).  No relation to the former NHL defenseman, his numbers dropped from the previous season (82-47-45-92) and at least some or all of that can be blamed on a wrist injury and a bout of mononucleosis.  He was sixth in scoring on the US National team, although of the three drafted players ahead of him he was selected first (Jack Roslovic #25, Christian Fischer #32, and Jeremy Bracco #61).  Scouts praise his hockey IQ and his two-way play; RLR likes his skating (Smith is less impressed), but fears his size hurts his ability to be a top-six player (which is a very old school, Dead Puck Era way of viewing players).  Craig Smith compares him to Curtis Lazar, so a player with limited offensive capability, but strong defensive play.  There’s no actual criticism here except for his scoring ability at the next level, so he seems like a safe, bottom-six player of the future.

Gabriel Gagne (2-36; C/RW; 6’5, QMJHL 67-35-24-59, 0.88ppg; AR #63)
The Sens traded their second-round pick (Dallas’, acquired via the Jason Spezza trade, #42) and a conditional pick (4th-rounder in 2016) to move up a few spots to pick Gagne–an immensely puzzling decision for a player scouts slatted as a third-round pick, but Murray loves big players (think of how well Jakub Culek and Jordan Fransoo worked out).  Kidding aside, Gagne was third in scoring on Victoriaville (well behind overager Angelo Miceli and St. Louis draft pick Samuel Blais; also trailing overage Mathieu Ayotte in ppg).  Scouts liked his size and stride (FC), but felt he didn’t have great hands, wasn’t particularly physical, and had work ethic problems–Smith was the most complimentary about him, comparing him to Mike Hoffman (his shot and his speed), but there are red flags all over the place and to trade for a prospect like this is worrying.  If he pans out Murray looks like a genius, but if he doesn’t it’s multiple wasted assets for nothing.

Filip Chlapik (2-48; C; 6’1, QMJHL 64-33-42-75, 1.17ppg; AR #37)
The third player drafted from the Q, he’s only the second Czech-player Murray has picked in Ottawa, but like Culek before him he’s taken from the QMJHL.  He was second in scoring for Charlottetown (behind fellow second-round pick Daniel Spong); scouts like his playmaking and hockey IQ, his skating is in question and Pronman is uncertain about his defensive play (all the other scouting publications think he’s good defensively)–Smith comes down the middle on the defensive question.  He strikes me as a fairly safe pick, but one whose skating might prevent him from taking that next step (keep in mind the Sens are strong believers they can improve that element, ala Mark Stone).

Christian Wolanin (4-107; 6’1, DL, USHL 56-14-27-41, 0.73ppg; AR unranked)
The Sens traded Eric Gryba to get this pick (originally Pittsburgh’s), which is the second puzzling trade of the draft as no one had the overage son of the former NHLer slotted to be picked.  He led Muskegon in scoring by a defenseman and the Sens brass will like his high PIM (tops on the team, although that included only one fighting major, so discipline could be a concern).  He’s a forward converted to defense and his offensive prowess (as well as “character”) are about all you can say about him.  Smith believes he has to work on his defensive game and skating (both, admittedly, correctable issues).  Very much a hit or miss player.

Filip Ahl (4-109; LW/RW, 6’3, SuperElit 34-20-22-42, 1.23ppg; AR #80)
Son of former SHL goaltender Boo, as a 17-year old he was dominant at the Swedish junior level (tops in scoring for HV71’s squad), but not quite ready for prime time in the SHL (15-0-2-2).  Smith doesn’t like his speed or his lack of physicality (RLR echoes the latter), which are both categories FC and ISS like–the conflicting opinions suggest a certain amount of inconsistency from him; if he hits projections he’s a grinding power forward with some offensive upside, but the prospect of him getting there seems iffy.

Christian Jaros (5-139; DR, 6’3; SuperElit 23-4-8-12, 0.52ppg; AR #139)
He’s the first Slovak Murray has selected, but typically he’s from Sweden rather than his local scene.  The 18-year old (now 19; he was passed over in last year’s draft) spent half the year with Lulea in the SHL (25-0-1-1), which is impressive for a teenager (he was the youngest blueliner to suit up).  In terms of his junior production he was roughly tied for the ppg lead with Simon Akerstrom, although with only half a season in the books it’s reasonable to assume he likely would have led the team if he’d played it through.  It’s not his offensive prowess that Smith praises however, but instead his physicality (making the unfortunate comparison of Borowiecki) and projects him at the same level (something HP and ISS generally agrees with); FC describes him as mobile, but not quick and they like his offensive instincts; RLR thinks he’s one of the slowest skaters in the draft.  There seems little reason to doubt he has the capability of being a depth defenseman, although I hope the Sens think he can be more than that as there’s little reason to waste a draft pick on that kind of player.

Joey Daccord (7-199; GL, 6’3; USHS 1.80 .933; AR unranked)
Only Central Scouting had him listed; the overage high school goaltender is coming off career bests at Cushing before he moves on to Arizona State in the NCAA (his father Brian was a successful NLA goaltender and is now a goaltender coach).  Smith offers this:

Daccord is a very good if not an elite level athlete. He moves laterally quickly and has good recovery skills. He positions himself correctly and tracks puck very well. Daccord handles the puck very well for a goaltender.

Rick Wamsley said this:

He’s a good skating, good hands, smart goalie. His father’s a real good goalie coach in the Boston area so obviously he’s well-schooled. I like how smart he appears, really like his hands. He’s probably got the best hands of the group that’s here this week. His feet can improve a little bit but his skating’s pretty good. I like what I see.

Not much to go on, but projecting goaltenders remains difficult for everyone, so we can only throw up our hands and see how it goes.

The Sens selected 8 players (4 forwards, 3 defenseman, and a goalie), 3 of whom are overage, and virtually none of whom are considered to have a strong offensive upside at the NHL-level–it’s a collection of two-way, grinding/character players, which is disappointing.  If scouts are looking for home runs I want production and possession (in fairness, the latter does show up here)–the AHL and bottom rung of the NHL is filled with “character” guys you don’t need to waste draft picks on.  There was no change in where the Sens drafted from: 3 from the CHL (QMJHL specifically), 3 from the US junior systems, and 2 from Sweden.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Senators News & Notes


The Sens temporarily loaned Mikael Wikstrand to Farjestad to participate in Champions Hockey League group games (ongoing), but he’ll be back in Ottawa to take part in the rookie tournament.

Rookie Tournament Logo-600x300-NEW_1

Speaking of the rookie tourney, the roster has been announced (2015 picks in italics, AHL/ECHL contracts noted in brackets):

Forwards (15): Filip Chlapik, Vincent Dunn, Ryan Dzingel, Travis Ewanyk, Gabriel Gagne, Alex Guptill, Tobias Lindberg, Max McCormick, Nick Paul, Ryan Penny (AHL), Francis Perron, Matt Puempel, Buddy Robinson, Alex Wideman (AHL), and Matthew Zay (AHL)
Defensemen (7): Chris Carlisle (AHL), Thomas Chabot, Marcus Crawford, Ben Harpur, Chris Rumble (ECHL), Troy Rutkowski, and Mikael Wikstrand
Goaltenders (2): Matt O’Connor and Chris Driedger

The only FA invitee is Marcus Crawford (Saginaw); the Ajax-native is a draft-eligible player, but I think he’s here because he’s local and to round out the numbers.  Incidentally, while I didn’t mention it when he was signed, Carlisle was nominated for the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy (overage player of the year in the OHL).  Before you get too excited about that trophy (and the fact that Ryan Callahan won it in 2006), it’s worth noting previous winners include non-entities like Tyler DonatiMichael SwiftJustin DiBenedetto, and Bryan Cameron.  That doesn’t mean he won’t be a useful ECHL (or AHL) player, but keep expectations at a minimum.

The rookie tournament is a lot of fun, albeit the caliber of play is not very high.  I don’t think we’ll see much of Penny, WidemanZay, or Crawford, incidentally.

matt o'connor

Callum Fraser‘s latest post echoes my sentiments:

While Matt O’Connor has never played a professional game of hockey before and Andrew Hammond still only has a couple months in the NHL under his belt, if Craig Anderson has any sort of injury, the Senators will have their hand near the panic button. As for the bottom six, losing arguably their best player [Condra] will likely not go over well. Especially now that Chris Neil, Colin Greening and Zack Smith are getting ready for a possible reunion tour.

Fans with a better memory than mine will know the answer to this, but have reporters ever asked David Cameron if he’s aware of just how bad that trio is?  They don’t pass the eye test or the analytics test.


I don’t typically read SensChirp, but with the dearth of Sens news I was floating around the blogosphere and popped onto the site.  It’s interesting how popular it is–judging by the number of comments it’s more popular than the similar looking SenShot and the similar news digest format of The Silver Seven.  I think the regularity of the blog helps (although it’s not quite as frequent as Silver Seven), but there must be more to it.  I’m always surprised The 6th Sens isn’t more popular, but perhaps the sober tone and less frequent posts makes that impossible.  Putting the speculation aside, there’s a good break down of the Sens draft picks by Craig Smith that I missed from a couple of months ago, so I recommend checking that out.


That reminds me that I didn’t do my usual Sens draft review, largely because Nichols followed my format this year by quoting scouting reports on all the players (he splits them into two posts: here and here).  There was no point in replicating what he’d already done (my comments on the picks can be found here).  There’s a lot of chatter about draft picks in the fanbase and for me the touchstone always has to be their statistical performance and the collective reporting of scouts.  Too often fans get excited only by the former or else the hype from just one particular scout/organisation/reporter.


Travis Yost has an excellent article that focuses on Individual Point Percentage (IPP) and how it relates to predicting trends for players.

Travis also looks at the difficulty in assessing goaltenders:

To start, there’s either no rhyme or reason to how goaltenders develop, or teams do a very poor job of scouting talent. I’m inclined to believe it’s a mixture of the two – the position, generally, being complex in nature, and the eye test failing us in ways it may not with goal-scoring forwards.

Goaltenders are voodoo. Statistical analysis has proved only mildly helpful as it pertains to identifying goaltending talent and forecasting future performance. Teams also struggle mightily with goaltender evaluation – from the time of the draft, to the time in which they decide to fork over the first (or second) lucrative contract. Down the road, technological improvements may pay significant dividends here, as metrics will be crafted to better identify goaltending talent, and separate skill from the noise.

He followed this article up with one trying to figure out who were the best goaltenders in the league (concluding they are Henrik LundqvistTuukka Rask, and Carey Price).


Evansville has signed two more players: Adam Stuart (SPHL 54-21-32-53), a 26-year old forward who will likely spend the year back in the SPHL, and re-signed 31-year old Jarret Lukin (56-12-26-38), one of their few productive forwards from last season.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

matt o'connor

I was reading through Trevor Shackles post and one thing he brought up is worth emphasizing: Matt O’Connor is not a sure thing.  That statement goes for almost every prospect, but it’s worth keeping in mind.  The fact that multiple NHL teams pursued him is a positive, but they also chased Bobby Butler (and many other collegiate free agents who have crashed and burned), so it’s entirely possible O’Connor never turns out.  Something to keep in mind for the upcoming season, although it’s fortunate the Sens have Marcus Hogberg in their back pocket (more on him later).


Ladies and gentlemen, we got him: Nichols has delightfully gone back to qualifying his statements about prospects:

It’s worth noting that I don’t necessarily agree wholeheartedly with Wagman’s assertions. For example, he lost a couple of points of credibility noting that the Senators farm system took a hit because the organization didn’t recoup full value for trading Brian Elliott. I suppose on one hand, the acquisition of Craig Anderson single-handedly cost the organization a shot at drafting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Gabriel Landeskog. But on the other hand, having Anderson and Mika Zibanejad is a pretty fucking good consolation prize.  I also have a problem with Wagman definitively writing off prospects like Matt Puempel, Nick Paul and Colin White because they “look like solid third liners, at best.”

Presumably he would have several paragraphs for Pronman as well if he disagreed with him.  We’ll give Nichols a pass for letting Wagman’s unjustified Harpur comment go through (more on him below), but at least Wagman’s cheerleading for Marcus Hogberg has had an impact on Nichols more than anything I’ve said.


Nichols (link above) also talks about the recent Chris Phillips revelation that:

The pain and numbness have gone away, but Phillips told Brennan that he won’t put a timeline on when he’ll resume hockey activities. Considering we’re already towards the end of August and that Senators training camp usually begins in the second week of September, Phillips does not have a lot of time to prepare for the season and get ready for the start of camp.

Is it too much to hope that it’s a very long time before the Big Rig threatens to suit up?  Perhaps by the time he returns there will be no room for him, although with a roster that boasts Jared Cowen and Mark Borowiecki, it’s probably too much to hope for.


There’s a decent chance the 2015-16 Ottawa Senators will be a complete disaster.  The seeds of that potential remain as the worst players from last year’s roster are still here, but more importantly there’s a great deal of uncertainty in net.  Can Craig Anderson stay healthy through most of the season?  It’s highly unlikely.  I’m also concerned for Anderson because the last time he was safely a #1 goaltender (2010-11 with Colorado) he completely bombed–the worst season of his career.  I have no faith in Andrew Hammond–by that I mean I’m expecting the guy who stumbled horribly in Binghamton last year until he demonstrates differently.  There’s no margin for error between the pipes because behind Anderson it’s all hope and projection.


I thought I’d take a look at the rookies turning pro this season.  Before I get there, I thought I’d add I’m not completely sold on Matt Puempel.  Maybe this is the year he breaks out, but his two seasons in Binghamton have been unremarkable.  His points-per-game actually dropped in his sophomore campaign (slightly, admittedly), and he certainly didn’t lack for opportunity.  He could be a late bloomer, but as a first-rounder known for offense he should dominant in the AHL; just a note of caution.  It’s worth noting all assessments of prospects (including mine) are simply notes of caution (or triumph).

Another prospect we have to take with a grain of salt (for now) is Tobias Lindberg (you can read a more detailed profile here), and I’m speaking specifically of his offensive upside.  He put up decent, but not remarkable numbers in the Swedish junior system and the better numbers he had with Oshawa in the OHL were influenced by first-round pick Michael Dal Colle and third-rounder Cole Cassels.  This isn’t to say he was wholly dependent on those two, but there’s little doubt they inflated his production above what it would have been with a different roster.

There’s no such comparative concerns for Nick Paul, who showed consistent improvement season by season and, while he technically finished second in scoring for North Bay, was their top player in points-per-game, so no one was elevating his numbers.  That doesn’t guarantee his upside, but it means the scouting impressions of him aren’t being prejudiced by his teammates.

I’ve gone through Ben Harpur‘s issues before, but for those who missed it let’s address my concerns: he started this past season on fire, with 19 points in his first 18 games–this is clearly an outlier as he’s never had production like that at any point in his career.  If you take out that production, this is his performance: 39-1-11-12 (ppg 0.30), which represents a modest improvement over his previous season, but as a 19-20 year old in the OHL he’s going to get a production bump regardless.  If a prospect doesn’t produce in junior, they do not suddenly produce as a pro, so Harpur is not going to generate offense in the AHL (or likely the ECHL); all he can be with his “physical gifts” (he’s 6’6), is be a safe, defensive defenseman.  I’m not a fan of defensive specialists on the blueline–everyone at the back-end needs to be able to move the puck (as the unintentional hilarity of Ottawa’s blueline the first half of this season illustrated)–but the key problem with seeing Harpur as that guy is this: even before the draft scouts were complaining about his poor decision-making and that criticism hasn’t changed–in two-year of development he’s still making poor decisions.  You can’t be good defensively if you don’t make good decisions, so fans should take the limited hype about him with a very large grain of salt.

Why am I (and others) so excited about Mikael Wikstrand?  I wrote a long profile about him back in February and there’s a lot to like about the Swedish defender.  Before he was drafted he was seen as a safe, dependable blueliner who did everything well, but wouldn’t provide much offense.  The scouts were wrong about the latter, at least at the Swedish level, as Wikstrand has produced offense.  The season after he was drafted he benefitted from playing with Anze Kopitar for a couple of months, but he actually scored more the following year.  Whether his production carries over to the next level remains uncertain, but the consistent word from scouts is that he’s a mistake-free player–that will likely create a place for him somewhere.

That leaves Vincent Dunn, a prospect nobody is talking about and there’s good reason for that.  Dunn was let go by his team (Rimouski) during the season and that’s pretty damning for a player who was putting up adequate production for them.  He was drafted as a hard-working pest back in 2013 with warning signs about his behaviour; he signed the subsequent summer after a solid year with Gatineau.  His production dipped this past season, but given his relationship with his team that doesn’t mean what it usually does and he wasn’t drafted to be a scorer anyway.  Is there room for a Sean Avery-type in the NHL anymore?  I’m not sure Dunn has enough talent to be that guy or if the Sens should want that guy, but what happened in Rimouski is a big red flag and my expectations are very low for him.

A bit of trivia I neglected to mention in my last post: Branden Komm (the Evansville goaltender) was a development camp invitee back in 2013.

Back in March I looked at European free agents of interest, knowing full well the Sens do not dip their toe into that pool of talent (likely due to the extreme costs of scouting in Europe).  Of the 16 players identified 5 were signed to ELC’s: Kristian Nakyva (Nashville), Artemi Panarin (Chicago), Joonas Donskoi (San Jose), Markus Hannikainen (Columbus), and Eetu Laurikainen (Edmonton).  Other Euro’s signed include Sergei Plotnikov (Pittsburgh), Niclas Andersen (Pittsburgh), Vojtech Mozik (New Jersey), Dean Kukan (Columbus), Sergei Kalinin (New Jersey), Matthias Plachta (Arizona), Joonas Kemppainen (Boston), Yvgeni Medvedev (Philadelphia), Jakub Nakladal (Calgary), Christian Marti (Philadelphia), and Andreas Martinsen (Colorado; I identified him back in 2012).  That’s 12 different teams, with 4 signing two (Columbus, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia).  Most of these players won’t pan out, but they’re as worthwhile a risk as an NCAA free agent, so I’m always interested in seeing how they do.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

My promised update to my Draft Success article has been posted.  It’s long, but for those interested in the draft there’s plenty of food for thought (beyond the success percentages I also touch on organizational success).  I also updated my article on undrafted European success stories.


Nichols goes through the pros and cons of having Martin Havlat on the roster (given that the Sens are apparently offering him a PTO for training camp).  I also wouldn’t mind seeing him here–assuming he’s healthy enough to perform and it means the elimination of some of the roster’s dead weight.


Before I looked into it, I thought the organisation might be starting to pull away a little from signing NCAA (and other) free agents to ELC’s (in terms of volume).  Early on in Murray’s tenure it made sense to sign free agents as there wasn’t much coming up through the system, but the organisation has continued to do so long after the cupboard was full.  Looking at the data however, my surmise doesn’t appear to hold much water:
2007: Derek Smith, Tyler Donati (OHL)
2008: Jesse Winchester
2009: Geoff Kinrade, Craig Schira (WHL)
2010: Bobby Butler, David Dziurzynski (BCHL)
2011: Stephane Da Costa, Pat Cannone, Wacey Hamilton (WHL)
2012: Cole Schneider
2013: Andrew Hammond, Buddy Robinson, Ludwig Karlsson, Troy Rutkowski (WHL)
2014: Garrett Thompson
2015: Matt O’Connor
I don’t think it’s a surprise that none of the players signed out of junior (5) have panned out (although it does happen).  The NCAA players have been a mixed bag, although whatever method the Sens use to select them seems to have flamed out badly last year with Garrett Thompson (he and Karlsson are by far the worst coming from that route).  All the college players (excepting the aforementioned) have been useful to the organisation (largely as AHL-talent), although several have been over hyped and none ever became important pieces in the NHL (the jury is still out on some, of course).  Of those now departed I could see Stephane Da Costa getting another shot in the NHL (he’s dominated the KHL), but it wouldn’t be with Ottawa.


Evansville added three more players to its roster:
-goaltender Brandon Komm returns (4-10-3 3.28 .903); while his stats don’t look remarkable, they were the best of anyone between the pipes for the team last season–the signing makes me wonder just how firm Christoffer Bengtsberg‘s roster slot is given that Scott Greenham or Chris Driedger will also be in Evansville
J. P. Labardo (ECHL 54-10-7-17); the former OHLer played with Gwinnett last season (his rookie season), but as his numbers are unremarkable I’m not sure what to make of him
Stephen Pierog (OHL 68-13-27-40); again his numbers aren’t that exciting, so presumably he’s providing depth
This means 12 players (so far) are on the pre-season roster (so that doesn’t include the various AHL-contracted players likely to be sent down).  Incidentally, Evansville’s FHL affiliate is the newly minted Berlin River Drivers (based in New Hampshire)–as far as I can tell they had no lower league affiliate last season (drawing players from various SPHL and FHL teams); at the moment the River Drivers are one of only two FHL teams with an affiliation (Dayton is the other), although being affiliated doesn’t seem that common for leagues at this level (I could only find one in the SPHL (Louisana)).  Incidentally, in looking into the FHL it doesn’t seem to have the depth or security of the SPHL, albeit I’m don’t think that’s hugely important to either Evansville or the Sens organisation.


Readers may remember that I was very high on Kurt Kleinendorst after Binghamton’s Calder Cup run in 2011; unfortunately for Kurt, he’s yet another in a long line of examples that coaching makes little difference in team performance, as since leaving Bingo he’s flamed out in the NCAA and Iowa in the AHL.  It doesn’t mean he isn’t a good coach, but it does mean he can’t magically turn bad teams into good teams.


Andrew over at WTYKY (formerly of The Silver Seven) has an important piece on masculinity and the nasty side of hockey culture.  I can’t cut his piece down into quotable snippets, but I highly recommend it (particularly emphasizing his call to take sports media to task for its complicity).

erik karlsson

Conor Tompkins goes through the stats to illustrate the increasing contribution of defencemen to offense since the dead puck era.  In something of the same vein, Justin Bourne tries to figure out which blueliners get the puck through to the net most effectively, but admits he’s hampered by a lack of good data–what he has raises as many questions as it answers (no one is going to mistake Roman Polak or Jay Bouwmeester as offensive juggernauts)–I laud his attempt however.

corey pronman

I’m beating a dead horse, but I’ll make it brief.  Craig Smith tells us:

Pronman is worth the $

Why?  He makes lists, but so does my 7-year old niece–give me a good reason (yes Smith is a colleague so he has no choice, but my question is to the blogosphere at large).  Nichols is…look, you can’t force an addict to change, you just have to be there when they are ready (he should read his own comments about Pronman from two years ago).  Using someone else’s opinion to justify your own is making an appeal to authority–that’s only valid if there’s a reason to believe the authority you are appealing too.  Anyway, moving on.

ryan wagman

Having done this for as long as I have you’d think I wouldn’t be surprised anymore, but Ryan Wagman over at Hockey Prospectus broke new ground for me.  I mentioned his prospect list for the Sens in my last post and specifically wondered why he included Ben Harpur in it (which wasn’t the main thrust of what I was talking about, but it’s what he gravitated too).  Wagman hit the Twitter machine (he doesn’t follow me, so presumably Googles his own name) to let me know that:

my Harpur placement had far more to it than his size. You can find a full report on him on the site

I was puzzled by this response (follow the link for some commentary on the addiction of some NHL exec’s with size), for obvious reasons, and gave him some friendly advice:

You should link or include the information; nothing I’ve seen in scouting reports is encouraging–just size size size

Nothing Wagman says in the piece referenced suggests anything more than size (nor do the scouting reports when he was drafted two years ago):

his physical gifts are immense but he is currently held back by inconsistent decision making

The latter is far more important than the former, as are his (unmentioned) unremarkable numbers in the CHL–as Wagman knows full well players do not magically produce more when they turn pro, so Harpur‘s only hope as a prospect is being a safe, defensive blueliner–to do so he needs to make good decisions.  What was his response?

Google: Wagman Harpur

That’s not my (or anyone else’s) prerogative.  It’s incumbent on him to justify his own narrative and analysis in the piece.  If he has a unique scouting perspective on Harpur he needs to justify it.  Anyway, that’s more than enough on the guy.

My hope is that I’ll have time to update a few other popular articles of mine; regardless, it’s worth remembering we aren’t that far away from much meatier Sens news so we have that to look forward too.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

European Undrafted Success Stories Revisited

I haven’t updated my undrafted success stories out of Europe article in a couple of years and there’s no time like the present. I’ve focussed on the post-lockout NHL because of the different parameters in which players are viewed (particularly undersized players).  I’ve set the “European pro” bar at 23 (anything earlier and I consider the player still a prospect).  The numbers next to the player’s name are their stats prior to being signed by an NHL team.

2006 (3)
Niklas Backstrom (G, Liiga) 32-9-10, 1.68, .940 – 409 games; remains with Minnesota
Patrick Thoresen (SEL) 50-17-19-36 – played 106 NHL games
Patrick Fischer (NLA) 44-21-32-53 – played 27 NHL games

2007 (4)
Jonas Hiller (G, NLA) 28-16, 2.60 – 378 games; with Calgary
Cory Murphy (D, Liiga) 45-13-37-50 – played 91 NHL games
Erik Ersberg (G, SEL) 41GP, 2.39, .908 – played 69 NHL games
Jaroslav Hlinka (Cze) 46-19-38-57 – played 63 NHL games

2008 (7)
Antti Niemi (G, Liiga) 26-14-6, 2.35, .926 – 328 games; won a Cup with Chicago; with San Jose
Ville Leino (Liiga) 55-28-49-77 – played 296 NHL games
Tim Stapleton (Liiga) 55-29-33-62 – 118 NHL games
Anssi Salmela (D, Liiga) 56-16-16-32 – played 112 NHL games
Fabian Brunnstrom (SEL) 54-9-28-37 – played 104 NHL games
Ryan Vesce (Liiga) 56-26-18-44 – 19 NHL games
Per Ledin (SEL) – played 3 NHL games

2009 (5)
Jonas Gustavsson (G, SEL) 42GP, 1.96, .932 – 106 NHL games; unsigned
Mika Pyorala (Liiga) 55-21-22-43 – played 36 NHL games
Henrik Karlsson (G, SEL) 34GP, 2.45, .914 – played 26 NHL games
Alexander Salak (G, Liiga) 20-20-9, 2.40, .923 – played 2 NHL games
Johan Backlund (G, SEL) 49GP, 2.56, .907 – played 1 NHL game

2010 (3)
Mats Zuccarello (SEL) 55-23-41-64 (1.16) – played 222 NHL games; remains with the Rangers
Jussi Rynnas (G, Liiga) 14-13-1, 2.71, .911 – played 4 NHL games
Marcel Muller (DEL) 53-24-32-56 – played 3 NHL games

2011 (3)
Raphael Diaz (D, NLA) 45-12-27-39 (0.86) – 201 NHL games; with the New York Rangers
Victor Bartley (D, Allsvenskan) 52-11-23-34 – 111 NHL games; remains with Nashville
Iiro Tarkki (G, Liiga) 20-20-14, 2.09, .924 – played 1 NHL game

2012 (4)
Viktor Fasth (G, SHL) 2.04, .934 – played 63 NHL games
Roman Cervenka (KHL) 54-23-16-39 – played 39 NHL games
Daniel Bang (SHL) 50-8-10-18 – played 8 NHL games
Harri Pesonen (Liiga) 60-21-14-35 – played 4 NHL games

2013 (2)
Michael Raffl (Allsvenskan) 49-24-22-46 – 135 NHL games; remains with Philadelphia
Reto Berra (G, NLA) 3.01 .906 – 50 NHL games; remains with Colorado

2014 (4)
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (SHL) 52-20-15-35 – played 82 NHL games; remains with Philadelphia
Dennis Everberg (Allsvenskan) 47-17-17-34 – played 67 NHL games; remains with Colorado
Melker Karlsson (SHL) 48-9-16-25 – 53 NHL games; remains with San Jose
Ronalds Kenins (NLA) 39-8-17-25 – played 30 NHL games; remains with Vancouver

No players from the Slovak Elite League, Erste Bank Liga (Austria), Get Ligaen (Norway), or Al-Bank Ligaen (Denmark) have had players signed directly out of them.

Conclusions: the vast majority of the players signed (27 of 34) come from either the Swedish or Finnish leagues; 13 are or were NHL regulars (including those from last season).  The greatest successes are the goaltenders, which isn’t hugely surprising given that remains the biggest blind spot for scouts at the draft.  It’s interesting to note how dwarfed the number of players here is by those who arrive via the NCAA route, despite how large the available pool is in Europe.  Part of the reason for the smaller stream of players is the expense of properly scouting those players and the difficulty of deciphering how big ice hockey play will translate to smaller rinks.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

NHL Draft Success (2005-2009)

There have been a sprinkle of articles reviewing draft accuracy over the years (like TSN’s Scott Cullen‘s awhile back) and as engaging as they are I’ve always had problems with the way they are constructed. Examinations of the draft that cover a long period of time fail to account for the changes in the league and the draft itself, so the comparisons don’t really work. When articles cover more recent drafts (Hockey Futures does them at five-year intervals) they are forced to make judgement calls on players whose futures are yet to be defined (just two examples, Colin Greening hadn’t started his pro career five years in, while Carl Soderberg didn’t jump to the NHL until he was 27).  All this preamble is to make two key points: 1) the attitude and approach to the draft in the NHL changed seismically after the 2004-05 lockout (due to the cap), 2) the typical make-or-break moment for a draft pick varies considerably.  On top of that, the raw overview I’m about to give is simply a window into the study, since I’m not focussed on management changes or know how much money/emphasis is being allocated on scouting by teams year-by-year (nor am I comparing the quality of those players).  What follows is a very broad examination of levels of success within the draft by team.  I’ve cut off at 2009 because even the ’10 draft class still hasn’t completed their cycle of development (’09 has some ambiguity, so the results there aren’t included fully included in the comparative data).  All of this presupposes the importance of the draft, something that could not be assumed at points in NHL history.

My framework: what is a successful pick?  Any skater who has played 200+ NHL games (along with some judgement calls, particularly when it comes to goaltenders).  With that many games the player has managed at least two and a half seasons of NHL work and that’s a solid return on the investment.  It’s not the only metric you could use, but it seems both broad and specific enough to be a place to start.

2005 (here)
First Round
18 players have played 200+ games, including 9 of the top-10 (Luc Bourdon tragically died and is the only exception).  Only 3 players never suited up in the NHL (Marek Zagrapan #13, Sasha Pokulok #14, and Alex Bourret #16)
Second Round
8 players hit 200+ games (the best are James Neal #33 and Paul Statsny ##44), with 12 never hitting the ice; only Marc-Andre Cliché might break that 200 barrier.
Third Round
6 players hit the mark (the best are Kris Letang #62 and Jonathan Quick #72; I’m including Ben Bishop #85); 12 never played
Fourth Round
6 players have reached the plateau (the best is Keith Yandle #105); 17 never played; Chris VandeVelde still has a chance to break the barrier
Fifth Round
5 players hit the mark (the best are Darren Helm #132 and Nathan Gerbe #142); 23 never played
Sixth Round
Only Matt D’Agostini qualifies; 22 players never played
Seventh Round
5 players reached the plateau (all serviceable players); 26 players never played

Here’s the success by team (I’ve included those players destined to break the plateau):
4 – Columbus (MacLean), Montreal (Gainey)
3 – Detroit (Holland), Dallas (Armstrong), Pittsburgh (Patrick), St. Louis (Pleau), New York Rangers (Sather)
2 – San Jose (Wilson), Ottawa (Muckler), Los Angeles (Taylor), Arizona/Phoenix (Barnett), Toronto (Ferguson), Nashville (Poile), Buffalo (Regier), Chicago (Pulford/Tallon), New Jersey (Lamoriello)
1 – Anaheim (Coates/Burke), Carolina (Rutherford), Minnesota (Risebrough), Edmonton (Lowe), Philadelphia (Clarke), Atlanta/Winnipeg (Waddell), Colorado (Lacroix), Vancouver (Nonis), Boston (O’Connell)
0 – Washington (McPhee), New York Islanders (Milbury), Florida (Keenan), Calgary (Sutter), Tampa Bay (Feaster)

2006 (here)
First Round
20 players hit the plateau (I’m including Jonathan Bernier), including all of the top-ten picks; 3 players did not hit the ice for an NHL game (Mark Mitera #19, David Fischer #20, and Dennis Persson #24)
Second Round
9 players (I’m including Michal Neuvirth) hit the mark, with only Jhonas Enroth having a chance to join them; 14 players never played
Third Round
While only 3 players have reached the plateau, but another 3 will or should join them (Brian Strait #65, Ryan White #66, and Eric Gryba #68); 16 never hit the ice
Fourth Round
2 players (Matt Beleskey #112 and I’m including James Reimer #99); 22 players never played
Fifth Round
No player has hit or will hit the 200 game-mark (or even 100); 23 never played; Chad Johnson #125 was the best player picked
Sixth Round
3 players hit the mark (Andrew MacDonald #160, Viktor Stalberg #161, and Mathieu Perreault #177), with Leo Komarov #180 having an outside shot of also getting there; 23 prospects never played
Seventh Round
2 players qualify (Derek Dorsett #189 and Erik Condra #211); 24 players never played

Here’s the success by team (I’ve included those players destined to break the plateau):
4 – Washington (McPhee), Toronto (Ferguson)
3 – Boston (O’Connell/Gorton/Chiarelli), Columbus (MacLean), Ottawa (Muckler)
2 – St. Louis (Pleau), New York Islanders (Milbury/Smith), Minnesota (Risebrough), Los Angeles (Taylor/Lombardi), Pittsburgh (Patrick/Shero)
1 – Chicago (Pulford), Arizona/Phoenix (Barnett/Maloney), Florida (Keenan), Atlanta/Winnipeg (Waddell), Vancouver (Nonis), Colorado (Lacroix/Giguere), Philadelphia (Clarke), San Jose (Wilson), Edmonton (Lowe), Detroit (Holland), New York Rangers (Sather), Buffalo (Regier), Carolina (Rutherford), Anaheim (Burke), Montreal (Gainey)
0 – Tampa Bay (Feaster), Calgary (Sutter), New Jersey (Lamoriello), Dallas (Armstrong), Nashville (Poile)

2007 (here)
First Round
16 players hit the mark, including 9 of the top-ten, but Ian Cole, Riley Nash, and Brendan Nash will all get there (so 19); 5 picks never played a game (Alexei Cherepanov #17 died; Logan MacMillan #19, Angelo Esposito #20, Patrick White #25, and Nick Ross #30)
Second Round
4 players have reached the plateau; 15 never played a game
Third Round
One player has reached 200 games (Yannick Weber #73), but Alex Killorn, Robert Bortuzzo, Joakim Andersson, and Corey Tropp should all get there (so 5); 16 players never hit the ice
Fourth Round
3 players qualify (Alec Martinez #95, Dwight King #109, and Matt Halischuk #117); 16 never played; Brad Malone #105 is on track to join them
Fifth Round
2 players (Jamie Benn #159 and Jake Muzzin #141) reach the mark; Chris Terry #132 has a shot to join them; 23 have never played
Sixth Round
Carl Hagelin (#168) and Nick Bonino (#173) qualify; Patrick Maroon #161, Brett Bellemore #162, and Paul Byron #179 should get there (so 5), with two others having outside shots (Luke Gadzic and Anthony Peluso); 17 prospects never played
Seventh Round
2 players (Carl Gunnarsson #194 and Justin Braun #201) reached the mark; 24 have never played; there’s a chance Paul Postma #205 will eventually get there

Here’s the success by team (I’ve included those players destined to break the plateau):
4 – Los Angeles (Lombardi), Montreal (Gainey)
3 – San Jose (Wilson), St. Louis (Pleau), Colorado (Giguere)
2 – Edmonton (Lowe), Carolina (Rutherford), Philadelphia (Holmgren), Buffalo (Regier), Pittsburgh (Shero), Detroit (Holland)
1 – Chicago (Pulford), Arizona/Phoenix (Maloney), Washington (McPhee), Columbus (Howson/MacLean), Florida (Martin), Nashville (Poile), Tampa Bay (Feaster), Calgary (Sutter), New Jersey (Lamoriello), Dallas (Armstrong), New York Rangers (Sather), Toronto (Ferguson)
0 – Ottawa (Br.Murray/Muckler), Boston (Chiarelli), Anaheim (Burke), Vancouver (Nonis), Atlanta/Winnipeg (Waddell), New York Islanders (Snow), Minnesota (Risebrough)

2008 (here)
First Round
17 players have reached 200 games, including 9 of the top-ten, with another 3 on their way (so 20); four prospects never played (Kyle Beach #11, Chet Pickard #18, Anton Gustafsson #21, and Daultan Leveille #29)
Second Round
5 players (Derek Stepan #51, Travis Hamonic #53, Roman Josi (#38), Justin Schultz (#43), and Marco Scandella (#55) have reached the plateau, with Vyacheslav Voinov (#32), Patrick Wiercioch #42, and Jimmy Hayes #60 locks to join them (so 8); 7 players have never suited up
Third Round
4 players (Michael Stone #69, Lance Bouma #78, Zack Smith #79, Adam Henrique #82), with Brandon McMillan #85 possibly getting there, and Jori Lehtera #65 if he can stay healthy (I’ll include him, so 5); 17 prospects never made it
Fourth Round
Two have reached 200 games (Dale Weise #111 and T. J. Brodie #114)), with Braden Holtby (#93) and Gustav Nyquist (#121) arriving there this upcoming season (so 4); 15 players never suited up
Fifth Round
Two players (Matt Martin #148 and Matt Calvert #127) qualify; 18 prospects never played
Sixth Round
4 players qualify (Jared Spurgeon #156, Cam Atkinson #157, Tommy Wingels #177, and Zac Rinaldo #178), with Ben Smith #169 joining them in the upcoming season (so 5); 19 players never suited up
Seventh Round
Only Jason Demers (#186) hits the mark; 22 have never played; Matt Bartkowski #190 could join him soon; I’ll include Anders Lindback (#207) as well (so 3)

Here’s the success by team (I’ve included those players destined to break the plateau):
4 – New York Islanders (Snow)
3 – Nashville (Poile), Ottawa (Br.Murray), New York Rangers (Sather)
2 – Buffalo (Regier), Anaheim (Burke/Bo.Murray), Washington (McPhee), Columbus (Howson), San Jose (Wilson), Los Angeles (Lombardi), Calgary (Sutter), Philadelphia (Holmgren), Arizona/Phoenix (Maloney), St. Louis (Pleau), Toronto (Ferguson/Burke)
1 – Tampa Bay (Feaster), Atlanta/Winnipeg (Waddell), Vancouver (Nonis/Gillis), Edmonton (Lowe), Minnesota (Risebrough), New Jersey (Lamoriello), Detroit (Holland), Chicago (Pulford), Florida (Martin), Carolina (Rutherford), Boston (Chiarelli)
0 – Colorado (Giguere), Montreal (Gainey), Dallas (Armstrong/Hull-Jackson), Pittsburgh (Shero)

2009 (here)
First Round
14 players have hit the threshold (including 9 of the top-10), with another 8 who will get there (so 22); only one player never played (Philippe Paradise #27), with Scott Glennie (#8) as the only top-10 bust
Second Round
2 have reached the threshold, with another 7 on their way (so 9, possibly to be joined by Dmitri Orlov #55); 9 players never made it
Third Round
2 players hit the mark, and I’ll include Tyson Barrie #64 and Brayden McNabb #66 as well (so 4), although it’s worth noting several other players whose careers have just started could bump this number considerably; 12 prospects never made it
Fourth Round
2 reach the threshold, with another 4 on their way (so 6, with the same caveat as above); 13 players never suited up
Fifth Round
2 players hit the mark, with Mike Hoffman #130 likely to join them (so 3); 21 players never suited up
Sixth Round
No player is at 200 games, but Anders Lee #152 should get there; 18 players didn’t make it
Seventh Round
Zero players hit the mark, but Jordan Nolan #186 will get there and Erik Haula #182 has a decent chance; 26 players never hit the ice

The preliminary success by team:
4 – New York Islanders (Snow), Nashville (Poile)
3 – Los Angeles (Lombardi), Ottawa (Br.Murray), Buffalo (Regier), Anaheim (Bo.Murray), Colorado (Giguere/Sherman)
2 – Minnesota (Risebrough), Columbus (Howson), Dallas (Hull-Jackson/Nieuwendyk), Washington (McPhee), Edmonton (Tambellini), Tampa Bay (Lawton), Chicago (Pulford), New Jersey (Lamoriello)
1 – Detroit (Holland), Atlanta/Winnipeg (Waddell), Arizona/Phoenix (Maloney), Toronto (Burke), Florida (Martin/Sexton), St. Louis (Pleau), New York Rangers (Sather), Pittsburgh (Shero)
0 – Boston (Chiarelli), Calgary (Sutter), Carolina (Rutherford), Montreal (Gainey), Philadelphia (Holmgren), San Jose (Wilson), and Vancouver (Gillis) with 0.

My hope is that others will dig a little deeper to get the how and why behind the numbers–a few basic factors (poor coverage of Europe and the dismissal of smaller players) are clearly a factor (as explored here in a look at undrafted success stories).

Overview (2009 is not included for the reasons mentioned above)
Round-by-round success rate:
First: 77/120 (64%)
Second: 30/123 (24%)
Third: 22/120 (18%)
Fourth: 16/124 (13%)
Fifth: 9/127 (7%)
Sixth: 14/123 (11%)
Seventh: 12/128 (9%)

The scaling between rounds is not surprising.  Of the 39 top-ten picks (excluding Bourdon for obvious reasons), only 2 were misses, making them 95% reliable.  Excluding the top-ten picks, the first round is still significantly stronger than the second round (40/79, 50%, excluding Cherepanov for the same obvious reason).  The third round is more meaningful than the rest, but the fourth is only a bit better than the rounds that follow; the fifth-seventh rounds are roughly all on equal footing in terms of results, which suggests there’s still room to improve scouting (as ideally there should be a decline each round; albeit the above data is a small sample size).

Team Performance (GM’s in brackets; the average is 6)
Los Angeles (Taylor/Lombardi), St. Louis (Pleau), Columbus (MacLean/Howson) 10
Montreal (Gainey), Toronto 9 (Ferguson/Burke)
San Jose (Wilson), Ottawa (Muckler/Br.Murray), New York Rangers (Sather) 8
Washington (McPhee), Detroit (Holland), Pittsburgh (Patrick/Shero), Buffalo (Regier) 7
Arizona/Phoenix (Barnett/Maloney), Nashville (Poile), New York Islanders (Milbury/Smith/Snow), Philadelphia (Clarke/Holmgren) 6
Boston (O’Connell/Chiarelli), Carolina (Rutherford), Chicago (Pulford/Tallon), Colorado (Lacroix/Giguere/Sherman), Edmonton (Lowe/Tambellini) 5
Dallas (Armstrong/Hull-Jackson/Nieuwendyk), Anaheim (Coates/Burke/Bo.Murray), Minnesota (Risebrough), New Jersey (Lamoriello) 4
Calgary (Sutter), Atlanta/Winnipeg (Waddell), Vancouver (Nonis/Gillis), Florida (Keenan/Martin) 3
Tampa Bay (Feaster/Lawton) 2

It’s difficult to imagine any scouting staff completely whiffing on an entire year, but organisations do (an average of 5 per season, so a sixth of the NHL).  It’s interesting that LA and St. Louis are benefitting from their excellent scouting (and draft position), whereas Columbus is experiencing much more modest gains (this is where the difference in quality of players manifests itself over quantity).  It seems like a good year for scouts is 2 NHL players (more than that is excellent), while there should always be at least one found (5 teams average less than one).

There’s plenty of room to assess GM’s independent of their teams (from 05-08 half, 15, of the GMs remained the same, although that drops to 13 in 2009).  A quick glance at the variance in performance for those without the same GM (up through 2008):
LA: Taylor 2/1; Lombardi 8/3 (the 2006 draft would have included some or all of Taylor’s scouting staff)
Columbus: MacLean 7/2, Howson 3/2 (the above caveat for 2007, where 1 player panned out)
Toronto: Ferguson 7/2, Burke 2 (the above caveat for 2008, with 2)
Ottawa: Muckler 5/2, Br.Murray 3/2 (the above for 2007, with 0)
Pittsburgh: Patrick 3/1, Shero 4/3 (the above for 2006, with 2)
Arizona/Phoenix: Barnett 2/1, Maloney 4/3 (the above for 2006, with 1)
New York Islanders: Milbury 0/1, Smith 2/1 (the above for 2006, with 2), Snow 4/2
Philadelphia: Clarke 2/2, Holmgren 4/2
Boston: O’Connell 1/1, Chiarelli 4/3 (the above for 2006, plus interim GM Gorton, with 3)
Chicago: Tallon 5/4 (the above for 2005 via Pulford, with 2)
Colorado: Lacroix 1/1 Giguere 4/3 (the above for 2006, with 1)
Dallas: Armstrong 4/3 Hull-Jackson 0/1 (the above for 2008, with 0)
Anaheim: Burke 2/3 Bo.Murray 2/1 (the above for 2005 via Coates, with 1; the same for 2008 with 2)
Vancouver: Nonis 2/3 Gillis 1/1 (the above for 2008, with 1)
Florida: Keenan 1/2 Martin 2/2

A few stray observations in the numbers above: Doug MacLean drafted better than expected in Columbus; my belief that Brian Burke doesn’t draft holds up; Ray Shero was awful; the lauded Peter Chiarelli did not do well at the draft; Dale Tallon’s reputation in Chicago was overrated for the draft.  As for the 15 franchises who kept the same GM’s throughout these four years, Jay Feaster was the worst, followed closely by Darryl Sutter and Don Waddell.  Larry Pleau and Bob Gainey had the best success rate.

It’s worth noting that given top-ten picks are essentially gimmies, GMs who have those picks have their numbers inflated somewhat, so in terms of which scouting staffs can assess after the automatics, here are the adjusted numbers:

Los Angeles, New York Rangers, St. Louis, Montreal, Toronto 8
Columbus, Buffalo, Detroit, Ottawa 7
San Jose 6
Washington, Nashville, Colorado, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh 5
New York Islanders, New Jersey, Boston, Edmonton, Carolina, Dallas 4
Arizona, Calgary, Anaheim 3
Minnesota, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Chicago 2
Florida, Tampa Bay 1

After the first round:

Columbus 7
Montreal, New York Rangers, Toronto, San Jose 6
Los Angeles, Buffalo, Detroit, Ottawa, Nashville, Pittsburgh 5
New York Islanders, New Jersey 4
St. Louis, Washington, Colorado, Boston, Carolina, Dallas 3
Philadelphia, Arizona, Calgary, Anaheim, Minnesota, Chicago 2
Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Florida, Tampa Bay 1

The most noticeable drop is by St. Louis, where outside the first round they’ve had middling success (Edmonton’s drop is much less surprising).

At any rate, this all just scratches the surface.  Further analysis and time is required to draw conclusions, but I think this sheds some light on the draft in the current era.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes


Luke Richardson weighed in on Binghamton (briefly) and thought last season’s debacle was due to a lack of experience, which is an odd conclusion if you look at their roster (which had an abundance of veterans).  It’s such a pat answer I wonder if it’s really what Richardson believes (the best spin I can put on it is that his best players were younger).  He also suggested there might be player movement (a trade) to make room for Chris Wideman in Ottawa (which struck me as speculation, but a welcome thought); otherwise he just had some generalities about Matt O’Connor and Shane Prince.  My two cents on Binghamton’s problems, btw, is that coaching was part of the problem (playing usage in particular), with too much reliance on older players who weren’t delivering.

corey pronman

Superstar to the blogosphere Corey Pronman (sigh) has posted his latest organisational prospect rankings (why the normally discerning Nichols accepts Pronman’s pronouncements so readily is difficult to surmise, but I’d guess it’s the platform he’s given).  For those unfamiliar with these exercises, grades are assigned on the supposed quality of the prospect pool (as long as you don’t ask for details, everybody’s happy).  I might give this approach more credit if there was any reason to believe Pronman (or anyone else) had a track record of predictive success with these assessments, but really, grades are given and then everyone forgets about them–predictions are not being held to the fire, which is odd in an era of analytics.  Let me give just one example of Pronman‘s acumen (his list from 2011):
1. David Rundblad, Defense
2. Mika Zibanejad, Left Wing
3. Nikita Filatov, Right Wing
4. Stephane Da Costa, Center
5. Jared Cowen, Defense
6. Jakob Silfverberg, Right Wing
7. Patrick Wiercioch, Defense
8. Derek Grant, Left Wing
9. Matt Puempel, Left Wing
10. Robin Lehner, Goaltender
Keep in mind guys like Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman and Chris Wideman were in the organisation at this point, so RIP prognostication or an eye for talent (I could go on about this, but you get the point).  Yes, Pronman is better than the guy on the street corner for prospect info, but let’s not go overboard with his opinions.  Anyway, I’ve talked about Pronman before so let’s go back to what Nichols does with this:

The problem with Ottawa’s depth of prospects is that while many of them safely project to be NHLers, there simply is not a lot of room for them at the parent level right now.

I assume Nichols’ point here is that he wants the deadwood removed from the roster to provide that space, but that still doesn’t make having this depth of prospects a problem.  They are useful assets–always a good thing.  Then we have:

The problem therein, is that while the system does have depth at every position, it lacks projectable impact players. Although it’s entirely possible for a prospect to exceed projections and develop into a front line player, it seems unlikely.

And what is an impact player in his opinion?  The default assumption is that it refers to a top-six forward or top-four defenseman, but if that’s what he means he’s simply wrong–there’s no question that at least a couple of the current prospects have that ability (I’m sure Nichols would agree; certainly the organisation thinks they have a future #1 goaltender in O’Connor–and that’s not just blowing smoke up the ass of the public, they traded Robin Lehner to make room for him).  What I think he’s actually referring too is elite talent, a top-line or top-pairing player, which is an entirely different question and (to me) missing the point.  Very few prospects are ever at that level and they certainly spend almost no time within systems because they “graduate” from these lists in a hurry.  While I applaud Nichols for cautioning fans against getting too excited about hidden gems and the organisation pumping the tires of prospects, he’s over the top when bemoaning the lack of “impact players” in the system.  We’d all like elite players rattling around in the minors, but it really doesn’t work that way (I’d recommend checking out my draft success article, which I’ll have to update with last season in mind).  Anyway, I still love you Nichols, I just want you to apply that critical thinking of yours to Pronman a bit more critically rather than using him as a hatchet against whoever you’re having prospect arguments with.


Hockey Prospectus (Ryan Wagman) has its own top-ten list and Callum Fraser can celebrate as they inexplicably have Ben Harpur as a Sleeper (it’s amazing how simply being big will impact opinion, “his physical gifts are immense but he is currently held back by inconsistent decision making“–I find the latter more than a little worrying).  That said, his list has no visible criteria behind it and from the information available I haven’t the slightest idea what separates the players on it.  For those of you who share the addiction to size, please read this.


Time to cleanse the palate with the inestimable Travis Yost.  Recently he’s looked at what impacts shooting percentage and come to the preliminary conclusion that talented centers have at least some impact (previously analytics guys thought the percentage was always gravitated to the average).  On a TSN podcast he offered the opinion that NHL goalies are overpaid (starts around 9:00).  He also looked at Lou Lamoriello’s draft success with the Devils and I wish he’d examined their success after the lockout.

List making is so arbitrary for prospects I’m tempted to make one myself, although I’d be looking to apply metrics of some kind to it.  Speaking of lists, I’ll need to remember to update some of my stuff on here–feel free to offer some friendly reminders.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes


The Mike Hoffman arbitration deal was another short-term win for the organisation.  The Sens get Hoffman on the cheap and if he pulls a Peter Regin they can safely eject at season’s end.  The flip side of it is that if Hoffman has another excellent season he’s going to cost them an arm and a leg to lock up long-term.  I’m happy to have him back in the lineup, although it remains to be seen how Dave Cameron uses him.


Apparently the Mikael Wikstrand saga has not yet reached its final chapter as there’s still disagreement between he and the Sens over where he’ll play in the upcoming season.  The back and forth has been perplexing to say the least, but ultimately he’s under contract with Ottawa so as far as I can tell he can’t actually refuse to come over.


I’ve never been a fan of prolonged lists cut up into dozens of pieces; its personal taste and I understand that for daily blogs they have to create content somehow.  My main issue with lists in general is that they too often aren’t grounded in any kind of criteria: what, specifically, separates player X from player Y?  I wish writers would put more effort in methodology so that their rankings meant something tangible to be discussed (and where’s the self-reflection over previous lists and how they could be improved?).  This all comes to mind because The Silver Seven are in the midst of their top-25 prospects and one comment stands out to me (from here):

with Chris Driedger looking like a solid AHL backup

He does?  Ross A is a smart guy so I know he’s seen the goaltender’s Evansville numbers–can you really take Driedger‘s very brief stint with Binghamton as representative?  It’s a smaller sample size than Andrew Hammond in the NHL.  For me it’s a very dangerous assumption and the fact the organisation feels the same is signalled by them retaining Scott GreenhamMaybe Driedger is an AHL backup, but he hasn’t proven himself yet.  That said, my only real quibble with the series thus far is Callum Fraser‘s effort as he offers no substantive reason for Ben Harpur (a marginal prospect) to appear on the list–junior playoff experience does not magically translate to AHL success.  Harpur is a big defenseman without great hands or good hockey sense–for me (as mentioned below) he has a good chance to spend a lot of time in the ECHL or as a healthy scratch.


I was about to update signings for Evansville and realised I hadn’t posted any of them as yet, so here’s a brief overview (with rookies in italics):

Tyson Fawcett (DOB 1993 ECHL 59-9-15-24) – coming off his rookie season with Brampton, the 5’6 forward was a fairly unremarkable OHL-forward, but looks to be a regular with Evansville
Justin Macdonald (DOB 1990 ECHL 20-7-5-12/FHL 46-44-58-102) – brought up from the FHL towards the end of last season, the former junior-B player was among the first players given an extension; he spent four seasons in southern tier-3 leagues
Joe Zarbo (DOB 1991 NCAA 32-12-8-20) – debuted with Evansville after graduating, he played well and should get a shot in the lineup
Thomas Gobeil (DOB 1994 BCHL 41-25-15-40) – the former QMJHL-forward was not particularly productive in major junior, so there’s a good chance he’ll spend most of his time in a lower league like the FHL

Spencer Humphries (DOB 1992 ECHL 67-3-24-27) – a late-season acquisition from Greenville, he’s signed an extension; this will be his third season as a pro after graduating from the WHL
Donnie Harris (DOB 1990 ECHL 61-1-7-8) – spent all of last year with Evansville and was among the first extended; he has four pro seasons under his belt
Chris Rumble (DOB 1990 NCAA 36-7-13-20) – son for former NHLer Darren, the NCAA grad debuted with Evansville at the end of last season
Mike Kavanagh (DOB 1988 SPHL 54-3-25-28) – tier-2 NCAA grad slots as a career tier-3 player and likely won’t see much action in Evansville

Christoffer Bengtsberg (DOB 1989 Allsvenskan 3-12-0 2.82 .889) – this is the Swede’s first venture across the pond, arriving after years of bouncing around the Swedish lower leagues; I have no idea how well his game will translate, but he wouldn’t sign if he wasn’t going to get a decent shot

Along with these strictly ECHL contracts we can expect Binghamton players like Danny Hobbs, Daultan Leveille, Matthew Zay, Matthew Wideman, Guillaume Lepine, Chris Carlisle, and possibly Vincent Dunn, Ben Harpur or Troy Rutkowski, and one of Scott Greenham/Chris Driedger.  With what’s likely from the above that makes for eight regular forwards, four defensemen, and two goaltenders, leaving plenty of room for more players to be added.

There isn’t much to miss from last season’s Evansville roster (one of the worst in ECHL history), but some of those who had a modicum of talent have signed elsewhere (Braden Pimm in tier-2 Germany, Robin Soudek went back to the Czech league [he was just released, incidentally], and Miles Bell signed in Norway), although no one from that roster is remotely irreplaceable.


A lot of fans became invested in former prospect Corey Cowick–the hometown boy done good–could he ever become that depth NHL forward, a grinder?  For myself (and others) there was never a question about his talent ceiling.  Last year he signed with Springfield, but only dressed for about half the games, so he’s had to take a contract with Florida in the ECHL for the upcoming season and unfortunately for Corey that is about where his talent gets him.  He should do well in the ECHL, but I don’t think he’ll ever be a regular AHL player again (if he wants money he’ll probably migrate to the DEL).  The point in bringing this up is that hard work isn’t enough to make up for a lack of talent–something to keep in mind whenever the organisation gets high on a player known primarily for work ethic.


It’s a funny old world.  For those who don’t know, I used to write for Sens Nation years ago, but since I gave that up I haven’t heard from them–then I happened to RT something unrelated to hockey and they RT’d it themselves.  It’s such a random thing, but I appreciate that they’re still following my feed (and perhaps reading the blog).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)