Bryan Murray made a head-scratchingly awful move today, signing discarded Toronto PTO Mark Fraser to a two-way deal so that he can be terrible for Binghamton (follow the link and look not just at his stats but his underlying analytics). There’s nothing about this move that makes any sense at all and Fraser is simply going to use up ice time better served by anyone else–commiserations to the fans in Binghamton who will be stuck watching him fumble about in his own end.
Speaking of analytics, Joss Weissbock applies it to both Tobias Lindberg and Nick Paul where he talks among other things about Prospect Cohort Success as a method of predictive methods (interestingly, it includes height as a factor, but I’ll react fully to it below). He thinks Paul is most likely a fourth-line player who has a slight chance of being a top-six forward (he also seems to proscribe to the cult of Corey Pronman). As for Lindberg, he thinks he has greater potential of becoming a top-six forward, albeit the odds are still stronger that he’s a marginal player. I have a lot of problems with Weissbock’s method, which compares players of different eras without any sort of sophistication and includes one element (height) which I think is virtually irrelevant in the post-Dead Puck Era. It’s a surprisingly unsophisticated system, although given the lack of advanced data in junior leagues I suppose there’s not much choice (I applaud the effort, but not the specifics).
The Sens made a round of expected cuts sending the bulk of Binghamton players into Luke Richardson’s warm embrace (with the exception of Gabriel Gagne who went back to the QMJHL). Three of the players are on waivers and the only one I’d hate to lose is Cole Schneider (the others are David Dziurzynski and Patrick Mullen), even though there’s virtually no chance anyone will claim him.
Nichols‘ offers his own early summary of the Wikstrand situation, including a couple of churlish comments by Bryan Murray that I agree come across as remarkably petty.
23. This is a liminal moment for my fandom. I don’t think I’m alone in that. The competing forces are seen in the competing forces of this piece. A new season is near and on the one side there’s jokes, concerns about my team, and questions about where the Sens fit when stacked against the competition. These are logical, acceptable, and typical things to be concerned about. It’s what fans are supposed to be preoccupied by. But then there’s the building storm, of disrespect and discrimination, of violence and sexual assault. It feels like this is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. But I can’t give up something I love right now and I won’t be made to go away or stop talking about it. There are many in the hockey community with a stronger resolve. This league with eventually, grudgingly, angrily submit and change.
First of all, I appreciated the vocabulary. That aside, if Andrew thinks disrespect, discrimination, violence and sexual assault are worse in the NHL than they have been in the past then he needs to do a little research–it was much worse 10-30 years ago, although the fact that it was under reported or ignored makes that hard to appreciate. The NHL is an old, conservative, clunky organisation that has to be bludgeoned into modern sensibilities and just like any corporation it’s far more concerned with protecting its image than doing the right thing. For me it’s encouraging that the NHL is taking halting, plodding steps in the right direction (even if it’s just mouthing what’s expected)–of course I’d like the changes to be faster, but that’s simply not something I can expect (we still live in a world with the Washington Redskins after all). As long as the trend is positive I remain encouraged, although I understand how easy it is to give in to cynicism.
A different part of his post:
7. Sens fans often look at the organization’s glut of replacement level NHL defenders and NHL-ready blueliners as a negative thing. Mark Borowiecki, Jared Cowen, and Chris Phillips aren’t providing anything special at the NHL level and are blocking the way of potential NHL candidates like Chris Wideman, Mikael Wikstrand, and Fredrik Claesson. The trio represent a variety of skill sets and Wideman and Wikstrand appear to have the inside track, not the least because they possess different skills (read: puck moving) than the trio currently filling out Ottawa’s bottom pairing. However, this depth also insulates the team from making decisions that aren’t in their long term interest. Thomas Chabut has dazzled since hearing his name called in the first round in June. While his skating and offensive instincts are most noticeable, he looked great with Erik Karlsson in Ottawa’s pre-season opener. However, Ottawa’s depth means it’s likely a couple years before he’s seriously got a chance at cracking the Senators’ blueline. That’s not a bad thing at all. On the contrary, the list of defenseman Ottawa has rushed to the NHL recently includes Cody Ceci and Jared Cowen, illustrating that it doesn’t always work out.
I can’t recall anyone outside of forums demanding that younger players be rushed (I certainly wouldn’t want Chabot inserted into the lineup). The argument is that the depth players on NHL-contracts are worse than players being sent to the AHL–so it’s a question of quality, not quantity.
One of the things Hockey’s Future does that I enjoy are previews of the European leagues with looks at NHL prospects (or potential prospects) on their collective rosters. Chapin Landvogt does Sweden it in two-parts and as the Sens have three prospects playing there (their season has already started), here’s his preview for those three teams:
Djurgarden (Andreas Englund)
Last season the team made the pre-playoffs after moving up from the Allsvenskan and almost won in the process. It was a huge step considering the team made regular use of so many younger players, many of whom were NHL draft picks. This makes Djurgarden one of the most interesting teams in Europe for fans in North America to take note of. … Things are looking bright and many pundits around see this team finishing anywhere from 5th to 10th. The fact is, though, that if their go-to players continue to produce, then there is plenty of depth and young exuberance to have this team competing well into the spring. … The defense continues to be young and beaming with NHL draftees…. Englund with a whole SHL season under his belt, is ready for more responsibility, and he will be given just that.
Englund is one of those big, physical defenseman the organisation is so fond of. He’s the second youngest defenseman on the blueline and the can spend one additional season in the SHL before the Sens have to make a decision on signing him or not.
HV71 (Filip Ahl)
The team features a decent but underwhelming goaltending duo and a very young (albeit promising) blueline after a decent top four. There is lots of proven talent in the lineup, despite featuring many young, healthy legs. … Far too many of the teams key players played under their abilities for big parts of last season. … Ahl has much to prove this season as there were plenty of ups and downs last season. At the moment, he appears to have a fourth-line role all set up for himself in 2015-16.
Ahl is projected as a grinding power forward and is one of several young players vying for playing time on HV71 (including a pair of 17-year olds). He can spend another two seasons in the SHL and shouldn’t be expected to put up numbers this season–just being dressed is a positive sign for him.
Linkoping (Marcus Hogberg)
This club has added a new coach and a number of new players after losing three of its four top scorers last season. Featuring a whole bunch of youth on the blueline and a goaltending duo that could really stick out this season, there is hardly any doubt that this team should safely get into the playoffs and could then make some real noise once there. … There is a strong goaltending duo featuring young starter Marcus Hogberg, who many feel may top the list amongst Swedish goalies this year. … Also, the defensive unit is full of youngsters with NHL potential, but hardly a blueline in the SHL will be this young. … Hogberg is expected to be the starter. Hogberg was excellent last season until the playoffs rolled around. Many feel he is ready to dominate this season as a 20-year-old.
Hogberg is a big, athletic goaltender playing out his final year of eligibility before the Sens have to decide to sign him or not (there’s no chance he won’t be signed). He’s competing for playing time with 30-year old David Rautio and I expect whoever is playing better will get the starts. I’ve been high on Hogberg for quite some time, but the fantasy scouting community has started to come around as well. How well he transitions to the North American game will be interesting to watch next year.
Evansville traded for defenseman Andrew Himelson (DOB 1990 ECHL 50-6-10-16), a former NCAA grad who put up middling numbers at Clarkson who is entering his third pro season; they also re-signed forward Jordan Sims (DOB 1989 ECHL 24-2-4-6/SPHL 33-9-12-21), another former NCAA player (Connecticut) who is entering his second pro season and simply adds some depth.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)