The Saga of Mikael Wikstrand continues as he’s flown back to Sweden, with the initial reports saying it was an effort to return to his club team, but he’s subsequently Tweeted that he has a very ill family member. Before that came out the Sens suspended him. Pierre McGuire, incidentally (and before the reason was given) didn’t think his departure would taint him for the organisation. This is a bizarre situation, although if the family emergency is serious enough I can’t blame him too much for not following normal procedure. Murray, incidentally (before the illness news came out), compared Wikstrand to the situation he had with Samuel Pahlsson during his days in Anaheim.
Callum Fraser pulled a Nichols (who latter did his own typing and his thoughts are always worth reading) and jotted down Bryan Murray’s interview with Bob McKenzie where, beyond his mantra about a “top-six guy” (a “veteran guy”), he did say a couple of interesting things:
Patrick [Wiercioch] had said to me earlier “if I could play 10 or 15 games without sitting out a game, you’d find out what I am.” And we did that and we found out what he is, and sometimes you’re happy the phone call didn’t come back to make the trade.
It’s amazing to think that Murray only realized what the fanbase already knew by accident (injuries to Phillips and a coaching change that provided the opportunity)–it’s a good illustration of how much he seems to struggle with identifying talent over the past few years. His comments on Jared Cowen were also illuminating:
I expect a good defensive defenseman. He’s 6 foot 5, he’s pretty mobile, he’s healthy now. He’s had a couple years of not very good health, hip, knee and different things. I think he’s behind the curve for his age group, but I expect he to play solid, be a matchup guy and move the puck. He doesn’t have to do anything offensively. He thinks he’s a more offensive guy than I think he is. When he buys the fact that he is what he is, big, strong and defensive, he’ll be a top four, No. 5 defenseman.
Talk about lowered expectations! A #5 defenseman? A top-ten pick maybe could fit into your bottom pair? For someone who tends to have tunnel vision over his favourites this is a stark admission and a bad sign for Cowen‘s future. The myopia Murray has is part of the reason he moved Eric Gryba (to open up playing time for Cowen), but if exhibition games are anything to go on he’s a long way removed from even being a depth player.
On Chris Wideman:
He’s a waiver guy, we’ve got to give him a little bit of an inside track because of that. We do have a couple of other younger guys that look like they need some games, but could play, as fill, nothing else. But I think Wideman is the next guy (after Cowen and Borowiecki), yes.
This is good to hear, but also a strong indication that Shane Prince (another “waiver guy”) is equally on the inside track (something also bolstered by Matt Puempel‘s recent injury). Finally, an organisational comment:
When we do have a problem, we can fill it with somebody internally.
This is, I think, a reference to injuries and clearly does not impact his belief that he might need a top-six forward or another defenseman.
Incidentally, Ary M looks at the Sens issues with observational bias in respect to Mike Hoffman and it’s well worth reading (it dovetails off things Nichols has discussed, but it reinforces the point).
I watched Ottawa’s 5-2 win over Buffalo. Exhibition games don’t mean much of anything, but I have a few observations regardless: Jared Cowen was slow, out of position, and bad at moving the puck (Michaela Schreiter thought he was okay); Matt Puempel was utterly invisible except for his part in the Chaisson goal; Guillaume Lepine made a lot of bad decisions. Both goalies were good (O’Connor more so than Driedger), as were most of the prospects you’d expect to do well. Tobias Lindberg was pretty quiet, but he wasn’t bad. I was surprised by the play of Patrick Mullen, who looked pretty good (decisions with the puck and defensively), which runs contrary to what Binghamton fans witnessed last season.
Travis Yost talks about how score effects impact statistical data and the importance of analysts to factor it in.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)
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