My annual draft material is in process–a fun time of year for me, but a hell of a lot of work. For any and all who enjoy it and wish to support it you can do so via Patreon.
Trevor Shackles asks a good question: what do the Sens have in Zack Smith? It’s a long piece with a fair amount of data, but can be summarized this way:
shooting over 20% isn’t sustainable for even the best of the best … scoring at a clip like he did last year has some luck involved … Beginning on the 51st game of the year, Smith began to mostly play with Mark Stone [and] Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and that’s when he really began to succeed … I think I can point to Smith and call him a good supplementary player that can chip in
I suggest you to read the entire piece as it’s quite long, but the above represents the key points. Smith had his career season buoyed by talented linemates (especially Stone). I don’t think Trevor emphasizes enough that 25 goals isn’t just an NHL high, but something Smith has never done at any level of hockey. A few things become clear when you look at the whole picture: 1) the anchors in the bottom-six caused problems not just for Smith but for Pageau as well (namely Alex Chiasson, Chris Neil, and Curtis Lazar), 2) despite having spent a lot of time as part of the dreaded trio of Greening-Smith-Neil, it’s his wingers who were the larger part of his struggles, 3) I was advocating moving Smith while his value was high, but perhaps there’s enough behind beyond these career numbers to remain.
Nichols goes over Pierre Dorion’s comments about the draft on radio. Unfortunately there’s not a lot here and Dorion wasn’t asked any interesting questions (will the team finally draft outside North America/Sweden; how will the draft improve with no meaningful additions to the scouting staff; how will the draft differ from when Bryan Murray was GM; etc). The 2015 draft showed a disturbing tendency towards size over talent, but just one year isn’t enough to make a trend. I agree with Nichols that this comment is disturbing:
we’re also looking at maybe improving our depth – having, maybe looking at getting a bit more experience. I don’t like to use the excuse that we’re young. I don’t think we’re young anymore. I think we’re a team that is looking to hit its stride and compete against some of the better teams in the league. If we can improve our depth, I think that’s definitely… looking at players that can play multiple roles on our team, that might be a bit more what we’re looking to do.
The last thing this team needs is to follow Murray’s tendency to hire veterans past their prime to take up roster spots, nor is it the team’s missing link to playoff contention depth. Ottawa needs more talent and I’m also not keen on Dorion parroting Melnyk’s constant dictum of playoffs playoffs playoffs–know what you are and work with that.
Ross A continues to link this site which is much appreciated–the reach of The Silver Seven is far greater than mine–and he mentioned that I’d criticised his praise for Luke P’s piece for WTYKY. The criticism is more about omission–I have no idea what specifically Ross was praising–the peon to Chris Phillips, the criticism of the fanbase, or all of it? I wanted more context (even if the answer is to simply boost WTYKY’s viewership).
Writing the above makes me wonder more broadly about how fans feel about strong opinions. Andrew (at WTYKY) is one of the only writers who gets as strident as I do, although there are certainly plenty of Don Cherry-clones for whom yelling disguises empty diatribes. Most traditional media simply parrots the opinions of the organisation they cover (underwriting the pulse of hockey forums and blogs). For myself I’ve always looked for opinions backed by analysis–the best facts and information available from which good arguments are made. Do fans want rainbows and unicorns? I really don’t know–sport is entertainment so perhaps that tickles their fancy more–it’s hard to say.
Free agent signing: Jonas Gunnarsoon (Nashville) via Malmo in the SHL.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)