Ross A writes a piece asking why the Sens can’t make blockbuster trades (in light of New Jersey stealing Taylor Hall from Edmonton–poor Adam Larsson!). It’s a somewhat rhetorical question since Bryan Murray has acquired players like Dany Heatley, Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan, and Dion Phaneuf, but with the exception of the Turris trade you can make arguments that the Sens did not (or will not) “win” these moves. So what’s the problem? To me it remains the organisation’s over (or under) evaluation of its own talent. How many times did the org resist trading Chris Neil, Chris Phillips, Jared Cowen, etc over the years? How quickly did Murray pull the trigger to send emerging talents like Jakob Silverberg or Ben Bishop, or picks like the ones that became Kyle Palmieri or Vladimir Tarasenko? I’ve spent years reading comments by the org about various players and their unending love for older players and grinders has hurt their ability to capitalize on assets over and over again. We can only hope the Dorion regime can start to reverse the trend, although his frustration about the struggles to move the dead weight that was Alex Chiasson and the devalued Patrick Wiercioch suggests the same blindness.
It’s exactly this kind of thinking that James Mirtle addresses in the wake of the aforementioned trade:
The general manager of a Canadian NHL team, in pursuit of the old-school hockey ideal of grit or size or some other intangible, moving key pieces and/or salary-cap space out in order to change the mix. … The Canadian NHL teams have been, by and large, horribly mismanaged. They are, generally speaking, not progressive organizations, not adept at change and not finding ways to outmanoeuvre their competition. Most are well behind in areas such as analytics.
Oh how true it is. When Mirtle talks about the Canadian teams that are starting to change for the better, Ottawa is not among them–something for fans to keep in mind.
Speaking of the aforementioned discarding pieces, Nichols wonders where the Sens go from here:
as much as I like Pageau as a player, he needs help and to be successful, he needs a smart, two-way forward who can help transition the puck and effectively move it from the defensive zone to the opposition’s end where the Senators could sustain pressure. Condra was good at this and so was Mark Stone, without either player, I don’t see someone on the current roster or within the current system who can step in and fill that role.
I agree that Stone isn’t someone whose performance you could duplicate for the benefit of his former linemates, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t another strong puck possession player available in the system.
Similarly, even though prospects like Ryan Dzingel and Nick Paul saw time down the stretch with the big club, neither player was particularly effective with their play down the stretch. There were moments, sure, but, on the whole, both players could afford to spend more time in the AHL developing their game.
I agree with Nichols about Nick Paul, but as someone who saw a lot of Ryan Dzingel at the AHL-level, there’s nothing left for him to learn there. Along with Tobias Lindberg he was able to drive possession under Luke Richardson’s stifling regime. Clearly his tools weren’t very apparent at the NHL-level or Nichols’ wouldn’t be so dismissive of him, but 30 games during a terrible season doesn’t dissuade me from liking him. What I’m not a fan of are the two veterans Nichols proposes fill in for that spot: the antique Chris Kelly (35 with injury problems) and Lee Stempniak (33)–these are Bryan Murray-type signings, and if I had to pick one I’d take the latter, but I’d pass on both.
Sens prospect Filip Ahl will suit up for the Regina Pats in the WHL during the upcoming season. It’s a good move for Ahl as he’ll truly be able to showcase himself (Tobias Lindberg made a similar move two seasons ago and that landed him his ELC, a sentiment echoed by the org).
Speaking of prospects, Callum Fraser writes a human-interest piece on Maxime Lajoie that’s worth reading.
I’ve been writing this blog for five years now and I’ve seen the landscape of the Sens blogosphere go through a lot of changes in that time. As I’ve said before, my favourite bloggers are Nichols and Travis Yost, but I had no idea either read my stuff until this summer (for the former) and just the other day (for the latter). It’s flattering to know. Both are better writers than I am and both use analytics more adroitly, so they are delight to read (whether I agree with their specific opinions or not).
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)