About a week ago Nichols floated the idea of the Sens signing 35-year old, broken down Chris Kelly. I thought the idea was verging on the ridiculous, but pointed out it would be a typical Bryan Murray signing (a player past his prime with a local connection). Sadly this idea has come to pass as today the Sens signed their former draft pick to a one-year deal. Kelly played all of 11 games last year after fracturing his left femur, but when healthy with the Bruins the year before put up typical numbers. NHL players who aren’t goalies only decline in their 30s so to expect a performance akin to that wouldn’t be reasonable (Nichols sounds delightfully naive in learning Kelly hasn’t been great in the faceoff circle in years). For those of you who want to read a positive spin on the signing both Nichols and Ross A are here for you–neither bothers to include substance behind what makes it a good move (analytics etc; in fairness to Ross his is basically a news blurb), with the former mostly being about the struggles of Curtis Lazar (and yes I agree time in Binghamton would be good for him). Can I be persuaded this is a good move? Maybe (with the appropriate numbers). Could the move work out? It’s possible, but to me it comes across as cheap fan-service to placate an aging and nostalgic fanbase.
The Sens announced a new ECHL affiliate agreement with the Wichita Thunder. As Ross A points out they are not conveniently located for Binghamton (or Belleville for that matter). The term wasn’t listed (their deal with Evansville was for two years), but Witchita was actually worse than the IceMen this past season (second last in the league), so it’s not even necessarily an upgrade. From what I can tell there’s no fan website or blog devoted to the team (unlike Evansville), so it appears news about the Thunder will only be available from official organs.
I decided to look back at my prognostication of the European free agent pool (posted back in March), so below includes all the NHL-signings (including players from previous lists) along with any other player-movement from the current crop:
Marcus Sorensen – signed by San Jose
Linus Hultstrom – signed by Florida
Lukas Bengtsson – signed by Pittsburgh
Anatoli Golyshev – drafted by the Islanders
Tim Heed – signed by San Jose (2015 list)
Jere Sallinen – signed by Edmonton (2013 list)
John Norman – KHL
Juuso Ikonen – signed by Djurgardens
Otso Rantakari – signed by Tappara
Sami Rajaniemi – signed by Jukurit
Konstantin Komarek – SHL
Understandably the question posed looking at lists like this is: how often do these signings work out? The answer is sometimes (3-7): Panarin, Donskoi, and Brunner are or were solid signings (the jury is still out on Ronalds Kenins, Dennis Rasmussen and Borna Rendulic, although it’s likely they will land on the failure side). What I will say is the odds of a European FA in this age category panning out is better than signings from the NCAA–whether that’s due to just how many college kids are signed (flooding the numbers) or something else I couldn’t say. The above, incidentally, doesn’t include players like Melker Karlsson (SJ) who I never listed.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)