Senators News & Notes

Before I get into the business at hand I can’t help but look at the performances of discarded Sens players (Patrick WierciochRobin LehnerJakob SilverbergMika Zibanejad, etc) and feel the pain of what could have been.  It’s difficult to feel anything other than exasperation with an organisation that is unable to recognise talent and the more you dig into it the more apparent this problem becomes.

Am I excited about the Sens .500 record?  No.  This is very much a “win now” organisation and that’s not going to cut it.  I am happy to see Ryan Dzingel doing well–I think coming into the season I was one of his only supporters.  Putting aside the sustainability of his performance, he’s another example of how if you draft for skill you’re more likely to see results.

I’m not going to get into Eugene Melnyk being crazy–he’s always been crazy–it’s sad and depressing, but there’s nothing new to add.  The only plus I take from the blogger coverage of this is the realization (for some) of how soft the local media has been on him.

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As you all know I’m very interested in prospects and organisational depth and this year has been exactly what I expected thus far–a disaster.  Mismanagement in Binghamton goes back a long way and that paired with poor prospect management by the organisation gives us a very bleak picture.  Let’s dig in, shall we?

The 2-8-1 BSens are tied for last in the Eastern Conference; they’ve only scored 20 goals–by far the fewest in the entire AHL.  Their goals against (39) is tied for 9th in the conference.  It doesn’t look like Marc Crawford’s liaison activities are having any impact, nor has Kurt Kleinendorst been able to bring his late season DEL magic to an awful roster.  Are the Binghamton Senators terrible?  Yes.  Is this expected?  Hell yes!  I’ll save a player-by-player breakdown for when they’re further into the season, but I want to highlight a few notables:

Curtis Lazar (12-2-1-3): the Sens did the right thing in sending him down to the AHL, but these are abysmal numbers–he’s a top-15 NHL pick!  Kyle Flanagan has better numbers and he’s barely an ECHLer.  There’s no sugar-coating his performance–he’s not a rookie or European, so there’s no need to adjust (mono or no mono).  Yes his teammates are awful, but that hasn’t stopped other talented players from excelling
Max McCormick (10-3-0-3): he needs to do better than this at this level; he’s 24 with plenty of experience
Buddy Robinson (12-0-3-3): any faint hope fans had of Buddy becoming an NHL-prospect are long gone; at this stage he’s to be a bottom-six AHLer
Nick Paul (12-0-1-1): I mentioned repeatedly last year that his numbers were being inflated by better players (particularly Tobias Lindberg); but hey, he’s big, right?
Vincent Dunn (8-2-0-2): they didn’t need eight games to figure out he’s an ECHL player; he should have started in Wichita
Patrick Sieloff (12-0-1-1): I knew he was going to be bad, but this bad?  Yikes–Sens should have taken a late pick instead
Ryan Rupert (12-1-0-1): Ottawa traded for him.  Just a reminder
Zack Stortini (12-1-0-1): why is he still getting powerplay time?  Why?  He’s too expensive to trade, but if Kleinendorst had guts he’d put him in the pressbox for the rest of the season and let someone with potential take his spot
Ben Harpur (8-0-0-0): he was unspeakably bad last year…and he’s pretty much the same now; but he’s big kids, lest you forget
Matt O’Connor (1-5-0 2.86 .899): I wish I’d been wrong, I really do, but we’re seeing the same kind of performance from the big goaltender as last year (he’s tied for 32nd in league save percentage)

I could go on and on (why is Guillaume Lepine still here?).  The one plus I can give you is that Chris Rumble has had a good start since being recalled (6-0-3-3), but it’s too early to know if that will last.  Andreas Englund has also been better than I feared, albeit it’s early.

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No one other than me really cares about the ECHL side of things, but a quick look at their performance with reference to Ottawa prospects who are playing there.  The team is 6-3-0 very early in their season, lead by Alexis Loiseau (9-7-7-14), an undrafted player from the Q who was with Norfolk (ECHL) last season.  Someone within the Sens org has a hard-on for Nathan Moon as the team traded for him (as Evansville did last year)–I’m not sure Wichita had a need for him, but they didn’t give up much to get him.  Defender James Melindy (who I thought the Sens might draft in 2012) has had a decent start to the season (9-0-6-6).  Sens prospects:

Macoy Erkamps (9-0-5-5): taking the Troy Rutkowski (now in Norway) route of FA signings–solid numbers to start, but how can he not beat out dead weight like Harpur and Lepine for a spot in Binghamton?
Gabriel Gagne (8-1-1-2): these are ugly numbers for a high second-round pick; no excuse for them at all

Overall the team is in a much better place than Evansville at any time, although it’s far too early to make serious assessments.

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Time for a quick update on how various Sens prospects are doing:

CHL
Filip Chlapik (Charlottetown; 2-48/15) 19-18-16-34 (1st in scoring)
Cody Donaghey (Charlottetown; T-16) 22-8-17-25 (1st in blueline scoring)
Filip Ahl
 (Regina; 4-109/15) 17-16-8-24 (tied for 3rd in scoring)
Logan Brown (Windsor; 1-11/16) 15-8-13-21 (tied for 1st in scoring)
Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current; 5-133/16) 20-2-9-11 (3rd in blueline scoring)
Tomas Chabot (Saint John; 1-18/15) 4-1-7-8 (not enough gp to matter)

NCAA
Colin White (Boston; 1-21/15) 12-7-3-10 (sophomore; 6th in team scoring)
Robert Baillargeon (Arizona; 5-136/12) 9-6-3-9 (senior; leads team in scoring)
Kelly Summers (Clarkson; 7-189/14) 12-1-4-5 (junior, 3rd in blueline scoring)
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire; 4-100/14) 11-2-3-5 (junior; tied for 8th in scoring)
Christian Wolanin (North Dakota; 4-107/15) 9-0-4-4 (sophomore; tied for 2nd in blueline scoring)
Mile Gendron (Connecticut; 3-70/14) 11-1-2-3 (sophomore; tied for 2nd in blueline scoring)
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack; 6-161/13) 3-1-1-2 (senior)
Todd Burgess (RPI; 4-103/16) has not played (freshman)
Joel Daccord (Arizona; 7-199/15) 4.92 .870 (freshman; last in GAA, 2nd in save percentage)

Europe
Jonathan Dahlen (Timra; 2-42/16) 19-7-7-14 (2nd in scoring)
Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr; 6-163/16) 10-6-6-12 (tied for 1st in scoring)
Christian Jaros (Lulea; 5-139/15) 16-2-4-6 (tied for 2nd in blueline scoring)
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping; 3-78/13) 2.70 .892 (worse numbers than his partner)

It’s far too early to really assess performances yet–players get hot, get cold, get injured–a lot of factors contribute to early returns.

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The sports network is bleeding subscribers–ten million since 2013, four million in the past year, and 621,000 just in October.  Combine this with declining NFL ratings matching the continuing trend of sports disappearing off the entertainment map of Millennials, and I’m interested to see what (if anything) is done to stem the tide.  Are sports leagues ala American car manufacturers, where they’ll refuse to change until it’s far too late (no government bailout as an option, however)?  Or will they aim for changes to improve those numbers?  When it comes to hockey I have no doubt nothing meaningful will change until its far too late–not that I expect an end to the NHL, but serious contraction is a possibility.  I’m not sure when all of this comes home to roost–most of the leagues have 5-10 years of protection via massive TV deals–but after that?  It’s going to get interesting.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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