Senators News & Notes

Re-signing Zack Smith comes as no surprise–he got a four-year deal for no reason back in 2011 after all–the thinking is very short-term and out of sync with the normal performance arc for NHL players (Travis Yost broke down this trend back in 2015):

scoring-and-shots

Smith has more wear-and-tear on his body than your average NHLer, so when he hits that wall the precipice will be deep.  It’s also painfully obvious that Smith needs better players around him to perform–when removed from talented linemates (like Mark Stone) he regresses to a mediocre-to-bad depth player.

The acquisition of Tommy Wingels (for the AHL-side of things see below) is about as significant as finding a nickel on the street–it’s an extra five cents you can do something with, but how much can you really do with five cents?  Ross A provides non-analytical thoughts about the move, but even when someone (Nichols? [and here he is]) goes through the numbers Wingels is nothing to run a temperature over–just a salary and roster spot the Sharks wanted to clear (as Fear the Finn makes clear).

Binghamton_Senators_svg

My prayers have been answered as the biggest piece of dead weight in Binghamton has been jettisoned.  I have to believe that Kleinendorst played a role in the trade that moved Buddy RobinsonZack Stortini, and a 7th round pick to San Jose.  Stortini hadn’t played since December 26th (scratched for 9-straight games and missing 16 of the last 18), having no place in the lineup.  Robinson is a solid enough player, but the long hoped-for jump in his production never took place (here are his by-season points-per-game):
2013-14 0.44
2014-15 0.45
2015-16 0.37
2016-17 0.36
Certainly the Sens (and more particularly, the BSens) aren’t losing much here (although I hate the org throwing in picks with every deal).  Bingo clears out space (if they want to use it) to add a veteran contract to the AHL-roster.  Just a final Stortini note, here’s the team’s with-or-without you wins/losses this year (with winning percentage):
Stortini dresses: 5-14-3 (0.29)
Stortini scratched: 13-5-0 (0.72)

prospects

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last update, so here’s a look at how various Sens prospects are doing (players are organised by points-per-game, PPG):

CHL
Filip Chlapik (Charlottetown; 2-48/15) 34-24-31-55 (1.61)
He’s second in the league in PPG (behind Swiss-import and draft-eligible Nico Hischier); he’s far ahead of any of his teammates in production
Logan Brown (Windsor; 1-11/16) 25-12-21-33 (1.32)
Tenth in the league in PPG (very much in a second tier of players behind the top-five); he’s slightly ahead of teammate Gabriel Vilardi in production
Tomas Chabot
(Saint John; 1-18/15) 18-5-18-23 (1.27)
Tied for 19th in the league in PPG (2nd for defensemen behind Nashville pick Samuel Girard), but his sample size is a small so that’s worth keeping in mind
Filip Ahl (Regina; 4-109/15) 34-21-16-37 (1.08)
He’s 47th in WHL scoring in PPG and 7th on his own team; Sens likely expected more, although the numbers aren’t disastrous
Cody Donaghey (Charlottetown/Sherbrooke; T-16) 43-10-25-35 (0.81)
Has no points for his new team after having refused a move to Val-d’Or
Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current; 5-133/16) 47-7-24-31 (0.65)
Tied for 22nd among blueliners in PPG and 2nd on his team just behind draft-eligible Artyom Minulin

NCAA
Colin White (Boston; 1-21/15, sophomore) 22-11-8-19 (0.86)
He’s just ahead of Boston pick Ryan Fitzgerald and Matt Gaudreau for PPG on his team
Robert Baillargeon (Arizona; 5-136/12, senior) 26-9-11-20 (0.76)
Leads his terrible team in production; not sure he’s done enough to earn an ELC
Christian Wolanin (North Dakota; 4-107/15, sophomore) 22-3-11-14 (0.63)
Second on his team in blueline production behind Jet pick Tucker Poolman
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack; 6-161/13, senior) 15-4-3-7 (0.46)
Middling numbers on a low-scoring team
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire; 4-100/14, junior) 24-4-7-11 (0.45)
Middling numbers and a million miles behind 5’6 leading scorer Tyler Kelleher
Kelly Summers (Clarkson; 7-189/14, junior) 25-1-10-11 (0.44)
Just behind Detroit pick James De Haas for blueline scoring
Miles Gendron
(Connecticut; 3-70/14, sophomore) 25-3-7-10 (0.40)
Leads the team in scoring from the blueline
Todd Burgess (RPI; 4-103/16, freshman)
Has not played this year due to injury
Joel Daccord (Arizona; 7-199/15, freshman) 2-7-0 4.62 .864
Continues to have the worst save precentage of the three goaltenders playing for Arizona, but his GAA moved to second

Europe
Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr/TPS/TUTO) 21-10-11-21 (1.00)
Has not dressed for TUTO (in the Mestis, the Finnish second division) after having been loaned there from TPS
Jonathan Dahlen (Timra; 2-42/16) 32-16-10-26 (0.81)
Second in points and PPG on his team (behind draft-eligible Elias Pettersson) and 14th in the league (the Allsvenskan); he’s second in the league for players 19 and under (again behind Pettersson)
Christian Jaros (Lulea; 5-139/15) 29-4-8-12 (0.41)
In a three-way tie for the lead in blueliner scoring on his low-scoring team; tied for 17th in overall blueline scoring, but second among those 20 and under (behind undrafted Sebastian Aho)
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping; 3-78/13) 12-11-0 2.08 .926
Continues to have better numbers than his goaltending partner (Jacob Johansson); he’s fifth in the league in save percentage, but second among those 22 and under (behind Islander pick Linus Soderstrom)

journalism

I don’t want to pick on Callum Fraser specifically, but his piece on Fredrik Claesson is a useful and recent example of something rampant in sports coverage that bothers me.  For those unfamiliar with the particular post it’s Claesson giving a bunch of generic answers to generic questions with no bulwark of data or analysis to go with it.  Other than human-interest I have no idea what value something like this is supposed to have–its ilk fills the sports coverage from the Ottawa Sun and Ottawa Citizen and it’s quite superfluous.  For an interview like this to function you have to pair a player’s comments with some sort of argument–perhaps he’s struggling (which you have to establish), and the conversation is geared towards that, or perhaps he’s having a great season (which, again, you have to establish) and you’re comparing his sense of it to what the numbers tell you.  There are plenty of ways to make an interview relevant, but it’s not happening here or in 99% of similar pieces.  It’s the kind of thing bloggers in particular should steer clear of because it overlaps what the regular media already provides in earnest.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Senators News & Notes

curtis lazar

Nichols writes with understandable incredulity that Curtis Lazar has some apparent trade value despite any appearance of NHL-usefulness.  There are GMs out there for whom “good in the corners” or “good in the room” is valuable.  How much value?  I’d guess not much–an underperforming prospect or a late 2nd/early 3rd round pick.  The Sens historically either overvalue or undervalue their prospects however (we all remember when Mike Hoffman was put on waivers), so I can imagine them holding on to Lazar long enough that they get even less for him.

New Jersey Devils v Ottawa Senators

It’s sad to say but I was not surprised when I heard the Sens were shutting down Clarke MacArthur for the season.  Nichols writes a piece largely focused on where the Sens go from here without him, but I wish he’d delved more into his salient Tweet from a few days earlier:

Feel terrible for MacArthur, but wish Dorion never guaranteed publicly that MacArthur would play this season.

This isn’t the only instance of the org making irresponsible promises, but certainly one of the most obvious.

6sp-erc neu #RLL

The good vibes have continued in BSens land as they continue to thrive in a Stortini-free lineup.  The team is 3-1-0 since my last update, despite an anemic powerplay and getting badly outshot (warning signs that things could change quite quickly).  Scoring remains reasonably high (12 goals) and goaltending has been strong.  Kleinendorst’s willingness to scratch players management is fond of has been a huge boon.

STATS

Hockey Graphs looked at data and determined that expected primary points are a better predictor of future scoring than shots or total points.   The piece adds:

incorporating passing metrics into player evaluation continues to outperform existing public metrics that attempt to predict point production. This remains logical and a missing piece in player evaluation across the league. There is still significant value to be add [added] in the trade and free agent market by exploiting uninformed teams that fail to properly evaluate their players. At the player level, passing needs to be accounted for. 

journalism

When researching for my article a couple of posts back I was looking at newspaper circulation numbers and thought I’d share the relevant ones for this area (you can read the data yourself here; I’m looking at weekly circulation and I’ve included who owned the paper):
The Globe and Mail
2008 1,996,582 Bell Globemedia
2015 2,149,124 Woodbridge (+7.64%)
National Post
2008 1,182,206 CanWest
2015 1,097,080 Postmedia (-7.2%)
Ottawa Citizen
2008 900,197 CanWest
2015 626,272 Postmedia (-30.42%)
Metro Ottawa
2008 300,000 Metro International
2015 238,651 Torstar (-20.44%)
Ottawa Sun
2008 274,628 Quebecor
2015 266,777 Postmedia (-2.85%)
Pembroke Daily Observer
2008 32,429 Quebecor
2015 16,655 Postmedia (-48.64%)

Everything Postmedia here shows a downward trend of some sort, with a precipitous drop for The Ottawa Citizen (yet still dominating the Sun for readership).  Not surprisingly, the company has issues (although in the bizarre way the corporate world works the company was given an award for increasing it’s advertising despite attributing much of its losses to a loss in advertising).

wichita-thunder-logo

Roster moves continue for Wichita (quite normal for an ECHL franchise); they picked up Zach O’Brien from the German second division (not the same team leading scorer Alexis Loiseau signed with); they traded another Sens org favourite (Nick Trecapelli) in return for Jake Bolton from Atlanta.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

European Undrafted Success Stories Revisited

I haven’t updated my undrafted success stories out of Europe article in a couple of years and there’s no time like the present. I’ve focused on the post-lockout NHL because of the different parameters in which players are viewed (particularly undersized players).  I’ve set the “European pro” bar at 23 (anything earlier and I consider the player to still be a prospect, drafted or not).  The numbers next to the player’s name are their stats prior to being signed.

2006 (3)
Niklas Backstrom (G, Liiga) 32-9-10, 1.68, .940 – 413 NHL games
Patrick Thoresen (SEL) 50-17-19-36 – 106 NHL games
Patrick Fischer (NLA) 44-21-32-53 – 27 NHL games

2007 (4)
Jonas Hiller (G, NLA) 28-16, 2.60 – 404 NHL games
Cory Murphy (D, Liiga) 45-13-37-50 – 91 NHL games
Erik Ersberg (G, SEL) 41GP, 2.39, .908 – 69 NHL games
Jaroslav Hlinka (Cze) 46-19-38-57 – 63 NHL games

2008 (7)
Antti Niemi (G, Liiga) 26-14-6, 2.35, .926 – 386 NHL games coming into this season; won a Cup with Chicago
Ville Leino (Liiga) 55-28-49-77 – 296 NHL games
Tim Stapleton (Liiga) 55-29-33-62 – 118 NHL games
Anssi Salmela (D, Liiga) 56-16-16-32 – 112 NHL games
Fabian Brunnstrom (SEL) 54-9-28-37 – 104 NHL games
Ryan Vesce (Liiga) 56-26-18-44 – 19 NHL games
Per Ledin (SEL) 52-16-17-33 – 3 NHL games

2009 (5)
Jonas Gustavsson (G, SEL) 42GP, 1.96, .932 – 179 NHL games coming into this season
Mika Pyorala (Liiga) 55-21-22-43 – 36 NHL games
Henrik Karlsson (G, SEL) 34GP, 2.45, .914 – 26 NHL games
Alexander Salak (G, Liiga) 20-20-9, 2.40, .923 – 2 NHL games
Johan Backlund (G, SEL) 2.56, .907 – 1 NHL game

2010 (3)
Mats Zuccarello (SEL) 55-23-41-64 (1.16) – 303 NHL games coming into this season
Jussi Rynnas (G, Liiga) 14-13-1, 2.71, .911 – 4 NHL games
Marcel Muller (DEL) 53-24-32-56 – 3 NHL games

2011 (3)
Raphael Diaz (D, NLA) 45-12-27-39 (0.86) – 201 NHL games
Victor Bartley (D, Allsvenskan) 52-11-23-34 – 121 NHL games
Iiro Tarkki (G, Liiga) 20-20-14, 2.09, .924 – 1 NHL game

2012 (4)
Viktor Fasth (G, SHL) 2.04, .934 – 63 NHL games
Roman Cervenka (KHL) 54-23-16-39 – 39 NHL games
Daniel Bang (SHL) 50-8-10-18 – 8 NHL games
Harri Pesonen (Liiga) 60-21-14-35 – 4 NHL games

2013 (2)
Michael Raffl (Allsvenskan) 49-24-22-46 – 217 NHL games coming into this season
Antti Raanta (G, Liiga) 1.85 .943 – 64 NHL games coming into this season

2014 (6)
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (SHL) 52-20-15-35 – 155 NHL games coming into this season
Melker Karlsson (SHL) 48-9-16-25 – 118 NHL games coming into this season
Dennis Everberg
(Allsvenskan) 47-17-17-34 – 70 NHL games
Dennis Rasmussen (SHL) 52-16-24-40 – 44 NHL games coming into this season
Ronalds Kenins (NLA) 39-8-17-25 – 38 NHL games
Borna Rendulic (Liiga) 57-11-21-32 – 14 NHL games

2015 (8)
Artemi Panarin (KHL) 54-26-36-62 – 80 NHL games coming into this season
Sergei Kalinin (KHL) 58-12-13-25 – 78 NHL games coming into this season
Andreas Martinsen (DEL) 50-18-23-41 – 55 NHL games coming into this season
Yvgeni Medvedev (D, KHL) 43-3-13-16 – 45 NHL games
Sergei Plotnikov (KHL) 56-15-21-36 – 45 NHL games
Joonas Kemppainen (Liiga) 59-11-21-32 – 44 NHL games
Jakub Nakladal (D, Liiga) 50-3-12-15 – 30 NHL games
Vojtech Mozik (D, Czech) 51-10-19-29 – 7 NHL games

2016 (5)
Nikita Zaitsev (D, KHL) 46-8-18-26 – playing for Toronto
Michal Kempny (D, KHL) 59-5-16-21 – playing for Chicago
Roman Lyubimov (KHL) 52-7-7-14 – playing for Philadelphia
Yohann Auvitu (D, Liiga) 48-6-15-21 – playing for New Jersey
Tim Heed (D, SHL) 52-8-15-23 – has played for San Jose

No players have been directly signed from the Slovak Elite League, Erste Bank Liga (Austria), Get Ligaen (Norway), or Al-Bank Ligaen (Denmark).

There are 50 players above (27 forwards, 11 defensemen, and 12 goaltenders); to get a sense of their value there are 6 skaters who have played two seasons worth of games, along with 7 goalies who have played at least 60 games.  Excluding this years players (for obvious reasons) that’s 13 of 45 (28%), which as risks go is pretty solid (it’s slightly above the rate of 2nd round picks, whose success rate stands at 26% in recent times).  Understandably there are far fewer impact players–no defensemen of note, just two forwards (Zuccarello and Panarin), along with three starting goaltenders–but given how few high end players go undrafted it’s still significant.  A notable change from when I first started looking at this is that there hasn’t been a starting goaltender found since Niemi way back in 2008, suggesting that NHL scouts have improved in that area (and clearly the desperate need for blueliners has prevented any uber-talented defender from reaching this list).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

travisyost

Travis Yost asks the question: are the Sens better under Guy Boucher?  He looks primarily at the defence corps where the trends are negative, pointing to reductions in Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot‘s performances and illustrating the well-understood failings of Cody Ceci and Dion Phaneuf.  He concludes:

At the end of the day, I think you have to ask at the midway point whether or not this team is any better under Boucher. They certainly appear like a different team. But, when you start adding everything up, it’s as if Ottawa has just sacrificed offence at the altar of better defence. And that better defence part? It’s still up for debate.

The above prompted Nichols to comb through additional data and the only tangible improvement is on the PK, but he’s not sure that’s actually a system improvement or simply due to factors that will change over time.

Both sets of analysis point back to what I found looking at the impact of coaching about a year ago, where it’s extremely difficult to separate out the effect of coaching versus the quality of the roster itself.  Good teams thrive despite poor coaching (Tortorella?), while bad teams will struggle with good coaching.

postmedia

There was some Twitter hubbub over Don Brennan a few days back and while I think Brennan is of no importance he’s an excuse to talk about the state of the media in reference to sports (I haven’t discussed Brennan’s opinions since 2015 and not his hockey opinions since March of 2014–his stupidity can be entertaining, but there’s no point in addressing his opinions).

For those who don’t know: Postmedia has owned the former Sun properties since 2014.  The company is run by the conservative Paul Godfrey, who also ran Sun Media from 1991-2000 (under MacLean-Hunter, Rogers Communication, it’s own authority, Quebcor, and briefly Metroland Media Group (the Toronto Star)).  The company owns many papers, so I’ll only list those that may have some bearing on Senators media coverage:
The National Post (former national paper founded in 1998 by ex-con and uber conservative Conrad Black; acquired via CanWest’s bankruptcy in 2010)
Ottawa Citizen (acquired via CanWest as above)
Ottawa Sun (acquired with the Sun Media chain in 2014)
Kingston Whig-Standard (as above; part of the Osprey Media block of papers)
Kingston This Week (as above)
Belleville Intelligencer (as above)
Pembroke Daily Observer (as above)

It’s fascinating to go through the various ownership changes of the different papers, but generally it’s a matter of increasingly shrinking staff and circulation.  More to the point, Postmedia controls all the papers that provide the majority of Sens coverage, meaning staff writers like Brennan can have their opinions appear in any of them.

wichita-thunder-logo

Wichita’s leading scorer Alexis Loiselle has left the team for the DEL’s (Germany) second division.  How the paper thin Thunder will compensate for the loss is difficult to say.  With starting goaltender Scott Greenham currently in Binghamton they’ve signed Kent Patterson from the ECHL scrapheap to serve as rookie Drew Owsley‘s backup.  In other roster moves, Sens org favourite Nathan Moon was jettisoned to Toledo for no apparent return (perhaps cash or future considerations).  The team is 2-2-2 since my last update (13-16-3 for the season).

freeagent

I thought I’d take a look at the most successful undrafted FA signings from last year (in terms of their performance thus far).  It’s a small sample size, but interesting nonetheless:
Nikita Zaitsev (D) (Tor) 41-1-15-16
Lured out of the KHL (CSKA Moscow) he’s third on his team in blueline scoring
Troy Stecher (D) (Van) 36-1-12-13
Top-scoring blueliner; undersized (5’10) blueliner signed after his junior season at North Dakota; he fits the bill of a classic undrafted success story from college by being a smaller player
Tim Heed (D) (SJ) AHL 29-9-23-32
Another undersized defenseman (5’11), the Sharks signed him after two excellent seasons with Skelleftea; he’s second in the league for points by a blueliner (fourth in points-per-game)
Kalle Kossila (W/C) (Ana) AHL 31-7-18-25
Undersized (5’11) forward was signed after his final year with St. Cloud State; he’s third on the team in scoring, tied for 8th in rookie scoring (t-12th in points-per-game)
David Rittich (G) (Cal) AHL 7-5-1 2.04 .929
Signed after a strong season with Mlada Boleslav in the Czech league, the big goaltender is inexplicably playing behind Jon Gillies despite superior numbers; he’s well ahead of all rookie numbers (I’m excluding Ken Appleby, whose numbers are close–he’s technically a rookie, but played a full season in the ECHL last year)

Former Sens draft pick Marcus Sorensen is having a decent AHL-season with San Jose (32-11-8-19); always projected as an energy-player it’s difficult to say just from the numbers whether the Sharks will hang on to him or if he’ll go back to Sweden.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Analyzing Binghamton’s Improved Play

Binghamton_Senators_svg

I wanted to explore Binghamton’s improved record over the last month to point out specifically what’s changed for the team.  Before we get into details it’s important to note that these changes have simply moved the BSens from awful to average and that it’s unreasonable to expect the hot streak to continue.

Since December 7th (a period that includes 14 games) the BSens are 9-4-1.  To spell out how much better they’ve been, they were only 5-14-2 beforehand, so this is an enormous change (from a 0.285 winning percentage to 0.678).  Why has this happened?  Combing through the numbers and performances there’s only one consistent element that starts at that time: no Zack Stortini.  Binghamton has not won a game with the useless pugilist in the lineup since November 19th–he’s currently on an eight-game losing streak.  He, of course, isn’t the only reason.

Other factors: Jason Akeson rounding into form (after being held pointless his first three games; the aforementioned streak begins with his first assist); sticking with the hot hand in net; an improved powerplay (9-50, 18%); no Ryan Rupert (he hasn’t played for Binghamton since December 3rd); and finally, more scoring (43 goals, so roughly 3 per game).  The goals aren’t attached to lopsided shot advantage (the team is 6-8 in terms of shooting more during the streak), hot goaltending (combined the two goalies are only .900 or better in half the games), or a good penalty kill (34-45, 75%).  Recently (the last five games) Kleinendorst has been using seven defenseman, something that seems to help an otherwise weak blueline (the only blueliners who have played all 14 games are Chris Rumble and Chris Carlisle).  Here are the player numbers during the streak (powerplay points noted as well):

Akeson 14-2-10-12 (3 PPP)
McCormick 14-5-5-10
Rumble 14-3-7-10 (5 PPP)
Rodewald 14-7-2-9 (5 PPP)
Paul 14-3-6-9 (2 PPP)
Varone 11-2-5-7 (3 PPP)
Harpur 11-1-6-7 (PPP)
Flanagan 8-3-3-6 (PPP)
Sieloff 11-1-5-6
Nehring 14-0-6-6
Bailey 9-4-1-5 (2 PPP)
Robinson 11-4-1-5
Carlisle 14-1-4-5 (PPP)
Perron 11-1-3-4
Kostka 11-1-3-4 (3 PPP)
Blunden 13-1-3-4
Krushelnyski 11-1-1-2
Lepine 13-1-1-2
Erkamps 4-0-1-1 (PPP)
Doornbosch 1-0-0-0
Stortini 2-0-0-0
Loiselle 3-0-0-0
Englund 10-0-0-0
Gagne 13-0-0-0

Driedger 4-2-1 GAA 2.41 S% .932
O’Connor 5-2-0 GAA 2.72 S% .898
Greenham 0-0-0 GAA 7.50 S% .750

I’m surprised by Harpur‘s offensive totals over the streak; this is the most productive Paul has been since Tobias Lindberg was traded away last year; and McCormick! These are the kinds of totals he should be getting at this stage of his AHL career.  On the down side you expect much more from Blunden (he averaged 0.77 points per game last year); Kostka‘s 5-on-5 production is negligible (1 point); you want more from a FA signing like Nehring; and rookies like Englund and Gagne haven’t hit the scoresheet at all.  Clearly the team doesn’t miss Curtis Lazar (it’s also worth noting that Fredrik Claesson has been out of the lineup due to injury).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

pierre dorion

Nichols looks at Pierre Dorion’s recent comments on prospects, but there’s not much to say about it.  Nichols is absolutely correct that Binghamton’s recent improved play isn’t a true sign of development or growth (albeit I find it interesting how defensive Dorion is about the team’s performance).  For those who don’t watch the BSens the primary difference the last month or so is better player usage (more starts for Chris Driedger, benching Zack Stortini, etc–of late Kleinendorst is getting much more value out of dressing seven defensemen instead of six).  Nichols is right that neither Nick Paul nor Francis Perron are anywhere near ready for the NHL and that most of the production on the BSens comes from veterans with no potential (the addition of KHL castaway Jason Akeson has helped a lot).  Nichols comments on where the Sens draft from (Sweden, US, etc) might have benefited from some extra reading, and I think his idea about Melnyk’s background influencing a lack of Russians as far-fetched (how would that jive with the Gonchar and Kovalev additions?), but on the whole the substance is fine.

dzingel

It’s been interesting reading all the praise this season for Ryan Dzingel, given all the doubt expressed in the off-season (as I point out in that link, I had no such qualms).  He’s yet another example that if you draft for skill the potential payoff is always better than what you get out of guys who are ‘good in the corners’.

prospects

Here’s a look at how various Sens prospects are doing (players are organised by points-per-game, PPG; I highlighted those who played in the WJC):

CHL
Filip Chlapik (Charlottetown; 2-48/15) 26-20-24-44 (1.69, 1st in scoring)
Played for the Czech’s in the WJC (5-2-1-3), tied with four others for 3rd in scoring; he’s 17th in scoring in the QMJHL, but 2nd in PPG
Tomas Chabot (Saint John; 1-18/15) 14-5-15-20 (1.42, 1st in blueline scoring)
Played for Canada in the WJC (7-4-6-10), tied for first in scoring and was named tournament MVP; he’s second among blueliners in PPG in the Q (admittedly it’s a small sample size)
Logan Brown (Windsor; 1-11/16) 21-8-21-29 (1.38, 3rd in scoring)
Roughly on par with 17-year old Gabriel Vilardi for production on the team, he’s among the top-15 in the OHL (PPG)
Filip Ahl (Regina; 4-109/15) 29-18-14-33 (1.13, tied for ninth in scoring)
Played for Sweden in the WJC (7-0-2-2), tied with three other players for 12th in scoring; as one of the older players on the Pats his numbers aren’t remarkable (he’s 6th in PPG)
Cody Donaghey (Charlottetown/Sherbrooke; T-16) 37-10-25-35 (0.94, 1st in blueline scoring)
He’s 4th in blueline scoring in the Q (8th in PPG); Sherbrooke is a bad team so his pace is likely to slow down
Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current; 5-133/16) 40-7-19-26 (0.65, 2nd in blueline scoring)
He’s top-20 in the WHL for blueline scoring (19th), although lower when it comes to PPG (23rd); he’s on a similar pace to his production when he was drafted

NCAA
Colin White (Boston; 1-21/15) 18-10-7-17 (0.94, sophomore; 3rd in team scoring)
Played for the US in the WJC (7-7-1-8), tied for 2nd in scoring; he’s essentially tied for first in team scoring in PPG with Matt Gaudreau (Johnny’s brother)
Robert Baillargeon (Arizona; 5-136/12) 22-9-9-18 (0.81, senior; 1st in team in scoring)
Playing for an atrocious Arizona team that’s not that interested in winning
Christian Wolanin (North Dakota; 4-107/15) 19-2-10-12 (0.63, sophomore; 2nd in blueline scoring)
A distant second to blueliner Tucker Poolman (Win) in scoring, it’s been a good season for him
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack; 6-161/13) 10-3-2-5 (0.50, senior; tied-9th in scoring)
Habitually praised by Sens management at rookie camps he’s in the midst of yet another unremarkable season; by PPG he’s third on the team in scoring, but it’s a small sample size
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire; 4-100/14) 20-3-6-9 (0.45, junior; 9th in scoring)
Essentially no improvement since his freshmen year
Miles Gendron
(Connecticut; 3-70/14) 21-3-6-9 (0.42, sophomore; 1st in blueline scoring)
Steady improvement over his freshmen year; leads a fairly limp blueline
Kelly Summers (Clarkson; 7-189/14) 21-1-8-9 (0.42, junior, 2nd in blueline scoring)
He’s actually third in PPG on the blueline, although top-scorer James De Haas (Det) isn’t far in front of him; he continues to show gradual improvement
Todd Burgess (RPI; 4-103/16) injured (freshman)
Expected to miss the entire season
Joel Daccord (Arizona; 7-199/15) 2-7-0 4.74 .863 (freshman; worst of three goaltenders)
The team is giving all three of its goaltenders a chance and he’s struggled the most (he is the youngest, however); clearly the team isn’t concerned with winning this year

Europe
Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr; 6-163/16) 21-10-11-21 (1.00, 1st in scoring)
TPS is in the midst of a rebuild and most of the key players on their roster are older players (with the exception of undrafted 22-year old Jasper Lindsten and 20-year old Patrik Virta); the 18-year old Nurmi is the youngest forward to suit up for the men’s team (3-0-0-0)–the next youngest being 19-year old Teemu Vayrynen (18-1-1-2); among his peers in Finnish junior he’s 10th in overall scoring (or tied with several for fourth in points-per-game), with a healthy lead over his junior teammates
Jonathan Dahlen
(Timra; 2-42/16) 27-12-9-21 (0.77, 2nd in scoring)
it’s important to note that he’s currently in the Allsvenskan, not the SHL (so Sweden’s second division); he played for Sweden at the WJC (7-5-1-6), finishing 5th in scoring; the 19-year old plays for a very young roster, currently behind future high draft pick Elias Pettersson (he’s also second among players 19 and under in the league), but otherwise well ahead younger players and those close to his age (18-year old Jesper Boqvsit is closest 17-3-8-11)
Christian Jaros (Lulea; 5-139/15) 26-3-5-8 (0.30, 3rd in blueline scoring)
His team doesn’t score much (Johan Harju leads the team with just 18 points) and he plays a ton for a 20-year old, so his numbers are solid if not overwhelming
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping; 3-78/13) 11-10-0 1.99 .928
Fifth in the league in save percentage; well ahead of his partner’s numbers (Jacob Johansson)

WJC performances aren’t great indicators of future performance (eg Louis Leblanc, Brandon McMillanLuke Adam, Josh Godfrey, etc), however, thus far every MVP has gone on to be a good to great NHLer (with the possible exception of Slovakian goaltender Denis Godla, albeit it’s far too soon to say), so that bodes well for Chabot.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

apathy

Nichols penned a post that, among other things, mentions the apparent apathy of the fanbase.  He rejects the idea that this is related to Daniel Alfredsson‘s departure (I completely agree), instead suggesting:

For many, it begins and ends with ownership. The sad reality for many is that they have waning confidence in Eugene Melnyk and his ability to deliver a winner. This goes beyond the simple focus on Ottawa’s player payroll.  A lot of fans refuse to accept the reality of Ottawa’s internal budget

He talks to a lot more fans than I do, so I’m sure some are unwilling to accept the team’s internal budget, but it’s not the only problem with the team.  While Melnyk’s use of the franchise to prop up his own business mistakes is annoying, that’s not at the core of what bothers me.

In Ottawa’s case, the call to win is intense because of the demands ownership places on management to reach the postseason. Thanks to one of Canada’s smallest season ticket bases and rumours about the owner’s liquidity problems, the belief is that short-term competitiveness and playoff gate revenues are put ahead of everything because Melnyk desperately needs this team to be profitable.

This is where ownership causes problems.  It’s easy for a fanbase to embrace a plucky, underdog franchise, but budget + win now is insanity.  Despite that, it’s still not what really bothers me about the organisation.  Nichols adds one final (and for him, surprising) point:

Fortunately, the performance of the team’s prospects — Jonathan Dahlen, Thomas Chabot, Colin White and Filip Chlapik and Filip Ahl — at the World Junior Championships has helped fuel some optimism for the future.

I’m shocked to read this, as it’s not long ago that Nichols was among the biggest complainers about “prospect porn.”  Has he changed, or does he really embrace these players?  I have to think it’s the latter, but I’m not sure what’s changed for him–I hope it’s not merely the presence of these players at the WJC, as neither those appearances or performances are meaningful predictors in terms of future success.

So what bothers me about the Sens?  Management.  My eventual disillusionment with Bryan Murray and subsequent realization that Pierre Dorion is just more of the same has me resigned to short-term decisions based on outdated modes of thinking.  The team’s assessment management has been horrible and their drafting record is simply average.  You cannot manage a budget team without both good drafting and development and that’s not happening here.  Whenever that changes I’ll be a lot more enthusiastic.

Nichols talk of apathy dovetails into something I was looking into recently.  I’ve had the impression for awhile that the Sens blogosphere is shrinking, so to test that idea I took a look at where it stands:
The Black Aces – shutdown in 2014 (even the archives are gone now); the oldest Sens blog, Jeremy Milks offered rough and tumble opinion back in the day
613WPG – deleted by journalist James Gordon after just a few posts last year; great content for the five seconds it existed
Sens Nation – hasn’t posted regular content since 2015, with extremely sporadic posts last year; opinion-based material
WTYKY – just two posts the last two months, with irregularity going back quite a ways; a smorgasbord of material depending on the content provider, but also opinion-based
Senshot – Joel Vanderlaan brought it back from the dead a couple of weeks ago, but there were four months of silence after Ian Smith departed; current content seems to be just be news summaries (nothing you can’t find elsewhere)
The 6th Sens – erratic of late, it’s the only consistent analytics-focused blog (with Travis Yost leaving Hockeybuzz for TSN there’s no other regular provider of said content)
Senschirp – daily content; mix of news summary and opinion
The Silver Seven – daily content; what it provides varies by contributor, but it’s mostly opinion (some analytics from Ary M)

This doesn’t include the daily posts on Hockeybuzz by Jared Crozier, but that’s not a Sens exclusive site so it doesn’t require the fanbase to support it (Crozier is opinion-based and doesn’t hold a candle next to his predecessor Yost).

For a Sens fan looking for content online there’s not much variety (most of the opinion pieces are entirely generic–backed up by little to no analysis).  BSens coverage continues to be almost non-existent (right now it’s Vanderlaan’s news blurbs along with Jeff Ulmer’s Black Aces-esque pieces on The Silver Seven).  Prospect coverage is almost completely dead, although Ary M just adopted performance breakdowns which I applaud (and hope continue).  If the org was selling hope (which is what a budget team should do) I’d imagine there would be a greater focus on prospects.

So to answer my own question: is there blogger shrinkage?  I can’t say from the above–the sample size is just too small.  Readership numbers would be more telling, but I don’t have access to them.  Certainly from my point of view the blogosphere isn’t as dynamic as it was a couple of years ago–nothing comes close to replacing the daily dose of Yost and Nichols reduced production means there’s very little substance to comb through.

prospects

Speaking of prospects Pierre Dorion said this:

The organization would never look at a Russian and not draft him because he’s Russian. Have to look at the individual.

I don’t believe this at all.  The Sens haven’t drafted a Russian out of Russia since 2005 (Muckler regime) and they haven’t drafted a Russian from anywhere else since 2007.  As the easiest for-instance of their attitude, Bryan Murray (and Pierre Dorion) gave up the chance to draft Vladimir Tarasenko in order to get David Rundblad in 2010–saying at the time that they had no interest in the Russian.  Dorion’s first draft showed no radical departure from Murray’s approach–yes, they picked their first Finn since 2005 (Nurmi), but I always thought that absence was purely a fluke rather than policy (the same thing applying to Czech, Slovak, etc players–it has been clear for a long time that the Sens only pay for serious scouting in Sweden when it comes to Europe).  Drafting Russian players often mean you have to pay more because of their KHL-option, and the Sens are cheap, so I think the purpose of Dorion’s comments is to pretend his options are open (the same reason, I believe, he was talking about being able to spend money last year).  While the Sens might sign established Russian NHLers as free agents, there is no chance this regime is going to draft one out of Russia (or even, I’d guess, the CHL).

tort-face

The NHL always coughs up some weird stories and this one reminds of me Patrick Roy’s miracle run with Colorado back in 2013-14.  Who would have thought someone as clueless as John Tortorella would be leading the oddly-built Columbus Blue Jackets to romp through the league?  I’ve looked at coaching before and the collective analysis over the years broadly concludes that 1) results are mostly due to the roster, but that 2) younger coaches, coaches with historical losing records, and Cup winners (other than Randy Carlyle) have positive impacts when brought in.

Analysis

Jonathan Willis writes an interesting article looking at where analytics stands in hockey at the moment, talking about its diversification and the rise of microstats.  An interesting specific he offers is this:

It’s long been a truism in conventional hockey thought that handedness matters—think of P.K. Subban’s difficulties making Team Canada—but it had long been underexplored on the analytics side. Domenic Galamini’s work, published in March, helped change all that. Galamini found that defence pairings in which a player played on his off-side (i.e. a left-shooting defenceman playing on the right side of the ice) suffered a massive disadvantage compared to tandems with two players on their strong sides.

He also mentioned something I missed including here from a few years ago:

Others have pushed further. It’s long been known that shooting from the off-wing increases the chance of scoring (any doubt was erased by a Matt Cane paper in 2014). Yet there’s more to it than that. Tyler Dellow, most recently a consultant for the Edmonton Oilers, has helped drive forward the conversation about how left-shot/right-shot combinations work on power plays, seeing what kind of groupings best drive goals for.

It’s a great summary and I highly suggest reading the entire piece.

wichita-thunder-logo

Wichita jettisoned Daultan Leveille to Brampton, who accomplished nothing after they acquired him from Elmira (10-0-3-3).  Whatever voice in the Sens org that encouraged the move can’t have made Thunder GM Joel Lomurno very happy.

As for the team itself, the bottom has dropped out and they’ve gone 2-9-0 since my last update (11-16-1 on the season).  Sens org favourites Leveille and Nathan Moon have not helped (the team also acquired former Anaheim draft pick Brett Perlini for a couple of games before moving him along).  Here’s a look at top-scorers as well as all Sens/BSens property (arranged by points-per-game, PPG):

Alexis Loiselle 25-14-10-24 (0.96 PPG)
Vincent Arseneau 13-6-4-10 (0.76)
Gabriel Gagne 15-5-4-9 (0.60)
Nathan Moon 16-4-5-9 (0.56)
Louick Marcotte 27-6-9-15 (0.55)
Matt DeBlouw 23-3-8-11 (0.47)
Nick Trecapelli (D) 24-3-8-11 (0.45)
Gerrad Grant 23-3-7-10 (0.43)
James Melindy (D) 28-2-9-11 (0.39)
Macoy Erkamps (D) 21-0-8-8 (0.38)
Landon Oslanski (D) 27-2-8-10 (0.37)
Vincent Dunn 19-1-3-4 (0.21)

Scott Greenham 8-4-0 2.95 .925
Drew Owsley 3-8-0 3.27 .904

No surprises as yet, although certainly the Sens must have hoped for more from Erkamps (Dunn remains a lost cause–it’s amazing to think Randy Lee praised him this summer).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)