Senators News & Notes

matt o'connor

I give Kleinendorst a lot of credit for Matt O’Connor being the goaltender sent down to Wichita.  As the organisation’s golden child when signed, it must be a hard pill for management to swallow.  I’d suggested O’Connor should be reassigned once Andrew Hammond returned to Binghamton, as there’s no question that Chris Driedger has outplayed him both seasons they’ve been together (.912 and .911 for the latter, .895 and .893 for the former).  This is O’Connor‘s first ever ECHL assignment, as until now it’s always been Driedger sent down.

harpur

I’ve been holding off discussing Ben Harpur because I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop–for his performance to slip and for him to regress to the mean.  For those who weren’t been able to watch Harpur last season, I can only emphasize just how awful he was (so clear to everyone that I didn’t feel the need to address it my season review).  I felt he would have been better served playing in the ECHL to round out his game.  As a prospect Harpur showed limited offensive abilities (the scouting consensus saw him topping out as a bottom-pairing, defensive defenseman), but from December 9th until now he’s put up impressive numbers: 25-1-17-18 (0.72).  To put that in perspective, he started the season 18-0-1-1 (0.05) and all of last season he was 47-2-4-6 (0.12).  His current pace is above his best junior year (0.54), so it’s not sustainable, but it is a sign both that the lightbulb has turned on for him and that he has more utility than I imagined.  How much of his performance is attributable to others is an open question, but for now I’ll eat a dose of humble pie because after last season I thought there was no hope for Harpur at this level.

prospects

It’s been awhile since my last prospect update, so here’s a look at how Sens prospects are doing (sorted by league and arranged by points-per-game):

CHL
Filip Chlapik (Charlottetown; 2-48/15) 43-29-49-78 (1.81)
Remains first on his team in scoring and is also first (in PPG) in the entire QMJHL (having moved ahead of Nico Hischier)
Logan Brown (Windsor; 1-11/16) 26-12-21-33 (1.26)
Fifth on his team in scoring, but second in PPG (17th in the OHL in that respect, but dropping)
Thomas Chabot (Saint John; 1-18/15) 23-6-22-28 (1.21)
Second in points for a blueliner, but first in PPG (2nd in the Q in that respect, still behind Samuel Girard)
Filip Ahl (Regina; 4-109/15) 43-24-17-41 (0.95)
Remains eighth in points and seventh in PPG on the high flying Pats
Cody Donaghey (Charlottetown/Sherbrooke; T-16) 49-11-27-38 (0.77)
First in points and PPG among defensemen (11th overall in the Q); finally producing on his new team
Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current; 5-133/16) 54-7-26-33 (0.61)
Remains second in points and PPG among blueliners (24th overall in the WHL)

NCAA
Colin White (Boston; 1-21/15, sophomore) 27-14-12-26 (0.96)
He’s neck and neck with Ryan Fitzgerald for the PPG lead
Robert Baillargeon (Arizona; 5-136/12, senior) 28-9-12-21 (0.75)
Ahead of Anthony Croston for the PPG lead
Christian Wolanin (North Dakota; 4-107/15, sophomore) 26-3-12-15 (0.57)
Second on the team among defensemen (still behind Tucker Poolman)
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack; 6-161/13, senior) 20-4-6-10 (0.50)
Now tied for fourth on his punchless team in PPG; well behind the top two scorers
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire; 4-100/14, junior) 24-4-7-11 (0.45)
Eighth on the team in points and PPG
Kelly Summers (Clarkson; 7-189/14, junior) 30-1-10-11 (0.36)
Slipped to third on the team among blueliners in PPG
Miles Gendron (Connecticut; 3-70/14, sophomore) 30-3-7-10 (0.33)
Fell to second in both categories among defensemen
Todd Burgess (RPI; 4-103/16, freshman) (injured)
Joel Daccord (Arizona; 7-199/15, freshman) 3-8-1 4.03 .892
Improved to second in both GAA and save percentage

Europe
Jonathan Dahlen (Timra; 2-42/16) 39-20-15-35 (0.89)
Remains second on the team in PPG (behind Elias Pettersson); it’s important to remember Timra is currently in the Allsvenskan (the Swedish second division)
Christian Jaros (Lulea; 5-139/15) 33-4-8-12 (0.36)
Slipped to third on the team in PPG among blueliners, bur remains second among defensemen 21 and under (well behind Sebastian Aho); Lulea is a low-scoring team
Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr/TPS/TUTO; 6-163/16) 8-1-0-1 (0.12)
The numbers are for his time in the Mestis (the Finnish second division); he’s the only teenage forward on the team and playing limited minutes
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping; 3-78/13) 16-12-0 1.88 .932
He’s fourth in the league in save percentage and well ahead of his partner in both categories; remains second to Linus Soderstrom among those in his age group

medium

I hadn’t seen Andrew post much on WTYKY in quite some time but knew he must still be writing his long, thoughtful pieces somewhere.  I stumbled across them the other day and you can find them here.  I’ve always liked Andrew’s work and recommend you check it out (not everything there is hockey related, keep in mind).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Senators News & Notes

Nichols goes through Pierre Dorion’s latest chat and I have a few comments:

Quality depth is always a good thing and judging by the Guy Boucher’s lineup decisions and the staff electing to dress seven defenceman instead of one of Chris Neil or Curtis Lazar, it seems like the coaching staff has finally recognized how much of a drag those two are to their linemates.

It’s funny to see an echo of Kurt Kleinendorst here, with Boucher consigning fourth-line management favourites to the pressbox.

I’m not the biggest Mark Borowiecki fan, but (I’ll hold a door for him) and he’s actually had a decent year playing alongside Chris Wideman. It probably speaks to the strength of Wideman’s season more than anything, but credit where credit is due: they haven’t been awful. Obviously I’d still love to see the organization punt their second pairing and find an upgrade on Boro, but I’ll probably have to settle for the Senators finding player who can improve their fourth line and keep Fredrik Claesson on the bench.

Wideman is a lot like Dzingel in the sense of most fans expectations before they saw a large sample size of his play at the NHL-level.  Once again, a smaller, skilled player rewards the team more than the prototypical “good in the corners” guy.  I think the interesting question is: does the organisation understand what they have?  History would say no, but one can always hope.

Binghamton’s been so excruciatingly horrendous as a team, it’s got to be hard to distinguish how bad Driedger and O’Connor have been. Both pseudo-prospects are impending RFAs, so there’s no guarantee that the organization will offer one or both players qualifying offers, so maybe this is just Pierre Dorion putting both players on notice and giving them a proverbial boot in the ass to get their games going.

It’s more accurate to say Binghamton had a horrendous start to the season–so horrendous there’s no climbing out of the hole they dug (5-14-2).  Since then they’ve gone 15-11-1, which isn’t a world-beating pace (.574), but is at least adequate (particularly given the talent there).  I’m fond of Driedger, and he’s young enough (22) that I don’t think we know if he has NHL-chops yet or not.  O’Connor, I think, seems to be at his plateau.

Dorion: I think he’s [Lazar] someone that is putting a bit too much pressure on himself, but I still have a lot of faith in what Curtis can do. Maybe Curtis won’t be a first line (laughs) player like we thought he might have been when we drafted him

I put this quote here because I think it’s funny how many excuses management has for pluggers when there’s no patience for skilled players who struggle.  Thankfully it seems like Boucher doesn’t share the same irrational attachment.

Condon and Pyatt are two players I wouldn’t overexert myself trying to extend

I wouldn’t either.  The NHL is awash in players like them, but as Nichols points out, the Sens tend to extend such players.  Speaking of depth players, what’s happened to Erik Condra in Tampa?

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Since my last update the BSens have gone 6-7-0 (20-25-3 for the season), bringing their hot streak back down to normalcy (.461).  The powerplay has gone cold, operating at an underwhelming 11.3% (6-53; a percentage that would sit at 29th in the league), but the PK has been much healthier at 86.8% (33-38; tops in the league by percentage).  Players are organised by points-per-game (PPP=power play point):

Akeson 13-5-8-13 1.00 (4 PPP)
Varone 13-5-7-12 0.92 (2 PPP)
McCormick
13-5-3-8 0.61 (2 PPP)
Bailey 10-3-3-6 0.60 (2 PPP)
Harpur 13-0-7-7 0.53 (PPP)
Nehring 13-3-3-6 0.46 (PPP)
Rodewald 13-3-3-6 0.46 (2 PPP)
Rumble 13-1-5-6 0.46 (2 PPP)
Flanagan 13-3-2-5 0.38 (PPP)
Paul 13-2-3-5 0.38
Perron 13-1-2-3 0.23 (PPP)
Blunden 9-2-0-2 0.22
Gagne 9-0-2-2 0.22
Hagel 5-0-1-1 0.20 (acquired from Iowa)
Krushelnyski 12-1-1-2 0.16
Kostka 13-0-2-2 0.15
Englund 13-1-0-1 0.07
Carlisle 13-0-1-1 0.07
Sieloff 11-0-0-0
Lepine 8-0-0-0
Robinson 4-0-0-0 (traded)

Driedger 2-5-0 3.24 .909
O’Connor 4-2-0 3.45 .884
Greenham 0-0-0 6.66 .875

The 7-D rotation has gone out of vogue of late (the experiment lasted about a month, from late December to late January, changing with the acquisition of Hagel).  In terms of performances after the hot streak, a number of players have gone cold: Sieloff‘s unexpected production has stopped, but more surprisingly Carlisle has also gone cold (due, in part, to his partners; only Rumble and Harpur continues to add offense from the blueline); RodewaldPaul, and Flanagan have come back to earth, while BlundenPerron, and the other depth forwards continue to add very little.  On the positive side Akeson and Varone convincingly lead the anemic offense.  Driedger remains the best choice between the pipes, albeit his numbers have dropped more considerably than O’Connor‘s.

I’m not sure how much the arrival of Andrew Hammond in Binghamton actually helps–his AHL numbers have been underwhelming (by season: .910, .898, .864, .907).  It will also be interesting who he pushes out of the rotation (assuming Kleinendorst doesn’t go with all three)–it should be O’Connor.

wichita-thunder-logo

It’s been awhile since my last Wichita update (other than some roster moves).  The Thunder have been on a downward spiral, going 2-10-1 (15-26-4 for the season), putting them ahead of only two other teams in the entire ECHL and well below where Evansville was last year (any playoff aspirations are long gone).  It’s bad enough that I think it’s worth going through the roster (organised by points-per-game; rookies are in italics, players with Binghamton contracts are noted in green, players no longer on the roster are in red):

Jack Rodewald 6-5-3-8 1.33 (in Binghamton)
Alex Krushelnyski 6-2-5-7 1.16 (in Binghamton)
Zach O’Brien 16-6-11-17 1.06 (acquired from a German division-2 team)
Chris Rumble (D) 3-2-1-3 1.00 (in Binghamton)
Alexis Loiseau 30-16-13-29 0.96 (left for a German division-2 team)
Ryan Rupert 19-6-10-16 0.84
Vincent Arseneau 24-12-7-19 0.79
Jamie Doornbosch (D) 27-8-12-20 0.74
Matt DeBlouw 39-11-17-28 0.71
Louick Marcotte 38-9-14-23 0.60
Gabriel Gagne 15-5-4-9 0.60 (in Binghamton)
Nathan Moon 19-4-5-9 0.47 (traded to Toledo)
David Friedmann 44-10-10-20 (17-3-4-7) 0.45 (acquired from Fort Wayne)
Nick Trecapelli (D) 24-3-8-11 0.45 (traded to Atlanta)
Logan Nelson 18-2-6-8 0.44 (traded to Rapid City)
Macoy Erkamps (D) 38-2-14-16 0.42
Mitch Holmberg 17-3-4-7 0.41 (traded to Colorado)
Ian Lowe 37-5-10-15 0.40
Gerrad Grant 40-5-9-14 0.35
Jake Bolton (D) 31-1-10-11 (6-0-1-1) 0.35 (acquired from Atlanta)
Blake Tatchell 35-5-7-12 0.34
Landon Oslanski (D) 43-2-12-14 0.32
Ryan Tesink 41-2-11-13 0.31
Daultan Leveille 10-0-3-3 0.30 (traded to Brampton)
James Melindy (D) 44-2-10-12 0.27
Brandon Carlson (D) 18-2-3-5 0.27 (acquired from Indy)
Vincent Dunn 30-2-6-8 0.26
Alexis Vanier (D) 40-3-6-9 0.22
Martin Nemcik (D) 17-1-2-3 0.17 (traded to Utah)

Scott Greenham 8-7-2 3.30 .911
Drew Owsley 5-13-1 3.52 .898
Kent Patterson 6-6-2 4.24 .879 (acquired from Wheeling, then released)
Chris Driedger 0-2-0 4.51 .877 (in Binghamton)
Peter Di Salvo 0-2-0 6.08 .838 (loaned via the SPHL)

None of the goaltenders have done particularly well for the Thunder, but rookie Owsley has struggled the most and, with Greenham recalled to Binghamton for significant chunks of the season (the latter remains in the upper half of ECHL goalies in terms of save percentage–the last time Wichita was .500 was in December, sliding when Greenham was recalled), there’s been no real alternative.  The defensecorps has been a major problem, with Melindy and Doornbosch having particular defensive struggles.  The team also struggles to score (third last in the league) and the Sens have done little to alleviate the situation–players sent down (with the exception of Rupert) haven’t produced, suggestions made to management have failed (Moon, Leveille), and the most successful players are in Binghamton (Rodewald most particularly).  This is an instance where the AHL-franchise is benefiting from its ECHL-affiliate without providing much in return.

In terms of development for the Sens there’s nothing to get excited about; Dunn has completely bottomed out and is well behind last year’s scoring pace (0.26 vs 0.49); Macoy has been adequate, but you’d expect much better numbers at this level (as a point of comparison, Troy Rutkowski, another WHL-free agent signing, had worse numbers his rookie season, but Macoy is nowhere near Craig Schira who was able to play at the AHL-level to start).

freeagent

There’s a new name to add to CHL success stories, as defenseman Nick Holden is approaching 300 games in the NHL.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

chris-kelly

Worsteverything writes at length about the Sens fourth line, but I’m only interested in one thing he said:

I couldn’t help but find it odd that the whole reason Dorion brought in Chris Kelly was to provide “much needed veteran stability to the 4th line”. When I initially heard the news I thought, “Yeah that make sense”

I remain mystified (as I was at the time) why so many Sens bloggers embraced the move to bring back Kelly.  He’s been exactly as disappointing as I expected.  I suppose most people are more nostalgic than I am.

Gnomes_plan

There’s a great quote from Ryan Lambert amidst a great piece talking about the Sens:

At the absolute most, you’d have to say they’re a largely untalented but moderately well-coached team that is mediocre or a little worse.

Exactly.  This is why all the short-term thinking is counterproductive, but Melnyk’s desperation for playoff cash makes it difficult for any GM to let reality sink in.  These comments apparently irritated the fan base, but Nichols calmly breaks it down for those who were rustled by the piece.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Former BSen Patrick Mullen attempted to return to the team from the KHL, but was claimed off of waivers by the Amerks.  This move would have made a lot of sense if it had gone through.  The BSens followed it up with an odd trade, sending future considerations to acquire Iowa Wild to acquire forward Marc Hagel (it seems Hagel asked for a trade).  The 28-year old, undrafted NCAA winger has spent four seasons with Iowa (including this one) and is on a declining arc (PPG in brackets):
2013-14 46-8-7-15 (0.32)
2014-15 67-12-21-33 (0.49)
2015-16 53-4-15-19 (0.35)
2016-17 26-2-5-7 (0.26)
He’s been playing fourth-line minutes on the punchless Wild, which is likely where he’ll slot on the BSens.  Either Kleinendorst will go back to dressing six defensemen or else scratch someone like Alex Krushelnyski to fit him into the lineup.  Either way, Kleinendorst is familiar with Hagel, having coached him for parts of his first two professional seasons.

In other news the Albany Devils will move to Binghamton to replace the Senators next season.

Joel Vanderlaan writes a splash piece about the move from Binghamton to Belleville, but as sources includes a broken link, an indirect link, and no link at all–things easily fixed.  It doesn’t appear as though there’s any new information here, as the majority of the substance comes from an old Intelligencer article (March 24, 2015) that explored the loss of the OHL Bulls (cf my original story about it).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)