Senators News & Notes

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This post has been in process for quite some time–interrupted first by my powering through Iron Fist (despite a critical pounding it’s worth watching if you like the Marvel Netflix properties–a tip of the hat to actor Tom Pelphrey for his performance as Ward Meachum), and subsequently Mass Effect: Andromeda (something else taking a critical beating, but I enjoyed it).  But back to hockey.

The always engaging Ary M penned a piece speculating on which NCAA free agents the Sens might target, and in the midst of that referenced Ottawa’s relative success in both that market and the CHL (Ottawa has not looked to Europe under the Murray/Dorion regime).  Although I briefly went through the Sens record of failure in this regard last April, I thought it would be worthwhile doing it again in more detail so we can gauge the relative success of the org (for those with long memories, NCAA defenseman free agent Derek Smith was actually a Muckler signing, so isn’t included below; numbers in brackets are a player’s point-per-game average):

NCAA (10)
Jesse Winchester (2008) – NHL 233-11-41-52 (0.22); Result: marginal fourth-line NHLer
Signed with the a great deal of hype as a potential top-six forward (!), the Sens forced him into the NHL and kept him there for three seasons; he spent one more year in Florida before injury destroyed his pro career
Bobby Butler (2009) – NHL 94-16-21-37 (0.39); AHL 47-22-11-33 (0.70); Result: top AHLer
Had even more fanfare with the org (another top-six forward!) and won a Calder Cup his rookie year; but the Sens bought him out just two years later and after putting up strong AHL numbers subsequently he’s stumbled around the European leagues in search of better paycheques
Stephane Da Costa (2010) – NHL 47-7-4-11 (0.23); AHL 159-44-88-132 (0.83); Result: uncertain (definitely top-tier AHLer)
Did I mention fanfare?  Another top-six forward in the org’s mind; to me he’s the most talented player listed here, but the Sens didn’t want to guarantee him a roster spot so he jumped to the KHL (94-46-50-96)
Pat Cannone (2011) – AHL 152-30-40-70 (0.46); Result: top-six AHLer
No fanfare, thankfully, and after two middling seasons with Binghamton the Sens sent him packing; he’s remained a useful AHL player
Cole Schnieder (2012) – AHL 263-83-108-191 (0.72); Result: undetermined, at least top AHLer
Limited fanfare; despite consistently putting up numbers with Binghamton he was never rewarded with a call-up, so Tim Murray plucked him away last season; while at 26 it’s unlikely he’ll carve out an NHL space for himself, he certainly warranted the opportunity with Ottawa
Buddy Robinson (2012) – AHL 245-49-55-104 (0.42); Result: top-nine AHLer
Because of his size there was both fanfare and opportunity for Buddy, but he simply never grew from the player he was in his rookie season; he’s in San Jose’s org now
Andrew Hammond (2013) – NHL 27-14-4 2.31 .922; AHL 34-37-5 3.08 .903; Result: AHLer of some degree
Limited fanfare (Robin Lehner was still with the org when he was signed) and while some will argue his spectacular run in 2015 is enough to make him a success (very Steve Penny of him), I don’t think it did either the team or his career any favours; he’s always been terrible in Binghamton, but I suspect he’d be at least a decent AHL goaltender elsewhere
Garrett Thompson (2013) – AHL 65-6-8-14 (0.21); Result: ECHLer
How do you miss this badly?  Thankfully there was no hype, but he’s not even an AHL player
Ludwig Karlsson (2013) – ECHL 39-11-13-24 (0.61); Result: ECHLer
Speaking of misses; he’s big so there were a few squeaks from the org when signed, but he was such a disaster he was pawned off to Dallas in the Jason Spezza trade
Matt O’Connor (2015) – AHL 22-37-5  3.29.894; Result: AHLer
Received a ton of fanfare and we can argue about whether it’s too early to declare what a goaltender is at 25, but his numbers in both pro seasons are mirrors of one another and it’s clear from all the Driedger recalls this season what the org thinks of him

CHL (5)
Craig Schira (2009) – AHL 208-15-32-48 (0.23); Result: bottom-pairing AHLer
No fanfare and didn’t really evolve from when he arrived; he’s been better in Europe, although he’s had less success in Sweden than he did in Finland
David Dziurzynski (2010) – AHL 351-46-81-127 (0.36); Result: third-line AHLer
No hype for the BCHLer, but a lot of Bingo fans have a soft spot for Dave; as a prospect he essentially arrived as a third-line player and never evolved from there; he suffered through a terrible season in Germany this year and will likely be back this side of the Atlantic in the fall
Wacey Hamilton (2011) – AHL 175-13-26-39 (0.22); Result: fourth-line AHLer
Lacked fanfare and, as with the above players, arrived and simply never evolved; has marginal AHL-talent, but his ability as an agitator has kept him in the league
Troy Rutkowski (2013) – ECHL 156-12-51-63 (0.40); Result: ECHLer
No org hype; actually drafted by Colorado (but sensibly discarded), the Sens lost faith in him very early (not cut in the Luke Richardson mold) and he barely appeared in Binghamton (just 30 games over three years); Jeff Ulmer and I argued about him quite a bit last year, but my point then was that the BSens blueline was bad enough that he was a sensible alternative; he’s playing in Norway now (the same route, incidentally, that Schira used to graduate to better European leagues)
Macoy Erkamps (2016) – ECHL 57-6-19-25 (0.43); Result: undetermined
No fanfare; Far too early to decide his fate at this point, although being unable to break through Binghamton’s weak blueline this season is not a good sign

Conclusions: while the org has largely dialed down the hype for these kinds of players, the results have actually been getting worse, not better.  Their CHL efforts have all been pointless in the long run (unless getting Dziurzynski concussed in the NHL is a win), while none of the NCAA trials have actually achieved a true NHL roster player (we can argue about Hammond, but it would be an argument).  Of these 15 players the best potential result was Da Costa who maybe was a useful third-line player (with second-unit powerplay duty), but neither the org nor the player had the patience for it to turn out.  Ultimately this collection was (mostly) good for the AHL and not much else.  I think those of us who follow the org see the decreasing frequency in signing these players being due to Tim Murray’s absence, but a better question (and I have no answer) is why the talent-level of these prospects has been in such rapid decline.  What voice (or voices) are no longer there to eliminate the duds here?  Clearly the minds assessing talent that signed people like Garrett Thompson or Zack Stortini face little opposition these days (speaking of the latter, the AHL-veteran signings under the Murray/Dorion regime have been pretty bad as well, but that’s a separate topic).

prospects

Randy Lee talked prospects recently (view the Nichols stenography service): the attempt to sign Colin White (who has signed an ATO with Binghamton), the team is bringing Christian Jaros and Marcus Hogberg over from Europe next season as well (they’ll help a lot), and Ben Harpur being the next Bobby Orr; an fyi to Nichols if he’s reading: Randy Lee thinks players fighting is a sign of character.  I’d expect Cody Donaghey to be signed as well–he came over in the Dion Phaneuf trade and the system needs defensemen.  The org doesn’t need to make any other decisions on signing prospects.

It has been awhile since my last prospect update; regular seasons have ended; 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) 57-34-57-91 (1.59)
Finished first in scoring on his team, although he’s behind teammate (and Penguin pick) Daniel Sprong in PPG (who is also the only player in the Q with a higher PPG, albeit Chlapik’s production has been slipping lately)
Thomas Chabot (Saint John; 1-18/15) 34-10-35-45 (1.32)
Lead the league in PPG by a defenseman
Logan Brown (Windsor; 1-11/16) 35-14-26-40 (1.14)
Finished second on his team in PPG (behind Gabriel Vilardi), and 24th in the league in PPG
Filip Ahl (Regina; 4-109/15) 54-28-50-48 (0.88)
Finished seventh in points and PPG on the high flying Pats
Cody Donaghey (Charlottetown/Sherbrooke; T-16) 52-11-29-40 (0.76)
First in points and PPG among defensemen on his team; tied for 10th overall in the Q; has much lower production with Sherbrooke (0.33)
Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current; 5-133/16) 68-7-35-42 (0.63)
Finished second in points and PPG among blueliners (behind Artyom Minulin); he’s 25th overall in the WHL

NCAA
Colin White (Boston; 1-21/15, sophomore) 33-16-17-33 (1.00)
First in PPG
Robert Baillargeon (Arizona; 5-136/12, senior) 28-9-12-21 (0.75)
Finished ahead of Anthony Croston for the PPG lead (he was not signed)
Christian Wolanin (North Dakota; 4-107/15, sophomore) 37-6-16-22 (0.59)
Well behind Jet-pick Tucker Poolman for points and PPG among blueliners
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack; 6-161/13, senior) 27-5-10-15 (0.55)
Finished 7th on the team in scoring and 6th in PPG; signed an ATO with Binghamton
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire; 4-100/14, junior) 27-5-8-13 (0.48)
Finished ninth in scoring and seventh in PPG
Kelly Summers (Clarkson; 7-189/14, junior) 39-3-14-17 (0.43)
Finished third on the team in PPG among blueliners (well behind Detroit pick James De Haas)
Miles Gendron (Connecticut; 3-70/14, sophomore) 36-4-7-11 (0.30)
Finished second in scoring and third in PPG among blueliners
Todd Burgess (RPI; 4-103/16, freshman) (injured)
Joel Daccord (Arizona; 7-199/15, freshman) 3-8-1 4.03 .892
Finished second in both GAA and save percentage

Europe
Christian Jaros (Lulea; 5-139/15) 36-5-8-13 (0.36)
Finished fourth in scoring among blueliners, but is tied with three other players in PPG (second among players 21 and under behind the undrafted Sebastian Aho); his season is over
Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr/TPS/TUTO; 6-163/16) 27-12-16-28 (1.03); 5-0-0-0; 11-2-0-2 (0.18)
After playing his way out of the junior system he bounced from the Liiga parent team to TUTO in the Mestis (the Finnish second division); he’s the only teenage forward on the team and played limited minutes
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping; 3-78/13) 19-14-0 1.89 .931
He finished fourth in the league in save percentage and well ahead of his partner in both categories; was second to Islander pick Linus Soderstrom in both categories among those in his age group

travisyost

Travis Yost looks at the defining characteristics of a Cup contender and concludes good offence along with goaltending are what matter most (as opposed to the usual conventional wisdom about great defense).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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