Senators News & Notes


The miracle run is over for Ottawa and the team has everything to be proud of–a one-legged Erik Karlsson almost willed the roster into a Stanley Cup final.  For some fans the double over time loss to Pittsburgh will bring back memories of 2003 when the Sens lost to New Jersey in seven (it’s the logical parallel–one win away from the Cup, losing 3-2 in both game sevens).  That’s not the feeling for me however, as losing 14 years ago was much more frustrating since I had no doubt whichever team won would beat Anaheim in the final.  Ottawa making the final this year would have been fantastic, but I had no expectation that they would beat a very deep and talented Nashville team (in terms of sentiment for me it was most similar to Ottawa’s seven game loss to Buffalo in 1997).  The 2003 team was young and I knew there would be another opportunity for them to challenge for the Cup–that’s not the case with the current roster.  Next year they will likely be on the bubble just like they have been since 2007 (Nichols outlines their good fortune in the post-season).  There’s a ton of positivity in the blogosphere right now and that’s what winning does–the envelop of good feelings from the fanbase may last well into next season.

bush mission

Pretty sure that’s a picture of Melnyk above.  Anyway, as the eulogies come pouring in (there’s what, five other Sens blogs? We’ll call it a pour anyway), I can’t ignore the organisational issues that exist behind it.  Pierre Dorion and his cronies aren’t likely to have learned much from this experience (except, perhaps, that Guy Boucher won’t always play crappy veterans when it matters), and Eugene Melnyk is still a crazy, cash-strapped owner who can’t keep his mouth shut.  There’s even some reason to be concerned with Boucher himself, who enjoyed a very similar run with Tampa Bay in his initial season (2011) and then couldn’t get the Lightning back into the playoffs.  Let’s briefly look at the various things this year that were significant on the critical side:
Cody Ceci (do I need to say anything else at this point?)
-What was the point of signing Chris Kelly?  He only (barely) played in two playoff games, both of which the Sens lost in double overtime
Tom Pyatt, another head-scratching signing, got annihilated in the playoffs
-Was Derick Brassard really an upgrade over Mika Zibanejad?  He disappeared in the playoffs after the Boston series (3 points in 13 games) and was outperformed by Mika in both the regular and post-season (PPG 0.48 vs 0.66 in the regular, 0.57 vs 0.75 in the playoffs)–I thought the trade sucked when it happened and nothing this year says otherwise
-Losing a year of Colin White‘s ELC in order for him to play 2 regular season games and a couple of shifts in one playoff game was remarkably stupid for a budget team
-Not knowing the call-up rule from the CHL and thus being unable to recall Thomas Chabot when they desperately wanted too is inexcusable for an executive like Dorion who has been in the league forever
-Acquisitions Viktor StalbergAlex Burrows, and Tommy Wingels collectively scored zero goals in the playoff run (when you’re outscored by Oleg Saprykin you’ve got problems)
-the cupboard down in Binghamton was very bare this year; dumping Luke Richardson and replacing him with Kurt Kleinendorst was a positive move, but let’s remember that it wasn’t Dorion’s choice for Richardson to move on, so it’s not like he figured out Luke was clueless

The cup isn’t always half-empty, as there are a lot of things I like on the roster, but it’s difficult to see this org actually improving upon those foundations.  While there will be fans who point to all the gloom & doom for this season and then talk about results, but let’s not forget Colorado’s miracle season in 2013-14 as just one example of how a team can temporarily buck underlying numbers before regressing to the mean the next year.


The European free agent signings continue (it feels like a lot more have been signed this year, but I haven’t looked back at the numbers yet): Buffalo signed 24-year old Russian defenseman Viktor Antipin (an overage candidate back in 2013); Vancouver signed 25-year old Swedish defenseman Philip Holm (he was never ranked for the draft); while Columbus signed Latvian netminder Matiss Edmunds Kivlenieks with the 20-year old sailing through the last two drafts (no one had him ranked).


I mentioned Grant McCagg‘s new draft site back in March and his first draft preview product is available to order.  Sadly, from my perspective, he’s only looking at the top 100 picks (with scouting reports on only the top 62), which isn’t much value even for such an inexpensive product (as I mentioned in my draft review last year, there’s general consensus on the top-90 or so players and scouting reports on the first two rounds are widely available through free media).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)



  1. As per usual I find it hard to disagree with Peter, as much as the sentimental part of me might want to. So yes, it was an incredible run, but yes, also one that benefited greatly from extenuating circumstances. Would this Sens team have gotten past a reasonably healthy Bruins squad? I’d say it’s 50/50 at best.
    We went into the playoffs with a blueline corps that I personally expected to get exposed mercilessly time and time again. somehow that didn’t happen. I mean, yes, obviously it did in the sense that Ceci and Phaneuf couldn’t clear the blueline to save their lives a lot of the time, and yet it didn’t cost us as many goals as logic says it should have.
    So will Dorion and crew evaluate this run with cold, clear logic or with rose colored glasses. Sens history says the latter. In which case we have to hope that Chabot, White and perhaps even Andreas Englund can displace some of the treading water types on the roster, or at least push them further down the lineup.
    As for Melnyk, I can’t help but think he’s getting crazier and crazier, and if in his own mind he’s living on borrowed time what does that do to his play for today mentality? Will the last few years of the Melnyk regime be reminiscent of the Milbury years on Long Island? All we can do is cross our fingers and hope that the Sens front office shows a greater ability to accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses of the squad than they have so far, and that they nurture the strengths while gently (or not) pushing aside the weaknesses. What has always stunned me is that Ottawa as the prototypical small-market team has yet always seemed to shun virtually every non-traditional competitive advantage available to them. That they still seem to pay scant attention to analytics makes me want to cry. But hey, who knows? maybe this is the summer Dorion makes it up to the cottage, leaps off the dock and that frigid mid-august water brings him to his senses.:-)

    • If I was going to hazard a guess as to what Dorion will do it’s push Wideman out, bring Chabot in and keep Boro around for “character”. He’ll try to keep a lot of the veteran detritus as well–Pyatt will likely stay (who would want him?), and I fear we’ll keep Wingels as well. In a perfect world they’d expose Burrows and Boro and hope one (or both) get claimed in the expansion draft, but that’s never happening. I’d like to think Kelly & Neil are gone, but even that’s uncertain. It’s going to be a wild & wacky couple of months and I suspect at least a few teeth-grinding decisions being made.

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