The Problem With Signing Mike Condon


I didn’t think I was going to have to write this post, but it’s become apparent that further explanations are required for why I (and Nichols and others) have a problem with signing Mike Condon to this kind of extension. Lets go through it, shall we?

Everyone agrees the Sens need a backup goaltender (I’m not sure how a team could function without one). Neither signed prospect (Chris Driedger nor Marcus Hogberg) is ready for the task, but prior to Condon‘s signing it was still possible former hero Andrew Hammond could take the gig–he has a year left on his deal after all. So this, then, is our first dilemma: what do we do with Hammond? There are four choices:
1) Keep him and have him play out his contract as the backup
You hope he regains the form that had when the team signed him to his overly optimistic deal (I mean, who gives a guy a 3-year deal after just one good pro season, right?)
2) Keep him, but bury him in the minors
This only costs money, although it does mean Hogberg (or Driedger) has to play for an ECHL affiliate throughout most of the season (barring the team being able to loan Hammond to another AHL team), which is hardly ideal
3) Buy him out
This also only costs money, but there’s no value returned to the team, so it’s the least appealing option
4) Trade him
The ideal choice, although it’s difficult to do particularly with goaltenders since back-ups are a dime-a-dozen; as a devalued asset with just one good half-season on his resume, the pot might have to be sweetened with a draft pick, but Ottawa’s never shirked from surrendering those assets

So much for the hypothetical. Clearly the Sens pushed the button on #4 sometime during this season, but rather than trying to move Hammond then, they left him hanging until now. On the plus side, there was no urgency in acquiring a backup goaltender. While starting goaltenders are extremely difficult to find, there are always more qualified backups than positions. On numerous occasions in Sens history (including both the discussed ‘tenders), Ottawa has been forced to use someone other than their planned backup and had no difficulty doing so. So, urgency level is zero. This would be different, incidentally, if the team didn’t have a firmly established #1–then you want true competition with two talented players–that’s not the case here, these are benchwarmers.

Why the complaints about Condon specifically? His numbers, as Nichols delves into (link above), are below average. Take away his hot start and he’s nothing to run a temperature over (.908, 2.64). This, and his career as a journeymen, sound alarm bells–the same alarms that went off before they signed Hammond to his 3-year deal. If you want to argue Condon is a known quantity and the org feels comfortable with him, that’s fine, but signing him for three years, especially at such a high cost (2.4/year), is a pointless risk that will almost inevitably blow up in their faces. The comparison between he and Hammond is particular apt–both were 26/27 when they had their one good season, both are NCAA grads, neither was drafted, and both have worrying underlying numbers and track record. The only way to justify the deal is to suggest Condon is going to maintain a performance level that’s happened just once, briefly, in his career. It’s implausible and that’s why I (and others) dislike the move.

The other point that I made was that by signing Condon every NHL team now knows the Sens are desperate to trade Hammond (you can argue that they knew before, but there’s a difference between guessing and certainty and Ottawa has given them certainty). This means they have no leverage whatsoever in moving him–they’re guaranteed a bad deal, assuming they can even make one. While I doubt Hammond has much value, there are well-established ways of pumping the tires of the trade market–be ambiguous about keeping Condon, talk about Hammond‘s run and how he’s been derailed by injury, but now that he’s healthy he’ll be back on track! Have The Ottawa Sun talk about external interest, etc.  In this scenario any value back for him is a bonus, but now that’s impossible. If an NHL team actually wants Hammond they’ll just wait for the Sens to buy him out, or else force them to include something else (a pick, an asset), or demand Ottawa take a bad asset in return. There’s no good scenario with how Ottawa has handled it. The only “positive” that can be argued here is to suggest it was impossible to move Hammond earlier (or at all) and that the team desperately needed to sign Condon since there’s no other player who could fulfill his role. Even if the former is true the Sens never actually made the attempt until it was too late and the latter point needs a hell of a lot more justification than I’ve seen.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


Senators News & Notes


Marc Methot, just traded to Dallas, has been the subject of a great deal of conversation ever since Las Vegas took him in the Expansion Draft.  There was all sorts of speculation (here as well) that he might be coming back to the team via whomever acquired him. While that possibility remains up in the air, Stefan Wolejszo writes a long overview of Ottawa’s decisions on defense that lead them to this particular predicament. Unlike Stefan I have no emotional attachment to Methot, and don’t think replacing him (or Phaneuf) is particularly difficult (although I don’t think the org will do so effectively), his piece is an interesting and entertaining read.


Flavour of the month Mike Condon is apparently getting some interest from other teams, but my sentiment about him echoes Nichols (whose link is above)–backup goalies come and go and losing Condon makes no real difference to the Sens going forward. It’s amazing just how many goaltenders the org has fallen in love with only to give up on soon after. Only the Mark Borowiecki‘s of the world can continually fail and be given free passes.


Nichols writes a lengthy retrospective on the season that covered not just the events of the season but also all the hubbub around it and about it. There’s a lot of thoughtful substance and I recommend reading it in full. I have just a few things I want to highlight:

At their best, these Senators are still a pseudo-contender whose success is predicated more on good luck than it is on innate talent.

This is absolutely the case and what happens when your owner demands the team make the playoffs year after year. That being said, with the management that’s been in place I’m not sure even a good owner could put Ottawa in a position to win a Cup.

As it turns out however, the Senators appear poised to retain Ceci. … For all of Ceci’s physical talents, his hockey IQ and ability to make good decisions under duress leave something to be desired.

However obvious it seems to thoughtful fans that Cody Ceci is not a top-four defenseman, the organisation simply does not see it that way. He’s Jared Cowen all over again–a first-round pick that management is delusional about and won’t cut bait until he’s completely devalued as an asset.

The problems stem from the fact that the Senators boast the smallest hockey operations department in the league and their amateur and professional scouting staffs are proportionately small. … The Senators’ front office hasn’t brought in an outside voice since Eugene Melnyk bought the team in 2003 and in the 14 years since, so the worry is that organization is particular in how it has to operate. … The fear is that this hiring from within cycle simply promotes a culture of yes-men and like-minded individuals who are afraid to voice a different perspective.

It’s painfully clear that the Sens are resistant to new approaches. This is evident in their personnel decisions. If you were to remove the names “Murray” and “Dorion” and then present the moves from the last 10 years to someone unfamiliar with the team, they’d be hard-pressed to see any difference since the transition. Arguably the team became more conservative once Tim Murray left. Just like an addict, they have to be willing to change before change can occur and I’ve seen no sign of that at all. While we can blame re-signing Tom Pyatt on Guy Boucher, Max McCormick is pure org.

Tell Randy Lee to refrain from signing the next Zack Stortini or whatever six-figure veteran shitbag that he wants to bring into the fold in Binghamton.

Lee is one of the major problems in the org. His mindset is stuck in the physicality of the 1980s and the clutch & grab of the 1990s–he wants big, lumbering players to patrol an NHL that doesn’t exist anymore. He’s been a catastrophe at the AHL level, but with no accountability (either from him or for him) he’s free to blunder along.

belleville sens

Sometimes I get to pat myself on the back and today is one of those days.  Among the names including among the Sens qualifying offers was former Calgary second-rounder Patrick Sieloff (picked up in the Alex Chiasson deal–the latter of whom was not qualified by the Flames). I mentioned in my season review that the Sens could do worse than keep him and reiterated it earlier this month. He’s not a remarkable defenseman, but at the AHL-level he’s competent depth.


Another name on the qualified list was Mikael Wikstrand, but before anyone imagines the Swede suiting up for the team this is nothing more than the org making sure he stays buried in Sweden. They did the same thing to Roman WickGeoff Kinrade, and others who dared to jump to Europe. In none of these cases did they do anything useful with the asset so I expect the same here.


Development Camp begins tomorrow, an event that I used to attend regularly. I’m always interested in who the camp invites are, as the Sens have shown a tendency to later sign them to ATO’s or PTO’s (or more; Matt O’Connor is just one example).  Here they are (I gave their ages by YOB, just fyi):
Hayden Lavigne 21, GL (Michigan, NCAA) 2.92 .912
He split duties with Zach Nagelvoort and Jack LaFontaine after spending his junior career bouncing around the USHL
Charles-David Beaudoin 23, RD (CIS/AHL) CIS/AHL 17-3-6-9/6-0-2-2
Went to the CIS after an unremarkable career in the Q; left early to turn pro and didn’t show much in limited ECHL and AHL duty
T. J. Melancon 21, RD (Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL) 67-19-25-44
The top-scoring defenseman on his team who also had a good playoff, he’s someone looking for an AHL or ECHL contract
Jordan Murray 25, LD (CIS/AHL) CIS/AHL 30-14-26-40/5-1-1-2
After a decent QMJHL career he spent four full years at the University of New Brunswick before his short audition with Binghamton (somehow earning him a two-year AHL contract)
Brayden Pachal 18, RD (Victoria/Prince Albert, WHL) 65-3-12-15
Eligible for this year’s draft, he’ll get another shot in 2018
Andrew Peski 20, RD (North Dakota, NCAA) 29-0-3-3
A decent CCHL career turned into a lousy USHL season with not much different in college
Michael Babcock 22, RW (Merrimack, NCAA) 36-5-4-9
Son of the coach; an unremarkable player at all levels; he was at the camp last year
Matteo Gennaro 20, CL (Calgary, WHL) 69-43-37-80
Former Winnipeg pick (7-203/15), he’s looking for a pro contract after impressively leading the Hitmen in scoring
Jake Gaudet 21, CL (Kemptville, CCHL) 31-12-19-31
Finished his CCHL career with a commitment to UMass; he was the fifth most productive player on Kemptville so I wouldn’t expect much
Kelly Parker 18, CL (Prince Albert, WHL) 72-21-22-43
Draft eligible this year, he’ll be looking to improve his stock for 2018
Cole Maier 22, CR (Union College, NCAA) 38-15-10-25
Went from US High School to the BCHL before reaching the NCAA; he finished fifth in scoring on his team
Nick Master 22, CL (U-Mass, NCAA) 40-4-11-15
A middling USHL player who had a down year after his freshman season
Carl Persson 22, CL (Karlskoga, Allsvenskan) 51-26-18-44
Struggling the previous two seasons he had an excellent year riding shotgun with FA signee Victor Ejdsell and former ECHLer Alex Lavoie; he’s signed with Karlskrona in the SHL for the upcoming year; I don’t recall a Swedish player ever coming to development camp who wasn’t drafted, so I’m not sure the circumstances behind this
Jack Rodewald 23, RW (AHL) 66-18-9-27
WHL grad was actually a Toronto signing who came over with the general detritus in the Phaneuf trade; played his way out of the ECHL early last season, but his production crashed quickly and he’s very much on the bubble to earn himself an AHL-deal
Jordan Topping 20, LW (Tri-City/WHL) 43-28-25-53
Draft eligible player will be looking to to get picked next year

There is an astonishing number of righthanded blueliners above (four!), suggesting the org wants to supplement what they have in their system. The other player that stands out is Perrson, primarily because I can’t recall the Sens ever having an undrafted Swede (or someone from a European league) show up to their development camp.


Derek Ryan (CIS) needs to be added to the list of undrafted success stories.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing Ottawa’s 2017 Draft

dorion's reward

This was not an inspiring draft for Ottawa, as Trent Mann’s first time running the board seemed timid and uninspired (reminding me most of 2014, but even that draft class had more skill). As for the Sens usual trends, we saw both the CHL and US systems involved as per usual, a continued commitment to avoiding smaller players, along with using later rounds for goalies. Variations included not drafting out of Sweden for the first time since 2007, as well as taking a USHL player in the first round. In terms of my mock draft the org had different ideas in the first round and all my first-selections after that were gone long before Ottawa made their pick (two of my options, however, were selected). Pierre Dorion was looking for credit for trying (and failing) to make a trade (!), which is more than a little embarrassing. Let’s dig into the players added to the system.

1-28/17 Shane Bowers C-L USHL (Waterloo) 60-22-29-51 t-1st pts (4th points-per-game)
A late first to second round round pick (26-41) with red flags attached. Nichols quotes his Lord and Saviour Corey Pronman:

[He] play[s] on both sides of the ice. The ultimate question with Bowers is his offensive ceiling. Some scouts I talk to swear by him as a potential frontline NHL player; other scouts, including myself, question whether he’ll be able to score much as an NHLer.

Grant McCagg (also via Nichols):

not a high-end talent but he’s a hard working, smart two-way guy

Red Line Report (RLR; also via Nichols):

Has the look of a solid third line, two-way NHL center one day, but we just don’t see any one exceptional carrying tool that leads us to believe he’ll be a difference-maker

International Scouting Report (ISS):

He competes hard. He skates through checks, goes to the net and not afraid to go into traffic. He is aware of his defensive responsibilities. He can play all forward positions and excels on the powerplay and penalty killing effectively. … mid-range NHL player with an upside.

Future Considerations (FC):

Bowers is a bit vanilla when it comes to his offensive game as he lacks flash or creativity and takes only what is available in front of him

Hockey Prospect (HP):

Shane plays a very detail oriented game in all three zones; rarely will he miss an assignment defensively or try to cheat up ice. Bowers isn’t going to make a lot of plays that jump out at you but he uses his elite skating and hockey sense to be in the right places at the right times and will take advantage of the chances he gets.

The commonalities are that Bowers is responsible defensively; most agree he has a limited offensive upside and that he’s very fast. One salient comment I read from an NHL scout was “high floor, low ceiling,” which sounds the Curtis Lazar alarm bells. For an organisation short on skill, using a pick on someone projected as a third-liner checker is a little depressing, although clearly the Sens believe his ceiling is higher than that. He’s slated to attend Boston University in the upcoming season.

2-47 Alex Formenton LW OHL (London) 65-16-18-34 11th pts (13th ppg)
Slotted evenly between the second and third round (32-66), he’s similar to Bowers above (as you’ll see below). Nichols quotes Pronman:

He has average creativity though, I wouldn’t expect him to become a big assists guy. … upon repeated viewings it became apparent that he had trouble finishing plays or paying the ultimate price to get to the scoring areas, perhaps because of his youth.

Red Line Report (via Nichols):

If he’s ever able to get his hands and brain to catch up with his feet, has the tools to be a fine two-way winger.

Hockey Prospect:

Offensively he has good tools. He gets his shot off quickly, and he has fairly good passing ability. His play below the hashmarks in the offensive zone improved as the season progressed.

Future Considerations:

he didn’t show much creativity with the puck when set up in the offensive zone and stuck to more of a cycle game. He’s very engaged defensively, hustling to cover the trailing player on the backcheck and was often the first forward back in his own end in tonight’s game.


Plays a 200-foot game. Strong backcheck and back pressure. Plays with a bit of an edge. Project as possible 3rd line forward in NHL with possible upside.

All agree he’s fast (although there’s disagreement on his lateral movement and overall agility); most see limited creativity at this stage, with some seeing hope for more in the future. Just like Bowers though, his ceiling is not high and he projects as a responsible energy player at best. If any pick this year demonstrates organisational fear of failure this is the one.

4-121 Drake Batherson C-R QMJHL (Cape Breton) 61-22-36-58 3rd pts (3rd ppg)
Overage center was only listed by half the draft guides (122/213) and as such there’s very little scouting material on him. Only HP has a report in what I have on hand:

[H]as the ability to change speeds, which makes him tough to handle for opposing defensemen. He has great hockey IQ and puck skills. He has the ability to make defenders miss him one-on-one with his slick hands. … He sees the ice really well, and he’s as good a scorer as he is a playmaker. He has really good patience with the puck…. … he’s way more effective in one-on-one battles along the boards and in front of the net [than in the past].

This all sounds good in the skill department, but it’s worth noting prospects who put up big numbers only as overagers are less likely to replicate those as pros–you also have to ask the question: how much of that production is due to his teammates who lead the team in scoring (Giovanni Fiore, who was signed as an FA by Anaheim, and Massimo Carozza)? On the plus side, at least the Sens picked a player whose principal element is skill (as they generally do out of the Q).

6-183 Jordan Hollett G-L WHL (Regina) 2.83 .901
Serving as the backup goaltender on the high flying Pats (behind the undrafted Tyler Brown), the 6’5/6’4 prospect improved slightly on his numbers in the last season (.887). Only slotted in the draft by half the guides, there are two scouting profiles to look at.

Future Considerations:

[S]ize and athleticism immediately jump out at you. … Hollett’s natural gifts make him an intriguing option but one who will need some time.


Huge upside long-term project or bust.

Both agree he has the raw tools, but it’ll either come together or not and the sample size isn’t large enough for a firm indication either way. It’s clear the Sens are impressed by his girth–that raw physicality–because this version of the org has never drafted a back-up goaltender before (the fact he was playing on prospect Filip Ahl‘s team likely gave him more exposure to the org). He, along with Batherson above, is a shot in the dark, but of all the players here he has the most potential upside (with the flipside of busting equally present). He’ll play for Medicine Hat this upcoming season.

Other than Batherson none of these players is coming to a pro arena any time soon. Goaltenders need more development time anyway, but both Bowers and Formenton can be expected to spend a couple of years developing before going anywhere.  Batherson, as an overage player, should be in Belleville sooner than later.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the 2017 NHL Draft

What a wild ride this year’s draft was. With the dust settled it’s time to take stock and assess both prognostication and notable trends. This was perceived as a weak draft class and that always creates interesting variation. Without further ado, here are the prediction numbers (this isn’t about Player X at position X–I’ll demonstrate why below–it’s simply the correct player by round).  Acronyms: EOTS (Eye on the Sens), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), RLR (Red Line Report), and ISS (International Scouting Service).

First Round
EOTS/HP: 27/31
ISS: 26/31
FC: 25/31
RLR: 24/31
Just to show how pointless the player X at position X is, here’s the same lineup using that type of assessment: HP 9/31, ISS/FC 2/31, EOTS/RLR 1/31. As I’ve said in past years, this is the easiest round to predict and it shows in the broader totals. In terms of my misses, Ratcliffe (universally slotted in this round), Robertson (3 first-round picks), Hague (3 picks), and Lind (2 picks) were mine. The biggest surprise selection was Frost, whom no one had slotted so early (RLR came closest). It was interesting to see two big men (Ratcliffe and Hague) be left out.  Other first-round selections: DiPetroComtois, Anderson-DolanBoqvist, Timmins, StromePopugaev, and Davidsson. Incidentally, Bob McKenzie was also 27/31.

Second Round
EOTS/HP: 16/31
FC: 13/31
RLR: 12/31
ISS: 11/31
These are slightly lower numbers than last year. The biggest surprise pick was Luostarinen, as only HP listed him in the draft (and as a late pick)–he’s the first player not on my list. Lauzon also went much earlier than expected (fifth was as high as he was listed). This round was the beginning of the freefall for Strome and Elvenes (neither listed later than the third).

Third Round
RLR: 8/31
FC: 7/31
Prediction totals are on par for other years. Goaltender DiPietro was finally selected. This round had the first truly off-the-wall pick, with unranked Oskari Laaksonen getting taken (not sure what the pressure was to get him early, but clearly Buffalo felt it–all I can give you is that he’s a righthanded defenseman). We also got our first player that Central Scouting liked that no one else listed (undersized and overage Russian Altybarmakyan). Quite a few other players went earlier than expected.

Fourth Round
RLR: 7/31
HP: 6/31
EOTS: 5/31
ISS: 3/31
FC: 0/31
These numbers are roughly the norm (except for FC’s abysmal total). Strome finally landed here, but this is the round where NHL GMs started swinging for the fences: three unranked players were picked (KvacaLaavainen, and Kara), along with Crawley, Swayman and Makiniemi whom only CS had listed (four of the six are overage). Single-listings BrysonSoderlund and Setkov were also nabbed.

Fifth Round
HP/EOTS: 3/31
ISS/FC: 2/31
RLR: 1/31
Predictions bottom out here and for the rest of the draft (all slightly lower than normal). Elvenes was finally taken along with a lot more fence-swinging: SennFraser (CS), Hults, GunnarssonAho (a favourite of mine), Drozg, and Olund (CS). There were also single-selections FischerHowarthPetersonGalvas, ShvyryovGawankeFoo, and Dugan. Many of these are overage players.

Sixth Round
HP: 3/31
Chmelevski and Koltygin were finally taken. Unranked: WebbHolmLycksell, Guttman, Repo, and Palojarvi; CS-only selections McGregorBourque, J. Davidsson, Lakatos and Svetlakov; single-selections MeyerPateraPalmuAdams, Perbix, Maass, McGrewCampoli, and Brind’Amour.

Seventh Round
EOTS/HP: 2/31
FC: 1/31
RLR/ISS: 0/31
Chekhovich and Primeau were finally picked. Unranked: KalnyukV. Rasanen, Zaitsev, A. AnderssonVirtaMarthinsenHellicksonEss, Stucker, and Reilly; CS-only selections BrassardWalterholm, BerglundSveningsson, and Swaney; single-selections WeissbachEvingsonGilmourWalker, and Leivermann.

Totals (changes from last year noted)
HP: 66/217 (30.4%) (-2)
EOTS: 64/217 (29.4%) (+2)
RLR: 54/217 (24.8%) (+7)
FC: 50/217 (23.0%) (-14)
ISS: 53/200* (26.5%) (+3)
* ISS has a list of 20 goaltenders with no rankings attached to them and only 180 skaters listed, meaning they took far fewer risks than the other publications and can’t truly be compared

For the fourth year in a row HP was the most accurate by round, although it’s worth noting that if you eliminate the first round it’s just over 20%–it is, indeed, futile to try to completely emulate the league even round-by-round. The more important number is how many players selected were actually taken in the draft, and here’s how we all did (with variance from last year noted):

HP: 154/217 (70.9%) (-3.9%)
EOTS: 148/217 (68.2%) (-4.3%)*
RLR: 137/217 (63.1%) (-3.7%)
FC: 133/217 (61.3%) (-8.8%)
ISS: 131/200 (66.5%)** (-9 players)
* My “raw” list (as in, simply placing aggregate numbers consecutively) finishes with 145 picks, so the human factor made me a little more accurate
** Given that ISS choose not to predict the whole draft they get placed at the bottom (as, indeed, they picked the fewest correct players regardless)

This is on the low end for me, a slight record low for RLR, significantly low for FC, with ISS continuing to fumble at the bottom (despite the largest scouting staff).  HP finished on the lower end of their spectrum, but did impressively nonetheless.

The highest ranked player left hanging was Russian WHL-defenseman Artyom Minulin  (#83); you’d have to think the Russian-factor is the main reason he was left out as no one had him lower than a fourth-round pick.  Next up is another (this time undersized) Russian, Kirill Slepets (#91). Following him is the first North American player not selected, OHLer MacAuley Carson (#97), although unlike the two previous players he wasn’t universally picked. Twelve players picked by all sources were left hanging: Joel Teasdale, blueliner Tommy Miller, undersized Greg Meireles, defenseman Brady Lyle, blueliner Nate Knoepke, defender Adam Thilander, Russian blueliner Mark RubinchikA. J. Pratt, Finnish defender Otto LatvalaAusten KeatingShawn Boudrias, and undersized defender Will Warm–this is more than usual, albeit not hugely so (11 such players were left hanging in 2015).

Unlike last year, highly ranked players from the previous season were not taken. While some came in ranked (Fortier the highest), none were selected.

In past reviews I’ve talked about how much Central Scouting’s European and goaltending rankings are ignored, and it’s much the same this year.  North American skater rankings also didn’t hold up that well, as Minulin (#58) and Lewis (#59) were ignored (among others); NA goaltenders was the usual mixed bagged (Rasmussen was the highest ignored at #6); undersized EU ‘tender Ahman (#3) was left out, among the usual selective plucking; EU forwards Shen (#21) was the highest left out (followed by #22-#23 Slepets and Hugg). What is interesting is that 11 of the 16 players who only appeared on CS’ list were European–perhaps orgs paid a bit more attention to those rankings, or else simply shared CS’ opinion.

In addition to the CS-only players, there were 24 players that appeared on no one’s list, 17 of whom were from Europe. This means 28 of the 40 players not listed by my primary sources come from European countries which is an affirmation of the struggles to scout there thoroughly (while EU players tend to lead this category, it’s not typically by such a massive proportion, 70%).

The other thing that’s apparent in the off-the-wall picks was the emphasis on position players (something I’ve noted previously).  Of the aforementioned 40 there were 20 defensemen and 5 goalies (so 25 of 40, or 62.5%).

I’d suspected smaller players would fall out of the draft and indeed many did–some I anticipated (like AhcanKvasnicka, Tortura, Garreffa, and Solow) and others I left in (like Nyman and Moilanen).  Several smaller players did get drafted (like McKenzie and Cockerill, both of whom I cut out, or Shaw and Brannstrom).  On the flip side, a few bigger men were left out (MalmstromBrazeau, and Ganske), but admittedly fewer than the former category.  The NHL still firmly believes in size.

This draft, in terms of prognostication, is closest to 2014 in overall performance, although since I’ve been doing this (2011 with all four of these publications) I haven’t had three with sub-140 players before.  I’m not sure there’s a conclusion to draw from this given the weak draft class, but it’s certainly something to watch going forward. Is it time to add a fifth publication? It’s possible, but I don’t know that any other actually predicts the entire draft–still, something I’ll think about for 2018.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes


It’s always gratifying to get RT’d by someone you recognise in the hockey world, so thanks to Aaron Vickers who picked my unhashtaged Tweet out of the ether assessing NHL Draft Guides; Andy Levangie (who scouts for HP) also somehow found it; while Craig Smith (who scouts for McKeens) chimed in yet again.

Speaking of scouting, Lowe Tide put out something similar to my big draft list, but he cut his listing to just 150 players and seems focused on doing talent assessment via a conversation calculator (ie, translating points from various leagues), something whose value I’m not sold on (as I’ve explored previously).  I still think it’s worth checking out and recommend doing so.

Also on the scouting front, someone Nichols is a big fan of (Grant McCagg) looks at what the Sens need at the draft, but I think he missed an opportunity to reflect on what they might actually do (he makes no attempt to do so).


It’s a funny thing that the Expansion Draft was set-up to permit Vegas to have a decent NHL roster to start, but the team chose to have an expansion roster instead.

Speaking of that draft, I didn’t think there would be anything interesting about Ottawa’s protected list, but a few things did stand out:
1. Ottawa still has Stephan Da Costa‘s NHL rights
Admittedly only until July 1st, but in typical Ottawa fashion they’ve done nothing useful with them and he’ll be able to sign where he wants when that time is up
2. Ottawa exposed Mikael Wikstrand
You’d hardly expect them to protect him, but why retain his rights at all?
3. Ottawa has lost the rights to Geoff Kinrade and Roman Wick
Both were members of the 2011 Calder Cup team who left (or in Roman’s case, returned) for Europe afterwards; I must have missed a clock being added to such players in the CBA, because in days of yore you could maintain such rights forever


Sens prospect Filip Ahl is headed back to Europe, spendin the upcoming season in the SHL playing for Orebro.  He had a decent but unremarkable season in the WHL and will likely have to show more to earn an ELC.


In a sign of changing times digital ad revenue has passed TV revenue for the first time. Given how dependent sports are on the latter it will be interesting to see how the leagues adjust. What the NHL will do, given that as a business it doesn’t really innovate, will be interesting to follow.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa Senators Mock Draft

markus nurmi

Pictured above is the rarest of things: a prospect drafted from Finland (with Randy Lee looking like he’d rather be anywhere else).

With my massive draft article now posted as well as my look at Ottawa’s draft tendencies, it’s time to make predictions for who the Sens will pick in the 2017 draft. This is a difficult exercise because it’s impossible to know who will be available when the Sens pick, but it’s fun to speculate on possibilities based on who we might expect to be available. As a quick refresh, here’s the basics of what the Sens do: draft out of Sweden, draft out of the CHL, draft out of the US leagues; what they don’t do: draft Russians, draft smaller players, draft out of the rest of Europe, draft goaltenders early.  With that said, let’s take a look at who they might land.  I’ve listed six players around the pick based on my list (two just before, the actual number, and three after), and we’ll tackle them for probability (with the most likely in green).

First Round Pick (1-28)
26. Jason Robertson (OHL forward) – this is a popular online pick, but it’s unlikely he’ll drop to them
27. Urho Vaakanainen (D; Finland) – he plays in Finland and picking Markus Nurmi last year doesn’t convince me we’ll get a bunch of Finns this year (bus tickets for Mikko Ruutu cost money kids!)
28. Jake Oettinger (G; NCAA) – the Sens don’t draft goaltenders in the first round; they also don’t draft college players in the first round
29. Kole Lind (WHL forward) – the most probable pick
30. Shane Bowers (USHL forward) – the Sens have never drafted a USHL player in the first round (the closest is Colin White from the US developmental program, but Bowers doesn’t have that pedigree)
31. Henri Jokiharju (D; WHL) – I’m not convinced the Sens are over their aversion to taking Finns, so I think Conor Timmins (#33; D; OHL) is more likely (I have Maxime Comtois at #32, but think the Sens would take Timmins)

Second Round Pick (2-47; from Calgary)
45. Keith Petruzzeli (G; USHL) – Sens don’t really draft goalies in the second round either
46. Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen (G; Finland) – he’s Finnish and a goaltender, so no
47. Nikita Popugayev (or Popugaev) (D; WHL) – he’s Russian
48. Joni Ikonen (SWE forward) – he’s 5’10 and Finnish
49. Jake Leschyshyn (WHL forward) – the son of the former NHLer and Senator Curtis, he’s very much in Ottawa’s wheelhouse
50. Joshua Brook (D; WHL) – a plausible alternative to Leschyshyn

Fourth Round Pick (4-121)
119. Nate Knoepke (D; USDP) – he fits Ottawa’s drafting trends (players in the US system proliferate from the fourth round onwards)
120. Tyler Inamoto (D; USDP) – see above
121. Noah Cates (US high school forward) – in the wheelhouse
122. Adam Thilander/Tilander (D; OHL) – also in the wheelhouse
123. Rickard Hugg (SWE forward) – at 5’10 he’s too small for Ottawa, so #124 Jocktan Chainey (D; QMJHL) is a reasonable option

Sixth Round Pick (6-183)
181. Yaroslav Alexeyeev/Alexeev (QMJHL forward) – he’s Russian
182. Calle Sjalin (D; SWE) – in the wheelhouse, although I don’t think the Sens have picked a Division 1 player before (he could easily slide to their pick)
183. Corey Andonovski (CISAA forward) – he comes from the kind of obscure league the Sens occasionally tap into (ala Colin Greening)
184. Jordan Hollett (G; WHL) – I’m a dubious because I can’t recall them drafting a backup goalie with so few games played before
185. Finn Evans (OJHL forward) – in the wheelhouse

It’s possible, depending on how things play out, that the options above would not include a player from Sweden and the inclination to pick one is strong (have to justify those European scouts somehow), so here are the possibilities that are close to the various picks: Jesper BoqvistLucas Elvenes; and Jonatan Asplund (D).


The Silver Seven’s Ary M and Colin have been doing a series of draft articles on the Sens and I thought I’d go through them.  Rather than compose a list as I have above they’d pushed out six articles covering forwards, defense, goaltenders, overage players, European defensemen, and late round forwards (I’m amazed at how many separate pieces they’ve pushed out on the topic).  Here are my thoughts:

European Defensemen
Jonatan Asplund (Swe SuperElit) – a possibility
Juho Korhonen (Finn Jun) – no (he’s 5’9); he’s also not listed by anyone
Otto Latvala (Finn Jun; WJC-18) – he’s Finnish so seems unlikely
Gustav Lindstrom (Swe Allsvenskan) – a possibility
Adam Thilander/Tilander (Swe SuperElit; WJC-18) – despite being smallish at 6’0 he is within the org’s range, so maybe
Giorgio Estephan (WHL; Buf 6-152/15) – he’s not on anyone’s radar (the Sens do go off-board occasionally, but with forwards it’s either off of back-to-back big numbers (Hoffman) or numbers plus grit (Smith))
Nikita Korostelev (OHL; Tor 7-185/15) – he’s Russian (and see the no radar above)
Denis Smirnov (NCAA) – he’s 5’8
Tim Soderlund (SHL) – he’s 5’9
Matt Timms (D) (OHL) – the Sens haven’t picked a D-man under 6’0 since 2009 (he’s 5’10); see the no radar above
Linus Weissbach (USHL) – he’s 5’9
Aleksi Heponiemi (WHL) – he’s 5’10
Joni Ikonen (Swe SuperElit) – no (see above)
Antoine Morand (QMJHL) – I think it’s unlikely (he’s 5’10)
Jason Robertson (OHL) – see above
Kailer Yamamoto (WHL) – he’s 5’8!
Late Round Forwards
Linus Nyman (OHL) – he’s 5’9
Jonas Rondbjerg (Swe SuperElit) – possibility
Mason Shaw (WHL) – 5’9
Zach Solow (USHL) – as above
Joel Teasdale (QMJHL) – possibility
Erik Brannstrom (SHL) – 5’9
Henri Jokiharju (WHL) – see above
Pierre-Olivier Joseph (QMJHL) – possible
Conor Timmins (OHL) – see above
Filip Westerlund (SHL) – 5’11 so not very likely
Adam Ahman (Swe SuperElit) – no chance (he’s 6’0)
Michael DiPietro (OHL) – as above
Olle Eriksson Ek (Swe SuperElit) – possibility
Lassi Lehtinen (Finn junior) – 5’11 and not listed by anyone other than CS
Jake Oettinger (NCAA) – see above

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Analysis and Predictions for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft


The 2017 NHL draft is almost here so it’s time to put on my prediction hat and take a look at who will be selected.  What follows is a long preamble, so for those simply interested in the list just scroll down.  It’s worth noting that I am not a scout, simply someone who enjoys the draft.  Before we get into my list I’ll explain my methodology.

With the advent of the salary cap in the NHL (2005) it became paramount for all organisations to invest in their scouting operations and draft well. Teams could no longer simply buy their way out of trouble or plug holes with expensive free agents. That change has helped drive the cottage industry that is draft prediction.  Sources covering the draft are not created equal and few of those who provide their opinions will reflect on their subsequent accuracy. My purpose is to collate the best sources and provide insight into who will be selected.

This is my eighth year predicting the draft (beginning with the now defunct Hockey Herald back in 2010). That year I picked 72% of the entire class which, as it happens, is very good.  When I talk about successful predictions, I don’t mean player X went in X round at X position (ie, John Smith was #43 as predicted)–that kind of precision simply isn’t practical (in the years I tracked it the number was a little higher than 25% and when you subtracted the first round it bottomed out completely).  These numbers and percentages reflect which players were selected in the draft, period. Here are the numbers from 2011 onwards (in brackets are the total number of players; until this year ISS listed 220 players as being selected in the draft, so they’re divided by that number)):
Eye on the Sens (EOTS): 70.9 (149), 75.8 (160), 69.2 (146), 70.9 (149), 78.5 (165), 72.5 (153)=72.9 (153)
Hockey Prospects (HP): 74.2 (156), 72 (152), 69.2 (146), 70.9 (149), 75.8 (160), 74.8 (154)=72.8 (152)
Future Considerations (FC): 73.8 (155), 71.1 (150), 68.7 (145), 69 (145), 69.2 (146), 70.1 (148)=70.3 (148)
Red Line Report (RLR): 73.8 (155), 73.9 (156), 67.7 (143), 64.7 (136), 73 (154), 66.8 (141)=69.9 (147)
International Scouting Service (ISS): 68.1 (150), 66.3 (146), 62.7 (138), 60 (132), 68.6 (151), 63.6 (140)=64.8 (142)

The differences aren’t particularly large, but they exist and remain consistent so there are meaningful differences between them.  My ranking methodology goes as follows: I take the sum of reliable sources and produce a number (player X is ranked 15, 24, and 32, those numbers are then averaged to create his aggregate number). This gives me something I can use for comparison and my initial rough list is created accordingly. I then engage in comparative analysis—for instance, if player X has a higher aggregate score, but player Y wins the head-to-head comparison, the latter is given the higher position (a head-to-head comparison works this way: 11, 30, 31, 38 loses to 12, 13, 16, 69, because the latter’s number is sunk by one bad score). I don’t have the raw list vs the draft for every year, but I’m ahead of those I have (+6; the list had 148 (11), 157 (12), 150 (14), 162 (15), and 153 (16)). It’s worth noting that there is a big difference between trying to assess who is the best player versus who will be drafted–my interest here is in figuring out who will be taken given the available data draft guides provide–the percentages above aren’t critiques of the guides (that’s a separate proposition), instead it simply shows how accurately they reflect the choices made by NHL teams.

Determining my Sources of Data

A wide variety of media and bloggers produce draft predictions (especially for the first round), but not all are created equal. My preference is for guides covering the entire draft (as that’s my purpose here), but otherwise it’s simply based on results. For that purpose I use the International Scouting Service, Red Line Report, Future Considerations, and Hockey Prospect‘s, with Central Scouting (CS) as a reference point (keeping in mind historically NHL teams ignore CS’ European and goaltending rankings). In the past I’ve used Corey Pronman, McKeen’sThe Hockey Writers, The Hockey News, and so on, but due to their various limitations I no longer do so. The area most guides struggle with is European scouting (presumably due to cost) and they are dependent on international tournament performances–this echoes a lot of NHL scouting and it’s a limitation worth keeping in mind.  I’ll give one specific example to make the point: ISS actually lists how many times their scouts filed a report on a player and they saw Czech leaguer Filip Chytil 6 times; the two CHL players he’s sandwiched between were seen 20 and 26 times respectively–that’s a significant difference.

Both ISS and CS have inherent comparative problems. Central Scouting does not create a master list—players are divided into North American and European regions and then further subdivided into skaters and goaltenders.  As such it’s impossible to truly integrate CS into the aggregate number. ISS, on the other hand, separates only their goaltenders into a separate ranking, albeit this latter ranking no longer includes any reference to what round (if any) they expect the player to be taken, making it impossible to include their goaltenders in the aggregate score so that they become simply a CS-like reference point.


This is considered to be a weak draft year; as such, teams can be expected either to be more conservative in their picks or to take more chances (there’s also a greater chance of disaster (the 2012 top-ten); granted that had GM’s followed the consensus only two would have been bombed).  Also of note, the rules for overage Europeans have always been different (any European under the age of 21 is eligible; those 21 and over are free agents). In terms of draft order this year, the Devils beat the odds again (ala 2011), which will help them recover from giving away the #9 picks in 2013 and 2014.

The guides have 119 players (54.8%) in common (including 19 first-round picks), with 167 players (76.9%) shared by three.  This is a continued illustration of both the broad agreement among the scouting community on top talent and an overall shared sentiment on player assessment.

For some perspective, here are some hits & misses from various sources (just from 2011 and 2012, since so much about recent drafts remains up in the air):
-all sources had Brandon Saad as a first-round pick, but 30 GM’s were dissuaded by his weak second half and let him drop to #43
-Stuart Percy (#25) was one of at least five first-round busts and HP had him in their top-20
-Nikita Kucherov (#58) is one of the best performers of the draft, but no one had him higher than a late second round pick (FC and ISS)
-In a re-draft Boone Jenner (#37) would certainly go in the first round and both FC and HP had him there
-Vincent Trocheck (#64) should have been a first-round pick, but the closest was an early second from FC
-Jean-Gabriel Pageau (#96) was only given proper credit by HP
-Johnny Gaudreau (#104) was only listed by two sources (RLR and ISS), with both having him as a late pick
-Andrew Shaw (#139) wasn’t listed by anyone, nor was Ondrej Palat (#208)
-Alexander Ruutu (#51) was left off every list except ISS; he’s struggled to establish himself in Finland (much less across the pond)
-Josh Shalla (#94) was the second player in the draft who was unlisted and he’s spent his career in the ECHL
-All sources wanted Viktor Arvidsson picked in the 2011 draft, but it wasn’t until 2014 that Nashville finally took a chance on him (the resistance was all related to his size)
-Henrik Samuelsson (#27) is the only confirmed first-round bust and everyone had him in at least in the second round (two had him in the first)
-Both Shane Gostisbehere (#78) and Colton Parayko (#86) are among the highest performing defensemen from this draft, but only the former was listed by anyone (CS in his case)

-Acronyms: ISS (International Scouting Service), CS (Central Scouting), RLR (Red Line Report), HP (Hockey Prospect), and FC (Future Considerations)
-For convenience I’ve identified goaltenders (G) and defenseman (D)
-I’ve noted size when I feel it’s important–forwards 5’10 and under, defensemen under 6’0, and goaltenders 6’0 or less (the NHL preference for size remains a factor); anyone who is 6’5 or taller is also noted; in general I’ve used HP’s sizes, as Mark Edwards waited until after the NHL combine to put out his guide

Draft Rankings

First Round
1. Nolan Patrick (1.25) – the consensus pick, but not a universal one (HP has him at #2); this is exactly the same scenario as 2012 when HP dissented from Nail Yakupov
2. Nico Hischier (1.75) – as above but reversed
3. Miro Heiskanen (D) (5.50) – the first defenseman on the list, he loses to Vilardi on aggregate only because he’s low-balled by one source (out of the top-ten)
4. Gabriel Vilardi (4.50) – each publication has its own selection here (this one matches ISS), but cumulatively he wins out (HP has him lowest, but still in the top-ten)
5. Cody Glass (6.25) – as high as #3 and low as #10
6. Casey Mittelstadt (6.75) – has a very tight range of predictions (5-8)
7. Cale Makar (D) (7.5) – undersized for a defender (5’11), the tier-2 product could fall, although HP is very high on him (#4)
8. Owen Tippett (11.5) – beats Necas head-to-head; a very wide range of predictions (5-22)
9. Elias Pettersson (12.75) – he edges out Necas because the latter plays in a worse league and his high ratings are more impressive than Rasmussen’s
10. Michael Rasmussen (12.25) – his size (6’5) is the kind of thing that attracts GMs and I think it will put him over Necas
11. Martin Necas (11.25) – a very narrow band of predictions (9-14)
12. Nicholas Suzuki (13.25) – RLR is a big fan; he’s 5’10
13. Juuso Valimaki (D) (15.00) – straightforwardly next
14. Klim Kostin (16.00) – the number one European for CS; missed a lot of the season due to injury, so much of this rating is based on his performance the year before
15. Timothy Liljegren (D) (17.00) – wins over Tolvanen because of his higher threshold (two top-ten picks from ISS and HP) and the latter’s size; it’s obvious most scouting reports are based just on his international play, with only one guide pointing out that he and Brannstrom (below) did things outside their comfort zone in that context because of the poor group of Swedish forwards in front of them
16. Eeli Tolvanen (17.00) – some teams will worry over his size (5’10)
17. Lias Andersson (17.5) – fairly wide range within the round (12-25)
18. Callan Foote (D) (18.00) – big blueliner has the same range as Andersson (12-25)
19. Erik Brannstrom (D) (21.5) – his size (5’9) will scare some teams away; his number is hurt by ISS putting him outside the first round (everyone else has him as a mid-first rounder), despite giving him a glowing assessment–two guides actually call him a top-ten talent
20. Kristian Vesalainen (19.00) – big Finn is a top-ten pick for one source, but one has him in the second
21. Isaac Ratcliffe (21.00) – at 6’5 GM’s will be eager to get their mits on him; he’s the final player universally selected for the first round
22. Ryan Poehling (22.25) – one source has the college player outside the first round
23. Nicolas Hague (D) (27.00) – the big blueliner (6’6) has his number thrown off by HP; everyone is worried about his skating
24. Kailer Yamamoto (24.75) – at 5’8 his size will likely throw off a number of GM’s (amusingly the source that has him in the second round did so at the last minute, because their profile of him still has him in the first round)
25. Robert Thomas (26.5) – beats Robertson head-to-head
26. Jason Robertson (25.75) – one top-ten pick and one selection in the second round; differences of opinion on his skating
27. Urho Vaakanainen (D) (32.00) – his number is thrown off by one source
28. Jake Oettinger (G) (30.33) – a second-rounder for one source, but with NHL size (6’4) he’s likely to be the first goalie to be picked
29. Kole Lind (31.25) – beats Bowers head-to-head
30. Shane Bowers (31.25) – picked as a late first-rounder by three sources
31. Henri Jokiharju (D) (35.00) – I put him ahead of DiPietro because the goaltender is on the small side; he beats Comtois head-to-head

Eleven other players were placed in the first round (the same as last year), with five of those getting placed by two sources (DiPietro, Comtois, Anderson-Dolan, Timmins, and Chytil).  By the numbers DiPietro should be above, but as I mentioned, I think his size as a goaltender (6’0) is going to slide him down further.

Second Round
32. Michael DiPietro (G) (29.33) – two sources have him in the first round, with another in the second; on the small side as a goalie (6’0)
33. Maxime Comtois (34.75) – two first-round votes for him
34. Conor Timmins (D) (39.75) – a low ranking from HP really hurts his number
35. Pierre-Olivier Joseph (D) (36.00) – the first player with only one first-round placement; his number is thrown off by FC
36. Jaret Anderson-Dolan (35.25)
37. Jesper Boqvist (35.25) – the second player with just one first-round placement (has very tight rankings, 30-39)
38. Filip Chytil (48.25) – heavily split opinions–two first-round and two third round picks; scouting reports seem completely dependent on his international performances
39. Matthew Strome (49.75) – brother of Dylan and Ryan, opinions are varied (a first and third sandwiching two seconds); universal concern over his skating
40. Marcus Davidsson (54.75) – ISS puts his number way out of whack
41. Alexei Lipanov (44.25) – the first player on the list without a first-round prediction; not sure if the Russian factor still matters or not, but worth remembering
42. Grant Mismash (45.25) – universal second-round pick, but very different views on his competitiveness
43. Joshua Norris (48.00) – varied opinions as he gets a first and third round selection; beats Entwhistle head-to-head
44. MacKenzie Entwistle (51.00) – his number is submarined by one source; a lot of questions about his offensive upside
45. Keith Petruzzelli (G) (49.66) – FC hurts the big ‘tender’s (6’5) number
46. Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen (G) (48.00) – loses to Petruzzelli head-to-head
47. Nikita Popugayev/Popugaev (51.00) – last player with a first-round pick (his size, 6’5, undoubtedly a factor); a third-rounder for one; considered a boom or bust by all
48. Joni Ikonen (53.00) – universal second-round pick, but his size (5’10) could give GM’s pause
49. Jake Leschyshyn (54.00) – son of former NHLer Curtis, he beats Brook head-to-head
50. Joshua Brook (D) (54.25) – his number is thrown off by ISS
51. Stelio Mattheos (57.25) – FC throws his number off
52. Alex Formenton (53.25) – number boosted by ISS; one of the youngest players ranked in the draft, there are some questions about his offensive capabilities
53. Lucas Elvenes (55.5) – mid-second round or early third-round pick via sources
54. Morgan Frost (57.00) – ISS hurts his score
55. Dylan Samberg (D) (59.25) – FC wrecks his number
56. Morgan Geekie (62.75) – three second-round picks, the lone fourth throws off his total; the first overage player on the list
57. Aleksi Heponiemi (58.75) – at 5’10 his size might scare off GM’s
58. Robin Salo (D) (61.75) – FC is very high on him
59. Jack Studnicka (62.25) – riding high off ISS’ ranking
60. Ivan Lodina (64.5) – undersized forward (5’10) hurt by HP’s ranking; completely split opinions in the scouting profiles (two with red flags, two that gush)
61. Max Gildon (D) (70.75) – ranking thrown off by HP
62. Antoine Morand (63.50) – of the players remaining with two second-round selections those for the 5’10 forward are the highest, but he’s a late third-rounder to the other two sources

Ten other players received two second-round selections (Martin, Safin, Chekhovich, Gadjovich, Ruzicka, Tyszcha, Schnarr, Rasanen, Phillips, and Texier).

Third Round
63. Luke Martin (D) (64.00) – Big collegiate defender has fairly tight rankings (51-75)
64. Ostap Safin (69.75) – 6’5 Czech gets one fourth round ranking; universal questions about his consistency
65. Ivan Chekhovich (70.75) – HP isn’t a fan; he’s 5’10
66. Adam Ruzicka (75.5) – big Slovak’s number is thrown off by RLR; every source questions his consistency
67. Jonah Gadjovich (70.75) – HP is high on him, while FC and RLR are not; lot’s of questions about his skating
68. Jarret Tyszka (D) (78.25) – HP’s ranking throws off his number
69. Dmitri Samorukov (D) (71.25) – universally slotted in the third round (between 63-65 among three sources)
70. Eemeli Rasanen (D) (83.00) – widely divergent opinions on the 6’6 defender (two seconds, a fourth, and a fifth); beats Schnarr head-to-head; universal questions about his skating; a lot of comparisons to Logan Stanley (1-18/16)
71. Nathan Schnarr (81.00) – gets two seconds and two fourths, but isn’t at the same ceiling
72. Markus Phillips (D) (83.75) – the second last player with two second round selections; some (but not universal) questions about his defensive play
73. Alexandre Texier (105.25) – no one has ever been drafted out of a league in France, which might be why FC has him ranked so low; the last player with two second round selections, he’ll win the Wouter Peeters obscurity award if he’s selected
74. Nicholas Henry (75.00) – ranking hurt by ISS; universal questions about his skating
75. Scott Reedy (78.75) – RLR’s number pushes him down
76. Kasper Kotkansalo (D) (80.25) – FC’s ranking hurts him
77. Alexander Chmelevski (88.25) – HP’s number is way out of whack compared to the others
78. Mario Ferraro (D) (73.00) – the first player not ranked by all four, his size (5’9) is certainly a factor (others have him listed at 5’11–an extra two inches would make a huge difference)
79. Ian Mitchell (D) (76.75) – HP is a huge fan; he’s 5’10
80. Mikey Anderson (D) (81.50) – number thrown off by HP
81. Cayden Primeau (G) (78.66) – son of former NHLer Keith; beats Skinner head-to-head
82. Stuart Skinner (G) (77.00) – universally slotted in the third round
83. Artyom Minulin (D) (84.75)
84. Mason Shaw (87.5) – size (5’9) could be an issue; widely disparate rankings (2nd to 5th round)
85. Ian Scott (87.66) – fairly tight band of rankings (74-98)
86. Reilly Walsh (D) (88.75) – size could be an issue (5’10)
87. Cal Fleury (D) (99.00) – RLR’s rating is way off the rest; everyone worries about his defensive play
88. Filip Westerlund (D) (91.50) – ranking thrown off by RLR; undersized at 5’11
89. David Farrance (D) (89.00) – size could be an issue (5’10)
90. Pavel Koltygin (89.25)
91. Kirill Slepets (95.25) – size could be a factor (5’10)
92. Ben Mirageas (D) (100.50)
93. Jonas Rondbjerg (110.00) – divided opinions, with FC’s ranking throwing off his number

Five players remaining have a single second-round selection (Toropchenko, Tommy Miller, Zetterlund, Knoepke, and Cockerill), and four have two third-round selections (Barratt, Hoefenmayer, Meireles, and Gallant).

Fourth Round
94. Evan Barratt (107.75) – RLR throws off his ranking
95. Cameron Crotty (D) (104.00) – 6’4 blueliner is another player whose number is hurt by RLR
96. Alexei Toropchenko (103.00) – wildly variable rankings, from second-rounder to out of the draft altogether; gets the nod over Carson because his ceiling is higher
97. MacAuley Carson (103.00) – narrow rankings (81-123), but not listed by one source, with universal concerns about his skating
98. Jacob Paquette (D) (107.25)
99. Noel Hoefenmayer (D) (117.00) – mixed opinions (skating and defensive play), but has two third-round selections
100. Zachary Gallant (122.00) – much like Hoefenmayer, mixed opinions, but two third-round selections gives him more stable heights than other players
101. Tommy Miller (D) (118.50) – picks from second to sixth
102. Greg Meireles (119.75) – 5’9; his number takes a hit from HP; he’s the last player with two third-round selections
103. Joel Teasdale (108.25) – very tight numbers (86-123)
104. Lane Zablocki (112.50) – RLR knocks his number down
105. D’Artagnan Joly (111.50) – ranking hurt by ISS; seen as a boom or bust type of player, with FC and HP seemingly describing completely different players
106. Tyler Steenbergen (114.00) – three fourth-round selections; he’s overage and undersized (5’10)
107. Patrick Khodorenko (112.00) – not ranked by one source
108. Jack Rathbone (D) (106.66) – undersized (5’10) defender is not listed by one source
109. Kirill Maksimov/Maximov (118.50) – mixed opinions on him, ranging from the third to fifth round
110. Dylan Coghlan (D) (112.66) – overager isn’t listed by one source; beats Olson head-to-head
111. Kyle Olson (112.66) – a bit undersized (5’10)
112. Maxim Zhukov (G) (114.33) – third to fifth round rankings; most agree he has great tools, the question is between his ears
113. Gustav Lindstrom (D) (120.66) – two fourths, a sixth, and out of the draft
114. Brady Lyle (D) (121.50) – gets the nod over Kosorenkov and Studenic because all four sources have him drafted
115. Ivan Kosorenkov (116.66) – overage and undersized (5’10), he’s not listed by one source and inflated by another
116. Marian Studenic (118.00) – not listed by one source
117. Fabian Zetterlund (121.66) – wildly differing opinions, from the second round to out of the draft altogether
118. David Noel (D) (123.00) – third, fourth, sixth, and out of the draft entirely
119. Nate Knoepke (123.25) – a second-round selection, with the rest fifth or sixth
120. Tyler Inamoto (D) (123.5) – RLR skews his rating
121. Noah Cates (126.00) – beats others head-to-head
122. Adam Thilander/Tilander (D) (137.50) – his number is thrown off by HP
123. Rickard Hugg (135.00) – split opinions on him, with two fourth-round picks, a sixth, and undrafted; size could impact him (he’s 5’10)
124. Jocktan Chainey (D) (143.00) – FC misspelled his name (Chaney) causing me headaches; very mixed opinions (third, fourth, sixth, and seventh)

Four players remain with two fourth-round selections (Pratt, Dayton Rasmussen, Kemp, and Jones).

125. A. J. Pratt (143.00) – ranking hurt by HP
126. Philip Kemp (D) (141.33) – the highest threshold of double fourth-rounders left
127. Dayton Rasmussen (G) (124.00) – not listed by one source; beats Jones head-to-head
128. Benjamin Jones (141.75) – the last player with two fourth-round selections
129. Michael Karow (D) (124.33) – beats Virtanen head-to-head; not listed by one source
130. Santeri Virtanen (124.00) – not listed by one source
131. Clayton Phillips (D) (126.50) – a fifth-rounder for three sources; at 5’10 size is a factor
132. Scott Walford (D) (134.25) – fourth-to-sixth round range
133. Antoine Crete-Belzile (D) (128.33) – not listed by one source
134. Ryan Peckford (133.00) – not listed by one source
135. Michael Pastujov (134.33) – a third-rounder for one, out of the draft for another
136. Mark Rubinchik (D) (141) – fourth-to-sixth round picks; zero goals in 63-games is a bit off-putting, but everyone ranks him
137. Otto Latvala (D) (149.00) – 6’5 defender has three fifth-round selections with a very narrow overall range (135-165)
138. Austen Keating (156.00) – widely varied opinions, but the second last player with a fourth and fifth round selection
139. Shawn Boudrias 158.00) – the final player with a fourth and fifth round selection; some concerns about his skating
140. Tobias Geisser (D) (144.66) – the only player listed from the Swiss league, he’s unlisted by one source; he was originally a forward; he’s 6’4
141. Jonatan Asplund (D) (145.66) – not listed by one source
142. Ty Lewis (146.66) – overager not listed by one source
143. Corson Green (D) (149.66) – not listed by one source
144. Emil Westerlund (150.66) – a fourth-rounder for one, not listed by another
145. Will Warm (D) (159.25) – undersized (5’11) defender has huge variation (third to seventh)
146. Jordy Bellerive (151.66) – undersized (5’10) forward is not listed by one source
147. Matt Villalta (G) (152.33) – a third-rounder for one, not listed by another
148. Sami Moilanen (157.66) – undersized (5’8) is a fourth-rounder for one, unlisted by another
149. Linus Nyman (161.00) – undersized (5’9) forward is unlisted by one source who had concerns over his fitness level
150. Olle Eriksson Ek (G) (164.66) – fourth-rounder for one, unlisted by another
151. Kevin Hancock (164.66) – overager goes unlisted by one; he’s 5’10
152. Vladislav Yeryomenko (D) (165.00) – Belarussian is unlisted by one; questions about his ability to win puck-battles
153. Bryce Misley (166.33) – fourth-rounder for one, unlisted by another
154. Brett Davis (167.50) – the last player listed by all four sources
155. Drake Rymsha (166.66) – overager is a fourth-rounder for one

Ten players remain who were selected by three sources.  Of those picked by only two, one was placed in the second-round (Cockerill), with ten others getting a third-round slot.

156. Brayden Gorda (D) (171.00) – gets a fourth-round nod
157. Cole Coskey (170.00)
158. Liam Hawel (173.33) – it’s not much to hang your hat on, but all three of his selections are in the sixth-round
159. Maxim Sushko (175.00) – ISS have him highest
160. Bobby Dow (178.66)
161. Venyamin Baranov (D) (181.33) – ISS has him highest
162. Tomas Vomacka (G) (187.33) – two sixth-round selections
163. Maxime Fortier (89.00) – overager is the first listed by only two sources; he’s also undersized (5’10); spent the season playing with Hischier which could be good or bad for him
164. Sebastian Walfridsson (95.50)
165. Scooter Brickey (D) (103.50)
166. Dylan Ferguson (G) (104.50)
167. Jakub Sirota (D) (109.50)
168. Matthew Murray (G) (109.50) – overage and undersized (6’0)
169. Alexander Volkov (114.50) – overage; got international exposure this year via the junior Canada/Russia Series
170. Emil Bemstrom (116.50)
171. German Poddubnyi (121.00)
172. Fedor Gordeev (D) (124.00) – he’s 6’6; some concerns about his skating and decision-making
173. Brannon McManus (125.00) – 5’9; questions about his intensity and offensive upside
174. Daniel Bukac (D) (126.50) – he’s 6’5
175. Matthew Kellenberger (D) (131.00)
176. Dereck Baribeau (G) (131.5) – he’s 6’5
177. Morgan Barron (132.00)
178. Jesse Koskankorva (134.00) – just slightly higher threshold than Salda
179. Radim Salda (D) (134.00)
180. Matt Anderson (D) (135.50) – undersized (5’11)
181. Yaroslav Alexeyeev/Alexeev (137.00) – Russian and 5’8 makes him a bit iffy to be picked
182. Calle Sjalin (D) (141.00)
183. Corey Andonovski (142.00)
184. Jordan Hollett (G) (145.50)
185. Finn Evans (148.00)
186. Alexis Binner (D) (148.50) – gets a third-round pick; he’s 6’4

Two players remain that were picked by three sources (Ahcan and Kvasnicka), Thirty-four players remain who were selected by two publications for the draft; one received a second-round pick (Cockerill) and one third (Solow).  Of those with just one selection, two were placed in the third round (Kovacevic and Smart).

187. Samuel Bucek (152.00)
188. Denis Mikhnin (157.00) – undersized (5’10)
189. Zachary Lauzon (D) (157.50)
190. Matthew Wedman (159.50) – concerns about his skating and intensity
191. Brendan De Jong (D) (161.50) – overage; he’s 6’5
192. Aarne Talvitie (162.00)
193. Micah Miller (163.00) – HP is high on the 5’8 forward
194. Alex D’Orio (G) (165.00)
195. Dylan Plouffe (165.50)
196. Arnaud Durandeau (166.00)
197. Kaden Fulcher (G) (167.00)
198. Drake Batherson (167.50) – overage; gets a fourth-round pick
199. Emil Oksanen (170.00) – questions about his defensive play
200. Ryan O’Connell (D) (171.00)
201. Shaw Boomhower (172.00)
202. Tyce Thompson (173.50)
203. Noah Ganske (D) (176.50) – he’s 6’5, which gives him the nod over McIndoe
204. Ethan McIndoe (176.50)
205. Jacob Christiansen (D) (178.50) – gets a fifth-round pick
206. Isaac Johnson (181.50)
207. Mark Kastelic (186.00)
208. Parker Kelly (188.50)
209. Denis Smirnov (213.00) – overage and undersized (5’8); I picked him over a few other players because his college numbers are impressive
210. Daniil Tarasov (G) (200.50) – missed the entire season due to injury, but was highly touted in his pre-draft year
211. Johnathan Kovacevic (D) – overage NCAA defender; he’s 6’4 and that, decent freshman numbers, and the scouting material convinced me to put him in
212. Leon Gawanke (D) – German blueliner is a fourth-round pick for one; bit of a late-bloomer in terms of his performance during the season
213. Lauri Pajuniemi – Finn has a sixth-round selection, he gets in with solid international outings and a very impressive pre-draft year
214. Croix Evingson (D) – gets a sixth-round nod, the overage blueliner’s 6’5 frame and gaudy NAHL numbers is worth a flyer
215. Kale Howarth – another solitary sixth-round pick, he’s also a big overage player (6’4; this time in the BCHL); he’s a project teams may want to tuck away in the NCAA
216. Josh Wilkins – an overage sixth-rounder; he gets slotted in the draft due to scouting reports and the league he plays in (NCAA) versus the other candidates
217. Wojciech Stachowiak (192.00) – obscurity is sometimes a boon, so the only player from the German leagues takes the final slot

Size and scouting had me remove a few smaller players from my original list: out is 5’8 American defenseman Jack Ahcan (originally #159; three sources have him in the draft), 5’9 Czech defenseman David Kvasnicka (#165; also via three sources), 5’9 American Zach Solow (#186; two sources), and 5’8 overage Canadian Skylar McKenzie (#192; two sources).  Undersized players always have to show more and all of these players have potential red flags that I think will see them slide out of the draft.

Besides the above this leaves five other players with two-selections off the list (5’9 American Cockerill, the 5’6 American Tortora, the no-production and undersized (5’11) Canadian defenseman Golden, the no-production Canadian Pare, and the 5’7 Canadian Garreffa).  In total I took out two triple-selections and seven double-selections, adding in six single-selections.  Also left on the outside looking in is a single selection third-round blueliner (Smart), along with 13 players who received solitary fourth-round selections (blueliner Bodak, overage and undersized blueliner Leivermann, overage Dugan, overage Foo, Moyle, blueliner O’Grady, Ivanov, overage Belyayev, Kozlov, undersized Hrehorack, son of NHLer Brind’Amour, overage goaltender Mitens, and defenseman Kneen).

There are several other players on the list with flags attached to them, as we’ve seen NHL teams pass on productive scoring forwards who are small (Arvidsson, as mentioned above, but also players like Dante Salituro in 2015); so players like Nyman, Moilanen, and Shaw might fall further down the draft or out of it altogether.

Speaking of size, there are a few huge specimens not listed here, such as Danish defensemen Malte Sostrup-Setkov/Setkov (6’5, fifth-rounder for one source), 6’5 overage American forward Jack Adams (sixth-rounder), Swedish defenseman Henrik Malmstrom (6’6, #115 CSE), Canadian forward Justin Brazeau (6’5, #206 CSNA), German goaltender Benjamin Beck (6’7), and American defender Colin Baird (6’5).  There’s also former NHLer Martin Reichel’s son Thomas, who had decent numbers in Germany and is 6’3. These kinds of players are ones GM’s sometimes take shots in the dark with (ala 6’5 Troy Vance in the 2011 draft, or Alexander Ruutu as cited above).  For Bob McKenzie fans, there is only one player from his final list not included above: honorable mention overage forward Jack Badini (who got boosted largely on the strength of a strong playoff run in the USHL).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa Senators Draft Trends

I was going to wait for Ary M and Colin’s draft series to conclude before putting out anything of my own, but as that’s going to stretch on for quite some time I decided to move ahead. The Senators have followed particular trends since John Muckler was fired in 2007, and ignoring that specific draft (since Bryan Murray’s people were not in place for it), let’s look at the trends from 2008 until the present.  Before we dig into the numbers, here are the current picks for Ottawa: 28th, 47th (Cal), 121st, 183rd (their 2nd is with Tor, 3rd to Chi (via Car), 5th to Pit, 7th to SJ).

First Round
1-6/11 Mika Zibanejad – 6’2; Djurgardens (SuperElit/SHL/WJC-18)
1-9/09 Jared Cowen (D) – 6’5; Spokane (WHL)
1-11/16 Logan Brown – 6’6; Windsor (OHL; WJC-18)
1-13/13 Curtis Lazar – 6’0; Edmonton (WHL)
1-15/08 Erik Karlsson (D) – 5’ll; Frolunda (SuperElit/WJC-18)
1-15/12 Cody Ceci (D) – 6’2; Ottawa (OHL)
1-18/15 Thomas Chabot (D) – 6’2; Saint John (QMJHL)
1-21/11 Stefan Noesen – 6’1; Plymouth (OHL)
1-21/15 Colin White – 6’1; USDP (WJC-18)
1-24/11 Matt Puempel – 6’2; Peterborough (OHL)

Second Round
2-36/15 Gabriel Gagne – 6’5; Victoriaville (QMJHL)
2-39/09 Jakob Silverberg – 6’1; Brynas (SuperElit)
2-40/14 Andreas Englund (D) – 6’3; Djurgardens (SuperElit; WJC-18)
2-42/08 Patrick Wiercioch (D) – 6’5; Omaha (USHL)
2-42/16 Jonathan Dahlen – 5’11; Timra (Allsvenskan)
2-46/09 Robin Lehner (G) – 6’3; Frolunda (SuperElit)
2-48/15 Filip Chlapik – 6’1; Charlottetown (QMJHL)
2-61/11 Shane Prince – 5’10; Ottawa (OHL)

Third Round
3-70/14 Miles Gendron (D) – 6’3; The Rivers (USHS)
3-76/10 Jakub Culek – 6’3; Rimouski (QMJHL)
3-76/12 Chris Driedger (G) – 6’4; Calgary (WHL)
3-78/13 Marcus Hogberg (G) – 6’5; Linkoping (SuperElit)
3-79/08 Zack Smith – overage; 6’2; Swift Current (WHL)
3-82/12 Jarrod Maidens – 6’1; Owen Sound (OHL)

Fourth Round
4-96/11 Jean-Gabriel Pageau – 5’9; Gatineau (QMJHL)
4-100/09 Chris Wideman (D) – 5’10; Miami (NCAA)
4-100/14 Shane Eiserman – 6’2; Dubuque (USHL)
4-102/13 Tobias Lindberg – 6’2; Djurgardens (SuperElit)
4-103/16 Todd Burgess – 6’2; Fairbanks (NAHL)
4-106/10 Marcus Sorensen – 5’11; Sodertalje (SuperElit)
4-106/12 Tim Boyle (D) – 6’2; Noble & Greenough (USHS)
4-107/15 Christian Wolanin (D) – 6’1; Muskegon (USHL)
4-108/13 Ben Harpur (D) – 6’6; Guelph (OHL)
4-109/08 Andre Petersson – 5’10; HV71 (SuperElit; WJC-18)
4-109/15 Filip Ahl – 6’3; HV71 (SuperElit; WJC-18)
4-119/08 Derek Grant – 6’3; Langley (BCHL)

Fifth Round
5-126/11 Fredrik Claesson – 6’0; Djurgardens (SHL)
5-130/09 Mike Hoffman – overage; 6’1; Drummondville (QMJHL)
5-133/16 Maxime Lajoie (D) _ 6’0; Swift Current (WHL)
5-136/12 Robert Baillargeon – 6’0; Indiana (USHL)
5-138/13 Vincent Dunn – 6’0; Val-d’Or (QMJHL)
5-139/08 Mark Borowiecki (D) – 6’1; Smith Falls (CJHL)
5-139/15 Christian Jaros (D) – 6’3; Lulea (SHL; WJC-20)
5-146/09 Jeff Costello – 5’11; Cedar Rapids (USHL)

Sixth Round
6-156/11 Darren Kramer – overage; 6’1; Spokane (WHL)
6-160/09 Corey Cowick – 6’3; Ottawa (OHL)
6-161/13 Chris Leblanc – 6’3; overage; South Shore (EJHL)
6-163/16 Markus Nurmi – 6’3; TPS (U20; WJC-18)
6-166/12 Francois Brassard (G) – 6’1; Quebec (QMJHL)
6-168/13 Quentin Shore – 6’2; Denver (NCAA)
6-171/11 Max McCormick – 5’11; Sioux City (USHL)
6-178/10 Mark Stone – 6’2; Brandon (WHL)

Seventh Round
7-186/11 Jordan Fransoo (D) – 6’3; Brandon (WHL)
7-189/14 Kelly Summers (D) – 6’1; Carleton (CCHL)
7-190/09 Brad Peltz – 6’0; Avon (USHS)
7-190/14 Francis Perron – 6’0; Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
7-191/09 Michael Sdao (D) – 6’4; Lincoln (USHL)
7-196/10 Bryce Aneloski (D) – overage 6’2; Cedar Rapids (USHL)
7-196/12 Mikael Wikstrand (D) – 6’2; Mora (Allsvenskan)
7-199/08 Emil Sandin – 5’10; Brynas (SuperElit)
7-199/15 Joel Daccord (G) – 6’2; Cushing (USHS)
7-204/11 Ryan Dzingel – 6’0; Lincoln (USHL)

So, basic numbers first (through 9 drafts):
CHL (OHL, WHL, QMJHL, tier-2): 28
US systems (USHS, USHL, NCAA): 18
Europe (Sweden, Finland): 16
Goaltenders: 5 (2 CHL, 2 Sweden, 1 US)
Defensemen: 20 (9 CHL, 7 US, 4 Sweden)
Forwards: 37 (17 CHL, 10 Sweden, 10 US)

Thoughts: in general there’s not much preference, other than the restriction of CHL, US, and Swedish systems.  There are trends within those limitations, but I’ll get to them later.

First-rounders (10): 7 CHL, 2 Sweden, 1 US; 4 Defensemen
Second-rounders (8): 4 Sweden, 3 CHL, 1 US; 1 Goalie, 2 Defensemen
Third-rounders (6): 4 CHL, 1 Swede, 1 US; 2 Goalies, 1 Defenseman
Fourth-rounders (12): 5 US, 4 Sweden, 3 CHL; 4 Defensemen
Fifth-rounders (8): 4 CHL, 2 Sweden, 2 US; 4 Defensemen
Sixth-rounders (8): 4 CHL, 3 US, 1 Finland; 1 Goalie
Seventh-rounders (10): 5 US, 3 CHL, 2 Sweden; 1 Goalie, 5 Defensemen

Thoughts: with few exceptions, the top-90 picks will be either from the CHL or Sweden; there has been a shift towards the CHL for the first-round (5 straight selections are from Canadian junior), but otherwise this preference is unchanged. The org also likes to stash various players in college or Europe from the fourth-round onwards (all tier-2 picks are within this range as well as 15 of the 18 US selections; in total 27 of 38 have more time on the development clock). What’s also clear is that goaltenders are not first-round material (we haven’t had even a second round selection since 2009).

6’0: Peltz (09), Claesson (11), Dzingel (11), Baillargeon (12), Lazar (13), Dunn (13), Perron (14), Lajoie (16)
Under 6’0: Karlsson (08), Peterson (08), Sandin (08), Wideman (09), Costello (09), Sorensen (10), Prince (11), Pageau (11), McCormick (11), Dahlen (16)
Goalies 6’0 and under: none
Defenseman under 6’0: Karlsson (08), Wideman (09)
*we can quibble over size all day long, since teams tend to “grow” players, but for the sake of simplicity I’m using what’s listed on Elite Prospects

Thoughts: it’s painfully obvious that whatever tolerance the organisation had for smaller players has ebbed away.  Since 2011 only one player under 6’0 has been drafted (Dahlen), and he was subsequently moved.  Five players at the bubble height have been taken in that time, with one already moved (Lazar), one failed (Dunn), one unsigned (Baillargeon), and the other two undetermined (Perron and Lajoie). In essence the Senators will not take a smaller player outside of extraordinary circumstances.

-First-round players are from the CHL and will not be a goalie
-Rounds 1-3 are from the CHL or Sweden
-No goaltenders until round 3 at the earliest
-Always 1 player from Sweden and 1 from the US systems taken; there’s also been at least one French-Canadian player picked since 2008
-Despite having done so in the past, it’s unlikely the Sens will take a tier-2 or NCAA player (just 1 in the last 8 years and 1 in the last 7 respectively)
-Despite taking a Finnish player last year, Ottawa does not draft from anywhere in Europe outside of Sweden
-Russians are not drafted regardless of circumstances
-Size is important; just one player under 6’0 has been taken the last five drafts; no goalie 6’0 or smaller has ever been drafted by this org; there hasn’t been a D under 6’0 since 2009
-The org has relied more on the Q than the OHL and WHL of late (4 of the 6 players drafted from the CHL in the last 3 years have been from the Q)
-As much as Dorion/Lee still overvalue toughness, they haven’t drafted a bonafide goon since Kramer (2011); they may also be moving away from drafting agitators/pests, as neither Dunn (13) nor Eiserman (14) have panned out; perhaps they’re settling on big as opposed to targeting aggression

I’ll get into my specific picks for Ottawa subsequently, but with all the mock drafts out there (and more forthcoming) I think remembering the tendencies of what the org actually does will get you closer to what’s actually likely.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

matt o'connor

I’ve been beavering away at my NHL draft piece for quite some assuming that we wouldn’t get much Sens news until after the Expansion Draft.  How wrong I was.  While all the recent news was expected on some level, it remains significant:
Dion Phaneuf was asked to waive his NMC for the Expansion Draft and refused (this doesn’t mean the Sens couldn’t try to move him, but with his contract, even if they wanted too, good luck)
Erik Karlsson will miss 4 months after undergoing foot surgery (as Nichols points out, this is the second surgery announced after Pierre Dorion told us no one would need surgery)
Chris Neil was told his services are no longer required (in my opinion this is less a management decision and more Guy Boucher letting management know he wasn’t going to play him)
-The Sens did not qualify goaltender Matt O’Connor (something I’ve anticipated repeatedly, most recently here); he becomes the tenth straight NCAA FA dud going back to 2007; this suggests we can expect Chris Driedger and Marcus Hogberg to be the tandem in Belleville
[-late add: Ryan Rupert was also not qualified, which is as I expected]


Speaking of the draft, Ary M and Colin Cudmore have begun a series of articles looking at what the Sens might do at the draft (this is the first).  The player selection they present is pretty reasonable abstractly, but in detail I have one major problem with most of them: size.  The Sens have tenaciously valued size throughout drafts going back to Bryan Murray and while there have been exceptions they are few and far between.  The pair list 5’10 Aleski Heponiemi, 5’10 Joni Ikonen (I’ve seen him listed at 5’11, incidentally), 5’10 Antoine Morand, 6’1 Jason Robertson, and 5’8 (!) Kailer Yamamoto.  In addition to the size concern, the org has drafted exactly one Finn since 2005, so while it’s not impossible, it does make it more unlikely.


Larry Brooks penned a piece about NHL labour negotiation, but for me the most interesting part of the article is this:

The NHL will have done that by generating essentially no revenue growth over the past year.

Other than the Vegas expansion fee the NHL has not grown this season at all.  This is not a surprise to me (ie the piece I wrote about the aging fanbase for sports in general), but it’s another indicator that the ultra conservative NHL cannot figure out that for the sport to grow it actually has to take steps to increase scoring.  It also needs a better superstar to promote than Sidney Crosby (has any league has had a less less appealing star than Crosby?–twelve years of heavy marketing and he can’t draw numbers outside of Pittsburgh).


Stefan Wolejszo writes a long (long) piece trying to see if there’s substance behind defining a clutch player, concluding:

even if you could miraculously isolate one player’s clutchiness based on in-game event data I still think doing so largely misses the point in at least two important ways. First, the “elevating performance” standard is largely a crock. Considering the negative potential impact of pressure on performance I would be thrilled to have players on my team who can simply maintain their usual standard of play when pressure begins to mount. Second, the biggest bang for the buck for hockey teams is probably identifying who chokers are and figuring out interventions that can help those players.


This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing NHL Draft Guides

With the draft almost upon us it’s time to review this draft year’s guides.  As I’ve done for the last few years I’m only looking at guides that cover the entire draft, so in that light I’m looking at: Future Considerations (FC), Hockey Prospects (HP), International Scouting Service (ISS), and Red Line Report (RLR).  A reminder that there are 217 picks this year (due to expansion).  In my descriptions below I’ve ignored mock draft sections and some of the future watch stuff (2018 and/or 2019 drafts), as these always seemed like pointless fluff to me (the former is broadly available for free, while the latter has no discernible value unless you are in the most bizarre fantasy league).  I’m also reviewing the regular copies of these guides (RLR has a “pro” version and HP has team specific versions).  In brackets I’ve noted changes from last year.

International Scouting Service $10.00 (-$89.99)
Scouts listed: 52 (-1)
Prospects listed: 200 (-20)
Prospect profiles: 110 (unchanged)
Miscellaneous: historical draft analysis

This has been the least impressive draft product for a long time (due in part to its cost), so the radical price cut is added value. Despite having the largest scouting staff of any guide (just 5 scouts in Europe however), it offers the least amount of substance. Why they choose to list fewer players than will be drafted is beyond me, as is their continued separation of goaltenders from their draft rankings (which is to say, their goalie list isn’t integrated into their main list, nor does it indicate what rounds said goalies will be taken).  They improved their draft analysis piece from previous years, but really, other than cost there’s no reason to buy this product for casual fans unless you’re on a strict $10 budget.

Future Considerations $24.99 (+$2)
Scouts listed: 37 (+6)
Prospects listed: 250 (+39)
Prospect profiles: 219 (+8)
Miscellaneous: none

This has been my best-buy for a few years now, and despite the slight price increase and missing the side content from last year, I think it’s still a good value for casual fans.

Hockey Prospects $39.99 (unchanged)
Scouts listed: 20 (-2)
Prospects listed: 217 (+6)
Prospect profiles: 389 (-22)
Miscellaneous: game reports; extensive scouting profiles of future drafts

For hardcore draft fans or those who want to dig deeper this remains the best product on the market–as such, the additional cost is worth it.  It also stands as the best predictor of the draft (albeit, by a relatively small amount–see below).

Red Line Report $50 US (unchanged)
Scouts listed: 12 (N/A)
Prospects listed: 325 (+13)
Prospect profiles: 116 (plus 68 one-line notes) (unchanged)
Miscellaneous: expansion draft thoughts; potential older European picks

Constricted by the limitations of space for their print-version, it can’t compete with HP and FC; with ISS reducing its price I don’t think its unique takes can really justify the cost–RLR either needs to revise how it does things or else sales are going to suffer.

The four publications agree on 119 players (54.8%; down by 10 from last year); this includes 19 first-rounders; 168 players (77.4%) are shared by three publications.  As for unique selections, let’s go by round:
First: none
Second: none
Third: 2 (HP, RLR)
Fourth: 14 (FC/RLR/HP 3, ISS 5)
Fifth: 22 (HP 3, FC 4, RLR 6, ISS 9)
Sixth: 39 (ISS 4, HP 10, FC 12, RLR 13)
Seventh: 21 (HP 6, FC/RLR 15)*
Total: 98 (ISS 18, HP 23, FC 34, RLR 38)
* because of ISS’ bizarre formulation, they have no players in the seventh round

These unique selections are heavily European, American, and overage (comparatively). Thirty-nine of the ninety-eight players (39.7%) are overage, while the EU and American leagues comprise 59 (29 and 30 respectively) of the total (60.2%)–there are also 5 tier-2 junior players.  HP and ISS are heavier on US content, FC about even, and RLR very heavily European.

Predictive success
I’ve been reading and tracking these particular sources for quite some time.  While I’m not that interested in how accurate they are in predicting player X taken at position X (unless someone gambles on that I’m not sure why anyone would be), but I am interested in what percentage of the players included are taken in the draft.  So, tracking back to 2011, here’s how they’ve done by percentage (best to worst):
HP: 74.2, 72.0, 69.2, 70.9, 75.8, 74.8 (avg 72.8)
FC: 73.8, 71.1, 68.7, 69.0, 69.2, 70.1 (avg 70.3)
RLR: 73.8, 73.9, 67.7, 64.7, 73.0, 66.8 (avg 69.9)
ISS: 68.1, 66.3, 62.7, 60.0, 68.6, 63.6 (avg 64.8)
Keep in mind these numbers don’t reflect who was right about how good prospects were, it’s just a reflection of how closely their selections follow what NHL GMs did on draft day. To date I’m slightly ahead of HP in terms of predictions (72.9).

So what’s the overall best value?  My opinion this year remains unchanged: for casual fans FC is the way to go, but for those with a stronger interest in the draft you’re better off with HP.  Either way, I enjoy both products so whatever choice you make is a good one.  As for ISS and RLR, both guides offer their own unique frustrations–the latter is more engaging, but much more expensive.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)