Prospect Profile: Pius Suter

With the news that EU FA Pius Suter is unexpectedly part of Ottawa’s rookie tournament roster, I thought I’d take a look at him as a prospect if (and this is a big “if”) the Sens decide to sign him. It’s worth noting that the Sens had another EU pro at their development camp (Carl Perrson) and that came to nothing, granting that he’s not the same caliber of player.

Pius Suter, C/LW, 21, 5’11*
2014-15 OHL (Guelph) 61-43-29-72 (1.18 ppg, 4th ppg)
2015-16 NLA (ZSC) 45-14-10-24 (0.53, 11th ppg)
2016-17 NLA (ZSC) 38-17-11-28 (0.73, 4th ppg)
* it’s universally acknowledged he’s shorter–see below

Suter was eligible for the 2014 draft, but an unremarkable regular season with Guelph (66-9-15-24) meant only ISS listed him for the draft (buoyed by his playoff performance); at the time he was thought to be an energetic shutdown center with grit who can chip in offensively. After his monstrous 2015 season (aided undoubtedly by talented teammates), everyone listed him for the draft (I had him slotted in the fourth round). HP referenced his good work the year before and about the current year said “He has a very
good shot and isn’t afraid to go into traffic and he will commonly emerge with the puck.” They also referenced the concern that seems to have left him undrafted–he’s smaller (shorter) than listed. FC talked about his ability on the penalty kill and call him a top-nine, two-way winger; ISS’ description didn’t change; RLR simply said it was rare for a second-year Euro to get drafted, but was impressed by his offensive explosion.

Despite all the praise Suter slipped through the draft–it’s truly mindboggling that his size is the only criticism amongst the scouting data. Suter had already signed with the ZSC Lions prior to the draft and his rookie season was spent buried behind a veteran lineup (making him unpalatable for the 2016 draft). Despite that he was the second most productive 20 and under player behind Auston Matthews. As a 21-year old no other player his age was close to his production. He signed a two-year extension with ZSC in December, but undoubtedly he has an opt-out clause or there’d be no point in him playing in a rookie tournament after the Swiss league season has started (September 8th for him).

What kind of player is Suter? The general sentiment is an energetic third-liner who can kill penalties and add offense. If the Sens sign him there are a few options: 1) he could play in Belleville (he would be the 15th forward, which isn’t an unreasonable number), 2) he could play in Ottawa (this would require a trade or demotion), 3) he could be loaned back to ZSC. Personally I think #1 and #3 are the only serious options and at least from the org perspective I see little point in sending him back to Switzerland (he has nothing left to prove there).

Do I think the Sens will sign him? It’s hard to tell. Pierre Dorion has steered clear of undersized prospects (think of how quickly he pulled the trigger on Jonathan Dahlen); conversely, they’ve signed undersized free agents out of Europe (the lamentable Tom Pyatt as well as Chris DiDomenico–both from the NLA), so the possibility exists. Would he be a good addition to their prospect pool? Yes, I believe he would be.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Senators News & Notes

Several times a year I get a flood of visitors from a totally random source–recently someone from The Hockey Forum (UK) linked my Belleville post and a bunch of traffic came in from England. It’s a funny thing, but gratifying to know that the content can be found for those who look.

prospects

The Silver Seven‘s prospect countdown continues. I mentioned last time that I find the lack of rationale for the list more than a little perplexing, but I won’t keep harping on it:

#18 Gabriel Gagne (NKB)
C/RW, 20-21, 2-36/15, AHL 41-2-4-6
NKB is drinking the org koolaid, because after a Ludwig Karlsson-like debut he’s looking for positives (the idea that he’ll play ahead of Mike Blunden is pretty ridiculous). The team paid a high price to draft him, giving up a 2nd round pick (MacKenzie Blackwood) and a 3rd in 2016 (Joseph Anderson) to move up a few spots to draft him. He’s supposed to be a scoring power forward, but his production in the Q after he was drafted flatlined and he was abysmal in his rookie season as a pro. At the least he should be blowing up the ECHL, but he was mediocre there as well. There were plenty of red flags from scouts when he was drafted and this is a make-or-break season for him (although at this point I think we can safely give up on him ever being a scorer in the NHL).

#17 Chris Driedger (Trevor)
GL, 23, 3-76/12, AHL 12-19-2 3.22 .900
Driedger is one of those prospects that if you talk about him without context you don’t get a clear picture. Trevor is right that this is a make-or-break season for him, but sadly there’s no context given to his performances. By the numbers alone Driedger would be an awful prospect–so why is he still with the org (who re-signed him)? Because his numbers are better than his partner’s, essentially–when on a bad team you have to make that comparison and whatever his flaws he consistently outplayed Matt O’Connor (.912 vs .895 in 15/16 and then .900 vs .895). That said I believe (as I’ve expressed before) that Hogberg will get the initial nod over him in Belleville simply based on potential.

#16 Filip Ahl (Ross)
LW/RW, 20, 4-109/15, WHL 54-28-20-48 (7th scoring)
I think Ross is right that Ahl made the correct decision to play in North America, but his numbers are disappointing and he’ll need a better season in Sweden to get signed. Scouts were split on him when he was drafted (link above) and it was anyone’s guess whether his potential was high enough for the NHL–you get the sense that, as they have many times before, the Sens saw a big player and simply hoped they’d evolve. While it’s not unheard of for a European import to have an average season in the CHL and then become a solid NHL player, it’s not common, so expectations should be low.

#15 Maxime Lajoie (Callum)
DL, 19-20, 5-133/16, 68-7-35-42 (2nd d-scoring)
I was hoping that Callum would have some insight on why the org loves him so much, but all I got was this:

the 19-year-old arrived to his first training camp in Ottawa, and there were few he did not impress. … …his departure was rather quick – cut in the opening exhibition games

So he had a decent camp, albeit not up to Brandon Bochenski standards, and…he’s fast? As much as I want to criticise Callum’s vagueness, when you read the scouting reports on him there’s a collective shrug of the shoulders–he doesn’t do anything particularly well, but he doesn’t do anything particularly badly, so…maybe he can play? Callum tries to hype up his performance this past season, but his marginal improvement (+0.02 points-per-game) are statistically meaningless. The Sens signed him last fall and he’s old enough that he could play in Belleville, but the BSens are so overstuffed with blueliners I don’t see a spot for him.

#14 Shane Bowers (Trevor)
CL, 18, 1-28/17, USHL 60-22-29-51 (4th scoring by points-per-game)
The best thing in Trevor’s piece is the Ryan Biech article he links too, which adds a little more panache to what is a lackluster first-round pick (breaking down his points in terms of primary assists and what not). A quibble I have with Trevor is him listing Bowers as the 10th highest scorer in his league–it’s tied-for, and more importantly he’s 21st in points-per-game (for those with 20+ games played), and you have to wonder how much of that production was helped by teammates. The scouting reports on him are not kind and make him sound more like an elite AHL/European league player rather than someone who genuinely makes an impact in the NHL. When scouts are telling you at best he can center the third-line it looks like a wasted pick–players of that ilk can be found throughout the draft. It is, however, very early, and at this stage there’s always room for hope

#13 Andreas Englund (NKB)
DL, 21, 2-40/14, AHL 69-3-7-10 (6th d-scoring)
NKB’s lack of enthusiasm matches my own; a player with a lot of limitations, I think noise from the org inflates people’s expectations. As I said in my early Belleville review, he’s basically Ben Harpur–someone who tops out as a 5-6 blueliner who kills penalties, but that’s about it. As a young player we can’t say for certain how limited his offense is, but if it is as projected he’s not a prospect to get excited about

#12 Christian Jaros (Colin)
DR, 21, 5-139/15, SHL 36-5-8-13 (3rd d-scoring)
Colin is understandably eager to put aside comparisons to the Borocop (made not just by the org, but by scouts when he was drafted); it was gratifying to see Colin cite something I noted back in March, which is that Christian had the second highest points-per-game for blueliners 21 and under (behind 2017 overage draft pick Sebastian Aho). He includes a quote from Brad Phillips about how terrible Lulea was offensively (the league itself is low-scoring), which makes it harder to interpret his output. What encouragement there is about Jaros are the numbers from this past season, because in terms of scouting sentiment when he was drafted he’s Borowiecki 2.0

#11 Nick Paul (BLT)
LW/C, 22, 4-101/13 (Dal), AHL 72-15-22-37 (5th ppg-scoring)
There’s not much substance to BLT’s piece, although he points out that Paul had a much better year this past season. Remember all the hype about him when he was included as part of the Jason Spezza trade? His rookie season in Binghamton wiped all that away, but without the hype what is he? When he was drafted scouts saw him as a potential depth power forward–barring an offensive explosion this coming season it’s doubtful he can fulfill that, but it’s not too late for that to happen–Mike Hoffman was a slow burn when it comes to AHL-output after all

#10 Ben Harpur (Callum)
DL, 22, 4-108/13, AHL 63-2-25-27 (2nd d-scoring)
Callum’s piece has no substance to it, leaving me holding the bag to say something. One of my favourite expressions is “regressing to the mean” and after Harpur’s explosive season where he was well above his junior production, there’s every reason to expect him to regress. It remains a possibility he’ll buck trends and remain around this unremarkable level, but I don’t think it translates to the NHL and he’s yet another player who tops out as a 5-6 D with a short career ahead of him (exactly how scouts slotted him when he was drafted)

One of the things that becomes apparent when going through lists like this is the limited ceilings of many of these prospects–meant to be safe, conservative picks, with an emphasis on physical and defensive play. Just briefly I’ll go through all the players listed thus far who fit this description:
Forwards: Bowers (#14), Ahl (#16), Formenton (#19), Nurmi (#23), Eiserman (NR), Dunn (NR)
Defense: Harpur (#10), Jaros (#12), Englund (#13), Summers (#24)

Why the Sens don’t aim higher is beyond me. They’ve had far more successful taking chances on players who were offensive dynamos when picked (Ryan Dzingel, Erik Condra, Mike Hoffman, etc).

A final, unrelated note: former BSen Chris Carlisle signed in Italy, which doesn’t speak well to how he’s perceived in European leagues.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

prospects

August is a rough time for hockey blogs, so what can you do? Lists and polls, generally, and the more drawn out you can make the former the better. In that spirit The Silver Seven are counting down their top-25 prospects, which in turn gives me something to work with. It’s a list in progress, but I’ll offer thoughts as it goes (I’ve listed the author next to the player’s name).

#25 Macoy Erkamps (Colin)
DR, 22, CHL FA 16, ECHL 58-6-19-25 (2nd d-scoring)
First to note: Colin is understandably not that familiar with ECHL play (as in seeing it), nor does he reflect on Ottawa’s relative success in signing players out of the CHL (you can read about that here), so understandably he can only speak from the stat sheet about the awful Wichita team Erkamps played for (having seen him play there, I can say he was a solid rookie in the ECHL, but not a great one). Colin correctly identifies that Erkamps and Cody Donaghey are in direct competition for the third-pairing spot on the right side (Chabot and Burgoerfer presumed 1-2), but I think that’s more up in the air than he does. The odds are Erkamps is a version of Troy Rutkowski (another CHL-signing by the org from 2013, who is playing in Norway now), where he’ll be good in the E but questionable in the A; there’s time for that assessment to change

#24 Kelly Summers (Ary M)
DR, 21, 7-189/14, NCAA (junior) 39-3-14-17 (3rd ppg d-scoring)
Neither Ary or I have seen much of the NCAA blueliner’s play, so interpretations are based on scouting reports and stats (these are nicely combed through in the piece). There’s nothing that stands out about Summers either way and Ary observantly points out how badly the Sens NCAA picks have turned out between 2012-14; Summers needs a big season at Clarkson this year to be signed or he’ll join the rubbish heap of other failed selections; what makes him more promising than Erkamps? The direct comparison isn’t made (here or elsewhere), but I’ll presume it’s based on potential ceilings (scouts topped him out as a 5-6 D)

#23 Markus Nurmi (NKB)
RW/LW, 19, 6-163/16, Finn Jr 27-12-16-28 (1st ppg)
Given that NKB doesn’t site scouting reports on him (I reference them here), he’s completely dependent on the stat sheet. The org doesn’t seem to know what he is either (other than “big”), which creates something of a bind. Nurmi do well to play a year in the CHL (as Tobias Lindberg and Filip Ahl did), but he wasn’t taken in the import draft so that’s not an option. Because he’s a bigger player he’ll get a lot more rope from the org than others (ie, Marcus Sorensen, now with San Jose), but is his ceiling higher than Summers? Scouts saw him topping out as a checking forward with limited offensive potential–I think a depth forward loses to a depth blueliner, but Nurmi is younger so perhaps there’s more hoped for growth

#22 Cody Donaghey (Raaymakers)
DR, 21, CHL FA 14 (Tor), QMJHL 52-11-29-40 (1st d-scoring)
The Raaymaker has never seen him play, making for a short and ephemeral write-up. Because Erkamps is more responsible defensively it’s quite possible Donaghey will be the one sent to the ECHL (the org seems to have little interest in him, burning a year off his ELC when Binghamton had a weak blueline and never bringing him up when discussing prospects). He was signed by the Leafs based on skill, so the hope has to be that that will translate–is that potential putting him ahead of others? Presumably

#21 Drake Batherson (NKB)
CR, 19, 4-121/17, QMJHL 61-22-36-58 (3rd scoring)
We have the exact same vagaries as the Nurmi piece above. The best thing about the write-up is the link to Ian Tulloch’s post on drafting overagers, which is itself indebted to the work of others.  Tulloch writes:

Although overagers appear to become NHL players more often than those in their draft year, it’s important to note that they tend to have a lower ceiling.

Then adding something the Sens never seem to take to heart:

scoring (in conjunction with traditional scouting) is the best predictor we currently have for future success

Batherson beats those above presumably based on potential; as I said in my review of the 2017 draft, whatever happens at least he was drafted based on skill

#20 Christian Wolanin (Colin)
DL, 22, 4-107/15, NCAA (sophomore) 37-6-16-22 (2nd d-scoring)
All the usual caveats apply in terms of the basis for the assessment. Colin points out Wolanin began life as a forward (switching to D in the USHL), although the listed competition for him whenever he turns pro is off (Patrick Sieloff is just a warm body and Maxime Lajoie’s pedigree is nothing to get excited about). He cites Vollman’s translation factors to guesstimate the kind of performance Wolanin had this season, but I remain skeptical about these translations (as I’ve gone over before). I like Wolanin’s potential, but he’s benefited from good teammates so we’ll see how his junior year goes without them

#19 Alex Formenton (Trevor)
LW, 17, 2-47/17, OHL 65-16-18-34 (11th in scoring)
Trevor compares him to Ryan Dzingel, which is problematic on two fronts: 1) as a seventh-round pick there were no expectations for Dzingel, 2) Dzingel was drafted for skill. Trevor bends over backwards trying to add some sizzle to what is a very safe, low-ceiling prospect, but with the information we have (scouting reports etc) he’s nothing to run a temperature over as all scouts questioned his offensive creativity

echl

I had a reader tell me the Sens will still use Wichita as their ECHL dumping grounds, despite it no longer being their affiliate (Edmonton has that connection). S/he cited Malcolm Cameron (Wichita’s coach) as the source for this info, which seems to come from an article in The Sin Bin calling Ottawa an “unofficial partner” (the Wichita website calls them a “partner”), with Cameron saying the Sens will supply at least one goaltender (with how overstuffed the BSens roster is I’m sure more will be sent down–Vincent Dunn should be apartment hunting right now). Edmonton is believed to be supplying three forwards, two defensemen, and a goaltender. The ECHL has a 4-veteran rule (260+ professional games, with players on AHL or NHL contracts exempted). The professional rule includes most European leagues, but not the Austrian league (EBEL), which I point out for reasons apparent below. As for Wichita itself, these are their current players (vets in blue):

Blueline
Jeremy Beaudry (DR) CIS 26-9-11-20 – former QMJHL player had a brief audition with Wichita last season
Etienne Boutet (DL) CIS 7-2-2-4 – another former Q player
Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin (DL) QMJHL 68-6-10-16 – known for his fists
Jamie Doornbosch (DL) ECHL 44-10-20-30 – former CIS and OHL player; got an audition with the BSens this past season
Justin Hammonic (DR) ECHL 38-0-2-2 – no relation to Travis; former WHL player with no hands

Forwards
Justin Crandall (RW) ECHL 66-22-36-58 – college grad signed away from Reading
Matt DeBlouw (CL) ECHL 64-14-24-38 – college grad and former Calgary pick (7-186/12) who had a middling rookie season
Travis Ewanyk (CL) ECHL 74-20-27-47 – former Oiler pick (3-74-/11) who bombed out as a BSen
Louick Marcotte (RW) ECHL 62-18-20-38 – Q grad was decent last season
Shaquille Merasty (LW) CIS 26-8-13-21 – switched from tier-2 college to CIS hockey
Istvan Sofron (RW) EBEL 49-15-15-30 – Hungarian vet has spent most of his career in the Austrian league–presumably he wants to test himself across the pond (or maybe the money was better); given his struggles in the DEL it’s hard to know what to expect
Dyson Stevenson (CR/RW) ECHL 53-10-19-29 – former WHLer known for his fists

Given how much more of the roster is coming from elsewhere it’s hard to judge what’s here, although I’m not sure how many goons the team really needs. Regardless, with two NHL franchises feeding in talent it should help the team escape the doldrums of last year.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)