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)

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