Belleville Senators: Assessing the Players

My previous post was largely about the team, so here I’ll break down players as best I can (I looked at goalies in that post, so I’ve skipped them here–I’ve tried not to duplicate material from the previous article).

Before we get to the individual breakdowns, the leaderboard in a couple of categories:
Points-Per-Game
DiDomenico 1.25
Werek 1.00
Rodewald 0.80
Chlapik/Jaros 0.63
Chabot 0.60

Shots-Per-Game
Chabot 3.4
Gagne 2.66
DiDomenico/Chlapik/Jaros/Sexton 2.5
O’Brien 2.22
Rodewald 2.2
Werek 2.16

Players below are arranged by points-per-game. Acronyms: PPP=powerplay points, SHP= shorthanded points, ENP=empty-net points, SHPG= shots per game, vet=veteran contract status; career=PPG before this season

Chris DiDomenico 28, C/RW 4-3-2-5 1.25 PPP 2 ENP 1 SHPG 2.5
Contract: 17-18; 8th pro season; career 0.22; last season 0.79 (NLA)
Currently in Ottawa where 5 points in 5 games means he’s not likely to return any time soon. The diminutive former Toronto draft pick (6-164/07) was a star in the Q who also played for the WJC team (John Tavares/Cody Hodgson era); dumped to Chicago before ever suiting up for the Leafs, he failed out of the Hawks org and went to reestablish himself in Europe. Signed to a phantom two-year deal last season it was an open question whether he’d be able to translate junior/European production at this level–the short returns have certainly been good, although he wasn’t a dominant player in limited action with Belleville.

Ethan Werek 26, C/LW 6-3-3-6 1.00 PPP 2 ENP 1 SHPG 2.16
Contract: PTO; 7th pro season (vet); career 0.36; last season 0.49
A second-round pick by the Rangers (2-47/09), the former OHLer was traded to Arizona (during the happy days of Don Maloney’s tenure as GM), where he failed to establish himself. Stops in Providence, Charlotte, and Texas proved he has enough talent to hang around the AHL, but not provide the kind of return that’s particularly enticing (now that he has veteran status it’s likely he’ll jump to Europe sooner than later). He took part in both Ottawa and Belleville’s training camps, but was cut and signed with Brampton. Recalled on a PTO without ever suiting up in the E, he’s off to a hot start, albeit already regressing to the mean. Will the BSens bite the bullet and sign him? I’m not sure, as Kleinendorst hasn’t embraced him in the way he did O’Brien (see below).

Jack Rodewald 23, RW 5-3-1-4 0.80 SHPG 2.2
Contract: 18-19; 3rd pro season; career 0.35; last season 0.41
An undrafted WHLer, he was signed by Toronto, but couldn’t crack a talented Marlies lineup. The BSens picked him up as part of the general detritus shipped in the Dion Phaneuf trade, but an early hot streak last season saw him stick around and in the off-season earn a 2-year AHL deal. Since then the org has seen enough to rip up that deal and sign him to a 2-year ELC and bring him up to Ottawa. He’s a solid AHL-player; good speed, versatile on special teams, and so forth. What remains to be seen is what his offensive potential is.

Filip Chlapik 20, C/LW 8-1-4-5 0.63 PPP 2 SHPG 2.5
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 1.59 (QMJHL)
The big question for the big Czech was how dependent was he on Pittsburgh pick Daniel Sprong while in the Q? I think he’d reasonably answered that while the Dutch player wasn’t playing, but what I’ve seen in his start is promising. I don’t think he’ll be quite as productive as Sprong, but he’s a very good player–great speed, good hands, excellent hockey IQ. A bit iffy defensively at times, but that’s not down to effort.

Christian Jaros 21, DR 8-1-4-5 0.63 PPP 2 SHPG 2.5
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 0.36 (SHL)
My concern with the Slovakian blueliner were his hands–could he move the puck, could he handle the speed? While he doesn’t have Chabot’s silky moves he’s much, much better than I expected. Has a cannon of a shot, good hands, and much better speed than expected (all the comparisons to Borowiecki put a very different image in my head). He’s also been much smarter about when to throw hits than I expected–doesn’t run around head-hunting–just takes what’s available.

Thomas Chabot 20, DL 5-1-2-3 0.60 PPP 3 SHPG 3.4
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 1.32 (QMJHL)
The hype was high for him and for once it’s well-deserved. Utterly dominant when fully healthy at this level and he can do things with the puck that most can’t. It’s always harder to write about extremely talented prospects–enjoy?

Nick Paul 22, C/LW 8-0-4-4 0.50 PPP 1 SHPG 2.0
Contract: 17-18; 3rd pro season; career 0.46; last season 0.51
A Dallas pick (4-101/13) that came over in the otherwise disastrous Jason Spezza trade. He subsequently played on the WJC (without making much impact) and then struggled in his rookie season with Binghamton. Paul is big, rangy, good at both ends of the ice, and can beat players one-on-one, but struggles to function without a possession-heavy winger. He and Rodewald were a very good pair, but since the latter’s call-up Paul has looked a bit lost.

Ben Sexton 26, RW 4-2-0-2 0.50 SHPG 2.5
Contract: 18-19; 4th pro season; career 0.39; last season 0.57
Son of former president and GM of the Ottawa Senators, the undersized collegiate player was drafted by Boston (7-206/09); he failed out of the organisation, signing an AHL-deal with Albany where he had a career year. This earned him a two year deal with the BSens and while I was skeptical when I saw that in limited duty he’s actually been quite effective. Good speed, good hands, good shot–not sure what his issues in Providence were (usage?), but while I don’t think he’s going to set the AHL on fire he’s been a solid addition.

Erik Burgdoerfer 28, DR 9-2-2-4 0.44 PPP 2 SHPG 1.66
Contract: 17-18; 8th pro season (vet); career 0.24; last season 0.32
Unsigned RPI grad (career high of 7 points) made his way onto ECHL Bakersfield’s roster and four so-so seasons with them cracked Hershey’s lineup for two seasons and then Rochester. I’ve been pretty critical of this signing, largely because he’s a veteran whose numbers have never been remarkable. After watching him for 9 games, he’s pretty much as expected–underwhelming offensively, solid defensively. He’s a fairly safe player who generally isn’t going to hurt you, but he’s not going to win you a game either.

Gabriel Gagne 20, C/LW 9-4-0-4 0.44 SHPG 2.66
Contract: 18-19; 2nd pro season; last season 0.14
After last season I think some fans were understandably wondering if he was already a failed pick. Not only did he fail in the AHL, he didn’t accomplish much in the ECHL either. Gangly and awkward looking on the ice, he barely played to start the season and has seen virtually no powerplay time. That said, he has a rocket of a shot and it’s becoming apparent that if he’s paired with someone who can move the puck he can be effective.

Daniel Ciampini 26, LW 7-1-2-3 0.43 SHPG 0.85
Contract: 17-18 (AHL); 3rd pro season; career 0.25; last season 1.00 (ECHL)
Undrafted Collegiate signed with Worcester after college, but couldn’t stick with the org and spent time with Rockford and Ontario subsequently (largely in their ECHL affiliates). He was a late signing by the BSens to add some forward depth and was initially loaned to Brampton, but a shortage in forwards meant he hasn’t played in the ECHL yet. He’s never been able to translate his tier-2 offense at this level, but on the whole he’s been a positive contributor in limited time.

Max McCormick 25, LW 7-1-2-3 0.43 SHP 1 ENP 1 SHPG 2.14
Contract: 17-18; 4th pro season; career 0.42; last season 0.54
I’m often put in the position of criticising McCormick, but none of the things I’m critical of are his fault–my issue with him is his usage–coaches (from Kleinendorst to Luke Richardson) keep pushing him into a scoring role he’s just not suited too. He has a good shot–his AHL numbers illustrate that–but he’s not a possession player and too many times on the powerplay he’s a detriment. So: I like him, he’s a great third-line player who kills penalties–that’s just how I want him used. Even on the penalty kill he’s being over used (among the regular PK forwards he has the worst shifts-to-goals ratio).

Francis Perron 21, C/LW 7-0-3-3 0.43 PPP 1 ENP 1 SHPG 1.28
Contract: 18-19; 2nd pro season; last season 0.38
One of the primary issues for the former QMJHL start is his TOI and linemates, but we might finally be turning the corner on that. Offensively gifted, I don’t know what his AHL-ceiling is, but we can’t find out unless he’s consistently paired with complimentary players and that’s just not been the case this season. Definitely a pass-first player.

Jim O’Brien 28, C/RW 9-1-2-3 0.33 SHP 2.22
Contract: 17-18; 9th pro season (vet); career 0.55; last season 0.45
Former first-round bust for the Sens (drafted in DiDomenico’s year), he’s spent the last three seasons drifting about the hockey world–an aborted KHL attempt that brought him to Hershey, then New Jersey signed him, and finally San Antonio. His numbers have declined precipitously the previous two seasons and no one should expect O’Brien to put up points. Kleinendorst coached Jimothy previously (10-12) and that familiarity has seen him play O’Brien far too much. He has good speed, is solid defensively and has an okay shot, he has no hands whatsoever. Belongs on the PK and the third line.

Maxime Lajoie
 19, DL 9-0-3-3 0.33 PPP 2 SHPG 1.0
Contract: 19-20; rookie; last season 0.61 (WHL)
I spent last season wondering what the org hype was all about for Lajoie, as he had decent but not remarkable junior numbers. Now that I’ve seen him play I get it now. I’m not sure his game translates at the next level (his skating needs work), but in the AHL he’s a very smart puckmover and has been excellent on the PP.

Jordan Murray 24, DL 3-0-1-1 0.33 SHPG 1.0
Contract: 18-19 (AHL); rookie; last season 1.33 (CIS)
Undrafted QMJHLer spent four years in Canadian University before a 5-game audition earned him a two-year (AHL) contract with the org. I’m not sure what prompted the commitment, as while he’s not a bad player–he can move the puck–he doesn’t blow me away either. It’s a strange move.

Max Reinhart 25, C/LW 8-1-1-2 0.25 SHPG 0.87
Contract: 17-18; 6th pro season (vet); career 0.59; last season 0.44 (DEL)
Former Calgary pick (3-64/10) and son of former NHLer Paul, he failed out of Calgary, had a middling season with Milwaukee, and then a disastrous season in Germany. He’s quickly found himself in Kleinendorst’s doghouse and it will be interesting to see what happens to him over the next month or so (will the Sens trade him? it’s tough moving a vet, but I’m reminded of the org dumping Shaun Heshka in a somewhat similar situation back in 11-12).

Mike Blunden 30, RW 4-0-1-1 0.25 SHPG 0.5
Contract: 17-18; 12th pro season (vet); career 0.52; last season 0.43
Former Chicago pick (2-43/05), being big with decent speed has meant he’s always been attractive to GM’s, but in 12 pro seasons he never managed more than half an NHL season and, for the most part, he’s simply appeared in a handful of games each year playing fourth-line minutes. At the AHL-level, barring an anomalous season with Syracuse, he’s always chipped in at borderline second-line levels, but his best years are behind him. Prior to his injury Kleinendorst was using him in all situations and playing him far, far too much.

Vincent Dunn 22, LW 4-0-1-1 0.25 SHPG 0.25
Contract: 17-18; 3rd pro season; career ECHL 0.38; last season 0.25 (ECHL)
Former QMJHL pest with behavioural problems is still considered an AHL rookie because of how few games he’s played. In watching him his problem is pretty clear–beyond the lack of puck skills, he just can’t skate. Destined for Brampton the moment there’s enough forwards for him to be moved.

Patrick Sieloff 23, DL 9-1-1-2 0.22 SHPG 0.66
Contract: 17-18; 5th pro season; career 0.18; last season 0.23
Former Calgary pick (2-42/12) who came up through the US Development program. Offensively limited at every level, he finished up his ELC with the expected unremarkable numbers and was shifted as an RFA to Ottawa in exchange for Alex Chiasson. He’s exactly what you expect–a very safe player with basically no offensive ability at all.

Andreas Englund 21, DL 9-0-2-2 0.22 SHPG 0.66
Contract: 18-19; 2nd pro season; last season 0.14
After a rough couple of games to start the season he’s settled down to be as advertised: dependable defensive defenseman with limited offensive instincts and abilities. I’m not sure if there’s another gear for him or not–if not, he’s basically Sieloff who threws a few extra hits.

Tyler Randell 26, RW 9-1-0-1 0.11 ENP 1 SHPG 1.0
Contract: 17-18; 6th pro season; career 0.18; last season 0.16
Boston actually wasted a draft pick on the OHL pugilist (6-176/09) and he spent parts of six seasons punching people. I was not a fan of this signing which stinks of Randy Lee, but at least here was a player we wouldn’t see on the powerplay…until we did. Hopefully that was a mere flutter on Kleinendorst’s part. Randell periodically takes dumb penalties, but as a positive I will say he’s reasonably responsible defensively–there’s just no reason to play him unless he’s punching people.

Macoy Erkamps 22, DR 4-0-0-0 0.00 SHPG 0.25*
Contract: 18-19; 2nd season; last season 0.43 (ECHL)
A CHL free agent signing by the org (none of which have ever turned out), he was buried in the ECHL most of last season. He’s barely played 5-on-5, but spent a ton of time on the PK where he was actually fairly effective. Given the limitations of his appearances I’m not really sure what he is, but it seems like he can fill in as a penalty killer if nothing else.
*The AHL website erroneously has him listed for 5 games (despite correctly showing that he played four in the game-by-game section–I think this is related to the pre-game lineup Belleville released where he was removed at the last minute)

Kyle Flanagan 28, C/LW 2-0-0-0 0.00 SHPG 0
Contract: 17-18 (AHL); 5th pro season; career 0.41; last season 0.42
Undrafted, undersized college grad was signed by Philadelphia, but flubbed his rookie season so went to MODO in the SHL the following season, where he remained unimpressive. Signing an ECHL contract with Adirondack he was called up by Binghamton and did well enough to be earn to a two-year AHL deal. He’s a decent third-line player, although a concussion early this season makes assessing him impossible.

Ben Harpur 22, DL 2-0-0-0 0.00 SHPG 2.0
Contract: 17-18; 3rd pro season; career 0.30; last season 0.42
A Jekyll and Hyde ELC, where he didn’t look like even an AHL player his rookie season and then seemed reasonably effective last year. Coming off injury he was atrocious in his Belleville debut, but that’s not how he should be judged.

Justin Vaive 28, LW 2-0-0-0 0.00 SHPG 1.0
Contract: PTO; 7th pro season; career 0.24; last season 0.13
Son-of-Rick was an Anaheim draft pick long ago (4-92/07, the O’Brien year), but as a collegian accomplished nothing and that’s how things have continued for him. He’s big, but he has ECHL-level hands so has accumulated games in the AHL largely based on size. There’s no chance the BSens actually sign him.

Cody Donaghey 21, DR ECHL 5-2-1-3
Contract: 18-19; rookie; last season 0.77 (QMJHL)
The org has seemed keen on getting rid of the CHL FA ever since the acquired him; Toronto signed him and included him with the assorted detritus involved in the Dion Phaneuf trade. A potent QMJHL blueliner offensively, he has yet to dress with Belleville and has logged the most time with Brampton thus far (5-2-1-3).

In general I want to see prospects like Perron and Gagne play more, vets like Blunden, O’Brien, Randell, and McCormick to play less (especially on special teams). The return to the lineup of players like Colin White will help in that regard, although who knows how long high end prospects like that will remain?

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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