Sens Sign CHL FA Aaron Luchuk to an ELC

The always perceptive Ary has an excellent post on the signing today and I highly recommend reading through it. I don’t want to rehash what’s in his piece, but rather supplement it.

So for those who missed it, Aaron Luchuk is a 20-year old (21 in April), undersized (5’10) left-handed center who spent most of his career with Windsor (recently traded to Barrie). He sailed through the drafts largely undetected, but there is one scouting report I’ll quote below. Let’s just put his numbers up first:

Aaron Luchuk, CL, DOB 97, 5’10
2015-16 OHL (Windsor) 68-27-26-53 (0.78, 5th ppg)
2016-17 OHL (Windsor) 68-28-32-60 (0.89, 4th ppg)
2017-18 OHL (Windsor/Barrie) 33-31-25-56 (1.69, 1st ppg)

Luchuk joins FA signee Parker Kelly as the second undersized forward the Sens have signed this fall–has Randy Lee finally figured out that it isn’t 1997 anymore and that size isn’t a precursor to success? I really doubt it, but I can hope.

It’s worth noting prospects who put up big numbers only as overagers are less likely to replicate those as pros. Ary addresses those concerns:

a majority of Luchuk’s points are at even-strength and are primary points (a goal or the first assist). There’s been a ton of work at the NHL level to say that secondary assists are a bit noisy, and that primary points are better predictors of future point production, so they’re indicators we look for when projecting prospect performance. According to prospect-stats.com, 49 of Luchuk’s 60 points last year were primary points (P1/gm ranked 52nd in the league); 40 of those 60 points were scored at even-strength — a high percentage. This year, Luchuk is fourth in the league in even-strength points (29 points in 33 games) and he leads the league in primary points per game with 1.36

So all that being said, what do we have from scouts on him? Not much, as I said above, as he was never ranked for the draft. However, Hockey Prospects did write about him in the lead-up to the 2015 draft:

Luchuk who was a real offensive threat and a perennial scorer in Minor Midget has had to adapt to a lesser role in the OHL thus far in his career and has done a very good job of embracing the change. He was primarily utilized in a third or fourth line role for the Spitfires and used his strong skating ability to factor in both the offensive and defensive side of the game.
He has good speed and will challenge defenders one on one. He has good puck handling ability and was also able to create offense with a deceptive shot. He works hard on the backcheck, keeping up with  opposing forwards and was usually a key part of the Spitfires penalty kill. We believe Luchuk might receive a little late round consideration. His offensive upside is somewhat untapped playing behind several veterans, so as he moves up the depth chart he will be able to show more of the offense he displayed in minor midget.

There was nothing written about him either in 2016 or this year, so despite the numbers Ary mentions above NHL teams did not take a flyer on him (due either to his size or perhaps the perception that he benefits from those playing around him).

I agree wholeheartedly with Ary that he’s a worthwhile gamble–I always encourage gambles with skill–I’d rather fail on a player who might help my team than some lumbering tool who clogs up the arteries of a team.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville 2, Toronto 1

BSens played kitty-bar-the-door against the Marlies and with strong play by Andrew Hammond stole a win out of Toronto (their first 60-minute win since November 22nd). The game itself was not particularly entertaining, although listening to Bill Berg drone on over the play-by-play caller was pretty amusing (only the Toronto feed was up on AHL Live this morning). Before I get into specific observations, here are the basics (the boxscore):
Shots: 15-33
PP: 1-2
PK: 0-1
Goaltenders: Hammond got the start and was excellent in the win (eight key saves); Driedger sat as the back-up while both Danny Taylor and Marcus Hogberg were scratches.

The Opposition
The Marlies came into the game at 22-8, albeit having just ended a 3-game losing streak. While they allowed the BSens to play a very passive, defense-first game, they had more than enough opportunities to win the game.

The Goals
1. Toronto PP – one-timer from the point
2. PP Werek tips White’s shot in from the point
3. Perron in the slot (off a nice pass from Randell)

Scoring chances (6): White (x2), Werek (pp), Perron, Blunden, Rodewald (pp)

The Roster
Ottawa returned a number of players to Binghamton and Patrick Sieloff returned from injury, meaning a significant shuffle. I’m not sure if Lajoie was scratched or injured, but he was taken out of the lineup for Sieloff, while Harpur’s arrival meant both ECHL PTO’s (Melancon and Doornbosch) sat with the team using just six defensemen. DiDomenico’s return didn’t result in a change since the team dropped from seven to six D.

The Lines
DiDomencio-O’Brien-Rodewald
McCormick-Reinhart-Blunden
Werek-White-Gagne
Perron-Ciampini-Randell
Sieloff-Harpur
Englund-Burgdoerfer
Murray-Erkamps

Other than the third line this is not a great set of forward lines and that was evident in how little they accomplished offensively.

Special Teams
Powerplay
Werek-DiDomenico-Rodewald/Harpur-White (scored)
McCormick-O’Brien-Blunden/Gagne-Murray
Penalty Kill
McCormick-O’Brien (scored on)
Sieloff-Harpur (scored on)

The officials let the BSens get away with a ton of interference, but they couldn’t handle even one odd-man situation. The first PP unit was solid, but the second…just ugly.

Notable Plays
Perron with a nice set of moves to get a shot on goal (first); Rodewald misses the net from the slot (first); McCormick can’t make the pass to Blunden on a 2-on-1 (first); DiDomenico hits the crossbar (first); Perron walks through three players which turns into a Murray shot over the net (second); Blunden with a terrible pass on a 2-on-0 results in no shot (second); McCormick hits the post on the empty-net.

Player Notes
Randell: a stopped watch is right twice a day and Tyler Randell apparently is productive once every 28 games–it was a great play and something to be celebrated–albeit he also bungled numerous other plays in the game and still belongs in the pressbox
White: a good game for him–solid linemates helped–he was strong both offensively and defensively
Perron: one of his best games of the season, albeit a lot of his good work was stymied by poor decisions from teammates

Not a lot to go through in a game like this where the BSens were fervently trying not to lose and the Marlies were pass-happy. The team benefited tremendously from officials ignoring interference and along with that, strong goaltending won them this game.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)