A Look at the Prospects in Belleville

dumpster fire

Interest in the Sens AHL affiliate has always been limited, but the dumpster fire in Belleville’s inaugural season makes that indifference even stronger as fans want the few talented players up in Ottawa. I’d rather have development occur in the AHL (with the exception of a player like Thomas Chabot who doesn’t need it), albeit with the current coaching staffs (staves? rummodlic gamol Englisc) it’s not likely either environment is the best for development.

I’ve limited this exploration to players on ELCs–I don’t think there are hidden depths to explore in the current crop of four-year players like McCormick or Driedger. What I’ll specifically look at, along with the obvious numbers, is their performance through the vagaries of the lineup along with special teams (certain players, like Filip Chlapik, have been jerked around all season). The players are arranged by position (forward, defense, goaltender) and then points-per-game (PPG); I’ve detailed their performance by line or pairing, along with how the team has performed with them on the powerplay (including their relative usage on first or second units), along with their performance on the penalty kill where applicable. Any stat that is a team-high I’ve highlighted in bold.

Team numbers to keep in mind: Belleville is a low scoring team and this depresses offensive totals. On special teams they’ve had 36 PPG’s this season through 456 shifts, or 7.8% per shift; the first unit has scored 31 of those goals in 264 shifts (11.7%), while the second unit has just 5 goals in 192 shifts (2.6%); the team has given up 64 PPG’s vs 701 forward shifts (or 90.8% per shift), with 64 vs 540 defense-pairing shifts (88.1%)–the difference between forward/defense shifts on the PP is negligible.

Filip Chlapik (20, C/L) 50-10-2030 PPP 12 0.60 93 shots
Lines (only 5-on-5 points included)
1 3-0-0-0 0.00
2 22-2-7-9 0.41
3 18-2-3-5 0.27
4 7-3-1-4 0.57
Special Teams (on-ice for goals for PP or against for PK)
PP 9.7% (spent 78.9% on the first unit; further breakdown below)

Jerked around by the coaching staff all season (for reasons known only to themselves), his relatively consistent production has allowed him to slowly claw his way to the top of the scoring pile (although he still trails Sexton in PPG).  Ottawa’s merciful removal of Jim O’Brien and Max McCormick have provided him the ice time he’s needed to start to flourish. His overall PP percentage seems a bit low, but when you breakdown his unit time he’s on the high end for both (5.1% on the second unit and 14.9% on the first). Oddly enough what’s allowed him to get top PP time since February is Kleinendorst moving him to the point–prior to that other players were slotted in the center or leftwing position he’d otherwise occupy.

Colin White (21, C/R) 44-8-14-22 PPP 8 0.50 82 shots
1 11-0-2-2 0.18
2 19-4-4-8 0.42
3 13-2-2-4 0.30
4 1-0-0-0 0.00
Special Teams
PP 12.9% (spent 98.5% on the first unit)
PK 92.2%

With higher pedigree Kleinendorst hasn’t messed around with him as much as Chlapik, although his numbers at this level are a bit lower than expected. Coming into March he was the best penalty killer on the team, but Sexton has now passed him (not that #2 is a bad sign). The only complaint you can make about him is the aforementioned production.

Nick Paul (23, C/LW) 47-11-10-21 PPP 10 0.44 94 shots
1 19-1-6-7 0.36
2 25-4-0-4 0.16
3 2-0-0-0 0.00
Special Teams
PP 10.0% (spent 76.7% on the first unit)
PK 91.8%

As a third-year pro he should be better than this. Paul has enjoyed the most consistent top-six ice time among the prospects, but the numbers just aren’t there. What’s become clear is when surrounded with talented linemates he can produce at a certain level in the AHL, but that’s just not going to cut in the NHL. Like Chlapik he hasn’t consistently been on the first PP unit, but his production here is just as hinged to linemates (he’s just 2.7% on the second unit vs 17.6% on the first). His penalty killing has been solid, but for whatever reason Kleinendorst has used him there inconsistently (preferring talentless grinders like Tyler Randall or the newly acquired Eric Selleck). What this season has said to me is that he’s not an NHL-talent, but he can be a useful AHL forward.

Jack Rodewald (24, RW) 51-11-11-22 PPP 1 0.43 84 shots
1 15-2-2-4 0.26
2 27-7-7-14 0.51
3 7-1-1-2 0.28
4 2-0-1-1 0.50
Special Teams
PP 5.4% (spent 28.1% on the first unit)
PK 85.4% 48-7

The Sens had him on a safe, multi-year AHL-contract and threw it all away after he had a hot start to the season. Rodewald went cold and with the season near its end the 24-year old isn’t any better than he was previously. Unlike the rookies above, however, he’s enjoyed vastly favourable 5-on-5 usage (where he has more points than everyone else, but that’s impacted by the increased TOI to do so). Even more so than Nick Paul above, he cannot produce without talented linemates (think of Colin Greening–good size, good speed, decent shot, but unable to generate anything on his own). His lackluster PP production can be linked (in part) to usage, although with so many reps on the second unit he is clearly part of the issue (12.9% on the first, 2.5% on the second). On the PK he’s been an absolute disaster and Kleinendorst moved away from using him there fairly early in the season.

Gabriel Gagne (21, C/W) 60-18-5-23 PPP 4 0.38 153 shots
1 28-6-4-10 0.35
2 7-2-0-2 0.28
3 16-2-1-3 0.18
4 9-4-0-4 0.44
Special Teams
PP 6.3% (spent 29.7% on the first unit)

I thought he might be a bust last season, but he’s shown signs of life this year even though his numbers aren’t overwhelming. He’s bounced around the lineup and despite a lot of use on the top line that was mostly with the underwhelming O’BrienMcCormick combination. His PP numbers look unimpressive, although he’s actually produced as much on the second unit than anyone else (his percentage is still low at 3.0%); he’s 16.6% in his limited first unit time. He’s got deceptive speed, is good one-on-one, and has a great shot. I’m not clear on how good a passer he is, but it feels like there’s a lot more depth to explore (and he still hasn’t filled out his 6’5 frame).

Francis Perron (21, C/L) 44-4-11-15 PPP 3 0.34 61 shots
1 2-0-0-0 0.00
2 6-1-4-5 0.83
3 24-2-4-6 0.25
4 12-1-0-1 0.08
Special Teams
PP 4.8% (spent 31.7% on the first unit)
PK 87.6%

His season is currently derailed by injury, but prior to that the coaching staff was happily derailing it with usage. He barely played in the top-six 5-on-5, but that limited sample is encouraging. With lackluster linemates he struggled to produce, but he’s not that far off the numbers of other prospects when marooned in the bottom-six. His PP numbers aren’t great (1.7% on the second unit, 11.5% on the first), although they drift towards the average in limited first unit use. He struggled on the PK and while I think the org believes he’s another Pageau I’m not sure that’s the role that really suits him. I consider this a lost season and the next will really tell us who he is (assuming there’s a decent coach in charge).

Christian Jaros (21, RD) 33-2-10-12 PPP 5 0.36 65 shots
Englund 27-0-6-6 0.22
Lajoie 4-0-1-1 0.25
Murray 1-0-0-0 0.00
Chabot 1-0-0-0 0.00
Special Teams
PP 6.8% (spent 35.2% on the first pairing)
PK 83.9%

Has missed a lot of time due to injury–that and the usual bizarre coaching decisions have played havoc with his season. One Kleinendorstian oddity is wrapping Englund around him like an anchor–the underwhelming Swede (see below) has caused the Slovak all kinds of trouble. He’s been reasonably effective on the second unit PP (4.5%), but was much better on the first (11.1%) in his limited time there. On the PK he’s struggled a great deal, but he was improving in January when taken away from Englund. When he came over from the SHL I was worried about his offensive chops, but at least at the AHL level he’s got what he needs (good speed, a great shot, and decent hands).

Maxime Lajoie (20, DL) 45-0-11-11 PPP 4 0.24 39 shots
Murray 16-0-2-2 0.12
Englund 8-0-2-2 0.25
Burgdoerfer 6-0-2-2 0.33
Erkamps 6-0-0-0 0.00
Jaros 4-0-0-0 0.00
Pokka 2-0-1-1 0.50
Sieloff 1-0-0-0 0.00
Melancon 1-0-0-0 0.00
7th D 1-0-0-0 0.00
Special Teams
PP 3.9% (spent 8.6% on the first unit)
PK 96.0% (small sample size)

I was a bit puzzled at the alacrity with which the Sens signed him two years ago and while that excitement still seems out of proportion, I at least understand their interest now that I’ve seen him play. Much like Perron he’s been jerked around by the coaching staff all season and often paired with players who don’t suit him. Despite those problems his puckmoving ability has shone through. His PP time hasn’t been that productive (no points since December, with a second unit tally of 1.7% and a rarely used first at 18.1%). He and Jordan Murray have no chemistry whatsoever and the pair have spent much of the year as a duo on the second unit (I like him with Jaros, as I’ve mentioned in the past). The last two months he’s seen very limited duty on the PK and has done well, but it’s a limited sample size so it’s not something I’d trust yet.

Andreas Englund (22, DL) 64-1-9-10 0.15 49 shots
Jaros 27-0-5-5 0.18
Burgdoerfer 13-0-2-2 0.15
Lajoie 8-1-0-1 0.12
Chabot 4-0-1-1 0.25
Sieloff 4-0-0-0 0.00
Erkamps 3-0-1-1 0.33
Murray 2-0-0-0 0.00
Pokka 1-0-0-0 0.00
Corrin 1-0-0-0 0.00
Special Teams
PK 86.3% 263-36

The Swedish pylon continues his underwhelming adventures in the AHL. While the team loves his size and physicality, he really does nothing else and shown no tangible improvement over last season. He can’t move the puck and while he doesn’t produce turnovers at the breakneck speed of Burgdoerfer he can’t really move the puck up the ice. He’s struggled on the PK, especially since January when Kleinendorst started playing his D-pairings for most of or the entire length of a penalty. The org would be better off trading him away, but it’s unlikely since Randy Lee loves his big bruisers.

Marcus Hogberg (23, GL) .892 3.51 4-10-0 (ECHL 7-7-1 2.96 .919)
Goal support: 2.28 (-0.15)
Average shots allowed: 32.4/60 min (-0.4)

He’s had a wildly inconsistent rookie season where he didn’t get his first AHL start until late December due to the four-goalie clusterfuck in Belleville (which is now five thanks to Filip Gustavsoon, granting that it appears neither Andrew Hammond nor Chris Driedger will ever play again). On the one hand I expected him to be better, but on the other I was expecting him to arrive in sane circumstances and be part of the regular rotation. Comparing apples to apples his numbers are better than Driedger‘s (.885; in the AHL at least) and not that far behind either Danny Taylor (.899) nor Hammond (.900), which indicates just how bad the blueline is. It’s his erratic performances that make me wonder how much is the goalie coach and the situation (his errors are technical, as in not being set properly and being small in the net–this was troubling Taylor as well during the first half of the season). He isn’t, in my opinion, as much of a dud as Matt O’Connor was when he arrived from the NCAA (now plying his trade in the ECHL, incidentally), but he could be like Driedger where flashes of brilliance are plagued by inconsistency. The Belleville situation is a mess and he’s still young enough as a goaltender that I wouldn’t panic about him yet.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)


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  1. […] A Look at the Prospects in Belleville […]

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