Belleville Senators Season Review: Part Three (Veterans)

In the previous parts of my season review (Part One and Part Two) I looked largely at team performance. In the third and final part I’ll be exploring individual performances. While I’m excluding PTO call-ups from the ECHL, this is a very large list of players and I’m going to chop it down into three categories to make it manageable. Rookies are the most exciting, so we’ll save them for last. To begin with we’ll look at veterans–those players who are neither on their ELC nor re-signed RFA’s. These are the players resident genius Randy Lee added to the lineup in the hopes of helping both development and results. We’ll start with the oldest (my projections prior to the season can be seen here):

Chris Kelly C (DOB 1980; 3-94/99; PTO)
Prior to this season: 249 AHL games (0.55); 833 NHL games
Previous season (16-17): NHL 82-5-7-12 (0.14)
2017-18: 16-0-2-2 (0.12)
With or Without You record: 6-8-2/23-34-3
Shots/hands: poor
Hockey IQ: average
Skating: good
Powerplay: n/a
Penalty Kill: 2nd in usage, 12th in effectiveness
Notable Slumps: failed to score in all 16-games

Chris Kelly.png

While it was a nice gesture by the org to let Kelly use the BSens as practice for his time at both the Spengler Cup and the Olympics, he did the team itself no favours. Once an effective AHL-forward, Kelly simply has no hands left and particularly in his first set of games with the team played far too much (he was also consistently awful on the PK).

Danny Taylor G (DOB 1986; 7-221/04 LA; signed 2017)
Prior to this season: 134 AHL games (.919)
Previous season (16-17): KHL .931 1.93
2017-18: 32-11-5-4 .900 3.15
Athleticism: good
Technique: average
Notable slumps: 0-7-1 (November to mid-January)
Goal support: 2.37 (team season average 2.55)
Average shots against: 31.5 (season average 33.01)

Arriving with good historical numbers in the AHL and a strong season in the KHL, Taylor ultimately disappointed. While the end of his season was more to form, it didn’t really make up for his struggles early on. Normally I would have been behind the decision to sign Taylor, but with Marcus Hogberg and Chris Driedger on the roster along with Andrew Hammond, what was the point? His addition only hurt the development of both younger goaltenders as well as Taylor’s future prospects in North America.

Mike Blunden RW (DOB 1986; 2-43/05 Chi; signed 2016)
Prior to this season: 528 AHL games (ppg 0.52); 126 NHL games
Previous season (16-17): 67-14-15-29 (0.43)
2017-18: 45-6-10-16 (0.35)
With or Without You: 15-30-3/14-12-2
Shot/hands: average
Hockey IQ: poor
Skating: awful
Powerplay: 8th most used, 13th most effective
Penalty Kill: 4th most used, 8th most effective
Notable slumps: 21-game goalless streak

Blunden

Given a two-year deal by Lee after a career year with Syracuse (Tampa’s affiliate) where he was buffered by a talented lineup. Anointed the captain when he joined he’s been rammed down the throat of the BSens system despite rapidly declining results. He played an inordinate amount on special teams time, but that aside his mere presence seemed to drag the team down (look at the winning percentage with & without him).

Eric Selleck LW (DOB 1987; NCAA FA Flo 10; traded for mid-season)
Prior to this season: 438 AHL games (0.24); 3 NHL games
Previous season (16-17): 46-5-4-9 (0.19)
2017-18 50-5-2-7 (0.14) Belleville 18-2-2-4 (0.22)
With or Without You: he only missed two games once acquired (1-1-0) so the impact can’t really be evaluated
Shot/hands: terrible
Hockey IQ: negligible
Skating: awful
Powerplay: randomly put on it twice, but not part of the regular rotation
Penalty Kill: 9th most used, 8th most effective (benefited from limited sample size and partners)

Selleck

In the midst of a terrible season in Hartford (the Ranger affiliate), Lee inexplicably traded for him in February. The only thing Selleck has ever distinguished himself as is a fighter, but he fights for himself (case in point: in Ben Sexton‘s season ending game he was run twice and the mighty Selleck did…nothing). He doesn’t drop the gloves much anymore regardless, so what was the point of acquiring him?

Andrew Hammond G (DOB 1988; NCAA FA Ott 13)
Prior to this season: 80 AHL games (.903)
Previous season (16-17): 5-2-3-0 .884 3.24
2017-18: 18-8-6-2 .900 3.34
Athleticism: average
Technique: good
Goal support: 2.88 (team season average 2.55)
Average shots against: 30.55 (season average 33.01)

Buried in Belleville after Pierre Dorion devalued him making a trade impossible, he was actually quite good in Belleville and should have played more than Taylor early in the season. Eventually Colorado borrowed him permanently after trading for him, making room for Hogberg and Filip Gustavsson, but for a man put in a difficult position he made the most of it.

Erik Burgdoerfer DR (DOB 1988; NCAA FA Buf 16; signed 2017)
Prior to this season: 187 AHL games (0.24); 2 NHL games
Previous season (16-17): 52-1-16-17 (0.32)
2017-18: 66-5-12-17 (0.26)
With or Without You: 25-36-4/3-6-1
Shot/hands: average
Hockey IQ: poor
Skating: good
Powerplay: 7th most used d-man, 4th most effective (see below)
Penalty Kill: 1st most used d-man, 5th most effective
Notable slumps: didn’t score in his final 21-games

Burgdoerfer

Throughout his hockey career (going back to junior in the EJHL) Burgdoerfer’s abilities are consistent: he takes a lot of penalties, produces minimal offense, but his excellent skating and being a righthand shot have allowed him to slowly evolve climb the pro ladder. The org had a lot of praise for him and he’s the kind of player that if you see him only occasionally, especially if he’s being protected by a competent partner, you’re not going to notice his primary problem (beyond an inability to produce offense): mental mistakes. No one on the team had more unforced errors than Burgdoerfer–his seminal moment in his final game of the season was, with no pressure, passing the puck right in front of his net to the opposition and having it immediately in the back of his net. He’s a turnover machine. I put a caveat in his powerplay numbers above because he’s benefiting from a small sample size–he was only on-ice for six goals, but after November rarely played making early success with Chabot and Lajoie boost his numbers.

Kyle Flanagan C (DOB 1988; NCAA FA Phi 13; signed 2016/AHL deal)
Prior to this season: 188 AHL games (0.41)
Previous season (16-17): 68-9-20-29 (0.42)
2017-18: 17-1-3-4 (0.23)
With or Without You: 7-9-1/22-33-4
Shot/hands: average
Hockey IQ: good
Skating: good
Powerplay: not used
Penalty Kill: 12th most used, 3rd most effective

Flanagan

A lost season for the undersized Flanagan who was injured most of the year. In limited duty he was fine–not a spectacular player, but good defensively and can chip in some offense (not on display at his usual rate this season).

Jim O’Brien C (DOB 1989; 1-29/07; signed PTO 17, then contract 18)
Prior to this season: 375 AHL games (0.55); 67 NHL games
Previous season (16-17): 53-9-15-24 (0.45)
2017-18: 60-13-16-29 (0.48)
With or Without You: 6-8-2/23-34-3
Shot/hands: good/average
Hockey IQ: average
Skating: good
Powerplay: 9th most used, 7th most effective
Penalty Kill: 5th most used, 3rd most effective

O'Brien

Arrived on the team via PTO and transitioned from an afterthought to the team’s #1 center (!). O’Brien, whose career has been on a downward AHL-curve since his 14-15 season with Hershey, isn’t so much a terrible addition but one inappropriately used. He’s a very good penalty killer, but someone with limited offensive potential who played far, far too much on scoring lines.

Chris DiDomenico RW (DOB 1989; 6-164/07 Tor; signed 17)
Prior to this season: 74 AHL games (0.23)
Previous season (16-17): NLA 48-10-28-38 (0.79)
2017-18: 25-5-9-14 (0.56)
With or Without You: 10-14-2/19-28-3
Shot/hands: good
Hockey IQ: good
Skating: average
Powerplay: 2nd in usage, 2nd in effectiveness
Penalty Kill: three brief shifts was all he got

DiDomenico

Kleinendorst inexplicably lost confidence with him and he spent much of his last month with the team on the third or fourth line. Not surprisingly, when utilized properly by Rockford he was immensely productive (22-8-15-23). I was a bit puzzled when the Sens signed him last season, seeing it as a sop to Guy Boucher, but he’s unquestionably a good AHL talent and here bad coaching simply wasted an asset.

Daniel Ciampini C (DOB 1990; NCAA FA Worcester; signed 17/AHL deal)
Prior to this season: 48 AHL games (0.25)
Previous season (16-17): 23-1-4-5 (0.21)
2017-18: 49-7-9-16 (0.32)
With or Without You: 21-26-3/8-16-2
Shot/hands: average
Hockey IQ: average
Skating: average
Powerplay: barely used (just 13 shifts through the season)
Penalty Kill: other than the final seconds occasionally, not used
Notable slumps: 10-game pointless streak

Ciampini.png

An excellent ECHL-player, he settled in as a regular in the bottom-six. While he’s unremarkable, in a better lineup he could have helped add some depth scoring. His lack of speed is what will ultimately keep him from being an AHL-regular.

Ben Sexton RW (DOB 1991; 7-206/09 Bos; signed 17)
Prior to this season: 127 AHL games (0.39)
Previous season (16-17): 54-19-12-31 (0.57)
2017-18: 30-11-10-21 (0.70)
With or Without You: 11-18-1/18-24-4
Shot/hands: good
Hockey IQ: good
Skating: excellent
Powerplay: first in usage, third in effectiveness
Penalty Kill: first in usage, first in effectiveness

Sexton

I’m leery about signing players coming off career years after having done nothing of note previously, but Sexton appears to have been a victim of the coaching staff in Providence while he was there (Bruce Cassidy), as he was excellent for Belleville this year. His inability to stay healthy continues to be an issue and I would take his with or without you stats as bad luck, but I’m glad he’s signed for another season.

Ethan Werek LW (DOB 1991; 2-47/09 NYR; PTO 17, then AHL-deal)
Prior to this season: 330 AHL games (0.36)
Previous season (16-17): 55-13-14-27 (0.49)
2017-18: 58-10-15-25 (0.43)
With or Without You: 24-29-5; 5-13-0
Shot/hands: good
Hockey IQ: average
Skating: average
Powerplay: 11th in usage, 6th in effectiveness
Penalty Kill: used once
Notable slumps: 20-game pointless streak

Werek

A PTO that turned into an AHL-deal, Kleinendorst fell in love with him early in the season, but he wound up in the doghouse soon after and never got out of it. Lack of footspeed give him limited utility, but he is a useful offensive player when put with supporting players and the BSens didn’t maximize their asset by doing so.

Tyler Randell RW (DOB 1991; 6-176/09 Bos; signed 17)
Prior to this season: 231 AHL games (0.18); 27 NHL games
Previous season (16-17): 59-1-9-10 (0.17)
2017-18: 57-3-5-8 (0.14)
With or Without You: 20-33-5/9-9-0
Shot/hands: poor
Hockey IQ: poor
Skating: good
Powerplay: played 15 shifts throughout the season (to no effect)
Penalty Kill: 10th most used, 7th most effective
Notable slumps: did not score against a goaltender until his 39th game

Randell

Looking at all this you have to ask yourself: what was Randy Lee trying to accomplish here? Just like Selleck above, Randell doesn’t fight for his teammates (he barely fights at all), and he doesn’t help the team in any other way, so why have him in the lineup? Despite ample opportunity he was actually worse offensively than with his limited time in Providence last season.

Max Reinhart C (DOB 1992; 3-64/10 Cal; signed 17)
Prior to this season: 276 AHL games (0.59); 23 NHL games
Previous season (16-17): DEL 52-6-17-23 (0.44)
2017-18: 67-11-12-23 (0.34)
With or Without You: 23-39-4/6-3-1
Shot/hands: average
Hockey IQ: average
Skating: averager
Powerplay: 13th most used, 11th most effective
Penalty Kill: barely played (like Ciampini above for final faceoffs)
Notable slumps: 13-game goalless drought

Reinhart.png

Coming off an awful season in the DEL he arrived in Belleville and had his worst AHL season since his rookie year. Clearly Randy Lee thought he was getting the support player he was with the Admirals (15-16), but it doesn’t take a genius looking at all his career to see that Reinhart’s numbers are all due to talented players around him. He doesn’t push the needle at all. Oddly enough I wrote an article on the 2010 Calgary draft for the Hockey Herald back in the day (no longer online from what I can tell), but here’s what I wrote at the time when calling that draft a disaster:

There’s no sense of strategy in the selections; they are not the best players available, they don’t fill any specific need, nor are any of them “swings for the fences.”  Collectively they all look like marginal pros.

This applies to Max as a free agent as well–not the best available, didn’t fill any specific need, and is (at best) a marginal pro.

Next time I’ll be looking at non-rookie prospects on the team before finishing up with the rookies.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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6 Comments

  1. […] Belleville Senators Season Review: Part Three (Veterans) […]

  2. […] Belleville Senators Season Review: Part Three (Veterans) […]

  3. […] Belleville Senators Season Review: Part Three (Veterans) […]

  4. […] at this stage? The oft-injured but excellent Sexton remains, as does Jim O’Brien–the #1 center for much of last season for no particular reason. Jimmy is a solid penalty killer, but he’s […]

  5. […] whose core ability is producing. Daniel Ciampini CL DOB 1990 AHL 49-7-9-16 (0.32) You can read a full breakdown of his season in Belleville via the link, but in essence: he’s been an excellent […]

  6. […] Erik Burgdoerfer DR 1988; FA 17 66-5-12-17 0.25 (AHL 0.25) Projection: 0.25 It’s clear Captain Turnover is going to play quite a bit, although if Mann has a brain it will be less than under Kleinendorst; he should hit his usual targets. […]


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