Senators News & Notes

There hasn’t been this much to write about the Sens in pre-season since the 2011 rebuild (comparisons I’ve made previously). Almost daily news of interest is coming out and I don’t expect that to truly die down until the season starts. In the last few days I’ve posted comprehensive looks at the Sens two new prospects, looked at Pierre Dorion’s track record, and even looked at what toxic fandom might mean for Sens fans.

Pierre Dorion

Two things stood out from Dorion’s comments to various bloggers:

sometimes when you get [into] the fifth, sixth, seventh rounds sometimes you try to hit a home run with a skill guy. We’re going to do less and less of that now. Just because at the end of the day most of them don’t ever pan out

This confirms what I’ve said the last two drafts (about the team drafting ‘safe’); it’s also a terrible idea that’s refuted from the team’s own history. One Mike Hoffman is worth hundreds of Max McCormick‘s–the team puts far too much weight on ‘character’ players who can easily be obtained (if required) via free agency at low cost (ask the San Jose Sharks). To briefly go over the relative failure since Dorion has been involved (excluding the 2007 draft since that was put together by John Muckler’s team):

Skill Fails (10)
Andre Petersson (08)
Emil Sandin (08)
Brad Peltz (09)
Jakub Culek (10)
Bryce Aneloski (10)
Matt Puempel (11)
Shane Prince (11)
Robbie Baillargeon (12)
Tobias Lindberg (13)
Kelly Summers (14)

Character Fails (14)
Jared Cowen (09)
Jeff Costello (09)
Corey Cowick (09)
Mike Sdao (09)
Darren Kramer (11)
Jordan Fransoo (11)
Tim Boyle (12)
Curtis Lazar (13)
Ben Harpur (13)
Vincent Dunn (13)
Chris Leblanc (13)
Quentin Shore (13)
Andreas Englund (14)
Shane Eiserman (14)

While the proportions are similar what value, really, are you getting from grinding third and fourth-liners, or bottom-feeding defensemen? It’s a puzzling approach that doesn’t wind the wheel of adding talent.

The next comment:

You can have as many big names as you want but sometimes it doesn’t bring Cup after Cup after Cup

No Cup has ever been won by a team without ‘big names’–the closest you can come to that is the 1995 New Jersey Devils, but even that team had Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, and Scott Niedermayer. I’m not sure if the comment is delusion on Dorion’s part or if he’s making a virtue of necessity.

The Rebuild

I have some additional thoughts to my previous article on the rebuild (which got some love from scout Craig Smith, which is always gratifying) via Nichols:
-Even after all this time Dorion is unaware that using ‘character’ to promote players isn’t effective outside a very narrow part of the fanbase who are already onboard
-Dorion: “it’s unfortunate that Josh Norris is not at his peak because then maybe fans would be more excited … whether he’s a second or third line guy or whether he’s a seventh forward or a fourth forward, we feel comfortable he’ll be a good player for us.
I entirely agree with Nichols’ response to this: “There’s nothing wrong with drafting or developing good third line players, but for the Senators’ rebuild to ultimately be successful and take a lot of the pressure off of management, the Senators will need to procure some elite prospects to build around.
I didn’t mention in my Norris profile that one of the problems with him being a combine warrior is that it leaves him no place to go–every single player taken in that draft has room to improve, but Norris is at his physical peak already, so how much better can he be?
-Nichols: “Ceci may be a great guy and a fantastic teammate, but as frequent observer, I don’t believe he has the hockey IQ to ever thrive in the roles that the Senators have used him in.
I want to say this is inarguably the case, but the org would argue it. The org loves secondary characteristics–playing through pain, a good team guy, great tan, etc–it takes a long, long time for them to embrace the wider reality (think of how late the org was trying to lock-up Jared Cowen).
-Nichols: “What I struggle with is that if the Senators decided to rebuild in February and were permitted to talk contract with Karlsson leading up to July 1st before they could their formal offer, why play up the fact that they would make an offer on July 1st? Surely, they would have had some kind of understanding of Karlsson’s intentions for wanting to stay or negotiate terms before then? And if Karlsson was that unwilling to talk terms, why wouldn’t the organization set its own drop date for negotiations before the trade deadline so that it could maximize the return by giving teams two prospective playoff runs and an extended window of negotiation to talk contract? To me, at its base level, everything just sounds like spin and this rebuild seems designed to lower expectations, explain the decision to cut payroll and put an uncertain timeline on when fans can expect this group to be competitive again.
I agree wholeheartedly with him. As I went over in my theory about when the decision to rebuild I think what we’ve heard about it now is simply spin. It boggles the mind that the team didn’t speak to EK since November–not a word to your team captain. It does lend credence to them wanting to move him, but I don’t think the intent was a rebuild until much later.

Rudderless Ship?

Mike Kelly laid down the thunder on the org going over basic analytics:

In 2016-17, at even-strength, the Senators ranked last in offensive zone puck possession, 2nd last in offensive zone turnover rate, which measures how often a team turns the puck over per puck possession, and 3rd last creating shots from the slot.

Defensively, Ottawa spent the second most amount of time defending in its own end, had the worst defensive zone turnover rate in the league and yet its goaltenders still posted the 8th best save percentage in the NHL. The Senators finished with the 2nd best team save percentage on shots from the slot and ranked 1st on shots from the inner slot.

And on and on it goes. None of this is new for those of us who keep an eye on this sort of thing, but having it spelled out so starkly in the midst of a rebuild is refreshing.

the Senators clearly don’t know what they don’t know. It bit them last season and it’s going to bite them again this season.

This is exactly the same sentiment I have and I made the same point in my rebuild article. A captain without a compass isn’t going to arrive at the desired destination.

I happened to catch Jeff O’Neill weighing in on TSN:

When the owner is a dope, like they have, it’s awful all the way down. … I think Eugene Melnyk is bad for the league–I think he’s the worst owner in pro sports.

Yikes.

Gus Kastaros (of McKeen’s) is yet another who didn’t think much of the EK trade (outside of the org I haven’t seen a positive opinion of it yet).

Image result for mark stone

Louis Jean got dog-piled on social media after reporting that Mark Stone won’t resign until the org gets its house in order. This isn’t a radical thought–I certainly don’t think he’s going to stay anymore than Matt Duchene is, but I feel for the guy with the reaction to it.

belleville sens

The org has hired an AGM to replace Randy Lee, but Peter McTavish is apparently going to be more of a numbers guy rather than running the BSens as Randy Lee did. There remains the dreaded possibility that failed Leaf AGM Claude Loiselle will be foisted on the team, but that’s still up in the air.

While Sens camp has largely gone as planned we do have one surprise thus far: Logan Brown was sent down to the BSens camp. This doesn’t mean he won’t be recalled or will spend much time in Belleville (I think a season in the AHL would be good for him), but in my roster speculation article back in August I thought he’d stay with the Sens for marketing reasons and because the Sens like to rush top-picks into the lineup (Curtis Lazar, Cody Ceci, Mika Zibanejad, Jared Cowen, etc). He may have been sent down purely due to the numbers game, or perhaps the team has decided he needs more minutes to develop–either way, I think it’s a good decision. Also a good decision: PTO Jack Skille was released. Jim O’Brien, incidentally, seems to be injured but has apparently already passed through waivers so once healthy can go down.

There’s nothing exciting about the BSens invites, especially as the roster is bloated: Brampton Beast players Anthony Beauregard and Austin EcEnemy (profiles forthcoming) are there along with pugilist Chase Stewart (from whom there seems no escape as the org seemingly loves him), rookie camper Jordan Stallard, former BSen Daniel Ciampini, former 2014-pick Kelly Summers, and yet another fighter in Jonathan Racine. All of these are likely heading to Brampton (or being released).

prospects

A couple of more free agents to add to the NHL-pile from the CHL: Yegor Zamula (Phi) and Joel Teasdale (Mtl).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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  1. […] Senators News & Notes […]


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