Thoughts on Belleville’s Roster Moves

What a fascinating couple of days it has been. The BSens sit at 10-12-1 in the standings, almost a mirror image of where they were under Kurt Kleinendorst last season (10-10-2 at the end of November)–that has to be worrying for an org that signed Troy Mann to change the fate of their moribund AHL-franchise. Pierre Dorion can’t just blame call-ups or injuries because Kleinendorst had the exact same problems. There’s supposed to be more talent in Belleville this season, but the results aren’t changing, so what to do?

With Randy Lee out of the org some of his ugly roster decisions can be reversed and the trigger was pulled to send assorted detritus to Wilkes-Barre. The Sens managed to move out 2013-failure Vincent Dunn to Pittsburgh last year and have now dumped two terrible signings (Macoy Erkamps and AHL-contract Ryan Scarfo) along with a useful but injury-prone player (Ben Sexton) to the Penguins in return for former BSen Tobians Lindberg and long-time AHL-defensemen Stefan Elliott.

I like this trade a lot for the BSens. I have no idea how either acquisition will perform, but it eliminates two useless players from the org (one of whom counts towards the Sens 50-contract limit) as well as an older player who has struggled to find a place among a strong forward lineup. Let’s briefly go over the departed:

Ben Sexton, RW 1991; 7-206/09 Bos 30-11-10-21 0.70 (AHL 0.45)
2018-19 17-0-9-9 (0.52)

There’s no question that Sexton is a talented, useful AHL-player, but there’s no room for him to play center and clearly Mann prefers Jack Rodewald over him (I wouldn’t, but Jack is a more durable player). He’s a sacrifice, but the BSens actually have options on the right side (Balisy, Rodewald, Gagne, and Tambellini can all effectively play that side–as can Jimmy O’Brien when he returns)

Macoy Erkamps, DR 1995; FA 16 46-1-3-4 0.08 (AHL 0.11/ECHL 0.41)
2018-19 ECHL 21-1-5-6 (0.28)

To say the CHL FA is a flop is an insult to flops–whoever was responsible for signing him in 2016 ought to be out the door. That aside, he’s producing at a lower rate in the ECHL. This guy, especially as he’s on an ELC, just has to go.

Ryan Scarfo, CL 1994; FA 18 NCAA 38-20-16-36 0.95
2018-19 AHL 6-0-0-0 (0.00)/ECHL 10-1-1-2 (0.20)

The warning signs for me were apparent last season, when I saw nothing impressive about him. That’s apparent in the ECHL and even if he’s just an AHL-contract keeping him wasn’t helping the BSens or Brampton.

Clearly, as much as I like Sexton, these are pieces the BSens can comfortably move. What about the return?

Stefan Elliott, DR 1991, 2-49/09 Col SHL 34-4-17-21 0.61 (AHL 0.47)
2018-19 AHL 20-1-7-8 (0.40)

Entering the year at 254 AHL games played (just below the veteran-status bar) the former WHLer actually addresses a vital need on the right side. I complained that the Falk signing added nothing the BSens needed (he can’t score and plays the left), but here we have both a producer and someone who fills a need (while I hope his addition mercifully means an end to seeing Racine in the lineup, I know realistically Bergman sits, because why play someone with talent when you can play someone without it?).

Tobias Lindberg, W 1995, 4-102/13 Ott AHL 64-10-13-23 0.36 (AHL 0.44)
2018-19 AHL 15-2-4-6 (0.40)

I was a big fan during his brief tenure under the lamentable Luke Richardson regime (15-16)–my thoughts then are summed up nicely here. He wound up getting buried in the talent-ladden Leafs system and subsequently in Las Vegas and Pittsburgh respectively. The productivity that seemed to be there in his first two seasons may never be realised, but he’s a great possession player (as Colin Cudmore points out) and adds value however he’s used. He could very easily slide onto the third line, but I suspect Mann will put him on the fourth and move Gagne there (org-love creates opportunities).

Let’s give credit to whoever did the work to make this trade (I have no idea–there’s no actual GM in Belleville). However it turns out, the BSens are getting more out of the deal.

A final note: for anyone who missed it, I posted my November review for the BSens recently–there’s lot’s of numbers and analysis to chew on.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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