Belleville Senators: December Review

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Another month is in the books for the Belleville Senators and, as I’ve done all year, let’s look back and see how the team performed (for November’s dossier, go here).

Roster Volatility

If there’s one thing the org loves it’s excuses and this is especially at the AHL-level. The refrain is always in regards to players not being available (due to injury or having been called up), so let’s deal with that first. Drake Batherson was unexpectedly returned from the NHL towards the end of the month, but it’s not a demotion I expect to last. Nick Paul inexplicably spent almost the entire month in Ottawa (I guess why not?). Also seeing NHL time was org-darling Erik Burgdoerfer, along with Paul CareyJack RodewaldStefan Elliott, Marcus Hogberg, and Christian Wolanin. Coming back to Belleville was Binghamton fan-favourite Max McCormick–another org darling who received a one-way deal because he was ‘good in the corners/room.’ Unfortunately for Max, he wasn’t good anywhere else at the NHL-level, and I’ll give Dorion credit for finally biting the bullet and sending him back where he belongs (the AHL, that is).

On the injury front Jim O’Brien remains out, as does Mike Condon. Otherwise no one missed the entire month, but Filip Chlapik has been out for quite some time (three weeks now). Also missing time were CareyAaron LuchukRodewaldAndrew SturtzJulius BergmanJordan MurrayPatrick Sieloff, and Wolanin.

As for demotions/promotions from the ECHL, the aforementioned Luchuk got the call and remains in Belleville; Daniel Ciampini, Jonathan Racine, and Francois Beauchemin were demoted; FA duds Ryan Scarfo and Macoy Erkamps were traded away while still in Brampton.

Speaking of trades, the Sens dealt Ben Sexton away and in return received Elliott and former BSen Tobias Lindberg. They also signed hulking non-entity Justin Auger to a PTO and before being returned he established that yes, there is a pro with worse skating than Logan Brown. Former BSen Chris Carlisle was also brought up under similar circumstances. The trade that brought in Darren Archibald occurred in January so won’t be discussed here (this also applies to the PTO-signing of Alex Breton).


The Team (November shown in red, differential in blue)

6-7-0 (6th division, 12th conference) 5-6-1 dropped from t-4th and 11th respectively
GF 38/2.92 (10th conference) 39/3.25 -0.33 dropped from 7th
GA 39/3.00 (12th conference) 47/3.91 +0.91 dropped from t-10th
PP 9-50/18.0% (11th conference) 10-57/17.5% +0.5% dropped from 9th
PK 35-47/74.4% (13th conference) 52-68/76.4% -2.0% dropped from 12th
Shots 24.3 -2.9
Shot Differential 5.1 -5.5

The song remains the same for Mann’s squad, as seemingly no matter what happens to the roster or what the coach does, they slowly drift down in the standings and in comparative indicators. The horrendous GAA improved, largely due to Hogberg‘s return; the GF dropped below 3.00 for the first time this season, while their powerplay remained roughly even with November (but far lower than October). The PK continues to slide, while Shots and Shot Differential also dropped–the former being particularly alarming (Batherson‘s timely return helped both it and GF before the month was out).


(Arranged by points-per-game; rookies in green, ELCs in blue, AHL-contracts in italics, NHL-deals in red)

Carey 9-3-8-11 1.22 PPP 5
Rodewald 8-4-5-9 1.12 PPP 3
Balcers 13-7-6-13 1.00 PPP 5
Batherson 6-1-4-5 0.83 PPP 1
McCormick 6-2-3-5 0.83 PPP 2
Wolainin 8-1-5-6 0.75 PPP 2
Percy 13-1-7-8 0.61 PPP 3
Brown 13-2-5-7 0.54 PPP 1
Chlapik 4-1-1-2 0.50
Elliott 8-1-3-4 0.50 PPP 2
Tambellini 13-1-4-5 0.38 PPP 2
Lindberg 8-2-1-3 0.37
Sturtz 6-1-1-2 0.33
Murray 3-1-0-1 0.33 PPP 1

3-0-1-1 0.33
Sieloff 10-0-3-3 0.30
11-1-2-3 0.27
Luchuk 8-2-0-2 0.25
Leier 8-1-1-2 0.25
Burgdoerfer 8-1-1-2 0.25
Englund 13-1-2-3 0.23
Ciampini 5-1-0-1 0.20
LaBate 13-2-0-2 0.15
Balisy 13-1-1-2 0.15
Paul 1-0-0-0 0.00
Sexton 1-0-0-0 0.00
Auger 2-0-0-0 0.00
Bergman 5-0-0-0 0.00
Racine 5-0-0-0 0.00
Beauchemin 7-0-0-0 0.00
O’Brien Injured

Gustavsson 4-3-0 89.76 3.14
Hogberg 2-4-0 91.46 2.38
Paterson Did Not Play

Player Usage

We’ll separate forwards from defensemen. For the first time all season Mann has done some limited juggling (both at forward and on defense)–it’s very specific and I’ll get into it where applicable.


(Notations in brackets are when the player was on a different line than assigned when they registered the point)

First Line (8 goals, including empty-netter)
Carey (8-9) Goal, 2 Assists (goal)
Balcers (6-13) Goal, 2 Assists
Tambellini (6-13) Goal
Brown (5-13) Goal
Chlapik (4-4) Goal, Assist
Balisy (4-13)
Batherson (3-6) Goal, Assist
Rodewald (3-8) 2 Assists

This line, no matter who is on it, has produced roughly the same amount of goals each month (7, 8, 8), but given the number of games played this represents a decline (0.70, 0.66, 0.61). A couple of things should spring out at you immediately: why weren’t Balcers and Batherson stapled to the top line (Mann’s quirk with the latter is something I called out last time)? Yes, Carey also plays the left side, but he can play center. Secondly, what is Chase Balisy doing anywhere near a scoring line? He received the more TOI this month than any other and produced his worst results–he cannot center a line that needs to score. I’ll note that I said in my November review that Balcers numbers would rebound, and they have.

Second Line (10 goals)
Balcers (7-13) 3 Goals, 2 Assists
Brown (7-13) Goal, 4 Assists
Tambellini (5-13) 2 Assists
Luchuk (4-8)
Batherson (3-6) 2 Assists
Rodewald (3-8) Goal, 2 Assists
Balisy (3-13)
McCormick (2-6) Goal, Assist
Carey (1-9) Goal, Assist
Paul (1-1) Assist
Leier (1-8)
Lindberg (1-8)
Sturtz (1-6)

Production from this line has been steadily improving (4, 8, 10; 0.40, 0.66, 0.77), but this is largely a product of putting first-line players on the second-line. What stands out are the players that don’t belong here: Balisy, Luchuk, Leier–the first and third have no business in the top-six, while the rookie isn’t ready for prime time yet.

Third Line (4 goals)
LaBate (7-13) Goal
Balisy (6-13) Assist
Gagne (5-11) Assist
Luchuk (3-8) 2 Goals
McCormick (3-6) Assist
Sturtz (2-6) Assist
Tambellini (2-13)
Rodewald (2-8)
Leier (2-8)
Brown (1-13)
Ciampini (1-5)
Auger (1-2)
Sexton (1-1)

An ineffective line all season (3, 5, 4; 0.30, 0.41, 0.31). I have no idea why LaBate plays so much here–we can argue all day about the other things he brings to the game, but he’s sitting at a miserly 0.17 points-per-game–that’s a player who should worry about being scratched, not centering the third line. I brought up this issue last month as well, but Mann’s affection for him is a hard thing to overcome. With the two centers for the line being ice cold (Balisy is the other) there’s no surprise that no one, other than Luchuk, accomplished anything here.

Fourth Line (3 goals)
Beauchemin (7-7)
Gagne (6-11) Assist (Goal)
LaBate (6-13) Goal
Leier (5-8) Assist
Lindberg (4-8) Goal
Ciampini (4-5) Goal
Sturtz (3-6)
McCormick (1-6)
Luchuk (1-8)
Auger (1-2)

Not much is expected offensively from a fourth line and that’s what’s been delivered (4, 2, 3; 0.40, 0.16, 0.23). Beauchemin played himself out of the line–his early season production does indeed seem to have been a fluke. It’s a strange assortment of players being put here–a mix of those with some talent and those with none. This should be the place for Mann to dump his checkers, but he can’t bring himself to do so consistently.

I referenced the line juggling above: this didn’t occur very often with the forwards, but especially as the month progressed players like Lindberg would sometimes barely play–some time on the PP, but not much else–with that spot on the roster taken by someone like McCormick or what have you.

(There’s a penalty shot goal from Rodewald not included above, as well as three other goals whose forward groups were a complete mishmash of players that couldn’t be reduced to a line–these are goals by Lindberg during a 4-on-4, and Sturtz and Leier during some rare juggling by Mann)


(Notes in brackets are points when not on the ice with the usual partner for that game; this doesn’t include OT goals)

Top-pairing (13 goals)
Burgdoerfer (9-9) Goal, Assist
Wolanin (8-8) 4 Assists
Sieloff (6-10) Assist
Percy (1-13)
Carlisle (1-3) Assist
Racine (1-5)

The production from the first unit was similar to November (16), with a slight drop due to the absence of Wolanin for part of the month (despite missing games he still easily lead players in production). I want to point out that neither Racine nor Carlisle played consistently on the top-unit when they appeared here and that’s a positive (they shouldn’t be exposed that way regardless).

Second-pairing (9 goals)
Elliott (8-8) Goal, Assist
Percy (7-13) Goal, 2 Assists
Englund (7-13)
Murray (2-3)
Sieloff (1-10)
Racine (1-5)

This is also consistent production vs November (8). Percy enjoyed a very productive month and did so playing his usual minutes (all that production came alongside either Elliott or Sieloff). Why Englund is here is hard to fathom, but it is worth noting that for the first time this season Mann would slide the big Swede down to third-pairing minutes, especially if the team needed offense. This is a welcome change. I don’t think I need to say anything about Racine being placed here–the point is obvious.

Third-pairing (6 goals)
Bergman (6-6)
Englund (6-13) 2 Assists (Goal)
Percy (5-13) 2 Assists
Sieloff (3-10) Assist
Racine (3-5)
Carlisle (2-3)
Murray (1-3)

This is a significant bump in production, but much of that is due to the prolonged amount of time Percy spent as part of this unit. I keep waiting for Englund‘s offensive ‘explosion’ to simmer down–regress to the mean–but at least for two months he’s clicking along at a pace that’s good for what he does.

I touched on the line juggling above, but to reiterate: regardless of the combinations Mann leans heavily on core players for minutes–PercyElliottSieloffBurgdoerfer, and Wolanin. Other defensemen will lose shifts depending on the situation. This kind of flexibility was not apparent earlier in the year and, to some extent at least, is a welcome change.


After a disastrous November where Gustavsson struggled with the starting role, Hogberg returned from injury and brought relief. While the younger Swede finished with a better winning record, there’s no question that Hogberg was the superior goaltender. Both were pulled once, but this is the most consistent we’ve seen Hogberg since he came to North America. It seems unlikely that he’ll maintain such a solid save percentage with the anemic defense in front of him, but as long as it doesn’t fall too much we can consider his season a success. As for Gustavsson, he seems to have recovered his confidence and I expect his numbers to continue to improve. All things considered, the BSens struggles are not a result of goaltending in December.

Special Teams – The Powerplay

Despite a great deal of tinkering, particularly on the second unit, the overall numbers remained about even (ie, near the bottom of the league). As I pointed out last timeBatherson‘s presence makes all the difference (6-28, 21.4% with him in the lineup, and 3-22, 13.6% without, which is just as anemic as in November in the same circumstance). I don’t know why a talented player like Sturtz doesn’t get more opportunities, but Mann is clearly out of patience with Gagne. Here are the raw scoring numbers:

Carey, Balcers 5
Rodewald, Percy 3
Wolanin, McCormick, Tambellini, Elliott 2
Batherson, Brown, Murray 1

Here’s the scoring by specific units (shift count included; arranged by goals/effectiveness):

1st: Carey-Brown-Rodewald/Percy-Balcers 3-5
2nd: Carey-Luchuk-Rodewald/Percy-Tambellini 1-2
2nd: Tambellini-Luchuk-McCormick/Rodewald-Elliott 1-3
2nd: McCormick-Luchuk-Tambellini/Percy-Elliott 1-4
1st: Balcers-Brown-Carey/Wolanin-Batherson 2-10
1st: Balcers-Brown-Batherson/Percy-Wolanin 1-6
1st: Carey-Balisy-Brown/Balcers-Wolanin 0-9
1st: Balcers-Paul-Rodewald/Percy-Carey 0-5
2nd: Tambellini-Sexton-Brown/Chlapik-Bergman 0-4
2nd: Tambellini-Luchuk-Rodewald/Percy-Elliott 0-4
1st: McCormick-Brown-Batherson/Balcers-Wolanin 0-3
2nd: Lindberg-Luchuk-Tambellini/Percy-Carlisle 0-3
2nd: Auger-Luchuk-Lindberg/Percy-Tambellini 0-3
1st: Balcers-Balisy-Auger/Brown-Wolanin 0-2
1st: Balcers-Brown-Batherson/Percy-Tambellini 0-2
2nd: McCormick-Balisy-Tambellini/Murray-Elliott 0-2
2nd: Lindberg-Luchuk-Gagne/Percy-Tambellini 0-2
2nd: McCormick-Lindberg-Sturtz/Murray-Bergman 0-2
1st: Balcers-Balisy-Tambellini/Brown-Wolanin 0-1
1st: Balcers-Luchuk-Brown/Percy-Wolanin 0-1
2nd: McCormick-Lindberg-Sturtz/Murray-Elliott 0-1
2nd: Carey-Luchuk-Rodewald/Burgdoerfer-Elliott 0-1
2nd: Carey-Luchuk-Rodewald/Tambellini-Elliott 0-1
2nd: Rodewald-Lindberg-Sturtz/Percy-Elliott 0-1
2nd: Carey-Balisy-Leier/Tambellini-Wolanin 0-1
2nd: Auger-Luchuk-Gagne/Lindberg-Tambellini 0-1
2nd: Tambellini-Balisy-Gagne/Elliott-Bergman 0-1
2nd: Tambellini-Sexton-Brown/Chlapik-Murray  0-1

Just like in November (but unlike October), it’s a bewildering number of combinations, albeit much more confined to tinkering with the second unit. What about individual performance irrespective of line? Here are their percentages via per-shift (increases/decreases noted in either red or blue where applicable; bracketed are first/second unit shifts):

Burgdoerfer 1-1 100% (0/1)*
Rodewald 5-22 22.7% (10/12) +15.3%
Murray 1-6 16.6% (0/6)* +11.4%
Percy 6-38 15.8% (19/19) +2.0%
Carey 5-34 14.7% (29/5) +4.5%
Batherson 3-21 14.3% (21/0) -0.7%
Balcers 6-44 13.6% (44/0) +5.5%
Brown 6-44 13.6% (39/5) +7.2%
McCormick 2-15 13.3% (3/12)
Luchuk 3-25 12.0% (1/24)
Elliott 2-18 11.1% (0/18)
Wolanin 3-33 9.1% (32/1) -1.3%
Tambellini 2-35 5.7% (3/32) -12.0%
Carlisle 0-3 (0/3)
Sturtz 0-4 (0/4)
Gagne 0-4 (0/4) -22.2%
Paul 0-5 (4/1) -6.0%
Sexton 0-5 (1/4) -11.3%
Chlapik 0-5 (0/5) -9.6%
Auger 0-6 (2/4)
Bergman 0-7 (0/7)
Lindberg 0-13 (0/13)
Balisy 0-16 (12/4) -4.7%
*Both players on-ice success came during player changes, so not part of their assigned lines

Sample size plays a large role in many of these numbers, but it’s also due to how few penalties the team draws (they’ve dropped from 4.75 powerplays-per-game in November to 3.84). Other things that stand out: what’s Auger doing on the powerplay (much lest the first unit)? Why was Balisy on the first unit at all? And let’s keep McCormick off the top line–the devastation he caused last year in that position is still a painful memory. While the second unit is never going to score as much as the first, I think the constant meddling makes it almost impossible for there to be any kind of consistency–I’d rather Mann use set lines and stick with them for awhile.

Special Teams – The Penalty Kill

Down down down goes the penalty kill–80.4%, 76.4%, to 74.4%. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: special teams are where a coach makes the most impact and this isn’t pretty. Here are the various forward combinations (arranged by volume):

Carey-Balisy 25-25
Balcers-LaBate 19-21
Balcers-Balisy 15-16
Balcers-Chlapik 8-9
McCormick-Balisy 7-8
LaBate-Sturtz 6-6
LaBate-Balisy 3-5
Balisy-Sturtz 4-4
LaBate-Rodewald 4-4
Balisy-Leier 4-4
LaBate-Beauchemin 3-3
Carey-LaBate 3-3
Balisy-Rodewald 2-3
Sexton 2-2
Carey-Rodewald 1-2
Brown-Batherson 1-1
LaBate-Sturtz 1-1
Rodewald-Sturtz 1-1
Carey-Beauchemin 1-1
McCormick-LaBate 1-1
LaBate-Leier 1-1
Balcers-Sturtz 1-1
Balcers-Carey 1-1
Beauchemin-Balisy 1-1
McCormick-Luchuk 1-1
McCormick-Carey 1-1
Beauchemin-Leier 1-1
LaBate-Sexton 1-1
Paul-Rodewald 1-1
Paul-Chlapik 1-1
Carey 1-1
Luchuk-Balisy 0-1
Sturtz-Leier 0-1
Luchuk 0-1

In my experience there’s always more variety on the PK than the PP, but this exceeds even what we saw in November. It’s easy for a player’s actual ability to be masked by a partner, which is why I look at individual shift count numbers (yearly totals in brackets with differences from November in red or blue if changed and in italics if the sample size was small):

Beauchemin 6-6 100% even (26-26)
Sexton 3-3 100% traded (39-42)
Paul 2-2 100% +3.5% (34-37)
Brown 1-1 100%
Batherson 1-1 100%
Carey 34-35 97.1% +4.3% (99-105)
Balisy 47-50 94.0% +4.5% (164-177)
McCormick 11-12 91.6%
LaBate 42-46 91.3% +2.2% (124-136)
Chalpik 9-10 90.0% +18.6% (16-21)
Balcers 58-65 89.2% +1.7% (65-74)
Sturtz 13-15 86.6% -5.0% (24-27)
Leier 6-7 85.7%
Rodewald 9-11 81.8% -4.4% (71-81)
Luchuk 1-3 33.3%

The sample size at the top is too small to be significant, so the list truly starts with Carey (who was excellent and has been all season). Looking at these numbers nearly all seem to be going up, so why is the PK going down? Well, it only went down marginally, but with that said, those players at the bottom truly tanked the number. I think Sturtz suffered some bad luck, but otherwise the bottom three players struggled (Luchuk‘s brief tenure was simply to win faceoffs–that experiment did not last long). Rodewald, as I’ve brought up before, is a below average PKer and Mann seems to have finally recognized this (much as Kurt Kleinendorst did last year)–cutting both his shift count and putting him on as the second or third rotation. What Boston Leier is doing on this list is beyond me. Incidentally, let’s add some context to those Balisy numbers: take away his time with Carey and Balcers and suddenly he’s just 7-9 (77.7%). This is something that was apparent in November, but I did not point it out then. Speaking of Balcers, let me credit Mann: I questioned putting him on the PK, but he is improving far more than I would have guessed. Moving on to the blueline:

Sieloff-Burgdoerfer 20-23
Sieloff-Percy 11-12
Englund-Elliott 7-8
Percy-Burgdoerfer 6-7
Englund-Percy 6-6
Englund-Burgdoerfer 5-6
Sieloff-Elliott 5-5
Englund-Racine 4-5
Percy-Elliott 4-4
Englund-Percy 4-4
Englund-Sieloff 4-4
Englund-Murray 3-4
Wolanin-Elliott 2-2
Englund-Bergman 2-2
Percy-Murray 1-1
Sieloff-Racine 1-1
Percy-Wolanin 1-1
Englund-Wolanin 1-1
Murray-Elliott 1-1
Murray-Burgdoerfer 0-1
Englund-Sturtz 0-1*
Englund 0-1
* during a change Englund was the only defensemen on

The large number of combinations are partially Mann’s doing–smacking, perhaps, of desperation. Let’s look at individual shift count numbers (yearly totals in brackets with differences from October in red or blue if changed and italics if the sample size was small):

Wolanin 4-4 100% even
Bergman 2-2 100% +4.6% (40-44)
Elliott 19-20 95.0%
Percy 29-31 93.5% +27.5% (61-69)
Sieloff 41-45 91.1% +5.4% (158-176)
Englund 36-42 85.7% -4.6% (108-122)
Burgdoerfer 31-37 83.7% -9.1% (94-105)
Racine 5-6 83.3% -4.2% (12-14)
Murray 5-7 71.4% -20.1% (67-76)

Unlike the forwards above there’s a much larger split in those improving and those who did not. I’ve long been suspicious of Burgdoerfer‘s effectiveness on the PK and he struggled mightily in that capacity (from memory at least two of the six goals against were a direct result of him turning it over). Clearly Elliott (small sample size, admittedly) and Sieloff are providing consistent performances, but things start to wobble after that. Englund, despite all the org’s praise of his defensive abilities, has never had good PK numbers, but what else are you going to do with him? I have no idea what Murray is doing on this list, but the org isn’t rational about him in any context.

Concluding Thoughts

Let’s start off with me eating some crow: Rodewald‘s success has lasted longer than I expected (and longer than his pro career suggests). I still feel like the bottom is going to fall out, and while he’s benefiting both from usage/teammates and the percentages, I have to credit the guy for what has been a very consistent streak of productivity. I’m happy to see Hogberg playing better this year–he suffered a barrage of criticism in his rookie year that I think was above and beyond what was deserved. As for coaching, Mann is still showing signs of player favoritism that is not justified by the numbers. Guys like LaBateLeierBeauchemin (before his demotion), RacineAuger–the ‘rough around the edges’ players whose production is never there–receive far more ice time than makes any sense. There’s no room for them to develop and they don’t help the team win. I want to see more talented players given more opportunity to succeed–give them genuine opportunities for success before dumping them into the Bergman dead zone. The team isn’t making the playoffs and it’s a development league, so rather than third-line minutes for guys who throw the occasionally hit, let the skilled players play. This is a mantra I’ve had for years–going back through Kleinendorst to Luke Richardson–if you aren’t going to win you need to do something productive and guys like Sturtz sweating it out on the fourth line isn’t going to tell you much.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)



  1. Re: player usage and organizational bias…
    A while back, while pondering Michel Bergevin’s largely incomprehensible moves as GM of the Habs, it struck me that Bergevin clearly favored the type of player that he, himself, once was; i.e. a hard-working, marginally talented depth guy.
    When you look at the majority, the overwhelming majority, of players who have transitioned into coaching or managerial roles the same thing holds true – they are overwhelmingly 3/4th liners or 6/7 D men, or they are the classic tweeners that our own beloved Sens seem so enamored of, not good enough for the NHL…and, if we’re being honest, not really very good in the AHL either.
    Troy Mann spent 10 years as a minor league pro; who do you suppose he relates to more: a plugger like McCormick or someone like Balcers or Batherson….a fancy-pants goal-scorin’ type?
    The AHL is supposed to be a development league, yet coaches like Mann and Kleinendorst and Richardson get away with player usage that does very little to prepare the best players for the NHL. Hardly surprising though, when the parent GM is probably someone who didn’t even make it to minor pro status.
    The NHL is one of the most blatant old-boy networks still in existence; that the owners, who see millions of their dollars flow down the drain because of the idiotic mistakes these nepotists make over and over again, put up with this boggles the mind – if they ran their core businesses the way their GM’s run their hockey teams they’d be bankrupt in a month.
    Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see Dorion hire a coach with brilliant new ideas on how to develop the teams future stars, rather than yet another ‘good guy’ who’s ‘paid his dues’ blah, blah, blah?
    Another great column, keep up the good work 🙂

    • Excellent point and I completely agree. Unfortunately, Dorion embraces the exact same philosophy and, judging by his hires, so does Melnyk in his capacity as owner, so I don’t think a change is likely until the man at the top is gone. Until then whatever prospects the Sens get that turn out are purely based on scouting and/or good fortune. I do want to add: the org also likes the familiar–in almost any capacity. It’s been odd to see how many assets they’ve brought back over the years (Andre Benoit, Tobias Lindberg, Chris Kelly, etc)–this includes players who aren’t judge muckers.

  2. […] Belleville Senators: December Review […]

  3. […] he was 14-0-0-0, his worst stretch of the season); for those hoping he’s good on the PK, he’s notMacoy Erkamps ECHL -> traded (0.16)Yet another CHL FA boondoggle; he was dumped on Pittsburgh in […]

  4. […] Needless to say most of these estimations were overly optimistic, as Englund struggles to be an effective AHL defensemen, much less an NHL blueliner. The org still likes him, but that’s purely because of his physicality. His zone exists are either lobbing grenades up the ice or pounding the puck off the boards–in both cases forwards are forced to adjust to prevent turnovers because he simply can’t make a pass; his supposed defensive acumen is overblown, so other than his physical play he doesn’t excel at anything (including the PK). […]

  5. […] There are only three natural centers in the group (Pinto, Kastelic, and Bishop), so looking at the various wingers who play center I’m guessing Shaw is moved to make room for the rightwing prospects who need the ice time. I’m guessing Aberg will play the right side given that he’s righthanded and wasn’t brought in to sit on the third line. If Pinto isn’t here than either Agozzino shifts to center or Bishop slides up (despite his lack of talent) and Kelly moves over. Otherwise I think there will be at least one veteran player on each of the top-three lines. The blueline combos are much less certain, but are placed roughly in terms of assumed talent–it’s likely there will be juggling to see who works best with whom (cf). […]

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