Sens at the Trade Deadline

I went over the Duchene trade right after it happened, but the dealing wasn’t done and I wanted review the rest of what Pierre Dorion accomplished. We’ll go from the smallest to largest trades:

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Patrick Sieloff (AHL 45-1-8-9) to Anaheim for Brian Gibbons (NHL 44-2-3-5)

Spare part for spare part, but Sieloff (acquired from Calgary in the Chiasson trade) is a dead end player–probably best known for essentially ending Clarke MacArthur’s career. He peaked as a prospect with the Flames; a solid PKer with no offensive abilities and term left on his deal (I mentioned in the off-season that re-signing him was a mistake). In Gibbons the Sens acquired an undrafted, 31-year old college grad whose performance has been in decline for quite some time–a spare part the team isn’t committed too.

Assessment: It’s a good move–there’s simply no room for Sieloff on the BSens roster, so keeping him would be pointless.

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Ryan Dzingel (57-22-22-44) and a 2019 7th to Columbus for Anthony Duclair (53-11-8-19) and two 2nds (2020, 2021)

I was surprised how happy most Sens fans were waiving goodbye to Dzingel; Nichols broke down the stats for Dzingel, but not Duclair in his analysis, which was disappointing (you can find that info here). The consensus seems to be that Dzingel has been benefiting from linemates and a high shooting percentage, and that, even if Duclair (whose rights the Sens control at season’s end) bombs out, they have two picks to play with.

Assessment: Duclair does not replace Dzingel, so despite the latter’s expiring contract the trade boils down to the picks. We have a limited track record for Dorion’s 2nd-rounders: his first (Gabriel Gagne) was an expensive bust, the second (Jonathan Dahlen) was traded away for Alex Burrows–since then there’s been a declining perception of his potential. Fans are happy with Alex Formenton (concerns about his offensive potential remain), but it’s far too early to judge Jonny Tychonick. It’s safe to say none of the first three players is Dzingel’s equivalent, although one can certainly hope for Tychonick. If either future pick turns out to be a good player, this is a win–if not, the trade isn’t terrible since Dzingel is a rental, but it’s still not value-for-value.

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Mark Stone (59-28-34-62) and Tobias Lindberg (AHL 44-5-7-12) to Las Vegas for Erik Brannstrom (AHL 41-7-21-28), Oscar Lindberg (35-4-8-12), and Dallas’ 2020 2nd-rounder.

There’s no question Vegas got the best player, although they need to re-sign him to get the most out of the trade. Lindberg is an unremarkable player on an expiring contract, so it’s really down to the pick (see above for Dorion’s 2nds) and Brannstrom. The Swede (1-15/17) was highly touted going into his draft, but concerns about his size pinned him to the middle of the first round. The question that is yet unanswered is what his offensive potential will be at the NHL-level

Assessment: If Brannstrom is as Pronman suggests (the link)–an all-around top-four blueliner–that’s a very weak return for a player like Mark Stone. The Sens really need to maximize the pick as well as get a lot from Brannstrom to make this trade tolerable.

One of the most interesting things to me from the slate of recent moves is that Dorion has acquired a lot of smaller players. I applaud the change, as the Sens have notoriously overvalued bigger players. With that said, let’s combine the various component parts of all these deals:

Erik Brannstrom (1-15/17; ELC, AHL)
Vitali Abramov (3-65/16; ELC, AHL)
Jonathan Davidsson (6-170/17; ELC, SHL)
Anthony Duclair (3-80/13; upcoming RFA)
Oscar Lindberg (27; expiring contract)
Brian Gibbons (31; expiring contract)
1st – 2019 (Clb)*
2nd – 2020 (Clb, Dal), 2021 (Clb)

Julius Bergman (23, expiring contract)
Tobias Lindberg (23, expiring contract)
Patrick Sieloff (24, signed for 19/20)
Mark Stone (26, expiring contract)
Ryan Dzingel (26, expiring contract)
Matt Duchene (28, expiring contract)
7th (2019)

*There are a billion conditions on this one, but this is the most likely result

The Sens have collected a lot of assets–three prospects and a young player whose rights they control, along with four high (but not top) picks. Abstractly this would be great, but they are losing two first-line forwards along with a player who has at least produced in the top-six. There’s nothing on their plate that replaces that nor are their picks so high that you can be sure such replacements are coming. Could the org package some of these picks to move up, like they did for Gabriel Gagne or Matt Puempel? Of course, but from those examples we can see that there are no guarantees.

I said on trade day that I thought Dorion lost all three trades–I may have been a little harsh–but on the scale of quality vs quality, all are absolutely losses in the short term and the odds suggest that the Sens will never get equal value back in the long term either. It’s admittedly not that simple–the Sens painted themselves into a corner with three players who were going to walk, so given the circumstances it’s not a terrible return. However, this position–top players on expiring contracts who will walk–is the scenario Dorion put himself in. The Melnykian budget isn’t new or a surprise; the scenario of the Sens bottoming out and needing a rebuild was foreseen by some of us long ago. In essence, the org is the one who put a gun to its head. It all boils down to Dorion habitually overvaluing the talent on hand (along with some fundamental misunderstandings of the modern game).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)



You Deserve Better

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Two days ago Ian Mendes said something that I’ve been saying about the local press since I started blogging, “As a broadcasting partner, we’re doing them a disservice by enabling them” (in the thread a fan said Mendes told him off for echoing this two years ago, but even if it took Ian a long time to come to this realization I welcome him). While the slant above is different, Mendes’ made a similar statement just six months ago when he told fans “You deserve better,” but I don’t think that comment resonated as much then and I think the reason for that is the hardcore fans are only now just waking up to the fact to how incompetent the org is (admittedly Dave still wants to put all the blame on the ownership). One of the key problems is summed up by Nichols when he says that the org has never accepted responsibility for its mistakes, instead blaming the fans and media. This echoes another of my common refrains–Randy Lee might have been the most overt “It’s everyone else’s fault!” guy in the org.

It’s not difficult to either obfuscate the situation or simply look at it and draw the wrong conclusion–Flat Earthers never quite see the curve on the horizon. For Varada, everything looks pretty flat to him:

“Teams that are lucky enough to draft good players, and lucky enough to develop them into good players, and lucky enough to still have them on their roster in their prime do not typically trade those players unless it’s for other players with the same or higher potential.”

It would not surprise me if the org shares this belief, but the idea that luck is the only factor when it comes to drafting and developing is simply nonsense (entering Milkman territory)–the same applies to GMs peddling away assets. ‘Luck’ is how you abdicate responsibility–suddenly Fate is dictating events rather than the human decisions behind them. Funnily enough, even though Varada gives the org a free pass for their many painful mistakes, he still arrives at the conclusion across the fanbase that things are as bad as they’ve ever been.

I want to give Chris Stevenson credit for having a better grasp of the big picture than Pierre Dorion when he says he’d rather Drake Batherson and Logan Brown remain in Belleville to help that team play meaningful games. This would have been the perfect time for the org to call-up players with no future like Adam Tambellini or Darren Archibald–leaving the excellent prospects to reward the fans in Belleville.

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So what do I think about the trade? Pierre Dorion has a horrendous track record when it comes to trades (something acknowledged here by including Julius Bergman as part of it–an asset he’d just acquired in the disastrous Mike Hoffman deal who spent his time in Belleville in Troy Mann’s dog house), but we have to judge each trade by its own particulars.

To Columbus
Matt Duchene (expiring contract, 49-27-31-58)
Julius Bergman (expiring contract, 33-0-6-6)

Duchene is in the midst of a career year undoubtedly boosted by having Mark Stone on the team; he was never going to re-sign with Ottawa because he wants to play on a contender, so moving him was inevitable. Bergman is in the midst of a career worst season in the AHL, granted that he’s been given no opportunity with Belleville.

To Ottawa
Conditional 2019 1st-round pick (if it’s a top-three pick it reverts to Columbus); conditional 2020 1st-round pick (triggers if Duchene re-signs a long-term extension); if the 2019 pick is protected, but Duchene re-signs, Ottawa gets a 2021 1st-rounder
Vitali Abramov (3-65/16 rookie ELC AHL 52-12-10-22)
Jonathan Davidsson (6-170/17 ELC SHL 35-10-10-20)

Both tangible assets are prospects, so what are the Sens getting? Abramov was projected as a late first-rounder, but size pushed him down to the third-round; overager Davidsson was not projected to be picked in his draft. What did scouts have to say about them?

Abramov is smaller than the org usually likes (5’9), although we’ve seen a gradual shift away from the “Big is Better” philosophy with the FA signings of Aaron Luchuk and Andrew Sturtz. He was highly touted in his draft year, with the emphasis on his offensive production. The concerns were the usual ones for offensive and smaller players: he needed to work on his defensive play and to bulk up. So what about the context of his rookie season? He played on the offensively challenged Cleveland Monsters (lead by former NHLer Nathan Gerbe), where he was eighth among forwards in scoring. The Monsters are a bad team that has continually struggled offensively under coach John Madden (who has yet to make the playoffs in three seasons). I doubt Abramov was receiving a ton of ice time, but with that said his numbers are simply average for a player of his pedigree as a rookie–we have to lean on the scouting reports until we’ve seen him in action for awhile.

I only have one scouting report on Davidsson (from Hockey Prospects), who landed on their radar after a good rookie season in the SHL and participating in the U20 camp that year. They thought he was a pass-first, offensively focused player who makes good decisions, but who needed work on his defensive play, was weak in one-on-one battles, and whose production was a bit lower than expected for the kind of player he is. Davidsson was signed, but loaned back to Djurgardens where he’s essentially at the same pace as his previous season; he’s sixth among forwards in scoring, with Djurgardens generally struggling to score. There’s nothing currently that suggests Davidsson has outgrown the general scouting sentiment when he was picked and he’s a long shot to develop into a productive NHL-player.

In the end this trade is about the picks (likely just one pick this year) and Abramov. Ottawa needs one of those assets to be a very good player or else they haven’t maximized their asset–the price to acquire Duchene in the first place (possibly the first pick overall) can never be fully recouped, but they need something important in the pipeline to avoid it being an unmitigated disaster.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Pierre McGuire and the Sound of Silence

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On Wednesday, January 30th, Olympic gold medalist Kendall Coyne Schofield was broadcasting on NBC with Pierre McGuire. This is notable to a degree, but isn’t the usual kind of ‘first’ that would trend in the news cycle since Cassie Campbell-Pascall has been calling games since 2006. So why am I talking about it? Pierre McGuire did what he does best by acting like he’d missed the last thirty years (something echoed in his hockey opinions, incidentally). His antics briefly trended on Twitter and lead to articles from the CBC, Globe and Mail, The Athletic, and on and on (as one would expect), but with no real consequences (an expected apology and that’s it).

Everyone who reads this blog is aware of both the event and the coverage, so why bring it up here? It isn’t that the event itself is surprising (sadly), or that the coverage from the media was unusual, or that Schofield let McGuire off the hook (I have no doubt she wishes to continue calling games for NBC). What did surprise me is the utter radio silence from the Ottawa blogging community (something I brought up at the time). All I can find is silence. You can work your way through the entire Sens blogging community and there’s nothing there–from The Silver Seven, The 6th Sens (which I think Nichols is letting die–nothing posted since November?), Senchirp, Senshot, WTYKY (a name change any time soon guys?), etc. I find this enormously puzzling, particularly with McGuire remaining a regular on Ottawa radio. I don’t have to go back that far (2015) to find WTYKY’s Andrew reading the riot act about behaviour from those involved with the league and his sentiments are hardly unique to him.

I have no conclusion to this. I’ve talked to a few people and the summary is simply: they didn’t notice it wasn’t covered. Are we simply at a point where this is expected of McGuire? Is it simple indifference? I really don’t know, but I bring it to you to share my puzzlement.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)