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)