Senators News & Notes

Best Hockey Smiles: Bobby Clarke - YouTube

One thing that’s been clear about the org since Trent Mann was promoted in 2017 is, above and beyond seeking certainty over potential, looking for character and truculence. We can (and I do) make fun of the latter–something I associate with Brian Burke and an approach that failed him after its solitary success with Anaheim in 2007 (a team largely built by his predecessors, Al Coates and Bryan Murray). Putting aside its efficacy, what I do think drafting and trading for players like this does is appeal to the fanbase–not casual fans (who are interested in wins and scoring)–but the hardcore. In a strong hockey market, focusing on these fans is a bit like MMO’s targeting whales–the big spenders, the people who commit. To that end, I think it’s a good economic strategy. The concern that remains is production–they can agitate, they can hit, but can they score? It remains an open question.

Jake Sanderson Hockey Stats and Profile at hockeydb.com

When you go against the grain there’s always resistance. I’ve briefly discussed the high opinion (shared by the org) of Jake Sanderson and I think my comments have been misunderstood by some. I compared him to players like Lassi Thomson and Jacob Bernard-Docker, not because I think they are literally the same kind of player, but in reference to the potential they were given by scouts when drafted (there’s rarely universal agreement and you can see the opposite opinion here, but I mean the consensus of what I’ve seen). All three prospects had worries about their offensive upside and were slotted as top-four blueliners–that’s all I meant by the comparison. This isn’t my opinion of the player (I’ve haven’t seen any of them play), but a reflection of worries held by scouts–that doesn’t make them right, it’s simply food for thought. Does Sanderson have more potential than the other two? I would hope so, because he was picked far higher in the draft (meaning his talent is considered better), but that wasn’t the point. I’d like nothing better than the guy to be a hall of fame defenseman for Ottawa, but the org habitually over praises their prospects (Jared Cowen comes to mind–someone we now know was riding the coattails of Jared Spurgeon), so I take a wait-and-see approach.

While it’s clear the Sens want to move Logan Brown (something that may prove impossible), more and more I wonder if the same fate awaits Erik Brannstrom. There’s no chance at that they want Brannstrom and Mete in the lineup at the same time, so either the former is intended for the BSens or will get traded (perhaps in an effort to fill one of Pierre McGuire’s 7-man formula).

Speaking of the BSens, one of the fascinating things about the upcoming season is how much the team’s success will depend on their record against just four teams. While almost 70% of their season is played within their division, most of that will be taken up by Laval and Toronto (each 12 games), and Syracuse and Rochester (8 games each). That’s 40 of 72 games (55%). When it comes time to preview the BSens, I’ll take a look at what’s expected for those teams as well.

Scoring in the NHL has started to increase the last four years [based, it seems, on coaching more than anything else], which is an obvious good thing after remaining stagnant for seven (an unprecedented length of time in the NHL to lack variation). This small change comes long after other major leagues took steps to ensure their own games became more entertaining. With that said, it remains below where it needs to be, still lagging behind all historical eras save the primordial pre-Original Six (specifically 23-24 to 40-41). The ten highest scoring games in NHL history are within a twenty-year period (1977-1996), with nine of them ten in the first half of that; the most points recorded in a season stretch from the 70-71 to 95-96, again clustering from the late 70s into the early 90s. This isn’t to say the NHL needs to consistently hit the highs of that era, but a league where major records can’t be challenged has no chance of breaking through the static of the other high profile sports they compete with (outside the homerun chases in the 90s, the MLB has been sliding towards oblivion for decades, cf). Where is the sweet spot for hockey? It’s hard to say, but let’s look at the numbers:
Original Six (42-43 to 66-67) 2.93
Expansion (68-69 to 78-79) 2.96 (+0.03)
1980s to Pre-Lockout (79-80 to 93-94) 3.71 (+0.75)
Dead Puck Era (94-95 to 03-04) 2.76 (-0.95)
Post Lockout Era (05-06 to present) 2.85 (+0.09)
The first era was long enough that it has its own internal structure, with higher scoring both at the beginning and end, with a ten-year long Dead Puck Era of its own (from 48-49 to 57-58). The actual high point is 1981-82 (not for the league however, as 43-44 holds that record for the eras we’re sampling). The most popular time for hockey was during the 70s and 80s and, despite continual expansion, the NHLs unwillingness to open the game up has lead to it sinking back down into a regional phenomena heavily impacted by winning. With only 50% of teams playoff bound (unlike the 66% in the Original Six or 76% of the 1980s), soft fanbases quickly checkout when their team is going nowhere–there are just so many other options for their entertainment dollars. I’m happy that the NHL is finally trending in the right direction, but entropy is a powerful force and I feel like a renewed slide towards low scoring affairs could be just around the corner.

HFBoards (@hfboards_) | Twitter

I’m surprised HFBoards is still around. A website from an Internet era of two decades earlier, many of the same people post on it and I suppose that fits the older demographic associated with sports. The boards are something that made an impact on me back when I started writing about hockey (for The Hockey Herald in 2007), although I rarely visited the site once I started writing here.

Atlanta Gladiators - Wikipedia

Another Atlanta signing, as goaltender Chris Nell has been signed. The 27-year old NCAA grad failed out of the Rangers organization as an FA-signing and has put up poor numbers in the ECHL.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

ROOKIE: Synonyms and Related Words. What is Another Word for ROOKIE? -  GrammarTOP.com

The rookie tournament is always fun and with the roster released we can take a peak at the ATOs included (one PTO as well). While it’s not often ATOs make their way into the org, it does happen from time-to-time (I’m excluding Xavier Bernard and Mitchell Hoelscher, because they have already signed an AHL-deal and you can find them here; I’m also excluding PTO Matthew Wedman, because he is on an ECHL-deal and you can find my blurb on him here):
Zachary Paputsakis, GL, DOB 2001, OHL Oshawa DNP (prior season .899)
The classic local kid; I think he’s simply a fresh body to help fill out the goaltending position for the tourney
Ty Hollett, DR, DOB 2003, CCHL Pembroke DNP (prior season 31-3-1-4)
Yet another local; as a big, righthand shot blueliner, he’s someone who will be given a lot of rope by scouts (presumably he’s headed to the NCAA); the Sens could have interest in him; no relation to former Sens pick Jordan btw
Ben Allison, LW, DOB 2002, QMJHL Acadie-Bathurst 33-9-18-27
From Halifax, but he spent a brief amount of time with Gatineau, so let’s call him local; the son of former Edmonton first round pick Scott (1990), there could be some interest (the Sens aren’t afraid of overage players and like skill from the Q)

This is largely just for fun–it’s unlikely any of these players will become significant pros even at the AHL-level–the Sens simply need bodies to fill out their lineup–but it’s interesting to see who the org brings in.

Ottawa Senators: Pierre Dorion's worst trades as general manager

The re-signed Pierre Dorion, echoing his owner, has declared the rebuild over (forced on the org in 2017, which is just six years after the Bryan Murray rebuild that began in 2011). The Sens now want to contend, so that means spending young assets to acquire proven commodities. Historically Dorion badly overpays, being an abysmal wheeler and dealer when it comes to pro assets (cf, he does better with prospects–the Sens amateur scouting has always been better than their pro scouting), so I’m expecting various painful deals to come (can he trade for Derick Brassard again?). Given that, don’t get too attached to talented prospects currently in the system (the muckers and grinders are, of course, safe). Surely Pierre McGuire’s 7-player profile is being considered for contending, and in July McGuire indicated the Sens were 3-players short of achieving that model. I’m not going to go over how little McGuire was regarded as an NHL coach, or his distrust of analytics (something he doesn’t actually understand–which fits the Sens org perfectly), because the reality is that he’s with the org and a major influence. Here’s what his model looks like:
-Two elite centermen (we know the Sens are seeking #2 and good luck with that)
-One power forward (presumably Tkachuk)
-One specialist forward–PP, PK, or faceoffs (this is such a vague criteria you have to question its worth)
-Elite puck-moving defenceman (presumably Chabot)
-Elite shutdown defenceman
-Elite goaltender (meant to be Murray)
Ian Mendes (link above) thinks Connor Brown is the specialist and that Jake Sanderson is the future shutdown D (anyone remember when Cody Ceci was going to be that guy?)–this is certainly Dorion’s opinion of the blueliner. If the Sens want to win now they can’t wait for Sanderson and acquiring three significant assets is very expensive–draft picks can cover some of the cost, but it means giving up well-regarded assets. The org would happily part with Logan Brown, but his value has never been lower. They also seem ready to give up on Erik Brannstrom, but it’s not clear his value is much better than Brown’s. There’s also the issue that very few teams trade elite players and that, when they do, it’s towards the end of their careers. While the Sens have plenty of cap space, they have an internal cap and I can’t see them getting any of the players that might spring to mind for these kinds of positions, so think tier-2 or tier-3 options for each of them (it’s unlikely they would acquire three such assets anyway–one for sure, but at most two).

The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of  Enron: McLean, Bethany, Elkind, Peter, Nocera, Joe: 8601200647976: Books -  Amazon.ca

One thing I should have brought up for context with draft coverage–the Sens believing they know better–is that this opinion is held (broadly) by every organization. Each group, be it an independent scouting service or particular teams, believe that their list is the list. We know from draft assessments that they are all wrong and statistically the picks that work out best are those that fit consensus views. A lot of fans who write about the teams tend to duck the potential flaws in the picks by saying either ‘time will tell’ or pointing to isolated successes in the past–I feel like this is mostly done in ignorance, but clearly some just don’t want to say anything negative.

Atlanta Gladiators - Wikipedia

We’ve had two Atlanta Gladiator signings since my post covering them:
Tyler Kobryn, 24, RW, with this being his second year as a pro (coming out of NCAA III, he played with Tulsa last season, 33-3-3-6)
Derek Topatigh, 24-25, DR, going into his second year as a pro (coming out of the NCAA, he spent most of last year in the SPHL)
Neither player is going to be on the BSens radar, barring an unexpected breakout at the ECHL-level.

Hive Mind - TV Tropes

This is just an observation about fan-coverage of the team: it’s blindingly homogeneous (exactly the same as MCU fandom). What’s interesting to me is this goes beyond the narrow range of the hobby and is echoed by political leanings–all the individuals seem to come from the same class and express the same views. It makes the coverage repetitive and shallow, as traditional media is already stuffed with this material. For me, Nichols (even if he seems to have shifted over to positivity these days–‘hey, it could work out’ seems to be his new maxim), Ary, and Travis Yost are who I consistently read. It seems like Colin Cudmore has also transitioned into this category (judging by how seriously he tackles prospect assessment), but I’m not familiar enough with his recent material to be sure (although I approve of the rigorous approach). I don’t read everything, so there are undoubtedly nuggets of good coverage scattered around the fandom, but I remain baffled by the large percentage of people who write about the sport without an angle or focus to make it stand out.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the Sens 2020 and 2021 Drafts

Let’s start off with the drafting philosophy with the advent of Trent Mann: take a sure thing with lower potential rather than take a risk and get nothing (you can read a poorly thought out fan iteration of this argument here). Let’s briefly put aside whether that’s a good idea or not and see how many ‘wins’ the team has had after the 2nd round since 2008 (the first draft controlled by Dorion and the first one where the Sens returned to trying to build through it)–we’ll look both at the high end players and the depth talent (excluding goaltenders because it doesn’t really apply), to see how either end of this philosophy has panned out (how the players are categorized is based on how scouts viewed them–going through 2010 you can see those assessments on this site, prior to that you’ll have to hunt a little harder; ‘winning’ is determined by NHL games played, cf, so it’s not an inherent assessment of their value as players).

Third Round
Talent (0-2)
Wins: None
Losses: Jarrod Maidens* (12), Miles Gendron (14)
Pluggers (1-2)
Wins: Zack Smith (08)
Losses: Jakub Culek (10)
*Maidens never played due to injury

Fourth Round
Talent (2-5)
Wins: Chris Wideman (10), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (12)
Losses: Andre Petersson (08), Tobias Lindberg (13), Todd Burgess (16)
Undetermined: Christian Wolanin (15)
Pluggers (2-5)
Wins: Derek Grant (08), Marcus Sorensen (10)
Losses: Timothy Boyle (12), Shane Eiserman (14), Filip Ahl (15)
Undetermined: Ben Harpur (13)

Fifth Round
Talent (1-2)
Wins: Mike Hoffman (09)
Losses: Robbie Baillargeon (12)
Undetermined: Maxime Lajoie (15)
Pluggers (1-4)
Wins: Mark Borowiecki (08)
Losses: Jeff Costello (09), Fredrik Claesson (11), Vince Dunn (13)
Undetermined: Christian Jaros (15)

Sixth Round
Talent (1-1)
Wins: Mark Stone (10)
Losses: None
Pluggers (0-6)
Wins: None
Losses: Corey Cowick (09), Darren Kramer (11), Max McCormick (11), Chris Leblanc (13), Quentin Shore (13), Markus Nurmi (16)

Seventh Round
Talent (1-7)
Wins: Ryan Dzingel (11)
Losses: Emil Sandin (08), Brad Peltz (09)*, Bryce Aneloski (10), Mikael Wikstrand (12)**, Kelly Summers (14), Francis Perron (14)
Pluggers (0-2)
Wins: None
Losses: Michael Sdao (09), Jordan Fransoo (11)
*There’s some indication that picking Peltz was a favour for Melnyk’s close friend (his father)
**Refused to play in the league

Total
Talent 5-17 (29%)
Pluggers 4-19 (21%)

What’s clear in the numbers is that the org (up through 2017) was no better at identifying quality pluggers than talent. Obviously some of the scouting staff has changed over the years (three remain from 08, one from 09), but certainly Dorion’s history doesn’t betray evidence to support the change in philosophy. I’ll also briefly touch on the goaltenders over this period:
Successes
Robin Lehner (09, 2nd round)
Failures
Francois Brassard (12, 6th round), Jordan Hollett (17, 6th round)
Uncertain
Chris Driedger (12, 3rd round), Marcus Hogberg (13, 3rd round),* Joey Daccord (15, 7th round)
*Given that he signed a four-year deal in Sweden it’s unlikely he’ll return to the league, but we don’t know the terms of the deal and goaltending careers are against the grain anyway, so for now he lands in the uncertain pile

Before we dive into the two drafts, let’s recall that the scouting consensus (so not the opinion of some, but the opinions of the vast majority of those paid to scout) is that the Sens left talent on the board when they made their picks–this isn’t a matter of debate or discussion, simply a fact, so the team is betting on the fact that they know better–do they? Time will tell, but not only does the past does not support that idea, it’s simply unlikely that Ottawa has better scouting acumen than the consensus overall.

Characters like Dean Brown and Gord Wilson are what make a city cool |  Ottawa Citizen

Let’s address a response to criticism of individual players (those drafted or playing) that I’ve heard from people like Gord Wilson and others: these players are better than you are, ergo STFU (the most recent comment was in reference to Scott Sabourin, if you’re wondering). I’ve heard this sentiment many times from people covering the team and it’s profoundly absurd. Hockey is entertainment run by a cartel–it’s not making the world a better place–and as such it relies on the investment of its fans–no one is as invested as someone frothing mad about how a player is performing. That passion doesn’t excuse poor behaviour, but Gord (& others) tends to associate any criticism as being uncalled for. Making assessments is human nature (how many voters actually understand what they are voting for or could hold a political position?). Discussion and opinion is not only a normal part of human behaviour, but absolutely necessary to keep the sport alive, so any attempt to kill it is inherently pernicious. Let’s wrap this up to point out that this kind of thing only comes up regarding good-in-the-corners, salt-of-the-earth players–criticizing those with skill is never called out or questioned. Why this is the case in hockey I have no idea (perhaps the long standing way of differentiating Canadian hockey from everywhere else has made it part of self-identification). During the dead puck era I think players like that were useful, as were enforcers when they were required, but now? It’s a terrible opinion, but I don’t expect it change.

Senators Draft Tim St├╝tzle Third Overall - Silver Seven

2020
1-3 Tim Stuetzle, C/LW, 6’0, Jan/02, DEL, 20-21 NHL 53-12-17-29
The pick was Ottawa’s via the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018. There are plenty of scouting reports to read about him (Pronman, Wheeler, summaries, etc) and with a full season in the NHL one can dig into his stats and have a good old time. He’s a skilled player, so of course I like the pick
1-5 Jake Sanderson, DL, 6’1, July/02, USDP, 20-21 NCAA 22-2-13-15
Son of former NHLer Geoff (who was one of the best skaters in the NHL); reading Pronman’s recent article that included him, he sounds like all the recent high Sens picks on the blueline: a lot of hustle, a lot of competitiveness, solid defensively, but with limited offense–you get the feeling Dorion/Mann are putting all their eggs in the Chabot basket to drive the play. My reaction to him is the same as the rest: show me at the pro level and I’ll become a believer
1-28 Ridly Greig, LW, 5’11, Aug/02, WHL, 20-21 21-10-22-32
The pick was Ottawa’s via the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade in 2020; he’s the son of former NHLer Mark; like Jarventie below, he’s among the youngest eligible selected; there were concerns about his ability to play disciplined hockey and his skating (cf), but the former seems to have improved; because of his age it’s either the WHL or NHL for him and I think the latter is what’s on the menu; given his size and style of play there has to be a concern about his body breaking down earlier in his career (he makes me think of 2011 pick Stefan Noesen)
2-33 Roby Jarventie, LW, 6’3, Aug/02, Ilves, 20-21 48-14-11-25
Son of former Liiga veteran Martti. There’s a good breakdown of him pre-draft from Ary and Colin which provides the proper context for him (among the youngest eligible for the draft, playing against men in the Mestis, being used as a third-liner and defensively while breaking the rookie scoring record, etc); we again have the concern about his skating, but Ottawa (long before Dorion) has always believed that’s fixable
2-44 Tyler Kleven, DL, 6’4, Jan/02, USDP, 20-21 NCAA 22-5-2-7
The pick via Toronto (in exchange for 59th and 64th picks, Roni Hirvonen and Topi Niemela); there’s an amusing little profile of him from A & C (who don’t care for him at all, but sniffed out the Sens would like him); in his first year as a prospect Pronman projects him as a bottom-pairing player; it’s very much a wait-and-see attitude for me
2-61 Egor Sokolov, RW/LW, 6’4, Jun/00, QMJHL, 20-21 AHL 35-15-10-25
The pick is from Dallas via the Mark Stone trade in 2019; an overager where the concerns for him were whether his talent and skating would translate at the next level; at the AHL-level Sokolov showed no impediment with playing his game–will it translate? It’s hard to say, although given his size the Sens will certainly give him the opportunity
3-71 Leevi Merilainen, GL, 6’2, Aug/02, Karpat, 20-21 .934
The pick is via the Dylan DeMelo trade in 2020; an off-the-wall pick because in his draft year he was stuck behind other Finnish netminders, so he didn’t play internationally; he had an outstanding first year as a prospect and this caused folk to upgrade their estimates to potential NHL backup levels; I think the Sens under Dorion have been solid in projecting goaltending talent (although their pro evaluations remain, in all areas, underwhelming)
5-155 Eric Engstrand, LW/RW, 6’4, May/00, Malmo, 20-21 SHL 45-1-4-5
The pick is via the Mike Condon trade in 2019; an overager, you can see a brief profile of him from A & C pre-draft, but there’s not a lot of material on him (on the surface he reminds me of Filip Ahl in 2015 and Markus Nurmi in 2016, both big European power forwards who failed to develop)
6-158 Philippe Daoust, C/LW, 6’0, Nov/01, QMJHL, 20-21 21-6-22-28
The pick is via the Mike Hoffman trade in 2018; there’s not a lot of material on him (cf) and he’s taken the Hoffman route of being waived out of the OHL only to find a home in the Q (I’m not saying he has that kind of ceiling, just that he’s had that route to getting drafted)
6-181 Cole Reinhardt, LW, 6’1, Feb/00, WHL, 20-21 AHL 33-6-6-12
The pick is via the Chris Wideman trade in 2018; an overager who benefited from playing with Sokolov in Belleville, should he find pro success he’s taking a very unlikely path to get there (not just because he’s overage, but because of his middling production in junior)

They seem to have landed a complete stud in Stuetzle, so that’s fantastic (a lot of fans may not appreciate just how hard it is for a teenager to make an impact at the NHL-level). I’m not on the Sanderson train yet (how many Lassi Thomson’s do we need?), but I’d love to be surprised (his father was a fun player to watch). A number of the prospects intrigue me–both Finns, Sokolov, as well as Daoust (the Sens occasionally hit homeruns with late picks from the Q and who doesn’t miss J-G Pageau?). I feel like Kleven, Reinhardt, and Engstrand are much more likely to fail out in the AHL, but it’s far too early to say. All-in-all, this isn’t a bad draft from my perspective and I don’t feel like the Sens completely wasted their first round (at a guess, I’m thinking it will closely approximate the 2011 draft).

GARRIOCH: Tyler Boucher is tough as nails, a good omen for Senators |  Ottawa Sun

2021
1-10 Tyler Boucher, LW, 6’1, Jan/03, USDP 12-6-5-11
Son of former NHLer Brian; the scouting consensus is pretty simple: he’s hard to play against, but does he have the talent to make an impact as a pro? You get a sense of his issues via Ary; this has the whiff of another top-ten pick from years ago–Dylan McIlrath–a guy who was very hard to play against, but simply didn’t have enough talent to be an NHL pro (a Sens example is Jared Cowen); for the Sens sake, let’s hope they truly do know better
2-39 Zack Ostapchuk, LW, 6’3, May/03, WHL 22-7-9-16
The pick via the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018; looking at scouting reports it’s clear he’s a work-in-progress–a player with a lot of potential, but a big hill to climb; Pronman doesn’t believe in his hockey sense and the kind of changes he needs aren’t typically the ones that can be easily coached; that said, I’m happy to gamble on skill
2-49 Benjamin Roger, DR, 6’4, Nov/02, OHL DNP
The pick acquired in exchange for the 42nd (Francesco Pinelli); there’s not much information about the player, but he trained with Belleville staffer Jeremy Benoit in the offseason, which is likely how the Sens became attracted to him (historically a number of Dorion’s picks are via connections); the concern is how much talent he actually has behind his big, mobile frame (does he have the limitations of a Ben Harpur, or is there more to him?)
3-74 Oliver Johansson, CL, 6’0, July/03, Timra Allsvenskan 5-3-0-3
One of the younger players picked in the draft; scouting reports are few and far between, but he performed well across three leagues in his draft year and is a good skater who plays both ends of the rink (a hard worker, which is very much a theme in who the Sens pick); I expect the Sens to be patient about his development
4-123 Carson Latimer, RW, 6’1, Jan/03, WHL 22-5-11-16
The pick acquired in exchange for the 136th and170th (Robert Orr and Bryce Montgomery); everyone agrees he’s a great skater, but what’s not clear is what else he is (in part, perhaps, because of his usage)
7-202 Chandler Romeo, DL, 6’5, July/03, OHL DNP
The big blueliner reminds me a lot of Ben Harpur–big, can skate, but what else can he do? The Sens think he has the hands to get the puck moving and not be a one-dimensional defender, but that’s typically what they say of every blueliner like this that they draft, so we’ll have to wait and see

What do I think of the 2021 draft? All of these players are wait-and-see types, with none inherently exciting. Because I wasn’t paying attention to the draft class, I’m not fulminating over what could have been, but the various flags about the prospects are worth keeping in mind–during Dorion’s time the Sens have completely failed during a draft before (2014). With that said, with two players who didn’t play the previous season and an obscure Swede, I am intrigued to see how those players develop.

One thing that’s changed under Dorion–and this is pre-Trent Mann–is the Sens no longer draft enforcers. The last fighter they picked was Darren Kramer in 2011, but since then (with fighting spiraling into oblivion) they’ve given up picking them. The team still signs players like that (Sabourin is an example), but at least have realized it’s not worth wasting a draft pick.

I should end this on what seems obvious to me, but perhaps isn’t to readers: I’d actually like all these players to turn out and for Ottawa to be an elite team. That’s always been the dream. I’m simply doubtful that will be the case given Dorion’s checkered track record, the team’s questionable approach at the draft, and an unlikable fool who owns the team.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Black And White Picture Of A Vintage Newscast Stock Photo - Download Image  Now - iStock

Here are some bits & pieces:
Filip Gustavsson‘s new contract is typical of the Sens (a two-year deal with the second being one-way); I’m less certain about his abilities given that in the past he has struggled with being ‘the guy’ while doing very well in spot duty (cf)–has he turned the corner? It won’t matter if Mads Sogaard is ready for prime time, but it will be interesting to watch.
–In retrospect I should have included Erik Brannstrom in my BSens lineup speculation; to inject him he slides into the top spot on the right side, shifting Thomson down to the second pairing, Bernard-Docker to the third, and Williams to the pressbox. I just don’t think that situation can remain tenable throughout the season and trading a blueliner must be on the menu for the Sens.
–I stopped reading The Athletic around the same time I stopped writing this blog, so returning to it almost two years later I was surprised to find that only Ian Mendes covers the Sens (RIP articles from Nichols, who moved to Substack–you can read a bit of a word salad from him on the draft, which can be boiled down to “Will it pan out? Time will tell,” which feels like Nichols resting his behind firmly on the fence–read him at his best here and here–I like the latter particularly).
–I skipped covering the last two Sens draft, but I’m not surprised that the conservative, grit-loving Trent Mann has continued his philosophy (cf; the hiring of Pierre McGuire, an anti-analytics guy, is yet another conservative move by the org). As I mentioned when reviewing prior drafts, it’s simply too soon to assess Mann’s work–maybe he’s a genius, but Occam’s Razor says he’ll do no better than his predecessors (what’s genuinely in question is how many stars he lands). I wanted to cover The Silver Seven‘s annual prospect ranking, but the caliber of writers from the site is so uneven I don’t think it’s feasible.
–There’s a great article from Scott Wheeler about how scouts assess players (there’s no real surprises, but he goes over the importance of context–ie things like how playing with Daniel Sprong inflated Filip Chlapik’s value). I’m gratified to see that my old idea of using third party rankings to create a scouting consensus for draft picks has become normalized and is widely available–it’s a simple idea and I have no idea why it took so long to proliferate–however much some may poopoo the idea, it’s the only tool fans have to access professional assessment.
–You can watch/listen to an interesting interview with Sens prospect Egor Sokolov.
–I think in my next post I’ll do a review of the Sens 2020 and 2021 drafts, as it will help me familiarize myself with the prospects. I’ve noticed the fan insanity over Jake Sanderson is almost at the same fever pitch as Brady Tkachuk and we’ll see if that falls as flat with me as it does with the later.
–For those interested in assessing the Sens at the draft, check out my review of the Sens 2008-14 draft record–there’s some fascinating things to be observed in the data (as well as the relative value derived from them). I think I should have included my old review of the Sens AHL tendencies which overlaps that period of time and shows the shifting philosophy from Tim Murray to Randy Lee.

Atlanta Gladiators

The Sens ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators, have been busy signing players in the off-season. A few of these players could see time in Belleville, so I thought I’d briefly take a look at them.

Defense
Tim Davison, 27-28, DL, ECHL 0.38 (ECHL 0.44)
The undrafted NCAA grad spent most of last season with Greenville; this will be his fourth pro season
Dalton Thrower, 27-28, DR, tier-3 Sweden 0.16 (ECHL 0.20)
A second-round pick by Montreal back in 2012, he hasn’t seen AHL ice since 2015-16, but as a gritty player he may have some appeal as a call-up
Greg Campbell, 26-27, DL, DNP (ECHL 0.14)
The undrafted NCAA grad took last season off and returns for his sophomore attempt as a pro.
Josh Thrower, 25-26, DR, SPHL 0.18 (ECHL 0.11)
The brother of Dalton, the former WHLer has established himself as a depth ECHL blueliner and wouldn’t be on the BSens radar
Malcolm Hayes, 26-27, DR, SPHL 0.08 (ECHL 0.11)
Another undrafted NCAA grad, he’s spent most of his short pro career in the SPHL (a feeder league into the ECHL)
Zach Yoder, 27, DR, SPHL 0.13 (ECHL 0.50)
The undrafted NCAAer spent his first (brief) pro season in the SPHL; he’s a local kid (to Georgia) and he’s big, for whatever that’s worth

Forwards
Derek Nesbitt, 39-40, LW/RW, DNP (ECHL 0.89)
An effective AHL producer (0.60) who has played in Atlanta five straight seasons prior to his year off; at 39 I’m not sure how much to expect from him, but I don’t think the BSens will call him up (he hasn’t had a call-up since his last full-time season in the AHL in 2013-14)
Cody Sylvester, 29-30, C/LW, ECHL 0.81 (ECHL 0.80)
Undrafted WHLer has spent most of his pro career in Germany (failing out of the DEL, so it’s mostly in tier-2); as a productive ECHL scorer there’s a small chance he could be called-up
Kamerin Nault, 26, LW, ECHL 0.15 (ECHL 0.77)
Canadian university grad is entering his fourth pro season; each year he’s received call-ups to the AHL, so that makes the odds of the same happening this season higher than most of the other players
Michael Pelech, 32, CL, ECHL 0.55 (ECHL 0.75)
Former 6th-round pick by LA, he’s had a very long and productive ECHL career; his last AHL call-up was in 2015-16
Luke Nogard, 27-28, CL, ECHL 0.39 (ECHL 0.56)
Undrafted NCAA grad his entering his fourth pro season; he’s never received an AHL call-up
Hugo Roy, 24, CR, ECHL 0.46 (ECHL 0.45)
Undrafted QMJHLer is entering his third full pro season; as a middling producer he’s not likely on the BSens list of call-ups
Matthew Wedman, 22, ECHL 0.24 (ECHL 0.24)
A 7th-round pick by Florida in 2019, last season was his first as a pro and he was unable to translate his WHL production to that level
Tommy Besinger, 27, CR, SPHL 0.68 (SPHL 0.69)
The undrafted NCAA grad his entering his third year as a pro and will be looking to avoid the SPHL

I’ll reiterate, it’s unlikely we see many if any of these players, but stranger things have happened (due to injuries or other circumstances), particularly with older, failed prospects (cf).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)