Sens News & Notes

pierre dorion

I was thinking of updating my old article about Pierre Dorion’s trade track record, but it turns out CapFriendly conveniently already tracks that. Looking through his moves since my exploration in 2018, my impression is largely the same: Dorion does reasonably well when dumping players for assets, but his efforts to acquire talent to help the team win is awful (ie the amateur scouting is pretty good, while the pro scouting is not, which is nothing new for the org). Where my tracking cuts off in that article was prior to the summer trades of 2018, and it’s hard not to be slapped in the face with how much acquiring Matt Duchene cost versus how little they’ve received in moving him (it’s already down to Lassi Thomson for Duchene), or how there’s no hope of equal value from the Mark Stone trade (even if Erik Brannstrom and Egor Sokolov achieve their potential), or cluelessly acquiring Derek Stepan, and on and on. There are also baffling decisions like giving up a pick for Josh Brown‘s signing rights–a player who won’t be in the NHL in a few years. Ultimately, all Dorion has to do is make his owner happy, but as a fan I don’t know how there can be any trust left in him from the fanbase at this point (apparently there still is).

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Speaking of bad deals, Travis Yost has a good article looking at why defensemen who don’t perform well get rewarded with contracts/ice time. Yost’s basic argument is that reputation plays a big role in how this happens, and I would add that size and physicality also matters.

Colin White (b.1997) Hockey Stats and Profile at hockeydb.com

While I think a buyout for Colin White was inevitable (due to how they work for a player his age), his shoulder injury makes that decision even simpler. I, along with others at the time, thought the contract he was given was ridiculous and that it serves as an example of how much Dorion struggles to project pro talent (I seem to be one of the few who understood how limited White‘s abilities were–we can see Nichols and Dom Luszczyszyn both fumbling with their estimations at the time–an impression I gained by watching him in the AHL , cf). With that said, he’s still a useful NHL player and it will be interesting to see how much impact his absence has.

Where the Sens Stand with McGuire's 7-Player Model - Silver Seven

I won’t dwell on this much, but I came across a good (and succinct) video about Pierre McGuire and his past as a coach. For some fans there’s not much new here–McGuire is an old school guy who, when given an opportunity, was unable to thrive in his era. I don’t think he has much (if any) useful insight to offer the org, but I also don’t think his involvement is going to cause additional damage (Dorion is quite capable of that on his own).

This article is written by Peter Levi

Senators News & Notes

Brady Tkachuk Hockey Stats and Profile at hockeydb.com

The Sens roster is pairing down, but without Brady Tkachuk signed I fully expect the Sens to keep extra bodies to be cap-compliant in case the negotiations drag on into the regular season. Logan Shaw, Andrew Agozzino, and Parker Kelly should be sent down sooner than later. I don’t expect Tyler Ennis to be signed, but the club will likely keep Scott Sabourin on the roster until the Tkachuk situation is sorted out (he plus Filip Gustavsson gets you to the cap as things stand without Brady). Once that happens I’d imagine both get sent down. D. J. Smith keeps talking about how the best players will play, but I don’t think the ego of Pierre Dorion could handle sitting newly minted FA-signee Del Zotto. It does seem, however, that Smith has yielded to the obvious in putting Pinto as the second-line pivot (as opposed to shoehorning in Tierney or the always disappointing Colin White).

As for who was sent down there were no surprises. From my point-of-view Lassi Thomson did the most to make his case that he’s taken a step forward–he was assertive with the puck and his defensive work was solid. On the flip side, a number of players were utterly invisible (FA signees Aberg and Goulbourne, for instance). I will have to revise my hypothetical AHL lineup given injuries and because Pinto is not being sent down, which I’ll do when I preview Belleville’s season (the top two offensive forwards are gone as it stands).

Mark Kastelic - The Athletic

Pre-season is basically meaningless, but watching Mark Kastelic play for the first time I came away unimpressed. I don’t see the hockey sense necessary to be a full-time NHL player–when he has the puck he seems to have no idea what to do with it. Maybe he just had a poor performance in pre-season games, so I don’t want to draw firm conclusions, but in terms of showing what he can do I don’t see future fourth-line potential. I bring this up because Shawn Simpson (among others) have imagined him in that position for this season, so I have to think that’s a projection based on his performance at practice and his reputation as opposed to the pre-season games. Regardless, sending him back to Belleville was the correct decision. Speaking of Simpson, he had praise for Kole Sherwood and I have no idea why (Simmer loves hitting, so it may be as simple as that)–he’s another player who doesn’t seem to understand why the puck is on the ice (cf). He’s on waivers, but I can’t imagine him being claimed.

Secondary Jersey Logo - Belleville Senators

The Bsens training camp roster is out and I wanted to look at the names I haven’t looked at yet (the bulk of the signed ECHL Atlanta roster is via the link as is the one remaining Ottawa invitee serving as the fourth goalie):
Defense
Randy Gazzola, 28, DR, ECHL 0.71 (ECHL 0.72)
It’s not often a 6’3 righthanded blueliner with offensive skills goes undrafted, but clearly there are enough deficiencies in Gazzola’s game that no one was willing to take a chance on him. He went through the QMJHL (0.79) then five years in Canadian University hockey (0.78) before spending his first pro season in tier-2 Italy followed by an ECHL season last year. He’s already signed with the Toledo Walleye, so he’s hoping to impress the brass for call-ups (offensively he’s a better option than anything currently in Atlanta).
Matt Murphy, 26, DL, ECHL 0.39 (ECHL 0.39)
The undrafted QMJHLer (0.52) spent four years playing Canadian University hockey (0.54) before having a cup of coffee in the Slovakian league when he turned pro–completing that season in ECHL Fort Wayne (earning a brief call-up to AHL Chicago). He would be hoping for an AHL contract, but it’s more likely that talent-starved Atlanta is his destination.
Vincent Sevigny, 20-21, DL, QMJHL 0.73 (QMJHL 0.37)
The undrafted QMJHLer on an ATO will likely be returned to Victoriaville once the BSens roster fills out (I’m not clear what other option he has, since an AHL-contract seems very unlikely).

Forwards
Rourke Chartier, 25-26, AHL 0.31 (AHL 0.55)
WHLer was a fifth-round pick by San Jose and he’s the only man in this group who has both never played in the ECHL and had a cup of coffee in the NHL (13 games in 2018-19); he spent last year with the Marlies and needs a contract–I don’t know if there’s a specific need for him on the roster, but he can certainly play at this level (perhaps the injury to Crookshank is his opportunity).
Andrew Sturtz, 27, ECHL 0.84 (ECHL 0.77)
This is a familiar name, as the undersized NCAA grad (0.94) was an Ottawa FA signing out of college back in 2018 when the org still did that routinely (looking for the next…Jesse Winchester?–none of them have ever turned out; brief comments by me about him are here). The Sens later packaged him with a pick to acquire Mike Reilly, who was then flipped to Boston for a 3rd in 2022. That aside, he’s a familiar face to the brass, can play at the AHL-level to some degree (0.31), and could certainly help out Atlanta (which is likely where he’s bound if he’s signed).
Alexis D’Aoust, 25-26, Slovakia 0.44 (AHL 0.33)
The undrafted former QMJHLer (0.81) has put up good numbers in the ECHL (0.87) and spent time in the AHL (0.33) in every pro season; he already has a contract with Trois-Rivieres, so would be looking to land himself an AHL-deal (or make a good enough impression for a call-up).
Cedric Pare, 22-23, ECHL 0.60 (ECHL 0.60)
QMJHLer (0.73) was a sixth-rounder back in 2017, but the Bruins elected not to sign him and he had a mediocre rookie season in the ECHL last season. It’s difficult to imagine him forcing his way into an AHL-contract, but Atlanta could use more talent up front.
Kameron Kielly, 24-25, ECHL 0.50 (ECHL 0.50)
Undrafted QMJHLer (0.66) went on to play three seasons of Canadian University hockey (1.41) before turning pro last year. He inexplicably bounced through three ECHL teams which hints at drama, but he certainly has enough talent for that league (his most likely destination if he isn’t cut completely).
Philippe Daoust, 19-20, QMJHL 1.33 (QMJHL 0.72)
I’m not entirely sure what the Sens sixth-rounder is doing in camp–he’s unsigned, but I thought he was required to go back to the Q this season–maybe he’s old enough to play in the AHL at this stage, although the roster looks too stuffed to accommodate him.

This article is written by Peter Levi

Senators News & Notes

Logan Brown Stats and News | NHL.com

My previous post went up just hours before Logan Brown was traded to St. Louis for Zach Sanford (you can read Nichols’ breakdown here; he goes over Sanford‘s numbers and concludes he’s a solid addition who offers options on the left side for the bottom-six). Put aside the return for a second and think about the departing prospect. To me, Brown is a boom or bust player. He is either going to blossom in St. Louis to the point where Sens fans bemoan the move, or else he’s going to crash and burn and the deal will be lost in the shuffle. One funny thing to note about Brown‘s draft year is the old axiom of ignoring smaller players seems to have returned to the NHL–all the good players who dropped were undersized.

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While I don’t think the Sens will do this, I do like Shawn Simpson‘s early ideas for a lineup:
Tkachuk-Norris-Batherson
Stutzle-Pinto-C. Brown
Formenton-Tierney-Paul
Sanford-White-Watson
Chabot-Zub
Mete-Zaitsev
Holden-Brannstrom
The top-six likely isn’t different than anyone else’s, but there’s definitely a unique slant to everything else beyond the top-pairing. I think there’s no chance this is what happens on opening night, as I don’t believe the org would be comfortable with two smaller blueliners and sitting FA signee Del Zotto and coach-favourite Josh Brown. I think the blueline as presented is about the best one can do with the collection of low-ceiling veterans and ‘tweener prospects that fill out the bottom four positions.

Don Cherry's Firing Was Overdue—but the Problems He Represented Remain -  The Ringer

There’s not much reason to discuss pre-season games, but I will point out that the limp, pathetic effort the Sens offered in their 4-0 loss to Toronto featured a roster filled with truculent, ‘good in the corners’ players: Bishop (now hurt), C. Brown, J. Brown, Goulbourne, Paul, Sabourin, Sanford, and Sherwood. I didn’t see the game, but the sentiment is that beyond Parker Kelly no one put in a good effort. Yes, half of these players are AHL-bound, but all of them were either signed as free agents or extended after the season–as marginal players, where’s the energy they are supposed to bring to the lineup? Food for thought.

Atlanta Gladiators

More Atlanta Gladiator signings:
Anthony Florentino – The righthanded blueliner was a 5th-rounder for Buffalo in 2013; his play in the ECHL has been so unremarkable that he’s struggled to stay in it
Gabe Guertler – Undrafted former OHLer went through the Canadian University system and spent last year playing in the SPHL (the ECHL’s feeder league)
Like most of the Atlanta signings, there seems no likelihood these players would be called-up by the BSens. I have a hard time understanding some of the signings, but perhaps these are largely depth signings rather than top regulars.

This article is written by Peter Levi