Lucky Number Kleven

Yes, I remember the stupid advertisements for that movie, so now you can too. Headline aside, in the least surprisingly development of the season (cf), the Sens have signed Tyler Kleven (2-44/20) to an ELC. It’s a 3-year deal, which is plenty of time should he require seasoning in Belleville. For those who don’t recall, the Sens packaged two 2nd-round picks to Toronto (Roni Hirvonen (signed; Liiga 57-15-13-28) and Topi Niemela (signed; Liiga 58-8-10-18)) to acquire the pick they used for Kleven. Back in 2021, Corey Pronman (The Athletic) pegged him as a bottom-pairing defensemen, which hadn’t changed a year later. According to Dorion, he’ll play in a couple of NHL games. The signing isn’t about this season however, but next (I suspect in Belleville to start). The org likes to compare his hitting to Dion Phaneuf‘s, but hitting means less in the game than it has since (maybe) the Original Six, so I’m more interested in the other aspects of his game. As for his performance, remember that one good game doesn’t make him great and one bad game doesn’t make him awful–we’re looking for a body of work over time.

Another move the Sens made is bringing Leevi Merilainen over from Finland. Karpat’s season is over and the Sens goaltending situation is a mess, so the move makes sense. He’ll get some starts, as Mandolese‘s numbers have not been great in the AHL (.889), Sogaard and Ferguson are in Ottawa, Bibeau (.892) was awful returning from injury (5 goals and .861), and none of the other lower league goaltenders have performed well. Merilainen had one mediocre season in the OHL, but played well in Finland, so it will be interesting to see how he does with the BSens. I’m more excited for him than Kleven at this stage, largely because his potential impact is far greater (Pronman’s analysis, above, is cursory and based on his prior season–doesn’t make it wrong, but food for thought).

It’s funny how many goaltenders have to leave Ottawa to find their game. The 24-year old (soon to be 25) Filip Gustavsson is enjoying a career year in Minnesota. As a straight one-for-one trade it’s easy to compare his numbers with Cam Talbot:
Gustavsson – 33GP 18-9-5 2.04 .932
Talbot – 32GP 15-14-1 2.85 .904
He leads in every category, but context is important: Minnesota is a better team (41-22-9 vs 35-32-5) and a better defensive team (197GA vs 233GA). There is some sort of Pierre Dorian karmic cycle in effect where most of his pro deals crash and burn. The Wild will undoubtedly keep Gus (an RFA) while Talbot (35+ UFA) was always imagined to be one-and-done. The Sens (going back to Bryan Murray) have had insanely inconsistent approaches with goaltenders and generally picked poorly on when to be patient and when to give up (Ben Bishop, Brian Elliott, Robin Lehner, Chris Driedger, and even depth ‘tenders like Joey Daccord).

This article was written by Peter Levi


Interesting NCAA/CHL/European Free Agents and Ottawa’s Success with Them

I don’t expect Ottawa to sign any college or European free agents this year (it’s a tough sell since where are they going to play in the lineup?), but I wanted to look at the names being bandied about (here for multiple leagues, here just for the NCAA). Overall the Sens have an awful track record with such free agents (Zub is the obvious exception) and I’ll touch on that below. I’ve included Pronman’s ranking from his top-30 list in brackets and those included in the other article have a star (*); those since signed are in green:

Hardy Haman Aktell, LD, DOB 98 (1) – (4-108/16 Nsh; SHL 51-9-27-36) The analysis: “can make a good first pass and has a strong point shot. His skating will be a major limitation in the NHL, but I think he defends well enough to potentially overcome that and be a third-pair defenseman in the league.” Aktell was unranked when Nashville selected him and it seems like they picked him for the same untapped potential being discussed seven years later.
Jiri Smejkal, LW, DOB 96 (6) – (SHL 49-23-20-43) “Big, powerful winger with good skills who can help on both special teams. His skating is just OK and whether he will score in North America is a question.” A lack of offensive talent has never troubled the org, although at his age (27) I doubt he’d cross the pond for anything other than an guaranteed spot on the NHL roster.
Grigori Dronov, LD, DOB 98 (16) – (KHL 41-8-11-19) “Can move pucks well and is able to defend well at the KHL level. The big issue for him in the NHL will be his mobility.” I’m not sure the Sens have ever had this combination of good hands but questionable skating on the blueline–plenty of the latter, but they always have hands of stone as well.
Konstantin Okulov, RW, DOB 95 (17) – (KHL 60-18-36-54) “Has very good offensive skills and is a legit goal-scoring threat at the highest levels. His shot can beat quality goalies from the circles. Whether Okulov’s feet will hold up in the NHL is a question. I don’t think either his compete or skating really stand out.” A KHL veteran wound only cross the pond for a roster spot in the NHL and the Sens wouldn’t do that at this stage (at least with a forward).
Rickard Hugg, LW, DOB 99 (18) – (SHL 52-13-24-37) “Competes well and can score, but he’s 5-foot-11 and not a great skater.” The Sens have experimented with forwards who have good hands and can’t skate (Cole Schneider among others). I had him pegged as a fifth-round pick in 2017, but he went undrafted.
Valetti Pulli, LD, DOB 01 (23) – (Liiga 53-3-14-17) “Has some hockey sense, but his puck game is limited. I’ve seen worse feet on a big guy like him but I wouldn’t call his skating an asset either” He sounds a bit like Andrej Sustr (300+ NHL games) if he pans out. Size is a drug NHL GM’s can’t quit either.
Isac Brannstrom, LW, DOB 98 (30) – (SHL 47-13-16-29) “Very skilled and creative with the puck, and can run a pro power play effectively with his great vision. He works hard enough, but he’s not that big and unlike his brother [Erik], he’s not an amazing skater.” Again skating is rarely an issue for the Sens, but size is something they covet.

Owen Pederson, LW, DOB 02 (7) – (WHL 62-32-41-73) “Excellent puck skills and size, and can create a lot around the net which makes him intriguing for the pro game. Pederson’s skating has and continues to be an issue.” The org used to have a heavy western bias when it came to CHL FA’s and while it’s not as universal as it was, it’s easy to name a few signed or drafted recently (Parker Kelly, Zach Ostapchuk, and Mark Kastelic).
Christopher Sedoff, LD, DOB 02 (10) – (WHL 58-4-46-50) “The offense has been good. As an older WHL player it’s hard to tell whether the puck game is now real or a mirage from an older player in junior.” Signed by Vegas.
Kyle McDonald, RW, DOB 02 (19) – (OHL 42-34-18-52) “Big winger with excellent puck skills and a good track record of scoring goals in the OHL. His skating is quite heavy though and whether he can even be an average AHL skater is a question.” Signed by Dallas.
Logan Morrison, C, DOB 02 (25) – (OHL 54-38-50-88) “Very good skill and playmaking ability … His average-sized frame combined with a lack of speed and average off-the-puck play will make an NHL path difficult.” Sounds like Brannstrom above; the 67s link isn’t what it used to be (Ceci, Prince, and Cowick).

[Prospect analysts have an obsession with the NCAA that I think is on full display with the lengthy list below]
Sam Malinski, RD, DOB 98 (2) – (32-8-18-26) “Excellent playmaking ability. …has the ability to run a pro power play with his vision and shot. His skating is solid too and he can create with his skill and feet.” Oddly, the Sens have never signed an offensively talented NCAA FA defenseman (it’s always been forwards).
Jake Livingstone, RD, DOB 99 (3*) – (38-8-27-35) “Doesn’t have a ton of offensive skill and his mobility is just OK. Livingston is a 6-foot-3, intelligent, two-way defenseman though.” Can’t skate, no hands, but he’s big? Dorion likely got weak at the knees just hearing that (Andreas Englund but he doesn’t cost a 2nd-round pick!).
Austen Swankler, C, DOB 01 (4*) – (35-19-25-44) “He can create a lot with his offensive creativity. The big knock on Swankler was his skating, which used to be terrible. It’s still not an asset, but it’s improved notably.” This is very much in the wheelhouse of the early days when Ottawa was trying to find scoring in the NCAA.
Victor Ostman, G, DOB 00 (5) – (.918) “I find his reads and puck tracking can be somewhat inconsistent but I think there’s a lot of talent to bet on.” If this season has proven anything it’s that the Sens need more goaltending depth; their efforts to find that in the NCAA have been mixed.
Riese Gaber, RW, DOB 99 (8*) – (39-20-17-37) “Skating is excellent and … he gives an honest effort every night.” The Sens do value character/effort highly.
Hunter McKown, C, DOB 02 (9) – (38-21-7-28) “Overall compete can be inconsistent too and he’s probably not a pro center. The skill and scoring touch will be worth a team taking a gamble on.” Signed by Buffalo.
Luke Krys, RD, DOB 00 (11) – (30-2-14-16) “Skate and competes well … a lot better a defender than his [older] brother [Chad] was, but he doesn’t have near the offensive abilities and whether he can move pucks versus pros will be his challenge.” Lack of puck skills have never troubled the Sens as long as he’s gritty.
Travis Mitchell, LD, DOB 99 (12) – (32-6-12-18) “Competes well and could be a solid pro defender. His skating is fine for his size but not a major selling point. Whether he can move pucks versus men will be [his] main challenge.” As I’ve said above, puck skills on the blueline never seem like a heavy emphasis for the org (Macoy Erkamps, below, might have had the worst hands I’ve ever seen in the AHL).
Anton Malmstrom, LD, DOB 00 (13) – (33-3-3-6) “Can skate very well for a defender his size. … has very little to no puck game though and his hockey sense will be a major question at higher levels.” Sounds like Andreas Englund. Signed by St. Louis.
Cooper Black, G, DOB 01 (14) – (.899) “Closer to 6-foot-9. His technique is rather smooth given that large frame and he shows good hockey sense in net. Not surprisingly, his lower half is a little heavy and how quickly he can move will be his main challenge for the pro game, but Black still moves fairly well for a guy his size.” The Sens love size in net.
Collin Graf, RW, DOB 02 (15*) – (37-20-35-55) “His vision and his shot are major assets and inside the offensive zone…. He can play way too much on the perimeter, though, and his skating isn’t ideal for the pro game.” The Sens have rarely (if ever) signed a perimeter FA (albeit they traded for one in DeBrincat).
Jacob Bengtsson, LD, DOB 99 (20) – (36-1-22-23) “Offensive touch isn’t that great, but he can make a good outlet pass and shows instances of O-zone playmaking. Bengtsson’s skating will be his major issue for the NHL.” Nothing that would scare the Sens away.
Jaxon Nelson, C, DOB 00 (21) – (36-8-14-22) “Skating is fine for a 6-foot-4 guy…. He has decent skill. I don’t think he’ll be a big scorer versus men but there’s enough talent to his game to be intriguing for the next level.” He’s big, so Dorion’s hand is creeping towards his phone.
Akito Hirose, LD, DOB 99 (22) – (37-4-23-27) “Strong skater … has strong playmaking abilities … whether he can defend men will be a question. His skating will help him, but I wouldn’t call him the hardest to play against defenseman.” With the exception of Erkamps, the Sens have only signed blueliners who (at least in theory) are hard to play against.
Jason Polin, RW, DOB 99 (24*) – (38-29-17-46) “Good hands, and has scored a lot of goals the last two seasons in college. I do have some questions about how natural a play driver he is.” The Sens have signed a few players like this (watching Matthew Wedman (7-199/19 Fla) skate for Belleville causes me mental anguish).
T. J. Hughes, C, DOB 01 (26) – (36-13-20-33) “Skilled and intelligent center … skating is just OK.” A reminder that skating doesn’t worry the org.
Ryan Siedem, RD, DOB 01 (27) – (33-1-16-17) “Skating has historically been his issue and it’s still not a strength, but given his frame and sense I can see someone taking a shot on him.” See above.
Max Sasson, C, DOB 00 (28*) – (37-15-27-42) “Works hard enough with his feet to potentially play a lower role on a team. The question with him will be offense.” The Sens like hard workers, so the possibility is there.
Ryan McAllister, LW, DOB 01 (29*) – (38-13-35-48) “A lot of skill and offensive creativity. He’s an undersized winger who’s a fine but not great skater and plays a lot on the perimeter.” Perimeter players are not commonly signed.
David Silye, C, DOB 99 (NR*) – (38-23-16-39) Described as a powerplay specialist. The Sens have never signed someone with that as their selling point (some people might argue about Stephane Da Costa, but he was supposed to be an everyday player).
Matt Brown, LW, DOB 99 (NR*) – (36-15-29-44) Another powerplay specialist (if not as potent as Silye above). See analysis above as well.
Yaniv Perets, G, DOB 00 (NR*) – (.929) Projected as a team’s third goaltender. At just 6’1, I’m not sure he fits into the Sens effort to sign only giants as goaltenders.
Devon Levi, G, DOB 01 (NR*) – (7-212/20 Fla; .933) Projected as a backup, he was signed by Buffalo.

One of the common themes above is skating issues, which is something the Sens think they can overcome (and to be fair, they have made some awful skaters merely bad or even average).

Ottawa’s History with NCAA/CHL/European Free Agents

How have the Sens done with such players? Let’s take a look at the record (skaters with at least a season’s worth of NHL action are in green, as are goalies with 40 or more games; those who utterly failed are in red):
Jesse Winchester, NCAA (2008) – How quickly people forget the buzz that he was going to be the other winger with Spezza and Heatley when signed; 285-20-50-70, never scoring more than 18-points in a season (Curtis Lazar without using a 1st-round pick)
Bobby Butler, NCAA (2009) – Another supposed scoring winger; 130-20-29-49, now playing in the ECHL; he gets points for the Boston accent
Craig Schira, WHL (2009) – After three declining seasons in the org, he’s since spent his career in Europe (the SHL for the last 9 years)
Stephane da Costa, NCAA (2010) – Dynamic offensive forward who maybe could have found a home in the NHL, but there was much more money in the KHL (where he continues to play to this day); perhaps best known for getting hammered; 47-7-4-11
David Dziurzynski, BCHL (2010) – The man known as Dizzy, he was a big, grinding power forward; spent six straight seasons and part of another with the org (probably best known for being KO’d in the NHL); stopped playing pro after a few years in the ECHL; 26-3-3-6
Pat Cannone, NCAA (2011) – Three unremarkable seasons with the org; now retired; 3-0-0-0
Wacey Hamilton, WHL (2011) – A pest/energy player; spent three years with the org; now retired
Cole Schneider, NCAA (2012) – Another scoring winger; nearly five years with the org; still playing in the AHL; 6-0-1-1
Buddy Robinson, NCAA (2012) – Checking winger; nearly five years with the org; a useful minor pro who is still kicking around; 58-3-6-9
Andrew Hammond, NCAA (2013) – We all know and love the Hamburglar; over four years with the org; currently in the KHL; 67 games played and a worthy third-goaltender
Ludwig Karlsson, NCAA (2013) – One disappointing season with the org; now retired
Garrett Thompson, NCAA (2013) – One disappointing season with the org; now retired
Troy Rutkowski, WHL (2013) – Was unable to be an AHL regular through three seasons; currently playing in Europe
Matt O’Connor, NCAA (2015) – Goaltender of the future when signed; two seasons with the org and now playing in Europe; 1 NHL game
Macoy Erkamps, WHL (2015) – Two seasons with the org where he was unable to be a regular player; now playing in Europe; the worst signed defensemen I’ve ever seen play for the org

Jordan Murray, USports (2016) – Blueliner spent three seasons with the org (putting up decent AHL numbers) and now plays in Europe
Ryan Scarfo, NCAA (2017) – Traded almost immediately; now plying his trade in the ECHL
Aaron Luchuk, OHL (2017) – Big CHL scorer bombed out; after a couple of ECHL seasons he’s now playing in Europe
Boston Leier, USports (2017) – Played one season with the team; now retired
Andrew Sturtz, NCAA (2018) – Part of one season; now in the ECHL
Jonathan Aspirot, QMJHL (2019) – In his fourth season with the org with his production unchanged; while a solid AHL-contributor, I’m not sure what the org thinks they got out of giving him an ELC
Parker Kelly, WHL (2019) – An energy player; this is his fourth year with the org and he’s essentially the 13th forward (so Curtis Lazar without using a 1st-round pick); 97-9-8-17
Olle Alsing, SHL (2019) – Part of one season with the org; back in Sweden; 4-0-0-0
Chris Clapperton, USports (2019) – One season; now retired
Max Veronneau, NCAA (2019) – Most of one season; currently struggling in San Jose’s org after dominating in Sweden
Artem Zub, KHL (2020) – Diamond in the rough–the org hit a homerun; 169-12-33-45
Xavier Bernard, QMJHL (2021) – Season and a half before being jettisoned

What constitutes success when dealing with such players? ELCs aren’t being signed to create good AHL pros–the intent is to be useful to the NHL lineup, even if they aren’t regulars. I accept that it’s impossible for all signings (or even 50%) to work out, but unlike with the draft, these are usually older players, so scouts ought to have had far more time to assess what they are getting.

Artem Zub – They found a regular, top-four blueliner for free, which is incredible–top marks for that (especially given the orgs general disinterest in players who play in Russia)
Andrew Hammond – Not just for his remarkable run, but for being a solid third goaltender for various orgs
Jesse Winchester – An unremarkable regular fourth-liner on a mediocre-to-bad Ottawa team (missing the playoffs two of his four seasons and losing in the first round in the others); he’s a success, but at the bottom of what that term could mean

Parker Kelly – For me the jury is still out–the Sens have so many players like him who have more talent I wouldn’t be surprised to see him out of the org sooner than later
Buddy Robinson – While not an NHL-regular, he’s good enough to be a call-up and there’s some value in that
Stephane da Costa – We’ll never know if he could have been something more, but unlike Butler there are signs that his NHL potential was never fully realized
Bobby Butler – More than 100 games in the NHL, but all of that was early in his career when there were hopes he could show more and instead he fizzled out badly

Broadly that’s 7 out of 27 players, which is not great (25%), but the more important number is how many have played two or more full NHL seasons and it’s just 2 (Zub and Winchester); that’s a 7% success ratio (akin to picking in the 7th round of the draft, cf). You’d expect better with so much more time to assess the players (as much as a 1st-round pick gets, and the org has done much better in that scenario, cf).

We can also see some trends in where the org has looked for free agents and what kind of player they were:
NCAA: 13 (5-13) – From 2019 onward the Sens have only signed one college FA
CHL: 9 (1-9) – No noticeable change
USport: 3 (0-3) – The Canadian university experiment lasted from 2016-19
Europe: 2 (1-2) – The only two signings are from 2019-20
Offense (3-11*): Winchester, Butler, da Costa, Cannone, Schneider, Thompson, Murray, Scarfo, Luchuk, Sturtz, Veronneau
Grit/Character (3-14): Schira, Dziurzynski, Hamilton, Robinson, Karlsson, Rutkowski, Erkamps, Leier, Aspirot, Kelly, Alsing, Clapperton, Zub, Bernard
*None could translate their offense to the NHL

Lest we forget, Trent Mann said back in 2018 that the org didn’t want to gamble on skill anymore and that’s largely been true since his tenure (Veronneau would be the starkest exception). I think the small number of players from Europe is more about Ottawa as a destination than disinterest from the org–certainly signing a player from Russia is something Bryan Murray gave up on after a number of failures (Kaigorodov comes to mind). The massive decline in NCAA signings I assume is related to how rarely they’ve turned out–the days of top players falling through the cracks seems largely gone. As for the CHL, it’s difficult to imagine a league that’s more heavily scouted, so I wouldn’t expect the success rate to be high (and most of those signings have been for depth anyway). I’m not sure what was behind the USport effort, but nothing came of it and clearly the Sens have given up on that route. The type of players has changed with Mann looking for character, energy, pest, and defensive players as prospects.

This article was written by Peter Levi

Playoff Chances, DeBrincat, and Belleville Changes

The make-or-break road trip for the team was a disaster, with both Buffalo and Washington passing them in the standings and the Islanders, Pittsburgh, and Florida having (slightly) better records over their last ten games. The young goaltenders have not been up to the task (this is no surprise with Mandolese, whose AHL-numbers regressed to his rookie season, while Sogaard has struggled much like he did in his sophomore season in Belleville). The team in front of them hasn’t made their lives any easier. I don’t think the losses themselves are what’s troubling to the fanbase, but rather how bad they’ve been. This isn’t doom and gloom for the future, but the path forward for this season seems out of reach (Dom Luszczyszyn has them at just 2% and Ottawa has the toughest schedule in the entire NHL for the rest of the year). If the Sens continue to falter, Dorion’s trades (recent and not) are going to come under scrutiny within the fanbase (as we can see below). The Sens have sacrificed so much draft capital (their first pick this year is in the 4th round) it means there’s no arriving hope to sell from prospects (the high-end players are already in the organization). I think the Sens are too good to tank completely, but the playoff dream has been shattered.

It’s not quite schadenfreude, but the current debate over Alex DeBrincat‘s future reflects what I said when they traded for him in the first place (echoed in September by Sean McIndoe of The Athletic): that he turns into merely a 1-2 year rental or underperforms (and in either case at great cost–1.5 seasons of Matt Duchene cost the Sens Bowen Byram, after all). Ottawa has cap issues that will particularly impact the future blueline (something the fanbase recognized six months later), so as I posed in the summer and Ian Mendes is asking now: what do you do with DeBrincat? His point production has been fine (a decline, but not a huge one), but his goal scoring has cratered (he’s on his worst goals-per-game pace since his third season in 2019-20). Pierre Dorion has a lot of pride and he struggles to admit mistakes–did he make one here? He’s not a 9 million dollar player, so if you want to keep him you have to sign him long term, but is he a long term solution? Three players have scored more than he has this season (Stutzle, Tkachuk, and Giroux), with Batherson essentially on par and Pinto would be there with different usage (not to mention Norris missing the season). If you have plenty of goalscoring, how many forwards can you pay top dollar for (does it makes sense to pay 32 million to just four forwards)? It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few months.

The Sens finally came to the realization that signing FA’s Kristians Rubins and Jayce Hawrlyuk was a pointless exercise. Both have been shipped out for a bag of peanuts (to Calgary and New Jersey respectively). I’ve seen it suggested that this is to make room for FA signings, but I’m not convinced by that (with Anton Forsberg and Josh Norris on injured reserve, the Sens had 3 contract slots open before they hit the ceiling of 50 already). Neither player counted towards the AHL-veteran cap, so I think it’s simply shipping out players who failed to meet expectations. The org has a desperate need in net in Belleville, so they had previously signed Dylan Ferguson (7-194/19 Dallas; who has been excellent after bombing out in Toronto). The bag of peanuts in return from New Jersey became Dylan Blujus, who was a second-round pick back in 2012. He has to be an improvement on Rubins, although to what extent remains to be seen.

This article was written by Peter Levi

Sens Prospects

As I did almost a year ago, I thought I’d take a look at the Sens prospects currently not in the NHL or AHL. I like to sort players by age, as I think that’s a better way of comparing where they are in their development curve (keeping in mind goaltenders almost always take longer–a couple of Sens examples: Ben Bishop and Brian Elliott were both 26 when they reached their peak). I also want to point out that good defensive players at the NHL-level are typically productive in junior, so in those cases we need to see some sign of being able to move the puck as prospects.

Jakov Novak, LW/C, Oct 98 (24-25), 6’3, 7-188/18
2017-18 NAHL 56-32-41-73 1.30
2018-19 NCAA 37-7-8-15 0.40
2019-20 NCAA 35-16-14-30 0.85
2020-21 NCAA 15-7-10-17 1.13
2021-22 NCAA 39-8-9-17 0.43
2022-23 NCAA 34-8-4-12 0.35

Novak went unsigned after his nominal final NCAA season, so he returned for one more to try to increase the odds of being signed. Instead he’s had worse production and won’t be in the org’s plans. The only comparison for him is another Sens pick (pre-Mann), Todd Burgess (2016), who travelled the exact same path (I suspect picked by the same scout). Burgess was never signed and spent his rookie pro season playing with Manitoba in the AHL (35-7-6-13), but this year hasn’t been able to get out of the ECHL (30-10-11-21). The two players have very similar NCAA production (0.56 vs. 0.49), with both spending an extra year in college. The Sens haven’t drafted out of that league (NAHL) since.

Jonny Tychonick, DL, Mar 00 (23), 6’0, 2-48/18
2017-18 BCHL 48-9-38-47 0.97
2018-19 NCAA 28-0-4-4 0.14
2019-20 NCAA 24-4-7-11 0.45
2020-21 NCAA 23-3-5-8 0.34
2021-22 NCAA 24-2-6-8 0.33
2022-23 NCAA 32-8-18-26 0.81

The 2018 one-two punch with JBD, he’s in his fifth NCAA season and the purported offensive defensemen’s production has finally appeared. Is this enough for the org to sign him? I’m doubtful, with at least Kleven, Hamara, and Donovan ahead of him (along with the org’s preference for defensive blueliners). A PTO is highly plausible if he can’t find another place to land in, as the Sens have done that with quite a few unsigned prospects in the past (Kelly Summers comes to mind in 2018).

Luke Loheit, RW, Jul 00 (22-23), 6’1, 7-194/18
2017-18 USHS 24-12-18-30 1.25
2018-19 BCHL 43-8-16-24 0.55
2019-20 NCAA 33-5-1-6 0.18
2020-21 NCAA 28-3-2-5 0.17
2021-22 NCAA 34-2-4-6 0.17
2022-23 NCAA 32-7-10-17 0.53

Drafted as a pest/defensive player whose production was abysmal until his senior year, I don’t think this season is enough to justify a contract from the Sens (I’m fine with drafting agitating players, but I want Crookshank-levels of production).

Tyler Kleven, DL, Jan 02 (21), 6’4, 2-44/20
2019-20 USDP 45-2-10-12 0.26
2020-21 NCAA 22-5-2-7 0.31
2021-22 NCAA 38-7-3-10 0.26
2022-23 NCAA 31-6-9-15 0.48

There’s plenty of hype from the org around him so he’ll be signed sooner than later. How good is he? That’s up in the air–the Sens often get blinded by size, so we’ll have to wait and see if he can fulfill their plans for him.

Stephen Halliday, CL, Jul 02 (20-21), 6’3, 4-104/22
2021-22 USHL 62-35-60-95 1.53
2022-23 NCAA 37-9-30-39 1.05

The Sens took a flyer on an older offensive player they can leave in college to marinate; his rookie season in Ohio has been impressive (he leads the team in scoring). As my regular readers know, I’m always onboard with risks based on skill. As for when he’ll appear that’s largely up to Ottawa, but there’s certainly room for him within the AHL-forward group.

Leevi Merilainen, GL, Aug 02 (20-21), 6’3, 3-71/20 (signed)
2019-20 U20 .908
2020-21 U20 .934
2021-22 OHL .891
2022-23 Liiga 0.921

An off-the-wall pick from Finland, he had a middling season in the OHL, but has been good back in Finland. The Sens amateur scouting for goaltenders has been pretty good–not great, perhaps, but they do find players who can play pro hockey (at least at the AHL-level).

Ben Roger, DR, Nov 02 (20-21), 6’4, 2-49/21
2020-21 did not play
2021-22 OHL 55-1-12-13 0.23
2022-23 OHL 45-2-10-12 0.26

When drafted the mystery was: Can he be more than a big body? The answer so far is: No. It’s always hard to predict what the Sens will do with a big blueliner, but he looks like a pass to me (keep in mind this is the org who signed people like Ben Blood and Michael Sdao, so sometimes size is enough).

Tyler Boucher, RW, Jan 03 (20), 6’1, 1-10/21 (signed)
2020-21 USDP 14-9-5-14 1.00
2021-22 OHL 24-7-7-14 0.58
2022-23 OHL 21-10-8-18 0.85

Son of former NHL goalie Brian, it still boggles my mind that the Sens used a top-ten pick to draft a fourth-line checker (cf). I can already picture the laundry list of better players he was picked ahead of manifesting over the next few years. To my mind it’s up in the air if he can be a full-time NHLer (perhaps it’s as a Curtis Lazar-type, where he floats around the league soaking up 9-10 minutes a game–good enough to keep getting signed, but not good enough to keep).

Carson Latimer, RW, Jan 03 (20), 6’1, 4-123/21
2020-21 WHL 22-5-11-16 0.72
2021-22 WHL 62-18-22-40 0.64
2022-23 WHL 53-14-26-40 0.75

When drafted his claim to fame was being fast; the unanswered question was can he be anything else? He was having a career season with Prince Albert (31-10-18-28), but his numbers have dropped since he was traded to Winnipeg (22-4-8-12).

Zack Ostapchuk, LW, May 03 (19-20), 6’3, 2-39/21 (signed)
2020-21 WHL 22-7-9-16 0.72
2021-22 WHL 60-26-17-43 0.71
2022-23 WHL 47-23-31-54 1.15

It’s good to see his numbers up and another stint at the WJC, but for me his NHL-potential remains a bit of a mystery. My gut suggests a depth forward, but we’ll need to see him in the AHL before we can make that call.

Chandler Romeo, DL, Jul 03 (19-20), 6’5, 7-202/21
2020-21 did not play
2021-22 OHL 67-2-16-18 0.26
2022-23 OHL 47-7-7-14 0.30

Normally I’d complain about picking a player purely on size, but the seventh round is the place to swing for the fences–will Romeo pan out? Probably not.

Oliver Johansson, CL, Jul 03 (19-20), 6’0, 3-74/21
2020-21 Allsven 5-0-3-3 0.60
2021-22 J20 33-19-22-41 1.24
2022-23 Allsven 27-6-3-9 0.33

An excellent skater who isn’t ready for prime time in the Allsvenskan/SHL. Nothing to worry about, unless these numbers are repeated next season.

Theo Wallberg, DL, Dec 03 (19-20), 6’4, 6-168/22
2021-22 J20 46-2-21-23 0.50
2022-23 USHL 45-4-11-15 0.33

The second (and older) of two big blueliners drafted out of Europe last year. I’d call his performance unimpressive given he’s in a fairly weak junior league, although to be fair it’s a big change for him and there’s runway left for improvement.

Cameron O’Neill, RW, Jan 04 (19), 6’0, 5-143/22
2021-22 18U AAA 62-57-76-133 2.14
2022-23 USHL 39-6-21-27 0.69

Via the Winnipeg pick they got in the Zach Sanford trade. His two older brothers played in the NCAA, but were never drafted. His USHL numbers are underwhelming (I’m assuming the org grabbed him for his offensive talents), but they can play the long game with him as he’s on his way to UMass.

Oskar Pettersson, RW, Feb 04 (19), 6’2, 3-72/22
2021-22 J20 46-25-11-36 0.78
2022-23 SHL 29-1-1-2 0.06

His J20 numbers (21-18-10-28) show improvement and I’d call his initial season as a prospect a success. Like most of the 2022 draft class, he’s a long-term prospect and we’ll have a better sense of him in a couple of years.

Tyson Dyck, CL, Feb 04 (19), 5’11, 7-206/22
2021-22 BCHL 54-34-41-75 1.38
2022-23 NCAA 28-5-4-9 0.32

Via the Islanders pick they got in the Brayden Coburn trade. A great final season in the BCHL got him drafted and his rookie year at UMass is perfectly fine–plenty of time to see how things pan out (although, broadly speaking, the Sens have not had much luck drafting out of the BCHL).

Filip Nordberg, DL, Mar 04 (19), 6’4, 2-64/22
2021-22 J20 42-6-21-27 0.64
2022-23 Allsven 25-2-2-4 0.16

Via the Tampa Bay pick they got in the Marian Gaborik trade. With no first-round pick in the draft the big Swede showed up Andreas Englund-style–let’s hope he’s not a carbon copy. Bigger blueliners tend to take a little longer and his Allsvenskan numbers are adequate.

Tomas Hamara, DL, Mar 04 (19), 6’0, 3-87/22 (signed)
2021-22 Liiga 24-0-2-2 0.08
2022-23 OHL 47-2-13-15 0.32

Via the Boston pick they got in the Mike Reilly trade. The son of marginal Czech pro player Tomas (who had more success as a coach), the Sens were in a rush to sign him, but he’s having a disappointing season as an offensively talented blueliner. I suspect he’ll be loaned to Europe next year to give him more time.

Jorian Donovan, DL, Apr 04 (18-19), 6’2, 5-136/22 (signed)
2021-22 OHL 64-3-19-22 0.34
2022-23 OHL 55-12-33-45 0.81

Joins the ‘son of’ cadre in the organization. Unlike Hamara above, he did have an explosive season following his draft year and that makes signing him early a better decision (although it’s not impactful enough to start to make predictions).

Kevin Reidler, GL, Sept 04 (18-19), 6’6, 5-151/22
2021-22 J18 .910
2022-23 J20 .914

Via the Boston pick they got in the Josh Brown trade. The youngest player picked in 2022, the huge goaltender was undoubtedly picked with Mads Sogaard in mind, but it’s far too early to say whether he’ll have that kind of success. I suspect the Sens will want him to cross the pond to play junior hockey next season (as they did with Merilainen).


At the end of my article last year I made assessments over what kind of player each could be. I’m a bit more cautious in doing that now, but I will offer up who I think has improved their stock and who has not (with what they are about in brackets).

Stock Rising
Tychonick (puck-moving D)
Kleven (big, physical, good shot)
Halliday (offense)
Merilainen (backup/starter)
Ostapchuk (physical/some offense)
Donovan (high skill)

Stock Unchanged
Loheit (pest)
Boucher (checking forward)
Latimer (fast)
Johansson (fast/hard worker)
Pettersson (hard worker/scoring)
Dyck (hard work/offense)
Nordberg (big but slow)
Reidler (he’s huge!)

Stock Declining
Novak (offense)
Roger (big, fast, no hands)
Romeo (big)
Wallberg (big/skating)
O’Neill (plays hard/offense)
Hamara (well-rounded)

The list simply represents performance, not what I think the org will do. For instance, I don’t think Tychonik‘s career year makes much different, just as Hamara‘s underwhelming junior season doesn’t either. What the Sens desperately need is more puckmoving talent on the blueline and more skill upfront (both elements are in relative short supply above). I know some fans might think the top-six is set so why worry about skill, but players get hurt, players decline, cap crunch can come–you always want more talent no matter what your situation is. There would be less resistance, I think, from the fanbase about the blueline, where the NHL group is one injury away from serious weakness. What’s most clear from this list is how high the Sens value physicality and hard work–outside top picks, that seems to matter more than anything else.

This article was written by Peter Levi

What Did the Sens Give Up?

This is a topic I don’t think anyone else will take a stab at, so I figured I’d dig into the numbers and consider what assets Ottawa has truly parted with. There are two categories of concern: what’s the value of the picks abstractly (as in, over all, statistically), and what’s the value these assets for Pierre Dorion (as in, during his career, what success has he had with assets like these). First, let’s remind ourselves what’s been surrendered (and to whom and for what; I realize there are conditions attached to some of these & I’m taking the most likely result as a given):

Draft Picks
1st (Arizona – Jakob Chychrun)
2nd (Chicago – getting rid of Nikita Zaitsev)
6th (Philadelphia – Patrick Brown)
2nd (Washington’s pick; Arizona – Jakob Chychrun)
2nd (Arizona – Jakob Chychrun)
4th (Chicago – getting rid of Nikita Zaitsev)

For those who need a refresher on Dorion, he was an amateur scout for Montreal from 94-95 to 04-05 (under Serge Savard, Rejean Houle, Andre Savard, and Bob Gainey), then with the Rangers from 05-06 to 06-07 (under Glen Sather), then Director of Amateur Scouting with Ottawa from 07-08 to 08-09, Director of Player Personal from 09-10 to 13-14, Assistant GM from mid-season 13-14 to 15-16 (all under Bryan Murray), and GM from 2016-17 onward. Dorian has contributed to drafting for decades, but in terms of having major impute or being responsible that only begins with Ottawa in the 07-08 draft, so that’s what we’ll look at (Tim Murray left mid 2013-14).

Dorion’s Success Rate
There’s a difference in early and late picks in the first two rounds, but afterwards it’s trivial (cf); we also can’t judge some of the prospects (particularly those taken from 2018+), and those undetermined are the third number (I haven’t bothered with the last two drafts, as it’s still too early to judge). I’ve highlighted the percentage excluding unknowns:
1st (top-ten): 4-1-1 80% (Jared Cowen; Tyler Boucher)
1st (eleven+): 5-4-3 55% (Matt Puempel, Stefan Noesen, Logan Brown, Shane Bowers; Jacob Bernard-Docker, Lassi Thomson, Ridly Greig)
2nd (top-ten): 2-3-1 40% (Andreas Englund, Gabriel Gagne, Jonathan Dahlen; Roby Jarventie)
2nd (eleven+): 2-3-4 40% (Patrick Wiercioch, Shane Prince, Filip Chlapik; Jonny Tychonick, Mads Sogaard, Tyler Kleven, Yegor Sokolov)
3rd: 1-5-1 16% (Jakub Culek, Jarrod Maidens, Chris Driedger, Marcus Hogberg, Miles Gendron; Leevi Merilainen)
4th: 5-7-3 41% (Andre Petersson, Tim Boyle, Tobias Lindberg, Shane Eiserman, Filip Ahl, Christian Wolanin, Todd Burgess; Ben Harpur, Jonathan Gruden, Viktor Lodin)
5th: 2-7-2 22% (Jeff Costello, Fredrik Claesson, Robert Baillargeon, Vincent Dunn, Christian Jaros, Max Lajoie, Eric Engstrand; Angus Crookshank, Mark Kastelic)
6th: 1-9-2 10% (Corey Cowick, Darren Kramer, Max McCormick, Francois Brassard, Quentin Shore, Chris Leblanc, Markus Nurmi, Jordan Hollett, Kevin Mandolese; Philippe Daoust, Cole Reinhardt)
7th: 1-10-2 9% (Emil Sandin, Brad Peltz, Michael Sdao, Bryce Aneloski, Jordan Fransoo, Mikael Wikstrand, Francis Perron, Kelly Summers, Luke Loheit, Jakov Novak; Joey Daccord, Maxence Guenette)

Personally I think Cody Ceci is an awful player, but at nearly 700 games played I have to bow to usage; I also think Curtis Lazar is a terrible 1st-round pick and at best a marginal NHL-player, but again, 400+ games I have to bow to the numbers.

That aside, there are some things to note about Dorion’s rein: his second and fourth-round picks have a higher rate of success than normal (the fourth round in particular); his early firsts are statistically below average, but I think that’s trivial until he gets another one wrong (otherwise he’s essentially average). I have to point out that since Tim Murray left (13-14), Dorion has just one success outside the second round (Drake Batherson); every other pick from the 3rd and beyond has failed or remains uncertain, which through the 7 drafts we’re looking at is neigh on catastrophic. What this inability to find players in later rounds indicates is that his scouting staff, at least through the end of Bryan Murray’s term as GM and Dorion’s first, were not up to the task. In my opinion, there are current players beyond the 2nd-round threshold who might contribute (and I don’t just mean the team’s faith in Mark Kastelic), but what we can’t definitively state is that there’s any track record for that happening under Dorion’s regime.

What this means is that, for Dorion, surrendering late picks has virtually no opportunity cost, because he can’t make use of them. That doesn’t mean other teams won’t find value for the picks, but at the team-level the risk is far less than that from a team known to find diamonds in the rough (this also means sending Ottawa late picks is a safe bet). So let’s revisit the list from above and look at the cost for Ottawa vs the opportunity it presents to other teams (we’ll be generous and include the period during which Tim Murray did have some success in later rounds):

Draft Picks
These are split between Dorion cost/generic opportunity cost, using the numbers above as guidelines
Ottawa is projected to miss the playoffs, so let’s say The Athletic was close when at the start of the season they said they would finish with 88-points (to do so now they’d go 10-10 in their last 20 games, but let’s give them a 12-8 record–a .600 winning percentage–to have 94 and finish just out of the playoffs). Last year 94 points meant finishing 17th overall.

1st – 1-17; 55%/50%
2nd – 2-49; 40%/26%
6th – 6-177; 10%/9%
2nd – 40%/26%
2nd – 40%/26%
4th – 41%/16%

One of the odd things about this is Dorion vs the averages in all of these moves (excluding the 6th) hurts him more than it helps the other team (at least statistically), but we can’t look at these things abstractly. I’d rather have Chychrun than what could be another Lazar (ahem, Boucher) and Formenton (or Puempel/Chlapik). I actually do like Formenton as a player, but he’s not as important as Chychrun (someone you’d normally have to draft). While I also don’t like trading for Brown (the Sens fetish for sons of former NHLers is a bit obsessive), but it appears Dorion can’t make 6th-round picks valuable, so a few weeks of his presence on the roster probably is better than a prospect who fails out in 3-5 years. What I do criticize is how much getting Zaitsev‘s money off the books cost Dorion. Oddly, 4th-round picks have been unusually kind to him, not to mention the 2nd-rounder. Karma being what it is, I suspect Chicago will do very well with at least one of those assets and I think Dorion bungled the entire Zaitsev odyssey.

Overall I’m still happy with the team–I’m concerned about their prospect cupboard, but given that most of the key assets are locked-up and so far none of them are showing signs of crashing and burning, let’s hope the late round drafting improves.

This article was written by Peter Levi

Have Things Changed?

We have bonafide good news with the Jakob Chychrun trade. As someone who loves picks, the Sens did give up a lot abstractly (the eleven herbs and spices: likely a 2023 1st, Washington’s 2nd in 2024, and Ottawa’s 2nd in 2026), but less than experts expected. For a team that desperately needs depth in all areas and possibly a starting goaltender, their draft cupboard is bare, especially this year. That being said, Chychrun is an excellent asset on a good contract (two more full seasons at excellent value) so he’s not just an acquisition for this year (like DeBrinkcat could be) and he addresses one of the teams major concerns: the D. By some miracle he’s not another aging, lumbering blueliner of the type that Ottawa brass has been in love with for the last 25-years. Chychrun knows what a puck is and can even pass it to other players, so I like this move and while there’s always a chance for failure, thumbs-up to a GM who has been generally awful over his term. This deal has received universal praise (from the analytics and eye-test crowd), so Dorion deserves his due.

We have to re-visit my concerns when the Sens picked up DeBrinkcat: specifically fears that his production in Chicago was largely a byproduct of playing with Patrick Kane. While his pace is lower than with Chicago (the last two seasons he was 1.07 and 0.95 ppg, whereas this season he’s 0.86), there’s been no collapse or sign that he was something other than a contributing top-six player. Other concerns remain, but at least on the production side he’s been as-advertized.

We get a much more typical move when it comes to Nikita Zaitsev. I raised the Sens upcoming cap situation in September and it seems as though Dorion realized the only way to avoid the cost of buying him out was to trade him. However, a 2nd-round pick (2023) is a steep price (the 4th in 2026 I can live with). Am I glad Zaitsev is gone? Yes. But I think a better deal should have been made…last season (there was no reason to keep and devalue him into this year).

When the Sens signed Motte I had no idea what the point of it was. Apparently after most of the season Dorion didn’t either, as he jettisoned the depth forward to the Rangers for a cheaper depth forward (Julien Gauthier) and a late pick (7th or 6th, depending). Signing the forward wasn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but seemed pointless for the Sens at this stage so I’m glad they moved on and have the option of walking away from Gauthier (perhaps he can replace the why-the-hell-did-they-retain-him Gambrell). We could get into a discussion about whether Parker Kelly is an actual NHL-player and so on, but by and large fourth-liners don’t matter much until you’re an actual Cup contender.

As the season progressed we hit the point where the media started asking the basic questions I had during the off-season. It had gone beyond coaching to roster construction, particularly the paper thin blueline and uncertain goaltending coming into focus. Given the deals above–jettisoning the useless Zaitsev and acquiring an excellent blueliner in Chychrun–helps change that narrative, as when healthy the Sens finally have a solid top-four. The bottom-six pairing is a mess and while the org likes JBD I have doubts and think Thomson is better, but neither seem to be ready right now. We can also quibble with Dorion’s bottom-six, but the trades, at least the Chychrun deal, are going to change the conversation for Dorion.

Dorion aside, the team remains fun to watch and I’m enjoying the fight to make the playoffs (actually making it isn’t my concern for this season).

What a disaster this season has been for the BSens. Plagued by injuries and the utter failure of free agents brought in to shore up their weak blueline. Despite all their problems, the team has been able to score, but they can’t defend and that’s despite stocking up the team with big, lumbering defenders. Firing the coach is simply deflecting blame, although assuredly Mann had impute on the kind of players they brought in. Here’s how things stand (the separation is division/conference):

Belleville Senators 22-26-5 7th/15th GF 4th/4th GA 5th/15th PP 5th/8th PK 5th/12th PIM 2nd/2nd
I’ve marked players who missed significant time with injuries in red, with their age in brackets along with their career average where applicable or else their prior season if in the AHL; those performing above expectations would be in green, but none are

Jake Lucchini (27) 42-14-26-40 0.95 [NHL 11-1-0-1 0.10] avg 0.57
Coming off an AHL-contract last season with the BSens; originally undrafted but signed by Pittsburgh
Egor Sokolov (22) 53-16-29-45 0.84 avg 0.79
Drafted 2-61/20 via the Mark Stone trade; this is the final year of his ELC
Ridly Greig (20) 30-12-12-24 0.80 [NHL 11-1-3-4 0.36] WHL
Drafted 1-28/20 via the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade; this is his rookie season
Philippe Daoust (21) 9-2-5-7 0.77 0.33
Drafted 6-158/20 via the Mike Hoffman trade; this is his rookie season
Rourke Chartier (26) 28-14-6-20 0.71 [NHL 6-0-0-0] avg 0.60
Coming off an AHL-contract last season with the BSens; originally a San Jose pick (5-149/14)
Roby Jarventie (20) 21-8-6-14 0.66 0.47
Drafted 2-33/20; this is his sophomore season
Scott Sabourin (30) 46-16-13-29 0.63 avg 0.31
Brought back by the Sens after an injury-plagued season in Toronto; has a high-end AHL salary; undrafted, originally signed by LA
Angus Crookshank (23) 52-19-13-32 0.62 0.84
Drafted 5-126/18; technically his rookie season, as he missed the last due to injury
Cole Cassels (27) 45-6-22-28 0.62 avg 0.35
Signed to an AHL-deal, having played for the BSens in 20-21; yes, he’s the son of Andrew; originally drafted by Vancouver (3-85/13)
Viktor Lodin (23) 28-6-9-15 0.53 0.80
Drafted 4-94/19; this is his rookie season
Brennan Saulnier (29) 30-6-9-15 0.50 0.14
Acquired in an AHL-deal from Laval for a bag of peanuts (aka, future considerations); undrafted
Cole Reinhardt (23) 53-8-17-25 0.47 avg 0.43
Drafted 6-181/20 via the Chris Wideman trade; while it’s his third season, because of the Covid shutdown he has one year left on his ELC
Jayce Hawrlyuk (27) 18-3-5-8 0.44 avg 0.62
FA signing in the summer; originally a Florida pick (2-32/14)
Matthew Boucher (25) 37-4-8-12 0.32 ECHL
Signed to a PTO early in the season; undrafted
Jarid Lukosevicius (28) 39-6-6-12 0.31 avg 0.28
Signed to a PTO early in the season; undrafted
Matthew Wedman (23) 24-1-5-6 0.25 0.24
Signed an extension to his AHL-contract from last season

Lassi Thomson (22) 37-3-20-23 0.62 [NHL 2-0-0-0] 0.59
Drafted 1-19/19 via the Duchene trade; this is his sophomore season
Maxence Guenette (21) 53-2-24-26 0.49 0.39
Drafted 7-187/19; this is his sophomore season
Jonathan Aspirot (23) 24-4-6-10 0.41 avg 0.40
Signed an ELC after one season on an AHL-contract; undrafted
Jacob Larsson (25) 37-2-8-10 0.27 [NHL 7-0-0-0] avg 0.29
Signed as an FA after failing out of Anaheim; he spent five seasons with the Ducks
Dillon Heatherington (27) 42-3-5-8 0.19 [NHL 3-0-0-0] avg 0.27
Coming off a one-year deal after a stint in the KHL, Dorion signed him to two; originally picked by Columbus 2-50/13
Kristians Rubins (25) 40-2-4-6 0.15 avg 0.20
Signed as a FA after failing out of Toronto; undrafted, the Leafs signed him
Jacob Bernard-Docker (22) 27-1-2-3 0.11 [NHL 13-0-1-1 0.07] 0.15
Drafted 1-20/18 via the Brassard trade; this is his sophomore season
Xavier Bernard (23) 17-0-1-1 0.05 0.09
Signed an extension to his AHL-contract from last season; originally drafted by New Jersey (4-110/18)

Mads Sogaard (22) .898 3.30 6-9-2 [NHL .919 2.65 3-0-1] .908
Drafted 2-37/19 as part of a pick-swap with the Rangers; this is his sophomore season
Antoine Bibeau (28) .894 3.43 9-8-1 .905
Signed as a FA; originally drafted by Toronto (6-172/13)
Kevin Mandolese (22) .882 3.49 5-7-2 [NHL .938 2.46 1-0-0] .901
Drafted 6-157/18, this is the final year of his ELC

It’s been an unfortunate season for Lodin, who has been repeatedly hurt and is unlikely to remain with the org because of it. I remain baffled at the hype surrounding Bernard-Docker, whose inability to move the puck at this level imposes severe limits on what he can do at the next. The mystery of why Aspirot was given an ELC remains (his AHL-season is fine, but he’s shown no sign of improvement in the four years he’s spent with the org). As I’d feared (link above) Rubins has been a lumbering, weaker version of Heatherington; the defensecorps in general has been a nightmare, even if it had remained healthy–Thomson is the one bright spot, but the org is obsessed with JBD. Finally healthy, Crookshank could not maintain the torrid pace he set when he first turned pro and that puts expectations of what he might be at a much more reasonable level (a more talented Max McCormick, perhaps). I’m as baffled by the Hawryluk signing now as when it was made–injuries aside, what does he bring to the team that it needs? The goaltending, unprotected by its lumbering blueline, has struggled and I suspect Mandolese has played his way out of the organization (Leevi Merilainen has had a good season in Finland).

A bit of trivia, but I find it funny that two former BSens are at or near the top of the AHL scoring pile: Michael Carcone, who had a terrible 2019-20 year with the BSens, leads the league, while Logan Shaw, who underperformed in his two seasons with Belleville (2020-22), is having a career year with Toronto.

Speaking of trivia, how are the two big European prospects the Sens gave up on doing? Markus Nurmi (with Nashville) has put up an unremarkable season for a 24-year old (48-12-12-24 to this point), so letting him go seems to have been the correct decision. Eric Engstrand is still in Sweden and the 22-year old is having a miserable year in the SHL (35-0-5-5). Thus far, no mistakes ala Marcus Sorensen (2010), besides having drafted them in the first place.

This article was written by Peter Levi