Belleville Senators 2022-23 Season in Review

Just like last year, I’m going to review the team starting with individual performances and then talk about the season overall. We’ll start with a basic list. Rookies are in italics; those in green were added during the season, those in red were removed. I’ve excluded those who appeared in just a few games to avoid a mass of inconsequential clutter.

Basic Stats

Jake Lucchini 61-19-34-53 0.87
Egor Sokolov 70-21-38-59 0.84
Cole Cassels (SEL) 64-12-39-51 0.80
Philippe Daoust 9-2-5-7 0.78
Roby Jarventie 40-16-14-30 0.75
Ridly Greig 39-15-14-29 0.74
Rourke Chartier 40-20-8-28 0.70
Angus Crookshank 71-26-21-47 0.66
Scott Sabourin 51-16-17-33 0.65
John Quenneville (SEL) 25-4-11-15 0.60
Viktor Lodin 28-6-9-15 0.54
Cole Reinhardt 66-11-23-34 0.52
Brennan Saulnier (T-Mtl) 30-6-9-15 0.50
Jayce Hawryluk (T-NJ) 19-3-5-8 0.42
Matthew Boucher 50-6-10-16 0.32
Jarid Lukosevicius (released) 52-7-6-13 0.25
Matthew Wedman 41-3-5-8 0.20
Kyle Betts (released) 40-1-2-3 0.08
Graham McPhee (T-Edm) 14-0-1-1 0.07
Lassi Thomson 56-7-36-33 0.59
Maxence Guenette 72-5-35-40 0.56
Jonathan Aspirot 43-5-11-16 0.37
Jacob Larsson 55-4-13-17 0.31
Dillon Heatherington 60-4-11-15 0.25
Jacob Bernard-Docker 41-2-4-6 0.15
Kristian Rubins (T-Cgy) 42-2-4-6 0.14
Xavier Bernard (T-Edm) 17-0-1-1 0.06
Dylan Blujus (T-NJ) 5-0-0-0 0.00
Leevi Merilainen (Liiga) 3-0-0 2.06 .933
Dylan Ferguson (T-Tor) 6-1-0 2.30 .926

Antoine Bibeau 9-10-2 3.51 .894
Mads Sogaard 6-10-2 3.47 .893
Kevin Mandolese 6-8-3 3.33 .890


This is arranged by age because I think that’s useful in considering where a player is at in their career. I’ve included their numbers from last year after a dash for perspective. As a reminder: rookies are in italics; those in green were added during the season, those in red were removed; I’ve included total pro games in anticipation of their status for next season (this is to reflect the veteran rule, wherein 260 games–AHL, NHL, European elite leagues–is the cut off–this works a bit differently for prospects but I won’t go into the weeds of that).

Scott Sabourin, RW, 1992, re-signed FA (undrafted OHL); 51-16-17-33 (0.65)40-5-12-17 (0.33); career: 43 NHL/405 AHL
A career year for the veteran, who was re-signed in the summer; he fought less than last year (5 vs 7), with the team fighting slightly more (24 over 22); this is his first year with the org where he was not called-up to the NHL. Future: I’m fine if he stays or leaves, but I expect the org would like him to stay.

Brennan Saulnier, CL, 1993, trade-Mtl (undrafted NCAA); 30-6-9-15 (0.50)43-3-3-6 (0.14); career: 89 AHL/74 ECHL
The Sens have had good luck taking assets from Laval and making them useful (this was a career year for him)–he’s no Lucchini, but for a marginal AHL player these are good numbers. He’s the only player other than Sabourin to have multiple fights (5), which is one less than the year prior. Future: depending on other decisions, I could lean either way, but there’s a chance his season was a fluke that can’t be repeated.

Dylan Blujus, DR, 1994, trade-NJ (2-40/12 TB); 5-0-0-0/24-1-4-5 (0.21)43-1-10-11 (0.25); career: 362 AHL/27 ECHL
Unfortunately a pointless late-season move by the BSens, as they missed the playoffs and Blujus barely played (presumably he’s the future considerations for Hawryluk). Future: None (there’s just no place for a declining veteran like him).

Antoine Bibeau, GL, 1994, FA (6-172/13 Tor); 9-10-2 3.51 .8944-1-2 2.48 .905; career: 4 NHL/225 AHL/14 ECHL
Signed in the summer after becoming the 5th goalie in Seattle; he had a glorious opportunity to show his stuff due to injuries, but instead had his worst save percentage since his sophomore year in the QMJHL. Future: None (when the team needed him most he failed to perform).

Jarid Lukosevicius, RW, 1995, PTO (undrafted NCAA); 52-7-6-13 (0.25)62-10-9-19 (0.30)released from PTO
The Sens prospect pool is limited on the right side, which helped keep him around for much of the season (despite an absurdly unproductive streak to end his tenure, 24-0-1-1).

Cole Cassels, CR, 1995, Allsvenskan (3-85/13 Van); 64-12-39-51 (0.80)70-6-19-25 (0.36); career: 419 AHL/63 Europe
Failed out of Sweden and the org took another chance on him (having played for the BSens in 2019-21)–he had a career season. Future: It will be interesting to see what he happens to him–his greatest success as a pro has been in Belleville, but after a season like this there’s more money to be made elsewhere (Europe in particular). I’d be fine with him returning, although we have to treat this career season with caution.

Dillon Heatherington, DL, 1995, re-signed FA (2-50/13 Clb); 60-4-11-15 (0.25) (3 NHL games) – 45-2-11-13 (0.29); career: 23 NHL/418 AHL/41 Europe
Signed a two-year extension in the summer; the lumbering blueliner is what he is–he’s fine for what he does at this level. Future: has one year remaining on his contract.

Jake Lucchini, LW, 1995, re-signed FA (undrafted NCAA); 61-19-34-53 (0.87) (11 NHL games) – 72-20-31-51 (0.71); career: 11 NHL/237 AHL
Acquired from Laval last season, he was re-signed after his breakout campaign and this year improved on that. Future: the Sens should bring him back if he’s interested, especially since this upcoming season is the last where he doesn’t fall under the veteran contract category.

Jayce Hawryluk, RW, 1996, FA (2-32/14 Flo); 19-3-5-8 (0.42)SELtraded to New Jersey for future considerations
Signed after an unremarkable season in Sweden; he had played for the org previously as a waiver pick-up (2019-20), but he was well below his AHL averages this year (0.64) and jettisoned.

Rourke Chartier, CL, 1996, re-signed FA (5-149/14 SJ); 40-20-8-28 (0.70) (6 NHL games) – 33-10-15-25 (0.76); career: 19 NHL/222 AHL
Like Lucchini above, he was picked up early last season and performed well enough to be brought back. He cannot stay healthy (40 games this year is the most he’s played since 67 in 2016-17), but when he’s in the lineup he’s productive. Future: a good candidate for the BSens to bring back, especially since his injury issues means (like Lucchini) he’s not yet hit veteran status.

John Quenneville, RW, 1996, SEL (1-30/14 NJ); 25-4-11-15 (0.60)16-1-1-2 (0.12); career: 42 NHL/215 AHL/65 Europe
Like Cassels, he was brought in from Sweden (where he was having a solid season) to fill out the weak right side. This was a down year for him given his career AHL numbers coming into it (0.75). Future: I don’t expect the team to retain him, although I wouldn’t consider it a calamity if they do.

Matthew Boucher, LW, 1997, PTO (undrafted QMJHL); 50-6-10-16 (0.32)career: 55 AHL/77 ECHL
Boucher was consistently inconsistent all year. His difficult path to pro was the Q to Canadian University to the ECHL, being productive at every level except the AHL thus far. Future: If he’ll accept an AHL contract he makes for useful depth, but I wouldn’t invest in him more than that.

Kyle Betts, CL, 1997, PTO (undrafted NCAA); 40-1-2-3 (0.07)NCAA – released from his PTO
Even as a depth forward, you want more from him, so I wouldn’t expect to see him with the org again.

Graham McPhee, LW, 1998, trade-Edm (5-149/16 Edm); 14-0-1-1 (0.07)/41-1-5-6 (0.14)33-5-6-11 (0.33); career: 77 AHL
Presumably the price to be paid for moving Bernard; he added nothing to the roster and has likely played his way out of the AHL (over four years: 77-6-11-17 0.22). Future: None.

Matthew Wedman, LW, 1999, re-signed FA (7-199/19 Flo); 41-3-5-8 (0.20)70-11-6-17 (0.24); career: 111 AHL
A depth player with size but poor skating. Future: He could stay, he could go (it’s an AHL-contract after all)–the Sens may have expected more out of him in his sophomore year.


Jacob Larsson, DL, 1997, FA (1-27/15 Ana); 55-4-13-17 (0.31) (7 NHL games) – 55-2-13-15 (0.27); career: 172 NHL/191 AHL
Posted near identical numbers from when he’d failed out of Anaheim’s organization. Future: I don’t think he adds anything meaningful to the roster, so I’d let him walk, but we’ll see what the Sens do (he’s an RFA and the Sens will want at least one other older blueliner on the roster).

Kristians Rubins, DL, 1997, FA (undrafted WHL); 42-2-4-6 (0.14)58-1-10-11 (0.19) traded to Calgary for future considerations
One of the more puzzling signings in the off-season, as the Toronto castoff was simply a weaker echo of Larsson and Heatherington (how many big, lumbering blueliners do you need?)–the org jettisoned him in March.

Dylan Ferguson, GL, 1998, trade-Tor (7-194/17 Dal); 6-1-0 2.30 .926 (2 NHL games)/2-2-0 3.12 .8885-4-1 2.90 .907; career: 3 NHL/ 29 AHL/27 ECHL
A steal from Toronto, even if he did not play many games. Future: I’m not sure if he did enough to stay (it will depend on what they want to do with Sogaard–if he remains in the NHL, then RFA Ferguson is easy to keep as a pairing with Merilainen, but if not then there isn’t room for him).

Jonathan Aspirot, DL, 1999, undrafted QMJHL; 43-5-11-16 (0.37)47-5-13-18 (0.38); career: 161 AHL
The RFA cannot stay healthy, having never played more than 47 games in his four seasons with the org. Future: His production hasn’t changed as a prospect at all, but the argument for him is depth (he’s easy enough to keep), so we’ll see what they do.

Viktor Lodin, C/LW, 1999, 4-94/19; 28-6-9-15 (0.54) – SEL; career: 1 NHL/38 AHL
Future: Injury robbed the RFA of his season and I fear the Sens will walk away because of it. Projecting is difficult, but there’s a chance he could be a 3rd-4th line NHL player with offensive touch (the kind Ottawa is lacking right now). On the other hand, he could also be Roman Wick–which is to say, not quite talented enough for the NHL–we just don’t know.

Angus Crookshank, LW, 1999, 5-126/18; 71-26-21-47 (0.66) – injured; career: 90 AHL
After missing a full season he caught fire towards the end of this one (18-7-8-15); if he was a better skater there’s definitely a place for him at the NHL-level (a smaller, agitating player with some offensive touch), but I think that’s up in the air. Future: He has a year left on his ELC, so plenty of time for him to develop.

Cole Reinhardt, LW, 2000, 6-181/20; 66-11-23-34 (0.52)70-15-15-30 (0.43); 1 NHL/169 AHL
I’ve been hard on him since he was picked, but there were signs of progress despite lengthy cold streaks (1 assist in 12 games in December and no points in 9 in January); he ended the season well (15-5-6-11). Future: A useful AHL-player, but NHL-potential still seems a long way away. He’s going into the final year of his ELC.

Egor Sokolov, RW, 2000, 2-61/20; 70-21-38-59 (0.84) (5 NHL games) – 64-19-31-50 (0.78); 13 NHL/169 AHL
The popular Sokolov improved on last year’s numbers; his issue remains skating–can he keep up at the NHL-level? Future: If we get the classic Dorion deal of 1 year two-way, 1 year one-way, we’ll know the org envisions him on the NHL-roster; if we get a 1 year, two-way deal, then they haven’t made up their minds.

Xavier Bernard, DL, 2000, FA (4-110/18 NJ); 17-0-1-1 (0.05)21-0-2-2 (0.09) traded to Edmonton
Signed a two-year AHL deal two seasons ago, but was unable to be a regular player in Belleville and that reality finally set in with the org late in the season and he was shipped off.

Jacob Bernard-Docker, DR, 2000, 1-26/18; 41-2-4-6 (0.15) (19 NHL games) – 58-2-7-9 (0.15); career: 32 NHL/99 AHL
One of the most anemic offensive players I’ve ever seen, showing no improvement over his rookie season–atrocious numbers, and if you can’t make a good first pass there’s no long term future in the NHL. Despite that, the org loves him (not unusual when it comes to defense-first blueliners). Future: An RFA, it will be interesting to see what kind of deal Dorion gives him–I’d love to see him dealt for a better asset.

Kevin Mandolese, GL, 2000, 6-157/18; 6-8-3 3.33 0.890 (3 NHL games) – 9-5-0 3.12 .901; 3 NHL/43 AHL/16 ECHL
Future: I think the RFA has played his way out of the org (despite how few games he’s actually played over the last three years); never consistent, his flashes of brilliance haven’t been enough to unseat Sogaard and now Merilainen has arrived and needs to play. Future: His only avenue of staying is if Sogaard is ticketed to Ottawa and he becomes a duo with the Finn (the former is certainly possible, but with Mandolese as part of a duo is less so).

Lassi Thomson, DR, 2000, 1-19/19; 56-7-26-33 (0.59) (2 NHL games) – 44-10-16-26 (0.59); career: 18 NHL/135 AHL
A joy to watch, his season totals were crushed by a late cold streak (9 games pointless in March). He’s a dynamic player with good footspeed and there’s a future for him at the next level. Future: He has one year left on his ELC and at the moment it looks like he’ll stay in Belleville where he should dominate.

Mads Sogaard, GL, 2000, 2-37/19; 6-10-2 3.47 .893 (19 NHL games) – 19-14-1 2.86 .908; career: 21 NHL/64 AHL
A down year for the Dane, although a bit more consistent than his buddy Mandolese. Future: I think he needs more time in the AHL and that forcing him into an NHL role next season will hurt his development. He has another year on his ELC, so why not use it to allow him to develop the consistency he needs?

Maxence Guenette, DR, 2001, 7-187/19; 72-5-35-40 (0.56) (1 NHL game) – 48-6-13-19 (0.39); career: 1 NHL/120 AHL
There are parallels between he and former Sens prospect Max Lajoie (who was pushed into the NHL too early, got moved, but has developed well in Carolina–his NHL potential remains up in the air). Guenette had an excellent sophomore season. Future: The org should let him marinade in the AHL and develop. He has one year left on his ELC.

Philippe Daoust, CL, 2001, 6-158/20; 9-2-5-7 (0.78) – QMJHL; career: 24 AHL
His rookie season was ruined by injury, so despite a good start we have no idea what his year would be like. Hopefully he’s fully recovered and will get to demonstrate that next season.

Ridly Greig, CL, 2002, 1-28/20; 39-15-14-29 (0.74) (20 NHL games) – WHL; career: 20 NHL/46 AHL
Enjoyed a strong rookie season, although he fell off in the second half of the season which was split between NHL call-ups (14-3-3-6 in the AHL). Future: There’s going to be a temptation to keep him in Ottawa next year, but another year in Belleville could be good for him (a chance to get stronger, something he needs given his style of play).

Roby Jarventie, LW, 2002, 2-33/20; 40-16-14-30 (0.75)70-11-22-33 (0.47); career: 114 AHL
I’ve been a fan since he was drafted and he enjoyed a strong, if injury-plagued, sophomore year. Future: He should dominate in the upcoming season and he needs to produce because he’s not the kind of player who can grind it out on the fourth line (he has size, but doesn’t play that kind of game). He’s one of the few players in the pipeline who has top-six potential. Due to Covid quirks, much like Reinhardt, one of his seasons in Belleville doesn’t ‘count’, so he still has two years left on his ELC.

I’m not including late adds like Leevi Merilainen or Jorian Donovan, because the sample size is much too small to judge.

Team Performance

BSens coach Troy Mann was fired February 2nd in the midst of his fifth season as the head coach (inexplicably Elite Prospects has his departure date as January 3rd). His brother, Trent, has been running the Sens drafts since 2017 and been with the org since 2011. The reason Troy was fired isn’t clear (one theory involves injured players, which could get the org in trouble with the NHL if true, cf, but if that was true the Sens would have fired him with cause, which they did not). The theory that makes the most sense to me is that Dorion fired him to ensure impressions about him from within the org to new ownership were more controllable (if true, this means Trent Mann is also under the gun).

2021-22 40-28-4 219 218 PP 19.0 PK 82.8
2022-23 31-31-10 233 258 PP 20.7 PK 77.4

Camp add: Boucher
October 3-4-1 (Lukosevicius, Betts added)
November 5-5-0 (Cassels, Saulnier added)
December 4-8-2
January 4-6-1
February 6-4-1 (Mann fired; Quenneville, Ferguson added)
March 5-3-4 (McPhee added; Hawrlyuk, Rubins, Bernard traded)
April 4-2-1 (Blujus added; Lukosevicius, Betts released)

Troy Mann: 17-23-4
David Bell: 14-8-6

The team improved at the end of the season, but their season was sunk by a terrible December-January, highlighted by awful goaltending. Just like the NHL team, Belleville scored more (+14), but unlike Ottawa saw significant issues in preventing goals (-40). What’s ironic is Pierre Dorion loaded up on FA defensive blueliners in the off-season (extending Heatherington and adding Larsson and Rubins), but things got worse (his veteran goaltender also had his worst season since junior). The in-season repairs are presumably Ryan Bowness’ work and were positive, although their effects weren’t felt until the goaltending stabilized. I don’t expect interim coach David Bell to be back–I think his winning record is irrelevant–as I assume new ownership will want a new coach. Bell was the longest serving assistant with Mann (going back to 2019-20), as Bex Sexton and Justin Peters arrived just the season prior (former assistant Colin Chaulk spent just one season before moving to Bakersfield, where he’s now the head coach; video coach Fred Lemay was let go after last season and hasn’t landed in hockey elsewhere).

In terms of development, the most significant jumps were from Jarventie and Guenette, but they are also two of the youngest players, so it’s difficult to credit that to the staff. What Troy Mann has been best at lately is taking older castoffs like Lucchini and getting the most out of them. Overall his work was a welcome relief from the second Kleinendorst era or Luke Richardson previously (cf), although in each off-season Dorion can’t help himself in signing certain types of players (Sabourin is a more useful version of Zack Stortini, Francis Lessard, etc; there’s also the Heatherington mold, ala Guillaume Lepine or Paul Baier). Broadly speaking, Dorion thinks the team needs an older fighter and big, veteran blueliners, but those decisions are now being nudged into less eye-bleeding territory.

Overall it was a disappointing season, both in terms of performance and in expectations. We had no failed seasons from prospects (except Mandolese, but fail may be too strong a word), but also no breakout performances. Some of that is due to the caliber of prospects beginning to drop (the high end players from the rebuild are in the NHL now), but some of that is simply due to a down year. How much is Mann’s fault? I think the blame is fairly shared with Dorion and management, who cannot help themselves in signing free agents who don’t pan out. Ultimately the biggest struggle for the BSens was goaltending, and Bibeau was not up to the task of bailing them out (requiring the Ferguson trade). This specific problem happened previously (17-18 with Danny Taylor). The other recurring issue is the lack of a #1 puck-moving blueliner, something the org didn’t even try to add, but hasn’t successfully added since since Andre Benoit (12-13)–the hope was that prospects can carry the mail, but that’s a lot of pressure on those players and other than Chabot (for a few games in 17-18) has never panned out. Overall, it’s a failed season, even if it does contain a number of positives.

I’ll write a separate article looking at prospects who might be appearing on the BSens horizon and what to expect.

This article was written by Peter Levi


Ottawa Senators Season Wrap-up

The biggest point of discussion right now is not the team but the GM. One of the more hilarious defenses I’ve heard of Dorion is: 1) all his errors are Melnyk’s fault, or 2) all GMs make mistakes (Zibanejad for Brassard could happen to anyone). Ian Mendes points out Dorion is on the threshold of breaking a historical precedent of being the longest employed GM who consistently missed the playoffs (if he finishes next season he will break Carolina’s Bill Peters record of 328 games). Ian has pushed this point by saying if the team isn’t going to make the playoffs, Dorion should step aside (going through the GM’s rather hilarious pronouncements over the years about his goals and the state of rebuild–comments he’s conveniently forgotten). This willingness to push the org is one of the things I like about Mendes and perhaps the reason he’s at The Athletic and no longer hosting TSN 1200 anymore. The Mendes career arc reminded me of the contrast with Travis Yost, who made his name doing journalism about the team on Hockeybuzz, but now restricts himself to analytics on TSN.

As Mendes mentioned, coming into this season, just like last season (2021-22) and going back to 2019-20, Ottawa was supposed to make a serious push for the playoffs. How different has this season been? Let’s look at the raw numbers:

2021-22 33-42-7 224 (26th) 264 (22nd) PP 19.3 (20th) PK 80.3 (13th)
2022-23 39-35-8 259 (18th) 270 (20th) PP 23.5 (8th) PK 80.1(14th)

Finishing with 86 points (13 more than last year), the team was 11th in the east and 21st overall (moving up 5 spots in the standings). The major difference (6 more wins) was due to an increase in offense (35 more goals), as the team gave up slightly more goals (+6), and their PK was essentially unchanged (-0.2%).

Before we have fun and look at offense, let’s look at the part of the game ex-players and coaches spend 99% of their time talking about: defense. Clearly the coach has limited impact, so let’s focus on personnel. What’s changed between seasons?

Thomas Chabot, DL, 1-18/15, 59-7-31-38 0.62 (0.60) 27th among d-men
Michael Del Zotto, DL, FA, 26-3-10-13 0.50 (0.36) -> AHL
Travis Hamonic, DR, T-Van (3-80/22, Elias Pettersson), 43-4-6-10 0.23 (0.26)
Artyom Zub, DR, FA, 81-6-16-22 0.27 (0.28)
Nick Holden, DL, T-VGK (Dadonov trade), 76-5-14-19 0.25 (0.28)
Erik Brannstrom, DL, T-VGK (Stone trade), 53-0-14-14 0.26 (0.27)
Nikita Zaitsev, DR, T-Tor (Ceci trade), 62-2-9-11 0.17 (0.26)
Victor Mete, DL, Waivers, 37-0-7-7 0.18 (0.21) -> 9th D in Toronto
Thomas Chabot, DL, 1-18/15, 68-11-30-41 0.60 (0.62) tied for 31st among d-men
Jake Sanderson, DL, 1-5/20, 77-4-28-32 0.42 (NCAA) 3rd rookie d-men
Jakob Chychrun, DL, T-Ari (1st 2023, Wsh 2nd 2024, 2nd 2026), 12-2-3-5 0.42 (0.44)
Travis Hamonic, DR, T-Van (3-80/22, Elias Pettersson), 75-6-15-21 0.28 (0.23)
Nick Holden, DL, T-VGK (Dadonov trade), 65-2-14-16 0.25 (0.25)
Erik Brannstrom, DL, T-VGK (Stone trade), 74-2-16-18 0.24 (0.26)
Artyom Zub, DR, FA, 53-3-7-10 0.19 (0.27)
Nikita Zaitsev, DR, T-Tor (Ceci trade)/T-Chi (2nd 2023, 4th 2026 in return for nothing), 28-0-5-5 0.18 (0.17)

The major change year-to-year was the addition of Sanderson, an obvious upgrade, but that only impacted offensive numbers (Chychrun didn’t play enough this season for his effect to be felt). If the top-four can stay healthy, I think the Sens have a competitive group, although the quality of the depth behind them remains untested. How will the roster change? I thought Holden would be allowed to walk (and he was); I think the team will trade Brannstrom (who is ill-suited to the 5-6 spot) with either a sign-and-trade or a direct move. If that’s correct, that means Kleven and JBD move onto the roster (I think Thomson is better than JDB, whose limitations with the puck are exceptional, but I’m not making the decisions–Dorion may give JBD the classic first year two-way, second year one-way to keep his cap number down). I’m unsure about Hamonic–I’d let him walk, but I feel like Dorion will keep him if it’s on a team-friendly deal (he apparently talked to him about a one-year deal).

It’s worth addressing the offensive side of this group. Chabot has settled into a predictable range of production which, while good, is at the bottom end of top blueline producers. Adding Sanderon and Chychrun shifts the group out of the utterly anemic, but it’s unclear if there’s an elite puck mover (Sanderson could get there, perhaps, although that’s not how he was projected when drafted–granted, having read more Corey Pronman than any healthy person should, it’s a default reflex from him to criticize offensive ability); at 25 you’d think Chychrun‘s production won’t change much, but people like Jason York and Denis Potvin think it takes a long time for a blueliner to hit their stride, so increases are possible. A team can win without an elite offensive defensemen, but it’s rare to win to a Cup without one (Carolina in 2006 is what immediately springs to mind).

Let’s move to goaltending (the position Bob Essensa seems to understand so well):

Anton Forsberg, GL, Waivers-WPG, .917 (.909)
Matt Murray, GL, T-Tor (3rd 2023 and 7th 2024 for nothing in return), .906 (.911) -> continued decline in Toronto (.903)
Filip Gustavsson, GL, T-Min (Talbot trade), .892 (.905) -> Career year (.931)
Cam Talbot, GL, T-Min (Gustavsson trade), .898 (.911)
Anton Forsberg, GL, Waivers-WPG, .902 (.917)
Mads Sogaard, GL, 2-37/19, .889 (.889)

Numbers went down, with Talbot reverting to his late Edmonton form (as the analytics community warned he could), and Forsberg dropping towards his career average. In short, the goaltending was not very good. I expect Talbot to be let go (now confirmed, although Dorion tried to re-sign him in January), but will the team go with Forsberg/Sogaard? I’m not sure, particularly given the cap situation (see below). I’m doubtful of the pair, although you have to wonder how much of the performance in Ottawa rests on the shoulders of goaltending coach Zac Bierk. More broadly, goalies don’t tend to hit their stride until 25-26 and Sogaard turns 23 in December. My preference would see Sogaard play in Belleville next year and have the Sens sign someone else to play with Forsberg. Ottawa has a long track record of rushing goalie prospects (Robin Lehner, Brian Elliott, and Filip Gustavsson come to mind), so it will be interesting to see what they do.

Defensive Forwards
The other factor is the assemblage of ‘defensive forwards’ taking up space at the bottom of the roster (a tendency Dorion has had in the AHL as well): Joseph, Kelly, Kastelic, Watson, Gambrell, and the added P. Brown. This group changed absolutely nothing. The org should let Watson, Brown, and Gambrell walk, but D. J. Smith seems to love Gambrell and Dorion loves Watson, so it’s unclear if they will. Keep in mind on good teams there’s a scoring threat throughout the lineup, something Ottawa does not currently have. I think we can also accept that not only did the Sens overpay to acquire Joseph, but signing him to a lengthy deal was also a mistake (as I said at the time, at least his salary is low enough he can probably be moved, but I wouldn’t expect much in return).

Small Sample Size and Late Season Production

I mentioned this last year and I’ll say it again: pay no attention to numbers put up at the end of the season. It happened to Joseph last year and he’s a great illustration of how little it means (his season this year is almost an exact mirror of his 20-21 year in Tampa). Since the Bryan Murray-era (07-08) the Sens have had a bad habit of being won over by small sample size and I’m interested to see what they do with the potpourri of miscellaneous marginalia Dorion added before the trade deadline. Let’s quickly go through it (we’ll grade it via this criteria: did they perform as advertised, was their performance worth the cost, and did they help the team win?):

Patrick Brown, RW, age 30-31 (acquired from Philadelphia for a 2023 6th-rounder)
Phi 43-2-5-7 0.16
Ott 18-2-3-5 0.27
NHL career 138-10-14-24 0.17
I have no clue what Dorion was thinking here. You could argue that Brown isn’t even an NHL player and as he’s about to turn 31 there’s no performance upside to project (albeit there’s some bafflement in seeing former Sens 1st-rounder Stefan Noesen evolving into a useful player in Carolina at 30, but in his case there had been flashes of this before in New Jersey). I’d rather have a 6th-round pick despite the odds then six weeks of Brown (my updated look at draft performance is forthcoming btw). The Sens should walk away from him at season’s end, but apparently have talked to him about staying.
Grade: F (performance as expected, but failed the other two categories)

Julien Gauthier, RW, age 25-26 (acquired from the Rangers to get rid of off-season signee Tyler Motte)
NYR 40-6-3-9 0.22
Ott 17-3-2-5 0.29
NHL career 153-14-18-32 0.21
Has the size the org loves (he’s 6’4), but there’s a reason why this is the 1st-rounder’s third team already. He’s not talented enough to play in the top-six and despite his size he can’t (or won’t) bang and grind on the fourth line. With that said I was fine with Dorion taking a chance on him given the exchange (especially since he got a pick back as well). The right thing to do is to let Gauthier walk despite his RFA status (since Sokolov will grind), but we may be in a Dylan Gambrell situation where the Sens fall in love with a marginal player.
Grade: C (performance and cost were fine, but did not help the team win)

I’m looking at these additions instead of Jakob Chychrun because the deal with Phoenix was about more than just the stretch-run (I looked at it here and I think it’s a fantastic trade). I’ve also left out the Nikita Zaitsev trade for the same reason–no bodies were added, so even though I think it’s a bad trade (link above), it’s not relevant to the immediate roster. If the above seems familiar–paying a cost for irrelevant depth player–it’s because Dorion has a long, long history of doing this–just as he does with Zaitsevs by another name (bodies brought in at cost whom he then has to pay more to get rid of–Matt Murray, Josh Brown, etc). It’s a sign that Dorion (and his staff) have not evolved much. I’ve always said that Ottawa’s amateur scouting has been good (or at least average), but their pro scouting has been terrible.

What about the off-season? Let’s look at the bodies that were brought in to make Ottawa a playoff team:

Alex Debrincat, RW, age 25-26 (acquired from Chicago at tremendous cost)
Chi 82-41-37-78 0.95
Ott 82-27-39-66 0.80
Career 450-187-186-373 0.83
When he was signed I had a lot of concerns, something not shared in the fanbase until six months later, but echoed by outsiders at the time. The Sens paid an enormous price for someone they have to re-sign after one season–a similar scenario to when Dorion traded for Matt Duchene in 2017 and whose disastrous results I went through (link above). In terms of the numbers, I think they’re less than expected but fine, but aren’t the numbers of a 9 million dollar player, nor is it clear just how much the Sens needed to add a player like him. To me he’s the sixth best forward on the team (behind Tkachuk, Stutzle, Giroux, Norris, and Batherson), but he’s not going to sign for Batherson-money, so what are you going to do with him? Dorion can’t recoup the cost of adding him and I can’t imagine retaining him through a nine million dollar season (ownership aside, what would be the point?). Back in September I talked about the Cap problems Dorion was steering the team towards and while a deep-pocketed owner could partially solve them, it’s very easy to hit that ceiling and they need deals for Pinto, a long term deal for Sanderson (kicking in the year after), an extension for Chychrun (the season after that), and something for Formenton (they have to do something with that asset at least)–with Debrincat already qualified they are at 74.77 million. Reading the tea leaves it seems like the org wants to move on from Debrincat, something I gauge from local media and personalities promoting the idea–typically that does not happen when the org is keen on keeping him.
Grade: C (performance is fine, but fails the other two categories)

Cam Talbot, GL, age 35-36 (acquired from Minnesota for Filip Gustavsson)
Min 49gp 2.76 0.911
Ott 36gp 2.93 0.898
When the deal was made I thought it was a worthwhile risk to have someone experienced backing-up Forsberg (whose future success I had major concerns about and keeping in mind I did not think Ottawa was going to make the playoffs this year); it also seemed like Gustavsson needed a change from Ottawa. Travis Yost sounded the alarm immediately, talking about concerning underlying numbers and the analytics were on point. Even if he’d stayed healthy, this has been an awful year for the ‘tender (his worst since Edmonton in 2018-19). The team is letting him walk, as they should, although it’s on-point for Dorion to have tried to keep him despite his performance.
Grade: F (on all counts)

Tyler Motte, LW, age 28 (FA from NYR, who had picked him up from Vancouver to be part of their playoff run)
Van/NYR 58-7-8-15 0.25
Ott 38-3-6-9 0.23
NHL career 331-43-38-81 0.24
When signed I had no idea what Dorion was thinking (Nichols thought a career year of underlying numbers was prophetic–it was not). Ottawa was stuffed with players like him and he was shipped out for the cheaper and younger Gauthier (above).
Grade: F (performance was fine, but failed the other categories)

Derick Brassard, LW, age 35-36 (FA from Edmonton, who got him from Philadelphia for the playoffs and didn’t use him)
Phi/Edm 46-8-11-19 0.41
Ott 62-13-10-23 0.37
NHL career 1013-215-330-545 0.53
In the twilight of his career, the player Ottawa give up Mika Zibanejad for (classic Dorion move) returned to play a minor role on a team going nowhere. When they signed him I didn’t see the point, but also thought there was no harm in doing it and that’s how it’s turned out. I don’t think he helped or hurt the team (most of his production was on the second unit PP), as within the realm of things Dorion, adding him was tolerable. There’s no place for him on the team next season (I see Dorion offering him a PTO as a polite waive goodbye).
Grade: C (performance/cost were fine, but failed the other category)

With the exception of Debrincat, none of these players have the value of Alex Formenton, who missed the entire season in the NLA (22-10-3-13) ostensibly for contract reasons, but I suspect for optics (as Dorion more or less admitted in his press conference). As I’ve discussed before, I don’t know the truth of what happened, but I’ve learned the lesson not to simply assume until matters have gone further than they have here–with no tangible legal action being taken, I’m guessing the NHL’s investigation will more or less absolve him (unlike the Chicago/Brad Aldrich situation, where there was evidence aplenty to bring the hammer down, or like Slava Voynov for that matter).

Offensive Improvement

The part of the game that brings people to the rink and gets talked about the least–offense! Scoring 35 more goals is hugely significant and the reason the team won more games. Let’s compare last season to this one:

Drake Batherson, RW, 4-121/17, 46-17-27-44 0.95 (0.67)
Brady Tkachuk, LW/C, 1-4/18, 79-30-37-67 0.84 (0.69)
Josh Norris, C, T-SJ (Karlsson deal), 66-35-20-55 0.83 (0.72)
Tim Stutzle, C/LW, 1-3/20 (Karlsson trade), 79-22-36-58 0.73 (0.66)
Connor Brown, RW, T-Tor/T-Wsh (Ceci trade; Wsh 2/24 flipped for Chychrun), 64-10-29-39 0.60 (0.49) -> played 4 games due to injury
Tyler Ennis, C/W, FA, 57-8-16-24 0.42 (0.49) -> NLA (37-13-20-33)
Alex Formenton, LW, 2-47/17, RFA, 79-18-14-32 0.40 (0.30) -> NLA (22-10-3-13)
Mathieu Joseph, C/W, T-TB (Paul trade), 69-12-18-30 0.43 (0.35)
Parker Kelly, C/LW, FA, 41-7-5-12 0.29 (AHL)
Chris Tierney, C, FA (Karlsson trade), 1 yr, 70-6-12-18 0.25 (0.40) -> dumped by Florida onto Montreal (0.27)
Austin Watson, W, T-Nsh (4-124/21, Jack Matier), 67-10-6-16 0.23 (0.25)
Mark Kastelic, C, 5-125/19, 16-2-2-4 0.25 (AHL)
Adam Gaudette, C, Waivers, 50-4-8-12 0.24 (0.32) -> AHL
Shane Pinto, C, 2-32/19, 5-0-1-1 0.20 (0.47)
Dylan Gambrell, C, T-SJ (7-204/22, Adam Zlnka), 63-3-4-7 0.11 (0.17)
Tim Stutzle, C/LW, 1-3/20 (Karlsson trade), 78-39-51-90 1.15 (0.73)
Brady Tkachuk, LW/C, 1-4/18, 82-35-48-83 1.01 (0.84)
Claude Giroux, C/RW, FA, 82-35-44-79 0.96 (0.86)
Alex Debrincat, W, T-Chi (1-7/22, Kevin Korchinski, 2-39/22, Paul Ludwinski, 3/24), 82-27-39-66
0.80 (0.95)
Drake Batherson, RW, 4-121/17, 82-22-40-62 0.76 (0.95)
Ridly Greig, CL, 1-28/20 (Pageau trade), 20-2-7-9 0.45 (WHL)
Shane Pinto, C, 2-32/19, 82-20-15-35 0.43 (0.20)
Josh Norris, C, T-SJ (Karlsson trade), 8-2-1-3 0.38 (0.83)
Derick Brassard, CL, FA, 62-13-10-23 0.37 (0.41)
Mathieu Joseph, C/W, T-TB (Paul trade), 56-3-15-18 0.32 (0.43)
Julien Gauthier, RW, T-NYR (Motte trade), 17-3-2-5 0.29 (0.22)
Patrick Brown, CR, T-Phi (6th 2023), 18-2-3-5 0.28 (0.20)
Tyler Motte, CL, T-NYR (Gauthier trade), 38-3-6-9 0.24 (0.25)
Mark Kastelic, C, 5-125/19, 65-7-4-11 0.17 (0.25)
Dylan Gambrell, C, T-SJ (7-204/22, Adam Zlnka), 60-4-6-10 0.17 (0.11)
Austin Watson, W, T-Nsh (4-124/21, Jack Matier), 75-9-2-11 0.15 (0.23)
Parker Kelly, C/LW, FA, 55-1-3-4 0.07 (0.29)

Despite losing Norris for most of the season, career years from Stutzle (who was fully moved to center) and Tkachuk powered the team forward; Giroux also had a fantastic season (his best since 18-19). Pinto, returning from having missed most of last year, posted numbers similar to his rookie year (0.47). Batherson, troubled by injury and the accusations that chased Formenton, had a solid year, but down from the year prior. Kelly and Watson both declined (the former off a cliff), Joseph returned to typical numbers and we got a taste of Greig at this level (who is a couple of years away from fully hitting his stride). Broadly, the Sens had a top-six that can compete, but things fall off beyond that (Pinto wasn’t ready to fill a top-six role).

In terms of forward contracts, DeBrincat, Pinto, Gambrell, and Gauthier are RFAs (Mark Wallace believes all RFAs will be resigned), while Watson, Brown, and Brassard are UFAs. With the exception of Pinto and DeBrincat, I’d let them all walk. Locking up Pinto ought to be the priority, but I’d move DeBrincat (see above; perhaps with a sign-and-trade). Do I think the Sens will do all the above? No. One or both of Watson and Gambrell will be kept (we’ve had confirmation that Dorion wants the former back, but there’s disagreement over term so it may not happen) and a number of scenarios are possible with DeBrincat (he might get the Mark Stone treatment–Dorion will want to recoup the 1st-round pick he gave up for DeBrincat, but unless he’s very lucky it won’t be in the top-ten, so even if he gets it, it won’t be the same value).

The Lineup

We’ll go through what I’d do and then what I think Dorion/Smith will do (assuming they both remain). Keep in mind that for the 2023 draft, Ottawa has just 4 picks, with the earliest in the 4th round, so immediate depth can’t come from it (barring trades). Players in italics are either possible targets to move or could wind up in the minors (I’ve used the CapFriendly RFA calculator for qualifying numbers–I’m not implying all or even most will wind up at that number, it’s just the bare minimum if they stay).

Tkachuk (8.2/5yrs) – Stutzle (8.35/8yrs) – Giroux (6.5/2 yrs)
LW UFA/tradeNorris (7.95/7yrs) – Batherson (4.975/4yrs)
Formenton (RFA)Pinto (RFA, 0.874) – Joseph (2.95/3yrs)
Crookshank (0.838/1yr)Kastelic (0.835/2yrs) – Sokolov (RFA, 0.787)

Extra: LW Kelly (0.762/1yr)

Chabot (8.0/5yrs) – Zub (4.6/4yrs)
Sanderson (0.925/1yr) – Chychrun (4.6/2yrs)
Kleven (0.916/2yrs)Thomson (0.863/1yr)

Extra: RD Bernard-Docker (RFA, 0.874)

Forsberg (2.75/2yrs) – UFA G

Meaningful Prospects (those the org thinks could be ready)
G Sogaard (0.925/1yr), C/LW Greig (0.863/2yrs)
Prospects to be re-signed/signed or released
LD Larsson (RFA), G Ferguson (RFA), C/LW Lodin (RFA), LD Aspirot (RFA), G Mandolese (RFA), LD Tychonick (2-48/18), L/LW Novak (7-188/18), C Loheit (7-194/18), RD Roger* (2-49/21), RW Latimer (4-123/21), LD Romeo (7-202/21)
* Roger signed an ATO in Belleville, but never dressed for a game

My iteration of the team has an improved third line while letting (older) prospects fill out the fourth (I left Joseph in the lineup–while he should ultimately be moved, the return would be poor and in the short-term he’s fine to start with). Either the trading of Debrincat or through free agency the team grabs a leftwinger to slot in with Norris on the second line (I’ve seen the dreams of Pierre-Luc Dubois, but I don’t think the Sens can afford him). While neither Sokolov or Crookshank bang like Watson, both go to the dirty areas and they have better hands. The downside is neither are particularly fast (unlike Kelly–granted, Watson isn’t either), but they are cheap and if there are issues are easily cycled back to Belleville. On the blueline I prefer Thomson to JDB, with the latter serving as a competent #7 or #8 who can fill-in for the inevitable injuries. Thomson would be a good compliment to Kleven–a fast, puck-moving blueliner next to a physical one. In the crease Sogaard needs more seasoning–he’s been maddeningly inconsistent at both levels, so I’d sign a veteran to play with Forsberg. What do I think Dorion will do? Differences in red.

Tkachuk (8.2/5yrs) – Stutzle (8.35/8yrs) – Giroux (6.5/2 yrs)
DeBrincat (9.0/1yr)Norris (7.95/7yrs) – Batherson (4.975/4yrs)
LW UFAPinto (RFA, 0.874) – Joseph (2.95/3yrs)
Kelly (0.762/1yr)Kastelic (0.835/2yrs) – P. Brown (UFA)

Extra: RW Gauthier (RFA, 0.840), C/RW Gambrell (RFA, 0.997)

Chabot (8.0/5yrs) – Zub (4.6/4yrs)
Sanderson (0.925/1yr) – Chychrun (4.6/2yrs)
Kleven (0.916/2yrs)Hamonic (UFA)

Extra: RD Bernard-Docker (RFA, 0.874)

Forsberg (2.75/2yrs) – Sogaard (0.925/1yr)

I think Dorion will move Debrincat, but I have no idea when, so I’ve left him on the board. I think Formenton will be signed and moved (probably for picks; there’s no point in leaving him in Switzerland–this isn’t a Mikael Wikstrand situation), as will Brannstrom (also for picks). He’s approached Brown to stay and, really, where else is he going to go? Both Gauthier and Gambrell are cheap and easy to keep, albeit playing the same side makes keeping both redundant. On the blueline we know Dorion loves JBD, but I think he’ll bring back Hamonic if the numbers work for both sides (it’s likely more about contract length than cost). Finally, pushing young goalies into the lineup is a proud org tradition, so I suspect Sogaard will back-up Forsberg.

Final Thoughts

The Sens became an entertaining team to watch this season, despite having plenty of problems. I like a lot of the components and the foundation is there for a playoff team, but do they have the management to get them there?

I’ve long thought Dorion was a terrible GM (going back to the Zibanejad trade), but I like the long term deals he signed this off-season (other than Joseph) and the fantastic trade for Chychrun (assuming he can stay healthy and be re-signed). The problem remains all the other nonsense he does–what, really, was the point of getting DeBrincat? It’s similar to the Duchene trade or Zibanejad trade. The team didn’t actually need Debrincat‘s offensive punch; he costs too much (both in terms of assets spent and in real dollars) and he was always just two seasons away from controlling his own fate. Beyond that we have Dorion’s persistent belief in marginal players who inevitably crash and burn (either absolutely or in terms of expectations). This was apparent on the AHL side as well, although of late someone has stopped some of it (he does his damage in the off-season, then during the year better moves are made). The best thing for the future would be to dump Dorion before he can tinker too much more (realistically he’ll be around for the draft and the beginning of free agency), but until we have a new owner it’s difficult to know what will happen (they may well give him one more season). I’d also get rid of most of the team’s pro scouts, since poor pro scouting has long been a problem in Ottawa.

This article was written by Peter Levi

The NHL’s Playoff Problem, Goaltending in Belleville, and More

The NHL needs a playoff refresh. I mentioned this in passing a year ago, but a struggling league needs an injection of excitement that goes beyond the recent increase in scoring (cf). In the halcyon days of the Original Six (1942-43 to 1966-67), 66% of the teams made the playoffs and while when I was growing up (the 1980s), 16 of 21 teams (76%) made it to the post-season. We can debate what the ‘appropriate’ percentage of contenders is abstractly, but the fact is that a team making the playoffs is better for the fanbase and the franchises–it maintains hope and excitement throughout the long regular season. If the NHL wants to remain at its current 50% tally (I have no idea why, as it was a slow process that took 30 years), at least add a play-in format to give more of the league the opportunity. As it stands, each season there are close to ten teams that have nothing to play for–that’s not healthy. The Premier League gets around this problem by having other things for mid and low-tier teams to play for, but the NHL can’t function that way. The AHL has solved the problem by having 23 of its 32 teams (72%, so very close to the NHL of the 1980s) make the playoffs. Too many fanbases have nothing to look forward to other than the draft all season. Maintaining the static 16 playoff teams of 1979 is probably due to a fear of the playoffs running even later into the summer, but that’s easy to solve and you could do it without cutting the regular season down. Americans don’t watch the latter stages of the playoffs anyway (ratings are unchanged since 2008), so worrying about that is pointless–accept that hockey is a regional sport and give those supporters something to get excited about.

What a debut for Leevi Merilainen, who made 41-saves for a shutout in the BSens 4-0 win over Toronto. I wonder if that performance has slammed the door on bringing back Kevin Mandolese, who hasn’t been able to perform consistency over his three years as a pro. It’s been a bizarre season in Belleville who are a nightmare defensively (despite loading up on big blueliners this summer). Let’s take a look at the goaltending (in order of games played and we’ll exclude the Finnish rookie for now):
Antonie Bibeau (6-172/13 Tor), 28, QMJHL-AHL, 22GP, 1119min, 9-9-2, 3.43, .896
Hasn’t been a starter in the AHL since 2018-19 and after this season I think he will struggle to find a spot in the league; his numbers are similar to Sogaard’s, but you expect more from a veteran
Mads Sogaard (2-37/19 Ott), 22, WHL-AHL-NHL, 21GP, 1055min, 6-9-2, 3.30, .898
Fans are very familiar with him given that he’s played in 16 NHL games this season; his AHL numbers have seen a steady decline in save percentage (0.917-0.908-0.898), which is a mix of inconsistency and the quality of defensive play in front of him
Kevin Mandolese (6-157/18 Ott), 22, QMJHL-ECHL-AHL, 17GP, 1008min, 6-8-3, 3.33, 0.890
The unfortunate thing for him is his year-by-year save percentage has remained middling (0.888-0.901-0.890); I don’t think occasional flashes of brilliance (like his first NHL-game) are enough to illustrate he’s got NHL potential in him, but keep in mind goaltending progression is weird and slow (‘tenders often hitting their stride in their mid-20s)
Dylan Ferguson (7-194/17 Dal), 26, WHL-ECHL-AHL, 7GP, 332min, 5-1-0, 2.35, .924
Hasn’t been a starting goaltender since his days in junior; flopped out of the Toronto org and then caught fire here–is this a sustainable performance? I doubt it, but he’s probably done enough to get an AHL-deal for next season (here or elsewhere)
Logan Flodell, 26, WHL-Cdn U-ECHL, 5GP, 174min, 1-0-0, 5.88, 0.813
The BSens called him up from the ECHL last season as well and while he wasn’t great then (0.881) he wasn’t as nightmarish as this season (he’s been equally bad in his only ECHL start this year, 0.813)
Luke Richardson, 23, OHL-Cdn U, 3 GP, 150min, 0-1-1, 3.99, 0.873
Acceptable numbers for someone still playing university hockey at Queens, but this is not someone you want starting games
Ryan Bednard (7-206/15 Flo), 26, NCAA-ECHL, 1GP, 64min, 0-0-1, 3.74, .875
Drafted and signed by Florida, he’s become a good ECHL goaltender; his one appearance wasn’t horrible, but the save percentage just isn’t up to what’s needed

One trend that Dorion and Mann have really sunk their teeth into is drafting, signing, and trading for players whose fathers were in the NHL. I’m sure others have covered this, but it’s quite remarkable just how many there are within the org:
Brady Tkachuk – son of Keith (1201-538-527-1065)
Jake Sanderson – son of Geoff (1104-355-345-700)
Jakob Chychrun – son of Jeff (262-3-22-25)
Ridley Greig – son of Mark (125-13-27-40)
Patrick Brown – son of Doug (854-160-214-374)
Cole Cassels (AHL) – son of Andrew (1015-204-528-732)
Matthew Boucher (AHL) – son of Philippe (748-94-206-300)
Graham McPhee (AHL) – son of George (115-24-25-49)
Tyler Boucher (OHL) – son of Brian (328gp)
Jorian Donovan (OHL) – son of Shean (951-112-129-241)
Signing players like this is something Dorion has done for a long time and while there are some obvious successes, for the most part this does not work out–it’s quite rare for the son of an NHLer to also be a good NHL player.

From watching the team play (the cherished eyeball test that keeps most TV and radio folks employed), the Sens fourth line gets destroyed by good teams–the depth at forward needs serious work for the team to become a true playoff threat. I also remain (cf) mystified at the org’s enthusiasm for Bernard-Docker–I’m not opposed to defensive-minded players, but I at least need them to distribute the puck and I’m not convinced JBD can do that at the NHL-level (his ppg in the AHL isn’t quite 0.15 despite time on the powerplay–that doesn’t inspire confidence, as it’s barely more than half Fredrik Claesson‘s (a player much like JBD) initial production and that’s a prospect who fell out of the NHL after 57 games outside the org. Ottawa has a long history of falling in love with marginal defense-first prospects who then disappear from the league once Ottawa trades them (let’s not forget that the Sens offered Jared Cowen an eight-year deal).

This article was written by Peter Levi