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


1 Comment

  1. […] Belleville Senators 2022-23 Season in Review […]

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.