Prospect Profile: Parker Kelly

Today the Sens signed WHLer Parker Kelly to an ELC. It’s the first free agent signing by the club this entire off season–having drafted just four players, it makes sense to add prospects to the pipeline. Whether Kelly himself is a good addition or not remains to be seen, but we do have some information to go on.

Parker Kelly, CL/W, 18, 5’10/11
2015-16 WHL (Prince Albert) 68-8-11-19 (0.27)
2016-17 WHL (Prince Albert) 72-21-22-43 (0.59, 4th ppg)

On the surface the center has middling numbers, but those anemic totals put him second on his team in points and fourth in points-per game. A strong second half put him on the map for the draft, but only two guides listed him (I slotted him in the seventh round) and only one (Hockey Prospects) included a scouting profile, which can be summarized as follows:
-can play both wing and center
-exceptional skating and work ethic
-impressive agility and explosiveness
-elusive on the cycle
-keeps his feet moving and creates turnovers
-a pest
-smart defensive positioning
-not offensively creative, but above average on-ice vision
-heavy, accurate shot

For the org clearly his performance in both development camp and the rookie tournament was sufficient to sign him (for my part his skating and tenacity were well in evidence in the latter). He’s an undersized addition (5’10 or 5’11 depending on where you look), which is a nice change of pace for the size-obsessed club. The “pest” label concerns me, because every pest the org has drafted has bombed badly (Vincent Dunn is the current poster boy for this), but I’m not going to get hung up on that just yet.

Because of his age and the league he’s from he’ll be returning to junior this season (and next), so the return on investment is some ways off, but while he’s not an exciting prospect (in the sense that his ceiling is low), he’s potentially a useful one down the line.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Senators News & Notes

pierre dorion

The Nichols‘ stenography service was plugged in and he offers us opinions on the words Pierre Dorion gives us. I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment:

I don’t want to say that a step back would be devastating to the team’s overall picture, but it would affirm the opinions of those who believe that the Senators had outlier success last year and are due for regression this season.

I would be one of those who have that opinion, although I believe Dorion is genuinely deluded thinking his team that can challenge for the Cup. In reference to Craig Anderson Nichols says:

When he plays fewer games, his numbers thrive. Whether there’s any sound reason for it is open for discussion.

I don’t think we need to parse the reason, but simply accept that this is how it is for him. Nichols could have spent more time mentioning how thin the talent on the Sens blueline is–after Karlsson there’s no true #2 (or even #3) defenseman–it’s a collection of marginal players who at best are #4’s on a more well-rounded team.

That’s a pretty passive statement regarding MacArthur’s ability to play this season. If I had to guess, it sounds like the organization already knows one way or another whether MacArthur will play this season.

And Nichols wins the prize as MacArthur did not pass his medical. As for where various high end prospects will play it will depend on their performance in camp and exhibition games–the org has been unwilling or unable to show patience when it comes them in the past (eg Ceci, Lazar, etc), and while I’d like them down in Belleville I’m dubious that will be the case. As for the old Bryan Murray canard of adding another forward: how are the Sens going to pay for one? With the internal budget it’s just not going to happen.

charlie

I wrote about Ottawa’s decision to remove 1,500 seats from the arena and Scott Stinson lays the blame at the feet of the CFL–while you can make that argument I don’t think it’s a good one (for instance, the downward trend in season tickets starts well before the arrival of the Redblacks).

belleville sens

James Gordon writes a human interest piece on Belleville goaltender Danny Taylor for those interested. Speaking of the BSens, Randy Lee signed another player to an AHL contract, inking 26-year old winger Daniel Ciampini, who has been a productive ECHL player (76-26-40-66) since he finished his college career.

Callum writes a gushing piece on the Sens prospects which ends with this:

A 29th place finish is absolutely not in the cards for Belleville in the AHL this season. The likes of Jason Akeson and Phil Varone will not be leading the B Sens in scoring with a measly 51 points. And when the injury bug hits in the big leagues, as it always does, Ottawa will have a far superior group to choose from.

He’s conflating his belief that a better prospect pool means better times in Belleville. As I mentioned in my early look at their roster months ago, even with Chabot and White in the lineup scoring is going to be a problem. While the team should be better than the last two anemic seasons, it’s blueline is still paper thin (especially if Chabot is in the NHL) and there’s no established scorer (Akeson was 18th in the league in points-per-game).

I posted my thoughts on the rookie tournament (unfortunately only one of the two games was broadcast). Speaking of the tournament, Pius Suter isn’t the only Swiss prospect at an NHL training camp while having an active NLA contract–Vincent Praplan is in the same situation with San Jose (he’s one of the European free agents I identified months ago).

wichita-thunder-logo

Justin Crandall, Wichita’s big free agent signing, has jumped ship to play in Denmark. Without him the team will be dependent on Edmonton (and Ottawa) to provide offense. In the wake of his departure they signed Taylor Makin, but the low-scoring pugilist with a WHL/University background is no replacement for Candall’s scoring.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Gnomes_plan

The Sens have removed 1,500 seats from their arena in a curious move to battle perception. This is an interesting decision and I wanted to look at a couple of quotes before drawing my own conclusions:

If you’ve got less product to sell, it’s easier to sell … When your season ticket base is so small, you’ve got so many single tickets to sell and it’s just difficult to do

That curious logic comes from Sens president Tom Anselmi (scarcity boosts the price of things people want, not the other way around). Ian Mendes (whose piece I’m using) adds:

Some estimates pegged the number at fewer than 8,000 season ticket holders last season

To me what’s interesting is the Sens inability to excite the marketplace. Ten years ago the Sens had over 13,500 season ticket holders, but the policy of marketing “win win win” has seen both that base and attendance drop. Whatever you think the “norm” for season tickets in the city is (11k? 12k?) the ownership and management are unwilling or unable to persuade them. It’s an honest admission to how out of touch the org is with fans, but also illustrates a stubborn refusal to try anything different. The problem can be traced to Melnyk’s financial need to push for the playoffs each season, which feeds into the internal budget; his unwillingness to dynamically change his front office is more about poor decision making. Not even the miracle playoff run this past season has turned off fan cynicism (despite cheerleading from some). Management and ownership have left fans in the paralyzed situation where every season is dictated by the health and performance of one player (having lost the man who picked him, Anders Forsberg, way back in 2010–Tim Murray scooped him up for Buffalo a few years ago). So will the move actually change perception? It’s doubtful.

insert_name_here

The Sens signed Chris VandeVelde to a PTO. The 30-year old forward played with the hapless Flyers last year, but doesn’t have good numbers are either the NHL or AHL level. I think there’s no chance the Sens sign him. Off the top of my head I can’t remember this management group ever signing a PTO to an NHL contract, but I could be forgetting someone.

Speaking of tryouts, Pius Suter has made it to main camp. The Swiss FA isn’t guaranteed anything, but it’s a compliment to him to move forward from the rookie tournament (it’s hard not to think he was promised this in order to miss the start of ZSC’s season).

belleville sens

Matt Tidcombe writes a piece on Jordan Murray (who signed to a two-year AHL deal) which goes into the factors that made him attractive to the org:

two USports national titles in back-to-back years … he won also won back-to-back USports Defenceman of the Year awards while also making three straight USports All-Canadian First Teams, among numerous other accolades.

Canadian University is not a strong development league, but players occasionally do come out of it (Joel Ward among others). Whether signing the 24 year old to an extended deal is worth it for Belleville remains to be seen.

wichita-thunder-logo

Wichita signed two players: former Montreal pick and NCAA grad Mark MacMillan (4-113/10), who spent the past two seasons struggling with St. John’s in the AHL; as well as undrafted QMJHL defenseman and pugilist Samuel Thibault (10 career goals, 8 career fights). ECHL rosters tend to get overstuffed to begin with so a number of these players will be shuffled off to the SPHL or FHL.

freeagent

Even this late in the game the FA signings continue, as the Flyers signed undersized QMJHLer Ivan Kosorenkov (who sailed through the last two drafts–I had him listed in the fourth round this year, but didn’t list him in 2016–ISS, who did, thought he was a third-round pick). He’s the seventh CHL FA signed this off-season.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Thoughts on the Senators Rookie Tournament

applause

Ottawa’s rookies won their first game 8-2 against Montreal’s rookies. Incredibly the game had no coverage at all–no TV, no radio, no stream. While it’s understandable that LeafsTV had no interest in broadcasting the contest, it would have been a simple matter to use the arena feed and stream it (on SensTV or wherever)–I can’t imagine LeafsTV would have denied Ottawa if they’d asked–the Sens are contributing a third of the talent for the tournament. I call it a failed marketing opportunity, particularly as it’s the only game Thomas Chabot and Colin White played in.

In the absence of video we are left with reports, the best of which comes from Colin who was there (Ary was also live tweeting, but with restraint–his most complete statement coming here; very brief video highlights were posted by RDS). Before getting into the results it’s worth keeping in mind: 1) Montreal was playing for a second straight night, 2) the Habs started their ATO goaltender (an unremarkable QMJHLer), who gave up 5 goals on 28 shots. Here’s the Sens lineup for the game:
Goaltenders: Hogberg-Bailie
Defense: Chabot-Jaros, Murray-Erkamps, Lajoie-Beaudoin-England
Forwards: Perron-Brown-Rodewald, Formenton-White-Gagne, Gennaro-Chlapik-Batherson, Kelly-Suter-Dow-Topping

I haven’t found a scoresheet for the game, but can piece the basics together from Colin’s piece and the RDS highlights:
First
1. Rodewald (Brown, Perron)
2. Montreal (Mete)
3. Gennaro (Lajoie, White)
4. Gagne (unknown)
Shots 16-13 Ottawa
Second
5. Kelly (unknown)
6. Jaros (Perron, Chabot) (pp)
Shots 18-9 Ottawa
Third
7. Chlapik (Chabot, unknown)
8. Topping (unassisted)
9. Montreal (Ebbing)
10. Brown (Rodewald, unknown)
Shots 14-11 for Montreal

Both Colin and Ary praised Gagne, but I did see someone talk about his footspeed as a problem (something noted when he was drafted)–the same attendee made the same complaint about Englund. These footspeed complaints seemed on point in the first period of the next game, but faded away as the game went on (at least at this level of play).

Game number two was actually broadcast on LeafsTV, with highlights here, so I can offer my own thoughts on it (a 4-3 shootout win by Ottawa). First, the roster:
Goalies: Bailie, Hogberg
Defence: Lajoie-Jaros,  Murray-Beaudoin, Englund-Erkamps-Donaghey
Forwards: Perron-Brown-Rodewald, Formenton-Chlapik-Gagne, Kelly-Suter-Batherson, Topping-Gennaro-Dow

Notes: Chabot and White weren’t dressed; Beaudoin did not get second pairing ice time (Englund did, playing mostly with Jaros); Suter spent part of the second and third period on the second line (Formenton sliding down), with Gagne moving up to the first (Perron sliding down). Dow played the least.

Summary (again nothing official–Bob McGill kept yammering during the broadcast so I couldn’t hear the announcer for the assists on the goals):
First
1. Leafs (bad angle shot Bailie should have had; lazy backcheck by Chlapik)
2. Leafs (rebound opportunity; Murray looked for the puck instead of taking the man and that’s the goal scorer)
3. Leafs on the PP (bad coverage down low–Batherson didn’t collapse down)
Shots: 10-10
Second
No scoring
Shots: 13-9 Ottawa
Third
4. Englund (floater hit a Leaf and went in)
5. Gennaro finishes a 2-on-1 with Topping (created by a turnover generated by Jaros)
6. Chlapik bangs in a great pass by Batherson (Lajoie was key as well, keeping the puck in)
Shots: 9-7 Ottawa
OT
No Scoring
Shootout
Lajoie scores 5-hole (the 6th Sens shooter)

General observations
The Sens were slow to start the game (Gagne in particular looked like he was stuck in neutral); teammates did not trust Bailie in the net which had them playing defensively. The Sens spent most of the first period in their own end and had few if any scoring chances. The second was a much better period, with better skating (including Gagne), more aggressive play once Hogberg came in, and they were particularly dominant during a 4-on-4 (as they would in the same situation in the third). They had the best chances in the third and earned the tie and the win.

Player observations
Bailie: looked exactly like what he is–an emergency replacement from the Canadian University system–albeit only one of the three goals he gave up was truly bad
Hogberg: excellent, stopping all shots (including during the shootout); the Sens style of play changed dramatically once he was in the crease, taking far more chances and dominating the game; he was calm in the net with good movement
Beaudoin: almost completely invisible (I forgot he was in the game for awhile); the only play he made that I noted was him making an unpressured pass to the wrong team in the third
Murray: more bad than good: got puck-watching on the Leafs second goal; threw a big hit in the first, then took a bad penalty (which the refs gave to Gagne); made a good and bad defensive play in the second, along with a brutal giveaway in the third that Hogberg bailed him out on
Erkamps: largely invisible, with two plays standing out–getting undressed in the second period; throwing a good hit (separating the player from the puck) in the third
Donaghey: didn’t play much in the first, but gradually joined the regular rotation; had two plays of note: a scoring chance off a great pass from Gagne in the second, then a giveaway in his own zone in the third
Englund: played a quiet, safe game, and he scored
Jaros: played a lot and most of it was good–huge hit early, but got beat badly on a inside-outside deke in the first; made a hit to create the turnover that lead to the Genarro goal; also made a good defensive play early in OT
Lajoie: fantastic game from him–showing both speed and finesse; at this level of competition he was very good; among the many things he did well he was very good at keeping the puck in at the blueline (one of those instances leading to the Chlapik goal); he also won the game in the shootout
Dow: outside of getting matching roughing penalties nothing he did sticks out
Perron: while Ary liked his game, I did not–he was mostly invisible through the first two periods, negating a powerplay in the third along with fumbling an opportunity set-up by Suter that period; for someone whose meant to generate offense he was a non-factor
Formenton: didn’t accomplish much other than being on the ice for Englund’s goal (Ary was happier with his play); a lot of speed, but for me he didn’t drive the play
Kelly: a very active player in terms of being involved, with two plays of note: drawing a penalty in the first and a scoring chance in the second
Topping: largely invisible, but made one big play: the pass on the 2-on-1 for the Sens second goal
Rodewald: a pretty quiet game, particularly in the second half–he had a good scoring chance in the second, but his most notable play was making a terrible pass to Perron on a 2-on-1
Suter: had a good game despite not appearing on the scoresheet; notable plays–making a great pass in the second that came to nothing, then a scoring chance on a deflection; in the third he made a nice drop pass to Perron in the slot which came to nothing; a 3-on-2 he generated later was shoveled to the goaltender by Gennaro; he also drew a penalty the Sens frittered away
Brown: had a solid if unremarkable game–a few scoring chances (one in the slot just before the Englund goal), some good passes, but not dominant
Gagne: a very slow first period, but was better afterwards–most notably with a scoring chance and a great pass to Donaghey for another (both in the second)
Batherson: had a slow start and wears the goat horns on the third Toronto goal as he failed to collapse down low; other notable moments–two great scoring chances (early third and in OT), setting up the tying goal, and then taking a dumb penalty in OT
Gennaro: came to the fore once the Sens opened up, first with a great scoring chance early and then scoring Ottawa’s second goal
Chlapik: it took him awhile to get going (a lackadaisical backcheck contributing to Toronto’s first goal), but he scored to tie the game and had a good chance in OT

In the end the primary standout was Lajoie, followed by Hogberg. As a group the Sens were tenacious, but I think the goaltender switch was the primary factor in them making the comeback, as the players felt like they could take chances and push the play.

Only three players on the roster were looking for contracts (Suter, Gennaro, and Beaudoin). I’m not sure Suter did enough to earn himself a contract (assuming that’s what he’s attempting), but such a small sample size makes him hard to judge. He was more present, in this game, than the other two, but Gennaro put himself on the scoresheet and the Sens tend to sway that direction. Beaudoin, who was invisible, should have no shot whatsoever. Given that the Sens don’t need to feed an ECHL affiliate, there’s no reason for them to load up on AHL-contracts, so I wouldn’t be surprised if none of them were signed.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

prospects

Ottawa released it’s rookie tournament roster and as always, I’m interested in who is participating that’s not already part of the organisation. Much like the development camp we have an unusual European participant who I’ll look at below (in the former case, Carl Persson’s development camp audition lead to nothing); a number of players from that camp are included on the roster (noted with an asterix):
*Charles-David Beaudoin 23, RD (CIS/AHL) 17-3-6-9/6-0-2-2
Went to the CIS after an unremarkable career in the Q; left early to turn pro and didn’t show much in limited ECHL and AHL duty
Bobby Dow 18, RW (Kemptville, CCHL) 53-24-35-59
Draft eligible this year, he’ll be looking to improve his stock for 2018
*Matteo Gennaro 20, CL (Calgary, WHL) 69-43-37-80
Former Winnipeg pick (7-203/15), he’s looking for a pro contract after leading the Hitmen in scoring
*Parker Kelly 18, CL (Prince Albert, WHL) 72-21-22-43
Draft eligible this year, he’ll be looking to improve his stock for 2018; inexplicably I reversed his names in my development camp piece
Pius Suter 21, C/LW (ZSC, NLA) 38-17-11-28
Played with former Sens prospect Roman Wick (as well as Ryan Shannon and I-could-have-been-Tarasenko David Rundblad); he was expected to be picked in the 2015 draft (I had him slotted in the fourth round), but size scared off GM’s; I wrote a full profile of him in case the Sens pull the trigger and sign him
*Jordan Topping 20, LW (Tri-City/WHL) 43-28-25-53
Draft eligible player looking to to get picked next year

The Silver Seven’s Countdown completes below. As per last time I’ll ignore the lack of rationale for how players are being compared:

#9 Filip Chlapik (Colin)
CL, 20, 2-48/15, QMJHL 57-34-57-91 (2nd in ppg)
This is a good review from Colin, who takes note of his reliance on Daniel Sprong as well as providing good statistical analysis–something woefully lacking in most of the previous posts. Where I differ is in Colin’s assumption he’ll get top-six minutes–given the crowd of middling free agents Randy Lee stuffed into the lineup I think he’s more likely to start as a third-liner (as I mentioned in my early look at Belleville’s roster). When he was drafted the primary concern was his skating (“Kid has bad boots”), with an NHL upside as a third-line player who can kill penalties and see spot duty on the second powerplay unit.

#8 Francis Perron (Raaymakers)
LW/RW, 21, 7-190/14, AHL 68-6-20-26 (11th in ppg)
A lot of optimism from the optimistic Raaymakers, despite Perron’s lackluster rookie season (happily he includes some statistical data). The comparison is made to Mike Hoffman, who also had an underwhelming rookie season (albeit buried behind a talented, Calder Cup winning lineup). I agree with being patient here and I’m not alarmed at his rookie struggles (as I mentioned in my season review), but I think Raaymakers’ notion that he’ll be called up this season is very unlikely. Just like Chlapik above I suspect Perron will get buried on the third line because of Lee’s various FA signings–performance and injuries could see that change, naturally.

#7 Marcus Hogberg (Ary M)
GL, 22-23, 3-78/13, SHL 1.89 .932
Ary’s profile of him is excellent (you can read what scouts said before the draft here). An important thing he points out is:

The Sens seem to subscribe to a development model where they don’t really care where a prospect plays, once they’re getting top minutes

This seems largely the case (although it does not apply to Gabriel Gagne or certain prospects in the AHL–like Cody Ceci or Curtis Lazar–three examples that have failed so badly you’d think they’d learn the lesson). Going back to Hogberg, he is an excellent prospect with great tools and despite the org talking about “competition” to backup Danny Taylor there’s no question that Hogberg will be given that opportunity out of the gate. Whether Driedger can push him out will be down to performance, as Kleinendorst showed his patience with org ideas is about seven weeks (that’s when he benched Zack Stortini, yet another Randy Lee favourite).

#6 Logan Brown (Callum)
CL, 19, 1-11/16, OHL 35-14-26-40 (2nd ppg)
This might be the least substantial piece of the series, which is surprising given the kind of prospect Brown is. Ottawa traded two picks to the Devils to ensure they landed Brown (Jersey picked Michael McLeod and Brandon Gignac)–trades for tall players with New Jersey are a Pierre Dorion special (eg Gabriel Gagne). Despite missing a lot of time Brown finished just behind teammate (and 2017 first-rounder) Gabriel Vildardi in scoring. He had a small slip in production, but there’s no cause for concern. Scouts see him as a playmaking, second-line center. He’ll spend this year demolishing the OHL.

#5 Cody Ceci (Beata)
DR, 23-24, 1-15/12, NHL 79-2-15-17 (does not compute)
While I’m aware this is a list based on age, it feels strange lumping Ceci into what is mostly a list of prospects. There are mountains of data on the failed first-rounder and at this point those looking for improvement (including the org) have entered the religious side of things. If Ceci was a goaltender I’d say there’s still a chance for things to radically improve, but the clock is one-second to midnight for the defender. Even fans who pay no attention to stats understand he’s underwhelming and for the org (always stubborn in admitting the obvious, cf Jared Cowen) this is probably a make-or-break season for him.

#4 Fredrik Claesson (Trevor)
DL, 24-25, 5-126/11, NHL 33-3-8-11 (sample size throws off comparison)
Everyone loves Freddy. How can you not? He’s gregarious and a hard worker. Trevor rightly points out that Freddy struggled with Binghamton the previous season–the dark days of Luke Richardson were not kind to him and the normally reliable Claesson shared the struggles of his teammates. Despite being smaller than the Sens typically like their defenseman, Claesson has always been an intense, physical player who is defensively responsible. Trevor (forgiving the small sample size) illustrates that Freddy compares well to other second-pairing players. Can Freddy live up to the hype? This season should give us the kind of sample size that will be telling.

#3 Colin White (Colin)
C/RW, 20, 1-21/15, NCAA 35-16-17-33 (1st ppg)
There’s a lot of good things in Colin’s piece, but the ceiling he suggests does not match the scouting consensus and I think fans need to temper their offensive expectations for him. Scouts questioned his ability to score at the NHL level, although his defensive play was praised when he was drafted (two scouting orgs topped him out as a third liner, although one did compare him to Patrice Bergeron). I hope he spends most or all of this season in Belleville where he can round out his game and we’ll get a better sense of his offensive potential, but having pointlessly blown a year of his ELC the Sens are likely to have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to call-ups.

#2 Jean-Gabriel Pageau (BLT)
C/RW, 24-25, NHL 82-12-21-33
Another established NHL player where there really aren’t many mysteries–that reality is reflected by the brief post about him. I like JGP–the question with him is how good is he when he isn’t carrying around dead weight like Tom Pyatt? Maybe this is the season we get to find out given Brassard’s injury.

#1 Thomas Chabot (Ary M)
DL, 20, QMJHL 34-10-25-35 (1st d, 3rd team ppg)
Ary does a great job in his look at Chabot, but he doesn’t mention the Sens’ boondoggles in handling him this past season–pointlessly keeping him in Ottawa at the start of the year without playing him before eventually sending him to the Q, and then not understanding the rules for recalling him when they wanted him back late in the season. Despite that he had a great year in the CHL and expectations are boiling over amongst the fanbase. Ary discusses the pros and cons of where to play Chabot (NHL or AHL), but thankfully I think the Sens have painted themselves into a corner with one-way contracts such that they can’t go full Cody Ceci and rush him into the NHL. While the org (and some fans) might think another miracle playoff run is in the cards, I do not, and the best thing for the team’s top prospect is to get his feet wet in the AHL. Ary points out that the Sens hired Chabot’s coach from Saint John (Paul Boutilier) to be an assistant in Belleville and that’s a clear signal they want him to continue to work with Chabot (my brain apparently skipped over Steve Stirling getting booted into a scouting position in June).

Here’s how The Silver Seven‘s list goes (their ages in brackets as well as their expected league this year):
1. Thomas Chabot (20) AHL/NHL
2. Jean-Gabriel Pageau (24-25) NHL
3. Colin White (20) AHL/NHL
4. Fredrik Claesson (24-25) NHL
5. Cody Ceci (23) NHL
6. Logan Brown (19) OHL
7. Marcus Hogberg (22-23) AHL/ECHL
8. Francis Perron (21) AHL
9. Filip Chlapik (20) AHL
10. Ben Harpur (22) AHL
11. Nick Paul (22) AHL
12. Christian Jaros (21) AHL
13. Andreas Englund (21) AHL
14. Shane Bowers (18) NCAA
15. Maxime Lajoie (19-20) WHL
16. Filip Ahl (20) SHL
17. Chris Driedger (23) ECHL/AHL
18. Gabriel Gagne (20-21) AHL
19. Alex Formenton (17) OHL
20. Christian Wolanin (22) NCAA
21. Drake Batherson (19) QMJHL
22. Cody Donaghey (21) AHL/ECHL
23. Markus Nurmi (19) Liiga
24. Kelly Summers (21) NCAA
25. Macoy Erkamps (22) AHL

Not making the cut are Vincent Dunn (21-22, ECHL), Shane Eiserman (21, NCAA), Jordan Hollett (18, WHL), Todd Burgess (21, NCAA), Joel Daccord (21, NCAA), Miles Gendron (21, NCAA), and Patrick Sieloff (23, AHL). Of these seven players I think Gendron should have been on the list, but otherwise those that remain are either terrible (Dunn) or there’s just not enough data (Burgess and Hollett).

What sort of list would I have? I’d make it a prospect only list–established NHLers should, in my mind, be compared to other established NHLers. Secondly I’d make the point of the list to be based on potential–who could be the best player among the prospects, rather than who is comparatively the best at the moment (this also brings up what’s valued most–for me it’s puck possession and offense). I’d also put a stronger emphasis on the commonalities from scouting rather than picking one or two to quote from, as well as having a more consistent statistical element for each entry (some blurbs have virtually no stats at all, while others are very thorough). Ultimately things like this are just a way to kill a long and generally quiet summer  and in that light, it’s been entertaining.

So what’s my list? Briefly (using best-case projections via the scouting consensus–tempered by subsequent performance–for those with similar projections they are listed in order of the most likely first):
1. Thomas Chabot (2 D who can play PP/PK)
2. Logan Brown (2nd liner who can play on the 1st PP )
3. Colin White (2nd liner who can play on the 1st PK)
4. Marcus Hogberg (starter)
5. Christian Wolanin (4 D and 2nd PP)
6. Filip Chlapik (3rd line, 1st PK, 2nd PP)
7. Francis Perron (3rd line, 2nd PP)
8. Nick Paul (3rd line, 2nd PP)
9. Drake Batherson (3rd line, 2nd PP)
10. Gabriel Gagne (3rd line, 2nd PP)
11. Shane Bowers (3rd line, 1st PK)
12. Alex Formenton (3rd line)
13. Markus Nurmi (3rd line)
14. Filip Ahl (3rd line)
15. Todd Burgess (3rd line)
16. Miles Gendron (5 D, 2nd PP)
17. Cody Donaghey (5 D, 2nd PP)
18. Ben Harpur (5 D, 1st PK)
19. Christian Jaros (5 D, 1st PK)
20. Andreas Englund (5 D, 1st PK)
21. Maxime Lajoie (5 D)
22. Chris Driedger (backup)
23. Jordan Hollett (backup)
24. Kelly Summers (6 D)
25. Macoy Erkamps (6 D)

Listing in this way does give younger, less proven players a higher ranking, but again my interest is in potential.
echl

It has been awhile since I updated the Sens ECHL “partner”–the place where at least one of the org’s goaltenders will be going (Edmonton will be contributing five players). Since then Wichita has signed a goaltender along with two additional defensemen and forwards:
Joel Rumpel (G) ECHL 2.96 .919 – only played nine games last season with Cincinnati; the NCAA grad is in his third pro season without fully establishing himself (he’s won two Kelly Cups…but as a backup)
Guillaume Lepine (DL) AHL 54-1-2-3 – Randy Lee favourite (surely he made a phone call to encourage the signing), he spent two and a half seasons blundering around Binghamton’s blueline before Kleinendorst finally benched him; he’s mercifully off Belleville’s roster as he’s been signed as a player/coach
Alex Barron (DR) France 44-3-26-29 – an unremarkable NCAA player, I’m not sure being the seventh most productive blueliner in the French league means much of anything
Gerrad Grant (LW) ECHL 67-6-14-20 – former QMJHL player spent five years at Saint Mary’s University where he put up unremarkable numbers–he played with Wichita this past season
Matt Tipoff (C/LW) EIHL 47-11-21-32 – former OHL player also spent five years at Saint Mary’s before spending a year in the UK league (he’s the third on the roster with a Saint Mary’s connection); he had better numbers than Grant so seems like a safer risk (his signing seems heavily based on teammate and coach recommendations)

Free_Agent_logo_2

New Jersey signed NCAA free agent Will Butcher–he was drafted by Colorado (5-123/13), but didn’t sign with them.  This puts the NCAA FA tally at 24 coming into this season (vs 21 from Europe).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Prospect Profile: Pius Suter

With the news that EU FA Pius Suter is unexpectedly part of Ottawa’s rookie tournament roster, I thought I’d take a look at him as a prospect if (and this is a big “if”) the Sens decide to sign him. It’s worth noting that the Sens had another EU pro at their development camp (Carl Perrson) and that came to nothing, granting that he’s not the same caliber of player.

Pius Suter, C/LW, 21, 5’11*
2014-15 OHL (Guelph) 61-43-29-72 (1.18 ppg, 4th ppg)
2015-16 NLA (ZSC) 45-14-10-24 (0.53, 11th ppg)
2016-17 NLA (ZSC) 38-17-11-28 (0.73, 4th ppg)
* it’s universally acknowledged he’s shorter–see below

Suter was eligible for the 2014 draft, but an unremarkable regular season with Guelph (66-9-15-24) meant only ISS listed him for the draft (buoyed by his playoff performance); at the time he was thought to be an energetic shutdown center with grit who can chip in offensively. After his monstrous 2015 season (aided undoubtedly by talented teammates), everyone listed him for the draft (I had him slotted in the fourth round). HP referenced his good work the year before and about the current year said “He has a very
good shot and isn’t afraid to go into traffic and he will commonly emerge with the puck.” They also referenced the concern that seems to have left him undrafted–he’s smaller (shorter) than listed. FC talked about his ability on the penalty kill and call him a top-nine, two-way winger; ISS’ description didn’t change; RLR simply said it was rare for a second-year Euro to get drafted, but was impressed by his offensive explosion.

Despite all the praise Suter slipped through the draft–it’s truly mindboggling that his size is the only criticism amongst the scouting data. Suter had already signed with the ZSC Lions prior to the draft and his rookie season was spent buried behind a veteran lineup (making him unpalatable for the 2016 draft). Despite that he was the second most productive 20 and under player behind Auston Matthews. As a 21-year old no other player his age was close to his production. He signed a two-year extension with ZSC in December, but undoubtedly he has an opt-out clause or there’d be no point in him playing in a rookie tournament after the Swiss league season has started (September 8th for him).

What kind of player is Suter? The general sentiment is an energetic third-liner who can kill penalties and add offense. If the Sens sign him there are a few options: 1) he could play in Belleville (he would be the 15th forward, which isn’t an unreasonable number), 2) he could play in Ottawa (this would require a trade or demotion), 3) he could be loaned back to ZSC. Personally I think #1 and #3 are the only serious options and at least from the org perspective I see little point in sending him back to Switzerland (he has nothing left to prove there).

Do I think the Sens will sign him? It’s hard to tell. Pierre Dorion has steered clear of undersized prospects (think of how quickly he pulled the trigger on Jonathan Dahlen); conversely, they’ve signed undersized free agents out of Europe (the lamentable Tom Pyatt as well as Chris DiDomenico–both from the NLA), so the possibility exists. Would he be a good addition to their prospect pool? Yes, I believe he would be.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Several times a year I get a flood of visitors from a totally random source–recently someone from The Hockey Forum (UK) linked my Belleville post and a bunch of traffic came in from England. It’s a funny thing, but gratifying to know that the content can be found for those who look.

prospects

The Silver Seven‘s prospect countdown continues. I mentioned last time that I find the lack of rationale for the list more than a little perplexing, but I won’t keep harping on it:

#18 Gabriel Gagne (NKB)
C/RW, 20-21, 2-36/15, AHL 41-2-4-6
NKB is drinking the org koolaid, because after a Ludwig Karlsson-like debut he’s looking for positives (the idea that he’ll play ahead of Mike Blunden is pretty ridiculous). The team paid a high price to draft him, giving up a 2nd round pick (MacKenzie Blackwood) and a 3rd in 2016 (Joseph Anderson) to move up a few spots to draft him. He’s supposed to be a scoring power forward, but his production in the Q after he was drafted flatlined and he was abysmal in his rookie season as a pro. At the least he should be blowing up the ECHL, but he was mediocre there as well. There were plenty of red flags from scouts when he was drafted and this is a make-or-break season for him (although at this point I think we can safely give up on him ever being a scorer in the NHL).

#17 Chris Driedger (Trevor)
GL, 23, 3-76/12, AHL 12-19-2 3.22 .900
Driedger is one of those prospects that if you talk about him without context you don’t get a clear picture. Trevor is right that this is a make-or-break season for him, but sadly there’s no context given to his performances. By the numbers alone Driedger would be an awful prospect–so why is he still with the org (who re-signed him)? Because his numbers are better than his partner’s, essentially–when on a bad team you have to make that comparison and whatever his flaws he consistently outplayed Matt O’Connor (.912 vs .895 in 15/16 and then .900 vs .895). That said I believe (as I’ve expressed before) that Hogberg will get the initial nod over him in Belleville simply based on potential.

#16 Filip Ahl (Ross)
LW/RW, 20, 4-109/15, WHL 54-28-20-48 (7th scoring)
I think Ross is right that Ahl made the correct decision to play in North America, but his numbers are disappointing and he’ll need a better season in Sweden to get signed. Scouts were split on him when he was drafted (link above) and it was anyone’s guess whether his potential was high enough for the NHL–you get the sense that, as they have many times before, the Sens saw a big player and simply hoped they’d evolve. While it’s not unheard of for a European import to have an average season in the CHL and then become a solid NHL player, it’s not common, so expectations should be low.

#15 Maxime Lajoie (Callum)
DL, 19-20, 5-133/16, 68-7-35-42 (2nd d-scoring)
I was hoping that Callum would have some insight on why the org loves him so much, but all I got was this:

the 19-year-old arrived to his first training camp in Ottawa, and there were few he did not impress. … …his departure was rather quick – cut in the opening exhibition games

So he had a decent camp, albeit not up to Brandon Bochenski standards, and…he’s fast? As much as I want to criticise Callum’s vagueness, when you read the scouting reports on him there’s a collective shrug of the shoulders–he doesn’t do anything particularly well, but he doesn’t do anything particularly badly, so…maybe he can play? Callum tries to hype up his performance this past season, but his marginal improvement (+0.02 points-per-game) are statistically meaningless. The Sens signed him last fall and he’s old enough that he could play in Belleville, but the BSens are so overstuffed with blueliners I don’t see a spot for him.

#14 Shane Bowers (Trevor)
CL, 18, 1-28/17, USHL 60-22-29-51 (4th scoring by points-per-game)
The best thing in Trevor’s piece is the Ryan Biech article he links too, which adds a little more panache to what is a lackluster first-round pick (breaking down his points in terms of primary assists and what not). A quibble I have with Trevor is him listing Bowers as the 10th highest scorer in his league–it’s tied-for, and more importantly he’s 21st in points-per-game (for those with 20+ games played), and you have to wonder how much of that production was helped by teammates. The scouting reports on him are not kind and make him sound more like an elite AHL/European league player rather than someone who genuinely makes an impact in the NHL. When scouts are telling you at best he can center the third-line it looks like a wasted pick–players of that ilk can be found throughout the draft. It is, however, very early, and at this stage there’s always room for hope

#13 Andreas Englund (NKB)
DL, 21, 2-40/14, AHL 69-3-7-10 (6th d-scoring)
NKB’s lack of enthusiasm matches my own; a player with a lot of limitations, I think noise from the org inflates people’s expectations. As I said in my early Belleville review, he’s basically Ben Harpur–someone who tops out as a 5-6 blueliner who kills penalties, but that’s about it. As a young player we can’t say for certain how limited his offense is, but if it is as projected he’s not a prospect to get excited about

#12 Christian Jaros (Colin)
DR, 21, 5-139/15, SHL 36-5-8-13 (3rd d-scoring)
Colin is understandably eager to put aside comparisons to the Borocop (made not just by the org, but by scouts when he was drafted); it was gratifying to see Colin cite something I noted back in March, which is that Christian had the second highest points-per-game for blueliners 21 and under (behind 2017 overage draft pick Sebastian Aho). He includes a quote from Brad Phillips about how terrible Lulea was offensively (the league itself is low-scoring), which makes it harder to interpret his output. What encouragement there is about Jaros are the numbers from this past season, because in terms of scouting sentiment when he was drafted he’s Borowiecki 2.0

#11 Nick Paul (BLT)
LW/C, 22, 4-101/13 (Dal), AHL 72-15-22-37 (5th ppg-scoring)
There’s not much substance to BLT’s piece, although he points out that Paul had a much better year this past season. Remember all the hype about him when he was included as part of the Jason Spezza trade? His rookie season in Binghamton wiped all that away, but without the hype what is he? When he was drafted scouts saw him as a potential depth power forward–barring an offensive explosion this coming season it’s doubtful he can fulfill that, but it’s not too late for that to happen–Mike Hoffman was a slow burn when it comes to AHL-output after all

#10 Ben Harpur (Callum)
DL, 22, 4-108/13, AHL 63-2-25-27 (2nd d-scoring)
Callum’s piece has no substance to it, leaving me holding the bag to say something. One of my favourite expressions is “regressing to the mean” and after Harpur’s explosive season where he was well above his junior production, there’s every reason to expect him to regress. It remains a possibility he’ll buck trends and remain around this unremarkable level, but I don’t think it translates to the NHL and he’s yet another player who tops out as a 5-6 D with a short career ahead of him (exactly how scouts slotted him when he was drafted)

One of the things that becomes apparent when going through lists like this is the limited ceilings of many of these prospects–meant to be safe, conservative picks, with an emphasis on physical and defensive play. Just briefly I’ll go through all the players listed thus far who fit this description:
Forwards: Bowers (#14), Ahl (#16), Formenton (#19), Nurmi (#23), Eiserman (NR), Dunn (NR)
Defense: Harpur (#10), Jaros (#12), Englund (#13), Summers (#24)

Why the Sens don’t aim higher is beyond me. They’ve had far more successful taking chances on players who were offensive dynamos when picked (Ryan Dzingel, Erik Condra, Mike Hoffman, etc).

A final, unrelated note: former BSen Chris Carlisle signed in Italy, which doesn’t speak well to how he’s perceived in European leagues.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)