The Sens Off-Season (continued)

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We are nearing the end of dead time in the hockey world so I want to continue my previous article looking at the Sens off-season. Here are their moves since then:

July 8 – Sign Hubert Labrie to a  1-year, AHL-deal
July 10 – Sign Jack Dougherty to a 1-year, AHL-deal
July 15 – Re-sign Michael Carcone to a  2-year, 2-way contract (his rights acquired in the Cody Ceci trade); sign first-rounder Lassi Thomson to an ELC
July 16 – Trade Zack Smith for Artyom Anisimov (Chicago)
July 23 – Sign Trent Bourque to a 1-year, AHL-deal
July 24 – Sign Alex Dubeau to a 1-year, AHL-deal
July 25 – Sign Michael Brodzinski to a 1-year, AHL-deal
July 30 – Trade Mike Condon for Ryan Callanhan‘s contract

The Anisimov trade has been covered in detail and we all know the main reason the deal was made was to save money (all hail the Melnykian budget). I was never a big Smith fan, but whether Anisimov is actually an upgrade is debatable–in a way it doesn’t matter, since winning isn’t the point of the upcoming season. The Condon deal is another that clears paid salary, as well as rationalizing the crowded crease throughout the org.

I like the Carcone signing (as I went over last time) and putting him on a two-way makes him a safe investment. Dubeau is yet another CIS, University of New Brunswick alum, this time in the net (how much scouting time does the org dump into this league?)–he had a few games in the ECHL last season. As signings go, this seems like a fairly safe risk since he’ll largely be in Brampton.

Signing Labrie, Dougherty, and Bourque is a bad joke–there’s no justification for any of them. Here are their career numbers: 411-12-51-63 0.15, 197-5-33-38 0.19, and 272-4-45-49 0.18. These are terrible, terrible numbers–Andreas Englund numbers–this is the kind of production available from virtually any ECHL call-up if you play them enough. None of these players can produce or move the puck–by default they fit the headache-inducing “good-in-the-corners/room” guys who fail the organization over and over again. You can go through the BSens history ever since Bryan Murray arrived (as I have done) and these players hurt the team every single time. The only hope fans can have is that at least one of them can kill penalties (ala LaBate, who is a slightly better version of them), but they are a waste of money and roster spots. All they accomplish for the org is filling out a thin blueline.

An unrelated sports note: I’m bamboozled how many hockey people are baseball fans (especially given its long decline). As a sport, baseball is less intense than chess, but there are sitll people who love watching guys pumped full of HGH swinging their bat a few times over five hours.

In light of the revelations about Postmedia I wanted to reference my article from 2018 in terms of Paul Godfrey’s political leanings and their inevitable impact on the corporation. The leak isn’t surprising, but it’s good to know that Godfrey is pushing to have a Fox News of the north (for those who don’t know Postmedia owns all the local Ottawa papers).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Thoughts on the Sens Off-Season

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One of these days I’ll update my full look at Pierre Dorion’s trade history, but that’s not my focus here. I’m interested in exploring what’s occurred in the off-season. I’ve always preferred a chronological approach in my explorations, so we’ll start there (the regular season ended April 6th):

[Max Veronneau, Joey Daccord, Johnny Gruden, Chris Clappterton (AHL), and Mile Gendron (AHL) all signed ELC’s prior to this period]
May 7 – Nicolas Ruszkowski steps down as COO of the team
May 10 – Sign Swedish free agent Olle Alsing to a 2-year ELC
May 23 – Toronto assistant coach D. J. Smith is hired as the new head coach (responsible for the worst parts of Toronto’s system–defense and PK)–he reminds me a little of Cory Clouston
May 27 – Sign Josh Norris (late first-rounder acquired in the Erik Karlsson deal) to an ELC
May 29 – Re-sign Anders Nilsson to a 2-year deal
June 6 – Former Islander head coach Jack Capuano is brought in as an assistant coach
June 10 – Sign free agent defenseman (and former failed LA pick) Nick Ebert out of the SHL (1 year, 2-way deal)
June 13 – Re-sign Morgan Klimchuk (acquired in the Gabriel Gagne deal) to a 1-year, 2-way deal
June 17 – Re-sign Anthony Duclair (acquired in the Matt Duchene trade) to a 1-year deal
June 18 – Re-sign Andreas Englund to a 1-year, 2-way contract
June 19 – Re-sign Marcus Hogberg to a 2-year deal (the first year is 2-way)
June 21/22 – A subpar draft performance
June 25 – Re-sign Cody Goloubef (acquired in the Paul Carey deal) to a 1-year, 2-way contract
June 27 – Re-sign Jack Rodewald to a 1-year, 2-way deal; re-sign Joseph LaBate to a 1-year, AHL-deal
June 29 – Re-sign Jordan Murray to a 1-year, AHL-deal
June 30 – David Payne is brought in as an assistant coach
July 1 – Sign free agent forward (and former Phoenix pick) Jordan Szwarz to a 1-year, 2-way deal
July 1 – Trade Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk, and the 3rd-round pick they received from Columbus in the Duchene trade to Toronto for Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, and Michael Carcone; signed free agents Ron Hainsey (!) and Tyler Ennis
July 2 – Re-sign Nick Paul to a 1-year, 2-way contract
July 4 – Re-sign Christian Wolanin to a 2-year deal (the first 2-way)

Despite removing the loathed Ceci/Harpur (along with yet another failed CHL signee in Luchuk–the org continues to bat .000 with FA CHLers, cf), the response to the deal was massively negative. Even Varada, who just a few months ago was happily defending the org, attacked their decision. The reason for the backlash? Pretty simple: Zaitsev is one of the few players as bad as Ceci and he’s on a bad deal, but the response is less about Zaitsev himself and more what he represents: that the org isn’t learning. For the most part I agree with the backlash–finally dumping the player you thought was better than Taylor Hall (!) for someone poorly regarded isn’t a win–it suggests the theory that trading Ceci was mostly about staying within the Melnykian budget is true. The org’s unwillingness to progressively evolve is apparent in its frequent sneers at analytics and incessant talk about the ‘good-in-the-corners’ guys who last mattered in the clutch-and-grab era. With that said, there have been changes in their approach that I’ve noticed.

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Within an org where the leader (Dorion) believes he’s a genius and both rejects and resents being questioned (with excuses for all his various disasters–it’s never his fault), what could possibly change?
1. Moving away from skilled players in later rounds of the draft (the focus being on defense and intangibles); not only did Dorion mention this back in September, but it’s readily apparent in their last two drafts (2019 and 2018)–this change is the one most in line with Pierre’s philosophy, so it’s not surprising (just disappointing)
2. A willingness to roll the dice on smaller, skilled players in free agency and trades (Aaron Luchuk, Andrew Sturtz, Erik Brannstrom, Vitali Abramov, etc); this despite an absolute refusal to pick smaller players in the draft–it’s not easy to parse this approach, but the commonality is by doing this they are committed to fewer years of development, so they can assess and move on more quickly than if they’d drafted the player themselves (the problem with this approach is that you can never get the best small players without a cost in assets)
3. More conservatism in their contracts with unproven low to mid-tier prospects; this is a bit less absolute in its application, but the deal given by the org to favourite Jack Rodewald is reasonable, nor did they immediately assume Nick Paul‘s AHL-numbers meant he was NHL-ready; some of this can be attributed to the almighty Melnykian budget, but it’s certainly a change from even last year when Randy Lee was handing out two-year contracts to dundering pylon Patrick Sieloff (or the previous deal with fumbling mighty mouse Erik Burgdoerfer)
4. Greater willingness to cut bait with players who aren’t working out; while Dorion might not admit mistakes publicly, he has dumped favourites when it became painfully apparent they didn’t make the grade (this doesn’t absolve his belief in them in the first place)–getting rid of spare tire Max McCormick, lumbering Ben Harpur, highly touted Gabriel Gagne (who they gave up two second rounders to pick), the aforementioned Sieloff (who helped end Clarke MacArthur’s career), OHL-star Luchuk, etc

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There’s not much I can add to Nichols’ breakdown of Zaitsev, so let me pick a key quote:

It is incredible how eerily similar the on-ice results [of Ceci and Zaitsev] are

Albeit Zaitsev is 27, won’t get better, and is signed long term. This signing, as many others have pointed out, may be a sop to the new head coach. Dorion has shown a tendency to placate his coaches with roster moves (eg Tom Pyatt) and this certainly fits that pattern.

As for Connor Brown:

a decent forward in his prime years who should be able to play up in Ottawa’s lineup and hopefully benefit and pad his offensive numbers with more ice time and power play opportunities. … There is some decent value there, but as an impending restricted free agent next summer, it’s hard to envision Brown as the kind of long-term fit for the rebuilding effort. He could be an ideal pump-and-dump candidate that sees the organization flip him for future assets down the road.

With the NHL-side out of the way, what about the minor league acquisitions? I’ll echo what scouts said about Olle Alsing when he was draft-eligible:

decent puck skills, a good passer, solid defensively, but concerns about his board/body play

He’s not a blueliner whose numbers stand out (they actually fell considerably this season over last); on paper he looks like a depth-project, although he may be useful at the AHL-level.

What about Michael Carcone? He’s an undrafted QMJHLer (a Dorion specialty) who was signed as a free agent by Vancouver and then acquired by the Leafs for Josh Leivo. An offensive player, here’s his ELC arc (keeping in mind I have no idea how coaching staffs used him): 0.29, 0.39, 0.70. That’s a good trend, although we have no assurance what his ceiling is. Much like Alsing above, the only scouting report I have for him when he was draft-eligible (2016) comes from Hockey Prospect (who didn’t rank him, but said this):

good skater with a good burst of speed and great agility, making him tough to contain for opposing defenders with his ability to make quick turns to avoid opponents. He’s a shooter first and has a good wrist shot that is very accurate, and he knows how to pick his corners. There’s a good, quick release on his shot and he can score from different locations in the offensive zone. On the power play, he can score in front or at the side of the net, even from the half-wall. His vision is underrated, as you always think goal scorer with Carcone but he sees the ice well enough to make quick decisions with the puck. He has good puck skills and is good in one-on-one confrontations; his quick agile hands handle the puck well. He’s not big and his size could be a problem at the next level, as he will need to add some strength. He struggled at the end of the season and lost his goal scoring title following a scoring drought in the last stretch of the year. He’s a bit of one-dimensional player, as he will need to score at the next level to achieve success.

This fits the above idea of another org taking the risk on a smaller player before the Sens grab him; I like picking him up–I like skill–so if (when?) the team re-signs him, it will be interesting to watch his progress in Belleville.

I have no idea why the team signed Hainsey–cap floor? Regardless, it’s a one-year deal in a season where the team isn’t going to win, so the complaint would be ice-time for a younger player (assuming that D. J. Smith would play kids extensively–something Sens coaches are generally reluctant to do). The signing might be another sop to the new coach.

As for Tyler Ennis, he’s cheap, but has been a shadow of himself since the 2015-16 season and I have no idea what to expect from him. Both he and Hainsey above are meant to provide the “veteran savvy” the org thinks is so much of–a bit like a rabbit’s foot ensuring good luck….

As for the two veteran AHL acquisitions, Nick Ebert‘s AHL-numbers aren’t that great, although he was decent in the SHL (something that makes sense given his limitations–scouts had issues with his decision-making and hockey sense and there’s more time to make decisions on the larger ice surface). I’ve long bemoaned the org’s decisions with veteran blueliners, favouring talentless pluggers (cf Sieloff above), but at least the idea is for Ebert to move the puck.

As for Jordan Szwarz, at 28 there’s nothing new to learn about him with over 400 AHL games under his belt. He seems to just be starting to decline (his last three seasons 0.83, 0.92, 0.67), but even so he’ll add some stability to a young Belleville squad; what he’s not is a top-tier add like Paul Carey was last off-season.

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What can we make of those re-signed? I suspect the three-headed rotation in the NHL is related to a lack of confidence that either Condon or Anderson can stay healthy (why they didn’t buyout Condon is a mystery to us all, unless they plan to trade him or want Hogberg to spend most of his time in the AHL); Joey Daccord looks destined for the ECHL, which isn’t inherently a bad thing. Nilsson seems like a good bridge for when Anderson departs and adds some insurance if Hogberg isn’t ready for prime time next season.

Anthony Duclair is the kind of risk you can take in a rebuild. Is he likely to change from his years in Columbus? No, but winning isn’t what’s important this season, so giving him that opportunity is an acceptable risk.

Both the Hogberg and Wolanin deals are conservative–they seem designed to protect against risk (the Sens are risk-averse). These deals mean both players can play in Belleville this season and develop (my preference for both), but it also means the team will pay much more next contract if they develop as expected.

Unlike much of the fanbase, I’m quite conservative in my feelings about the big seasons from Rodewald and Paul, particularly with both fading down the stretch (the latter completely while the former regressed to the mean). That said, if you aren’t going to trade them while their value is high, re-signing them to these kinds of contracts makes sense.

I have concerns about AHL-vet Goloubef, whose production immediately regressed to the mean with Belleville and he’s never been an outstanding AHL-player. He’s still seems better than most veteran d-men the org has signed historically, however.

I’m fine with them rolling the dice on Klimchuk–his AHL numbers aren’t outstanding (0.65, 0.64, 0.39), but he has produced and isn’t taking up a veteran contract.

Then we have a signing that has the org’s stubborn fingerprints all over it: Andreas Englund. I’ve watched him bumble around most of his AHL career and he does nothing well, he’s just big. He’s supposed to be a good defender, but he’s not, and his decision-making and hands are terrible. The only positive you can squeeze out of this is that it’s just a one-year (two-way) deal–but really, there’s no reason to keep him.

Bringing back Jordan Murray on an AHL-deal is fine (I thought he’d crash and burn this past season, but he didn’t, even though he remains a defensive nightmare), but I wasn’t happy with re-signing LaBate–he’s not usefully gritty (as in, he doesn’t protect his teammates, nor does his mucking result in offence), but he is a good PKer (or, at least, he was this season). So, unlike Englund, he does at least something well.

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Generally speaking, debating strangers on social media is a waste of time–it’s a poor platform for discussion and most people aren’t interested in good faith arguments (it’s either about “winning” the debate or its an argument based on emotion and neither gets you anywhere). I got drawn into one of these via my review of Ottawa’s 2019 draft because I wasn’t aware (at first) that’s what I was in for. My article couldn’t be more innocuous (it summarizes the views of scouts, the org’s trends, with some opinion from me), so how did this result in an argument?

The initial argument:
1. Claimed a THN (The Hockey News) article said the Sens are the second best in the league at finding NHL players after the second round (he didn’t link it and I can’t find it, but let’s accept it exists); when asked for context he said the article was based on the Sens draft history from 2000-18. In the absence of the article I had no idea what criteria they were using to define “NHL player”–just playing games (Ben Harpur?), impactful players, or what (I’ve tackled draft success previously)? I pointed out to him that the timeframe used goes through multiple changes of GMs and scouts, as well as ownership, and he admitted this mattered without changing his argument. I pointed out that Pierre Dorion’s comments in September echoed my conclusion about the draft (less skill, more character), but this (to him) was Dorion engaging in some kind of 48-D, underwater backgammon strategy to fool other NHL teams by doing… exactly what he said? The argument then became:
2. The Sens have a successful scouting track record, therefore they should not be questioned. He never justified the former with comparative analysis, or specified why (even if true) they shouldn’t be questioned, but he then said that the opinions of anonymous scouts and media personalities aren’t as good as the team’s (no justification for that idea either). I pointed out to him that the scouts aren’t anonymous, nor had I used media personalities (he’s referring to the Bob McKenzie draft article, but as I explained to him, Bob’s list comes from a group of NHL scouts). He then said scouts not employed by an NHL team don’t have opinions as worthy as those who are–putting aside the terrible logic, he’s actually refuting his own argument since Bob’s information is from current NHL scouts. At this point I stopped talking to him, because it was clear he was simply going to reject anything I said that didn’t fit his narrative.

I’ve gone through all of this thoroughly because this kind of thinking comes up all the time. I can’t figure out if people arrive at this place mentally through absorbing team propaganda or if they think liking a team means uncritical enthusiasm. Maybe it’s like politics where, for many, there’s not a choice, just a tradition to follow. Regardless, I’m not sure what one can do to elucidate ones views to someone like this, but I hate to think it’s impossible to get through to some intransigent fans.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators Development Camp Invitees

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It’s always fun looking at which free agents the Sens invited to their development camp, as occasionally these players are signed (Parker Kelly is the most recent example; more commonly players will get invited to the AHL-camp in the fall):

Defense

Jonathan Aspirot DL DOB 1999 QMJHL 57-12-23-35 0.61
Returns from his invite to the camp last year; the most distinguishing thing about him are his penalty minutes and we know the org loves that stat.

Alexis Binner DL DOB 1998 NCAA 32-2-9-11 0.34
Left the NCAA early (Maine) to sign with Vasterviks in the Allsvenskan. Back in 2018 HP described him as offensively limited with poor hockey sense, but good defensively (as we know, the org believes the latter is what’s important).

Trenton Bourque DL DOB 1998 OHL 57-4-8-12 0.21
Inexplicably drafted by St. Louis (6-175/17)–strikes me as a warm body to fill out the dev camp roster.

Clay Hanus DL DOB 2001 WHL 68-8-19-27 0.39
HP was very high on him for this year’s draft (fourth-round), with FC putting him in the sixth and McKeen’s not listing him. As someone still draft-eligible there’s not much to explore here.

Connor McDonald DR DOB 1999 WHL 68-19-31-50 0.73
Back in 2017 HP profiled him, calling him a good defensive player who was adequate offensively.

Jordan Power DL DOB 2001 USHL 58-3-15-18 0.31
Committed to St. Lawrence; these are very weak USHL numbers, but he did put up career high PIMs (he also played for Rockland the previous season, so fits the local boy niche).

Cade Townend DL DOB 1999 CCHL 56-13-25-38 0.67
Committed to Mercyhurst; another local boy (playing for Carleton Place)–these are unexciting, tier-2 numbers.

Nicholas Walsh DR DOB 1997 Cdn U 29-6-23-29 1.00
5’10 former QMJHLer had a good season in the Canadian University system (for context a top University season is in the 1.4+ PPG range). Over the last few years the org has dug deep into the USports scene looking for prospects for the AHL (Jordan Murray etc), so where he’s playing won’t hurt his prospects.

Forwards

Stephen Anderson RWDOB 1994 Cdn U 30-12-21-33 1.10
Another former QMJHLer in the University system (his numbers aren’t overwhelming, see above).

Jean-Christophe Beaudin C/RW DOB 1997 AHL 62-7-9-16 0.25
Inexplicably played 20 games with Belleville this past season (after doing the same for Colorado); he’s a failed Avalanche draft pick (3-71/15); he could be useful in Brampton, but the org seems to like him quite a bit, so it’s possible he’ll get an AHL-deal. [I was reminded he had a year left on his ELC when the Sens picked him up when they dumped Max McCormick, explaining both the games played and, presumably, the invite.]

Zachary Okabe RW DOB 2001 AJHL 60-31-27-58 0.96
5’9; he’s committed to St. Cloud and was draft-eligible this season (no one had him selected or provided a profile).

Mark Simpson C/LW DOB 1995 Cdn U 30-10-12-22 0.73
Yet another former QMJHLer playing in the USport ecosystem; he’s 6’6, which I think is the primary reason he’s here (no draft guide discussed or listed him when eligible).

What are our patterns? A lot of defensemen (a need in the minors); most of these players are offensively limited, but defensively sound; there’s very strong representation from the QMJHL (4) and local boys (2). The major change from last year is a reduction in the number of college players.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing Ottawa’s 2019 Draft

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Time to take a look at the draft that was (my predictions, based largely on the outside scouting consensus, crashed and burned). The org did, however, stick to its tendencies: they drafted no one under 6’0; they picked a French-Canadian; they picked from the American development leagues; and the only European from Europe was from Sweden. Dorion also stuck to his idiotic comment back in September that the org wouldn’t aim for skill in the later rounds because it was too risky–so for those of you who raised your eyebrows at pluggers like Kastelic, it is at least consistent with what we were told–who wants to take a shot at a Mark Stone or Mike Hoffman when you can get a steady performer like Vincent DunnJeff Costello, or Max McCormick?

1-19 Lassi Thomson (DR) WHL 63-17-24-41 0.65

The Sens gave up the 4th overall pick (Bowen Byram) to Colorado to win big with Matt Duchene–when that blew-up in their face they sent Duchene to Columbus and this pick was part of the return. There’s no question that, at least in terms of the publicly available scouting consensus, he was picked early (Hockey Prospect had him highest at #28 among the sources I use). There’s lot’s of scouting material on him, with HP’s the most thorough:

A versatile two-way defenseman whose best attribute is his ability to excel in transition, where he is a threat both as a skater and using the full width and length of the ice as a passer. His skating is characterized by a fluid stride and impressive edges which allowed him to routinely peel-off pressure in his own-end of the ice, as well as cut aggressively down the wings which led to him generating consistent scoring chances off the rush. His straight-line speed and agility allow him to knife through the neutral zone once he gets going, but he could use extra power so that he can further increase his straight-line speed. His passing ability features sharp-outlet passes that he’s capable of generating under-pressure and when in motion, but there were games where he had some inconsistencies which led to unforced icing’s and turnovers as well. As a result, we wouldn’t label Lassi as a high-end playmaker but a good one. He does have tools that allow him to compensate when his passing isn’t consistent, including a set of hands and skill level that are above-average, which gives him the ability to beat the first forechecker. Another important aspect to Lassi’s game is his confidence when handling the puck under-pressure, he likes becoming the primary option when driving play through the neutral-zone and isn’t afraid to challenge the defense. Lastly, Thomson processes the play at a good level, this extends to when he is carrying the puck while going at top-speeds, where he showed the ability to react to closed and open skating lanes quickly. In the offensive-end and when quarterbacking the powerplay, Lassi showed several impressive tools that allowed him to finish second in rookie scoring for WHL defenseman. His confidence and skating extend to the offensive-line, where he showed poise, patience, and lateral mobility that allows him to re-open and readjust both his passing and shooting lanes while under pressure at a high-rate. When Lassi was given or created openings, he rarely showed high-end vision but still made calculated one-touch passes and was an efficient distributor. However, it’s his slapshot that stood out the most in our viewings. His slapshot features a reduced wind-up, fluid mechanics, and a good amount of velocity given his build. Lastly, his shots were accurate, specifically for the amount of power he can generate behind them. Defensively, Thomson showed a good combination of defensive awareness and physicality. He can be prone to shifts where things don’t go his way, which leads to multiple clumsy and careless plays but he also displayed a good compete level and was willing to attempt to recover on defensive errors for the most part. He had further inconsistencies at tracking players without the puck as he sometimes lost his man on plays out of the corner and was occasionally late getting into shooting lanes. Furthermore, although aspects of his defense need work, he did show determination, grit, and the willingness to play larger than his size along the boards when the play called for it. Lastly, he was capable of making quick-decisions below the goal-line during forechecking sequences, both with and without the puck. Overall, [he] had a solid first year in North-America, projecting to be a potential top-four, puck-rushing defenseman who could slot in as a 2nd-powerplay option if his development goes well. For him to make it at the pro-levels, he will need to continue to develop his defensive-reads and become more consistent with his puck-management.

On their 3-9 scale they gave him a 6 for hockey sense and 7 for compete, skill, and skating. McKeen’s, much more briefly, echoes the above, saying the limiting factor is that he doesn’t have any particular high end skill that stands out; FC is concerned about his defensive play without the puck and believes he lacks urgency.

2-32 Shane Pinto (CR) USHL 56-28-31-59 1.05

The Sens like drafting from the USHL and that’s where they went for this pick (he’s committed to North Dakota). Just like Thomson, he was picked ahead of projections (mine had him split between a second or fourth-round pick; HP again had him highest at #44). Here’s HP’s breakdown of Pinto:

Strong, adaptable offensive forward. Pinto is one of the top players in the USHL not playing for the USNTDP. With his slick hands, wrist shot and heady playmaking ability, he shows good offensive potential. He consistently turned in a strong effort whether on first place Tri-City or last place Lincoln. He posted points in 75% of the games he played this season and despite leaving Lincoln 30 games into the 62-game docket, even at season’s end, he’s still the team leader in points – no one passed him. He acclimated into the robust Tri-City lineup very well midway through the season. His role on the power play was altered though. With Ronnie Attard [3-72 Phi] as the triggerman, Pinto was forced into a net-front and puck retriever role which he seemed to embrace despite it limiting his puck touches in open space. One thing it did show off is Pinto’s phenomenal hand-eye coordination. Between deflections and pass acceptances, he seems to never fail to get a stick on the puck. Shane’s a thick player who can be tough to move from the front of the net or the slot. He wins a lot of puck battles with his timing and body positioning. Despite only being an average skater with a long stride, Pinto does have good closing speed which might be enough to bump him up a half point. He is carried primarily by his ability to anticipate plays. He finds some sneaky passing lanes to unleash crisp passes through. He can finish with authority from in-close or mid-range with his powerful wrist shot and snappy release. Despite his size, he doesn’t seem like a naturally physical player but he will make a hit to help out defensively. His defensive play is inconsistent overall, some nights he seems more attentive to it than others. On the plus side, he is an expert in the dot and does a good job communicating to teammates what he wants to have happen off the draw. He was mostly used at center this year, but has shown the ability to play the wing. Pinto didn’t look out of place no matter what team or situation he was put in or on. Going from being a one-man show on a desolate Lincoln team, to having to fit into the best team in the league thereafter: he really looked the part all season. He was in on half of all of Tri-City’s playoff goals. Between his balanced attacking tools, size and hockey IQ, this player has all the makings of being very useful to a pro organization.

On their 3-9 scale he’s a 6 for hockey sense, compete, and skill, with a 7 for skating. FC says his skating is average, doesn’t like his faceoff ability or his hustle after it (the opposite of HP above), and that defensively he’s a mixed bag (largely based on his positional play); McKeen’s two-sentence profile doesn’t add anything new.

2-37 Mads Sogaard (G) WHL .921 2.64

This is the New York Rangers’ pick acquired from Carolina in exchange for 2-44 (via Florida by way of San Jose in the Erik Karlsson deal; Jamieson Rees) and 3-83 (Pittsburgh via the Derick Brassard trade; Anttoni Honka). The big Dane shared goaltending duties with failed Sens pick Jordan Hollett (6-183/17), meaning he received far more exposure than would be usual. Like the above players, he was picked ahead of most projections (HP said he’s a late first to early second-rounder, but that range is only found in their profile of him as they cut goaltenders from their basic rankings). HP’s profile is huge, but these are the key points:

It’s rare to find a goalie that’s been gifted with the reflexes and subsequent reaction-time he possesses at his size. … When dropping into his butterfly, he’s adept at reversing out of the movement, giving him the necessary ingredients to make back-to-back saves while transitioning into and out of the technique. … Mads does have the tendency on some sequences to shrink into himself, specifically by not keeping his core activated which doesn’t allow him to maintain his posture. … his butterfly doesn’t contain many seams for shots to leak through; it’s tightly-sealed off in most games which allowed him to absorb rebounds at a plus rate when we viewed him. Usually when Sogaard let’s in a goal from his butterfly, it’s a by-product of over-committing on a shot which gives him less opportunity to react when transitioning into it. Another important aspect when discussing Mads butterfly is in relation to his hockey-sense. … Sogaard has demonstrated a good sense for when a shot is getting blocked in a lane. This allows him to stay more upright, which prevents him from overusing the technique. … Sogaard’s hockey-sense [is] not as high-end as [Spencer] Knight’s [1-13 Flo] but it’s still well above-average. He’s good at recognizing the intent of shooters in-tight to the net which allowed him to make several point-blank saves and stop breakaway scoring chances in our viewings. Furthermore, his height gives him a distinct advantage when analyzing the trajectory of point-shots, and he rarely loses track of the puck as a result of being able to look around screens in a half-crouch when he can’t afford to stand-tall. Where he tends to lose-track the most, is … behind the goal-line. … His blocker-side has more refined mechanics than his glove-side… His stance is still not as narrow at it needs to be in order for him to take advantage of his edges to the degree he theoretically should be able to later in his development; but for such a large kid, he shows impressive rapid-adjustments when misinterpreting initial play-types or when broken plays occur. … An area of significant difference between Sogaard and Knight is in regards to their willingness to break their own form in order to make recovery saves. …Sogaard shows a higher comfort level when extending himself as a result of not anticipating certain play-types as well. … Our main takeaway, is that Sogaard … does have fascinating physical and mental tools with a remarkably large and projectable frame. We expect his development to take longer than Knight’s but the finished product could be an exciting one….

On their 3-9 scale he’s a 7 for hockey sense, 8 for compete, 7 for skill, and 7 for skating. McKeen’s thinks he has to work on his rebound control and five-hole coverage; FC thinks he struggles to track pucks through traffic and his ability to move the puck once he has it (they like his glove hand more than HP).

4-94 Viktor Lodin (C/LW) SHL 41-1-4-5 0.12

Swedish overager who played on FA signee Nick Ebert’s team (Orebro); he wasn’t ranked anywhere by anyone (not only this year, but all his other draft-eligible years–not even by Central Scouting). It’s exceedingly rare (if not unprecedented in the modern era) for a region as well scouted as Sweden to miss a quality prospect. Lodin hasn’t played in major international tournaments and while his SuperElit numbers are okay (0.78) they don’t blow you out of the water. Whatever skills he has, he’s not offensively gifted, which means at best you’re looking at yet another grinder in the system.

5-125 Mark Kastelic (CR) WHL 66-47-30-77 1.16

Another overager; the org is clearly looking for a Zack Smith clone (an overage pick best known for his intangibles), he’s also picked well ahead of projections (only McKeen’s listed him in the draft, and for them he was a mid-seventh rounder). While McKeen’s doesn’t include a scouting report, HP does (I’ve highlighted concerns):

A big power winger who plays a physical style. Offensively Kastelic’s game revolves around a heavy wrist [shot] that he was adept at using after muscling his way in to a dangerous area, beating multiple [goalies] with his shot. Kastelic was an excellent goalscorer this season as well in part due to his willingness to get to the dirty areas around the net. Kastelic has enough speed for the WHL level but his lack of agility will make it harder to make an impact as he moves up a level. Kastelic also lacks high end senses and hockey IQ, getting tunnel vision while barreling in to the zone on occasion. Kastelic brings a major physical element to his game, playing a tough in your face style of game and using his big body to deliver punishing checks. Next season Kastelic will be dominant as an overager if he is back in the WHL

On a 3-9 scale they list his hockey sense as a 5, compete a 6, skill a 5, and skating a 5.

7-187 Maxence Guenette (DR) QMJHL 68-8-24-32 0.47

While not ranked by McKeen’s (or making Bob McKenzie’s truncated list), he was picked after other projections (a fourth for HP and a fifth for FC). Here’s the HP profile:

A two-way defender with good skating abilities, good footwork and who has the ability to skate the puck out of his zone. His game still has inconsistencies to it; with his toolset, you would expect him to have more of an impact offensively. Instead, he opts to play a smart, safe, simple game and doesn’t take many risks on the ice. … in the offensive zone, he’s usually not very noticeable. … Another thing would be for him to get more pucks on net, as he only had 106 shots this year. He doesn’t have a powerful shot on net. While his accuracy is good, in order for him to be considered as more of a threat from the point, his shot’s velocity should be improved. Offensively, he was never the number one option on the power play this season. … He remains a good defender with above average footwork and a good active stick in his own zone. He’s good at defending one-on-one, but can struggle down low against bigger players; Guenette is not overly physical and could stand to be stronger. … He does have some decent skating abilities and is a smart two-way defender, but we do question if there are enough skills in him to make it as a regular NHLer.

On their 3-9 scale he’s a 6 across the board (hockey sense, compete, skill, and skating). FC thinks his skating is just average, that he’s not fully engaged defensively, and struggles to get his shot through.

So what do I think of this year’s draft? It’s yet another year where the Sens were risk-averse in terms of who they picked. If all goes well, other than Sogaard, these are support players (Thomson a top-four, Pinto a top-nine, Lodin, Kastelic, and Guenette support players). There’s a very good chance that the bottom three picks will crash out completely (although I’d guess Kastelic will get an ELC to bash around in the AHL for awhile regardless). You can argue that most late picks don’t turn out, and that’s true, but I don’t see the logic in ensuring they are (at best) bottom feeders in the NHL–you can fill those slots with free agents–it’s pointless to waste draft picks on them.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Sens Sign Olle Alsing

The Sens have notoriously avoided signing free agents out of Europe going back to the days of Bryan Murray. Instead we had an endless stream of NCAA and CHL players, none of whom have ever panned out. Pierre Dorion finally took a shot in the dark and signed Swedish defenseman Ollie Alsing, so let’s take a look at him.

Olle Alsing, DOB 96, DL
2016-17 SHL 45-1-7-8 (0.17, 6th)
2017-18 SHL 51-7-14-21 (0.41, 2nd)
2018-19 SHL 49-4-11-15 (0.30, 3rd)

These aren’t overwhelming offensive numbers, but as a young player he’s been near the top of his team’s defensive production the last two seasons. So what did scouts think when he was available for the draft? Among the scouting sources I track only Hockey Prospects included a scouting profile for him in 2015 when he was eligible. Here’s what they said:

… a slight defenseman with quick feet that effectively starts up plays from the back end, often before the opponents have the time to shut down his best option or put pressure on him. He has decent puck skills, his head up and he immediately recognizes the best passing lane available. When no good one is available straight away, he has the notable capability of waiting an extra split second for a lane to open up. He takes some risks, but overall his passing game is excellent and certainly his main strength. He doesn’t mind joining the play in the offensive zone, but doesn’t possess great acceleration to make up for it when he gets caught.

… Olle doesn’t look intimidated by bigger opponents, but inevitably his size [5’11] somewhat limits his defensive efficiency. How he would fare against the most talented forwards in the top Swedish league is a question mark, and he certainly will have to bulk up to increase his chances to succeed at the next level.

We can boil this down to: decent puck skills, a good passer, solid defensively, but concerns about his board/body play.

It’s notoriously difficult to project European production to North America (you can find plenty of people who do, but the averages tend to fail miserably when applied to individuals), but nothing screams out at me to say he’s going to be particularly productive–his numbers are similar to Christian Jaros, but they are very different players so I’m not sure how far you can take that. He’s almost certainly going to be an effective AHL player, but fans will want to know about the next level. I think the ceiling is pretty limited here–he’d be a very safe, depth defenseman, although there’s no harm in hoping for more. Nichols has an article looking at the signing as well (paywall), as does Ross A, whose prediction that lumbering dud Andreas Englund will be resigned is, I hope, some sort of fever dream.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens

Prospect Signings and Overview of Current Prospects

Image result for joey daccord

Since signing Max Veronneau the Sens have added two more players–one expected, the other a surprise. We’ll start with the former.

Joey Daccord (G, DOB 96)
2016-17 .892
2017-18 .909
2018-19 .926
The Arizona State ‘tender spent his first couple of seasons getting his head kicked in with an awful team in front of him, but everything turned around this year. He wasn’t ranked by anyone other than Central Scouting when drafted, but his father is a well-known goalie coach who played in Europe and the org loves bloodlines (as well as Joey’s smarts and hands). So why sign him? After Marcus Hogberg‘s strong sophomore season (and Filip Gustavsson‘s rookie struggles), there’s room in Belleville for another prospect. I expect Daccord to push the young Swede for playing time and, if necessary, mind the net in Brampton.

Johnny Gruden (LW, DOB 00)
2017-18 25-15-19-34
2018-19 38-3-12-15
He was picked slightly after projections, but digging into the scouting material there were a lot of red flags for me. I have no idea what the urgency in signing him now was, as his numbers in the NCAA are unremarkable. I hope Colin’s idea that this is a way for him to jump to the OHL is right, rather than seeing him getting his head kicked in as a pro.

Prospects in the System

This only lists players who have not played a season in the NHL/AHL (those in green are signed; scoring rank is via points-per-game, with defensemen compared to defensemen); they are listed by draft date/FA sign date.

Miles Gendron DL (3-70/14) NCAA 30-3-4-7 (0.23; 2nd) signed AHL-deal
Filip Ahl W (4-109/15) Allsvenskan 42-11-9-20 (0.47; 5th)
Joey Daccord G (7-199/15) NCAA .926 2.35 signed ELC
Todd Burgess C/RW (4-103/16) NCAA 36-7-9-16 (0.44; 6th)
Markus Nurmi W (6-163/16) Liiga 60-1-11-12 (0.20; 23rd)
Alex Formenton LW (2-47/17) OHL 31-13-21-34 (1.09; t-4th) signed ELC
Jordan Hollett G (6-183/17) WHL .895 3.50
Parker Kelly C/RW (FA 17) WHL 64-35-32-67 (1.04; 5th) signed ELC
Jacob Bernard-Docker DR (1-26/18) NCAA 36-5-12-17 (0.47; 2nd)
Jonny Tychonick DL (2-48/18) NCAA 28-0-4-4 (0.14; 6th)
Johnny Gruden LW (4-95/18) NCAA 38-3-12-15 (0.39; 7th) signed ELC
Angus Crookshank LW (5-126/18) NCAA 36-10-13-23 (0.64; 5th)
Kevin Mandolese G (6-157/18) QMJHL .895 2.87
Jakov Novak C/LW (7-188/18) NCAA 37-7-8-15 (0.40; 8th)
Luke Loheit RW (7-194/18) BCHL 43-8-16-24 (0.55; 9th)
Josh Norris C (T-SJ 1-19/17) NCAA 17-10-9-19 (1.11; 1st)
Jonathan Davidsson RW (T-CLB 6-170/17) SHL 37-10-11-21 (0.57; 6th) ELC via CLB
Max Veronneau RW (FA 19) NCAA 31-13-24-37 (1.19; 2nd) signed ELC

The Clock is Ticking

Filip Ahl is the last man standing from the 2015 draft, but after yet another disappointing season in the Allsvenskan I expect the power forward to be let go
Jordan Hollett the WHL ‘tender has flatlined, unable to reach the middling numbers of his draft year–he too will be let go

Image result for cody ceci

One of the least surprising things in the off-season has been the org’s stated desire to bring back perennial dud Cody Ceci–the guy they could have traded straight up for Taylor Hall (something which continues to boggle the mind). I want to go through Chris Stevenson’s article (link with a paywall) just to point out how silly the defense of him is which Stevenson offers:
1. He eats up tough minutes
All this requires is the coach to say “get out there champ,” meaning you, me, or your grandfather could also skate around during those tough minutes. That aside, what the org means is they feel like he’s effective playing these minutes, but we know from analytics that he’s not
2. An unnamed director of player personnel said he’s a 4-6 “with a good partner”
If I were Stevenson, I’d want to know what they thought he was with an average partner–Tom Preissing looked good when protected by a good partner, so that qualifying tag isn’t saying Ceci is good even as a bottom-end blueliner without assistance
3. He’s never had gifted partners
I think this reflects Stevenson’s lack of comfort with analytics, because Ceci‘s horrendous reputation takes into account the performance of his partners–this isn’t a deliberate obfuscation on Stevenson’s part, it’s simply ignorance (not in the pejorative sense, I mean he literally doesn’t know)
4. He needs to be re-signed to meet the cap floor
Actually, the team could sign a good player to meet the floor, so retaining Ceci is irrelevant in this respect

None of these are actually arguments that show Ceci is a good player. The org says he is, but just saying something doesn’t make it so. I’m not picking on Stevenson here–most reporters his age (and older) aren’t comfortable with analytics and lean on opinions from NHL people and the various cliches about hockey they grew up with, but that doesn’t excuse the laughable reasoning he includes here.

Image result for odds word

I don’t typically write about the odds, but I know people get excited about them (The Hockey News etc do this sort of thing before every season). SBD gives the Sens 33% chance of climbing out of the bottom five of the NHL next season (which seems oddly generous to me, barring further roster changes and without knowing who the next head coach is).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens

Belleville Senators: Reviewing Predictions

It’s time to look back at my predictions for the 2018-19 BSens and see what I got right, what I got wrong, and give some thoughts on the season that was.

Coaching

As with every coach the org has ever hired, Troy Mann was going to come in and provide structure, teach the kids, and put a competitive team on ice. Since the rhetoric never changes we can ignore it and simply look at what he accomplished (the crunchy stats below are compared to the BSens last year, while the overall record is compared to Mann’s previous season as a coach).

Troy Mann (17-18) 30-37-9 .454 -> (18-19) 37-31-3 .539
228 GF (+34) 228 GA (-38) PP 18.3 (+3.3%) PK 75.7 (-2.2%)

These are almost across the board improvements, granting that it’s hard to imagine worse results than the last three years (two under Kleinendorst and one under Richardson). My biggest concern was how much Mann would play younger players, since his predecessors leaned heavily on veterans. Mann showed the same tendencies, but without equal rigidity. This tendency clearly reflects a preference from the org because they continually hire coaches who follow that program.

As for the nuts and bolts, while goals for/against saw a positive swing of seventy-two, this was largely due to a better roster (for the first time in at least three years the BSens didn’t have the worst blueline in the AHL). Why am I giving the roster most of the credit? Because the PK, the area that coaching impacts the most, somehow got worse. The PK was last in the league–actually worse than the Kleinendorst era, which I thought was impossible. They gave up seventy-five PP goals, basically one a game. We can’t blame this on the team being poor defensively because 5-on-5, they weren’t that bad (150 GA, or just under 2 goals per game); we also can’t blame the goaltending since, in general, it was fine; the final knock is that acquired players tended to do worse or no better under Mann (particularly elite talent).

So what can I say for Mann? He was fine–not awful, but not great. I don’t think he’s the kind of coach who can fix the technical issues of younger players, he’s just an adequate, but uninspiring AHL coach (Chris Stevenson thinks highly of him, but Stevenson has barely seen the BSens play this season, so is relying on the org’s narrative).

Player Predictions

Link above (I considered anything within 0.03 of my points-per-game number within the margin for error), with blue meaning the result was higher than expected and red lower (players traded away are in italics):

Defense
Christian Wolanin 0.58 -> 0.78
I was conservative with him and he blew away my expectations; I think he would have been better served by a full season in Belleville, but you can’t complain about his production; his AHL season can be divided into three chunks between call-ups (26-5-13-18; 9-1-7-8; 5-1-4-5), with the latter two segments showing Mann had stopped fussing about with his usage
Christian Jaros 0.50 -> NHL (0.16)
I wasn’t expecting the Sens to pull the trigger on him so quickly, but given their struggles on the blueline and his physicality it’s not a complete surprise
Stuart Percy 0.40 -> 0.46 traded (0.35)
Because Lajoie and Jaros were in the NHL, he received more special teams time than expected; traded away to Providence for absolutely nothing (Fyten), which was by far the worst AHL-deal of the season (meant to help the playoff push–oh-uh!)
Max Lajoie 0.38 -> NHL (0.26)
Not sure keeping him in Ottawa for a full season was the right move–time will tell
Julius Bergman 0.30 -> 0.18 traded (0.20)
Completely crashed and burned away from the Sharks system; wasn’t given much of a chance by Mann, but didn’t improve in Hartford (he was dumped in the Matt Duchene trade, with the Blue Jackets promptly sending him to the Rangers)
Erik Burgdoerfer 0.25 -> 0.28
Not a fan, but he put up his expected numbers (when the games mattered he was 19-0-3-3, his worst numbers of the year, which tells you something)
Jordan Murray 0.19 -> 0.48
I thought his production last season (0.40) was inflated by usage, but clearly at this level he can produce when given the opportunity; he is a nightmare defensively and why he winds up on the PK at times I have no idea
Patrick Sieloff 0.17 -> 0.20 traded (0.07)
A wholly unremarkable player who, outside the PK, offers nothing–completely bottomed out once dumped on the Ducks in the Gibbons trade
Andreas Englund 0.14 -> 0.21
The mild uptick in his numbers doesn’t undercut the fact that he has hands of stone (down the stretch, when it mattered, he was 14-0-0-0, his worst stretch of the season); for those hoping he’s good on the PK, he’s not
Macoy Erkamps ECHL -> traded (0.16)
Yet another CHL FA boondoggle; he was dumped on Pittsburgh in the Ben Sexton trade

Forwards
Logan Brown 0.75 -> 0.75
I hit this prediction out of the park–it’s a solid rookie season for him (despite a lot of coaching goofiness early in the year)–I can only imagine how eager the org is to rush him into the NHL
Rudolfs Balcers 0.71 -> 0.72
I wasn’t a fan of keeping him in Ottawa for such a long time
Filip Chlapik 0.71 -> 0.60
I’m fond of Chlapik and was hoping for a nice jump in production, but he essentially matched his rookie numbers (part of the reason was his production dropped the final 27 games (27-5-7-12)
Ben Sexton 0.62 -> 0.53 traded (0.38)
The oft-injured forward went on a slump that dragged through his trade to Pittsburgh (the org acquiring some much needed blueline help at the time in the form of Elliott)
Paul Carey 0.60 -> 0.93 traded (1.10)
It turns out his 16-17 season wasn’t a fluke, nor is Carey beginning to decline, as the veteran had a career year; he was another sacrifice to shore up the blueline (Goloubef)
Drake Batherson 0.55 -> 1.05
I was very conservative in my prediction here (it was feasible that Mann could have buried him on the third line, ala prior coaches and players like Francis Perron); while I think I picked a solid comparable for him (Tanner Pearson), I would have been better off simply using his rookie number (0.73) as-is; he’s such a great player to watch, I hope BSens fans soaked it in because I don’t imagine he’ll be back; btw, lest we forget, Dorion has said he doesn’t want to take risks on skilled players in later rounds anymore (yikes!)
Gabriel Gagne 0.50 -> 0.27 traded (0.31)
The big question coming into the season was whether last year was a fluke or not–turns out, it was, as Gagne couldn’t match his modest production (0.36) and is a draft gamble that didn’t pay off (he was dumped for former first-rounder Morgan Klimchuk)
Chase Balisy 0.49 -> 0.29
I wasn’t a fan of the signing, but assumed he’d follow his career norm–instead, he completely bombed out despite many early opportunities
Andrew Sturtz 0.48 -> 0.40
NCAA FA had an injury-plagued season compounded by bizarre usage, but I wasn’t that far off his production (as I warned in the prediction post, TOI would be a major factor)
Nick Paul 0.47 -> 0.91
This was very unexpected, as for three years the one consistency with Paul was his inconsistency; the question is, how much of this is a result of him versus the talent around him? I’m hesitant to jump on the bandwagon; he only played 43 games and went ice cold when they mattered most (11-0-3-3)
Jim O’Brien 0.45 -> 0.27
Missed most of the season so I think you can throw out his totals–I don’t want him resigned, however
Adam Tambellini 0.43 -> 0.44
You know what you’re getting with Tambellini–is that worth keeping?
Aaron Luchuk 0.33 -> 0.33
I’m quite pleased with this prediction–he’s a work-in-progress and its possible he’ll crash and burn, but I like the org throwing the dice on talented players
Jack Rodewald 0.32 -> 0.80
Speaking of unexpected, these are his best numbers since junior four years ago; always a streaky player, I feel like this is an outlier and he’ll regress to the mean (he disappeared down the stretch, 18-4-4-8, which is very close to his usual production)
Boston Leier 0.28 -> 0.18
It’s always tough predicting numbers for low-end players; Leier played less than I expected and the more I saw him the less I liked him
Joseph LaBate 0.25 -> 0.19
This signing bothered me quite a bit and LaBate delivered even less than expected–yet another ‘gritty’ player who failed to deliver
Ryan Scarfo 0.22 -> traded (0.28)
Included in the Sexton trade, where he was unremarkable, but better than his brief time with the BSens
Francois Beauchemin ECHL -> 0.15
Played far more than made any sense (40 games!)–for whatever reason Mann is a fan (grit, again)

Marcus Hogberg .899 improved -> .917
Last year I talked about how he was a victim of bad luck with his numbers and that he’d be better this year, as indeed he was, wrestling the starting position from a struggling Gustavsson; he had no sustained poor streaks throughout the season (only once did he have subpar back-to-back games), which is an excellent sign
Mike McKenna .909 decline -> .914 traded (.896)
Didn’t actually play in Belleville for long and was flipped to Vancouver in one of Dorion’s better deals (as he bombed out in Philadelphia, where the Canucks sent him)
Filip Gustavsson .918 decline -> .887
An ugly season, even more so than imagined, but I did warn that he was beginning to regress to the mean last year; for those jumping off the bandwagon, remember that many did so with Hogberg and he’s rebounded–there’s no reason to give up on Gustavsson yet
Jake Paterson ECHL -> ECHL
Road the pine occasionally, as expected

Acquisitions
Erik Brannstrom 0.68 -> 0.44
The main piece of the Mark Stone trade, his numbers dropped, albeit bouncing back and forth between Ottawa and Belleville didn’t help
Cody Goloubef 0.75 -> 0.40
Acquired in the Carey trade, he did not maintain the same level of production and while he wasn’t terrible, this was not good value for what was surrendered
Stefan Elliott 0.40 -> 0.45
A solid acquisition via the Sexton trade–doesn’t blow your socks off, but added some stability to what was an awful blueline
Justin Falk 0.25 -> 0.28
I hated this signing–he was awful in the NHL and didn’t do anything in the AHL
Darren Archibald 0.70 -> 0.61
Part of the McKenna trade; his production dropped, but not precipitously
Vitaly Abramov 0.42 -> 0.39
The rookie is clearly still trying to find his footing–far too soon to pass judgement on him
Morgan Klimchuk 0.47 -> 0.15 -> 0.63
A great pick-up for Gagne, as in limited action he put up more typical numbers (8 games isn’t enough to say he needs to come back, however)
Jean-Christophe Beaudin 0.31 -> 0.15
Why did he play so much (20 games!)?
Austin Fyten 0.20 -> 0.17
This was a classic Dorion move–get a tough guy to help with the playoff run…by acquiring a player who can’t actually help you get to the playoffs
Tobias Lindberg 0.40 -> 0.20 -> 0.23
Bombed out completely–I don’t know what the issue is with Lindberg–so much talent, but his game lacks structure and limits his production

And that, as they say, is that. I’m quite happy with my prognostication. As for the season that was, the BSens were a better team and the org was willing to make difficult decisions (difficult for the org I mean) by jettisoning some of the regressive players they get so attached too (RIP Max McCormick, who put up career worst numbers after he was traded–no longer protected by favourable usage). The Fyten trade, however, brings us back to earth and its clear that even after all this time Dorion still has bad tendencies and struggles to accept the reality of how hockey has changed.

What do I want to see in the upcoming season? Letting go of any player labelled ‘gritty’ and focusing on talent. I don’t expect them to do that wholesale, but we did see some positive signs. The BSens have an atrocious record of signing AHL vets and that needs to change (especially on the blueline). The trades weren’t as bad as at the NHL-level, but even where Dorion won a trade none of his acquisitions were better than the prospects (who carried the team). Essentially the org has to evolve, so that’s where fans have to put their hope. As for the Sens, given the ownership and GM I’m not optimistic, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be positives next season.

I have a couple of more articles in the hopper–I’ll be taking a look at prospects and at some point looking at the possible 2019-20 BSen roster.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)