Debrinked: Offering Perspective and Caution

The big news from the draft for the Sens was bundling picks for Chicago winger Alex DeBrincat— understandably the fanbase is skweeeing about it (here’s a typical example). I’m not here simply to offer a negative take, but I do think there’s important context and deeper analysis to perform (for instance, the aforementioned post includes this incorrect assumption: “It’s very unlikely any of the three picks they gave up will turn into anyone as good as [him]“). We’ll explore why that conviction is far from clear below.

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard about the trade was, assuming team finances are unchanged, that the 24-year old is a rental, albeit of the two-year variety. Debrincat is a fantastic comparison to another big move from the Pierre Dorion, namely trading for Matt Duchene in 2017 (Nichols almost hits upon this, but not quite). At the time, just like now, Dorion thought he was on the cusp of playoff success, so let’s go back to the halcyon days of 2017, look at that trade, and see how it compares.

This was a threeway trade between Ottawa, Nashville, and Colorado (which the Avalanche won going away); that aside, we’ll concern ourselves only with the elements that apply to Ottawa.
Sens gave up (1 player, 3 assets):
Kyle Turris (Nsh) – 172-29-67-96 (0.55) over three seasons, which was below his Ottawa average (0.67); the Sens wisely got out of the Turris-business before his play collapsed and they avoided paying him the absurd salary Nashville handed out–moving him at this time was a good idea
Andrew Hammond (Col) – The Sens ill-advisedly rewarded him with a one-way contract and dumping him became necessary (Anderson-Condon was the tandem that season); the Avalanche buried him in the minors and let him walk at the end of the season
Shane Bowers (Col) – A first-round pick (!) that I thought was terrible at the time and, as Colorado discovered, I was not wrong (his AHL numbers with them: 117-23-22-45 0.38); the Sens picking him was a waste (a Mann pick, incidentally), but knowing to get rid of him was the correct move
2019 1st-round pick (Bowen Byram, Col) – Dorion dumped the first-round pick thinking he was managing a playoff team–instead the Avalanche got a lottery pick the Sens needed; Byram has won a Cup already (his NHL numbers through parts of two seasons: 49-5-17-19 0.38)
2019 3rd-round pick (Matthew Stienburg, Col) – The third-rounder is still plying his trade in the NCAA and doing well, but whether he’ll pan out is up in the air (it’s statistically unlikely)
Sens acquired (1 player):
Matt Duchene – 118-50-57-107 (0.90) over parts of two seasons as the Sens bottomed out to become one of the worst teams in the NHL; he was flipped to Columbus (a trade we’ll get into below); Duchene played very well, producing above his career average (0.76), but that production was wasted because Dorion misunderstood how good his roster was

What you can say about this trade is that, in terms of the established assets, Dorion did well (moving on from Turris, Bowers, and Hammond, and getting in on Duchene at peak performance). What Dorion failed at was assessing his own team and thus surrendering an asset he’d dearly love to have back. Dorion also struggled when forced to move Duchene, so let’s briefly look at that.
Sens gave up (2 players):
Matt Duchene – Finished out the season with the Blue Jackets (23-4-8-12), but walked and signed with Nashville afterwards (so he was a pure rental)
Julius Bergman – Previously acquired in the Mike Hoffman deal, the Sens jettisoned him after just part of one-season in the AHL (he finished out the year and then went back to Europe)
Sens acquired (3 players):
Vitaly Abramov – The prospect received a lot of fanfare, but suited up for just 5 NHL games over three seasons before returning to Russia
Jonathan Davidsson – A signing Columbus clearly regretted, the Sens brought him over for one season where he accomplished nothing in the AHL (30-2-3-5) and returned to Europe
2019 1st-round pick (Lassi Thomson) – Is on the right trajectory, although it’s too early to say if he’ll become an important NHL regular or not

Dorion again made the correct decision to dump Duchene when he did (as well as moving an asset he didn’t want in Bergman), and Davidsson was simply part of the price to be paid for the trade, but the team failed hard in gauging Abramov’s potential. Given that Columbus retained none of the assets in what was a playoff-push trade, the Sens win the exchange if Thomson turns into even a marginal NHL-regular, however, big picture we’d all rather have Byram than Thomson, which means Dorion loses the entire Duchene cycle–not just because of the final assets, but because Duchene’s time with Ottawa was wasted. His performance, while good individually, did nothing for the team.

With that lengthy preamble aside, let’s see what Dorion has learned. The pint-sized Debrincat (368-160-147-307 0.83) was a 2nd-rounder in 2016 who has flourished with the largely non-competitive Hawks since he debuted. He’s young, hasn’t had notable injury concerns, is signed and an RFA for the following season–he’s expensive, but in theory there’s two seasons for the budget-conscious Sens to get out of him. What did they give up?
2022 1st-round pick (Kevin Korchinski)
2022 2nd-round pick (Paul Ludwinski)
2024 3rd-round pick

A top-ten pick is nothing to sneeze at and the 2nd is very early, meaning the odds of Ludwinski also turning out are (relatively) high–the 3rd-round pick is much more of a crapshoot. Let’s take a look at players picked in those positions over 2012-20 (those in italics either failed or were marginal players; those undetermined have their current league/circumstance noted):
7th overall: Matt Dumba, Darnell Nurse, Haydn Fleury, Ivan Provorov, Clayton Keller, Lias Andersson, Quinn Hughes, Dylan Cozens
39th overall: Lukas Sutter, Laurent Dauphin, Vitek Vanecek, A. J. Greer, Alex Debrincat, Jason Robertson, Olof Lindbom, Jackson LaCombe (NCAA)

I appreciate the irony of Debrincat being a 39th pick. That aside, 75% of the time the 7th-pick has become a significant asset; on the other side, two cases remain undecided (Vanecek and LaCombe), so of what’s left it’s 33% (which is still quite high). Let’s also keep in mind that the best later pick was made by Chicago, the team Dorion just traded with. In the long term, it’s unlikely the Sens win this trade (to do so Chicago needs to fail), so this trade isn’t for the long term.

With Debrincat, just like Duchene five years ago, this deal requires the Sens to win now. We understood that urgency when Melnyk was in charge, but he’s no longer with us, so where is the pressure coming from? My theory is Dorion knows he’s on very thin ice–this could be his last year as GM and, if that’s the case, he wants to go for broke. Are the 2022-23 Senators better than the 2017-18 Senators? It’s easy to say yes in hindsight, but the latter were coming off almost making the Stanley Cup finals, so I don’t think it’s that simple. Let’s briefly compare the two (I’m going to note the season they had prior and then the current season; bold is improved, italics is not):

Top-six forwards
Mark Stone (1.06/1.05)
Mike Hoffman (0.82/0.68)
Matt Duchene (0.53/0.72)
Ryan Dzingel (0.39/0.52)
Derick Brassard (0.48/0.65)
Bobby Ryan (0.40/0.53)
Top-four blueline
Erik Karlsson (0.92/0.87)
Thomas Chabot (junior/0.39)
Cody Ceci (0.21/0.23)
Dion Phaneuf (0.37/0.30)
Starting ‘tender
Craig Anderson (.923/.898)
Significant Roster Losses
Marc Methot

The Sens were slightly better offensively in the 17-18 season, but their goaltending collapsed and that had hidden deficiencies on defense. Dorion’s inability to read the tea leaves in terms of the blueline and goaltending sent the team crashing down into its lengthy rebuild.

Top-six forwards
Alex Debrincat (0.95)
Brady Tkachuk (0.84)
Tim Stutzle (0.73)
Josh Norris (0.83)
Drake Batherson (0.95)
Shane Pinto (injured)
Top-four blueline
Thomas Chabot (0.64)
Artyom Zub (0.27)
Jake Sanderson (NCAA)
Erik Brannstrom (0.26)-Lassi Thomson (AHL)
Starting ‘tender
Anders Forsberg (.917)
Significant Roster Losses

The Sens suffered a ton of key injuries this past season and are leaning heavily on younger players. There’s no depth to replace key losses, such that it’s impossible for success if there are any significant health issues (this also applies to individual regression or struggles). Goaltending, just like in 17-18, is a huge question mark, as Forsberg is a career backup and there’s only uncertainty behind him.

We also can’t help but repeat what Nichols and others have found by digging through the numbers: how much playing with Patrick Kane has helped boost Debrincat‘s numbers–and it does no good to say, well, if he’s not as advertised, the Sens aren’t committed, because they’ve already surrendered significant assets to get him that can’t be replaced. Debrincat must work out or this trade is a disaster.

Also, as others have pointed out, Debrincat helps the team in the way it needs least: on offense. While it’s safe to say the top-six without him is hardly dominant, scoring wasn’t the primary issue for the team this past season. Not only that, but by surrendering two top-40 picks, the Sens are delaying the addition of new top talent in net or on the blueline. Do I think Jake Sanderson will be a good NHL player? I do, but how long is he going to be playing with Chabot and Zub? It’s also unclear if the Sens have a proper #4 to complete the picture (along with zero capacity to make-up for injuries on the blueline). The net is a mess and clearly Dorion is praying for the continued evolution of Mads Sogaard, but he’s only 21 (shades of Murray waiting for Robin Lehner or Dorion relying on Marcus Hogberg). The echoes to 2017 and the Duchene trade are ringing louder and louder.

At the end of the day, I hope the Debrincat addition is all people hope it will be (I do love offense, lest we forget), but Pierre Dorion has a magical talent for losing trades, so I’m going to remain cautious until we’re well into the coming season.

This article was written by Peter Levi


Sens Prospects Review

Let me begin by making it clear what prospects I’m looking at: those not already in the system (so not already in Ottawa or Belleville). I make this distinction because I think the data available for the latter is so different that they occupy different categories of analysis. It’s also important to recognize that most of these players will never be significant NHLers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun looking and assessing. Speaking of which, I do not have access to the minute data that scouts do (or those willing to pay for it, ala Ary etc), nor have I seen most of these players play this season, so I’m purely analyzing from pre-existing scouting reports and statistical comparisons (both immediate and in relative terms).

I like to divide players by age, since that makes comparing where they are in the development curve easier (keeping in mind goaltenders almost always take longer to pan out), so the players below are in order of oldest to youngest. I’m going to link my thoughts on the players when they were drafted (and you can see where I was right or wrong interpreting scouting data). For the most current season I’ve included (in brackets) how they performed on their team in relative scoring (forwards vs forwards and defensemen vs defensemen).

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

Novak switched from Bentley to Northeastern in his final season and saw his steady increase of progression halt as he played behind other drafted players. Because of the league he was drafted from, there was precious little scouting information about him when drafted, but he compares to another Sens pick (pre-Mann) Todd Burgess (2016), who came from the same league. Burgess was never signed and spent most of this season playing with Manitoba in the AHL (35-7-6-13). The two players aren’t clones, as offensively Novak has better career NCAA numbers (0.63 vs. 0.49), Burgess spent an extra year in college, and so on. Will/should the Sens sign Novak? It’s hard to say–looking at the stats isn’t enough given his change in schools and it’s less clear to me what role the Sens envision for him–his size is in his favour. As a fan I’d like to see him perform better than sixth on his team in scoring, but that’s not the be-all, end-all for all prospects.

Viktor Lodin, C/LW, June 99, 6’2, 4-94/19 (signed)
2018-19 SHL 41-1-4-5 0.12
2019-20 SHL 22-0-4-4 0.18
2020-21 Allsven 47-14-26-40 0.85
2021-22 SHL 44-12-15-27 0.61 (3rd)

Son of long time Swedish defenseman Hans, Lodin was an off-the-board pick I couldn’t find much information on at the time. What little I could find made me think he was yet another grinder, but that impression was false (such that my reaction, link above, was off). At least at the minor pro level, Lodin is a point producer. The Sens signed him after the 20-21 season, but loaned him to Timra and that seems to have been beneficial to him. His minor pro sample size is small (ten games), but it seems like he can play at that level. Can he be an NHL regular? I think that’s up in the air and I suspect he has to make space for himself in the bottom six and be a specialist like an Erik Condra or Peter Schaefer (which is to say, provide some offensive punch in a depth role).

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

The offensive defensemen the Sens picked in the 2018 draft has not been able to maintain that production at the college level (you’d like to see is an arc that steadily increases). The org is unlikely to leave a high pick unsigned, but the expectations of what kind of pro he’ll be has to have changed and Tychonick will need to be a good defender to carry forward his pro career (if we’re looking for an Ottawa prospect comparable it would be a borderline player like Max Lajoie–similar size and okay but not great offensive numbers).

Eric Engstrand, LW, May 00, 6’4, 5-155/20
2019-20 SuperElit 37-23-35-58 1.56
2020-21 SHL 45-1-4-5 0.11
2021-22 SHL 41-7-3-10 0.24 (12th)

Already re-signed by Malmo for the next two seasons, Engstrand won’t be in an arena near you any time soon. An overage pick in the mold of a Filip Ahl (2015) and Markus Nurmi (2016)–a big, physical European winger–he’s the second youngest on the roster and his progression is in the right direction. I believe the way it works with Swedish draft picks is you have 4-years to sign them, so the org can be patient and watch how his play evolves. Incidentally, speaking of Nurmi, I think there’s a chance he could make it as a depth NHLer (albeit the Sens no longer have his rights), perhaps ala Marcus Sorensen who the Sens never signed but spent five years with San Jose.

Luke Loheit, RW, Jul 00, 6’1, 7-194/18
2017-18 USHS 24-12-18-30 1.25
2018-19 BCHL 43-8-16-24 0.55
2019-20 NCAA 33-5-1-6 0.18
2020-21 NCAA 28-3-2-5 0.17
2021-22 NCAA 34-2-4-6 0.17 (11th)

Always intended to be a long term college prospect, I think my analysis at the time he was drafted is spot on. He has one more NCAA season to show his mettle, but at this point it’s difficult to imagine anything will change. This is a player who can only become a pro through great defensive play and/or being an agitator, but from what we can see the skillset just isn’t high enough for that to ever happen.

Philippe Daoust, C/LW, Nov 01, 6’0, 6-158/20 (signed)
2019-20 QMJHL 58-7-22-29 0.50
2020-21 QMJHL 21-6-22-28 1.33
2021-22 QMJHL 38-24-23-47 1.23 (3rd via ppg)

I like gambling on skill and while Daoust isn’t going to be a world beater, he was able to put in some time in Belleville (15-games) and has solid QMJHL numbers. What’s his ceiling? Probably not high, but he should help the BSens and could be a top-nine player (the hope for a pick like this is always another Pageau (2011), but getting players of that caliber late rarely pans out).

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

His goal to assist ratio for a defenseman is bizarre; he was Sanderson’s teammate on a team stacked with draft picks (9 in total). How good is he? I think that’s very much up in the air–the Sens tend to get blinded by size and so the question remains if he can fulfill their plans for him. With that said, in theory he has another two seasons in the NCAA to develop, so there’s no rush to judgement on him.

Jake Sanderson, DL, Jul 02, 6’2, 1-5/20 (signed)
2019-20 USDP 47-7-22-29 0.61
2020-21 NCAA 22-2-13-15 0.68
2021-22 NCAA 23-8-18-26 1.13 (1st)

Son of NHLer Geoff, his production curve is exactly what you want to see from a high pick and while it doesn’t guarantee greatness at the NHL level, it is nice to see a Sens top pick perform as expected. There’s always less to say about a player who is properly on the curve, so at this stage we just have to wait and see–is he ready for prime time in the NHL, or will he need (like Chabot) to spend some time in the AHL? I’m perfectly fine if he needs that seasoning–there’s no reason to rush.

Ridley Greig, LW, Aug 02, 6’0, 1-28/20 (signed)
2019-20 WHL 56-26-34-60 0.93
2020-21 WHL 21-10-22-32 1.52
2021-22 WHL 39-26-37-63 1.61 (1st by ppg)

Son of marginal NHLer Mark, like Sanderson above, he has the curve you want in a prospect. How will his agitating game translate at the NHL level? I have no idea, but that edge means if his production doesn’t translate there is another role for him. I’m not sure if he’s ready at the NHL-level (Sens marketing in the summer will tell you he is, but that doesn’t mean much). He’s definitely capable of helping in the AHL and I’ll be interested to see what the Sens do with him. Just like Sanderson above, I’m happy with a patient approach.

Leevi Merilainen, GL, Aug 02, 6’3, 3-71/20
2019-20 U20 .908
2020-21 U20 .934
2021-22 OHL .891

An off the wall pick from Finland, he crossed the pond to play in the OHL this season where he was middle of the pack among goaltenders (which is completely fine). The Sens amateur scouting for goaltenders has been pretty good–not great, perhaps, but in finding players who can play pro hockey. Goalies can take forever to develop and the Sens can be impatient, but there’s no rush with him at this point.

Ben Roger, DR, Nov 02, 6’4, 2-49/21
2020-21 did not play
2021-22 OHL 55-1-12-13 0.23 (5th)

The mystery is: can he be more than a big body (ala Ben Harpur, who could not stay in Nashville’s lineup this year)? There’s plenty of time to find out and I don’t think we’re close to answering that– his size will give him time to prove himself with the org, but I’m generally pessimistic about players who don’t produce at the junior level, so I need to see that before thinking he can make it.

Tyler Boucher, RW, Jan 03, 6’1, 1-10/21
2020-21 USDP 14-9-5-14 1.00
2021-22 OHL 24-7-7-14 0.58 (4th by ppg)

Son of former NHL goalie Brian, he bailed from Boston U mid-season to join the OHL, where he did not produce like a top-pick (keeping in mind the 67s were a low scoring team). I was underwhelmed by the selection when it was made and I’m still pessimistic about it, but there’s time for Boucher to prove me wrong.

Carson Latimer, RW, Jan 03, 6’1, 4-123/21
2020-21 WHL 22-5-11-16 0.72
2021-22 WHL 62-18-22-40 0.64 (5th)

When drafted his main claim to fame was he is fast; the questions was if he was anything else and that remains unanswered at this stage. I think he’s entering the make-or-break stage as a prospect and he needs to break out offensively or be dominant as a PK/specialist to move forward.

Zack Ostapchuk, LW, May 03, 6’3, 2-39/21 (signed)
2020-21 WHL 22-7-9-16 0.72
2021-22 WHL 60-26-17-43 0.71 (3rd)

Enjoying a great playoff and I’m always happy when the org gambles on skill. How good can he be? I think that’s up in the air–we need to see more before we can truly gauge that (given that his production didn’t jump expectations should be tempered). The brass are satisfied, so when it’s time we’ll at least see him at the AHL-level.

Chandler Romeo, DL, Jul 03, 6’5, 7-202/21
2020-21 did not play
2021-22 OHL 67-2-16-18 0.26 (4th)

Normally I’d complain about picking a player purely due to size, but the seventh round is the place to swing for the fences–will Romeo pan out? Probably not, but I won’t be too critical if not. At his age there’s plenty of time to let him marinate and develop.

Oliver Johansson, CL, Jul 03, 6’0, 3-74/21
2020-21 Allsven 5-0-3-3
2021-22 J20 33-19-22-41 (1st by ppg)

An excellent skater who is still finding his way in the junior leagues in Sweden; there’s plenty of time to wait and see if Johansson can turn the corner to be good enough to cross the pond, but this season doesn’t change my opinion of him one way or another. I’d expect at least another couple of years in Sweden (barring a breakout), where he tests himself in the Allsvenskan/SHL.

Final Thoughts

There’s less to tease out with the prospects from the most recent draft, but a year of development does add to the body of evidence we have for them. Most of these prospects, as mentioned at the top, won’t make it and the expectations of most are modest–they are depth players. That’s not inherently a flaw so long as a few could be something more. Let’s categorize them for convenience:

Top-six F/top-four D/starting ‘tender (or better)
Jake Sanderson
Ridley Greig

Top-nine F/top-six D/back-up
Viktor Lodin
Jonny Tychonick
Philippe Daoust
Tyler Kleven
Leevi Merilainen
Tyler Boucher
Zack Ostapchuk
Oliver Johansson

Fourth-liner/6-7 D/minor starter
Jakov Novak
Eric Engstrand
Ben Roger
Carson Latimer
Chandler Romeo

No Future
Luke Loheit

I’m curious what lessons, if any, the Sens scouting staff has learned from the last few years, where a very skilled Tampa has won and only teams with deep talent pools have made it to the conference finals this year. I’d like to think at least some awareness of that has seeped into the org–Mann seems aware that speed is important enough to invest in, at least. I don’t know how myopic Dorion is–we have to remember that coming into the 2021-22 season he thought Ottawa would compete for a playoff spot, so will he spend a lot of capital for some perceived final piece to get them over the hump? That’s a fear I have, as Dorion’s pro deals are generally disasters. Time will tell. Regardless, I’m happy to hear thoughts or corrections in the comments and I’m looking forward to the draft.

This article was written by Peter Levi

The Sens Farm System

Image result for prognosis

This isn’t intended as a deep dive from me on the Sens system, but rather a reflection on Pronman‘s (paywall) look at it about a week ago. Let me preface this by saying I take Pronman with a grain of salt–his track record is mixed, but not bad. As I mentioned on Twitter when this came out, there are a lot of warning signs throughout and I wanted to go through what I meant by that. I’m only looking at potential issues to make a broader point about the system (yes I do like some of the prospects). The rankings indicated are Pronman’s own, not mine. I’ll also remind you, Trent Mann took over the drafting reins in 2017 (only one of Tim Murray’s picks, Hogberg, remains).

3. Alex Formenton (2-47/17)

“Formenton didn’t post giant numbers for London…. His offensive ceiling will be a point of debate…. I don’t think it’s top-level skill….”

These are selective quotes (echoing, exactly, the scouting reports prior to the draft) because like most hockey people Pronman can’t help himself but drink the industry Koolaid about things he thinks matters (size and intangibles–“intangible” in this context means cannot be measured–think about that). I happen to agree with Pronman’s final word about his ceiling “[He will] be a quality penalty killer in the NHL.” Do I want to use a mid-2nd round pick on a PKer? No I don’t (think about when Erik Condra was picked). Keep in mind, he’s third on the entire list–a 3rd-line penalty killer is the 3rd best prospect in the org according to Pronman–wrap your head around that.

5. Josh Norris (1-19/17 SJ)

“Norris isn’t an overly flashy player….”

I’m picking out this innocuous comment because Pronman has very much changed his tune about Norris. When I profiled him last fall scouts fell over themselves talking about his limitations–I don’t believe a partial year in the NCAA has suddenly changed all those warning signs. Once again, however, I agree with Pronman’s conclusion, “[He] can penalty kill and will be a competent defensive center in the pros.” Why use a first-round pick (or trade for one) if ‘competent’ is his end game? He’s ranked lower than Formenton above, after all–why trade for a guy who does the same thing, but slightly worse?

8. Jacob Bernard-Docker (1-26/18)

“He’s a well-rounded player without a real wow factor. … He has quick hands, but I wouldn’t call his skill a selling point. … There is an upside question with him that continues to concern me….”

This echoes what scouts said when he was drafted and I’ll reiterate what I said at the time: I don’t mind the pick abstractly (second-pairing guy), but why make it in the first round?

11. Filip Chlapik (2-48/15)

“I’d like to see more consistency from him. For his talent level he’s underwhelmed me too much over the years.”

As regular readers will know, I’m quite fond of Chlapik and I’m including this just to bring up something I’ve said before: I firmly believe Pronman rarely watches AHL-games (he simply doesn’t have the time), so his first-hand opinions are based on junior and NHL scouting. One of the things that’s hurt Chlapik (whose ceiling is up in the air and was when he was drafted–I’ll briefly mention that Pronman face-planted on his defensive abilities), is that he plays hurt. Both pro seasons he’s laboured under various injuries that have limited what he can do–making his middling sophomore season hard to judge.

12. Parker Kelly (FA/18)

“Kelly’s numbers don’t immediately jump out to you….”

Pronman is generally effusive describing him and we have, again, that old NHL bias where he’s ‘good in the corners’–Pronman imagines future offensive skill that’s literally never manifested itself. I think having ‘hustle’ as your benchmark for a prospect is putting expectations far too low. Parker wasn’t drafted (my old profile is here–where a hoped-for offensive jump never happened), but he is sitting on a full ELC–why? I don’t believe in drafting for future fourth-liners (or sixth defensemen)–there is no shortage of players like that in the free agent pool.

13. Max Veronneau (FA/19)

“I don’t see top-end in either department to be a true scorer at the top level.”

While Pronman has excuses aplenty for rough & tumble prospects, skilled guys have to show him more. While I think that’s ridiculous, it does make him more prudent in his assessments. What he doesn’t point out, but I went over, is how it seems like Veronneau’s career has been boosted by playing with Detroit prospect Ryan Kuffner his entire career (some similarities to Chlapik and Daniel Spong). If that’s at all true there’s a good chance he burns out like a roman candle and gets Aaron Luchuk’d in a deal a year from now. While I’m concerned about the signing, I’ll reiterate that I’m supportive of taking chances on skill.

14. Jonathan Davidsson (6-170/17 Clb)

“[H]is skill level doesn’t wow you. It did when I saw him as an amateur but it hasn’t translated versus men. And for a player his age in the SHL, he’s been quite good but not dominant.”

This kind of player was a good risk for Columbus, but as I went over when the Sens acquired him, he’s a long shot to make it to the NHL and his progress since being drafted hasn’t changed that.

16. Shane Pinto (2-32/19)

“There will be stretches where you question Pinto’s skill level. He looks average with the puck, makes basic plays and doesn’t show the ability to create. … I’m skeptical of calling him a natural offensive player and a power play guy in the NHL, but I could see him become a bottom-six forward with his skill.”

Not a ringing endorsement for the highest 2nd-round pick you can have. Scouts disagreed over him prior to the draft and what I wondered at the time is why the Sens picked him that high–given their proclivities I think his size tempted them (not just his height, but his girth)–the Sens have (ever since Murray arrived) overvalued size and the worry is they were blinded by the surface details.

17. Filip Gustavsson (2-55/16 Pit)

“It wasn’t Gustavsson’s best season. That may even be write off territory”

I’m including this only to contrast it against the ridiculous stuff I was seeing written about him at the end of the 2018 season. At the time I was happily defending Hogberg’s rookie season because there was a lot of context most were unaware of, but Gustavsson was just bad last year. Overplayed? Sure, but he struggled–and that’s fine. He’s young and goaltenders take awhile, but Pronman’s comment above could be true–he might just be a bust–food for thought (and let’s remember, he’s 14 slots down from a 3rd line center on this list).

18. Kevin Mandolese (6-157/17)

“[A] tough player for me to get a read on…. The performance hasn’t been there…. It felt like a lot of pucks got by him that shouldn’t or he would lose track of a puck that he shouldn’t have.”

I’m including this largely to illustrate Pronman’s struggles here–he doesn’t know what’s going on with him–more food for thought. As for picking goalies late? It’s fine, but the Sens have struggled mightily in their goaltending scouting over the years.

19. Jon Gruden (4-95/18)

“He’s not a natural playmaker, as he forces plays at times…. I wouldn’t call his offensive or defensive play anything really significant, which makes me wonder what role he fills in the NHL.”

That second comment says it all–why pick the guy and why in the fourth round? This is exactly what I said when he was drafted. He’s not a player you draft if you look at his scouting reports, but not only did they pick him, they signed him to an ELC (!). He’s going to join Max McCormick, Vincent Dunn, and Shane Eiserman in the hall of fame I’m sure.

21. Luke Loheit (7-194/18)

“He just doesn’t score. He had mediocre BCHL numbers and didn’t do much better in high school. Scouts are concerned he never will have enough offense.”

Scouts thought so little of him that almost no one had a report on him (certainly no one ranked him)–why draft this player? Sign him as an FA after college, assuming he warrants it. He’s exactly in the same mold as Gruden, just with worse amateur numbers.

Depth. Markus Nurmi (6-163/16)

“I’m not sure there’s a lot of offensive upside in his game.”

This was the concern from scouts when he was drafted and despite enthusiasm from Ary last year he’s completely vanished from the Sens blogosphere after an unimpressive year with TPS. Why did the Sens draft him? He was a big, north-south player who was good defensively. Again, how many prospects like that do you need?

So who did he mention that isn’t on this list? Briefly:
1. Drake Batherson (4-121/17)
2. Erik Brannstrom (1-15/17 LVG)
4. Logan Brown (1-11/16)
6. Lassi Thomson (1-19/19)
7. Mads Sogaard (2-37/19)
9. Vitaly Abramov (3-65/16 Clb)
10. Joey Daccord (7-199/15)
15. Marcus Hogberg (3-78/13)
Depth. Nick Ebert (who I left out because he’s 25 and been through an ELC, so is he really a prospect?)

These are all either good goaltending prospects or very talented prospects–they have no guarantees, but taking a risk on them makes perfect sense.

Not making the cut for Pronman: Todd Burgess (4-103/16), Jakov Novak (7-188/18), Angus Crookshank (5-126/18), Maxence Guenette (7-187/19), Mark Kastelic (5-125/19), and Viktor Lodin (4-94/19). With the exception of Burgess and Crookshank these are all projected pluggers who max out as depth players.

To wrap this up: what’s difficult to do in the NHL is score. Defending requires less talent and therefore the pool available to perform it is much larger. The most lauded defenders are typically those who can also score, which is indicative. Filling out the fourth line is easy, adding 5th-7th defensemen is easy, and both groups are cheap. Drafting them is an enormous waste of time and money and yet the Sens, especially under Trent Mann, are jamming their prospect cupboards full of them. Looking just at the players I’ve highlighted above (14) none can reasonably expect to be top-six forwards and just one (Bernard-Docker) is a top-four (a four) defender. The highest potential among them is Gustavsson, but not many are going to see him as a definitive blue chip starter anymore. What I would like the org to do (and it won’t under Dorion), is to take more risks in the draft looking for talent. They won’t fail anymore than they already have, but their successes will matter more. What would you rather have, Drake Batherson in the fourth round or Tim Boyle? Take a chance on Mike Hoffman in the fifth or pick Jeff Costello? Mark Stone in the sixth or Max McCormick? When you look at the absolute best case scenario of their approach it’s Zack Smith–but that was 2008, it’s never happened again, and he isn’t remotely as important a player as the talented guys picked long after he was in the third round. Unless the game regresses to the clutch-and-grab era I’d never draft a ‘character’ player if that was his defining characteristic–they are a dime a dozen–lower leagues are filled with them. There’s this strange disconnect for many fans that when a talented player flames out the pick was wasted, but if a grinder plays a handful of games and throws a body check, it was worth it. Both scenarios are wasted picks, but the bang for your buck if the former pans out is enormous.

Those are the thoughts brought about by Pronman’s column. Upcoming I have a long reflective piece on the general coverage of the team, but it’s a behemoth so I have no idea when that will appear. I will, at some point, put out my own prospect list (no real time table for that, but probably before the season starts).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing Ottawa’s 2019 Draft

Image result for pierre dorion laughing

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)

Ottawa Senators Mock Draft

It’s time to make predictions for who the Sens will pick in the 2019 draft (you can see last year’s mock draft here). I do this for fun–it’s difficult to know who will be available when the Sens pick and they have their own eclectic tendencies. Speaking of which, let’s go over which way the Sens picks tend to blow:
-No picks from Europe (the last two seasons)
-Stay safe (not taking chances) the last two seasons
-Size size size (the Sens have only picked two’s player under 6’0 since 2011–Dahlen and Crookshank, both of whom are 5’11–while Dorion has signed or traded for players who are undersized, he doesn’t seem to want to draft them)
-Grit/character/good-in-the-room–they consistently pick at least one player with no discernible skill that has ‘intangibles’
-Goaltenders late (since Lehner (09) no ‘tender has been picked earlier than the third round)
-At least 1 French-Canadian/QMJHL player since 2008

With that established, let’s take a look at who they might land. I’ve listed five players around the pick based on my list with some added thoughts.

1-19 (listed 17-21)
Harley OHL (D)
Tomasino OHL
Suzuki OHL
Lavoie QMJHL
Poulin QMJHL

I feel like one of the Q-players, if available, are likely to go (in that order) rather than Suzuki, largely due to organizational preferences.

2-32 (30-34)
Johnson USHL
Hoglander SHL
Pelletier QMJHL 5’9
Leason WHL
Thomson WHL (D)

With all the blueliners taken last year I think Leason gets the nod over the undersized Pelletier.

2-44 (42-46)
Afanasyev USHL
Helleson USDP (D)
Johansson SuperElit (D)
Korczak WHL (D)
Foote WHL

The Sens like their bloodlines, so I think Adam Foote’s son gets the nod.

3-83 (81-85)
Guskov OHL
Bolduc QMJHL (D)
Kochetkov VHL (G)
Beckman WHL
Vukojevic OHL (D)

We won’t see a Russian (particularly from Russia), so I suspect Beckman would be the target.

4-94 (92-96)
Ahac BCHL (D)
Okhotyk OHL (D)
Gutik MHL
Moynihan USDP
Keppen OHL

If he’s around they’d lean into Ahac (who can take his time developing in the NCAA), but if not Keppen is bigger (Moynihan is under 6’0) so he’d be the choice.

5-125 (123-127)
McCarthy USDP (D)
Porco OHL
Alnefelt SuperElit (G)
Blumel USHL
Mutala WHL

It wouldn’t surprise me if they take a flyer on a goaltender (especially one who can sit in Sweden for years before they have to sign him), but Blumel is another guy to stash in the NCAA, so I’d lean that way.

Allensen (D)
Taponen (G)
Siedem (D)

Adding a defenseman to the tally makes sense.

I’m not expecting much of this to occur since, especially as the draft grinds on, all sorts of players slip unexpectedly or get taken early, but given what we know this is what I think the org would do.

My big draft article is upcoming–the rough version is done and I’ll have it up before the first round picks this evening.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Pierre Dorion’s Trade Track Record

pierre dorion

Despite having worn the GM-mantle for less than three years, Dorion has amassed a long list of trades. Given that his biggest deal is fresh in everyone’s memory, I think it’s worth diving into his history, even if the ultimate result of several deals remain up in the air.

Generally speaking the ‘winner’ of a trade is the team that gets the best player, but context does matter so it’s not always that simple (a playoff rental, for example, even if he is best player, may not ultimately return the most value). For each trade I’ve gone through why I think the trade was either won or lost and for visual clarity I’ve colour-coded those thoughts (green are wins, red are fails, equal value have no colour, and italics represent those which remain undetermined):

Dance Partners (18 trades)
Calgary (Brian Burke) x 3
San Jose (Doug Wilson) x 3
New Jersey (Ray Shero) x 2
Pittsburgh (Jim Rutherford) x 2
New York Rangers (Jeff Gorton) x 1
Los Angeles (Rob Blake) x 1
Vancouver (Jim Benning) x 1
Carolina (Don Waddell) x 1
Colorado (Joe Sakic) x 1
Chicago (Stan Bowman) x 1
Columbus (Jarmo Kekalainen) x 1
Minnesota (Paul Fenton) x 1

2016 (4)
1st (Michael McLeod) & 3rd (Joey Anderson) picks for 1st (Logan Brown) from New Jersey
The Devils picked McLeod slightly ahead of projections and Anderson after them; the Sens landed Brown slightly after projections
Alex Chiasson for Patrick Sieloff (Calgary)
Chiasson: 81-12-12-24 (playoffs 4-0-0-0) > Wsh
Sieloff: AHL 110-3-19-22, NHL 1-1-0-1
The Flames got a single middling season from Chiasson before he left to win a Cup with Washington (he’s now on a PTO with Edmonton); Sieloff has been an unremarkable blueliner at the AHL-level who is going into his third season with the org–while it’s spare part for spare part, the Flames got 80 more NHL games than Sieloff will ever get with Ottawa
Mika Zibanejad & 2nd (Jonatan Berggren) for Derick Brassard & 7th (Luke Loheit) from NYR
Zibanejad: 128-41-43-84 (playoffs 12-2-7-9)
Brassard: 139-32-45-77 (playoffs 19-4-7-11) > Pit
Mika is the better player and the Sens didn’t even get two full seasons from Brassard–his numbers aren’t even as good as Zibanejad’s in the playoffs; the pick wound up with Detroit (who picked Berggren slightly early); Loheit will almost certainly never be signed
5th (Jan Drozg) for Mike Condon (Pittsburgh)
Condon: 71-24-31-11 .908 2.81
I’m not a huge Condon fan, but he’s played a lot and Drozg wasn’t expected to be drafted; we still can’t truly start to judge it until the latter’s career is sorted out, but it’s a likely win

2017 (7)
Buddy Robinson, Zack Stortini, & 7th (Matthew Hellickson) for Tommy Wingels (San Jose)
Wingels: 36-2-2-4 (playoffs 9-0-0-0) > Chicago
Robinson: AHL 33-10-9-19 > Winnipeg
Stortini: AHL 26-1-0-1 > Carolina
Wingels was acquired for the playoffs where he accomplished nothing, but the pick was flipped to New Jersey and Robinson signed with the Winnipeg afterwards, so while I think it was a useless trade technically the Sens received more value
Future Considerations for Marc Hagel from Minnesota
Hagel: AHL 27-0-3-3 > Norway
Whatever the Wild got for Hagel–cup of coffee, slab of bacon, etc–is of equal value to Hagel bungling around Binghamton’s lineup for 27 games (he’s now playing in Denmark)
Jonathan Dahlen for Alex Burrows (Vancouver)
Burrows: 91-12-13-25 (playoffs 15-0-5-5) > buyout
This trade was always for the ‘now’ and after providing nothing in the Sens playoff run Burrows had to be bought out after he was re-signed–losing this deal is less about Dahlen’s projections and more about just how irrelevant Burrows was
3rd (Evan Barratt) for Viktor Stalberg (Carolina)
Stalberg: 18-2-2-4 (playoffs 17-0-2-2) > NLA
Trading for the playoff run Stalberg was generally useless; Barratt was taken early, so final evaluation hangs in the balance of him getting a cup of coffee in the NHL or not
Curtis Lazar & Mike Kostka for Jyrki Jokipakka & 2nd (Alex Formenton) from Calgary
Lazar: 69-3-12-15 (playoffs 1-0-0-0)
Kostka: AHL 15-2-10-12 > SHL
Jokipakka: 3-0-0-0 > KHL
Dumping Lazar and getting Formenton in the return is a win (Koskta’s partial season in the minors is a wash with Jokipakka essentially not dressing for the Sens)
Future Considerations for Brandon Gormley (New Jersey)
Much like Hagel above, the box of donuts exchanged for Gormley is equivalent value
Kyle Turris, Andrew Hammond, Shane Bowers, 1st (2019) & 3rd (Justus Annunen) for Matt Duchene (Colorado)
Turris: 65-13-29-42 (playoffs 13-0-3-3) <Nsh>
Hammond: 1-0-1-0 .939 2.07 (playoffs 3-1-1 .933 2.63) > Min
Duchene: 68-23-26-49
The Sens hugely overpaid for a player who is likely to leave the org with less than two full seasons in the books and zero playoff appearances; Annunen was taking just slightly later than expected, but the 1st-rounder could blow this out of the water

2018 (7)
Dion Phaneuf & Nate Thompson for Marian Gaborik & Nick Shore (Los Angeles)
Phaneuf: 26-3-7-10 (playoffs 4-0-1-1)
Thompson: 26-1-5-6 (playoffs 4-0-0-0)
Gaborik: 16-4-3-7 > LTIR
Shore: 6-0-1-1 > Cal
The Sens got a handful of games from both players while the Kings have an asset (of sorts) in Phaneuf
Chris DiDomenico for Ville Pokka from Chicago
DiDomenico: AHL 22-8-15-23 > NLA
Pokka: AHL 23-3-8-11 > KHL
While both players left for Europe at the end of the year, DiDomenico had a much larger impact in the minors (putting up great playoff numbers for Rockford)
Derick Brassard, Vincent Dunn, & 3rd (Jesper Eliasson) for Ian Cole, Filip Gustavsson, 1st (Jacob Bernard-Docker), & 3rd (2019) from Pittsburgh
Brassard: 14-3-5-8 (playoffs 12-1-3-4)
Dunn: <loaned back to ECHL Brampton>
Gustavsson: 2-4-0 .912 3.01
Detroit got the pick (Eliasson wasn’t highly regarded), Cole was flipped (see below), so it’s going to boil down to Brassard, Bernard-Docker, and the 3rd
Nick Shore for 7th (2019) from Calgary
Shore: 9-1-2-3 > FA
It’s 9 games of Shore for the Flames versus whomever the Sens draft (the odds favour Calgary, but one never knows)
Ian Cole for Nick Moutrey & 3rd (2020) from Columbus
Cole: 20-2-5-7 (playoffs 6-0-3-3) > Colorado
Moutrey: AHL 16-2-3-5
Cole played 20 games for the Blue Jackets and Moutrey was allowed to walk after doing nothing in the minors, so it comes down to the pick (this favours Columbus)
Mike Hoffman, Cody Donaghey, & 5th (2020) for Mikkel Boedker, Julius Bergman, & 6th (2020) from San Jose
Because Hoffman was immediately flipped to Florida for picks tracking this trade gets messy, but there’s no question the best player involved is Hoffman and there’s no one remotely comparable in the return
Erik Karlsson & Francis Perron for Chris Tierney, Dylan DeMelo, Josh Norris, Rudolfs Balcers, 1st (2020), & 2nd (2019) + two conditional picks from San Jose
Unless the 1st-round pick they get from the Sharks turns out to be the first overall there’s no chance they even close to a match in return

Dorion’s Win/Loss/Even (Undetermined) Record (18): 2-8-3 (5)

It’s clear from the above that this is not a man who makes smart trades–you might quibble with one or two of the above, but the general picture is a man who can’t deliver the goods when the stakes are high. What’s truly scary is the trades have been getting worse over time. I’ve long complained that the Sens pro scouting is terrible and these scenarios are evidence of that.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Melnyk Boro

Christmas does come early sometimes and Eugene Melnyk offered us an early present with a delightfully awkward ‘promotional’ video featuring everyone’s favourite local boy/character guy/good-in-the-corners Sen Mark Borowiecki. For some fans this ridiculous spectacle might be the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of their perception of Melnyk/the org, while for myself it’s simply another in a long line of examples of his issues as an owner. Chris Stevenson (paywall) breaks it down and among the hilarity is this from Eugene:

I think this coming year, we’re going to have 10 out of the 22 players are going to be new, meaning they’re either rookies or they’ve played maybe under 10 games last year. Then the following year, it’s going to go up to about 15 of the 22, maybe 16.

Forgive me if I don’t recall, but when did Melnyk announce himself as GM? Since he’s making personnel decisions, his lackey (Pierre Dorion) must be working the phones hard to clear space for ten rookies. When I went over the potential BSen lineup like a sane person I was assuming only Colin WhiteLogan Brown and Christian Wolanin (among those with AHL-eligibility) would play regularly with the Sens and while it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine Brady Tkachuk and (possibly) even Alex Formenton on the team, arriving at ten rookies isn’t easy. Admittedly, I’m confident Melnyk made up both numbers on the spot (he wouldn’t be cap compliant with sixteen), and what does ‘either rookies or under ten games’ mean anyway–if they’ve played ten games they are still rookies. It’s the kind of stupid (audacious?) statement that routinely comes out of his mouth. He then added:

you are not going to win

That has to buoy ticket sales. I agree with him, incidentally (see below), but I’m not sure the Sens marketing folks are going to jump for joy at hearing that. Stevenson is correct, I believe, in translating Melnyk to mean he’s dumping his expensive players and going cheap for a rebuild (or sorts) while expressing it in the worst way possible. This isn’t a surprise and I’m glad it shatters any illusions the fanbase might have had that we were going to get a sensible way out of this clusterfuck. This does, btw, fit Steve Lloyd and Gord Wilson’s ebullient prospect praise as they fall in line with where the org is going. I suspect TSN 1200 is going to be pumping the tires of prospects as hard as they did in 2011 to provide some hope (for those interested in a perspective founded in the scouting material go here).

Funnily enough I actually approve of the idea of a rebuild in abstract, but it requires a better scouting apparatus, a better GM, and a better owner.


The Athletic‘s Dom Luszczyszyn previewed (paywall) the Sens and ripped them apart–great analysis that has no local bias impacting it. Dom projects them to finish the season with a meager 77 points (which is slightly higher than the other methodologies he references, providing a range of 71-77 points). He’s not a fan of org favourties Tom Pyatt, Max McCormick, Borowiecki, Ceci, or the goaltending (nor am I). It’s fully worth the read, although for those who’ve been paying attention I don’t think you’ll find his analysis or conclusions surprising.

Image result for final countdown

The Silver Seven completed its countdown of the top Sens prospects and I wanted to comment on it (you can see my list here). My intention is to both assess it and make suggestions for how it can be improved. As I’ve mentioned previously I wish prospect analysts would cite scouting reports and (where available) statistical data in their assessment, but The Silver Seven doesn’t have a universal approach–each writer does their own thing (I’m not a huge fan of the under-25 format either, since there’s a big difference in a known pro quantity like Cody Ceci and a college free agent like Andrew Sturtz). Some of the writers are more or less unfamiliar with players who haven’t appeared at the NHL level–this is understandable, but if that’s the case, why not divide the prospects up to suit the comfort level of the writer? Let’s briefly go the material:

  • Ary (Joel Daccord, Francis Perron, Markus Nurmi, Alex Formenton) – thoroughly researched and analyzed, hunting down information that isn’t easily accessible; they are among the best of the articles written for the series
  • Ross A (Parker Kelly, Ben Harpur, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Brady Tkachuk) – he’s inconsistent; a largely descriptive piece for Kelly rather than analytical (when I mentioned it would help to have included scouting material he subsequently added it); his Harpur piece is good, albeit none of the AHL or amateur scouting material is used; the JB-D article is solid, but more scouting material would help (multiple reports offer a clearer picture); the Tkachuk piece is well-rounded (although it includes notes from development camp which isn’t something I’d bother with)
  • Beata Elliott (Andreas Englund, Nick Paul, Thomas Chabot) – her Englund scouting link is actually an Ottawa Citizen article where Englund talks about himself (which isn’t that useful); she does better with Paul’s NHL-side, but the complete lack of amateur scouting material or AHL-elements means the content doesn’t add much to our picture of him; her Chabot material has neither scouting or analytics material whatsoever which is very disappointing (Beata’s comment that she doesn’t pay much attention to prospects makes me wonder why she’s writing about them)
  • Colin Cudmore (Jonathan Gruden, Jonathan Tychonick, Filip Chlapik) – he’s very thorough on Gruden with statistical data included; the Tychonick piece is also good, although I would have liked more than just one scouting report to work on (for a balanced picture); Chlapik’s is quite thorough (and includes the AHL data)
  • B_T (Cody Ceci, Colin White) – his Ceci piece is excellent and packed with analysis; the White post is strong on the limited NHL sample, but has nothing useful from his many games in the AHL (his comment that he doesn’t really follow prospects makes me question why he’s writing about them–and if you are, at least put the effort in to be thorough)
  • Spencer Blake (Maxime Lajoe, Gabriel Gagne, Logan Brown) – starts off as descriptive with Lajoie, but does use the AHL-material (amateur scouting would have been nice as well, but it’s not a crippling absence); his Gagne piece is only descriptive, which sadly means it adds very little (there’s no AHL material or amateur scouting material); conversely the Brown piece is very good, featuring very useful statistical analysis
  • NKB (Aaron Luchuk, Marcus Hogberg) – Luchuk is only descriptive with no scouting material; his Hogberg profile is better (I’m happy he linked my AHL stuff, but it would have been nice to see it used for analysis)
  • N_Dew (Christian Jaros, Drake Batherson, Filip Gustavsson, Chrisian Wolanin) – purely descriptive for Jaros & Batherson with the only insights via SensProspects about Development Camp (!)–there’s no scouting reports used for Wolanin (not even the SensProspects treatment); there’s a scouting report for Gustavsson (although as I’ve said earlier, you want multiple when you can get them), but not much else

The content of the list is wildly inconsistent–among absolute gems is useless fluff (descriptors with highlights). The latter approach would be fine if that was the aim, but the point of the list is assessing players to justify their place on it and as it is I don’t think it works. My suggestion to The Silver Seven is to provide guidance to the contributors and help them out with material–the scouting reports aren’t that hard to find (I have it all here, but Google is another good resource); the AHL material is harder to find (in many instances I’m the only source), but it is available. Statistical and/or comparative analysis would be wonderful as well (where it has been used it adds a great deal).

My favourite two profiles were on Nurmi (Ary) and Gruden (Colin); the worst were Wolanin, Jaros, and Batherson (all Dew) and Chabot (Beata), which are pretty big misses. I can’t fully compare their final list to my own because of our different methodologies, but we can put their rankings next to my own (for the ‘why’ of my list just follow the link):

1. Filip Gustavsson – #8
2. Marcus Hogberg – #14
3. Kevin Mandolese – NR
4. Jordan Hollett – NR
5. Joel Daccord – #24

1. Jonny Tychonick – #12
2. Christian Wolanin – #6
3. Christian Jaros – #11
4. Jacob Bernard-Docker – #13
5. Maxime Lajoie – #17
6. Julius Bergman – NR
7. Andreas Englund – #23
8. Macoy Erkamps – NR

1. Logan Brown – #2
2. Brady Tkachuk – #4
3. Filip Chlapik – #5
4. Drake Batherson – #9
5. Gabriel Gagne – #16
6. Colin White – #3
7. Alex Formenton – #10
8. Andrew Sturtz – NR
9. Aaron Luchuk – #15
10. Francis Perron – #21
11. Todd Burgess – NR
12. Markus Nurmi – #20
13. Parker Kelly – #25
14. Jakov Novak – NR
15. Nick Paul – #19
16. Adam Tambellini – NR
17. Johnny Gruden – #22
18. Angus Crookshank – NR
19. Filip Ahl – NR
20. Jack Rodewald – NR
21. Luke Loheit – NR

Due to my approach I don’t have Chabot (#1), Ceci (#7), or Harpur (#18) listed.


With training camps around the corner we can finally look at which free agent prospects were signed as well as how many were picked from my 2018 list of European free agents. It’s an auspicious year for me as 12 players from that list were signed, along with 5 from previous lists (2 from 2017, 1 from 2016, 1 from 2015, and 1 from 2012–Kovar, although the Islanders are getting him on the decline after he spent his best years in the KHL). This year see’s a decline in NCAA signings, once by far the largest pool of FA talent for NHL teams (last year it was 24 NCAA, 21 Europe, and 9 CHL). The pendulum has swung to Europe this year, which might be due to improved scouting. I’ve highlighted those from the 2018 list in bold and added italics for those from earlier lists:

Europe (35): Vincent Praplan (SJ), Niclas Westerholm (Nsh), Lukas Radil (SJ), Yannick Rathgeb (NYI), Miroslav Svoboda (Nsh–originally drafted by Edm), Dominik Kahun (Chi), Michael Lindqvist (NYR), Juuso Ikonen (Wsh), Ville Meskanen (NYR), Filip Pyrochta (Nsh), Maximilian Kammerer (Wsh), Carl Persson (Nsh – attended Ott’s development camp in 2018), Lawrence Pilut (Buf), Igor Ozhiganov (Tor), Par Lindholm (Tor), Joel Persson (Edm), Saku Maenalanen (Car–originally drafted by Nsh), Juuso Riikola (Pit), Yegor Yakovlev (NJ), Kevin Lankinen (Chi), Patrik Rybar (Det), Ilya Lyubushkin (Ari), Michal Moravcik (Mtl), David Sklenicka (Mtl), Jacob Nilsson (Chi), Bogdan Kiselevich (Flo), Antti Suomela (SJ), Marcus Hogstrom (Cal), Yasin Ehliz (Cal), Brooks Macek (LVK), Martin Bakos (Bos), Michael Fora (Car), Veini Vehvilainen (Clb; drafted rather than signed), Jan Kovar (NYI), Sergei Shumakov (Wsh)
NCAA (18): Zach Frye (SJ), Zach Whitecloud (VGK), Merrick Madsen (Ari–originally drafted by Phi), Cooper Marody (Edm–originally drafted by Phi), Cam Johnson (NJ), Mitch Reinke (Stl), Eric Robinson (Clb), Andrew Sturtz (Ott), Daniel Brickley (LA), Sheldon Rempal (LA), Josh Dickinson (Col), Tony Calderone (Dal), Karson Kuhlman (Bos), Andrew Oglevie (Buf), Jordan Gross (Ari), Ross Colton (TB), Joel L’Esperance (Dal), Logan O’Connor (Col)
CHL (8): Patrick Bajkov (Flo), Hayden Verbeek (Mtl), Tanner Jeannot (Nsh), Alexandre Alain (Mtl), Brad Morrison (LA–originally drafted by NYR), Aaron Luchuk (Ott), Skyler McKenzie (Win), Vladislav Kotkov (SJ)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ranking the Sens Prospects


I don’t think I’ve ever formally made a prospect list before–I’ve commented on them, but never put out my own. The lists can generate some interesting discussion, although there rarely seems to be a strong framework for why player X is higher (or lower) than player Y (one would assume higher is better, but that’s often difficult to discern especially the lower you go on the list–it comes across as a mishmash of ‘best potential’ to ‘best right now’ or even ‘most likely to be signed’). I also think comparing across positions is problematic–is a starting goaltender better than a top forward? The question isn’t asked. I prefer an apples-to-apples approach, so for my purposes I’ll be looking at players by position and potential.

Projected potential isn’t comprehensively covered in these kinds of lists–to my mind the guy who tops out as a #6 blueliner should not place ahead of someone who might be top-four regardless of relative performance at the time. To determine that potential I’m using the scouting consensus (when available) and performance (stats), tweaked by my own observations when possible.

I’ve removed players who have 50+ games of NHL experience because at that point there’s access to much better statistical breakdowns, leaving less room for speculation; I’ve also cut out those with four or more AHL seasons (by which time they are no longer truly prospects). Given those parameters I won’t be discussing Thomas Chabot, Ben Harpur, Patrick Sieloff, Chase Balisy or Ben Sexton (you can find breakdowns via The Silver Seven or my own). I’ve also excluded players on AHL-contracts (Boston Leier, Ryan Scarfo, Joseph LaBate, and Jordan Murray–I’ve detailed them in various places previously–for example)–until they sign ELC’s they aren’t true prospects. Despite all these cuts it still leaves us with thirty-four players to look at and I will detail them all below.

Some general comments about scouting: while the prejudice against size is slowly eroding away, there’s an overabundant affection for physical play that colours perception: the weaknesses of physical players aren’t seen as debilitating as a lack of physicality is seen in skilled players (Tkachuk is an obvious example of this, but there are many more). This is why we see an avalanche of ‘character’ players drafted despite most bombing out as prospects. There’s an impression many scouts have that a player who hits people is providing something a player who scores is not. In addition to this, scouts continue to struggle to project goaltenders and this means much of their material is difficult to parse (Ary talks about that here).

The scouting material included below focuses on potential and flaws (generally speaking we’re aware of what each player is supposed to be). Acronyms: HP: Hockey Prospects, FC: Future Considerations, ISS: International Scouting Service, RLR: Red Line Report, CP: Corey Pronman (via his Athletic article from this summer [paywall])–I use CP selectively because some of his breakdowns don’t contain enough specifics to be useful.

A final note: there’s less to say about players who have just been drafted–there’s no new information to discuss so we’re completely dependent on scouting and their statistical output.

Goaltenders (5)

Potential Starter (4) [None project as elite starters]
1. Filip Gustavsson 2-55/16 Pit
2016-17 SHL .911 2.70 4-10-0 4-10-0
2017-18 SHL/AHL .918 2.07 9-11-0/.912 3.01 2-4-0
2018-19 AHL
Draft: HP thought he was the best ‘tender in a weak class, having good fundamentals, but they had some concern over his rebound control; FC saw his potential as an NHL-starter; ISS mostly echoed the above, but expressed concerns about his blocker play; RLR gave him the same potential, but added the caveat that this applied if he were on ‘an upper echelon team’ (ie, with good defensive support)–they also questioned his play with the puck; there was a general consensus that he played too much on his knees.
Gustavsson enjoyed a career year in Sweden last season (playing backup to Joel Lassinantti–someone who appeared on my European FA list a couple of times, but has been passed over due to size), so why did the Penguins let him go? They have a young starter in Matt Murray (only 24) and two young prospects (Tristan Jarry and Alex D’Orio) on the way up, making him an option for the Derick Brassard trade. When he came over to play with Belleville for the final stretch of the season he looked good, although as I pointed out he was beginning to regress to the mean (his last two starts he was .865 and .867; with three of his six starts in that range). This means I can’t be sure he’s better than the other goaltenders who played for the BSens last season, but as a 20-year old there’s breathing room for him to grow and he’s expected to get more opportunity than Hogberg did last year.
While his Swedish numbers have never been as good as Hogberg’s, projections for him are better and he’s only 20 years old (Hogberg posted .917 when he was that age). This and the latter’s struggles in Belleville are what land him in the top spot.

2. Marcus Hogberg 3-78/13
2016-17 SHL/AHL 19-14-0 .932 1.89/.865 4.34 0-3-0
2017-18 AHL/ECHL 6-12-0 .899 3.27/.915 3.10 8-7-1
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR liked his size, but thought he lacked mobility and confidence; FC said he needed to improve his lateral quickness and confidence; McKeen’s profile is effusive, but they note excessive movement (something I noticed in Belleville); he was not ranked by HP/ISS. In general he was seen as great raw material that needed work.
The Sens left Hogberg in Sweden for four full seasons and after a bit of a wonky start in the first he posted solid numbers with Linkoping: .917, .911, and .932; good for 8th, 10th, and 4th in the league (splitting duties with David Rautio initially before earning the starting role his final season). There was nothing left for him to achieve in the SHL and he came over with considerable hype. His rookie AHL season didn’t meet expectations, but wasn’t as bad as the raw numbers make it appear (bad enough that CP simply ignored him in his list this summer). When you compare him to the other goaltenders in Belleville, his numbers are virtually identical (both Andrew Hammond and Danny Taylor were at .900, while Chris Driedger was down at .885)–only Filip Gustavsson, who barely played, is well above him (.912), but as I discuss above he could have benefited from the small sample size. The BSens were an awful team defensively and while that doesn’t mean Hogberg couldn’t do better, it does mean his numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt. I really wonder how much he was affected by being part of the ridiculous four-goalie rotation for months until the Sens finally moved Hammond and demoted Driedger. The biggest criticism from me about Hogberg is his consistency–in both the AHL and ECHL he was all over the place. He has plenty of talent, but his technique needs work and there may be confidence issues (not helped, I think, by starting this upcoming year as part of a three-headed monster in goal).

3. Kevin Mandolese 6-157/18
2017-18 QMJHL .884 3.46 15-13-0
2018-19 QMJHL
Draft: RLR thought he had starter potential, but thinks he stays too deep in his net; ISS was more effusive (offering the same potential); FC liked him but said sometimes he over commits and can lose focus if he’s not facing a lot of shots; HP repeats that he stays too deep in his net and isn’t aggressive enough, but has pro potential.
His numbers in the Q aren’t particularly impressive, so he skates by Hollett because he hasn’t had a down season after being drafted.

4. Jordan Hollett 6-183/17
2016-17 WHL .901 2.83 15-2-0
2017-18 WHL .896 3.43 16-13-0
Draft: FC liked his potential, but noted he struggled to follow the puck on broken plays; RLR thought he had huge upside, but was a boom or bust prospect; ISS/HP didn’t rank him (HP didn’t even discuss him, despite having comments on many players they don’t rank).
His season after being drafted wasn’t impressive, although he was (marginally) better than his goaltending partner (Michael Bullion); finishing 24th in the league in save percentage is worrisome. He needs to be much better this upcoming season if he wants the Sens to sign him (his struggles are undoubtedly part of the reason Mandolese was picked).

Backups (1)
5. Joel Daccord 7-199/15
2016-17 NCAA .892 4.03 3-8-1
2017-18 NCAA .909 3.51 8-19-5
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: no one ranked him, but HP had one game report which was positive but pretty generic.
Since he was picked he’s played for a very poor Arizona team where his underlying metrics are improving, but what is his ceiling? I have to think the best hope for him is as a backup in the NHL, as there’s nothing that I’ve seen or read that suggests he has more potential than that. I’d expect further improvement this year and he’ll need to do so in order to get signed when his college career is over (which won’t be this year but next).

As a group the goaltenders aren’t particularly impressive. There’s no elite talent–no one flashy like Robin Lehner–and while having either Gustavsson or Hogberg achieve their potential is fantastic neither goaltender projects as the kind that can put a team on his back. Since the Murray regime took over in 2007 the org has struggled to either draft or sign goaltending prospects who reach their potential (Lehner remains the best in either category and he never did fully evolve as expected–being bipolar and having addiction issues being a huge reason for that).

Defense (8)

Top-Four [None are projected in the top-pairing]
1. Jonny Tychonick 2-48/18
2017-18 BCHL 48-9-38-47 (0.97)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: RLR thinks he’s purely offensive (comparing him to Shayne Gostisbehere); ISS has him as a top-four blueliner with a need to get stronger; FC is effusive, but does reference defensive inconsistency; HP saw him as both offensively gifted and tenacious/aggressive, but agreed his defensive play is average.
In the absence of him having played since there’s not much we can add to this (the offensive potential is certainly exciting–I’d take a Gostisbehere if that’s what he really is).

2. Christian Wolanin 4-107/15
2016-17 NCAA 37-6-16-22 (0.59)
2017-18 NCAA/NHL 40-12-23-35 (0.87)/10-1-2-3 (0.30)
2018-19 NHL/AHL
Draft: no one ranked him, but HP had one game report that’s positive but vague (McKeen’s profiled him, but it’s vague suggesting that he needed to improve his defensive play). CP doesn’t think much of him–his hands aren’t high end and he’s not a great defender–this opinion isn’t shared by The Silver Seven (sadly their profile includes zero analytics from his NHL games). Brad Phillips thinks he’s a deep sleeper for fantasy hockey folks.
In his final (third) season in college he was second on his team in points-per-game (just behind forward Nicholas Jones) and tenth in the NCAA among defensemen. It’s difficult to parse his numbers because someone like Patrick Wiercioch also had very good college numbers (with much more scout-hype) and never established himself as an NHLer. Clearly the expectation for Wolanin is as a top-four defender who produces points.

3. Christian Jaros 5-139/15
2016-17 SHL 36-5-8-13 (0.36)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 44-3-13-16 (0.36)/2-0-0-0 (0.00)
2017-18 AHL/NHL
Draft: FC was effusive–their only criticism being he was sometimes overly physical, projecting him as a top-six, two-way defender; ISS put his potential as a top-four, shutdown defender, believing his primary weakness was offensive consistency; HP noted he’d improved his skating since his initial draft year (2014), but would never be an offensive defenseman despite a powerful shot; RLR’s only comment was they didn’t think he could skate and that criticism seems rooted in his 2014 impression.
Arriving in the AHL Jaros was fantastic–his production didn’t drop in transition and despite injury issues he was among the best defensemen in Belleville (the team was much better when he played); he was strong on the powerplay and spent most of his time carrying around the dead weight known as Andreas Englund. CP’s comments about him illustrate that he didn’t to watch him very often (“there was an adjustment period to the AHL in terms of pace and knowing when to try and make a certain offensive play”)–the only adjustment for Jaros was getting used to some of his useless partners whose failings meant his play varied considerably depending on who he was paired with. My concern coming into last season was that Jaros would waste time running around looking for big hits, but by and large he was careful and picked his spots. The guy is built like a truck so requires no adjustment to the physicality of the next level.

4. Jacob Bernard-Docker 1-26/18
2017-18 AJHL 49-20-21-41 (0.83)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: RLR saw him as a top-four blueliner; ISS has him as a top-pairing, two-way defender, but questioned his consistency; FC/HP liked him, but questioned his creativity. Much like Tychonick until we see more of his play we are reliant on the scouting opinions and his numbers, but certainly his ceiling seems lower than those above (since defense-first blueliners are a dime a dozen). The question for Bernard-Docker going forward is how well he distributes and moves the puck (since we can presume he’s solid defensively already).

5. Maxime Lajoie 5-133/16
2016-17 WHL 68-7-35-42 (0.61)
2017-18 AHL 56-1-14-15 (0.27)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR saw him as a top-four, two-way defender or bust; ISS put his potential as a 4-5 two-way defender (with concerns about his defensive consistency); FC was effusive and had him as a top-four, two-way; HP was very positive and liked his hockey-IQ. The org was also excited about him, signing him far earlier than necessary.
His rookie pro season was disjointed and hampered by Kurt Kleinendorst’s coaching (his usage was bizarre). His excellent puckmoving was often hampered by incompetent partners and with limits to his TOI it wasn’t easy for him to truly get into the flow of the game. It wasn’t a wasted season entirely, but it skewed his numbers. How much opportunity he’ll get to play in an overstuffed BSen lineup I don’t know, but hopefully it will be more.

Marginal Pros/AHLers
6. Julius Bergman 2-46/14 SJ
2016-17 AHL 64-3-27-30 (0.46)
2017-18 AHL 65-10-10-20 (0.30)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: ISS thought he could be a top-four player, but needed to work on his shot and physicality; FC saw his potential as a top-six blueliner with a pretty generic description of his abilities; RLR didn’t rank him; HP didn’t rank him because they thought he was too soft for the next level.
Three years in the San Jose system have shown he has solid AHL-talent, but not enough to move beyond that. Last season the Sharks’ AHL-team saw a 20% drop in total offence, meaning his drop in production (30%) has some context. While it’s not impossible for Bergman to show NHL talent at this stage, it’s getting very late in the game for that to happen and it’s certainly not what I expect.

7. Andreas Englund 2-40/14
2016-17 AHL 69-3-7-10 (0.14)
2017-18 AHL 69-1-9-10 (0.14)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR liked his mean, physical play and compared him to Alexei Emelin; ISS questioned his skills with the puck, but projected him as a top-four shutdown blueliner; FC saw him as a top-six shutdown blueliner and liked his outlet passing; HP questioned his hockey sense (as do I).
Needless to say most of these estimations are overly optimistic as Englund struggles to be an effective AHL defensemen, much less an NHL blueliner. The org still likes him, but that’s purely because of his physicality. His zone exists are either lobbing grenades up the ice or pounding the puck off the boards–in both cases forwards are forced to adjust to prevent turnovers because he can’t make a pass; his supposed defensive acumen is overblown (this was most apparent on the penalty kill), so other than his physical play he doesn’t excel at anything. He’s shown no sign of improvement since turning pro and the org would do well to shuffle him along at the first opportunity.

8. Macoy Erkamps CHL FA 16
2016-17 AHL/ECHL 11-0-2-2 (0.18)/58-6-19-25 (0.43)
2017-18 AHL/ECHL 46-1-3-4 (0.08)/2-0-0-0 (0.00)
2018-19 ECHL/AHL
Draft: FC said he was an efficient puck-mover who isn’t consistent; HP liked his physicality, but questioned his vision and hockey IQ; RLR thought he was underrated; ISS and McKeen’s didn’t rank him.
When the Sens signed him I pointed out that a lot of his production was likely due to his partner (Flyer first-round pick Ivan Provorov), who would make any partner look good. This thought proved entirely accurate as Erkamps is at best an adequate ECHL defenseman and his lengthy tour with Belleville last season was comically bad; he doesn’t do anything well at the AHL-level. The org needs to move on from him.

Because I removed Chabot from the equation this list doesn’t jump out with elite talent; what it has is a lot of useful potential, but all capped at a relatively low ceiling. The org is going to need a couple of guys to push beyond expectations to truly flesh out their future blueline.

Forwards (21)

Top-Six [None are projected as first-line players]
1. Logan Brown 1-11/16
2016-17 OHL 35-14-26-40 (1.14)
2017-18 OHL/NHL 32-22-26-48 (1.50)/4-0-1-1 (0.25)
2018-19 NHL/AHL
Draft: RLR had him as a second-line playmaker, wanting him to be more assertive; ISS/FC also saw him as a top-six player who needed to shoot more; HP puts him in the top-six.
CP questions his conditioning and ability to keep up with the pro pace.
One thing the Sens do routinely is shove top picks into the NHL and use them as part of their marketing (Curtis Lazar, Jared Cowen, Mika Zibanejad, Cody Ceci, etc), so I think regardless of whether Brown is ready or not he’ll be on the roster. He was a very good junior player (with improving metrics) and would produce in the AHL, but how well will he do in prime time? The concern here is the long haul and at least thus far fears over ‘assertiveness’ and physicality haven’t mattered, just his overall durability. If he actually has a conditioning issue that can absolutely hurt his ability to perform, but otherwise even if his skating is average as a puck distributor there’s no reason to doubt his ability to achieve his potential.

2. Brady Tkachuk 1-4/18
2017-18 NCAA 40-8-23-31 (0.77)
2018-19 NCAA/NHL/OHL
Draft: RLR has him as a top-six, physical winger; ISS has him as a second-liner with questions about his quickness and consistency; FC also wonders about his speed, defensive play, and him overhandling the puck; HP brings up his skating, but likes his defensive play; CP bends over backwards to make his own caveats come across as acceptable: “His skill isn’t dynamic … I saw the occasional [my emphasis] high-end flash of vision … he’s never going to wow you with his speed”–this is all okay because of his physicality.
One of the painfully obvious things about the scouting reports is how enamored they are by his physical play, something we’ve long known has little impact on the game, but this appreciation clearly colours their view of him. What I need to see is him dominant offensively in whatever league he’s playing in–he’s a top-five pick and there shouldn’t be these kinds of questionmarks about his ability. There’s a very real fear that Tkachuk won’t live up to expectations and if he doesn’t no guarantee the Sens will get the chance to roll the dice on another top-five pick for quite some time. There’s also the question: why use the #4 pick for someone who tops out as a second-liner? It’s a rare opportunity to truly swing for the fences and the Sens decided to bunt instead–as fans we can only hope it all works out.

Middle-Six (second or third line)
3. Filip Chlapik 2-48/15
2016-17 QMJHL 57-34-57-91 (1.59)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 52-11-21-32 (0.62)/20-1-3-4 (0.25)
2018-19 AHL/NHL
Draft: FC had his potential as a top-nine, two-way forward, liking his hockey sense, playmaking, and defensive ability; RLR saw him as a dynamic third-line forward whose only concern was his skating; ISS saw him as a third-liner who can do spot-duty on the second (their only issues were his physicality); HP was concerned with his skating. CP continues to be concerned about his skating and his defensive play.
I don’t share the latter concern, but certainly some of his AHL tendencies offensively will have change at the NHL-level (he tends to hang on to the puck longer than you can get away with at that level). With that said, his AHL-achievements are remarkable when you move beyond the raw numbers–no one was jerked around the lineup more than he was and despite spending nearly half the season in the bottom six he was second on the team in production (points-per-game). I really like Chlapik’s game and I hope he can translate his skills at the next level.

4. Drake Batherson 4-121/17
2016-17 QMJHL 61-22-36-58 (0.95)
2017-18 QMJHL 51-29-48-77 (1.51)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: HP praised him and called him a legit prospect, liking his hockey IQ and offensive instincts; FC/ISS/RLR didn’t rank him.
Batherson eluded most scouts because he’d sailed through one draft already and it was a strong second half that put him on the radar (there’s only so many times he’s going to be seen by scouts–HP seems to get more reps than most, which is why they almost always have scouting feedback on prospects who are drafted or otherwise).
Needless to say his final junior year was a monster one where he dominated (fourth highest points-per-game in the league, which dropped somewhat when he was traded mid-season). How do we project him? His background puts him in Tanner Pearson-territory–maybe a poor man’s Pearson (Pearson was another player skipped over in his initial draft year who put up monster numbers subsequently and enjoyed a strong WJC). I expect him to be a productive AHL-player and the question is simply how far beyond that he can go.

5. Gabriel Gagne 2-36/15
2016-17 AHL/ECHL 41-2-4-6 (0.14)/19-6-5-11 (0.58)
2017-18 AHL 68-20-5-25 (0.36)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: FC put his potential as a top-six scoring winger, with their major concern being him filling out his lanky frame; ISS saw his potential as a scoring third or fourth-line winger, questioning his desire/competitiveness; HP said he needed more consistency and ‘jam’ in his game, but that the tools were all there; RLR didn’t like his character or work ethic, making him highly overrated (the character issues seem tied him being benched by his coach (Bruce Richardson) for a January, 2015 game). CP’s comments (“He gets a lot of goals hanging around the net”) are another indication he simply wasn’t able to see him play much, as Gagne is not a crash & bang rebound guy–he generally just beats goaltenders with his shot.
It was a strange sophomore campaign for Gagne, but one thing he established is that he can score at the AHL-level. He’s young, still hasn’t filled out, and the BSens were awful offensively, which makes judging his performance difficult (he spent much of the season playing with other shooters, meaning the usual formula of pairing a playmaker with a shooter wasn’t happening). He was horrifically bad his rookie season, but made a big jump from that last year, so it’s within reason that he could take another big step forward this year–it’s all very much in flux (he is a great example of a boom or bust prospect).

6. Colin White 1-21/15
2016-17 NCAA 35-16-17-33 (0.94)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 47-11-16-27 (0.57)/21-2-4-6 (0.28)
2018-19 NHL/AHL
Draft: FC projected him as a top-nine, two-way forward, whose only weakness was his offensive upside; RLR saw him as a third-line character center with concerns about his size; ISS was effusive, but noted a lack of offensive consistency; HP’s sentiments are very similar (third liner with offensive limitations). CP offers “his puck skills for me are very average. I’ve come down a bit on his offensive expectations as he seems to project out now as more of a good third-line forward.”
I agree wholeheartedly about White’s offensive potential, which is echoed by B_T‘s breakdown of his NHL numbers. White was better in the AHL, but his production is still lower than it should be (and, unlike Chlapik, he wasn’t jerked around as much in terms of TOI/usage). Don’t take his ranking here as me being down on White, he’s a very good player, but until we see otherwise it doesn’t appear he has the offensive chops to contribute any better than at a third-line level.

7. Alex Formenton 2-47/17
2016-17 OHL 65-16-18-34 (0.52)
2017-18 OHL 48-29-19-48 (1.00)
2018-19 OHL
Draft: RLR didn’t think he could score, projecting him as a third-line checker; ISS saw him as a bottom-six energy forward with upside whose weakness was puck skills; FC saw him as a third-line winger with questions about his shot and creativity; HP had him within the third/second line category. CP’s analysis also slots him as a third-line checker.
So why hasn’t Formenton’s jump in scoring impressed the inestimable Pronman? For the draft guides he was buried on a talented London team, but not last year. Certainly older players in the CHL see their numbers boosted (he finished fourth on his team in points-per-game), but the knock is his creativity. We won’t know how well that will translate until he turns pro, but his post-draft season was excellent and everything remains on track for him to at least meet projections (I haven’t linked his brief AHL foray last year because he was hurt early in his second game, so there just wasn’t enough to glean from it).

8. Andrew Sturtz NCAA FA 18
2017-18 NCAA 37-22-15-37 (1.00)
2017-18 NCAA 37-14-26-40 (1.08)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: He was never ranked or discussed while draft-eligible (playing in the GOJHL and CCHL at the time). He attended Pittsburgh’s development camp in 2017 and there’s a profile of him as a free agent from Ben Kerr that describes him as aggressive and having discipline problems–otherwise there’s not much material on him.
The org, after years of drafting NCAA free agents (Bryan Murray’s notion I’d wager), has started to shy away from them as they’ve had virtually no success (one good year out of Andrew Hammond being the exception). This makes Sturtz signing somewhat unusual (as does his size for the org–he’s listed at 5’8). Good numbers in college (far and away the leader his final year at Penn State) tend to translate to good numbers at the AHL-level, but what about beyond that? As a smaller player it’s possible he was overlooked based on size and that has to be what the org hopes for–his offensive production has always been good, so there’s no question about where his talent lies. I didn’t see enough of him last year to make much of an assessment. Usually what keeps high scoring players out of the NHL (besides size) is speed, so that’s something to keep an eye on, but like Luchuk below his potential has to be as a scoring player (he earns the nod over the OHL star because of his more consistent production over his career and because I didn’t find the same level of criticism about his skating).

9. Aaron Luchuk CHL FA 18
2017-18 OHL 68-50-65-115 (1.69)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: While never ranked, HP profiled him in 2015 along with a vague game report in 2016–in the former they felt like his offensive potential was being stymied by the bodies ahead of him.
As a smaller player prejudice against size still exists (despite undrafted examples like Tyler Johnson and Jonathan Marchessault). With that said, big numbers in the CHL don’t always equate to success (Tyler Donati is a favourite example of this). CP indicates his issue is a lack of speed (echoed here, although I suspect CP is the source of that comment) and that indeed can kill a smaller player’s chances (since they can’t make up for slowness with strong board work or overpowering checkers). His production didn’t slip when traded mid-season, but the offensive explosion was in his final year of junior which rings the Tyler Donati warning bell. I’m not sure what to expect from him, but he wasn’t signed to check so the expectation is that he projects as someone who can chip in.

10. Francis Perron 7-190/14
2016-17 68-6-20-26 (0.38)
2017-18 44-4-11-15 (0.34)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR projected him as a third-line winger with a good head for the game; ISS didn’t like his compete-level and saw him as a top-six or bust; HP liked his skill set but questioned his strength; FC had his potential as a top-nine forward, but shared the concerns about his strength.
The clock is definitely ticking for Perron who struggled last season (above and beyond Kleinendorst’s erratic coaching). He’s still very young and in neither season given the kind of opportunity he needs, so hope remains he can translate his talent to meet projections. He’s a smart player, but (judging from this past season) can’t translate that into PK-acumen–he needs to start putting up points this year or his time with the org will be over (how he’ll do that in an overcrowded lineup I have no idea).

11. Todd Burgess 4-103/16
2016-17 Injured
2017-18 NCAA 34-1-11-12 (0.35)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: HP didn’t think his scoring would translate at the NHL-level, but that his playmaking could; they also thought his skating and defensive consistency needed work; RLR listed him as a sleeper; ISS/FC didn’t rank him.
He’s hard to assess because injury lost him an entire season (when the Sens drafted him he was the NAHL’s top scorer and put up a ton of penalty minutes). When he returned he put up solid numbers (only one player younger than him had better points-per-game, Jacob Hayhurst). His totals aren’t earth shattering, but for a team that didn’t score much they are fine for a guy who missed an entire year. It will be interesting to see what he’s able to do this upcoming season. Since no one projected him out I’d say that he tops out as a scoring third-liner (he certainly wasn’t drafted to check).

12. Markus Nurmi 6-163/16
2016-17 Finn Jr/Mestis 27-12-16-28 (1.03)/11-0-2-2 (0.18)
2017-18 Liiga 51-10-11-21 (0.41)
2018-19 Liiga
Draft: FC saw him as a top-nine two-way player; HP thought he topped out as a checker; RLR didn’t like his skating; he wasn’t ranked high enough for ISS to profile him.
He finished tenth in scoring for players 20 and under this past season, which is impressive given that he spent more than half the season on the bottom six. Projected as a checker (almost a default for bigger players who don’t put up monster numbers), it’ll be interesting to see how he does as he gets more opportunities to score in Finland. As it stands he continues to progress and remains on target to achieve his potential (he showed soft hands at the development camp, but that’s a poor place to judge anything).

13. Parker Kelly CHL FA 17
2016-17 WHL 72-21-22-43 (0.59)
2017-18 WHL/AHL 69-29-30-59 (0.85)/5-1-0-1 (0.20)
2018-19 WHL
Draft: HP liked his all-around game and while they weren’t sure his offensive skills would translate they thought he had enough intangibles to make him worth drafting; ISS/RLR/FC didn’t rank him.
He has good speed, but the question about his hands remain. His numbers don’t blow you away so he seems to slot into the bottom-six as a checker (barring some change). If he puts up even bigger numbers this season it could mean revising expectations for him.

14. Jakov Novak 7-188/18
2017-18 NAHL 56-32-41-73 (1.30)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: No one ranked him, but HP does have a profile, calling him a power forward with good offensive tools who struggles with discipline.
There are a lot of similarities between the Novak pick and Burgess above–both are from the little regarded/scouted NAHL, both led the league in scoring and put up a ton of penalty minutes. He’s the epitome of a boom or bust player, even if we’re unsure of his range. He was drafted for his offense so that’s what he needs to produce.

Marginal Pro/AHLer
15. Nick Paul 4-101/13 Dal
2016-17 AHL 72-15-22-37 (0.51)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 54-14-13-27 (0.50)/11-1-0-1 (0.09)
2017-18 AHL
Draft: HP said he was physical with good hands, but a poor skater; ISS called him a shutdown forward with poor skating; RLR liked his skating; FC thought he was an inconsistent producer; McKeen’s didn’t rank him.
There’s little evidence to support those early ideas of him being a shutdown forward (often a default option for bigger players), but offensively he isn’t as the org hyped him to be either. Despite a wealth of opportunity he remains a very average producer at the AHL level who doesn’t particularly effect his team one way or another. He has decent hands, but every season he’s had enormous slumps and at this stage that lack of consistency seems systemic. I think we’ve hit the point where he’s simply a marginal pro, although he’s still young enough to have faint hope for more (at this stage he needs a monster season to shake off doubts).

16. Adam Tambellini 3-65/13 NYR
2016-17 AHL 68-13-22-35 0.51
2017-18 AHL 69-16-16-32 0.46
2018-19 AHL
Draft: HP great speed, not physical, questionable work ethic; ISS liked his overall game; RLR projected him as a second-line forward, but didn’t like his work ethic defensively; McKeen’s echoes these sentiments; FC noted he needs the puck distributed to him to be effective and that has been the case in his pro career.
Going through his numbers he’s reliant on teammates to produce and his usage doesn’t impact production much regardless (I compared him to Jim O’Brien in that respect and it continues to seem apt). This is not someone who is NHL-bound and is simply a regular, if unspectacular, AHLer.

17. Johnny Gruden 4-95/18
2017-18 USHL 61-28-32-60 (0.98)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: ISS projects him as a third/fourth-liner with concerns over his defensive play; FC is effusive with their only concern being that he overhandles the puck sometimes; RLR calls him an intelligent, complimentary player; HP’s concern is whether his game translates at the next level; CP says his skill level isn’t that high.
That’s a lot of conflicting scouting opinion, something not uncommon with obscure players, but Gruden actually had a great deal of exposure because he played for the US development team, so it suggests true uncertainty. How he projects out isn’t that exciting, but Colin Cudmore slightly mollified my fears by citing positive underlying offensive numbers (although no one can say how dependent he was on talented teammates). My question is: do you need to roll the dice on a guy who projects this low?

18. Angus Crookshank 5-126/18
2017-18 BCHL 42-22-23-45 (1.07)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: RLR calls him a great skating energy winger; FC is effusive, but questions his strength and defensive play; ISS ranks him, but doesn’t offer a profile; HP didn’t rank him or profile him, but have a few game logs that simply echo similar sentiments.
His BCHL totals were good for his team (2nd), and I like his speed, but we’re at a deficit of information so we’ll have to wait and see what he is. It’s a little unfair to him to place him so low, but with so little to work with it’s a safe estimation.

19. Filip Ahl 4-109/15
2016-17 WHL 54-28-20-48 (0.88)
2017-18 Allsvenskan/SHL 29-11-4-15 (0.51)/15-0-1-1 (0.06)
2018-19 Allsvenskan/SHL
Draft: FC put his potential as a top-nine power winger, but questioned his consistency; RLR questioned his character and work-ethic, despite liking his tools; ISS put his potential as a top-six power forward with concerns about his defensive play and agility; HP had worries about his conditioning and agility.
While he had an adequate season in the WHL after being drafted (7th in scoring), things came back to earth in Sweden where he was unable to stick in the SHL and wasn’t that great in the Allsvenskan (tier-2) either. Despite the tools he possesses you really have to wonder if he can put it altogether at the pro level (the upcoming season is his last chance for Ottawa and he’ll need strong numbers to intrigue them).

20. Jack Rodewald AHL FA 17
2016-17 AHL 66-18-9-27 (0.41)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 62-14-11-25 (0.40)/4-0-0-0 (0.00)
2017-18 AHL
Draft: While never ranked for the draft HP had a profile on him in 2012 where they praised his hustle and aggression, but didn’t think his offensive skills would translate at any level.
The Leafs signed him to an AHL-deal and then lumped him into the Dion Phaneuf trade. He pushed his way onto a very bad Binghamton team and that earned him another AHL-deal. A hot start this last season excited Randy Lee and he was signed to an ELC which resulted in absolutely no change in his performance. Despite being given every opportunity (with favourable usage) he produced at the exact same rate as the year before. He’s an incredibly inconsistent producer, which is something I suspect the org has finally realized (given the myriad of free agent forwards they’ve signed). At this stage whatever faint NHL hopes the org are gone–he’s just an okay AHLer (big, fast, but not much else).

21. Luke Loheit 7-194/18
2017-18 USHS 40-15-22-37 (0.92)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: Only HP ranked him, calling him a two-way player, but one of the scouts they quote didn’t care for his hockey sense. There’s very little written about him and what I have seen bends over backwards to try to find something that suggests pro potential. He’s going to have to show a lot more for me to think he’s anything other than yet another Vincent Dunn/Shane Eiserman (a modestly productive pest who is useless at the pro level).

This is a large group of forwards, but none of them project as first-liners and that’s very concerning. The org has struggled immensely to draft elite forwards with top picks and the best they’ve produced have been traded away (Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad). What the Sens do consistently is target character players–hard-nosed guys you need to win (not that any actually help them win)–the Curtis Lazar’s of the world. While the team stills struggles to draft skill they’ve started signing skill, as most of their free agents are players known for scoring rather than punching. Despite that I’ve had to slot guys like Sturtz/Luchuk in the top-nine category due to lack of information that suggests otherwise.

What the org has had is good luck with is late picks–skilled guys who fell through the cracks (Mike Hoffman, Ryan Dzingel, etc). There’s not much of that represented here, although Perron is a similar sort of hail mary. Despite that, there is talent–guys who might push beyond expectations–but the team needs a good success rate (both hitting targets and exceeding them) to fill out the org’s future in the years ahead.


What should our reasonable expectations be in terms of how many players turn out to be NHL regulars? My research (which needs updating) has an average of 1.5 players per draft playing at least 200 games, so between 6 and 9 should make it (I’m smooshing the 2013-14 drafts together since only a few prospects from those years remain). As for free agents, the Sens have never had much success on that end (with apologies to Jesse Winchester and Andrew Hammond), so if even one turns out that’s fantastic.

Clearly some of the players above (regardless of rank) are greater certainties than others. I have no doubt that Colin White will be a regular NHLer regardless of his numbers, but he’s a complimentary player not a dominant one–he is, in many ways, the defining characteristic of the prospect pool–a lot of solid pieces missing the high end parts they are meant to compliment.

There are many interesting storylines to watch for this season–how do Gustavsson and Hogberg perform in Belleville? What’s a full season of Wolanin like? Do we see growth from Jaros/Lajoie? Is Logan Brown the real deal? What’s Batherson like as a pro? Where does Chlapik wind up? Does Gagne take another step forward? How do the FA’s perform in the AHL? There’s a lot to watch for and without a doubt some of the estimations above (pro or con) will turn out to be incorrect. What I think this exercise accomplishes is placing each prospect in their proper context with the best comparable information available (avoiding, as much as possible, personal bias).

List Format

1. Filip Gustavsson
2. Marcus Hogberg
3. Kevin Mandolese
4. Jordan Hollett
5. Joel Daccord

1. Jonny Tychonick
2. Christian Wolanin
3. Christian Jaros
4. Jacob Bernard-Docker
5. Maxime Lajoie
6. Julius Bergman
7. Andreas Englund
8. Macoy Erkamps

1. Logan Brown
2. Brady Tkachuk
3. Filip Chlapik
4. Drake Batherson
5. Gabriel Gagne
6. Colin White
7. Alex Formenton
8. Andrew Sturtz
9. Aaron Luchuk
10. Francis Perron
11. Todd Burgess
12. Markus Nurmi
13. Parker Kelly
14. Jakov Novak
15. Nick Paul
16. Adam Tambellini
17. Johnny Gruden
18. Angus Crookshank
19. Filip Ahl
20. Jack Rodewald
21. Luke Loheit

All mistakes and errors are mine (please let me know and I will correct them) and if anyone out there has additional scouting information or data to share that will help revise these opinions I will happily incorporate them.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens

Senators Development Camp Invitees

Image result for parker kelly senators

The Sens are always in a rush to have their development camp right after the draft–perhaps it saves them money in some fashion, but for fans its a great opportunity to see new (and old) prospects play prior to summer vacations (for those who actually get vacations). I used to attend these all the time and if you get the chance they are a lot of fun. What I wanted to look at here are the free agent invitee’s on the Development Camp Roster (keeping in mind the majority of these players will never see the light of day again with the Sens):

Jonathan Aspirot DL DOB 99 QMJHL (Moncton) 67-7-19-26
Established a career high in PIMs this season (a theme as we’ll see), he finished third on the team in ppg with a fairly unremarkable numbers; I have absolutely no idea what he provides other than a warm body

Charles-Edouard D’Astous DL DOB 98 QMJHL (Rimouski) 59-18-38-56
The leading scorer among d-men for Rimouski (a team the Sens have drafted from before), he is tied for eighth in the league in D-ppg and fourth amongst those who are not drafted. It was a career year for the overager, but not without precedent (he had 40 points the previous season); like Stewart below he also accumulated far more PIMs than he normally has

Yanni Kaldis DR DOB 95 NCAA (Cornell) 33-4-15-19
Finished his sophomore season at Cornell (yet another team the Sens have drafted from) after a couple of years in the BCHL (where he put up good numbers that didn’t garner him draft attention); he’s the top scoring pure defensemen on his team (Alex Rauther is listed as a winger and blueliner, otherwise he’d be first by a nose)–I’m always happy to see skill so he’ll be an interesting one to watch

Graham Lillibridge DL DOB 99 USHL (Chicago) 56-4-41-45
At 5’9 he’s not at all the norm for the Sens; he finished well ahead of the other blueliners on his team and was second in ppg in the USHL. Committed to Yale, I applaud the Sens for giving someone like this a look (although I doubt they’d sign him)

Brady Lyle DR DOB 99 OHL (Owen Sound) 63-11-23-34
Steadily improving blueliner finished second in ppg on his team; he was universally picked for the 2017 draft (I had him pegged at #114), but wasn’t even discussed this year so presumably his stock has fallen

Ian Scheid DR DOB 95 NCAA (Mankato) 40-9-17-26
Didn’t show any ability in the USHL while putting up good numbers in both USHS and the NAHL; the last two years he’s been productive at Mankato; he finished second in ppg well behind LA draft pick Daniel Brickley; as a righthand shot he has extra appeal

Chase Stewart DR DOB 97 QMJHL (Rimouski) 53-5-35-29
After failing out of the OHL he wound up in the Q playing with Thomas Chabot the previous season; beyond a career year in his final stint in junior (not much of a feat) he also increased how much he fought (going from 4-5 fights a year up to 7). He was second on his team in scoring, well behind fellow invitee D’Astous. Since there’s no fighting at the camp I have no idea what he’s going to do, but the Sens love their tough guys

Luka Burzan
CL DOB 2000 WHL (Brandon) 72-15-25-40
Passed over in the draft (I had him at #80), his anemic production with Moose Jaw was enough to taint his success with Brandon (both teams that the Sens have drafted from in the past). Brandon had an enormously talented roster so there are reasons to question his sudden offensive production

Zach Jordan RW DOB 96 NCAA (Nebraska) 34-16-12-28
Big winger had an adequate USHL final season and then jumped from 2 points with Nebraska to 28 this season; it’s clear he’s riding the coattails of Detroit pick David Pope and Edmonton pick Tyler Vesel, but his size is going to tempt teams

Ryan Kuffner LW DOB 96 NCAA (Princeton) 36-29-23-52
Local boy who played with Gloucester finished up his junior season at Princeton (another org the Sens have picked from); he’s had a monster season where he lead the team in goals and was second in points (behind undrafted Max Veronneau–another local boy). His production, particularly as he’s always produced, may tempt the Sens

Robert Lynch CR DOB 98 QMJHL (Drummondville) 67-28-39-67
Enjoyed a career year with Drummondville (finished just behind first-round pick Nicolas Beaudin); first-rounder Joseph Veleno and undrafted Connor Bramwell contributed to his production, so it’s hard to say just where he is when it comes to skill

Gregor MacLeod LW DOB 98 QMJHL (Quebec) 54-19-26-45
QMJHLer had a modest career year playing for both Charlottetown and Quebec, his numbers spiking while playing with undrafted Matthew Boucher and Chicago pick Philipp Kurashev

Nico Sturm LW DOB 95 NCAA (Clarkson) 40-14-23-37
Not related to the former NHLer, the German national had middling seasons in the NAHL and USHL before heading into the NCAA where he’s had good numbers; his career year at Clarkson (playing with Sens prospect Kelly Summers) are given a boost by LA FA Sheldon Rempal, but as a big body there will always be interest

Eduards Tralmaks LW DOB 97 NCAA (Maine) 37-11-14-25
Lavian national has spent most of his career in various US systems; his only USHL season was unremarkable, but he put up better numbers in his freshmen year at Maine (tied for fourth in scoring and ppg); as a big body he’s going to be given an opportunity to impress

In all we have six NCAA players, five from the Q, and one each from the OHL, WHL, and USHL. In general invitees are never heard from again, but occasionally something comes out of it–Matt O’Connor attended long before the Sens signed him as a free agent and Parker Kelly attended before being signed this past season.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing Ottawa’s 2018 Draft

Image result for rock em sock em hockey 18 don cherry

In the midst of Ottawa’s ridiculous off-season the NHL entry draft has come and gone and the Sens had a eight picks as they attempt to…rebuild? Who really knows at this point. Trent Mann ran the board for the second straight year and some Mann-ish trends are now apparent: no Europeans (two years in a row through 12 picks), and staying safe–Mann doesn’t like taking chances so he’s content to pick players with limited upside if that limits the risk (you can read my review of last year’s draft here).

[I completely neglected to review my predictions for the Sens, so briefly: I nailed the Tkachuk pick; the following two selections were via draft deal deals so I wasn’t able to predict them, but I doubt I would have selected Bernard-Docker–who was much further down my list–nor Tychonick, who was much earlier; Gruden was supposed to be gone by their next pick so wasn’t included; Crookshank was ranked much, much later; Mandolese was much, much earlier; Novak wasn’t ranked by anyone; and Loheit didn’t make my list. This isn’t as on-target as last season, but as Mann moves away from the trends previously established adjusting takes some time.]

1-4 Brady Tkachuk (C/LW) DOB 99 6’3 NCAA (Boston U) 40-8-23-31 4th ppg
Son of the former NHLer, his numbers look a little better when you realize he’s second in ppg for players his age on his team (Shane Bowers is slightly ahead). This is a pick many Sens fans are not excited about, largely because of the talented players left available who were ignored for Tkachuk‘s perceived “intangibles” (shades of Curtis Lazar, although Tkachuk isn’t nearly that bad). For fans of actual numbers he does seem to make other players around him better, but this summarizes the general concerns about him:

there isn’t a meaningful (offensive) statistical category where Tkachuk has separated himself from the pack. When viewed through the lens of draft analytics, Tkachuk ranks in the bottom half of the first round or lower in expected likelihood of success; expected production; expected value; and situation, era, age, and league adjusted scoring

Scouts are effusive about him, but it’s all about old-time hockey stuff–they wax poetic about his intangibles, but there’s not a lot of substance. Since all the fluff is positive, let’s look at the concerns from scouts:

The biggest knock on his game at this time is his first-step


His burst could still be improved, but his advanced strength makes up for a lack of quickness in tight areas … He does have a habit of overplaying the puck at times, trying an extra move at the offensive blue line and losing possession, instead of dumping the puck deep and forechecking … defensively he could use his strength better. In his own zone, he’s not engaged every shift.


Weakness: overall quickness; consistency

My concern with Tkachuk me is that he’s someone useful in supporting talented players, but fourth overall picks are supposed to be the talented player. Over time this concern may go away, but I’m very leery about a player whose primary hype is over things like physicality and “meanness” because they so rarely yield results

1-26 Jacob Bernard-Docker (RD) DOB 2000 6’0 AJHL (Okotoks) 49-20-21-41 2nd ppg for D
I’m not sure what the hurry was for the Sens to pick him (reminds me of the wheeling and dealing to land Matt Puempel in ’11)–while he might not have been available at #48, he’s not first-round material either. Via Nichols we have:

a very solid two-way defenseman…but he’s not a real upside pick. He’s a good kid, plays a reliable game, can move the puck, but I don’t think he’s going to be an impact guy

That’s what a late-round pick is for. Of course, that’s just Pronman’s opinion, what about other scouts?

[one of the best at supporting] his partner … He’s quick to recognize his missed assignment…able to communicate effectively to his defensive partners during odd-man situations. … His wrist-shot is one of the better shots from the backend … he’s good at changing the angle…while laterally shifting positions or shooting. His first pass allows him to make accurate outlet passes but he’s also a capable puck distributor who can thread passes through high-traffic areas. His puck skills are a plus…though he’s a safer player in this aspect compared to some of the more dynamic offensive-minded defenseman … He’s not the most offensively gifted defender…but he’s versatile, smart, and well-rounded

They added that Tychnoick (below) has more upside. And

Positioning in his own zone is sound, although sometimes he appears to be guessing out there. Another drawback, according to scouts, is that he’s not very dynamic

They also thought his ability to get his shot off needed work. And

Good offensive player. Moves the puck well. Has great hands. Needs to improve strength to excel at the next level. Will need to improve defensive positioning and physicality to round out game.

Which sounds like a completely different player. The final guide see’s him as a second-pairing player who eats up minutes. I don’t hate this pick abstractly, but I’m concerned about where they picked this kind of player–one who could be a marginal pro that doesn’t offer anything that couldn’t be found by lower picks or inexpensive free agency.

2-48 Jonny Tychonick (DL) DOB 2000 6’0 BCHL (Penticton) 48-9-38-47 1st ppg for D
This is the kind of pick I can get behind–players with excellent numbers. What do the scouts say?

exceptional passing ability and impressive four-way mobility. His first-pass is one of the better passes in this class … impressive east-west movement … he does have a tendency to over-handle the puck in the neutral zone … [and] to shoot without traffic at times … he doesn’t control the tempo of a game at the rate he theoretically should considering his skills


His skating is remarkable … One of the most dynamic defenders in his draft class … his shot could stand to be crisper and more accurately utilized.

Otherwise there’s agreement on his offensive dynamism and concerns about his defensive play. Defense can be taught, so while scouts tend to fret over it like mother hens it’s not something I’m concerned with–it’s hard to score in the NHL, not defend.

4-95 Johnny Gruden (LW) DOB 2000 USHL (USNTDP Jr) 25-15-19-34 4th ppg
Not the son of NFL coach John Gruden, nothing at all stands out about him to me as he’s yet another “intangibles” player. Here are some scouting opinions.

he plays like a…power-forward despite his frame. He’s got a good first-step and is relentless on the forecheck … The big concern with Gruden’s game is if it’s translatable to the pro levels

And that’s my big concern. I mentioned at the time that he reminds me of Max McCormick and that’s not a player who helps you win–he just takes time away from players who do. And

has a nice stride that allows him to cover the ice with great energy … Occasionally,
he gets caught trying to do too much


Despite having solid all-around tools, lacks ultimate assets, which limits his potential a bit among smaller size.

The more you read about him the more he sounds like many other Sens draft picks (Shane EisermanVincent Dunn, etc), although his production makes the McCormick comparison seem the most apt. Max is a good player, but he’s a top-six AHL winger who can’t play on the powerplay and that’s not someone you ever need to draft–they are abundantly available all the time.

5-126 Angus Crookshank (LW) DOB 1999 5’11 BCHL (Langley) 42-22-23-45 2nd ppg
Wasn’t listed by many leaving me with just one scouting report to work with:

His speed ranges in a wide variety of gears that he can utilize with or without the puck … He owns a high level of skill. His puck control is super.

The above criticizes his strength, but that’s easily remedied. It’s hard to make much out of this–we can hope the scoring translates, but it will be a long time before he reaches even the minor leagues.

6-157 Kevin Mandolese (GL) DOB 2000 6’4 QMJHL (Cape Breton) .884 3.46 (best on his team)
Big Montrealer’s numbers are down from last year in the Q, but he plays on a team that’s poor defensively and beat his goaltending partner, so that’s a positive at least.

he’s not aggressive enough in his crease and stays too deep

A common issue for BSens goalie this past season, incidentally. And

Since his midget days, he has had the capacity to win games by himself, only to struggle in the next one. His rebound-control is associated with his consistency

This sounds like Chris Driedger‘s career. And

[has] a great blend of athleticism and aggressive play … can get himself into
trouble when he over-commits to the shot or challenges the shooter too much … must learn to focus better when the shooting pace is low.


Plays deeper in his crease and relies on his size to make saves. Positioning and tracking are good and consistent.

The final report is positive, but also comments on him staying too deep in his net. There’s clearly some disagreement on him (particularly his consistency), but he sounds like a shot in the dark–maybe he’ll pan out, maybe not, and that’s what late round picks are for. Whether the Sens needed another goaltender in the pipeline I’m not sure–I think it depends on how much faith you have in either Jordan Hollett (’17) or Joel Daccord (’15)–although frankly if the Sens would ever scout in Europe there are quality free agent goaltenders to pilfer without bothering to draft them.

7-188 Jakov Novak (C/LW) DOB 1998 6’3 NAHL (Janesville) 56-32-41-73 1st ppg
A local boy, it’s worth pointing out that Novak had a ridiculous amount of PIM’s relative to his teammates this season (something that wasn’t previously the case) and that’s an endearing quality to the Sens. He’s another player with just one scouting report to work with (in part, I think, because of how rarely scouts bother with the NAHL).

can play both wing and center due to explosive skating and agility … [gets] too involved after the whistle and can get to focused on trying to be that agitating presence instead of just playing his game

I like both the speed and offensive upside, although it’s harder to project from lesser leagues. The Sens went this route before with Todd Burgess (’16), whose ultimate fate we still don’t know (signs aren’t great, but there’s time left).

7-194 Luke Loheit (RW) DOB 2000 USHS (Minnetonka) 24-12-18-30 6th ppg
It’s not at all encouraging to see how far down the list he is when it comes to scoring on his own team and there’s only one scouting report on him.

played on a very deep roster … was called upon to play against other teams
top lines in a very tough conference … He has a long powerful skating stride … good instincts in his positioning and ability to read the play

Skating and defensive play are not in short supply so this doesn’t inspire much confidence. This is the biggest throwaway pick of the draft–I think he’ll disappear into the NCAA and like many Sens picks before him fade away without a thought afterwards.

This draft is heavily tier-2 (2 BCHL, AJHL, USHS, and NAHL), with a pick from the Q, NCAA, and USHL mixed in. Most of these players are going the college route and other than Tkachuk (who is probably a year away) are long-term picks. This is not what I expected at all, but given the metric ton of free agents signed (Parker KellyBoston Leier, Aaron Luchuk, Ryan Scarfo, and Andrew Sturtz) and trades made (Filip Gustavsson and Julius Bergman) for Belleville it seems like they want to sow the seeds for the future rather than worry about the present.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)