Looking Ahead to the Sens Upcoming Season

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My eclectic article looking at Sens coverage is currently an unwieldy behemoth showing no signs of completion, so while that unfolds I wanted to get out thoughts on the Sens upcoming season. Dom Luszczyszyn‘s preview of the Senators for The Athletic is what I’ll work with and let’s open it with a quote:

Last season was an embarrassment for the Senators. Due to a penny-pinching owner and an organization in complete disarray, the team was forced to trade away its three best players, who were all pending unrestricted free agents.

That’s succinct and accurate. But Dom isn’t done:

Ottawa has, by my math, exactly three good players. That’s a joke I made in last year’s season preview and though all three have moved on to greener pastures, the sentiment remains in the form of the team’s new core, a younger and less-skilled version of what the Senators were previously building around.

He cites Brady Tkachuk, Colin White, and Thomas Chabot as the new core and I have faith in exactly one of those players (the latter). Let’s look at the org’s golden boy (our lad Brady) from Dom’s perspective:

[H]e didn’t create many chances for his teammates nor was he entering the zone with control very often. … Without Stone (before he was traded), that dropped to 6.4 per 60, which is significantly lower. That’s a bit of a red flag, especially considering those 14 tracked games suggest he may not be as strong elsewhere. … Tkachuk’s personal shot rate isn’t the only thing that dropped without Stone. His point rate went from 2.33 to 1.27 and that sterling expected goals share dropped from 58 percent with Stone to 50 percent without.

The litany of players buoyed by a talented linemate is nearly endless (most of you won’t know who Warren Young is, but he always comes to mind when thinking of phantom production). That doesn’t mean I think Tkachuk is that bad–when he was drafted I was sure he was a useful NHL player, but there were many reasons to worry he won’t be a star and that’s what fans think he is now. Dom is sounding that warning bell.

As for White, less needs to be said as I think the worries about him are better understood and accepted, but Dom inexplicably doesn’t do a deep dive on him, simply parroting baseline stats and calling him a second-line player–fortunately Nichols performed the autopsy back in June and his analysis isn’t a condemnation, but I do want to cite where my concerns are:

“[White’s] drop [away from Mark Stone] is more precipitous across the metrics [and] the sample size is larger. … Stone’s play has inevitably insulated and propped up White’s production to some degree as it has to players like Zack Smith and Pageau.”

Nichols’ point in the article is more about White‘s various intangibles and how he makes his teammates better, while mine is more about his production (something he echoed today). The org (and Dom echoes their expectation) believes he’s a solution to offensive woes, while my fear is that he’s a better version of Erik Condra/Pageau. There’s a big difference in what he brings to the team depending on how his development goes and the flags on his offensive capabilities were right there when he was drafted.

I want to include a few more choice quotes from Dom before summing up:

[Ottawa’s free agent signings] “None of the four move the needle much”

Max Veronneau and Jonathan Davidsson earning a spot in this initial look. Neither player’s numbers outside the NHL look all that special, though.”

“There’s a clear dearth of defenders with puck skills available to the Senators and watching that will be a frustrating experience as they try to get the puck out. The weak forward group likely won’t help much, either.”

[T]he team’s biggest weakness is likely goaltending. That’s especially true if Craig Anderson remains the team’s starter.

Dom concludes that the team is likely headed to a 70-71 point season (last year he projected 77 points), which would represent modest improvement, but I have a hard time believing a team that can’t score, can’t defend, and can’t stop the puck will improve (if we take the drop from last year as a guide, chop 10 or more points off the tally). Dom is the number cruncher so he has real analysis behind his guess, but just on the bare bones of reasoning even the modest, awful season he’s projecting seems optimistic.

Training camp hasn’t even started so there isn’t a plethora of other breakdowns, but most of what we’ll get is generic media coverage based on ougia boards and tarot cards rather than actual analysis, so I’m not expecting too many adjustments to this.

Bold in Thoughts

Nichols has graced us with his first column since July and there are two things to highlight as Pierre Dorion spoke (something I highly suggest Dorion refrain from doing, otherwise he’ll continue to embarrass himself):

[Nichols] What I find interesting is that the general manager is passing the buck and putting the onus on the coaching staff and players for the possibility of poor performance.

This is the norm for the organization. Since Dorion took over he has been responsible for nothing other than successes–Randy Lee echoed this even earlier, going back through the Murray regime, always having excuses for how the AHL-team did. Nothing is ever management’s fault and this idea is something the owner clings to as well–nothing is his fault.

Nichols goes through some roster speculation, but the org has never been very rationale when it comes to adding young players, so basing it purely on talent or position is a risky business. Given how bad the team will be it’s far better to send the talent to Belleville, but the org has always preferred to let players get their heads kicked in at the NHL-level in the hopes of eeking out a few more ticket sales–I think whoever has a high profile is the most likely to start in Ottawa.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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The Sens Farm System

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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)

The Sens Off-Season (continued)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Thoughts on the Sens Off-Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As for Connor Brown:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for unquestioned belief

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

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

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators Development Camp Invitees

Image result for ottawa development camp hardest worker

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

Defense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forwards

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

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

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

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

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing Ottawa’s 2019 Draft

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)

Sens Sign Olle Alsing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens