Prospect Profile: Kelly Summers

I haven’t written a profile since Pius Suter was in Ottawa’s camp last August, so we’re overdue. Summers isn’t signed yet, but I’m assuming he will be. He was drafted way back in 2014 and that was a very different time–Jason Spezza and Robin Lehner were still part of the team; Jared Cowen and Patrick Wiercioch were still part of the future; Matt Kassian and a returning Joe Corvo were providing…laughter? Bryan Murray was the GM, Paul MacLean the coach, and trades were being made for a non-existent playoff run (alas Rob Vollman picked the team to win the President’s Trophy). When the season was over we were assured next season would be different. On my end of things I was making prescient analysis of prospects in Binghamton; Nichols wanted more two-way players; Jeremy Milks was still writing about the team; and Travis Yost was still at Hockeybuzz.

Kelly Summers DOB 1996 DR 6’2 7-189/14
CCHL Carleton Place 56-17-43-60 1.07 1st/5th in scoring (played with Andrew Sturtz)
NCAA Clarkson 33-6-4-10 0.30 2nd/10th
NCAA Clarkson 37-3-11-14 0.37 3rd/8th
NCAA Clarkson 39-3-14-17 0.43 2nd/9th (played with Nico Sturm)
NCAA Clarkson 40-6-24-30 0.75 1st/4th (ibid)

Local boy when drafted was projected as either a bottom or second-pairing two-way defenseman. While at Clarkson he was behind Detroit pick James de Haas (6-170/12, see below) and, sometimes, Flyer pick Terrance Amorosa (5-132/13), both of whom are left-hand shots. Summers‘ numbers aren’t overwhelming and he only lead the blueline in scoring his senior year, but they did steadily improve.

When looking at projections, who can we compare him too? Not many players drafted from tier-2 Canadian junior spend four years in college with steadily improving numbers (his senior year he was tied for 22nd in blueline scoring in the NCAA). In going through players drafted the five years before him (2009-2013) virtually no one has that exact trajectory:
2009: Kyle Bigos, Curtis Gedig, Jeremy Price
2010: Julian Melchiori, Benjamin Gallacher, Isaac Macleod
2011: Michael Paliotta, Josh Manson, Sam Jardine, Brennan Serville
2012: Reece Wilcox, Rhett Holland, James de Haas, Matthew Benning, Ben Hutton
2013: Carson Soucy, Dane Birks, Mike Williamson, Nolan De Jong
One free agent college player (Brady Lamb) also fit the same general profile

Virtually all of these players can easily be dismissed with just these two exceptions: Ben Hutton and teammate James de Haas. Why these two? Hutton is the simplest, as he was also drafted from the CCHL; his college numbers don’t track out the same way, but we’ll get back to that. De Haas was a BCHL grad and had the same four full years in college with steadily increasing numbers (including a final high as a senior). Let’s look at their numbers from the year they were drafted until they turned pro:

Ben Hutton: CCHL 0.75 NCAA 0.44 0.82 0.53
James de Haas: BCHL 0.45 NCAA 0.34 0.41 0.44 0.78

In both cases Summers had better junior numbers–indeed, his CCHL totals are generally better than all the above players listed–but his college numbers are lower then our two comparables (if ever so slightly from de Haas). Hutton‘s NCAA totals are very different–he was at Maine for three years where he lead the blueline in scoring every time (the team’s leading scorer was Dallas draft pick Devin Shore–no relation to the Sens draft pick Quentin). De Haas, on the other hand, spent four years at Clarkson (playing with Summers for two, as well as current BSen Ben Sexton as a freshman). Other than his first year he was the top scoring blueliner each season.

Hutton, whose comparison isn’t as apt, went straight to the NHL, so there are no AHL numbers to look at. De Haas, on the other hand, who is a much better match, spent half a season with Lehigh Valley this year (33-1-10-11, or 0.33), and I think those numbers–projecting to 25 points–are reasonable to expect for Summers (if a little lower, with variation depending on how he’s deployed). As an NHL prospect those scouting impressions when he was drafted haven’t changed, albeit he’s likely going to fit the lower projections, so a bottom-pairing player.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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Senators News & Notes

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The Sens initial dip into the free agency pool echoed their usual tendencies. They went back to the well with an familiar face, signing 35-year old goaltender Mike McKenna. They followed that up with a more impactful signing–one with another org connection as they picked up former Troy Mann player Paul Carey. The latter move I’m okay with–it could be a good one–but I’m concerned about the former.

Mike McKenna, GR, DOB 1983
2015-16 Portland .921 2.45
2016-17 Springfield/Syracuse .905 2.84
2017-18 Texas .909 2.64

The trend in his numbers is clear–he’s in decline–but a strong playoff run and org familiarity (he was with the Binghamton Senators in 2011-12) were enough for the Sens to sign the veteran. The worry, besides simply having three goaltenders on the roster, is that his save percentage (27th in the league this season and 33rd the year before) is not going to magically improve. The glass half full opinion would say he’s insurance for Filip Gustavsson/Marcus Hogberg without obviously needing the starter mantel. My issue with this idea is he’s not an elite goaltender so he represents mediocrity at best while taking development time away from one of the Swedes. If the BSens were going to be a top-AHL team I think you could make the argument about riding a veteran ‘tender for playoff success, but that’s not the case and with two talented prospects I’m not a fan of the three-headed monster in goal. How Troy Mann uses him will be interesting to watch, but if we were in the Kleinendorst era it would be McKenna-McKenna-McKenna all season.

Paul Carey, CL, DOB 1988
2015-16 Hershey 44-13-18-31 (0.70)
2016-17 Hershey 55-24-31-55 (1.00)
2017-18 NYR 60-7-7-14 (0.23)

Undrafted NCAA grad earned an NHL shot with the Rangers this past season which didn’t pan out for the 29-year old; that said, his AHL-numbers are solid (career 0.63) and adding a scoring veteran to a roster that’s struggled to score in four of the last five seasons is a good thing. A big plus for me is he’s not an agitator/goon (ala Tyler Randell/Eric Selleck/Zack Stortini etc) or a “good in the corners guy” (ala Mike Blunden), so he can genuinely play the game and (hopefully) produce. Troy Mann clearly trusts him so I’d expect him to get top minutes.

Eligible Players Not at Development Camp

I thought I’d briefly go over the five players who could have attended camp and did not:

  • Thomas Chabot – presumably the org told him he needn’t attend (a tendency for high-end, graduated prospects)
  • Francis Perron – presumably still recovering from injury (he last played January 27th)
  • Andreas Englund – could be injury-related, although he did play in Belleville’s final game
  • Macoy Erkamps – as above, although I’m sure the org wants to divest themselves of him at this stage
  • Filip Ahl – I assume he’s absent due to health reasons

Thoughts on the Development Camp Scrimmage

I don’t put much stock in development camp performances (I can vividly remember Eric Gryba skating through guys back in the day), but I thought I’d go over the scrimmage from a few days ago (which you can watch here; team white winning 6-3)–it was much more entertaining than last year’s. Incidentally, when the Sens began having a 5-on-5 scrimmage in camp they initially held it the first full day, which never made sense to me, so I’m glad this was further into it. It’s of note that the play-by-play guys (Steve Lloyd and A. J. Jakubec) spent air-time defending the Brady Tkachuk pick from fan-criticisms–something that would not have been the case even six-seven years ago.
First Period
-Chalpik’s zone entries remain the same–the wide swing around the boards going from one side to the other looking to dish the puck off at the half boards (very effective if his linemates know what he’s doing)
-Wolanin with a lazy turnover
-D’Astous threw a hit on Tralmaks and just bounced off
-Loheit goes for the knee on Lyle
1. (White) Jaros breaks up a pass, but three players converge on Burgess who makes a great pass to a wide open Crookshank who scores stick-side on Gustavsson
-Hogberg makes a nice save on White
-Formenton just misses receiving a nice pass through traffic from Chlapik for a breakaway
-Burzan wins a battle against Leier which leads to a scoring chance by Lynch (erased by a stick-check from Kuffner)
-White with a nice pass to Loheit who deflects it wide
-Jaros fires a bullet wide in the slot
-Kaldis takes away a scoring chance
2. (Red) Lyle deflects in Burzan’s pass
-Lillibridge flubs an open chance on the PP
3. (White) Great pass by Chlapik to Nurmi who puts it off the post and in on the PP
-Gustavsson with a great stop off Wolanin in the slot
4. (White) Batherson turns it over and Tralmaks beats Gustavsson with a deke
-Tychonick throws it up the middle to the wrong team (Tralmaks) and Gustavsson makes a nice save on Leier
5. (Red) Off the same play White deflects in Batherson’s centering pass
-Great stop by Hogberg off Stewart
-Stewart runs Kelly
-Gustavsson with a nice stop off Chlapik
-Jaros with a big hit on Jordan
-Gendron throws a blind backhander up the middle from his own goal and is very lucky it isn’t intercepted inside the blueline
Second Period
-Stewart runs Leier
-Lynch stopped by Hollett on a breakaway
-Novak hits the post
-Jordan out muscles and out skates D’Astous and gets a weak backhander on Gustavsson
-Scarfo stoned by Hollett on a mini-breakaway
-Novak misses the net with a one-timer in the slot
-Hollett stones Gruden
-Hollett stops Gruden on a penalty shot
6. (Red) Lajoie fans on a rebound into the open net, but the puck goes to Sturm who puts it in
-Scheid prevents a goal (wrap-around into an empty net as Daccord over commits)
-Chlapik stopped on an odd-man rush SH by Daccord
7. (White) Burgess with a one-timer off a pass by Crookshank
Third Period
-Mandolese with a nice save off Sturtz
-MacLeod knees Lajoie
-Mandolese stops Sturtz
-Daccord with a stop on Chlapik
-Kaldis makes a good defensively play on Jaros
8. (White) Tkachuk with an errant pass in his own zone which results in Jordan beating Daccord on a bad angle shot
-Mandolese stops an awkward Brown shot in close
9. (White) Nurmi beats Daccord with a bad angle shot
-Stewart blocks Gagne’s shot
-Stewart hurts White with a shot from the point

Scouting Reports on FA Signings

I dug up a couple of scouting reports on a pair of free agent players the Sens signed this past season (neither was ever ranked for the draft):

Aaron Luchuk 2015 report from HP (you can read an interview by Colin with him here):

He has good speed and will challenge defenders one on one. He has good puck handling ability…able to create offense with a deceptive shot. He works hard on the backcheck, keeping up with opposing forwards and was usually a key part of the Spitfires penalty kill. … His offensive upside is somewhat untapped playing behind several veterans, so as he moves up the depth chart he will be able to show more of the offense he displayed in minor midget.

Parker Kelly 2017 report from HP:

…relies on his exceptional skating skills and work ethic to create space. His agility and explosiveness are impressive and this allows him to win the majority of his puck races. He is elusive in the cycle game and can evade defenders with his stops and starts. …[able] to keep his feet moving and create turnovers. He is a consistent pest, and he can both strip pucks from defenders and breakup passes with his smart defensive positioning. … When he does have the puck, he continues to keep his feet moving and strives in the cycle game. …not…overly creative but he has above average on-ice vision and has shown that he can make plays through traffic. In addition, he likes to shoot the puck in stride, utilizing a high leg kick, and these shots are a heavy and accurate, forcing goalies to make tough saves. …may not develop into a dominant offensive player, but we expect him to continue to progress

Ottawa’s European Drafting

Random thought: I wonder if the absence of Swedes the last two drafts is in response to the Mikael Wikstrand situation (from the fall of 2015). This is around the time Ary M gave the org the tagline risk-averse, which remains just as true today. I’ve often thought the Alexei Kaigorodov situation from 2006 was a catalyst for the org to avoid drafting Russians and while it’s hard to imagine them going for a complete Swedish ban they do shy away from risk, so it’s food for thought.

Free Agent Signings

I’ve been tracking FA signings (specifically those who haven’t played in the NHL from Europe, the NCAA, etc) and while there are many yet to come I thought it was reasonable to offer an update. We’ll start with Europe since that’s what I cover regularly (my most recent list of likely signings is here). From that list eleven players have been taken (highlighted below), with four others from prior lists (Vincent Praplan and Par Lindholm from my 2017 list; Juuso Ikonen from my 2016 list, and Yasin Ehliz from my 2015 list).

Europe (33): 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)
NCAA (16): Zach Frye (SJ), Zach Whitecloud (VGK), Merrick Madsen (Ari–originally drafted by Phil), 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)
CHL (6): Patrick Bajkov (Flo), Hayden Verbeek (Mtl), Tanner Jeannot (Nsh), Alexandre Alain (Mtl), Brad Morrison (LA–originally drafted by NYR), Aaron Luchuk (Ott)

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):

Defense
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

Forwards
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

And

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.

And

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

And

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

And

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.

And

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)

Ottawa Senators Mock Draft

Image result for randy lee arrest

We start with a face we won’t be seeing at the draft, although there’s no doubt Randy Lee’s impute will have an effect regardless. With my massive draft article posted and with reference to my look at Ottawa’s draft tendencies last year, it’s time to make predictions for who the Sens will pick in the 2018 draft (you can see last year’s mock draft here). This is a difficult exercise because it’s impossible to know who will be available when the Sens pick, but it’s fun to speculate on the possibilities based on who we might expect to be available. As a quick refresher, here’s the basics of Sens tendencies:
-they only draft out of Sweden, the CHL, and the US leagues (Finnish forward Nurmi, from 2016, is the exception that proves the rule)
-size size size (the Sens have only picked one player under 6’0 since 2011–Dahlen, who was subsequently traded–their goaltenders are always at least 6’2)
-pick goaltenders late (since Lehner (09) no ‘tender has been picked earlier than the third round)
-at least 1 player from Sweden and the US systems (last year was an exception, in part due to only having 4 picks); there has also been at least 1 French-Canadian or QMJHL player picked since 2008

With that established, let’s take a look at who they might land.  I’ve listed sixish players around the pick based on my list and we’ll tackle them for probability (with the most likely in green).

First Round (1-4)
3. Filip Zadina (QMJHL) – I doubt he’ll be available, but he’s from the Q and there’s little reason to doubt the Sens would take him if available
4. Brady Tkachuk (NCAA) – Bob McKenzie says scouts like “that certain something” about him and nebulous qualities have a magical appeal to the org
5. Oliver Wahlstrom (USDP) – I think if they aren’t taking Tkachuk it’s more likely that they’ll pick one of the defensemen
6. Evan Bouchard (D) (OHL) – more typical NHL-size and a righthand shot; fits the org’s model better than Hughes and considered more talented than Dobson, so he’s the blueliner I’d guess if they take one
7. Noah Dobson (D) (QMJHL)
8. Quintin Hughes (D) (NCAA) – undersized (5’10)  with questions about his defensive capabilities–these are big red flags for the org so I’m not with the Silver Sevens’ pick here

First Round (1-22; from Pittsburgh)
20. Isac Lundestrom (SHL) – if he’s available he’s likely (if the org picked a defensemen with their first pick)
21. Bode Wilde (D) (USDP) – if he’s available and the Sens took a forward with their first pick, the righthand shot is likely
22. Alexander Alexeyev (D) (WHL) – he’s Russian and the org doesn’t pick them
23. Akil Thomas (OHL) – under 6’0 so it’s very unlikely the org would consider him
24. Rasmus Sandin (D) (OHL) – see above
25. Ty Dellandrea (OHL) – what I said about Lundestrom applies to him

Fourth Round (4-95)
93. Justus Annunen (Finn Jr) – he’s Finnish so I don’t think so
94. Nico Gross (D) (OHL) – this iteration of the org has never drafted a Swiss-player, although playing in the CHL may give him the camouflage necessary to be considered (ala the Czech players picked from the Q or the Slovak picked from Sweden)
95. Tyler Madden (USHL) – 5’11 so not in the org’s wheelhouse
96. Egor Sokolov (QMJHL) – he’s Russian, so no
97. Kevin Mandolese (G) (QMJHL) – I don’t think the org is picking a ‘tender this year
98. Danila Zhuravlyov (D) (MHL) – he’s Russian, so no
99. Ty Emberson (D) (USDP) – righthand shot, comes from the right place–he’s in the wheelhouse

Fifth Round (5-126)
124. Lenni Killinen (Finn Jr) – he’s Finnish, so no
126. Seth Barton (D) (BCHL) – righthand blueliner; if the Sens haven’t picked one yet, this would be the time
127. Ryan Chyzowski (WHL) – has NHL bloodlines and seems to fit the kind of players the org is likes
128. Connor Roberts (OHL) – he’s big which always appeals to the org
129. Riley Damiani (OHL) – 5’9 so no

Sixth Round (6-157)
155. Kristian Reichel (WHL) – has NHL bloodlines going for him, but the only Czech’s they’ve ever drafted have been from the Q so it’s a pass
156. Damien Giroux (OHL) – he’s 5’9 so no
157. Merrick Rippon (D) (OHL) – has ‘local boy’ going for him and the org loves that
158. Jack Randl (USHL) – under 6’0 so no
159. William Moskal (OHL) – nothing really stands out about him either way
160. Caleb Everett (D) (OHL) – if no blueliners have been taken yet, he’s another righthand shot

Seventh Round (7-188)
185. Ivan Prosvetov (G) (USHL) – Russian so no
187. David Lilja (Allsvenskan) – under 6’0 so no
188. Tim Berni (D) (NLB) – under 6’0 so no
189. Nikolai Kovalenko (MHL) – Russian so no
190. Alex Green (D) (NCAA) – yet another righthand shot; definitely the kind of player the org likes to take chances on (reminds me a little of Bryce Aneloski–not in terms of potential, but just who & what he is coming into the draft)
191. Yegor Sharangovich (KHL) – Russian so no (I know he’s Belarussian, but the org doesn’t know the difference)
192. Erik Portillo (G) (Swe Jr) – I mentioned I don’t think the org will pick a ‘tender because of how many they currently have in the system, but if they do a 6’6 one seems palatable
193. Linus Karlsson (Swe Jr) – offensive righthand center fits in the wheelhouse

Seventh Round (7-194; from NYR)
194. Akira Schmid (G) (Swi Jr) – he’s Swiss so no
195. Johan Sodergran (SHL/Swe Jr) – has great speed
196. Mike Callahan (D) (USHL) – gritty, but with a couple of blueliners taken I don’t think they’d take another
197. Isaac Johnson (WHL) – also in the team’s wheelhouse if Sodergran is gone

My List
1-4 Brady Tkachuk
1-22 Ty Dellandrea
4-95 Ty Emberson (D)
5-126 Ryan Chyzowski
6-157 Merrick Rippon (D)
7-188 Linus Karlsson
7-194 Johan Sodergran

In most draft years a third to half the players considered are actually already gone before the pick. There’s no one from the Q or who is French Canadian in my list, which is an issue, but otherwise this represents the kind of players the org will take.

My friends Ary M and Colin have posted many draft articles (check them out: first pick, second pick, top forwards, top defensemen, more forwards, even more forwards, and defensemen [and goalies]). The links include excellent data as well as scouting profiles, although they are more slanted to who is actually the best as opposed to reading the minds of the org. Like them I believe talent is what’s most important, but we know the Sens don’t operate that way.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

 

Roster Decisions for the Belleville Senators

Image result for pondering

[Made a couple of corrections from the initial post–faulty memory came crashing against the rocks of hard facts–thanks to Ary for pointing them out.]

I mentioned previously that I would delve into what I think the BSens should do with their roster along with what I think they will do. For the latter element it’s worth keeping in mind what the org has generally done (which I went through recently; you can also see my review of rookies, prospects, and veterans). One decision is already made (matching what I would have preferred anyway), which is that veteran goaltender Danny Taylor is heading back to the KHL. We are also saved from disastrous first-line duo Max McCormick and Jim O’Brien due to the former’s one-way contract next season (Ben Harpur is also removed from the equation for the same reason, but he was actually good in limited-duty in Belleville).

Signed

Here are the players signed for next season (I’m assuming Thomas ChabotChristian Wolanin, Logan Brown, and Colin White will be on the NHL-roster–I think Filip Chlapik is 50-50 in that respect so he’s included below; rookies for next season are in green; AHL-contracts in italics; players arranged youngest to oldest):

Goaltenders (2)
Filip Gustavsson (SHL)
Marcus Hogberg

Defense (8)
Erik Burgdoerfer
Maxime Lajoie
Kelly Summers (NCAA)
Cody Donaghey
Christian Jaros
Andreas Englund
Macoy Erkamps
Jordan Murray

Forwards (11)
Drake Batherson (QMJHL)
Filip Chlapik
Aaron Luchuk (OHL)
Gabriel Gagne
Francis Perron
Andrew Sturtz (NCAA)
Ryan Scarfo (NCAA)
Jack Rodewald
Boston Leier (CIS)
Ben Sexton
Jim O’Brien

On the bubble:
Filip Ahl (Allsvenskan 29-11-4-15) – hurt his chances of being signed this year with a mediocre season in Sweden (he was unable to stay in Orebro’s lineup in the SHL), so another season to prove himself is expected
Markus Nurmi (Liiga 51-10-11-21) – I’d expect him to stay in Finland given the glut of forwards already in Belleville
We can safely assume unimpressive NCAA grad Shane Eiserman isn’t being signed (when drafted in 2014 the org saw him as another Max McCormick)

Expiring Contracts

RFAs
Nick Paul – despite no real improvement from the previous season his size and his late push towards the end of the year will probably see him re-signed (personally I’d let him walk–or sign & trade)
Nick Moutrey – dumped on the org by Columbus, he’s big but completely useless; they should let him go, but Randy Lee likes his big forwards so there’s a slim chance he’ll be retained

Non-Veteran Status
Patrick Sieloff – a player who peaked back in junior, his physicality has endeared him to the org and I feel like that might keep him around yet again
Daniel Ciampini – a PTO signing that I expect the team to let go–there are far too many forwards in the system to keep him around (which I think is the right decision)
Kyle Flanagan – undersized roleplayer will be let go (a decision I’m fine with)
Erik Burgdoerfer – I expect Captain Turnover to return and take time away from player development yet again–I’d kick him to the curb [I was reminded on Twitter that he’s on a two-year deal–something apparently my subconscious refused to accept]

Veteran Status
Ville Pokka – because he has veteran status it makes it very unlikely the Sens will put up the money to sign him, despite how badly they need a good puck-mover in Belleville (I also noted on Twitter that the Sens don’t sign European vets)
Max Reinhart – a complete dud all season–imagined as a top-six forward there’s no chance the org retains him to bumble around the bottom-six
Tyler Randell* – as useless as he is, there’s a chance the team hangs onto him for his “toughness”/”leadership”
Ethan Werek – another PTO signing, he didn’t do enough to endear himself and be retained; I wouldn’t keep him either, as to be effective he needs a lot of ice time and I’d rather have that go to prospects
Mike Blunden – absolute garbage both seasons with the org, but he was praised regardless; with that said, I think they’re ready to cut him loose
Eric Selleck – inexplicably traded for (!), but despite Randy Lee’s obsession with pugilists I don’t think they’ll keep him (he can’t skate which, I think, the org is starting to realize is important)
* within the 260+ vet category

Hypothetical Roster (vets in bold, re-signs in blue)

Forwards (14)
Drake Batherson
Filip Chlapik
Aaron Luchuk
Gabriel Gagne
Francis Perron
Nick Paul
Andrew Sturtz
Ryan Scarfo
Jack Rodewald
Boston Leier
Tyler Randell
Ben Sexton
Jim O’Brien
“gritty” veteran (FA)

Defense (9)
Maxime Lajoie
Kelly Summers
Cody Donaghey
Christian Jaros
Andreas Englund
Macoy Erkamps
Patrick Sieloff
Jordan Murray
Erik Burgdoerfer

Goaltenders (3)
Filip Gustavsson
Marcus Hogberg
veteran netminder (FA)

In the inaugural Belleville season the BSens had 29 players signed along with various PTOs trying out. My list has 26, but I don’t think we need to get too hung up on such a high number. We could see a veteran blueliner added as well–neither Erkamps or Donaghey really count as both are likely to spend their seasons buried in the ECHL–but if we do it’ll likely be (yet again) more “grit”.

My version of the roster? I wouldn’t have a three-headed monster in goal; I’d sign a quality ECHL goaltender, but leave the playing time to the prospects. I wouldn’t bring back any of the re-signed players indicated above, but I would try to either keep Pokka or else sign another talented defensemen (to play the left side if it was someone else). At forward I’d go find a couple of talented players to take the pressure off the rookies.

Coaching

I haven’t done a deep dive on rumoured new coach Troy Mann, but given Kleinendorst’s predilections I was curious how prospects had done with him in Hershey and if he shared the org’s obsession with vets. He was the head coach from 2014-15 to this past season, so briefly his record:
2014-15 46-22-8 .658 pugilist Dane Byers remained the captain
2015-16 43-21-12 .645 pugilist Garrett Mitchell was the captain
2016-17 43-22- 11 .638 same captain
2017-18 30-37-9 .454 same captain
Mann had O’Brien and Burgdoerfer previously (along with former BSens Carter Camper and Dustin Gazley). He relied heavily on vets for scoring, although it’s difficult to separate what was made available to him vs who he played. His rewarding of non-players as captain is, however, right up Randy Lee’s alley. The only positive I see, aside from a winning record, is a willingness to play younger goaltenders (although, again, I’m not sure how much choice he was given). Since he’s a fan of Burgdoerfer I think it adds to the odds of him with an eternity of playing time. There’s nothing surprising in this–Randy Lee’s understanding of hockey hasn’t changed so he’s going to look for someone who see’s things his way.

With all this said, it’s likely one or two prospects will be shuffled along in pre-draft (or draft) moves, which will also give us a better idea of where someone like Chlapik will wind up.

As for what’s coming up next for me: in terms of what’s planned the draft series is sooner than later (never a cheap process, so any donations or support on patreon is much appreciated). Typically Future Considerations is out first, but I’ll tackle them as they come and finish up with my predictions piece/analysis. I have a couple of other things in the hopper, but without a clear idea of when they will come out. For Marvel fans I have number of articles forthcoming along with a Cyberpunk 2077 update (both of which will appear on their respective blogspot sites–they will be Tweeted out as usual, of course).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Thoughts on the Senators Handling of its AHL Team (Redux)

With Belleville’s season over (my multi-part review begins here) I decided to update my article from last year looking at how Ottawa has handled its AHL affiliate since the Bryan Murray/Pierre Dorion regime arrived.

Ottawa has struggled to properly support the development side of its organization for quite some time–by that I’m not referring to drafted players or free agent prospects (whose quality rests on the shoulders of amateur scouts), but rather the pieces that are put around them to support development in the AHL environment. I’m not interested in the rhetoric surrounding any of this, just the numbers. With numbers in mind, let’s dive in:

Bryan Murray/Pierre Dorion AHL Seasons
07-08 34-32-14 .513 225 248 missed playoffs
08-09 41-30-9 .569 238 missed playoffs +9pts, +7 GF, -10 GA
09-10 36-35-9 .506 251 260 missed playoffs10pts, +19 GF, +22 GA
10-11 42-30-8 .575 255 221 Calder Cup +11pts, +4 GF, –39 GA
11-12 29-40-7 .428 201 243 missed playoffs27pts, –54 GF, +22 GA
12-13 44-24-8 .632 227 188 first round +31pts, +26 GF, –55 GA
13-14 44-24-8 .632 206 185 first round4pts, –21 GF, –3 GA
14-15 34-34-8 .500 242 258 missed playoffs16pts, +36 GF, +73 GA
15-16 31-38-7 .454 204 241 missed playoffs7pts, –38 GF, –17 GA
16-17 28-44-4 .395 190 266 missed playoffs9pts, –14 GF, +15 GA
17-18 29-42-5 .414 194 266 missed playoffs +3pts, +4 GF, unchanged GA

AHL GM’s (from 07-08 to now)
Tim Murray (07-14)
Left mid-season to become Buffalo’s GM (since fired)
Randy Lee (14-present)
Litters the media with comments about toughness (tide goes in, tide goes out, eh Randy?)

AHL coaches
Cory Clouston (07-08 to 08-09)
Mid-season NHL replacement in Ottawa (Craig Hartsburg!), then failed out of two orgs in the WHL (Brandon and Prince Albert) before winding up in the DEL (Kolner Haie) where he was also fired
Curtis Hunt (09)
Mid-season replacement for Clouston when he went up to Ottawa; wasn’t retained and bounced from Regina (WHL) to Fort McMurray (AJHL) to GMing Prince Albert
Don Nachbaur (09-10)
Came from the WHL and went back subsequently before (this season) becoming an assistant with LA
Kurt Kleinendorst (10-11 to 11-12)
Left after losing the Ottawa job to Paul MacLean
Luke Richardson (12-13 to 15-16)
Left the org when Guy Boucher got the Ottawa job, becoming an assistant for NYI
Kurt Kleinendorst (16-17 to 17-18)
After he left he went to the NCAA (Alabama, fired), AHL (Iowa, fired), then a mid-season DEL replacement (Ingolstadt) before returning to Binghamton

None of the above are good pro coaches and I think you can go beyond that and say all of them are poor–believing the org’s own outdated ideas of playing hockey like it’s the clutch-and-grab 90s and brawling days of the 1970s (ie, the need for a goon and toughness, the importance of size, an over-reliance on veterans, etc)–I often feel like throughout the Ottawa org they are trying to re-create Pat Quinn’s Toronto teams from the early 2000s. Their collective inability to find success at all (or, in Nachbaur’s case, outside of junior hockey) is ample evidence of these failings.

What about management? The best way to assess that is who they added to the roster, so here’s the penultimate list (those acquired by trade are in italics, veteran signings are in bold (five players at 320 AHL, NHL, certain European league games; one player over 260); in brackets next to their numbers are what they did the previous season; grades are based entirely on how well the players fulfilled expectations)

17-18 – 29-42-5 194 266
Jim O’Brien (PTO, AHL-deal, NHL-deal) 60-13-16-29 (53-9-15-24)
Ethan Werek (PTO, AHL-deal) 58-10-15-25 (55-13-14-27)
Max Reinhart 67-11-12-23 (DEL 52-6-17-23)
Ben Sexton 30-10-11-21 (54-19-12-31)
Mike Blunden (2nd year of his deal) 45-6-10-16 (67-14-15-29)
Erik Burgdoerfer 66-5-12-17 (52-1-16-17)
Daniel Ciampini (PTO, AHL-deal) 49-7-9-16 (ECHL 28-12-16-28)
Chris DiDomenico (2nd year of his deal; traded) 25-5-9-14/60-14-24-38 (NLA 48-10-28-38)
Ville Pokka 23-3-8-11/69-7-26-33 (76-6-24-30)
Tyler Randell 57-3-5-8 (59-1-9-10)
Kyle Flanagan (2nd year of his AHL-deal) 17-1-3-4 (68-9-20-29)
Eric Selleck 18-2-2-4/50-5-2-7 (46-5-4-9)
Nick Moutrey 16-2-3-5/38-5-6-11 (61-8-9-17)
Chris Kelly (PTO) 16-0-2-2 (NHL 82-5-7-12)
Danny Taylor .900 3.15 (.931 1.93)
FA’s: C-
Trades: D
Best move: Ben Sexton
Biggest flop: Danny Taylor

There are very comprehensive breakdowns for all of these players (beginning here). Were it not for Pokka the trades would earn an F (Eric Selleck?). It’s important to note just how many regular roster players were not on Randy Lee’s radar–Jim O’Brien, who became Kleinendorst’s number one center, arrived on a PTO; Ethan Werek and Daniel Ciampini, despite both ultimately being used as fourth-liners, each (especially Werek) spent time with significant minutes on top-lines and neither were on the horizon in the summer. The sentimental addition of Chris Kelly was great for him, but he was awful for the team. Other than Ben Sexton, who struggled to stay healthy, none of the additions panned out (they were either average or flopped completely). While for me the middling numbers of Reinhart, Blunden, Burgdoerfer, etc, are no surprise, the org certainly expected more, but Danny Taylor stands out as the biggest flop not because he has the worst numbers, but because he was supposed to be the stud in net–the fail safe for a young blueline–but it took him all the way until January to round into form and even at that stage he was simply average.

16-17 – 28-44-4 190 266
Jason Akeson (re-signed after failed KHL jump) 57-20-31-51 (73-13-39-52)
Phil Varone (re-signed) 65-15-36-51 (65-19-36-55)
Casey Bailey (re-signed) 62-21-16-37 (68-11-28-39)
Mike Blunden 67-14-15-29 (49-21-17-38)
Kyle Flanagan (AHL-deal) 68-9-20-29 (44-6-14-20)
Mike Kostka (re-signed) 46-1-11-12 (traded)
Chad Nehring 50-3-15-18 (76-22-26-48)
Brandon Gormley 17-2-3-5 (39-4-2-6)
Zack Stortini (second year of his deal) 22-2-1-3 (traded)
Guillaume Lepine 54-1-2-3 (re-signed)
Marc Hagel 27-0-3-3 (53-4-15-19)
FA’s: Grade C-
Trades: Grade F
Best move: Akeson
Biggest flop: Nehring

Only the top two had solid seasons (you can read my full review of the season here), with both slightly above their career averages (by 0.06 and 0.02 respectively); all the rest underperformed to varying degrees (some catastrophically), with neither of the “big” FA signings (Nehring and Blunden) coming close to what was expected of them.

15-16 – 31-38-7 204 241
Eric O’Dell 50-18-19-37 (37-14-15-29) (traded)
Mike Kostka 50-5-24-29 (63-5-25-30)
Phil Varone 21-6-17-23 (55-15-29-44)
Jason Akeson 21-5-17-22 (57-23-30-53)
Casey Bailey 30-7-14-21 (NCAA 37-22-18-40)
Zack Stortini 66-8-8-16 (76-13-12-25)
Patrick Mullen (re-signed) 36-1-15-16 (traded)
Ryan Rupert 30-7-6-13 (57-15-12-27)
Guillaume Lepine 69-4-9-13 (38-1-3-4)
Jerome Leduc 22-4-6-10 (76-6-19-25)
Travis Ewanyk 66-5-4-9 (69-3-5-8)
Michael Keranen 21-4-3-7 (70-10-27-37)
Mark Fraser 60-2-5-7 (NHL 34-0-4-4)
Conor Allen 17-1-4-5 (71-11-23-34) (traded)
Nick Tuzzolini (AHL contract but spent the season with the team) 27-1-0-1 (36-1-2-3)
FA’s: D-
Trades: C
Best move: Akeson/Varone
Biggest flop: Stortini

This is an even weaker assemblage of talent (my full season review go here). Kostka and O’Dell (before he was traded), performed as expected, but Stortini and Fraser were expensive busts (both were obviously terrible signings (eg)); Mullen’s production was never replaced when he was moved and various acquisitions completely bombed (Ewanyk, Keranen, and Allen in particular).  Tuzzolini was kept on the roster almost the entire season for perceived “toughness” which served no purpose whatsoever (special thank-you to Randy Lee for his continued inability to understand enforcers are not necessary).

14-15 – 34-34-8 242 258
Carter Camper 75-15-37-52 (60-12-49-51)
Aaron Johnson 73-6-29-35 (75-4-36-40)
Alex Grant (re-signed) 58-6-27-33
Patrick Mullen (re-signed) 54-5-24-29
Brad Mills 34-4-10-14 (28-8-6-14)
FA’s: C
Trades: N/A
Best move: Johnson
Biggest flop: Mills

Subpar year for Carter, while Grant and Mullen both struggled to stay healthy and PED-user Mills was inexplicably given ice time over actual prospects (my full review here).

13-14 – 44-24-8 206 185
Patrick Mullen 20-1-11-12 (69-13-28-41)
Alex Grant 19-2-8-10 (46-4-16-20)
Tyler Eckford (second year of his deal) 32-0-4-4
Nathan Lawson (re-signed) 3.05 .908
FA’s: F
Trades: B+
Best move: Mullen/Grant
Biggest flop: Eckford

Both vets who started the year were terrible (Eckford) to below average (Lawson); deadline acquisitions were good, but nothing could overcome Richardson’s incompetence as a coach (my full review here).

12-13 – 44-24-8 227 188
Hugh Jessiman 68-10-19-29 (67-27-17-44)
Andre Benoit 34-9-16-25 (KHL 53-5-12-17)
Brett Ledba 32-3-15-18 (NHL 30-1-3-4)
Tyler Eckford 59-7-6-13 (75-10-15-25)
Nathan Lawson 2.19 .938 (2.57 .914)
FA’s: C
Trades: B
Best move: Benoit
Biggest flop: Eckford

Benoit and Lawson were good signings for this season, but Jessiman and Eckford were awful and while Ledba was a decent acquisition, “veteran savvy” didn’t do anything for the team in the playoffs when it mattered.  My full review is here.

11-12 – 29-40-7 201 243
Corey Locke (second year of his deal) 38-10-31-41
Rob Klinkhammer 35-12-33-35 (76-17-29-46)
Mark Parrish 51-15-15-30 (56-17-34-51)
Tim Conboy 53-2-9-11 (70-0-12-12)
Josh Godfrey (AHL contract) 38-2-6-8 (ECHL 49-15-12-27)
Mike Bartlett 58-3-4-7 (72-8-10-18)
Francis Lessard (re-signed) 43-1-1-2
Shaun Heshka
10-0-1-1 (Austria 50-6-18-24) (traded)
Lee Sweatt DNP (41-5-9-14) (retired after getting his signing bonus)
Mike McKenna 2.98 .918 (3.61 .886)
FA’s (Sweatt not included): D
Trades: A
Best move: Klinkhammer
Biggest flop: Heshka/Sweatt

Klinkhammer was an inspired acquisition and Locke performed as expected, but otherwise this is a complete mess (as is reflected in the team’s results–my full review here).

10-11 – 42-30-8 255 221
Corey Locke 69-21-65-86 (76-31-54-85)
Ryan Keller (re-signed) 71-32-19-51
Andre Benoit 73-11-44-55 (78-6-30-36)
Ryan Potulny 13-3-5-8 (NHL 64-15-17-32)
David Hale (demoted from Ottawa) 36-2-4-6
Francis Lessard 36-2-1-3 (61-2-2-4)
Barry Brust (AHL deal) 2.53 .925 (2.46 .908)
Mike Brodeur (re-signed) 2.96 .903
FA’s (Hale not included): B
Trades: A
Best move: Potulny (lead the team in playoff scoring)
Biggest flop: Lessard

The Calder Cup season!  I wasn’t blogging regularly at the time, so there’s no retrospective review to link, but the only questionable things here were the signing of Lessard and retaining of Brodeur.

09-10 – 36-35-9 251 260
Martin St. Pierre 77-24-48-72 (61-15-51-66)
Ryan Keller 72-34-34-68 (Liiga 54-21-34-55)
Denis Hamel (re-signed) 73-22-29-51
Jonathan Cheechoo (demoted from Ottawa) 25-8-6-14
Drew Bannister (D) 57-4-10-14 (DEL 34-2-15-17)
Paul Baier (D) 62-2-8-10 (62-3-8-11)
Jeremy Yablonski (re-signed) 27-1-0-1
Chris Holt (G) (AHL deal) 2.95 .905 (1.73 .931)
Andy Chiodo (G) 3.28 .901 (KHL 3.66 .866)
Mike Brodeur (G) 3.06 .899 (2.45 .920)
FA’s (Cheechoo not included): D+
Trades: N/A
Best move: Keller
Biggest flop: Chiodo/Brodeur

Forwards performed as expected (although retaining Yablonski was pointless), but the defense choices were obviously terrible before the season began; signing Chiodo was puzzling and Brodeur underperformed.

08-09 – 41-30-9 232 238
Greg Mauldin (re-signed) 80-24-27-51
Denis Hamel (re-signed) 63-25-25-50
Marc Cavosie 64-10-13-23 (ECHL 41-12-18-30)
Matt Carkner (D) (re-signed) 67-3-18-21
Drew Fata (D) 68-7-9-16 (71-3-11-14)
Brendan Bell (D) 15-6-9-15 (69-7-24-31)
Chaz Johnson 48-1-5-6 (ECHL 60-23-24-2-47)
Jeremy Yablonski (re-signed) 64-1-2-3
Geoff Waugh (D) (re-signed) 27-0-2-2
FA’s: C-
Trades: C
Best move: Mauldin
Biggest flop: Yablonski

Bell’s acquisition would have been great if he’d stayed on the roster; as-is retaining Yablonski and Waugh were obviously bad decisions, acquiring Fata was pointless, and neither Johnson nor Cavosie added anything meaningful to the roster.

07-08 – 34-32-14 225 248
Denis Hamel 67-32-23-55 (NHL 53-5-3-8)
Lawrence Nycholat (D) 77-12-37-49 (29-3-25-28)
Niko Dimitrakos 64-20-20-40 (62-19-23-42)
Justin Mapletoft 78-18-22-40 (DEL 10-2-3-5)
Greg Mauldin 71-15-18-33 (Allsvenskan 32-6-10-16)
Matt Carkner (D) 67-10-15-25 (75-6-24-30)
Matt Kinch (D) 73-9-16-25 (DEL 51-4-20-24)
Jeremy Yablonski 76-3-10-13 (ECHL 41-3-3-6)
Geoff Waugh (D) 71-3-3-6 (ECHL 56-1-12-13)
Greg Amadio (D) 50-0-2-2 (previous season 58-3-5-8)
FA’s: B-
Trades: N/A
Best move: Nycholat
Biggest flop: Amadio

Tim Murray’s first stab at the gutted Muckler system, most of the decisions were solid, albeit none performed above expectations; Yablonski, Waugh, and Amadio stand out as head-scratching decisions.

Conclusions

Going through all this let’s briefly break it down by GM:
Tim Murray
FA’s: B-, C-, D+, B, D, C, F, C (avg C-)
Trades: n/a, C, n/a, A, A, B, B+, n/a (avg B+)
Randy Lee
FA’s: D-, C-, C- (avg D+)
Trades: C, F, D (avg D)

The first thing I want to point out: every season the team has signed at least one enforcer. Yes, the role that’s been dead since the 04-05 lockout is one the team continues to spend money on. With that out of the way, onto more general points.

Both men struggled to sign appropriate free agents in the off-season, Murray has a better track record of adding useful pieces during the season (and better results–three of his last four seasons had the team in the playoffs), something Lee hasn’t replicated (he continues to add the same kinds of players he does in the off-season). I’ve long thought the Sens pro scouting was poor and there is evidence of that here–while good players have been signed, it seems largely a matter of chance with the org going back to familiar faces (or attempting too) over and over again (Benoit’s two tours of duty, Akeson’s return, the failed attempt to bring back Mullen, retaining Brodeur, bringing back Kleinendorst, etc). What bothers me are the obvious poor decisions–terrible players signed because of “character”. No GM is going to have a perfect track record, but the BSens are particularly awful in setting themselves up for success. While you want to credit Murray for the Calder Cup, you have to call it a fluke given the results of all his other seasons and Lee has been worse.

This attachment to toughness is something Tim Murray may have overcome (his Rochester teams didn’t always have a pugilist), but Randy Lee won’t get with the program. Beyond the fisticuffs there’s also the endless praise for veterans with extremely limited talent (Burgdoerfer, Blunden, and on and on). The obsession with “character” over skill is the Achilles Heel I don’t think we’ll ever see the org overcome until new faces are in place.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)