Senators News & Notes

matt o'connor

I give Kleinendorst a lot of credit for Matt O’Connor being the goaltender sent down to Wichita.  As the organisation’s golden child when signed, it must be a hard pill for management to swallow.  I’d suggested O’Connor should be reassigned once Andrew Hammond returned to Binghamton, as there’s no question that Chris Driedger has outplayed him both seasons they’ve been together (.912 and .911 for the latter, .895 and .893 for the former).  This is O’Connor‘s first ever ECHL assignment, as until now it’s always been Driedger sent down.

harpur

I’ve been holding off discussing Ben Harpur because I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop–for his performance to slip and for him to regress to the mean.  For those who weren’t been able to watch Harpur last season, I can only emphasize just how awful he was (so clear to everyone that I didn’t feel the need to address it my season review).  I felt he would have been better served playing in the ECHL to round out his game.  As a prospect Harpur showed limited offensive abilities (the scouting consensus saw him topping out as a bottom-pairing, defensive defenseman), but from December 9th until now he’s put up impressive numbers: 25-1-17-18 (0.72).  To put that in perspective, he started the season 18-0-1-1 (0.05) and all of last season he was 47-2-4-6 (0.12).  His current pace is above his best junior year (0.54), so it’s not sustainable, but it is a sign both that the lightbulb has turned on for him and that he has more utility than I imagined.  How much of his performance is attributable to others is an open question, but for now I’ll eat a dose of humble pie because after last season I thought there was no hope for Harpur at this level.

prospects

It’s been awhile since my last prospect update, so here’s a look at how Sens prospects are doing (sorted by league and arranged by points-per-game):

CHL
Filip Chlapik (Charlottetown; 2-48/15) 43-29-49-78 (1.81)
Remains first on his team in scoring and is also first (in PPG) in the entire QMJHL (having moved ahead of Nico Hischier)
Logan Brown (Windsor; 1-11/16) 26-12-21-33 (1.26)
Fifth on his team in scoring, but second in PPG (17th in the OHL in that respect, but dropping)
Thomas Chabot (Saint John; 1-18/15) 23-6-22-28 (1.21)
Second in points for a blueliner, but first in PPG (2nd in the Q in that respect, still behind Samuel Girard)
Filip Ahl (Regina; 4-109/15) 43-24-17-41 (0.95)
Remains eighth in points and seventh in PPG on the high flying Pats
Cody Donaghey (Charlottetown/Sherbrooke; T-16) 49-11-27-38 (0.77)
First in points and PPG among defensemen (11th overall in the Q); finally producing on his new team
Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current; 5-133/16) 54-7-26-33 (0.61)
Remains second in points and PPG among blueliners (24th overall in the WHL)

NCAA
Colin White (Boston; 1-21/15, sophomore) 27-14-12-26 (0.96)
He’s neck and neck with Ryan Fitzgerald for the PPG lead
Robert Baillargeon (Arizona; 5-136/12, senior) 28-9-12-21 (0.75)
Ahead of Anthony Croston for the PPG lead
Christian Wolanin (North Dakota; 4-107/15, sophomore) 26-3-12-15 (0.57)
Second on the team among defensemen (still behind Tucker Poolman)
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack; 6-161/13, senior) 20-4-6-10 (0.50)
Now tied for fourth on his punchless team in PPG; well behind the top two scorers
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire; 4-100/14, junior) 24-4-7-11 (0.45)
Eighth on the team in points and PPG
Kelly Summers (Clarkson; 7-189/14, junior) 30-1-10-11 (0.36)
Slipped to third on the team among blueliners in PPG
Miles Gendron (Connecticut; 3-70/14, sophomore) 30-3-7-10 (0.33)
Fell to second in both categories among defensemen
Todd Burgess (RPI; 4-103/16, freshman) (injured)
Joel Daccord (Arizona; 7-199/15, freshman) 3-8-1 4.03 .892
Improved to second in both GAA and save percentage

Europe
Jonathan Dahlen (Timra; 2-42/16) 39-20-15-35 (0.89)
Remains second on the team in PPG (behind Elias Pettersson); it’s important to remember Timra is currently in the Allsvenskan (the Swedish second division)
Christian Jaros (Lulea; 5-139/15) 33-4-8-12 (0.36)
Slipped to third on the team in PPG among blueliners, bur remains second among defensemen 21 and under (well behind Sebastian Aho); Lulea is a low-scoring team
Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr/TPS/TUTO; 6-163/16) 8-1-0-1 (0.12)
The numbers are for his time in the Mestis (the Finnish second division); he’s the only teenage forward on the team and playing limited minutes
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping; 3-78/13) 16-12-0 1.88 .932
He’s fourth in the league in save percentage and well ahead of his partner in both categories; remains second to Linus Soderstrom among those in his age group

medium

I hadn’t seen Andrew post much on WTYKY in quite some time but knew he must still be writing his long, thoughtful pieces somewhere.  I stumbled across them the other day and you can find them here.  I’ve always liked Andrew’s work and recommend you check it out (not everything there is hockey related, keep in mind).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Nichols goes through Pierre Dorion’s latest chat and I have a few comments:

Quality depth is always a good thing and judging by the Guy Boucher’s lineup decisions and the staff electing to dress seven defenceman instead of one of Chris Neil or Curtis Lazar, it seems like the coaching staff has finally recognized how much of a drag those two are to their linemates.

It’s funny to see an echo of Kurt Kleinendorst here, with Boucher consigning fourth-line management favourites to the pressbox.

I’m not the biggest Mark Borowiecki fan, but (I’ll hold a door for him) and he’s actually had a decent year playing alongside Chris Wideman. It probably speaks to the strength of Wideman’s season more than anything, but credit where credit is due: they haven’t been awful. Obviously I’d still love to see the organization punt their second pairing and find an upgrade on Boro, but I’ll probably have to settle for the Senators finding player who can improve their fourth line and keep Fredrik Claesson on the bench.

Wideman is a lot like Dzingel in the sense of most fans expectations before they saw a large sample size of his play at the NHL-level.  Once again, a smaller, skilled player rewards the team more than the prototypical “good in the corners” guy.  I think the interesting question is: does the organisation understand what they have?  History would say no, but one can always hope.

Binghamton’s been so excruciatingly horrendous as a team, it’s got to be hard to distinguish how bad Driedger and O’Connor have been. Both pseudo-prospects are impending RFAs, so there’s no guarantee that the organization will offer one or both players qualifying offers, so maybe this is just Pierre Dorion putting both players on notice and giving them a proverbial boot in the ass to get their games going.

It’s more accurate to say Binghamton had a horrendous start to the season–so horrendous there’s no climbing out of the hole they dug (5-14-2).  Since then they’ve gone 15-11-1, which isn’t a world-beating pace (.574), but is at least adequate (particularly given the talent there).  I’m fond of Driedger, and he’s young enough (22) that I don’t think we know if he has NHL-chops yet or not.  O’Connor, I think, seems to be at his plateau.

Dorion: I think he’s [Lazar] someone that is putting a bit too much pressure on himself, but I still have a lot of faith in what Curtis can do. Maybe Curtis won’t be a first line (laughs) player like we thought he might have been when we drafted him

I put this quote here because I think it’s funny how many excuses management has for pluggers when there’s no patience for skilled players who struggle.  Thankfully it seems like Boucher doesn’t share the same irrational attachment.

Condon and Pyatt are two players I wouldn’t overexert myself trying to extend

I wouldn’t either.  The NHL is awash in players like them, but as Nichols points out, the Sens tend to extend such players.  Speaking of depth players, what’s happened to Erik Condra in Tampa?

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Since my last update the BSens have gone 6-7-0 (20-25-3 for the season), bringing their hot streak back down to normalcy (.461).  The powerplay has gone cold, operating at an underwhelming 11.3% (6-53; a percentage that would sit at 29th in the league), but the PK has been much healthier at 86.8% (33-38; tops in the league by percentage).  Players are organised by points-per-game (PPP=power play point):

Akeson 13-5-8-13 1.00 (4 PPP)
Varone 13-5-7-12 0.92 (2 PPP)
McCormick
13-5-3-8 0.61 (2 PPP)
Bailey 10-3-3-6 0.60 (2 PPP)
Harpur 13-0-7-7 0.53 (PPP)
Nehring 13-3-3-6 0.46 (PPP)
Rodewald 13-3-3-6 0.46 (2 PPP)
Rumble 13-1-5-6 0.46 (2 PPP)
Flanagan 13-3-2-5 0.38 (PPP)
Paul 13-2-3-5 0.38
Perron 13-1-2-3 0.23 (PPP)
Blunden 9-2-0-2 0.22
Gagne 9-0-2-2 0.22
Hagel 5-0-1-1 0.20 (acquired from Iowa)
Krushelnyski 12-1-1-2 0.16
Kostka 13-0-2-2 0.15
Englund 13-1-0-1 0.07
Carlisle 13-0-1-1 0.07
Sieloff 11-0-0-0
Lepine 8-0-0-0
Robinson 4-0-0-0 (traded)

Driedger 2-5-0 3.24 .909
O’Connor 4-2-0 3.45 .884
Greenham 0-0-0 6.66 .875

The 7-D rotation has gone out of vogue of late (the experiment lasted about a month, from late December to late January, changing with the acquisition of Hagel).  In terms of performances after the hot streak, a number of players have gone cold: Sieloff‘s unexpected production has stopped, but more surprisingly Carlisle has also gone cold (due, in part, to his partners; only Rumble and Harpur continues to add offense from the blueline); RodewaldPaul, and Flanagan have come back to earth, while BlundenPerron, and the other depth forwards continue to add very little.  On the positive side Akeson and Varone convincingly lead the anemic offense.  Driedger remains the best choice between the pipes, albeit his numbers have dropped more considerably than O’Connor‘s.

I’m not sure how much the arrival of Andrew Hammond in Binghamton actually helps–his AHL numbers have been underwhelming (by season: .910, .898, .864, .907).  It will also be interesting who he pushes out of the rotation (assuming Kleinendorst doesn’t go with all three)–it should be O’Connor.

wichita-thunder-logo

It’s been awhile since my last Wichita update (other than some roster moves).  The Thunder have been on a downward spiral, going 2-10-1 (15-26-4 for the season), putting them ahead of only two other teams in the entire ECHL and well below where Evansville was last year (any playoff aspirations are long gone).  It’s bad enough that I think it’s worth going through the roster (organised by points-per-game; rookies are in italics, players with Binghamton contracts are noted in green, players no longer on the roster are in red):

Jack Rodewald 6-5-3-8 1.33 (in Binghamton)
Alex Krushelnyski 6-2-5-7 1.16 (in Binghamton)
Zach O’Brien 16-6-11-17 1.06 (acquired from a German division-2 team)
Chris Rumble (D) 3-2-1-3 1.00 (in Binghamton)
Alexis Loiseau 30-16-13-29 0.96 (left for a German division-2 team)
Ryan Rupert 19-6-10-16 0.84
Vincent Arseneau 24-12-7-19 0.79
Jamie Doornbosch (D) 27-8-12-20 0.74
Matt DeBlouw 39-11-17-28 0.71
Louick Marcotte 38-9-14-23 0.60
Gabriel Gagne 15-5-4-9 0.60 (in Binghamton)
Nathan Moon 19-4-5-9 0.47 (traded to Toledo)
David Friedmann 44-10-10-20 (17-3-4-7) 0.45 (acquired from Fort Wayne)
Nick Trecapelli (D) 24-3-8-11 0.45 (traded to Atlanta)
Logan Nelson 18-2-6-8 0.44 (traded to Rapid City)
Macoy Erkamps (D) 38-2-14-16 0.42
Mitch Holmberg 17-3-4-7 0.41 (traded to Colorado)
Ian Lowe 37-5-10-15 0.40
Gerrad Grant 40-5-9-14 0.35
Jake Bolton (D) 31-1-10-11 (6-0-1-1) 0.35 (acquired from Atlanta)
Blake Tatchell 35-5-7-12 0.34
Landon Oslanski (D) 43-2-12-14 0.32
Ryan Tesink 41-2-11-13 0.31
Daultan Leveille 10-0-3-3 0.30 (traded to Brampton)
James Melindy (D) 44-2-10-12 0.27
Brandon Carlson (D) 18-2-3-5 0.27 (acquired from Indy)
Vincent Dunn 30-2-6-8 0.26
Alexis Vanier (D) 40-3-6-9 0.22
Martin Nemcik (D) 17-1-2-3 0.17 (traded to Utah)

Scott Greenham 8-7-2 3.30 .911
Drew Owsley 5-13-1 3.52 .898
Kent Patterson 6-6-2 4.24 .879 (acquired from Wheeling, then released)
Chris Driedger 0-2-0 4.51 .877 (in Binghamton)
Peter Di Salvo 0-2-0 6.08 .838 (loaned via the SPHL)

None of the goaltenders have done particularly well for the Thunder, but rookie Owsley has struggled the most and, with Greenham recalled to Binghamton for significant chunks of the season (the latter remains in the upper half of ECHL goalies in terms of save percentage–the last time Wichita was .500 was in December, sliding when Greenham was recalled), there’s been no real alternative.  The defensecorps has been a major problem, with Melindy and Doornbosch having particular defensive struggles.  The team also struggles to score (third last in the league) and the Sens have done little to alleviate the situation–players sent down (with the exception of Rupert) haven’t produced, suggestions made to management have failed (Moon, Leveille), and the most successful players are in Binghamton (Rodewald most particularly).  This is an instance where the AHL-franchise is benefiting from its ECHL-affiliate without providing much in return.

In terms of development for the Sens there’s nothing to get excited about; Dunn has completely bottomed out and is well behind last year’s scoring pace (0.26 vs 0.49); Macoy has been adequate, but you’d expect much better numbers at this level (as a point of comparison, Troy Rutkowski, another WHL-free agent signing, had worse numbers his rookie season, but Macoy is nowhere near Craig Schira who was able to play at the AHL-level to start).

freeagent

There’s a new name to add to CHL success stories, as defenseman Nick Holden is approaching 300 games in the NHL.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

chris-kelly

Worsteverything writes at length about the Sens fourth line, but I’m only interested in one thing he said:

I couldn’t help but find it odd that the whole reason Dorion brought in Chris Kelly was to provide “much needed veteran stability to the 4th line”. When I initially heard the news I thought, “Yeah that make sense”

I remain mystified (as I was at the time) why so many Sens bloggers embraced the move to bring back Kelly.  He’s been exactly as disappointing as I expected.  I suppose most people are more nostalgic than I am.

Gnomes_plan

There’s a great quote from Ryan Lambert amidst a great piece talking about the Sens:

At the absolute most, you’d have to say they’re a largely untalented but moderately well-coached team that is mediocre or a little worse.

Exactly.  This is why all the short-term thinking is counterproductive, but Melnyk’s desperation for playoff cash makes it difficult for any GM to let reality sink in.  These comments apparently irritated the fan base, but Nichols calmly breaks it down for those who were rustled by the piece.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

Former BSen Patrick Mullen attempted to return to the team from the KHL, but was claimed off of waivers by the Amerks.  This move would have made a lot of sense if it had gone through.  The BSens followed it up with an odd trade, sending future considerations to acquire Iowa Wild to acquire forward Marc Hagel (it seems Hagel asked for a trade).  The 28-year old, undrafted NCAA winger has spent four seasons with Iowa (including this one) and is on a declining arc (PPG in brackets):
2013-14 46-8-7-15 (0.32)
2014-15 67-12-21-33 (0.49)
2015-16 53-4-15-19 (0.35)
2016-17 26-2-5-7 (0.26)
He’s been playing fourth-line minutes on the punchless Wild, which is likely where he’ll slot on the BSens.  Either Kleinendorst will go back to dressing six defensemen or else scratch someone like Alex Krushelnyski to fit him into the lineup.  Either way, Kleinendorst is familiar with Hagel, having coached him for parts of his first two professional seasons.

In other news the Albany Devils will move to Binghamton to replace the Senators next season.

Joel Vanderlaan writes a splash piece about the move from Binghamton to Belleville, but as sources includes a broken link, an indirect link, and no link at all–things easily fixed.  It doesn’t appear as though there’s any new information here, as the majority of the substance comes from an old Intelligencer article (March 24, 2015) that explored the loss of the OHL Bulls (cf my original story about it).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Re-signing Zack Smith comes as no surprise–he got a four-year deal for no reason back in 2011 after all–the thinking is very short-term and out of sync with the normal performance arc for NHL players (Travis Yost broke down this trend back in 2015):

scoring-and-shots

Smith has more wear-and-tear on his body than your average NHLer, so when he hits that wall the precipice will be deep.  It’s also painfully obvious that Smith needs better players around him to perform–when removed from talented linemates (like Mark Stone) he regresses to a mediocre-to-bad depth player.

The acquisition of Tommy Wingels (for the AHL-side of things see below) is about as significant as finding a nickel on the street–it’s an extra five cents you can do something with, but how much can you really do with five cents?  Ross A provides non-analytical thoughts about the move, but even when someone (Nichols? [and here he is]) goes through the numbers Wingels is nothing to run a temperature over–just a salary and roster spot the Sharks wanted to clear (as Fear the Finn makes clear).

Binghamton_Senators_svg

My prayers have been answered as the biggest piece of dead weight in Binghamton has been jettisoned.  I have to believe that Kleinendorst played a role in the trade that moved Buddy RobinsonZack Stortini, and a 7th round pick to San Jose.  Stortini hadn’t played since December 26th (scratched for 9-straight games and missing 16 of the last 18), having no place in the lineup.  Robinson is a solid enough player, but the long hoped-for jump in his production never took place (here are his by-season points-per-game):
2013-14 0.44
2014-15 0.45
2015-16 0.37
2016-17 0.36
Certainly the Sens (and more particularly, the BSens) aren’t losing much here (although I hate the org throwing in picks with every deal).  Bingo clears out space (if they want to use it) to add a veteran contract to the AHL-roster.  Just a final Stortini note, here’s the team’s with-or-without you wins/losses this year (with winning percentage):
Stortini dresses: 5-14-3 (0.29)
Stortini scratched: 13-5-0 (0.72)

prospects

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last update, so here’s a look at how various Sens prospects are doing (players are organised by points-per-game, PPG):

CHL
Filip Chlapik (Charlottetown; 2-48/15) 34-24-31-55 (1.61)
He’s second in the league in PPG (behind Swiss-import and draft-eligible Nico Hischier); he’s far ahead of any of his teammates in production
Logan Brown (Windsor; 1-11/16) 25-12-21-33 (1.32)
Tenth in the league in PPG (very much in a second tier of players behind the top-five); he’s slightly ahead of teammate Gabriel Vilardi in production
Tomas Chabot
(Saint John; 1-18/15) 18-5-18-23 (1.27)
Tied for 19th in the league in PPG (2nd for defensemen behind Nashville pick Samuel Girard), but his sample size is a small so that’s worth keeping in mind
Filip Ahl (Regina; 4-109/15) 34-21-16-37 (1.08)
He’s 47th in WHL scoring in PPG and 7th on his own team; Sens likely expected more, although the numbers aren’t disastrous
Cody Donaghey (Charlottetown/Sherbrooke; T-16) 43-10-25-35 (0.81)
Has no points for his new team after having refused a move to Val-d’Or
Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current; 5-133/16) 47-7-24-31 (0.65)
Tied for 22nd among blueliners in PPG and 2nd on his team just behind draft-eligible Artyom Minulin

NCAA
Colin White (Boston; 1-21/15, sophomore) 22-11-8-19 (0.86)
He’s just ahead of Boston pick Ryan Fitzgerald and Matt Gaudreau for PPG on his team
Robert Baillargeon (Arizona; 5-136/12, senior) 26-9-11-20 (0.76)
Leads his terrible team in production; not sure he’s done enough to earn an ELC
Christian Wolanin (North Dakota; 4-107/15, sophomore) 22-3-11-14 (0.63)
Second on his team in blueline production behind Jet pick Tucker Poolman
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack; 6-161/13, senior) 15-4-3-7 (0.46)
Middling numbers on a low-scoring team
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire; 4-100/14, junior) 24-4-7-11 (0.45)
Middling numbers and a million miles behind 5’6 leading scorer Tyler Kelleher
Kelly Summers (Clarkson; 7-189/14, junior) 25-1-10-11 (0.44)
Just behind Detroit pick James De Haas for blueline scoring
Miles Gendron
(Connecticut; 3-70/14, sophomore) 25-3-7-10 (0.40)
Leads the team in scoring from the blueline
Todd Burgess (RPI; 4-103/16, freshman)
Has not played this year due to injury
Joel Daccord (Arizona; 7-199/15, freshman) 2-7-0 4.62 .864
Continues to have the worst save precentage of the three goaltenders playing for Arizona, but his GAA moved to second

Europe
Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr/TPS/TUTO) 21-10-11-21 (1.00)
Has not dressed for TUTO (in the Mestis, the Finnish second division) after having been loaned there from TPS
Jonathan Dahlen (Timra; 2-42/16) 32-16-10-26 (0.81)
Second in points and PPG on his team (behind draft-eligible Elias Pettersson) and 14th in the league (the Allsvenskan); he’s second in the league for players 19 and under (again behind Pettersson)
Christian Jaros (Lulea; 5-139/15) 29-4-8-12 (0.41)
In a three-way tie for the lead in blueliner scoring on his low-scoring team; tied for 17th in overall blueline scoring, but second among those 20 and under (behind undrafted Sebastian Aho)
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping; 3-78/13) 12-11-0 2.08 .926
Continues to have better numbers than his goaltending partner (Jacob Johansson); he’s fifth in the league in save percentage, but second among those 22 and under (behind Islander pick Linus Soderstrom)

journalism

I don’t want to pick on Callum Fraser specifically, but his piece on Fredrik Claesson is a useful and recent example of something rampant in sports coverage that bothers me.  For those unfamiliar with the particular post it’s Claesson giving a bunch of generic answers to generic questions with no bulwark of data or analysis to go with it.  Other than human-interest I have no idea what value something like this is supposed to have–its ilk fills the sports coverage from the Ottawa Sun and Ottawa Citizen and it’s quite superfluous.  For an interview like this to function you have to pair a player’s comments with some sort of argument–perhaps he’s struggling (which you have to establish), and the conversation is geared towards that, or perhaps he’s having a great season (which, again, you have to establish) and you’re comparing his sense of it to what the numbers tell you.  There are plenty of ways to make an interview relevant, but it’s not happening here or in 99% of similar pieces.  It’s the kind of thing bloggers in particular should steer clear of because it overlaps what the regular media already provides in earnest.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

curtis lazar

Nichols writes with understandable incredulity that Curtis Lazar has some apparent trade value despite any appearance of NHL-usefulness.  There are GMs out there for whom “good in the corners” or “good in the room” is valuable.  How much value?  I’d guess not much–an underperforming prospect or a late 2nd/early 3rd round pick.  The Sens historically either overvalue or undervalue their prospects however (we all remember when Mike Hoffman was put on waivers), so I can imagine them holding on to Lazar long enough that they get even less for him.

New Jersey Devils v Ottawa Senators

It’s sad to say but I was not surprised when I heard the Sens were shutting down Clarke MacArthur for the season.  Nichols writes a piece largely focused on where the Sens go from here without him, but I wish he’d delved more into his salient Tweet from a few days earlier:

Feel terrible for MacArthur, but wish Dorion never guaranteed publicly that MacArthur would play this season.

This isn’t the only instance of the org making irresponsible promises, but certainly one of the most obvious.

6sp-erc neu #RLL

The good vibes have continued in BSens land as they continue to thrive in a Stortini-free lineup.  The team is 3-1-0 since my last update, despite an anemic powerplay and getting badly outshot (warning signs that things could change quite quickly).  Scoring remains reasonably high (12 goals) and goaltending has been strong.  Kleinendorst’s willingness to scratch players management is fond of has been a huge boon.

STATS

Hockey Graphs looked at data and determined that expected primary points are a better predictor of future scoring than shots or total points.   The piece adds:

incorporating passing metrics into player evaluation continues to outperform existing public metrics that attempt to predict point production. This remains logical and a missing piece in player evaluation across the league. There is still significant value to be add [added] in the trade and free agent market by exploiting uninformed teams that fail to properly evaluate their players. At the player level, passing needs to be accounted for. 

journalism

When researching for my article a couple of posts back I was looking at newspaper circulation numbers and thought I’d share the relevant ones for this area (you can read the data yourself here; I’m looking at weekly circulation and I’ve included who owned the paper):
The Globe and Mail
2008 1,996,582 Bell Globemedia
2015 2,149,124 Woodbridge (+7.64%)
National Post
2008 1,182,206 CanWest
2015 1,097,080 Postmedia (-7.2%)
Ottawa Citizen
2008 900,197 CanWest
2015 626,272 Postmedia (-30.42%)
Metro Ottawa
2008 300,000 Metro International
2015 238,651 Torstar (-20.44%)
Ottawa Sun
2008 274,628 Quebecor
2015 266,777 Postmedia (-2.85%)
Pembroke Daily Observer
2008 32,429 Quebecor
2015 16,655 Postmedia (-48.64%)

Everything Postmedia here shows a downward trend of some sort, with a precipitous drop for The Ottawa Citizen (yet still dominating the Sun for readership).  Not surprisingly, the company has issues (although in the bizarre way the corporate world works the company was given an award for increasing it’s advertising despite attributing much of its losses to a loss in advertising).

wichita-thunder-logo

Roster moves continue for Wichita (quite normal for an ECHL franchise); they picked up Zach O’Brien from the German second division (not the same team leading scorer Alexis Loiseau signed with); they traded another Sens org favourite (Nick Trecapelli) in return for Jake Bolton from Atlanta.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

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Travis Yost asks the question: are the Sens better under Guy Boucher?  He looks primarily at the defence corps where the trends are negative, pointing to reductions in Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot‘s performances and illustrating the well-understood failings of Cody Ceci and Dion Phaneuf.  He concludes:

At the end of the day, I think you have to ask at the midway point whether or not this team is any better under Boucher. They certainly appear like a different team. But, when you start adding everything up, it’s as if Ottawa has just sacrificed offence at the altar of better defence. And that better defence part? It’s still up for debate.

The above prompted Nichols to comb through additional data and the only tangible improvement is on the PK, but he’s not sure that’s actually a system improvement or simply due to factors that will change over time.

Both sets of analysis point back to what I found looking at the impact of coaching about a year ago, where it’s extremely difficult to separate out the effect of coaching versus the quality of the roster itself.  Good teams thrive despite poor coaching (Tortorella?), while bad teams will struggle with good coaching.

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There was some Twitter hubbub over Don Brennan a few days back and while I think Brennan is of no importance he’s an excuse to talk about the state of the media in reference to sports (I haven’t discussed Brennan’s opinions since 2015 and not his hockey opinions since March of 2014–his stupidity can be entertaining, but there’s no point in addressing his opinions).

For those who don’t know: Postmedia has owned the former Sun properties since 2014.  The company is run by the conservative Paul Godfrey, who also ran Sun Media from 1991-2000 (under MacLean-Hunter, Rogers Communication, it’s own authority, Quebcor, and briefly Metroland Media Group (the Toronto Star)).  The company owns many papers, so I’ll only list those that may have some bearing on Senators media coverage:
The National Post (former national paper founded in 1998 by ex-con and uber conservative Conrad Black; acquired via CanWest’s bankruptcy in 2010)
Ottawa Citizen (acquired via CanWest as above)
Ottawa Sun (acquired with the Sun Media chain in 2014)
Kingston Whig-Standard (as above; part of the Osprey Media block of papers)
Kingston This Week (as above)
Belleville Intelligencer (as above)
Pembroke Daily Observer (as above)

It’s fascinating to go through the various ownership changes of the different papers, but generally it’s a matter of increasingly shrinking staff and circulation.  More to the point, Postmedia controls all the papers that provide the majority of Sens coverage, meaning staff writers like Brennan can have their opinions appear in any of them.

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Wichita’s leading scorer Alexis Loiselle has left the team for the DEL’s (Germany) second division.  How the paper thin Thunder will compensate for the loss is difficult to say.  With starting goaltender Scott Greenham currently in Binghamton they’ve signed Kent Patterson from the ECHL scrapheap to serve as rookie Drew Owsley‘s backup.  In other roster moves, Sens org favourite Nathan Moon was jettisoned to Toledo for no apparent return (perhaps cash or future considerations).  The team is 2-2-2 since my last update (13-16-3 for the season).

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I thought I’d take a look at the most successful undrafted FA signings from last year (in terms of their performance thus far).  It’s a small sample size, but interesting nonetheless:
Nikita Zaitsev (D) (Tor) 41-1-15-16
Lured out of the KHL (CSKA Moscow) he’s third on his team in blueline scoring
Troy Stecher (D) (Van) 36-1-12-13
Top-scoring blueliner; undersized (5’10) blueliner signed after his junior season at North Dakota; he fits the bill of a classic undrafted success story from college by being a smaller player
Tim Heed (D) (SJ) AHL 29-9-23-32
Another undersized defenseman (5’11), the Sharks signed him after two excellent seasons with Skelleftea; he’s second in the league for points by a blueliner (fourth in points-per-game)
Kalle Kossila (W/C) (Ana) AHL 31-7-18-25
Undersized (5’11) forward was signed after his final year with St. Cloud State; he’s third on the team in scoring, tied for 8th in rookie scoring (t-12th in points-per-game)
David Rittich (G) (Cal) AHL 7-5-1 2.04 .929
Signed after a strong season with Mlada Boleslav in the Czech league, the big goaltender is inexplicably playing behind Jon Gillies despite superior numbers; he’s well ahead of all rookie numbers (I’m excluding Ken Appleby, whose numbers are close–he’s technically a rookie, but played a full season in the ECHL last year)

Former Sens draft pick Marcus Sorensen is having a decent AHL-season with San Jose (32-11-8-19); always projected as an energy-player it’s difficult to say just from the numbers whether the Sharks will hang on to him or if he’ll go back to Sweden.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Analyzing Binghamton’s Improved Play

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I wanted to explore Binghamton’s improved record over the last month to point out specifically what’s changed for the team.  Before we get into details it’s important to note that these changes have simply moved the BSens from awful to average and that it’s unreasonable to expect the hot streak to continue.

Since December 7th (a period that includes 14 games) the BSens are 9-4-1.  To spell out how much better they’ve been, they were only 5-14-2 beforehand, so this is an enormous change (from a 0.285 winning percentage to 0.678).  Why has this happened?  Combing through the numbers and performances there’s only one consistent element that starts at that time: no Zack Stortini.  Binghamton has not won a game with the useless pugilist in the lineup since November 19th–he’s currently on an eight-game losing streak.  He, of course, isn’t the only reason.

Other factors: Jason Akeson rounding into form (after being held pointless his first three games; the aforementioned streak begins with his first assist); sticking with the hot hand in net; an improved powerplay (9-50, 18%); no Ryan Rupert (he hasn’t played for Binghamton since December 3rd); and finally, more scoring (43 goals, so roughly 3 per game).  The goals aren’t attached to lopsided shot advantage (the team is 6-8 in terms of shooting more during the streak), hot goaltending (combined the two goalies are only .900 or better in half the games), or a good penalty kill (34-45, 75%).  Recently (the last five games) Kleinendorst has been using seven defenseman, something that seems to help an otherwise weak blueline (the only blueliners who have played all 14 games are Chris Rumble and Chris Carlisle).  Here are the player numbers during the streak (powerplay points noted as well):

Akeson 14-2-10-12 (3 PPP)
McCormick 14-5-5-10
Rumble 14-3-7-10 (5 PPP)
Rodewald 14-7-2-9 (5 PPP)
Paul 14-3-6-9 (2 PPP)
Varone 11-2-5-7 (3 PPP)
Harpur 11-1-6-7 (PPP)
Flanagan 8-3-3-6 (PPP)
Sieloff 11-1-5-6
Nehring 14-0-6-6
Bailey 9-4-1-5 (2 PPP)
Robinson 11-4-1-5
Carlisle 14-1-4-5 (PPP)
Perron 11-1-3-4
Kostka 11-1-3-4 (3 PPP)
Blunden 13-1-3-4
Krushelnyski 11-1-1-2
Lepine 13-1-1-2
Erkamps 4-0-1-1 (PPP)
Doornbosch 1-0-0-0
Stortini 2-0-0-0
Loiselle 3-0-0-0
Englund 10-0-0-0
Gagne 13-0-0-0

Driedger 4-2-1 GAA 2.41 S% .932
O’Connor 5-2-0 GAA 2.72 S% .898
Greenham 0-0-0 GAA 7.50 S% .750

I’m surprised by Harpur‘s offensive totals over the streak; this is the most productive Paul has been since Tobias Lindberg was traded away last year; and McCormick! These are the kinds of totals he should be getting at this stage of his AHL career.  On the down side you expect much more from Blunden (he averaged 0.77 points per game last year); Kostka‘s 5-on-5 production is negligible (1 point); you want more from a FA signing like Nehring; and rookies like Englund and Gagne haven’t hit the scoresheet at all.  Clearly the team doesn’t miss Curtis Lazar (it’s also worth noting that Fredrik Claesson has been out of the lineup due to injury).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)