Analyzing Binghamton’s Improved Play

Binghamton_Senators_svg

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)

Senators News & Notes

pierre dorion

Nichols looks at Pierre Dorion’s recent comments on prospects, but there’s not much to say about it.  Nichols is absolutely correct that Binghamton’s recent improved play isn’t a true sign of development or growth (albeit I find it interesting how defensive Dorion is about the team’s performance).  For those who don’t watch the BSens the primary difference the last month or so is better player usage (more starts for Chris Driedger, benching Zack Stortini, etc–of late Kleinendorst is getting much more value out of dressing seven defensemen instead of six).  Nichols is right that neither Nick Paul nor Francis Perron are anywhere near ready for the NHL and that most of the production on the BSens comes from veterans with no potential (the addition of KHL castaway Jason Akeson has helped a lot).  Nichols comments on where the Sens draft from (Sweden, US, etc) might have benefited from some extra reading, and I think his idea about Melnyk’s background influencing a lack of Russians as far-fetched (how would that jive with the Gonchar and Kovalev additions?), but on the whole the substance is fine.

dzingel

It’s been interesting reading all the praise this season for Ryan Dzingel, given all the doubt expressed in the off-season (as I point out in that link, I had no such qualms).  He’s yet another example that if you draft for skill the potential payoff is always better than what you get out of guys who are ‘good in the corners’.

prospects

Here’s a look at how various Sens prospects are doing (players are organised by points-per-game, PPG; I highlighted those who played in the WJC):

CHL
Filip Chlapik (Charlottetown; 2-48/15) 26-20-24-44 (1.69, 1st in scoring)
Played for the Czech’s in the WJC (5-2-1-3), tied with four others for 3rd in scoring; he’s 17th in scoring in the QMJHL, but 2nd in PPG
Tomas Chabot (Saint John; 1-18/15) 14-5-15-20 (1.42, 1st in blueline scoring)
Played for Canada in the WJC (7-4-6-10), tied for first in scoring and was named tournament MVP; he’s second among blueliners in PPG in the Q (admittedly it’s a small sample size)
Logan Brown (Windsor; 1-11/16) 21-8-21-29 (1.38, 3rd in scoring)
Roughly on par with 17-year old Gabriel Vilardi for production on the team, he’s among the top-15 in the OHL (PPG)
Filip Ahl (Regina; 4-109/15) 29-18-14-33 (1.13, tied for ninth in scoring)
Played for Sweden in the WJC (7-0-2-2), tied with three other players for 12th in scoring; as one of the older players on the Pats his numbers aren’t remarkable (he’s 6th in PPG)
Cody Donaghey (Charlottetown/Sherbrooke; T-16) 37-10-25-35 (0.94, 1st in blueline scoring)
He’s 4th in blueline scoring in the Q (8th in PPG); Sherbrooke is a bad team so his pace is likely to slow down
Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current; 5-133/16) 40-7-19-26 (0.65, 2nd in blueline scoring)
He’s top-20 in the WHL for blueline scoring (19th), although lower when it comes to PPG (23rd); he’s on a similar pace to his production when he was drafted

NCAA
Colin White (Boston; 1-21/15) 18-10-7-17 (0.94, sophomore; 3rd in team scoring)
Played for the US in the WJC (7-7-1-8), tied for 2nd in scoring; he’s essentially tied for first in team scoring in PPG with Matt Gaudreau (Johnny’s brother)
Robert Baillargeon (Arizona; 5-136/12) 22-9-9-18 (0.81, senior; 1st in team in scoring)
Playing for an atrocious Arizona team that’s not that interested in winning
Christian Wolanin (North Dakota; 4-107/15) 19-2-10-12 (0.63, sophomore; 2nd in blueline scoring)
A distant second to blueliner Tucker Poolman (Win) in scoring, it’s been a good season for him
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack; 6-161/13) 10-3-2-5 (0.50, senior; tied-9th in scoring)
Habitually praised by Sens management at rookie camps he’s in the midst of yet another unremarkable season; by PPG he’s third on the team in scoring, but it’s a small sample size
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire; 4-100/14) 20-3-6-9 (0.45, junior; 9th in scoring)
Essentially no improvement since his freshmen year
Miles Gendron
(Connecticut; 3-70/14) 21-3-6-9 (0.42, sophomore; 1st in blueline scoring)
Steady improvement over his freshmen year; leads a fairly limp blueline
Kelly Summers (Clarkson; 7-189/14) 21-1-8-9 (0.42, junior, 2nd in blueline scoring)
He’s actually third in PPG on the blueline, although top-scorer James De Haas (Det) isn’t far in front of him; he continues to show gradual improvement
Todd Burgess (RPI; 4-103/16) injured (freshman)
Expected to miss the entire season
Joel Daccord (Arizona; 7-199/15) 2-7-0 4.74 .863 (freshman; worst of three goaltenders)
The team is giving all three of its goaltenders a chance and he’s struggled the most (he is the youngest, however); clearly the team isn’t concerned with winning this year

Europe
Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr; 6-163/16) 21-10-11-21 (1.00, 1st in scoring)
TPS is in the midst of a rebuild and most of the key players on their roster are older players (with the exception of undrafted 22-year old Jasper Lindsten and 20-year old Patrik Virta); the 18-year old Nurmi is the youngest forward to suit up for the men’s team (3-0-0-0)–the next youngest being 19-year old Teemu Vayrynen (18-1-1-2); among his peers in Finnish junior he’s 10th in overall scoring (or tied with several for fourth in points-per-game), with a healthy lead over his junior teammates
Jonathan Dahlen
(Timra; 2-42/16) 27-12-9-21 (0.77, 2nd in scoring)
it’s important to note that he’s currently in the Allsvenskan, not the SHL (so Sweden’s second division); he played for Sweden at the WJC (7-5-1-6), finishing 5th in scoring; the 19-year old plays for a very young roster, currently behind future high draft pick Elias Pettersson (he’s also second among players 19 and under in the league), but otherwise well ahead younger players and those close to his age (18-year old Jesper Boqvsit is closest 17-3-8-11)
Christian Jaros (Lulea; 5-139/15) 26-3-5-8 (0.30, 3rd in blueline scoring)
His team doesn’t score much (Johan Harju leads the team with just 18 points) and he plays a ton for a 20-year old, so his numbers are solid if not overwhelming
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping; 3-78/13) 11-10-0 1.99 .928
Fifth in the league in save percentage; well ahead of his partner’s numbers (Jacob Johansson)

WJC performances aren’t great indicators of future performance (eg Louis Leblanc, Brandon McMillanLuke Adam, Josh Godfrey, etc), however, thus far every MVP has gone on to be a good to great NHLer (with the possible exception of Slovakian goaltender Denis Godla, albeit it’s far too soon to say), so that bodes well for Chabot.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

apathy

Nichols penned a post that, among other things, mentions the apparent apathy of the fanbase.  He rejects the idea that this is related to Daniel Alfredsson‘s departure (I completely agree), instead suggesting:

For many, it begins and ends with ownership. The sad reality for many is that they have waning confidence in Eugene Melnyk and his ability to deliver a winner. This goes beyond the simple focus on Ottawa’s player payroll.  A lot of fans refuse to accept the reality of Ottawa’s internal budget

He talks to a lot more fans than I do, so I’m sure some are unwilling to accept the team’s internal budget, but it’s not the only problem with the team.  While Melnyk’s use of the franchise to prop up his own business mistakes is annoying, that’s not at the core of what bothers me.

In Ottawa’s case, the call to win is intense because of the demands ownership places on management to reach the postseason. Thanks to one of Canada’s smallest season ticket bases and rumours about the owner’s liquidity problems, the belief is that short-term competitiveness and playoff gate revenues are put ahead of everything because Melnyk desperately needs this team to be profitable.

This is where ownership causes problems.  It’s easy for a fanbase to embrace a plucky, underdog franchise, but budget + win now is insanity.  Despite that, it’s still not what really bothers me about the organisation.  Nichols adds one final (and for him, surprising) point:

Fortunately, the performance of the team’s prospects — Jonathan Dahlen, Thomas Chabot, Colin White and Filip Chlapik and Filip Ahl — at the World Junior Championships has helped fuel some optimism for the future.

I’m shocked to read this, as it’s not long ago that Nichols was among the biggest complainers about “prospect porn.”  Has he changed, or does he really embrace these players?  I have to think it’s the latter, but I’m not sure what’s changed for him–I hope it’s not merely the presence of these players at the WJC, as neither those appearances or performances are meaningful predictors in terms of future success.

So what bothers me about the Sens?  Management.  My eventual disillusionment with Bryan Murray and subsequent realization that Pierre Dorion is just more of the same has me resigned to short-term decisions based on outdated modes of thinking.  The team’s assessment management has been horrible and their drafting record is simply average.  You cannot manage a budget team without both good drafting and development and that’s not happening here.  Whenever that changes I’ll be a lot more enthusiastic.

Nichols talk of apathy dovetails into something I was looking into recently.  I’ve had the impression for awhile that the Sens blogosphere is shrinking, so to test that idea I took a look at where it stands:
The Black Aces – shutdown in 2014 (even the archives are gone now); the oldest Sens blog, Jeremy Milks offered rough and tumble opinion back in the day
613WPG – deleted by journalist James Gordon after just a few posts last year; great content for the five seconds it existed
Sens Nation – hasn’t posted regular content since 2015, with extremely sporadic posts last year; opinion-based material
WTYKY – just two posts the last two months, with irregularity going back quite a ways; a smorgasbord of material depending on the content provider, but also opinion-based
Senshot – Joel Vanderlaan brought it back from the dead a couple of weeks ago, but there were four months of silence after Ian Smith departed; current content seems to be just be news summaries (nothing you can’t find elsewhere)
The 6th Sens – erratic of late, it’s the only consistent analytics-focused blog (with Travis Yost leaving Hockeybuzz for TSN there’s no other regular provider of said content)
Senschirp – daily content; mix of news summary and opinion
The Silver Seven – daily content; what it provides varies by contributor, but it’s mostly opinion (some analytics from Ary M)

This doesn’t include the daily posts on Hockeybuzz by Jared Crozier, but that’s not a Sens exclusive site so it doesn’t require the fanbase to support it (Crozier is opinion-based and doesn’t hold a candle next to his predecessor Yost).

For a Sens fan looking for content online there’s not much variety (most of the opinion pieces are entirely generic–backed up by little to no analysis).  BSens coverage continues to be almost non-existent (right now it’s Vanderlaan’s news blurbs along with Jeff Ulmer’s Black Aces-esque pieces on The Silver Seven).  Prospect coverage is almost completely dead, although Ary M just adopted performance breakdowns which I applaud (and hope continue).  If the org was selling hope (which is what a budget team should do) I’d imagine there would be a greater focus on prospects.

So to answer my own question: is there blogger shrinkage?  I can’t say from the above–the sample size is just too small.  Readership numbers would be more telling, but I don’t have access to them.  Certainly from my point of view the blogosphere isn’t as dynamic as it was a couple of years ago–nothing comes close to replacing the daily dose of Yost and Nichols reduced production means there’s very little substance to comb through.

prospects

Speaking of prospects Pierre Dorion said this:

The organization would never look at a Russian and not draft him because he’s Russian. Have to look at the individual.

I don’t believe this at all.  The Sens haven’t drafted a Russian out of Russia since 2005 (Muckler regime) and they haven’t drafted a Russian from anywhere else since 2007.  As the easiest for-instance of their attitude, Bryan Murray (and Pierre Dorion) gave up the chance to draft Vladimir Tarasenko in order to get David Rundblad in 2010–saying at the time that they had no interest in the Russian.  Dorion’s first draft showed no radical departure from Murray’s approach–yes, they picked their first Finn since 2005 (Nurmi), but I always thought that absence was purely a fluke rather than policy (the same thing applying to Czech, Slovak, etc players–it has been clear for a long time that the Sens only pay for serious scouting in Sweden when it comes to Europe).  Drafting Russian players often mean you have to pay more because of their KHL-option, and the Sens are cheap, so I think the purpose of Dorion’s comments is to pretend his options are open (the same reason, I believe, he was talking about being able to spend money last year).  While the Sens might sign established Russian NHLers as free agents, there is no chance this regime is going to draft one out of Russia (or even, I’d guess, the CHL).

tort-face

The NHL always coughs up some weird stories and this one reminds of me Patrick Roy’s miracle run with Colorado back in 2013-14.  Who would have thought someone as clueless as John Tortorella would be leading the oddly-built Columbus Blue Jackets to romp through the league?  I’ve looked at coaching before and the collective analysis over the years broadly concludes that 1) results are mostly due to the roster, but that 2) younger coaches, coaches with historical losing records, and Cup winners (other than Randy Carlyle) have positive impacts when brought in.

Analysis

Jonathan Willis writes an interesting article looking at where analytics stands in hockey at the moment, talking about its diversification and the rise of microstats.  An interesting specific he offers is this:

It’s long been a truism in conventional hockey thought that handedness matters—think of P.K. Subban’s difficulties making Team Canada—but it had long been underexplored on the analytics side. Domenic Galamini’s work, published in March, helped change all that. Galamini found that defence pairings in which a player played on his off-side (i.e. a left-shooting defenceman playing on the right side of the ice) suffered a massive disadvantage compared to tandems with two players on their strong sides.

He also mentioned something I missed including here from a few years ago:

Others have pushed further. It’s long been known that shooting from the off-wing increases the chance of scoring (any doubt was erased by a Matt Cane paper in 2014). Yet there’s more to it than that. Tyler Dellow, most recently a consultant for the Edmonton Oilers, has helped drive forward the conversation about how left-shot/right-shot combinations work on power plays, seeing what kind of groupings best drive goals for.

It’s a great summary and I highly suggest reading the entire piece.

wichita-thunder-logo

Wichita jettisoned Daultan Leveille to Brampton, who accomplished nothing after they acquired him from Elmira (10-0-3-3).  Whatever voice in the Sens org that encouraged the move can’t have made Thunder GM Joel Lomurno very happy.

As for the team itself, the bottom has dropped out and they’ve gone 2-9-0 since my last update (11-16-1 on the season).  Sens org favourites Leveille and Nathan Moon have not helped (the team also acquired former Anaheim draft pick Brett Perlini for a couple of games before moving him along).  Here’s a look at top-scorers as well as all Sens/BSens property (arranged by points-per-game, PPG):

Alexis Loiselle 25-14-10-24 (0.96 PPG)
Vincent Arseneau 13-6-4-10 (0.76)
Gabriel Gagne 15-5-4-9 (0.60)
Nathan Moon 16-4-5-9 (0.56)
Louick Marcotte 27-6-9-15 (0.55)
Matt DeBlouw 23-3-8-11 (0.47)
Nick Trecapelli (D) 24-3-8-11 (0.45)
Gerrad Grant 23-3-7-10 (0.43)
James Melindy (D) 28-2-9-11 (0.39)
Macoy Erkamps (D) 21-0-8-8 (0.38)
Landon Oslanski (D) 27-2-8-10 (0.37)
Vincent Dunn 19-1-3-4 (0.21)

Scott Greenham 8-4-0 2.95 .925
Drew Owsley 3-8-0 3.27 .904

No surprises as yet, although certainly the Sens must have hoped for more from Erkamps (Dunn remains a lost cause–it’s amazing to think Randy Lee praised him this summer).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Binghamton Senators: Number Crunching

At the end of last season I did a “with-or-without” list for players versus team-performance and I was curious where things stood with that stat this year.  For those unfamiliar with the idea, what you’re looking for is significant impact of a player being in (or out) of the lineup in terms of wins and losses.  The more games played the more a player’s numbers will regress to the mean.  For the numbers below I excluded those with minimal games played (so Erkamps, GrantDunn, Loiselle, and Doornbosch).  Before the individual stats we can compare this year’s team to last years (for the latter go here, with green representing improvement, red decline):

2015/2016
7-17-2 (0.30), 29th in the league/10-17-3 (0.38), 30th in the league
Goals For: 2.73/2.33 (-0.40)
Goals Against: 3.61/3.33 (+0.28)
PP: 14.6 (13 goals)/11.7 (13 goals) (-2.9%, goals even)
PK: 79.2 (25 against)/78.8 (21 against) (-0.4%, -4 goals)
Win/loss when scoring a PPG: 4-5-1/5-4-2 (slight improvement)
Win/loss when surrendering a PPG: 3-13-1/7-11-1 (improved)

So what has the Kurt Kleinendorst accomplished?  He’s played four more games than at the same point last year and arrives with a slightly better winning percentage.  Offensively the team continues a decline whose trend goes back a few seasons, but defensively there’s been marginal improvement.  On special teams the offensive decline is present and the PK isn’t any better, although the impact of special teams on results is heading in the right direction.  It’s not included above, but Binghamton gives up far fewer penalties than under Luke Richardson’s limp regime.  I’m inclined to put most of the blame on the teams struggles on management–this is their assembly of talent–but Kleinendorst doesn’t get off scot-free.  I’ll delve more into where I think he deserves blame below.

Winning Percentage Individual Numbers (the team is 0.38)
Gabriel Gagne 0.55
Jason Akeson 0.45
Chad Nehring 0.44
Nick Paul 0.42
Chris Carlisle 0.41
Ben Harpur 0.41
Patrick Sieloff 0.40
Alex Krushelnyski 0.40
Fredrik Claesson 0.40
Mike Blunden 0.39
TEAM 0.38
Francis Perron 0.38
Casey Bailey 0.38
Jack Rodewald 0.38
Kyle Flanagan 0.37
Buddy Robinson 0.37
Gulliaume Lepine 0.36
Chris Rumble 0.35
Andreas Englund 0.34
Curtis Lazar 0.34
Mike Kostka 0.33
Phil Varone 0.31
Ryan Rupert 0.31
Zack Stortini 0.29

The least surprising thing about this data is the drag Stortini is on team performance–he’s a terrible player who has neither the speed nor skill to help his teammates.  No one should get excited about Gagne‘s number here–it’s a small sample size during which individually he’s done nothing (10-0-0-0).  Both Akeson and Nehring are quickly regressing to the mean, so on the top side there’s nothing truly notable.  On the bottom end it’s interesting seeing Varone and Kostka well below the norm–this could be a symptom of being overplayed (particularly in the latter’s case)–albeit it’s still a little alarming.  I think where you can question Kleinendorst is in player usage–who he dresses, who he starts, etc, and there’s room for improvement here (albeit we can’t know how hamstrung he is by management edicts).

Here are some other numbers:

Powerplay Leaders
Kostka 5
Rodewald 4
Bailey 4
Carlisle 4
Varone 3
Rumble 3

Even Strength Leaders
McCormick 13
Varone 12
Flanagan 12
Bailey 10
Blunden 9
Paul 9
Robinson 9

Shot Support for Goaltenders (as in, a better shots-for than shots-against ratio)
Matt O’Connor 8-10
Chris Driedger 8-1
Andrew Hammond 2-0
Scott Greenham 0-2

I included this stat simply because of how much more support Driedger has received.  Last year I noted there was more scoring when he was between the pipes–I have no explanation to offer here, I just find it interesting.

A selective Binghamton ‘Where Are They Now’ from last season (Luke Richardson remains unemployed):
Cole Schneider (AHL Rochester) 25-11-17-28
Leads the Amerks in scoring
Eric O’Dell (KHL HK Sochi) 34-5-8-13
He’s 7th in team scoring
David Dziurzynski (DEL Iserlohn) 30-6-5-11
Middling numbers in Germany
Jerome Leduc (Czech Pardubice) 31-3-5-8
2nd in blueline scoring
Travis Ewanyk (ECHL Idaho) 28-12-11-23
Doing well at the level he belongs
Michael Keranen (KHL/Liiga Jokerit/Ilves) 7-1-2-3
Struggling mightily since leaving the Minnesota organisation
Danny Hobbs (Denmark Sonderjysk) 26-9-18-27
Randy Lee-favourite has found a good league for his skills
Mark Fraser (AHL Bakersfield) 25-0-1-1
Being big and fast continues to give him unwarranted opportunities
Ryan Penny (ECHL Reading) 28-6-13-19
Third in team scoring
Nick Tuzzolino (ACH Stoney Creek) 8-0-7-7
If you’re asking wtf is the ACH it’s the Allen Cup League

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

I had some scattered thoughts to share as I take a break from writing Netflix articles:

I was very happy with Ary M‘s prospect piece (go read it if you haven’t).  I like comparative analysis, but I don’t see it enough in blogs (just endless opinions based on…god only knows).

After being traded to the Rangers Matt Puempel sounded off about the Sens coaching staff (not teaching skill and the double standard for skilled players).  This is self-serving on his part, but as it’s something we’ve heard over and over again from players when moved there’s something fundamentally wrong with how Ottawa handles its assets (I’ve discussed this before; about Puempel himself there’s this).

Tom Pyatt and Chris Kelly are struggling…does this really surprise anyone?  When the former was signed I naively assumed he was Binghamton bound, that belief born of the understanding that he’s not an NHL player.  When Kelly was signed it was time for eye-rolling (with later analysis) and a failed attempt to understand why the normally sensible Nichols (and Ross A) were happy about it.  As I pointed out then the move made little sense–an old, declining player with nothing left in the tank?  Apparently more than just management were unable to see the flaws in the off-season.  The question for both players isn’t “why are they struggling,” but rather, “why were they on the roster.”

A bit more randomly: I thought Travis Yost had an article looking at Colton Parayko (3-86/12) and the struggle to draft defensemen, but if so I can no longer find it.  I bring him up because another defenseman taken in the third round of the 2012 draft (3-78 Shayne Gostisbehere) is putting up crazy numbers. Unlike Parayko the Flyer defenseman doesn’t have size (he’s 5’11), which is probably why scouting services didn’t rank him for the draft, but both players are interesting examples of how relatively poor NHL teams are at assessing blueliners.  For those curious, the Sens took Chris Driedger before the Flyers defenseman and Jarrod Maidens before Parayko.

Let’s do a Where Are They Now segment from the draft:
Tobias Lindberg
 (4-102/13 part of the Dion Phaneuf trade) – AHL 22-3-6-9
Mika Zibanejad
 (1-6/11 T – Derrick Brassard) – NYR 19-5-10-15
Stefan Noesen
 (1-21/11 part of the Bobby Ryan trade) – AHL 18-3-8-11
Matt Puempel
 (1-24/11 waivers) – NYR 6-1-0-1
Shane Prince
 (2-61/11 T – 3rd flipped to NJ as part of the Logan Brown trade) – NYI 20-4-5-9
Marcus Sorensen
 (4-106/10 unsigned FA by SJ) – AHL 19-4-4-8
Jared Cowen
 (1-9/09 part of the Dion Phaneuf deal) – was caught up in a failed legal challenge against being bought out by Toronto
Jakob Silfverberg (2-39-09 part of the Bobby Ryan trade) – Ana 29-8-12-20
Robin Lehner (2-46/09 T – 1st pick Colin White) – Buf 5-9-4 2.45 .920
Patrick Wiercioch (2-42/08 FA) – Col 25-2-6-8

What can we gather from this mishmash of characters?  They love trading young prospects for aging veterans; they were 1 for 4 in first round picks between 09-11 (ouch); Silfverberg is better than Ryan now who, in three full seasons, earned the Sens one first-round exit; Zibanejad has been much better than Brassard (as expected); they gave up too early on Lehner (as expected); it’s much harder to call the Prince deal one way or another yet (or giving up on Wiercioch); while his numbers aren’t good this season, I still think tossing Lindberg away was a mistake (he’s buried amidst a talented Marlies roster).  The only silver lining here is that the Sens are able to get something for players who aren’t very good, but it’s almost always older, fading assets.

A final note: Varada emerged from the ether to write 17,000 words on…nothing that actually interests me, but it was good to see him–WTYKY really hasn’t been the same since he hung up the gloves.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa Senators System Update (Binghamton, Wichita, and Prospects)

We’re far enough into the season to dig into the performances being accrued by Senators prospects and their affiliate teams.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

The Binghamton Senators are an utter disaster.  There’s no other way to frame it–no excuses to offer–they’re terrible and their season is over in terms of making the playoffs.  The only hope for fans is to see development and improvement.  Normally I compare the BSens to their conference, but let’s look at their overall league performance: 30th (5-14-1-1), trailing the 29th and 28th place teams by 5 points (already!); they are last in scoring (5 goals behind the 29th scoring team), and 24th in goals allowed.  One plus I’ll give Kurt Kleinendorst is that he’s put a stop to Luke Richardson’s regime’s endless parade to the penalty box–the BSens are the 4th-least penalized team in the league. Unsurprisingly the team has a terrible powerplay (29th), although their PK is hovering around average (16th)–the percentage about the same as the team finished last season.  I don’t know what, as a coaching staff, you do with this roster.  With that said, there’s still odd personnel decisions being made and (between the pipes) you have to wonder how many of those are dictated by Sens management.  Onto individual performances (players are organised by points-per-game, PPG):
[Key: italics = rookie, (D) = defenseman, (V) = veteran contract, (A) = AHL contract]

Phil Varone (26) (V) 18-5-8-13 (0.72 ppg)
Casey Bailey (25) 21-6-4-10 (0.47 ppg)
Kyle Flanagan (27) (A) 20-1-8-9 (0.45 ppg)
Jack Rodewald (22) (loan) 12-3-2-5 (0.41 ppg) (ECHL 6-5-3-8)
Buddy Robinson (25) 18-3-4-7 (0.38 ppg)
Chris Rumble (26) (D) (A) 11-1-3-4 (0.36 ppg) (ECHL 3-1-2-3)
Mike Blunden (29) (V) 20-3-4-7 (0.35 ppg)
Francis Perron (20) 21-4-3-7 (0.33 ppg)
Max McCormick (24) 15-3-2-5 (0.33 ppg)
Ryan Rupert (22) 19-3-3-6 (0.31 ppg)
Chris Carlisle (21) (D) (A) 20-1-5-6 (0.30 ppg)
Curtis Lazar (21) 13-3-1-4 (0.30 ppg)
Michael Kostka (31) (D) (V) 21-0-6-6 (0.28 ppg)
Andreas Englund (20) (D) 18-1-4-5 (0.27 ppg)
Nick Paul (21) 18-1-4-5 (0.27 ppg)
Vincent Dunn (21) 8-0-2-2 (0.25 ppg) (ECHL 9-1-1-2)
Zack Stortini (31) (V) 20-2-1-3 (0.15 ppg)
Alex Krushelnyski (26) (A) 9-1-0-1 (0.11 ppg) (ECHL 6-2-5-7)
Fredrik Claesson (24) (D) 9-0-1-1 (0.11 ppg)
Chad Nehring (29) 9-0-1-1 (0.11 ppg)
Patrick Sieloff (22) (D) 19-1-1-2 (0.10 ppg)
Ben Harpur (21) (D) 17-0-1-1 (0.05 ppg)
Gabriel Gagne (20) 2-0-0-0 (ECHL 14-3-4-7)
Jason Akeson (26) (A) 3-0-0-0
Guillaume Lepine (29) (D) 14-0-0-0

Andrew Hammond (28) 0-2-0 2.56 .907
Matt O’Connor (24) 2-8-1 3.03 .895
Chris Driedger (22) 3-3-1 2.84 .890
Scott Greenham (29) (A) 0-1-0 7.00 .774 (ECHL 6-4-0 2.85 .927)

The Sens went for character signings in the off-season and the results are apparent.  The desperate addition of Akeson (who was cut by his KHL team), while it should help scoring a bit, isn’t nearly enough change to help the roster.  The blueline is atrocious (with no help coming).  Varone is the only offensive player performing near expectations.  The number of managerial mistakes here is enormous, but it’s worth going through some of them:
Stortini – why is he getting dressed?  I said it all last season and nothing has changed; should have loaned him elsewhere or bought him out
Nehring – an older player coming off a career year…and he’s regressed beyond the mean; the only “skilled” signing of the off-season, incidentally
Lepine – ECHL blueliner kept afloat by Kostka last year has regressed to the mean
Harpur – he’s terrible; he was terrible last year–trade him, loan him, something
Sieloff – why the Sens thought they could do something with him is beyond me; reminds me a bit of the flyer they took on Josh Godfrey years ago (another 2nd round pick who’d struggled), but at least that was an AHL-contract
Paul – the warning signs were there last year, but he cannot function without skilled linemates
Dunn – see below (but what a waste!)
A final note on the non-goalies: plus/minus is a terrible stat, but that said, Kostka has accumulated a truly beautiful -16 (his closest competitors are -9), while Perron and the recalled Englund are the only players with an even or plus who have played most of the season.  And yes, I realise part of Kostka‘s terrible rating is simply that he’s overplayed in an effort to make up for an awful blueline around him.

As for the goalies, Driedger had a good start to the season, but struggled since returning from his Ottawa call-up.  O’Connor is exactly what he was last season–rarely wins with his numbers all over the place–he’s consistently inconsistent.  I have to wonder: does he lose this much because the team in front of him doesn’t give him the same effort?  I’m not sure if O’Connor has value at this point, but with Hogberg in the pipeline and the big ‘tenders contract up at the end of the year, I’d dump him and let Driedger and Greenham take over (the latter is much better at the AHL level than the above numbers indicate).

wichita-thunder-logo

I know no one cares about Wichita, but I’m going to look at them anyway.  The team is 9-7-0-1, slowing down after a hot start.  I won’t go through the league numbers, but they’re in a better place than Evansville was at this time last year (I’ve noted players with Sens or BSens contracts in bold).

Alexis Loiseau 17-14-9-23
Nathan Moon 20-5-11-16
Louick Marcotte 16-4-7-11
Nick Trecapelli (D) 17-3-7-10
James Melindy (D) 17-2-7-9
Daultan Leveille 14-3-5-8
Logan Nelson 13-2-6-8
Matt DeBlouw 15-2-6-8
Mitch Holmberg 12-3-4-7
Landon Oslanski (D) 17-1-6-7
Macoy Erkamps (D) 15-0-7-7
Gerrad Grant 14-2-3-5
Blake Tatchell 14-2-3-5
Ryan Tesink 13-0-3-3
Alexis Vanier (D) 17-2-0-2
Ian Lowe 10-0-2-2
Vincent Arseneau 2-1-0-1
Martin Nemcik (D) 10-0-1-1

Scott Greenham 6-4-0 2.85 .927
Drew Owsley  3-3-0 2.49 .929

From what I can tell the primary impact the Sens affiliation has had on Wichita is getting them to trade for management favourites Nathan Moon and Daultan Leveille (from Rapid City and Elmira; both of whom played for Evansville last year–the team also trading for Moon with the Icemen).  Do these moves help the Thunder?  I really don’t know.  The Sens may have had a hand in signing BSens castaway Nick Trecapelli as well (who is good at this level).  I mentioned last time that I remembered James Melindy from the 2012 draft, I also recall Ryan Tesink from the 2011 draft.  Enough trivia.  Of the various Sens fodder included here there’s nothing to be excited about–Macoy‘s numbers are okay, but not great, and Gagne should not be struggling here.  Dunn should be loaned out of the organisation, as he’s clearly disinterested in Wichita and isn’t good enough at the AHL-level.

prospects

Finally, here’s a look at how various Sens prospects are doing:

CHL
Filip Chlapik (Charlottetown; 2-48/15) 25-20-22-42 (1st in scoring)
Filip Ahl (Regina; 4-109/15) 25-17-14-31 (tied for fourth in scoring)
Cody Donaghey (Charlottetown; T-16) 28-8-21-29 (1st in blueline scoring)
Logan Brown (Windsor; 1-11/16) 15-8-13-21 (hasn’t played since my last update)
Tomas Chabot (Saint John; 1-18/15) 12-5-12-17 (1st in blueline scoring)
Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current; 5-133/16) 28-5-11-16 (2nd in blueline scoring)

NCAA
Colin White (Boston; 1-21/15) 17-10-7-17 (sophomore; 2nd in team scoring)
Robert Baillargeon (Arizona; 5-136/12) 15-8-7-15 (senior; 1st in team in scoring)
Kelly Summers (Clarkson; 7-189/14) 18-1-7-8 (junior, 2nd in blueline scoring)
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire; 4-100/14) 16-2-5-7 (junior; 9th in scoring)
Mile Gendron (Connecticut; 3-70/14) 17-2-5-7 (sophomore; 1st in blueline scoring)
Christian Wolanin (North Dakota; 4-107/15) 14-0-6-6 (sophomore; 3rd in blueline scoring)
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack; 6-161/13) 6-2-1-3 (senior)
Todd Burgess (RPI; 4-103/16) has not played (freshman)
Joel Daccord (Arizona; 7-199/15) 5.40 .859 (freshman; worst of three goaltenders)

Europe
Jonathan Dahlen (Timra; 2-42/16) 25-12-8-20 (2nd in scoring)
Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr; 6-163/16) 21-10-11-21 (1st in scoring)
Christian Jaros (Lulea; 5-139/15) 22-3-5-8 (tied for 2nd in blueline scoring)
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping; 3-78/13) 2.12 .925 (better than his partner)

First, a bit of trivia: former BSen Craig Schira plays on Jaros‘ team in Sweden (the two are currently tied in scoring).  That aside, I have a few observations: the change in scenery has done a lot for Baillargeon, albeit scoring on a terrible team isn’t always a strong indicator; Hogberg has recovered from a slow start to put up his usual numbers (I keep thinking about how much better Binghamton would be if Ottawa had skipped the O’Connor experiment and gone with Driedger/Hogberg).  Generally those you expect to excel at this level are–no warning signs and no one unexpectedly overachieving.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Before I get into the business at hand I can’t help but look at the performances of discarded Sens players (Patrick WierciochRobin LehnerJakob SilverbergMika Zibanejad, etc) and feel the pain of what could have been.  It’s difficult to feel anything other than exasperation with an organisation that is unable to recognise talent and the more you dig into it the more apparent this problem becomes.

Am I excited about the Sens .500 record?  No.  This is very much a “win now” organisation and that’s not going to cut it.  I am happy to see Ryan Dzingel doing well–I think coming into the season I was one of his only supporters.  Putting aside the sustainability of his performance, he’s another example of how if you draft for skill you’re more likely to see results.

I’m not going to get into Eugene Melnyk being crazy–he’s always been crazy–it’s sad and depressing, but there’s nothing new to add.  The only plus I take from the blogger coverage of this is the realization (for some) of how soft the local media has been on him.

Binghamton_Senators_svg

As you all know I’m very interested in prospects and organisational depth and this year has been exactly what I expected thus far–a disaster.  Mismanagement in Binghamton goes back a long way and that paired with poor prospect management by the organisation gives us a very bleak picture.  Let’s dig in, shall we?

The 2-8-1 BSens are tied for last in the Eastern Conference; they’ve only scored 20 goals–by far the fewest in the entire AHL.  Their goals against (39) is tied for 9th in the conference.  It doesn’t look like Marc Crawford’s liaison activities are having any impact, nor has Kurt Kleinendorst been able to bring his late season DEL magic to an awful roster.  Are the Binghamton Senators terrible?  Yes.  Is this expected?  Hell yes!  I’ll save a player-by-player breakdown for when they’re further into the season, but I want to highlight a few notables:

Curtis Lazar (12-2-1-3): the Sens did the right thing in sending him down to the AHL, but these are abysmal numbers–he’s a top-15 NHL pick!  Kyle Flanagan has better numbers and he’s barely an ECHLer.  There’s no sugar-coating his performance–he’s not a rookie or European, so there’s no need to adjust (mono or no mono).  Yes his teammates are awful, but that hasn’t stopped other talented players from excelling
Max McCormick (10-3-0-3): he needs to do better than this at this level; he’s 24 with plenty of experience
Buddy Robinson (12-0-3-3): any faint hope fans had of Buddy becoming an NHL-prospect are long gone; at this stage he’s to be a bottom-six AHLer
Nick Paul (12-0-1-1): I mentioned repeatedly last year that his numbers were being inflated by better players (particularly Tobias Lindberg); but hey, he’s big, right?
Vincent Dunn (8-2-0-2): they didn’t need eight games to figure out he’s an ECHL player; he should have started in Wichita
Patrick Sieloff (12-0-1-1): I knew he was going to be bad, but this bad?  Yikes–Sens should have taken a late pick instead
Ryan Rupert (12-1-0-1): Ottawa traded for him.  Just a reminder
Zack Stortini (12-1-0-1): why is he still getting powerplay time?  Why?  He’s too expensive to trade, but if Kleinendorst had guts he’d put him in the pressbox for the rest of the season and let someone with potential take his spot
Ben Harpur (8-0-0-0): he was unspeakably bad last year…and he’s pretty much the same now; but he’s big kids, lest you forget
Matt O’Connor (1-5-0 2.86 .899): I wish I’d been wrong, I really do, but we’re seeing the same kind of performance from the big goaltender as last year (he’s tied for 32nd in league save percentage)

I could go on and on (why is Guillaume Lepine still here?).  The one plus I can give you is that Chris Rumble has had a good start since being recalled (6-0-3-3), but it’s too early to know if that will last.  Andreas Englund has also been better than I feared, albeit it’s early.

wichita-thunder-logo

No one other than me really cares about the ECHL side of things, but a quick look at their performance with reference to Ottawa prospects who are playing there.  The team is 6-3-0 very early in their season, lead by Alexis Loiseau (9-7-7-14), an undrafted player from the Q who was with Norfolk (ECHL) last season.  Someone within the Sens org has a hard-on for Nathan Moon as the team traded for him (as Evansville did last year)–I’m not sure Wichita had a need for him, but they didn’t give up much to get him.  Defender James Melindy (who I thought the Sens might draft in 2012) has had a decent start to the season (9-0-6-6).  Sens prospects:

Macoy Erkamps (9-0-5-5): taking the Troy Rutkowski (now in Norway) route of FA signings–solid numbers to start, but how can he not beat out dead weight like Harpur and Lepine for a spot in Binghamton?
Gabriel Gagne (8-1-1-2): these are ugly numbers for a high second-round pick; no excuse for them at all

Overall the team is in a much better place than Evansville at any time, although it’s far too early to make serious assessments.

prospects

Time for a quick update on how various Sens prospects are doing:

CHL
Filip Chlapik (Charlottetown; 2-48/15) 19-18-16-34 (1st in scoring)
Cody Donaghey (Charlottetown; T-16) 22-8-17-25 (1st in blueline scoring)
Filip Ahl
 (Regina; 4-109/15) 17-16-8-24 (tied for 3rd in scoring)
Logan Brown (Windsor; 1-11/16) 15-8-13-21 (tied for 1st in scoring)
Maxime Lajoie (Swift Current; 5-133/16) 20-2-9-11 (3rd in blueline scoring)
Tomas Chabot (Saint John; 1-18/15) 4-1-7-8 (not enough gp to matter)

NCAA
Colin White (Boston; 1-21/15) 12-7-3-10 (sophomore; 6th in team scoring)
Robert Baillargeon (Arizona; 5-136/12) 9-6-3-9 (senior; leads team in scoring)
Kelly Summers (Clarkson; 7-189/14) 12-1-4-5 (junior, 3rd in blueline scoring)
Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire; 4-100/14) 11-2-3-5 (junior; tied for 8th in scoring)
Christian Wolanin (North Dakota; 4-107/15) 9-0-4-4 (sophomore; tied for 2nd in blueline scoring)
Mile Gendron (Connecticut; 3-70/14) 11-1-2-3 (sophomore; tied for 2nd in blueline scoring)
Chris Leblanc (Merrimack; 6-161/13) 3-1-1-2 (senior)
Todd Burgess (RPI; 4-103/16) has not played (freshman)
Joel Daccord (Arizona; 7-199/15) 4.92 .870 (freshman; last in GAA, 2nd in save percentage)

Europe
Jonathan Dahlen (Timra; 2-42/16) 19-7-7-14 (2nd in scoring)
Markus Nurmi (TPS Jr; 6-163/16) 10-6-6-12 (tied for 1st in scoring)
Christian Jaros (Lulea; 5-139/15) 16-2-4-6 (tied for 2nd in blueline scoring)
Marcus Hogberg (Linkoping; 3-78/13) 2.70 .892 (worse numbers than his partner)

It’s far too early to really assess performances yet–players get hot, get cold, get injured–a lot of factors contribute to early returns.

espn-logo

The sports network is bleeding subscribers–ten million since 2013, four million in the past year, and 621,000 just in October.  Combine this with declining NFL ratings matching the continuing trend of sports disappearing off the entertainment map of Millennials, and I’m interested to see what (if anything) is done to stem the tide.  Are sports leagues ala American car manufacturers, where they’ll refuse to change until it’s far too late (no government bailout as an option, however)?  Or will they aim for changes to improve those numbers?  When it comes to hockey I have no doubt nothing meaningful will change until its far too late–not that I expect an end to the NHL, but serious contraction is a possibility.  I’m not sure when all of this comes home to roost–most of the leagues have 5-10 years of protection via massive TV deals–but after that?  It’s going to get interesting.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)