Belleville Senators Training Camp and Projected Lineup

It’s difficult to call something this brief (Sept.22-Oct.5) a training camp, but it’s what Kurt Kleinendorst (and befuddled AHL GM Randy Lee) get to work with. The BSens only have three exhibition games, one of which (against U of O) is already in the books (the other two are both against Laval, Sept.30/Oct.1). I took an early look at the potential roster and lineup before (in June and July). So without further ado, let’s go over changes since and explore the likely permutations.

Unsigned
As expected draft picks Chris Leblanc (Orlando, ECHL) and Robbie Baillargeon (South Carolina ECHL) were not signed once they finished their NCAA careers

Signed Elsewhere or Remain UFA
-Matt O’Connor (Nashville, two-way)
-Scott Greenham (UFA)
-Chris Carlisle (HC Bolzano, EBEL)
-Brandon Gormley (UFA; in Toronto’s camp)
-Chris Rumble (Fischtown, DEL)
-Guillaume Lepine (Wichita, ECHL)
-Jason Akeson [Syracuse, AHL]
-Casey Bailey (UFA; was in NYI’s camp)
-Marc Hagel (Lorenskog, Norway)
-Alex Krushelnyski (Lehigh Valley, AHL)
-Chad Nehring (Fischtown, DEL)
-Ryan Rupert (Indy, ECHL)
-Phil Varone (Lehigh Valley, AHL)

From this assortment the only thing lost is scoring. There’s no one on the BSens roster who can dependably put up the points produced by Akeson and Varone. The team still has space to add a veteran, but as it stands Randy Lee has done a lousy job shoring up the offense (last in their conference the previous season).

Re-Signed
-Max McCormick (UFA, June 27th)
-Jack Rodewald (UFA, June 30th; AHL deal)
-Chris Driedger (RFA, July 5th)
-Patrick Sieloff (RFA, July 11th)

While I predicted they might keep Sieloff it’s still an odd decision given how crowded they’ve made their blueline. I’m also not sure why they thought Rodewald needed a two-year deal.

Newly Signed
-Daniel Ciampini (Sept.15, AHL deal)

He adds depth I suppose, but there’s nothing exciting about the 26-year old.

Tryouts
Charles-David Beaudoin (CIS)
Played a few games for Binghamton last season and participated in both the development camp and rookie tournament–clearly someone in the org loves the guy, but nothing about the 23-year old defenseman stands out
Guillaume Asselin (CIS)
Signed by ECHL “partner” Wichita, the 25-year old former QMJHLer isn’t a serious contender at camp (albeit he is a useful ECHL player)
Jim O’Brien (AHL)
Avg AHL ppg 0.55; last season’s AHL ppg 0.45
Yes it’s that Jim O’Brien–the 28-year old former first-rounder (1-29/07) is coming off a miserable season with San Antonio (53-9-15-24) and is going to be hard-pressed to find any org that wants to waste a veteran slot on him
Ethan Werek (AHL)
Avg AHL ppg 0.36; last season’s AHL 0.49
Former Ranger second-rounder  (2-47/09), whom Arizona acquired for Oscar Lindberg (another genius move from ex-GM Don Maloney) before he turned pro; while failing as an NHL-prospect, the 26-year old has mostly kept himself in the AHL as a depth player; there should be no chance the BSens sign him, albeit he’s in Randy Lee’s wheelhouse
Brendan Woods (AHL)
Avg AHL ppg 0.33; last season’s AHL 0.25
Drafted as an overager by Carolina (5-129/12), the lumbering 25-year old has the same middling production as Werek above and ought to find himself left outside the dance when camp ends (although, again, he’s a Randy Lee-type player)

The Roster
Goaltenders
Danny Taylor (1986, 6’0, 7-221/04 LA, Sibir Novosibirsk/Medvescak (KHL) 1.93 .931)
Signed as a free agent this off-season out of the KHL, Taylor is a true journeyman, never spending more than two seasons with any organisation since he was drafted. His numbers from his mid-20s have been solid, with the 14th best save percentage in the KHL last year (among ‘tenders who played at least 10 games–for reference the KHL had 29 teams this past season). The last time he was in the AHL (12-13 season) his .922 placed him 8th in the league. His playoff history is unimpressive, but that’s hardly a concern at this point. He was signed to start in Belleville so barring injury he’ll get the lion’s share of the work. This is the first time the Sens affiliate has had an established veteran starter since Nathan Lawson in 2013-14.

Chris Driedger (1994, 6’4, 3-76/12, Binghamton (AHL) 3.22 .900)
A forgotten man in Ottawa’s system, he survived getting buried in the ECHL his rookie year (13-14) and then he outplayed highly touted NCAA FA Matt O’Connor in back-to-back seasons; in the two years he’s spent in Binghamton the team has played better in front of him than O’Connor, but in both those years he’s collapsed late in the season (long after Binghamton was eliminated from any contention), impacting his final numbers significantly. He’s supposed to be competing against Hogberg for the backup position, but the Sens typically just say there’s a competition when they’ve already made up their minds, so I think he’ll be sent to the ECHL to start and from there it will depend on how the Swedish rookie performs (you can read old draft reports on him here–FC’s comment about consistency seems prescient).

Marcus Hogberg (1994, 6’5, 3-78/13, Linkoping (SHL) 1.89 .932)
The second best young goaltender out of Sweden (behind Islander pick Linus Soderstrom), there’s a lot to like about Hogberg (big and athletic), so the question will be how long it takes him to adjust to the AHL and just what his ceiling is when he makes that adjustment. Fans need to remember that of all positions goaltenders tend to take the longest to develop, so patience is a virtue with him (you can reading scouting reports on him when he was drafted here). In what I’ve been able to watch (rookie tournament etc) he’s looked good thus far.

Summary: I haven’t listed Andrew Hammond, since neither I nor the org have any idea what’s going to happen to him. There are clearly no plans for him to play in Belleville–at a guess I think he’ll stick around as Ottawa’s unused third goalie until they can move him (perhaps a loan to Europe after he inevitably clears waivers). Otherwise it will be Taylor starting, Hogberg backing up, and Driedger going to Wichita. In my opinion this is the best goaltending group the BSens have had since the 2012-13 season (albeit it’s not equal to the Robin Lehner/Ben Bishop combo).

Blueline
Thomas Chabot (1997, R. 6’2, 1-18/15, Saint John (QMJHL) 34-10-35-45)
Avg QMJHL 0.76, last season 1.28
Projection: 0.61 (I looked at other recent top picks to get a sense of the numbers, using Travis Sanheim, Anthony DeAngelo, and Shea Theodore)
Given Ottawa’s habit of rushing prospects I’m not sure he’ll suit up in the AHL, but if he does he’s a huge boon to the team and takes a lot of pressure off what otherwise is a mediocre group. While the Sens inflate expectations for prospects, he is a very good one and for fans in Belleville I hope they get to see him. I can’t emphasize enough how he’s the only excellent puckmover on this blueline. You can read scouting reports when he was drafted here–the sainted Pronman didn’t like his defensive play (I can only imagine the supporters in the Sens fanbase crying out elohim elohim lama sabachthani! about that).

Maxime Lajoie (1997, L, 6’0, 5-133/16, Swift Current (WHL) 68-7-35-42)
Avg WHL 0.59, last season 0.61
Projection: 0.38 (it was very difficult to find prospects similar to him–the closest I could find were Dylan DeMelo and Reece Scarlett)
Ottawa signed him with alacrity after they drafted him and because of his DOB he’s eligible to play in Belleville. Looking at his numbers I didn’t understand the hype until I saw him play recently (scouts‘ praise and criticism was muted when he was drafted). I’m not sure what his ceiling is, but unlike the majority of players here he can reliably move the puck and that ability is in short supply on this roster. Whether there’s any room for him amongst the mass of mediocrity is a different question and I’m not sure if jumping to Belleville is the best thing for his development.

Ben Harpur (1995, L, 6’6, 4-108/13, Binghamton (AHL) 63-2-25-27)
Avg AHL 0.30, last season 0.42 (OHL Avg 0.29)
Projection: 0.30 (regressing to the mean)
While I’ve not completely changed my mind about him, the big man did show improvement under Kleinendorst, which was a surprise given his play the previous season. Can he maintain his unexpected offensive production? Does he have the ability to push the play at this level? Belleville is going to have to count on it (scouting reports–link above–saw him topping out as a 5-6 D who kills penalties)

Christian Jaros (1996, R, 6’3, 5-139/15, Lulea (SHL) 36-5-8-13)
Avg SHL 0.22, last season 0.36
Projection: 0.25 (I’m giving him the same mild increase Englund experienced his rookie year)
The big Slovak has spent much of his junior and all of his pro career in Sweden; the org keeps comparing him to Mark Borowiecki due to his physical play, but how truly apt that is remains to be seen. My concern with Jaros is his ability to move the puck, but at least against his peers in the SHL he showed improvement this past season (scouting reports, link above, also compared him to the Boroflop, although not universally).

Erik Burgoerfer (1988, R, 6’1, undrafted, Rochester (AHL) 52-1-16-17)
Avg AHL 0.24, last season 0.32
Projection: 0.24
Every year the Sens sign someone for reasons that no one can understand and this is another one. An NCAA grad who worked his way through the ECHL (Edmonton’s system) to the AHL, there’s nothing remarkable about his numbers at any stage of his career (0.15 NCAA, 0.28 ECHL, 0.24 AHL)–he’s not a scorer, he’s not a fighter–at best he’s a safe right-hand shot, but for a team lacking puck-movers it’s an odd addition.

Patrick Sieloff (1994, L, 6’1, 2-42/12 Cal, Binghamton (AHL) 52-2-10-12)
Avg AHL 0.18, last season 0.23
Projection: 0.21 (matches his number the previous season)
Acquired via the Chiasson deal, the former USDP player’s production flatlined in junior (0.17 USDP, 0.18 AHL); that said, he’s fairly safe defensively and a “tough” player; the Sens didn’t have to qualify him (although it’s something I thought was likely), but they did, so he adds some unremarkable depth. Given how crowded their blueline is he seems pretty superfluous.

Andreas Englund (1996, L, 6’3, 2-40/14, Binghamton (AHL) 69-3-7-10)
Avg SHL 0.12, last season 0.14
Projection: 0.16 (I think we can expect a very modest increase)
A classic Sens defensive defenseman–big, “tough”, etc. He had an adequate rookie year given those parameters, but he’s just a cog in the wheel–decent support if his partner is going to take care of the puck, but not much else (scouting reports largely put him in the same category of Harpur, so the hope would be he has hidden depths).

Macoy Erkamps (1995, R, 6’0, FA, Wichita (ECHL) 58-6-19-25)
Avg WHL 0.55, last season 0.43
Projection: ECHL
The org has a terrible trackrecord signing FA’s from the CHL, but got excited by Erkamps’ inflated production in his final junior year. He was among the better defensemen on Wichita’s (ECHL) abysmal blueline, but couldn’t crack Binghamton’s equally awful defensecorps, so can he be a regular in Belleville? Nothing I’ve seen suggests he can, although he’s slightly better than a tryout like Beaudoin.

Cody Donaghey (1996, R, 6’1, FA Tor, Charlottetown/Sherbrooke (QMJHL) 52-11-29-40)
Avg QMJHL 0.58, last season 0.76
Projection: ECHL
A CHL FA that Toronto signed and then included as part of the Phaneuf trade, the Sens burned a year of his ELC to send him back to junior and he remains on the fringes of the roster. While I like that he’s primarily a puckmover, he hasn’t been overly impressive when I’ve seen him so the odds are he’ll be sent down to Wichita.

Jordan Murray (1992, L, 6’1, FA, U New Brunswick (CIS) 30-14-26-40)
Avg CIS 1.00, Avg QMJHL 0.51
Projection: ECHL
The CIS grad had a short (five game) stint with Binghamton and apparently that was enough for the org to lock him in for two years. I have no idea what the need for the longer deal was and they are free to bury him in the ECHL if they want, but it’s an odd decision. I do like that he’s an offensively minded defenseman, but he hasn’t stood out in what I’ve (or others) have seen.

Summary: there are 10 players listed here, so even if Chabot remains in the NHL it’s quite crowded. The numbers aren’t an indication of quality however, as without Chabot there’s no one who slots in reliably as better than a 3-4 with virtually no strong puckmovers. On paper it’s a slightly better blueline than last season, but it still leaves much to be desired. I’d expect Donaghey and (if Lajoie is retained), Murray, and Erkamps to be going down to Wichita or remain in the pressbox.

Forwards
Colin White (1997, R, 6’1, 1-21/15, Boston College (NCAA) 35-16-17-33)
Avg NCAA 1.06, last season 0.94
Projection: 0.70 (hard to find comparables for him, but I used Nick Schmaltz and Alex Tuch) 
He’s currently injured and will miss at least the first month of the season; much like Chabot above there’s a good chance he never suits up in Belleville, but if he does he’s a top-six forward who adds a great deal to the lineup (scouts, link above, questioned his ability to score at the NHL-level, otherwise seeing him as a very good two-way forward)

Nick Paul (1995, L, 6’2, 4-101/13 Dal, Binghamton (AHL) 72-15-22-37)
Avg AHL 0.46, last season 0.51
Projection: 0.64 (roughly the same amount of increase from year one to year two)
Currently recovering from an ankle injury, he’s expected to be ready soon. He was much improved this past season and he’ll need to continue to grow offensively to help the team. How much he’s capable of producing remains an open question (just as his NHL ceiling is).

Chris DiDomenico (1989, R, 5’11, 6-164/07 Tor, SCL Tigers (NLA) 48-10-28-38)
Avg NLA 0.81, Avg AHL 0.23
Projection: 0.60 (this would be similar to Roman Wick’s drop, see below)
He’s an interesting player in that he failed out of the AHL initially (74-2-15-17) and rebuilt his career in Europe; on-faith the Sens are assuming his production in Switzerland will translate at a level he’s never experienced success in (I think it’s reasonable to compare him to former Sens prospect Roman Wick, in whose lone AHL season he went from 0.83 to 0.60 production). I haven’t found him impressive in limited viewings, but that could change–if not, the already offensively challenged group is going to struggle even harder

Max Reinhart (1992, L, 6’1, 3-64/10 Cal, Kolner Haie (DEL) 52-6-17-23)
Avg AHL 0.59, last season 0.44
Projection: 0.59
Son of former NHLer Paul, while a fairly pedestrian AHL player, Reinhart is someone you’d expect to fill a top-nine or top-six role, albeit bombing out in the German league is cause for alarm–fortunately the Sens only gave him a one-year deal.

Francis Perron (1996, L, 6’0, 7-190/14, Binghamton (AHL) 68-6-20-26)
Avg QMJHL 1.02, last season 0.38
Projection: 0.59 (based roughly on Mike Hoffman’s trajectory, taking into account Perron’s lesser Q-production)
It was a quiet season for the QMJHL star, but a fairly consistent one where we can hope for growth this coming season (assuming he doesn’t get buried behind free agents). He has a lot of skill and the question is simply whether those tools can translate at this level and beyond (scouting reports, link above, decried his size & nothing else). I haven’t been that impressed by his pre-season performance, but it’s a small sample size.

Filip Chlapik (1997, L, 6’1, 2-48/15, Charlottetown (QMJHL) 57-34-57-91)
Avg QMJHL 1.27, last season 1.59
Projection: 0.59 (for comparables I used Marek Zagrapan, Tomas Kubalik, Ondrej Palat, and Marek Hrivik)
Was able to prove he can produce without Pittsburgh pick Daniel Sprong, although not as much. His upside as a pro is up in the air and as a rookie I wouldn’t expect too much this year, but I like his presence simply because he’s a player who brings offensive creativity to the table; scouts (link above) were most concerned about his skating.

Max McCormick (1992, L, 5’11, 6-171/11, Binghamton (AHL) 66-21-15-36)
Avg AHL 0.46, last season 0.54
Projection: 0.53 (this is between his second and third year production)
The org loves him–a physical, grinding player–and I think in an AHL-context he’s very useful (albeit misplaced on the powerplay); I don’t see an upside (his AHL production has flatlined).

Ben Sexton (1991, R, 5’11, 7-206/09 Bos, Albany (AHL) 54-19-12-31)
Avg AHL 0.39, last season 0.57
Projection: 0.46 (assuming last year was not an aberration)
Son of former Sens exec Randy, he failed out of the Boston org and was forced to sign an AHL-deal with Albany, where he pushed himself into a top-nine role. Somehow this translated into a two-year deal for big (in AHL terms) money–it’s hard not to think there’s something more than his performance going into that as there’s every reason to expect him to regress to the mean (73-8-11-19 are his AHL numbers prior to last season).

Mike Blunden (1986, R, 6’4, 2-43/05 Chi, Binghamton (AHL) 67-14-15-29)
Avg AHL 0.52, last season 0.43
Projection: 0.43 (he’s on the decline so he’s not going to crawl back to his AHL average)
A bust last year (reminded me a lot of Mark Parrish‘s year with Binghamton), but as a “tough character player” he doesn’t need to produce to get Randy Lee excited. I’d expect similar production from him this year, ideally in the bottom-six role he’s suited too.

Kyle Flanagan (1988, L, 5’9, FA, Binghamton (AHL) 68-9-20-29)
Avg AHL 0.41, last season 0.42
Projection: 0.41
I’m not sure what it is the org likes about Flanagan (who is on an AHL-deal)–I don’t think he’s a bad player, but he’s not someone they needed to commit too. That said, he’s only expected to play on either the third or fourth line so expectations are low.

Jack Rodewald (1994, R, 6’2, FA Tor, Binghamton (AHL) 66-18-9-27)
Avg AHL 0.35, last season 0.40
Projection: 0.30 (his AHL avg has to be taken with a grain of salt given the GP)
Signed by Toronto as a CHL FA (much like Donaghey above), he was an early recall from the ECHL and a two-month hot streak was enough for a two-year AHL-deal; why the Sens felt the urgency for such a commitment I have no idea, as his second half production (37-6-2-8) seems like what’s reasonable to expect from him (I can pat myself on the back for predicting his stay I suppose). He hurt his leg in an exhibition game and I’m not sure what the time table for his return is.

Gabriel Gagne (1996, R, 6’5, 2-36/15, Binghamton (AHL) 41-2-4-6)
Avg QMJHL 0.75, last season 0.15
Projection: 0.22 (it was very hard to find recent comparables–big forwards with decent CHL numbers taken outside the first round–Hunter Smith is what I had to settle for)
The Sens rushed him into turning pro thinking it would help, but that was not evident at all last season. Even at the ECHL level he struggled to produce (19-6-5-11), meaning it’s difficult to know what to expect out of him this season–he was drafted as a scorer, but that hasn’t manifested yet (when drafted, link above, there were red flags about him virtually everywhere). There needs to be some signs of life in him this season or we can saddle him with the “bust” tag (I think there’s wiggle room to hope for more as bigger players can take a little longer to fill out and mature).

Tyler Randell (1991, R, 6’1, 6-176/09 Bos, Providence (AHL) 59-1-9-10)
Avg AHL 0.19, last season 0.16
Projection: 0.19
Coming off one of his worst AHL-seasons the Sens are paying him a hefty AHL salary (200k!) to punch people (he’s among the most active fighters in the league). This signing has Randy Lee written all over it. The only positive is, unlike when they signed Stortini, we won’t see Randell on the powerplay and it’s just a one-year deal (his ppg average is 0.19).

Daniel Ciampini (1990, L, 6’0, FA, Manchester (ECHL) 28-12-16-28)
Avg ECHL 0.87, Avg AHL 0.25
Projection: ECHL
A productive ECHL player (76-26-40-66) since he finished his college career, he’s a useful depth at forward if nothing else (he doesn’t really address the needs of the roster however).

Vincent Dunn (1995, L, 6’0, 5-138/13, Wichita (ECHL) 47-4-8-12)
Avg ECHL 0.38, last season 0.25
Projection: ECHL
The Sens rushed to sign the QMJHL pest and have regretted it ever since. He’s shown no ability to play at the AHL-level and he got worse in his second ECHL season. He has a history for not getting along with teammates and coaches and it’s possible the Sens simply can’t get rid of him, but I’d loan him elsewhere before the season starts–elsewhere in the minors or Europe (scouts, link above, had all sorts of issues with him).

Summary: there are 15 signed players, but with White out for a month and possibly remaining in Ottawa, Belleville’s struggle to score is going to be even worse. Neither of Binghamton’s top-scorers from last season were retained and that means all the offensive pressure is falling on prospects and DiDomenico. Dunn and Ciampini are most likely slated for Wichita or the pressbox.

Projected Lineup
[I’m keeping both Chabot and White out–I’ll go into their presence below–I’ve included point projections and I’ll get into how I think things will change as the season progresses.]

Paul (0.64)-DiDomenico (0.60)-Sexton (0.46)
McCormick (0.53)-Reinhart (0.59)-Blunden (0.43)
Chlapik (0.59)-Perron (0.59)-Rodewald (0.30)
Gagne (0.22)-Flanagan (0.41)-Randell (0.19)

Harper (0.30)-Jaros (0.22)
Lajoie (0.38)-Burgoerfer (0.24)
Englund (0.14)-Sieloff (0.21)

This humdrum lineup will struggle to score and despite a modest improvement to the blueline and a better situation in net, I don’t see them being that much better than last season (albeit, possibly more entertaining). Either Chabot or White would help, as would the signing of a productive veteran forward, but I’m taking things as-is for now. With Chabot in the lineup I suspect Sieloff sits (Jaros and Burgoefer move down respectively); with White in the lineup Randell sits (I expect White to play wing), with Sexton, Blunden, and Rodewald shifting down.

My guess is that among the forwards DiDomenico and Sexton will disappoint, Reinhart, McCormick, and Blunden will be average, while Paul and one of Perron or Chlapik will do well. I’m not expecting any big surprises on defense.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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White’s Injury, Duchene Trade Rumours, and More

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The injury to Colin White means that, at least in the short term, I can put to rest my fears of him being rushed into the NHL. The loss also has implications for Belleville, although it’s likely Kleinendorst knew White wouldn’t be a regular part of the lineup. With the recovering time slated for 6-8 weeks, the first-rounder won’t be back until late-October/mid-November (so 11-15 NHL games, or 9-15 AHL games). I think this is more impactful to Belleville than Ottawa, given how thin the AHL team will be offensively.

Whether because of this news or for other reasons the Sens are back in the hunt for disgruntled Colorado forward Matt Duchene. While I’m not a fan of the Sens org in general they can fleece other old school GMs (ala former Arizona GM Don Maloney in the Kyle Turris trade). The Avalanche’s Joe Sakic is another guy stuck in the past and if the rumours about dumping Cody Ceci are true then fans could benefit from a very positive acquisition (granting that Duchene might be a short-term add, leaving when his contract expires). However, if the price includes Thomas Chabot then I’d walk away.

belleville sens

I’ve been waiting to see who will broadcast BSens games and while I haven’t found the answer to that there was a recent announcement about radio coverage (with Quinte Broadcasting, who used to do the Belleville Bulls games, picking it up).

prospects

I wrote a prospect profile for new Sens prospect Parker Kelly. It’s doubtful the decision to sign him was the reason for releasing Pius Suter–given the Swiss player’s existing NLA contract it’s possible it was Ottawa or bust for him. The two prospects are at very different stages of their careers (one is already playing pro hockey, while the other is a couple of years away). It’s worth pointing out that the Sens have a lousy track record of signing CHL free agents.

wichita-thunder-logo

Wichita has added a pair of players: first NCAA forward Steven Iacobellis (0.63 ppg through his college career), and then 25-year old former NCAA and Canadian University defenseman via the Austrian league,  Samuel Labrecque (0.50 in the EBEL, which was tied for 24th in that league).

freeagent

Free agents continued to be signed, as QMJHL goaltender Dereck Baribeau was picked up by Minnesota–I had him slotted in the sixth round of this year’s draft. He’s the ninth CHL FA signed this off-season.

For those who remember the rumours that Stephane Da Costa wanted to return to the NHL, you may have wondered why nothing happened for the KHL star. Apparently the former Sen suffered some kind of injury that will see him out of action for months, which has scared off NHL GM’s for now.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Prospect Profile: Parker Kelly

Today the Sens signed WHLer Parker Kelly to an ELC. It’s the first free agent signing by the club this entire off season–having drafted just four players, it makes sense to add prospects to the pipeline. Whether Kelly himself is a good addition or not remains to be seen, but we do have some information to go on.

Parker Kelly, CL/W, 18, 5’10/11
2015-16 WHL (Prince Albert) 68-8-11-19 (0.27)
2016-17 WHL (Prince Albert) 72-21-22-43 (0.59, 4th ppg)

On the surface the center has middling numbers, but those anemic totals put him second on his team in points and fourth in points-per game. A strong second half put him on the map for the draft, but only two guides listed him (I slotted him in the seventh round) and only one (Hockey Prospects) included a scouting profile, which can be summarized as follows:
-can play both wing and center
-exceptional skating and work ethic
-impressive agility and explosiveness
-elusive on the cycle
-keeps his feet moving and creates turnovers
-a pest
-smart defensive positioning
-not offensively creative, but above average on-ice vision
-heavy, accurate shot

For the org clearly his performance in both development camp and the rookie tournament was sufficient to sign him (for my part his skating and tenacity were well in evidence in the latter). He’s an undersized addition (5’10 or 5’11 depending on where you look), which is a nice change of pace for the size-obsessed club. The “pest” label concerns me, because every pest the org has drafted has bombed badly (Vincent Dunn is the current poster boy for this), but I’m not going to get hung up on that just yet.

Because of his age and the league he’s from he’ll be returning to junior this season (and next), so the return on investment is some ways off, but while he’s not an exciting prospect (in the sense that his ceiling is low), he’s potentially a useful one down the line.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

pierre dorion

The Nichols‘ stenography service was plugged in and he offers us opinions on the words Pierre Dorion gives us. I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment:

I don’t want to say that a step back would be devastating to the team’s overall picture, but it would affirm the opinions of those who believe that the Senators had outlier success last year and are due for regression this season.

I would be one of those who have that opinion, although I believe Dorion is genuinely deluded thinking his team that can challenge for the Cup. In reference to Craig Anderson Nichols says:

When he plays fewer games, his numbers thrive. Whether there’s any sound reason for it is open for discussion.

I don’t think we need to parse the reason, but simply accept that this is how it is for him. Nichols could have spent more time mentioning how thin the talent on the Sens blueline is–after Karlsson there’s no true #2 (or even #3) defenseman–it’s a collection of marginal players who at best are #4’s on a more well-rounded team.

That’s a pretty passive statement regarding MacArthur’s ability to play this season. If I had to guess, it sounds like the organization already knows one way or another whether MacArthur will play this season.

And Nichols wins the prize as MacArthur did not pass his medical. As for where various high end prospects will play it will depend on their performance in camp and exhibition games–the org has been unwilling or unable to show patience when it comes them in the past (eg Ceci, Lazar, etc), and while I’d like them down in Belleville I’m dubious that will be the case. As for the old Bryan Murray canard of adding another forward: how are the Sens going to pay for one? With the internal budget it’s just not going to happen.

charlie

I wrote about Ottawa’s decision to remove 1,500 seats from the arena and Scott Stinson lays the blame at the feet of the CFL–while you can make that argument I don’t think it’s a good one (for instance, the downward trend in season tickets starts well before the arrival of the Redblacks).

belleville sens

James Gordon writes a human interest piece on Belleville goaltender Danny Taylor for those interested. Speaking of the BSens, Randy Lee signed another player to an AHL contract, inking 26-year old winger Daniel Ciampini, who has been a productive ECHL player (76-26-40-66) since he finished his college career.

Callum writes a gushing piece on the Sens prospects which ends with this:

A 29th place finish is absolutely not in the cards for Belleville in the AHL this season. The likes of Jason Akeson and Phil Varone will not be leading the B Sens in scoring with a measly 51 points. And when the injury bug hits in the big leagues, as it always does, Ottawa will have a far superior group to choose from.

He’s conflating his belief that a better prospect pool means better times in Belleville. As I mentioned in my early look at their roster months ago, even with Chabot and White in the lineup scoring is going to be a problem. While the team should be better than the last two anemic seasons, it’s blueline is still paper thin (especially if Chabot is in the NHL) and there’s no established scorer (Akeson was 18th in the league in points-per-game).

I posted my thoughts on the rookie tournament (unfortunately only one of the two games was broadcast). Speaking of the tournament, Pius Suter isn’t the only Swiss prospect at an NHL training camp while having an active NLA contract–Vincent Praplan is in the same situation with San Jose (he’s one of the European free agents I identified months ago).

wichita-thunder-logo

Justin Crandall, Wichita’s big free agent signing, has jumped ship to play in Denmark. Without him the team will be dependent on Edmonton (and Ottawa) to provide offense. In the wake of his departure they signed Taylor Makin, but the low-scoring pugilist with a WHL/University background is no replacement for Candall’s scoring.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

Gnomes_plan

The Sens have removed 1,500 seats from their arena in a curious move to battle perception. This is an interesting decision and I wanted to look at a couple of quotes before drawing my own conclusions:

If you’ve got less product to sell, it’s easier to sell … When your season ticket base is so small, you’ve got so many single tickets to sell and it’s just difficult to do

That curious logic comes from Sens president Tom Anselmi (scarcity boosts the price of things people want, not the other way around). Ian Mendes (whose piece I’m using) adds:

Some estimates pegged the number at fewer than 8,000 season ticket holders last season

To me what’s interesting is the Sens inability to excite the marketplace. Ten years ago the Sens had over 13,500 season ticket holders, but the policy of marketing “win win win” has seen both that base and attendance drop. Whatever you think the “norm” for season tickets in the city is (11k? 12k?) the ownership and management are unwilling or unable to persuade them. It’s an honest admission to how out of touch the org is with fans, but also illustrates a stubborn refusal to try anything different. The problem can be traced to Melnyk’s financial need to push for the playoffs each season, which feeds into the internal budget; his unwillingness to dynamically change his front office is more about poor decision making. Not even the miracle playoff run this past season has turned off fan cynicism (despite cheerleading from some). Management and ownership have left fans in the paralyzed situation where every season is dictated by the health and performance of one player (having lost the man who picked him, Anders Forsberg, way back in 2010–Tim Murray scooped him up for Buffalo a few years ago). So will the move actually change perception? It’s doubtful.

insert_name_here

The Sens signed Chris VandeVelde to a PTO. The 30-year old forward played with the hapless Flyers last year, but doesn’t have good numbers are either the NHL or AHL level. I think there’s no chance the Sens sign him. Off the top of my head I can’t remember this management group ever signing a PTO to an NHL contract, but I could be forgetting someone.

Speaking of tryouts, Pius Suter has made it to main camp. The Swiss FA isn’t guaranteed anything, but it’s a compliment to him to move forward from the rookie tournament (it’s hard not to think he was promised this in order to miss the start of ZSC’s season).

belleville sens

Matt Tidcombe writes a piece on Jordan Murray (who signed to a two-year AHL deal) which goes into the factors that made him attractive to the org:

two USports national titles in back-to-back years … he won also won back-to-back USports Defenceman of the Year awards while also making three straight USports All-Canadian First Teams, among numerous other accolades.

Canadian University is not a strong development league, but players occasionally do come out of it (Joel Ward among others). Whether signing the 24 year old to an extended deal is worth it for Belleville remains to be seen.

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Wichita signed two players: former Montreal pick and NCAA grad Mark MacMillan (4-113/10), who spent the past two seasons struggling with St. John’s in the AHL; as well as undrafted QMJHL defenseman and pugilist Samuel Thibault (10 career goals, 8 career fights). ECHL rosters tend to get overstuffed to begin with so a number of these players will be shuffled off to the SPHL or FHL.

freeagent

Even this late in the game the FA signings continue, as the Flyers signed undersized QMJHLer Ivan Kosorenkov (who sailed through the last two drafts–I had him listed in the fourth round this year, but didn’t list him in 2016–ISS, who did, thought he was a third-round pick). He’s the seventh CHL FA signed this off-season.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Thoughts on the Senators Rookie Tournament

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Ottawa’s rookies won their first game 8-2 against Montreal’s rookies. Incredibly the game had no coverage at all–no TV, no radio, no stream. While it’s understandable that LeafsTV had no interest in broadcasting the contest, it would have been a simple matter to use the arena feed and stream it (on SensTV or wherever)–I can’t imagine LeafsTV would have denied Ottawa if they’d asked–the Sens are contributing a third of the talent for the tournament. I call it a failed marketing opportunity, particularly as it’s the only game Thomas Chabot and Colin White played in.

In the absence of video we are left with reports, the best of which comes from Colin who was there (Ary was also live tweeting, but with restraint–his most complete statement coming here; very brief video highlights were posted by RDS). Before getting into the results it’s worth keeping in mind: 1) Montreal was playing for a second straight night, 2) the Habs started their ATO goaltender (an unremarkable QMJHLer), who gave up 5 goals on 28 shots. Here’s the Sens lineup for the game:
Goaltenders: Hogberg-Bailie
Defense: Chabot-Jaros, Murray-Erkamps, Lajoie-Beaudoin-England
Forwards: Perron-Brown-Rodewald, Formenton-White-Gagne, Gennaro-Chlapik-Batherson, Kelly-Suter-Dow-Topping

I haven’t found a scoresheet for the game, but can piece the basics together from Colin’s piece and the RDS highlights:
First
1. Rodewald (Brown, Perron)
2. Montreal (Mete)
3. Gennaro (Lajoie, White)
4. Gagne (unknown)
Shots 16-13 Ottawa
Second
5. Kelly (unknown)
6. Jaros (Perron, Chabot) (pp)
Shots 18-9 Ottawa
Third
7. Chlapik (Chabot, unknown)
8. Topping (unassisted)
9. Montreal (Ebbing)
10. Brown (Rodewald, unknown)
Shots 14-11 for Montreal

Both Colin and Ary praised Gagne, but I did see someone talk about his footspeed as a problem (something noted when he was drafted)–the same attendee made the same complaint about Englund. These footspeed complaints seemed on point in the first period of the next game, but faded away as the game went on (at least at this level of play).

Game number two was actually broadcast on LeafsTV, with highlights here, so I can offer my own thoughts on it (a 4-3 shootout win by Ottawa). First, the roster:
Goalies: Bailie, Hogberg
Defence: Lajoie-Jaros,  Murray-Beaudoin, Englund-Erkamps-Donaghey
Forwards: Perron-Brown-Rodewald, Formenton-Chlapik-Gagne, Kelly-Suter-Batherson, Topping-Gennaro-Dow

Notes: Chabot and White weren’t dressed; Beaudoin did not get second pairing ice time (Englund did, playing mostly with Jaros); Suter spent part of the second and third period on the second line (Formenton sliding down), with Gagne moving up to the first (Perron sliding down). Dow played the least.

Summary (again nothing official–Bob McGill kept yammering during the broadcast so I couldn’t hear the announcer for the assists on the goals):
First
1. Leafs (bad angle shot Bailie should have had; lazy backcheck by Chlapik)
2. Leafs (rebound opportunity; Murray looked for the puck instead of taking the man and that’s the goal scorer)
3. Leafs on the PP (bad coverage down low–Batherson didn’t collapse down)
Shots: 10-10
Second
No scoring
Shots: 13-9 Ottawa
Third
4. Englund (floater hit a Leaf and went in)
5. Gennaro finishes a 2-on-1 with Topping (created by a turnover generated by Jaros)
6. Chlapik bangs in a great pass by Batherson (Lajoie was key as well, keeping the puck in)
Shots: 9-7 Ottawa
OT
No Scoring
Shootout
Lajoie scores 5-hole (the 6th Sens shooter)

General observations
The Sens were slow to start the game (Gagne in particular looked like he was stuck in neutral); teammates did not trust Bailie in the net which had them playing defensively. The Sens spent most of the first period in their own end and had few if any scoring chances. The second was a much better period, with better skating (including Gagne), more aggressive play once Hogberg came in, and they were particularly dominant during a 4-on-4 (as they would in the same situation in the third). They had the best chances in the third and earned the tie and the win.

Player observations
Bailie: looked exactly like what he is–an emergency replacement from the Canadian University system–albeit only one of the three goals he gave up was truly bad
Hogberg: excellent, stopping all shots (including during the shootout); the Sens style of play changed dramatically once he was in the crease, taking far more chances and dominating the game; he was calm in the net with good movement
Beaudoin: almost completely invisible (I forgot he was in the game for awhile); the only play he made that I noted was him making an unpressured pass to the wrong team in the third
Murray: more bad than good: got puck-watching on the Leafs second goal; threw a big hit in the first, then took a bad penalty (which the refs gave to Gagne); made a good and bad defensive play in the second, along with a brutal giveaway in the third that Hogberg bailed him out on
Erkamps: largely invisible, with two plays standing out–getting undressed in the second period; throwing a good hit (separating the player from the puck) in the third
Donaghey: didn’t play much in the first, but gradually joined the regular rotation; had two plays of note: a scoring chance off a great pass from Gagne in the second, then a giveaway in his own zone in the third
Englund: played a quiet, safe game, and he scored
Jaros: played a lot and most of it was good–huge hit early, but got beat badly on a inside-outside deke in the first; made a hit to create the turnover that lead to the Genarro goal; also made a good defensive play early in OT
Lajoie: fantastic game from him–showing both speed and finesse; at this level of competition he was very good; among the many things he did well he was very good at keeping the puck in at the blueline (one of those instances leading to the Chlapik goal); he also won the game in the shootout
Dow: outside of getting matching roughing penalties nothing he did sticks out
Perron: while Ary liked his game, I did not–he was mostly invisible through the first two periods, negating a powerplay in the third along with fumbling an opportunity set-up by Suter that period; for someone whose meant to generate offense he was a non-factor
Formenton: didn’t accomplish much other than being on the ice for Englund’s goal (Ary was happier with his play); a lot of speed, but for me he didn’t drive the play
Kelly: a very active player in terms of being involved, with two plays of note: drawing a penalty in the first and a scoring chance in the second
Topping: largely invisible, but made one big play: the pass on the 2-on-1 for the Sens second goal
Rodewald: a pretty quiet game, particularly in the second half–he had a good scoring chance in the second, but his most notable play was making a terrible pass to Perron on a 2-on-1
Suter: had a good game despite not appearing on the scoresheet; notable plays–making a great pass in the second that came to nothing, then a scoring chance on a deflection; in the third he made a nice drop pass to Perron in the slot which came to nothing; a 3-on-2 he generated later was shoveled to the goaltender by Gennaro; he also drew a penalty the Sens frittered away
Brown: had a solid if unremarkable game–a few scoring chances (one in the slot just before the Englund goal), some good passes, but not dominant
Gagne: a very slow first period, but was better afterwards–most notably with a scoring chance and a great pass to Donaghey for another (both in the second)
Batherson: had a slow start and wears the goat horns on the third Toronto goal as he failed to collapse down low; other notable moments–two great scoring chances (early third and in OT), setting up the tying goal, and then taking a dumb penalty in OT
Gennaro: came to the fore once the Sens opened up, first with a great scoring chance early and then scoring Ottawa’s second goal
Chlapik: it took him awhile to get going (a lackadaisical backcheck contributing to Toronto’s first goal), but he scored to tie the game and had a good chance in OT

In the end the primary standout was Lajoie, followed by Hogberg. As a group the Sens were tenacious, but I think the goaltender switch was the primary factor in them making the comeback, as the players felt like they could take chances and push the play.

Only three players on the roster were looking for contracts (Suter, Gennaro, and Beaudoin). I’m not sure Suter did enough to earn himself a contract (assuming that’s what he’s attempting), but such a small sample size makes him hard to judge. He was more present, in this game, than the other two, but Gennaro put himself on the scoresheet and the Sens tend to sway that direction. Beaudoin, who was invisible, should have no shot whatsoever. Given that the Sens don’t need to feed an ECHL affiliate, there’s no reason for them to load up on AHL-contracts, so I wouldn’t be surprised if none of them were signed.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

prospects

Ottawa released it’s rookie tournament roster and as always, I’m interested in who is participating that’s not already part of the organisation. Much like the development camp we have an unusual European participant who I’ll look at below (in the former case, Carl Persson’s development camp audition lead to nothing); a number of players from that camp are included on the roster (noted with an asterix):
*Charles-David Beaudoin 23, RD (CIS/AHL) 17-3-6-9/6-0-2-2
Went to the CIS after an unremarkable career in the Q; left early to turn pro and didn’t show much in limited ECHL and AHL duty
Bobby Dow 18, RW (Kemptville, CCHL) 53-24-35-59
Draft eligible this year, he’ll be looking to improve his stock for 2018
*Matteo Gennaro 20, CL (Calgary, WHL) 69-43-37-80
Former Winnipeg pick (7-203/15), he’s looking for a pro contract after leading the Hitmen in scoring
*Parker Kelly 18, CL (Prince Albert, WHL) 72-21-22-43
Draft eligible this year, he’ll be looking to improve his stock for 2018; inexplicably I reversed his names in my development camp piece
Pius Suter 21, C/LW (ZSC, NLA) 38-17-11-28
Played with former Sens prospect Roman Wick (as well as Ryan Shannon and I-could-have-been-Tarasenko David Rundblad); he was expected to be picked in the 2015 draft (I had him slotted in the fourth round), but size scared off GM’s; I wrote a full profile of him in case the Sens pull the trigger and sign him
*Jordan Topping 20, LW (Tri-City/WHL) 43-28-25-53
Draft eligible player looking to to get picked next year

The Silver Seven’s Countdown completes below. As per last time I’ll ignore the lack of rationale for how players are being compared:

#9 Filip Chlapik (Colin)
CL, 20, 2-48/15, QMJHL 57-34-57-91 (2nd in ppg)
This is a good review from Colin, who takes note of his reliance on Daniel Sprong as well as providing good statistical analysis–something woefully lacking in most of the previous posts. Where I differ is in Colin’s assumption he’ll get top-six minutes–given the crowd of middling free agents Randy Lee stuffed into the lineup I think he’s more likely to start as a third-liner (as I mentioned in my early look at Belleville’s roster). When he was drafted the primary concern was his skating (“Kid has bad boots”), with an NHL upside as a third-line player who can kill penalties and see spot duty on the second powerplay unit.

#8 Francis Perron (Raaymakers)
LW/RW, 21, 7-190/14, AHL 68-6-20-26 (11th in ppg)
A lot of optimism from the optimistic Raaymakers, despite Perron’s lackluster rookie season (happily he includes some statistical data). The comparison is made to Mike Hoffman, who also had an underwhelming rookie season (albeit buried behind a talented, Calder Cup winning lineup). I agree with being patient here and I’m not alarmed at his rookie struggles (as I mentioned in my season review), but I think Raaymakers’ notion that he’ll be called up this season is very unlikely. Just like Chlapik above I suspect Perron will get buried on the third line because of Lee’s various FA signings–performance and injuries could see that change, naturally.

#7 Marcus Hogberg (Ary M)
GL, 22-23, 3-78/13, SHL 1.89 .932
Ary’s profile of him is excellent (you can read what scouts said before the draft here). An important thing he points out is:

The Sens seem to subscribe to a development model where they don’t really care where a prospect plays, once they’re getting top minutes

This seems largely the case (although it does not apply to Gabriel Gagne or certain prospects in the AHL–like Cody Ceci or Curtis Lazar–three examples that have failed so badly you’d think they’d learn the lesson). Going back to Hogberg, he is an excellent prospect with great tools and despite the org talking about “competition” to backup Danny Taylor there’s no question that Hogberg will be given that opportunity out of the gate. Whether Driedger can push him out will be down to performance, as Kleinendorst showed his patience with org ideas is about seven weeks (that’s when he benched Zack Stortini, yet another Randy Lee favourite).

#6 Logan Brown (Callum)
CL, 19, 1-11/16, OHL 35-14-26-40 (2nd ppg)
This might be the least substantial piece of the series, which is surprising given the kind of prospect Brown is. Ottawa traded two picks to the Devils to ensure they landed Brown (Jersey picked Michael McLeod and Brandon Gignac)–trades for tall players with New Jersey are a Pierre Dorion special (eg Gabriel Gagne). Despite missing a lot of time Brown finished just behind teammate (and 2017 first-rounder) Gabriel Vildardi in scoring. He had a small slip in production, but there’s no cause for concern. Scouts see him as a playmaking, second-line center. He’ll spend this year demolishing the OHL.

#5 Cody Ceci (Beata)
DR, 23-24, 1-15/12, NHL 79-2-15-17 (does not compute)
While I’m aware this is a list based on age, it feels strange lumping Ceci into what is mostly a list of prospects. There are mountains of data on the failed first-rounder and at this point those looking for improvement (including the org) have entered the religious side of things. If Ceci was a goaltender I’d say there’s still a chance for things to radically improve, but the clock is one-second to midnight for the defender. Even fans who pay no attention to stats understand he’s underwhelming and for the org (always stubborn in admitting the obvious, cf Jared Cowen) this is probably a make-or-break season for him.

#4 Fredrik Claesson (Trevor)
DL, 24-25, 5-126/11, NHL 33-3-8-11 (sample size throws off comparison)
Everyone loves Freddy. How can you not? He’s gregarious and a hard worker. Trevor rightly points out that Freddy struggled with Binghamton the previous season–the dark days of Luke Richardson were not kind to him and the normally reliable Claesson shared the struggles of his teammates. Despite being smaller than the Sens typically like their defenseman, Claesson has always been an intense, physical player who is defensively responsible. Trevor (forgiving the small sample size) illustrates that Freddy compares well to other second-pairing players. Can Freddy live up to the hype? This season should give us the kind of sample size that will be telling.

#3 Colin White (Colin)
C/RW, 20, 1-21/15, NCAA 35-16-17-33 (1st ppg)
There’s a lot of good things in Colin’s piece, but the ceiling he suggests does not match the scouting consensus and I think fans need to temper their offensive expectations for him. Scouts questioned his ability to score at the NHL level, although his defensive play was praised when he was drafted (two scouting orgs topped him out as a third liner, although one did compare him to Patrice Bergeron). I hope he spends most or all of this season in Belleville where he can round out his game and we’ll get a better sense of his offensive potential, but having pointlessly blown a year of his ELC the Sens are likely to have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to call-ups.

#2 Jean-Gabriel Pageau (BLT)
C/RW, 24-25, NHL 82-12-21-33
Another established NHL player where there really aren’t many mysteries–that reality is reflected by the brief post about him. I like JGP–the question with him is how good is he when he isn’t carrying around dead weight like Tom Pyatt? Maybe this is the season we get to find out given Brassard’s injury.

#1 Thomas Chabot (Ary M)
DL, 20, QMJHL 34-10-25-35 (1st d, 3rd team ppg)
Ary does a great job in his look at Chabot, but he doesn’t mention the Sens’ boondoggles in handling him this past season–pointlessly keeping him in Ottawa at the start of the year without playing him before eventually sending him to the Q, and then not understanding the rules for recalling him when they wanted him back late in the season. Despite that he had a great year in the CHL and expectations are boiling over amongst the fanbase. Ary discusses the pros and cons of where to play Chabot (NHL or AHL), but thankfully I think the Sens have painted themselves into a corner with one-way contracts such that they can’t go full Cody Ceci and rush him into the NHL. While the org (and some fans) might think another miracle playoff run is in the cards, I do not, and the best thing for the team’s top prospect is to get his feet wet in the AHL. Ary points out that the Sens hired Chabot’s coach from Saint John (Paul Boutilier) to be an assistant in Belleville and that’s a clear signal they want him to continue to work with Chabot (my brain apparently skipped over Steve Stirling getting booted into a scouting position in June).

Here’s how The Silver Seven‘s list goes (their ages in brackets as well as their expected league this year):
1. Thomas Chabot (20) AHL/NHL
2. Jean-Gabriel Pageau (24-25) NHL
3. Colin White (20) AHL/NHL
4. Fredrik Claesson (24-25) NHL
5. Cody Ceci (23) NHL
6. Logan Brown (19) OHL
7. Marcus Hogberg (22-23) AHL/ECHL
8. Francis Perron (21) AHL
9. Filip Chlapik (20) AHL
10. Ben Harpur (22) AHL
11. Nick Paul (22) AHL
12. Christian Jaros (21) AHL
13. Andreas Englund (21) AHL
14. Shane Bowers (18) NCAA
15. Maxime Lajoie (19-20) WHL
16. Filip Ahl (20) SHL
17. Chris Driedger (23) ECHL/AHL
18. Gabriel Gagne (20-21) AHL
19. Alex Formenton (17) OHL
20. Christian Wolanin (22) NCAA
21. Drake Batherson (19) QMJHL
22. Cody Donaghey (21) AHL/ECHL
23. Markus Nurmi (19) Liiga
24. Kelly Summers (21) NCAA
25. Macoy Erkamps (22) AHL

Not making the cut are Vincent Dunn (21-22, ECHL), Shane Eiserman (21, NCAA), Jordan Hollett (18, WHL), Todd Burgess (21, NCAA), Joel Daccord (21, NCAA), Miles Gendron (21, NCAA), and Patrick Sieloff (23, AHL). Of these seven players I think Gendron should have been on the list, but otherwise those that remain are either terrible (Dunn) or there’s just not enough data (Burgess and Hollett).

What sort of list would I have? I’d make it a prospect only list–established NHLers should, in my mind, be compared to other established NHLers. Secondly I’d make the point of the list to be based on potential–who could be the best player among the prospects, rather than who is comparatively the best at the moment (this also brings up what’s valued most–for me it’s puck possession and offense). I’d also put a stronger emphasis on the commonalities from scouting rather than picking one or two to quote from, as well as having a more consistent statistical element for each entry (some blurbs have virtually no stats at all, while others are very thorough). Ultimately things like this are just a way to kill a long and generally quiet summer  and in that light, it’s been entertaining.

So what’s my list? Briefly (using best-case projections via the scouting consensus–tempered by subsequent performance–for those with similar projections they are listed in order of the most likely first):
1. Thomas Chabot (2 D who can play PP/PK)
2. Logan Brown (2nd liner who can play on the 1st PP )
3. Colin White (2nd liner who can play on the 1st PK)
4. Marcus Hogberg (starter)
5. Christian Wolanin (4 D and 2nd PP)
6. Filip Chlapik (3rd line, 1st PK, 2nd PP)
7. Francis Perron (3rd line, 2nd PP)
8. Nick Paul (3rd line, 2nd PP)
9. Drake Batherson (3rd line, 2nd PP)
10. Gabriel Gagne (3rd line, 2nd PP)
11. Shane Bowers (3rd line, 1st PK)
12. Alex Formenton (3rd line)
13. Markus Nurmi (3rd line)
14. Filip Ahl (3rd line)
15. Todd Burgess (3rd line)
16. Miles Gendron (5 D, 2nd PP)
17. Cody Donaghey (5 D, 2nd PP)
18. Ben Harpur (5 D, 1st PK)
19. Christian Jaros (5 D, 1st PK)
20. Andreas Englund (5 D, 1st PK)
21. Maxime Lajoie (5 D)
22. Chris Driedger (backup)
23. Jordan Hollett (backup)
24. Kelly Summers (6 D)
25. Macoy Erkamps (6 D)

Listing in this way does give younger, less proven players a higher ranking, but again my interest is in potential.
echl

It has been awhile since I updated the Sens ECHL “partner”–the place where at least one of the org’s goaltenders will be going (Edmonton will be contributing five players). Since then Wichita has signed a goaltender along with two additional defensemen and forwards:
Joel Rumpel (G) ECHL 2.96 .919 – only played nine games last season with Cincinnati; the NCAA grad is in his third pro season without fully establishing himself (he’s won two Kelly Cups…but as a backup)
Guillaume Lepine (DL) AHL 54-1-2-3 – Randy Lee favourite (surely he made a phone call to encourage the signing), he spent two and a half seasons blundering around Binghamton’s blueline before Kleinendorst finally benched him; he’s mercifully off Belleville’s roster as he’s been signed as a player/coach
Alex Barron (DR) France 44-3-26-29 – an unremarkable NCAA player, I’m not sure being the seventh most productive blueliner in the French league means much of anything
Gerrad Grant (LW) ECHL 67-6-14-20 – former QMJHL player spent five years at Saint Mary’s University where he put up unremarkable numbers–he played with Wichita this past season
Matt Tipoff (C/LW) EIHL 47-11-21-32 – former OHL player also spent five years at Saint Mary’s before spending a year in the UK league (he’s the third on the roster with a Saint Mary’s connection); he had better numbers than Grant so seems like a safer risk (his signing seems heavily based on teammate and coach recommendations)

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New Jersey signed NCAA free agent Will Butcher–he was drafted by Colorado (5-123/13), but didn’t sign with them.  This puts the NCAA FA tally at 24 coming into this season (vs 21 from Europe).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)