European Free Agents of Interest

freeagent

I’ve been posting a piece like this for years (lot’s of publications do something similar with undrafted NCAA players, but that’s never really translated elsewhere).  I find it interesting to see who NHL GM’s take a chance on and which of those actually turn out (a note for Sens fans: Ottawa doesn’t partake).  You can see last year’s list here.  For a look at how to judge production in Europe and how it translates to the NHL, go here; while you can see European free agent success stories here.  My focus is on players 25 and younger.

SHL
Scoring in the league is quite low
Johan Sundstrom, C, 24, 6’3 Frolunda 43-12-26-38
The first player listed that was actually drafted (2-50/11), spending three years spinning his tires in the Islanders system; that AHL experience may scare GM’s away, but equally they may think he wasn’t handled properly; he lead his team in both scoring and PPG (points-per-game)
Sebastian Aho D, 21, 5’10 Skelleftea 46-10-20-30
He could still be drafted, but has been passed over quite a few times already (he was ranked fairly highly in 2015, but largely forgotten last year); the reluctance is related to his size, but perhaps this year’s performance will be enough to overcome those fears (he’s second in the league in points and PPG among defensemen)
Par Lindholm, C, 25, 5’10 Skelleftea 35-14-15-29
Having a career year, albeit on a very talented team
Allsvenskan (tier-2)
Victor Ejdsell C/LW, 21, 6’5 Karlskoga 49-24-32-56
Given his size and gaudy numbers there’s a good chance someone will sign him

Liiga
Scoring ratios are higher than in the SHL
Henrik Haapala LW/RW, 23, 5’9 Tappara 48-14-43-57
Leads the league in both scoring and points-per-game, perhaps enough production to overcome NHL objections to his size; his stats aren’t being boosted by exceptionally talented linemates, so at least by Liiga standards, the Finn has had an epic season
Iikka Kangasniemi LW/RW, 22, 5’8 Pelicans 42-10-28-38
Given that he’s on a talented team these numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt; his size also makes it unlikely he’ll get a look, but it remains a possibility
Antti Suomela C, 22, 6’0 JYP 50-20-20-40
Leads his team in scoring and PPG, albeit he may be the beneficiary of a pair of veteran linemates
Mikko Lehtonen D, 23, 6’0 KooKoo 43-6-19-25
Currently loaned to HV71 (SHL) where he has lower numbers, he’s the top-performing blueliner in this age group in the Liiga, although GM’s might want to see him in another league for a full-season before taking a chance on him
Alexandar Georgiyev G, 21, 6’1 TPS 1.63 .924
Could be drafted as an overager; having a career year leading all goaltenders in his age group in both GAA and save percentage
Dominik Hrachovina G, 22, 5’10 Tappara 2.05 .922
Having a similar season to his last (a better GAA, but same save percentage); he’s probably too short for NHL teams to sign him

NLA
Scoring is about on par with the Liiga
Lino Martschini RW, 24, 5’6 Zug 50-23-26-49
I’ve brought the diminutive player up before, but his size scares GM’s away
Vincent Praplan LW/RW, 22, 5’11 Kloten 50-15-27-42
Played in the OHL (13-14) making him more familiar to scouts; he’s third on his team in scoring with enough separation from the next tier of players that his numbers don’t seem inflated
Yannick Rathgeb D, 21, 6’1 Gotteron 45-11-23-34
Played two seasons in the OHL (13-15), which is either a pro or con depending on how you look at it; he’s far and away the most productive blueliner on his team
Luca Boltshauser G, 23, 6’0 Kloten 2.60 .925
On the small side for NHL goaltenders, but has the best save percentage of other backstops in his age group
Niklas Schlegel G, 22, 5’10 ZSC 2.07 .920
Better overall numbers than his partner, although he’s played fewer games; on the small side which tends to prevent goaltenders from coming over

KHL
The huge gap in quality of teams creates wildly variant stats
Vladimir Tkachyov LW, 21, 5’10 Vladivostok 49-14-25-39
Spent two seasons in the QMJLH (13-15) and was considered by a few for the draft in 2015; he’s second on his team in scoring with a large gap between he and the next tier of production; his size may cause some hesitation for some GMs
Miro Aaltonen C/W, 23, 5’10 Vityaz 59-19-25-44
Drafted (6-177/13), but I believe Anaheim’s rights to him expire at the end of the season making him a free agent; I’m assuming his continued time in Europe is a sign of either his disinterest in signing with the Ducks or vice versa; his KHL numbers could be boosted from linemates and his size may cause some hesitation
Jakub Jerabek D, 25, 5’11 Vityaz 59-5-29-34
I identified him a couple of years ago when he was in the Czech league; his size is an issue for the NHL, but he is miles ahead of his blueline teammates in production

Other leagues (Czech, DEL, etc)
It’s very infrequent for players to be signed directly from these leagues–typically a strong performance leads to playing for a better European league and then earning an NHL-contract
Tomas Hyka RW. 23, 5’11 Czech Mlada Boleslav 47-17-21-38
Spent two years in the QMJHL (11-13) and was drafted by Los Angeles (6-171/12), but never signed; he substantially leads his team in scoring and if not signed by an NHL team is likely headed to the KHL
Leo Pfoderl RW/LW. 23, 6’0 DEL Nurnberg 52-22-26-48
Third on his team in scoring and likely helped by talented teammates; more likely to jump to a better paying European league (NLA or KHL)

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

nothing-to-see-here

Before you can explore what the Sens did at the trade deadline you have to ask yourself this question: what is the team trying to achieve?  We know that ownership wants playoff gates above all else, so the mandate for Pierre Dorion is to make the playoffs and go as far as he can.  This eternal pursuit of making the playoffs is the seed of destruction that’s made the Senators the middling team that they are (with Ottawa’s internal budget and the city’s limited attraction for free agents the Cup isn’t realistic).  We don’t have to like (and I don’t) the mandate from ownership, but we have to accept it as the constraint under which a GM operates.  Dorion isn’t permitted to think long-term in the usual way; it’s all about making the playoffs now.  To that end we’ve seen both he and Bryan Murray make innumerable deals where the future is sacrificed for perceived short-term gain (inevitably veteran acquisitions, cf).  These “character” players have given the team…zero second round appearances.  The signing or acquisition of aging veterans since 07-08 has achieved absolutely nothing.  Why Dorion continues acquiring players like this is difficult to comprehend–I can only assume confirmation bias in what he observes elsewhere as well as his own tiny echo chamber makes evolving more or less impossible.

The trend of sacrificing prospects and picks to add older players continued this week, dashing any hopes fans might still have had that Dorion was going to represent a change from Bryan Murray.  Leading off the roster moves was the abysmal trade of prospect Jonathan Dahlen for the antique Alexandre Burrows, followed by picking up Viktor Stalberg and signing Chris DiDomenico (!).  I’d like to credit Dorion for jettisoning Curtis Lazar, but that’s exactly the kind of prospect other old school managers (ahem, Brian Burke) are willing to take chances on, so the only credit Dorion deserves is in understanding Lazar wasn’t going to improve.  As I mentioned on Twitter, these moves specifically reminded me of Murray in 2008 when he was desperately trying to keep open Daniel Alfredsson‘s Cup window by acquiring Mike Commodore and Martin Lapointe (for those who don’t remember, Ottawa was swept in the first round by Pittsburgh and none of the assets stuck around)–much of the rhetoric about Burrows echoes that about Lapointe.

Delving into the trades themselves there’s nothing to get excited about.  On the most basic end of it Burrows isn’t going to help the Sens go on a long playoff run and signing him to an extension is madness (his stats have long been inflated by his teammates; he’ll also be 36 in April in a league where players peak at 27).  The best case scenario is maybe the Sens win a round, Dahlen fails as a prospect, and Burrows finds someone on the Sens roster to boost his performance–that’s the best case scenario.  Another indicator of why this is being derided as a bad move is the reaction within the hockey community–it’s being called Vancouver GM Jim Benning’s best move thus far and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Nichols goes into the trade in great detail (Dorion’s defensiveness about the move is clear and, I think, a reaction to his peers, not the fans).

Stalberg peaked with Chicago in 2012 (I wonder why) and has accomplished very little the last four seasons.  He’s 31 and mercifully the Sens have not extended him, but he’s an even worse player than Burrows (maybe he’s the Oleg Saprykin of the season–Nichols is slightly more optimistic about him than I am).  It seems as though his addition is intended to help the PK, but as a rental that’s not worth the asset (3rd round pick) they gave up for him.

Chris DiDomenico is an interesting move intended for the AHL (if not this season, than next).  The 28-year old former Leaf pick comes off the scrapheap of Langnau in Switzerland (a full breakdown of him is below).  He’s signed to a two year, two-way contract and his AHL history (74-2-15-17) is part of why he easily cleared waivers.  Binghamton seems beyond help for this season, but maybe he’ll do something in Belleville next year.

Finally, Dorion managed to dump first-round bust Curtis Lazar (along with Binghamton blueliner and former Burke player Michael Kostka), in return for a much-needed second round pick and blueline depth in the form of Dallas prospect Jyrki Jokipakka.  The Finnish defender isn’t going to blow anyone away (Nichols reflects on his middling numbers), but with an expiring contract it’s a low risk acquisition required to get rid of Lazar.

At the end of the day the only exciting thing for me is the draft pick, but who knows what the Sens will do with it?  Does it really matter whether Ottawa loses in the first or second round?

Binghamton_Senators_svg

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last Binghamton update.  The team was treading water at that point (their hot streak having cooled) and when you look at their most recent performance (3-5-0, 0.375) the BSens have fully regressed to the mean.  Michael Kostka missed this entire slate of games (he’s out with an eye injury) and has since been traded to Calgary. Kleinendorst continues to juggle the blueline, returning to dressing seven defensemen on Sunday night (26th) to no avail.  Neither ECHL player given PTO’s has helped (Greger Hanson and Mike Cazzola).  In the five-straight losses the offense has largely ground to a halt.  The team has seen a lot of roster chaos, with Andrew Hammond returning (O’Connor sent to the ECHL–for more about that see below), who then got injured, and varying forwards being called up to Ottawa.

The promised a DiDomenico breakdown: C/RW, 6-164/07 (Tor)
10-11 ECHL Toledo 37-9-16-25 (0.67)
11-12 AHL Rockford 49-2-11-13 (0.26)
12-13 Italy Asiago 37-22-38-60
13-14 Italy Asiago 31-24-48-72
14-15 NLB Langnau 46-12-26-38 (0.82)
16-17 NLA Langnau 48-10-28-38 (0.79)

Acquired from Toronto by Chicago as part of the Kris Versteeg-Stalberg trade (a funny connection) in 2010. After failing out of the Blackhawk system he moved on to the Italian league and from there to the NLB and, as Langnau advanced into the NLA, he went with them.  He lead Langnau in scoring this season, albeit he’s second to Rob Schremp in PPG.  When it comes to the overall NLA scoring he clocks in at 30th.  He’s available to the Sens because Langnau failed to make the playoffs and the NLA’s regular season is over.  It’s very difficult to translate European numbers to the AHL, but to draw on an example Binghamton fans will be familiar with: Roman Wick coming off this season 37-15-16-31 (0.83), put up 70-20-22-42 (0.60) in the AHL–take the comparison with a very large grain of salt.

wichita-thunder-logo

I posted a full Wichita update not long ago, but it’s worth noting the team broke their 13-game losing streak on February 22nd (only to start a new one immediately afterwards).  The free-falling team is in danger of being caught by both the Indy Fuel and Elmira Jackals (the only ones they are ahead of) and Matt O’Connor‘s brief tenure was not the help they were looking for (0-2-0 4.63 .875, numbers slightly more terrible than Chris Driedger when he was sent down).  There seems to be nothing coach Malcolm Cameron or Thunder GM Joel Lomurno can do to stop the bleeding.

prospects

Grant McCagg has set up a site dedicated to the NHL draft. His lengthy preamble (almost 3,000 words!) is an excellent example of how, in any industry, you need to make connections.  It will be interesting to see what impact Recruites Hockey makes to draft coverage.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

matt o'connor

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

harpur

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

prospects

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

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

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

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

medium

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Binghamton_Senators_svg

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

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

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

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

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

wichita-thunder-logo

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

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

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

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

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

freeagent

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

chris-kelly

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

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

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

Gnomes_plan

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

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

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

Binghamton_Senators_svg

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

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

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

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

scoring-and-shots

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

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

Binghamton_Senators_svg

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

prospects

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

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

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

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

journalism

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

curtis lazar

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

New Jersey Devils v Ottawa Senators

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

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

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

6sp-erc neu #RLL

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

STATS

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

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

journalism

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

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

wichita-thunder-logo

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

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)