Senators News & Notes

Best Hockey Smiles: Bobby Clarke - YouTube

One thing that’s been clear about the org since Trent Mann was promoted in 2017 is, above and beyond seeking certainty over potential, looking for character and truculence. We can (and I do) make fun of the latter–something I associate with Brian Burke and an approach that failed him after its solitary success with Anaheim in 2007 (a team largely built by his predecessors, Al Coates and Bryan Murray). Putting aside its efficacy, what I do think drafting and trading for players like this does is appeal to the fanbase–not casual fans (who are interested in wins and scoring)–but the hardcore. In a strong hockey market, focusing on these fans is a bit like MMO’s targeting whales–the big spenders, the people who commit. To that end, I think it’s a good economic strategy. The concern that remains is production–they can agitate, they can hit, but can they score? It remains an open question.

Jake Sanderson Hockey Stats and Profile at hockeydb.com

When you go against the grain there’s always resistance. I’ve briefly discussed the high opinion (shared by the org) of Jake Sanderson and I think my comments have been misunderstood by some. I compared him to players like Lassi Thomson and Jacob Bernard-Docker, not because I think they are literally the same kind of player, but in reference to the potential they were given by scouts when drafted (there’s rarely universal agreement and you can see the opposite opinion here, but I mean the consensus of what I’ve seen). All three prospects had worries about their offensive upside and were slotted as top-four blueliners–that’s all I meant by the comparison. This isn’t my opinion of the player (I’ve haven’t seen any of them play), but a reflection of worries held by scouts–that doesn’t make them right, it’s simply food for thought. Does Sanderson have more potential than the other two? I would hope so, because he was picked far higher in the draft (meaning his talent is considered better), but that wasn’t the point. I’d like nothing better than the guy to be a hall of fame defenseman for Ottawa, but the org habitually over praises their prospects (Jared Cowen comes to mind–someone we now know was riding the coattails of Jared Spurgeon), so I take a wait-and-see approach.

While it’s clear the Sens want to move Logan Brown (something that may prove impossible), more and more I wonder if the same fate awaits Erik Brannstrom. There’s no chance at that they want Brannstrom and Mete in the lineup at the same time, so either the former is intended for the BSens or will get traded (perhaps in an effort to fill one of Pierre McGuire’s 7-man formula).

Speaking of the BSens, one of the fascinating things about the upcoming season is how much the team’s success will depend on their record against just four teams. While almost 70% of their season is played within their division, most of that will be taken up by Laval and Toronto (each 12 games), and Syracuse and Rochester (8 games each). That’s 40 of 72 games (55%). When it comes time to preview the BSens, I’ll take a look at what’s expected for those teams as well.

Scoring in the NHL has started to increase the last four years [based, it seems, on coaching more than anything else], which is an obvious good thing after remaining stagnant for seven (an unprecedented length of time in the NHL to lack variation). This small change comes long after other major leagues took steps to ensure their own games became more entertaining. With that said, it remains below where it needs to be, still lagging behind all historical eras save the primordial pre-Original Six (specifically 23-24 to 40-41). The ten highest scoring games in NHL history are within a twenty-year period (1977-1996), with nine of them ten in the first half of that; the most points recorded in a season stretch from the 70-71 to 95-96, again clustering from the late 70s into the early 90s. This isn’t to say the NHL needs to consistently hit the highs of that era, but a league where major records can’t be challenged has no chance of breaking through the static of the other high profile sports they compete with (outside the homerun chases in the 90s, the MLB has been sliding towards oblivion for decades, cf). Where is the sweet spot for hockey? It’s hard to say, but let’s look at the numbers:
Original Six (42-43 to 66-67) 2.93
Expansion (68-69 to 78-79) 2.96 (+0.03)
1980s to Pre-Lockout (79-80 to 93-94) 3.71 (+0.75)
Dead Puck Era (94-95 to 03-04) 2.76 (-0.95)
Post Lockout Era (05-06 to present) 2.85 (+0.09)
The first era was long enough that it has its own internal structure, with higher scoring both at the beginning and end, with a ten-year long Dead Puck Era of its own (from 48-49 to 57-58). The actual high point is 1981-82 (not for the league however, as 43-44 holds that record for the eras we’re sampling). The most popular time for hockey was during the 70s and 80s and, despite continual expansion, the NHLs unwillingness to open the game up has lead to it sinking back down into a regional phenomena heavily impacted by winning. With only 50% of teams playoff bound (unlike the 66% in the Original Six or 76% of the 1980s), soft fanbases quickly checkout when their team is going nowhere–there are just so many other options for their entertainment dollars. I’m happy that the NHL is finally trending in the right direction, but entropy is a powerful force and I feel like a renewed slide towards low scoring affairs could be just around the corner.

HFBoards (@hfboards_) | Twitter

I’m surprised HFBoards is still around. A website from an Internet era of two decades earlier, many of the same people post on it and I suppose that fits the older demographic associated with sports. The boards are something that made an impact on me back when I started writing about hockey (for The Hockey Herald in 2007), although I rarely visited the site once I started writing here.

Atlanta Gladiators - Wikipedia

Another Atlanta signing, as goaltender Chris Nell has been signed. The 27-year old NCAA grad failed out of the Rangers organization as an FA-signing and has put up poor numbers in the ECHL.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

ROOKIE: Synonyms and Related Words. What is Another Word for ROOKIE? -  GrammarTOP.com

The rookie tournament is always fun and with the roster released we can take a peak at the ATOs included (one PTO as well). While it’s not often ATOs make their way into the org, it does happen from time-to-time (I’m excluding Xavier Bernard and Mitchell Hoelscher, because they have already signed an AHL-deal and you can find them here; I’m also excluding PTO Matthew Wedman, because he is on an ECHL-deal and you can find my blurb on him here):
Zachary Paputsakis, GL, DOB 2001, OHL Oshawa DNP (prior season .899)
The classic local kid; I think he’s simply a fresh body to help fill out the goaltending position for the tourney
Ty Hollett, DR, DOB 2003, CCHL Pembroke DNP (prior season 31-3-1-4)
Yet another local; as a big, righthand shot blueliner, he’s someone who will be given a lot of rope by scouts (presumably he’s headed to the NCAA); the Sens could have interest in him; no relation to former Sens pick Jordan btw
Ben Allison, LW, DOB 2002, QMJHL Acadie-Bathurst 33-9-18-27
From Halifax, but he spent a brief amount of time with Gatineau, so let’s call him local; the son of former Edmonton first round pick Scott (1990), there could be some interest (the Sens aren’t afraid of overage players and like skill from the Q)

This is largely just for fun–it’s unlikely any of these players will become significant pros even at the AHL-level–the Sens simply need bodies to fill out their lineup–but it’s interesting to see who the org brings in.

Ottawa Senators: Pierre Dorion's worst trades as general manager

The re-signed Pierre Dorion, echoing his owner, has declared the rebuild over (forced on the org in 2017, which is just six years after the Bryan Murray rebuild that began in 2011). The Sens now want to contend, so that means spending young assets to acquire proven commodities. Historically Dorion badly overpays, being an abysmal wheeler and dealer when it comes to pro assets (cf, he does better with prospects–the Sens amateur scouting has always been better than their pro scouting), so I’m expecting various painful deals to come (can he trade for Derick Brassard again?). Given that, don’t get too attached to talented prospects currently in the system (the muckers and grinders are, of course, safe). Surely Pierre McGuire’s 7-player profile is being considered for contending, and in July McGuire indicated the Sens were 3-players short of achieving that model. I’m not going to go over how little McGuire was regarded as an NHL coach, or his distrust of analytics (something he doesn’t actually understand–which fits the Sens org perfectly), because the reality is that he’s with the org and a major influence. Here’s what his model looks like:
-Two elite centermen (we know the Sens are seeking #2 and good luck with that)
-One power forward (presumably Tkachuk)
-One specialist forward–PP, PK, or faceoffs (this is such a vague criteria you have to question its worth)
-Elite puck-moving defenceman (presumably Chabot)
-Elite shutdown defenceman
-Elite goaltender (meant to be Murray)
Ian Mendes (link above) thinks Connor Brown is the specialist and that Jake Sanderson is the future shutdown D (anyone remember when Cody Ceci was going to be that guy?)–this is certainly Dorion’s opinion of the blueliner. If the Sens want to win now they can’t wait for Sanderson and acquiring three significant assets is very expensive–draft picks can cover some of the cost, but it means giving up well-regarded assets. The org would happily part with Logan Brown, but his value has never been lower. They also seem ready to give up on Erik Brannstrom, but it’s not clear his value is much better than Brown’s. There’s also the issue that very few teams trade elite players and that, when they do, it’s towards the end of their careers. While the Sens have plenty of cap space, they have an internal cap and I can’t see them getting any of the players that might spring to mind for these kinds of positions, so think tier-2 or tier-3 options for each of them (it’s unlikely they would acquire three such assets anyway–one for sure, but at most two).

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One thing I should have brought up for context with draft coverage–the Sens believing they know better–is that this opinion is held (broadly) by every organization. Each group, be it an independent scouting service or particular teams, believe that their list is the list. We know from draft assessments that they are all wrong and statistically the picks that work out best are those that fit consensus views. A lot of fans who write about the teams tend to duck the potential flaws in the picks by saying either ‘time will tell’ or pointing to isolated successes in the past–I feel like this is mostly done in ignorance, but clearly some just don’t want to say anything negative.

Atlanta Gladiators - Wikipedia

We’ve had two Atlanta Gladiator signings since my post covering them:
Tyler Kobryn, 24, RW, with this being his second year as a pro (coming out of NCAA III, he played with Tulsa last season, 33-3-3-6)
Derek Topatigh, 24-25, DR, going into his second year as a pro (coming out of the NCAA, he spent most of last year in the SPHL)
Neither player is going to be on the BSens radar, barring an unexpected breakout at the ECHL-level.

Hive Mind - TV Tropes

This is just an observation about fan-coverage of the team: it’s blindingly homogeneous (exactly the same as MCU fandom). What’s interesting to me is this goes beyond the narrow range of the hobby and is echoed by political leanings–all the individuals seem to come from the same class and express the same views. It makes the coverage repetitive and shallow, as traditional media is already stuffed with this material. For me, Nichols (even if he seems to have shifted over to positivity these days–‘hey, it could work out’ seems to be his new maxim), Ary, and Travis Yost are who I consistently read. It seems like Colin Cudmore has also transitioned into this category (judging by how seriously he tackles prospect assessment), but I’m not familiar enough with his recent material to be sure (although I approve of the rigorous approach). I don’t read everything, so there are undoubtedly nuggets of good coverage scattered around the fandom, but I remain baffled by the large percentage of people who write about the sport without an angle or focus to make it stand out.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the Sens 2020 and 2021 Drafts

Let’s start off with the drafting philosophy with the advent of Trent Mann: take a sure thing with lower potential rather than take a risk and get nothing (you can read a poorly thought out fan iteration of this argument here). Let’s briefly put aside whether that’s a good idea or not and see how many ‘wins’ the team has had after the 2nd round since 2008 (the first draft controlled by Dorion and the first one where the Sens returned to trying to build through it)–we’ll look both at the high end players and the depth talent (excluding goaltenders because it doesn’t really apply), to see how either end of this philosophy has panned out (how the players are categorized is based on how scouts viewed them–going through 2010 you can see those assessments on this site, prior to that you’ll have to hunt a little harder; ‘winning’ is determined by NHL games played, cf, so it’s not an inherent assessment of their value as players).

Third Round
Talent (0-2)
Wins: None
Losses: Jarrod Maidens* (12), Miles Gendron (14)
Pluggers (1-2)
Wins: Zack Smith (08)
Losses: Jakub Culek (10)
*Maidens never played due to injury

Fourth Round
Talent (2-5)
Wins: Chris Wideman (10), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (12)
Losses: Andre Petersson (08), Tobias Lindberg (13), Todd Burgess (16)
Undetermined: Christian Wolanin (15)
Pluggers (2-5)
Wins: Derek Grant (08), Marcus Sorensen (10)
Losses: Timothy Boyle (12), Shane Eiserman (14), Filip Ahl (15)
Undetermined: Ben Harpur (13)

Fifth Round
Talent (1-2)
Wins: Mike Hoffman (09)
Losses: Robbie Baillargeon (12)
Undetermined: Maxime Lajoie (15)
Pluggers (1-4)
Wins: Mark Borowiecki (08)
Losses: Jeff Costello (09), Fredrik Claesson (11), Vince Dunn (13)
Undetermined: Christian Jaros (15)

Sixth Round
Talent (1-1)
Wins: Mark Stone (10)
Losses: None
Pluggers (0-6)
Wins: None
Losses: Corey Cowick (09), Darren Kramer (11), Max McCormick (11), Chris Leblanc (13), Quentin Shore (13), Markus Nurmi (16)

Seventh Round
Talent (1-7)
Wins: Ryan Dzingel (11)
Losses: Emil Sandin (08), Brad Peltz (09)*, Bryce Aneloski (10), Mikael Wikstrand (12)**, Kelly Summers (14), Francis Perron (14)
Pluggers (0-2)
Wins: None
Losses: Michael Sdao (09), Jordan Fransoo (11)
*There’s some indication that picking Peltz was a favour for Melnyk’s close friend (his father)
**Refused to play in the league

Total
Talent 5-17 (29%)
Pluggers 4-19 (21%)

What’s clear in the numbers is that the org (up through 2017) was no better at identifying quality pluggers than talent. Obviously some of the scouting staff has changed over the years (three remain from 08, one from 09), but certainly Dorion’s history doesn’t betray evidence to support the change in philosophy. I’ll also briefly touch on the goaltenders over this period:
Successes
Robin Lehner (09, 2nd round)
Failures
Francois Brassard (12, 6th round), Jordan Hollett (17, 6th round)
Uncertain
Chris Driedger (12, 3rd round), Marcus Hogberg (13, 3rd round),* Joey Daccord (15, 7th round)
*Given that he signed a four-year deal in Sweden it’s unlikely he’ll return to the league, but we don’t know the terms of the deal and goaltending careers are against the grain anyway, so for now he lands in the uncertain pile

Before we dive into the two drafts, let’s recall that the scouting consensus (so not the opinion of some, but the opinions of the vast majority of those paid to scout) is that the Sens left talent on the board when they made their picks–this isn’t a matter of debate or discussion, simply a fact, so the team is betting on the fact that they know better–do they? Time will tell, but not only does the past does not support that idea, it’s simply unlikely that Ottawa has better scouting acumen than the consensus overall.

Characters like Dean Brown and Gord Wilson are what make a city cool |  Ottawa Citizen

Let’s address a response to criticism of individual players (those drafted or playing) that I’ve heard from people like Gord Wilson and others: these players are better than you are, ergo STFU (the most recent comment was in reference to Scott Sabourin, if you’re wondering). I’ve heard this sentiment many times from people covering the team and it’s profoundly absurd. Hockey is entertainment run by a cartel–it’s not making the world a better place–and as such it relies on the investment of its fans–no one is as invested as someone frothing mad about how a player is performing. That passion doesn’t excuse poor behaviour, but Gord (& others) tends to associate any criticism as being uncalled for. Making assessments is human nature (how many voters actually understand what they are voting for or could hold a political position?). Discussion and opinion is not only a normal part of human behaviour, but absolutely necessary to keep the sport alive, so any attempt to kill it is inherently pernicious. Let’s wrap this up to point out that this kind of thing only comes up regarding good-in-the-corners, salt-of-the-earth players–criticizing those with skill is never called out or questioned. Why this is the case in hockey I have no idea (perhaps the long standing way of differentiating Canadian hockey from everywhere else has made it part of self-identification). During the dead puck era I think players like that were useful, as were enforcers when they were required, but now? It’s a terrible opinion, but I don’t expect it change.

Senators Draft Tim St├╝tzle Third Overall - Silver Seven

2020
1-3 Tim Stuetzle, C/LW, 6’0, Jan/02, DEL, 20-21 NHL 53-12-17-29
The pick was Ottawa’s via the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018. There are plenty of scouting reports to read about him (Pronman, Wheeler, summaries, etc) and with a full season in the NHL one can dig into his stats and have a good old time. He’s a skilled player, so of course I like the pick
1-5 Jake Sanderson, DL, 6’1, July/02, USDP, 20-21 NCAA 22-2-13-15
Son of former NHLer Geoff (who was one of the best skaters in the NHL); reading Pronman’s recent article that included him, he sounds like all the recent high Sens picks on the blueline: a lot of hustle, a lot of competitiveness, solid defensively, but with limited offense–you get the feeling Dorion/Mann are putting all their eggs in the Chabot basket to drive the play. My reaction to him is the same as the rest: show me at the pro level and I’ll become a believer
1-28 Ridly Greig, LW, 5’11, Aug/02, WHL, 20-21 21-10-22-32
The pick was Ottawa’s via the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade in 2020; he’s the son of former NHLer Mark; like Jarventie below, he’s among the youngest eligible selected; there were concerns about his ability to play disciplined hockey and his skating (cf), but the former seems to have improved; because of his age it’s either the WHL or NHL for him and I think the latter is what’s on the menu; given his size and style of play there has to be a concern about his body breaking down earlier in his career (he makes me think of 2011 pick Stefan Noesen)
2-33 Roby Jarventie, LW, 6’3, Aug/02, Ilves, 20-21 48-14-11-25
Son of former Liiga veteran Martti. There’s a good breakdown of him pre-draft from Ary and Colin which provides the proper context for him (among the youngest eligible for the draft, playing against men in the Mestis, being used as a third-liner and defensively while breaking the rookie scoring record, etc); we again have the concern about his skating, but Ottawa (long before Dorion) has always believed that’s fixable
2-44 Tyler Kleven, DL, 6’4, Jan/02, USDP, 20-21 NCAA 22-5-2-7
The pick via Toronto (in exchange for 59th and 64th picks, Roni Hirvonen and Topi Niemela); there’s an amusing little profile of him from A & C (who don’t care for him at all, but sniffed out the Sens would like him); in his first year as a prospect Pronman projects him as a bottom-pairing player; it’s very much a wait-and-see attitude for me
2-61 Egor Sokolov, RW/LW, 6’4, Jun/00, QMJHL, 20-21 AHL 35-15-10-25
The pick is from Dallas via the Mark Stone trade in 2019; an overager where the concerns for him were whether his talent and skating would translate at the next level; at the AHL-level Sokolov showed no impediment with playing his game–will it translate? It’s hard to say, although given his size the Sens will certainly give him the opportunity
3-71 Leevi Merilainen, GL, 6’2, Aug/02, Karpat, 20-21 .934
The pick is via the Dylan DeMelo trade in 2020; an off-the-wall pick because in his draft year he was stuck behind other Finnish netminders, so he didn’t play internationally; he had an outstanding first year as a prospect and this caused folk to upgrade their estimates to potential NHL backup levels; I think the Sens under Dorion have been solid in projecting goaltending talent (although their pro evaluations remain, in all areas, underwhelming)
5-155 Eric Engstrand, LW/RW, 6’4, May/00, Malmo, 20-21 SHL 45-1-4-5
The pick is via the Mike Condon trade in 2019; an overager, you can see a brief profile of him from A & C pre-draft, but there’s not a lot of material on him (on the surface he reminds me of Filip Ahl in 2015 and Markus Nurmi in 2016, both big European power forwards who failed to develop)
6-158 Philippe Daoust, C/LW, 6’0, Nov/01, QMJHL, 20-21 21-6-22-28
The pick is via the Mike Hoffman trade in 2018; there’s not a lot of material on him (cf) and he’s taken the Hoffman route of being waived out of the OHL only to find a home in the Q (I’m not saying he has that kind of ceiling, just that he’s had that route to getting drafted)
6-181 Cole Reinhardt, LW, 6’1, Feb/00, WHL, 20-21 AHL 33-6-6-12
The pick is via the Chris Wideman trade in 2018; an overager who benefited from playing with Sokolov in Belleville, should he find pro success he’s taking a very unlikely path to get there (not just because he’s overage, but because of his middling production in junior)

They seem to have landed a complete stud in Stuetzle, so that’s fantastic (a lot of fans may not appreciate just how hard it is for a teenager to make an impact at the NHL-level). I’m not on the Sanderson train yet (how many Lassi Thomson’s do we need?), but I’d love to be surprised (his father was a fun player to watch). A number of the prospects intrigue me–both Finns, Sokolov, as well as Daoust (the Sens occasionally hit homeruns with late picks from the Q and who doesn’t miss J-G Pageau?). I feel like Kleven, Reinhardt, and Engstrand are much more likely to fail out in the AHL, but it’s far too early to say. All-in-all, this isn’t a bad draft from my perspective and I don’t feel like the Sens completely wasted their first round (at a guess, I’m thinking it will closely approximate the 2011 draft).

GARRIOCH: Tyler Boucher is tough as nails, a good omen for Senators |  Ottawa Sun

2021
1-10 Tyler Boucher, LW, 6’1, Jan/03, USDP 12-6-5-11
Son of former NHLer Brian; the scouting consensus is pretty simple: he’s hard to play against, but does he have the talent to make an impact as a pro? You get a sense of his issues via Ary; this has the whiff of another top-ten pick from years ago–Dylan McIlrath–a guy who was very hard to play against, but simply didn’t have enough talent to be an NHL pro (a Sens example is Jared Cowen); for the Sens sake, let’s hope they truly do know better
2-39 Zack Ostapchuk, LW, 6’3, May/03, WHL 22-7-9-16
The pick via the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018; looking at scouting reports it’s clear he’s a work-in-progress–a player with a lot of potential, but a big hill to climb; Pronman doesn’t believe in his hockey sense and the kind of changes he needs aren’t typically the ones that can be easily coached; that said, I’m happy to gamble on skill
2-49 Benjamin Roger, DR, 6’4, Nov/02, OHL DNP
The pick acquired in exchange for the 42nd (Francesco Pinelli); there’s not much information about the player, but he trained with Belleville staffer Jeremy Benoit in the offseason, which is likely how the Sens became attracted to him (historically a number of Dorion’s picks are via connections); the concern is how much talent he actually has behind his big, mobile frame (does he have the limitations of a Ben Harpur, or is there more to him?)
3-74 Oliver Johansson, CL, 6’0, July/03, Timra Allsvenskan 5-3-0-3
One of the younger players picked in the draft; scouting reports are few and far between, but he performed well across three leagues in his draft year and is a good skater who plays both ends of the rink (a hard worker, which is very much a theme in who the Sens pick); I expect the Sens to be patient about his development
4-123 Carson Latimer, RW, 6’1, Jan/03, WHL 22-5-11-16
The pick acquired in exchange for the 136th and170th (Robert Orr and Bryce Montgomery); everyone agrees he’s a great skater, but what’s not clear is what else he is (in part, perhaps, because of his usage)
7-202 Chandler Romeo, DL, 6’5, July/03, OHL DNP
The big blueliner reminds me a lot of Ben Harpur–big, can skate, but what else can he do? The Sens think he has the hands to get the puck moving and not be a one-dimensional defender, but that’s typically what they say of every blueliner like this that they draft, so we’ll have to wait and see

What do I think of the 2021 draft? All of these players are wait-and-see types, with none inherently exciting. Because I wasn’t paying attention to the draft class, I’m not fulminating over what could have been, but the various flags about the prospects are worth keeping in mind–during Dorion’s time the Sens have completely failed during a draft before (2014). With that said, with two players who didn’t play the previous season and an obscure Swede, I am intrigued to see how those players develop.

One thing that’s changed under Dorion–and this is pre-Trent Mann–is the Sens no longer draft enforcers. The last fighter they picked was Darren Kramer in 2011, but since then (with fighting spiraling into oblivion) they’ve given up picking them. The team still signs players like that (Sabourin is an example), but at least have realized it’s not worth wasting a draft pick.

I should end this on what seems obvious to me, but perhaps isn’t to readers: I’d actually like all these players to turn out and for Ottawa to be an elite team. That’s always been the dream. I’m simply doubtful that will be the case given Dorion’s checkered track record, the team’s questionable approach at the draft, and an unlikable fool who owns the team.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

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Here are some bits & pieces:
Filip Gustavsson‘s new contract is typical of the Sens (a two-year deal with the second being one-way); I’m less certain about his abilities given that in the past he has struggled with being ‘the guy’ while doing very well in spot duty (cf)–has he turned the corner? It won’t matter if Mads Sogaard is ready for prime time, but it will be interesting to watch.
–In retrospect I should have included Erik Brannstrom in my BSens lineup speculation; to inject him he slides into the top spot on the right side, shifting Thomson down to the second pairing, Bernard-Docker to the third, and Williams to the pressbox. I just don’t think that situation can remain tenable throughout the season and trading a blueliner must be on the menu for the Sens.
–I stopped reading The Athletic around the same time I stopped writing this blog, so returning to it almost two years later I was surprised to find that only Ian Mendes covers the Sens (RIP articles from Nichols, who moved to Substack–you can read a bit of a word salad from him on the draft, which can be boiled down to “Will it pan out? Time will tell,” which feels like Nichols resting his behind firmly on the fence–read him at his best here and here–I like the latter particularly).
–I skipped covering the last two Sens draft, but I’m not surprised that the conservative, grit-loving Trent Mann has continued his philosophy (cf; the hiring of Pierre McGuire, an anti-analytics guy, is yet another conservative move by the org). As I mentioned when reviewing prior drafts, it’s simply too soon to assess Mann’s work–maybe he’s a genius, but Occam’s Razor says he’ll do no better than his predecessors (what’s genuinely in question is how many stars he lands). I wanted to cover The Silver Seven‘s annual prospect ranking, but the caliber of writers from the site is so uneven I don’t think it’s feasible.
–There’s a great article from Scott Wheeler about how scouts assess players (there’s no real surprises, but he goes over the importance of context–ie things like how playing with Daniel Sprong inflated Filip Chlapik’s value). I’m gratified to see that my old idea of using third party rankings to create a scouting consensus for draft picks has become normalized and is widely available–it’s a simple idea and I have no idea why it took so long to proliferate–however much some may poopoo the idea, it’s the only tool fans have to access professional assessment.
–You can watch/listen to an interesting interview with Sens prospect Egor Sokolov.
–I think in my next post I’ll do a review of the Sens 2020 and 2021 drafts, as it will help me familiarize myself with the prospects. I’ve noticed the fan insanity over Jake Sanderson is almost at the same fever pitch as Brady Tkachuk and we’ll see if that falls as flat with me as it does with the later.
–For those interested in assessing the Sens at the draft, check out my review of the Sens 2008-14 draft record–there’s some fascinating things to be observed in the data (as well as the relative value derived from them). I think I should have included my old review of the Sens AHL tendencies which overlaps that period of time and shows the shifting philosophy from Tim Murray to Randy Lee.

Atlanta Gladiators

The Sens ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators, have been busy signing players in the off-season. A few of these players could see time in Belleville, so I thought I’d briefly take a look at them.

Defense
Tim Davison, 27-28, DL, ECHL 0.38 (ECHL 0.44)
The undrafted NCAA grad spent most of last season with Greenville; this will be his fourth pro season
Dalton Thrower, 27-28, DR, tier-3 Sweden 0.16 (ECHL 0.20)
A second-round pick by Montreal back in 2012, he hasn’t seen AHL ice since 2015-16, but as a gritty player he may have some appeal as a call-up
Greg Campbell, 26-27, DL, DNP (ECHL 0.14)
The undrafted NCAA grad took last season off and returns for his sophomore attempt as a pro.
Josh Thrower, 25-26, DR, SPHL 0.18 (ECHL 0.11)
The brother of Dalton, the former WHLer has established himself as a depth ECHL blueliner and wouldn’t be on the BSens radar
Malcolm Hayes, 26-27, DR, SPHL 0.08 (ECHL 0.11)
Another undrafted NCAA grad, he’s spent most of his short pro career in the SPHL (a feeder league into the ECHL)
Zach Yoder, 27, DR, SPHL 0.13 (ECHL 0.50)
The undrafted NCAAer spent his first (brief) pro season in the SPHL; he’s a local kid (to Georgia) and he’s big, for whatever that’s worth

Forwards
Derek Nesbitt, 39-40, LW/RW, DNP (ECHL 0.89)
An effective AHL producer (0.60) who has played in Atlanta five straight seasons prior to his year off; at 39 I’m not sure how much to expect from him, but I don’t think the BSens will call him up (he hasn’t had a call-up since his last full-time season in the AHL in 2013-14)
Cody Sylvester, 29-30, C/LW, ECHL 0.81 (ECHL 0.80)
Undrafted WHLer has spent most of his pro career in Germany (failing out of the DEL, so it’s mostly in tier-2); as a productive ECHL scorer there’s a small chance he could be called-up
Kamerin Nault, 26, LW, ECHL 0.15 (ECHL 0.77)
Canadian university grad is entering his fourth pro season; each year he’s received call-ups to the AHL, so that makes the odds of the same happening this season higher than most of the other players
Michael Pelech, 32, CL, ECHL 0.55 (ECHL 0.75)
Former 6th-round pick by LA, he’s had a very long and productive ECHL career; his last AHL call-up was in 2015-16
Luke Nogard, 27-28, CL, ECHL 0.39 (ECHL 0.56)
Undrafted NCAA grad his entering his fourth pro season; he’s never received an AHL call-up
Hugo Roy, 24, CR, ECHL 0.46 (ECHL 0.45)
Undrafted QMJHLer is entering his third full pro season; as a middling producer he’s not likely on the BSens list of call-ups
Matthew Wedman, 22, ECHL 0.24 (ECHL 0.24)
A 7th-round pick by Florida in 2019, last season was his first as a pro and he was unable to translate his WHL production to that level
Tommy Besinger, 27, CR, SPHL 0.68 (SPHL 0.69)
The undrafted NCAA grad his entering his third year as a pro and will be looking to avoid the SPHL

I’ll reiterate, it’s unlikely we see many if any of these players, but stranger things have happened (due to injuries or other circumstances), particularly with older, failed prospects (cf).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Pierre Dorion and the Draft

THE SENS AT 30 PART III: Ottawa Senators' general manager Pierre Dorion  says "it's time to perform" | Ottawa Sun

Pierre Dorion became the Sens GM in the 2016-17 season, but prior to that event he ran the drafts beginning in 2008 and I wanted to take a look at the older drafts which can be properly assessed to see what we can glean (those players in bold below played at least 200 NHL games). All of these drafts had Bryan Murray serving as the GM.

Top 5 Best and Worst Ottawa Senators First Round Draft Picks Of All Time

2008 (12 scouts; Sweden 3, WHL/BCHL 2, USHL 1, CJHL 1)
1-15 Erik Karlsson (D) Sweden-Frolunda 788-143-482-625 (San Jose)
Trade (2018): Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan DeMelo, Josh Norris, and the picks used for Tim Stuetzle and Zach Ostapchuk
2-42 Patrick Wiercioch (D) USHL-Omaha 268-16-58-74 (tier-2 Europe)
3-79 Zack Smith (C) WHL-Swift Current 662-98-106-204 (UFA)
Trade (2019): Artem Anisimov
4-109 Andre Petersson (F) Sweden-HV71 1-0-0-0 (successful KHL career)
4-119 Derek Grant (C) BCHL-Langley 310-37-48-85 (Anaheim)
5-139 Mark Borowiecki (D) CJHL-Smith Falls 397-15-37-52 (Nashville)
7-199 Emil Sandin (F) Sweden-Brynas DNP (tier-2 career in Sweden)

A very successful draft with five of seven players hitting the 200-game threshold. We can argue over the caliber of these players, as all save Karlsson merely provide depth, but Karlsson is a genuine star. Both of the misses in the draft were undersized skilled players from Sweden.

Cowen gets his Canadian wish | The Spokesman-Review

2009 (12 scouts; USHL/USHS 3, Sweden 2, WHL 1, QMJHL 1, OHL 1, NCAA 1)
1-9 Jared Cowen (D) WHL-Spokane 249-15-31-45 (retired due to injury)
Trade (2016): Dion Phaneuf, Cody Donaghey, Casey Bailey, Matt Frattin, and Ryan Rupert; Phaneuf was subsequently traded (2019) for Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore; Gaborik was then traded (2020) for Braydon Coburn, Cedric Paquette, and a 2nd-round pick in 2022; the 7th-round pick acquired for Shore was included in the Duclair trade
2-39 Jakob Silfverberg (F) Sweden-Brynas 605-146-161-307 (Anaheim)
Trade (2013): Bobby Ryan
2-46 Robin Lehner (G) Sweden-Frolunda .918 (Vegas)
Trade (2015): The pick that turned into Colin White
4-100 Chris Wideman (D) NCAA-Miami 181-16-29-45 (Montreal)
Trade (2018): Pick that turned into Cole Reinhardt
5-130 Mike Hoffman (C/W) QMJHL-Drummondville 545-189-206-395 (Montreal)
Trade (2018): Mikkel Boedker, Julius Bergman, and the pick that turned into Philippe Daoust; Bergman was included in the Abramov trade
5-146 Jeff Costello (F) USHL-Cedar Rapids DNP (retired after one ECHL season)
6-160 Corey Cowick (F) OHL-Ottawa DNP (short minor league career)
7-190 Brad Peltz (F) USHS-Avon DNP (retired after one ECHL season)
7-191 Michael Sdao (D) USHL-Lincoln DNP (ECHL career)

Another five players hit the threshold (I’m assuming Wideman will do that this season), so it’s another good draft. We see the beginnings of a Dorion tendency to roll the dice on gritty players which doesn’t work out in this sample–of the four players who never made it, three are in that category (Peltz is the exception). There’s no question that Cowen was a poor top-ten pick and that the Sens received little value for the other quality draftees before they were moved. We continue a tendency for the org to give-up on goaltenders early (Brian Elliott was drafted in ’03, but turned pro right when Dorion joined the org–I’m not saying that decision was his, simply that the impatience began during his tenure).

2015-16 UD UPPER DECK MARK STONE TOP DRAFT PICK DRAFT-10 Promo Senators |  eBay

2010 (11 scouts; Sweden 1, QMJHL 1, WHL 1, USHL 1)
3-76 Jakub Culek (F) QMJHL-Rimouski DNP (brief minor league career)
4-106 Marcus Sorensen (F) Sweden-Djurgardens 226-31-33-64 (UFA)
6-178 Mark Stone (F) WHL-Brandon 504-170-276-446 (Vegas)
Trade (2019): Oscar Lindberg, Erik Brannstrom, and the pick that turned into Egor Sokolov
7-196 Bryce Aneloski (D) USHL-Cedar DNP (brief minor league career)

The success ratio remains good, although the org gave up on Sorensen early and it was San Jose who made use of him. Stone is the obvious ‘win’, although the org benefited from just four full seasons with him before discarding him as part of the rebuild.

Sens draft pick Mika Zibanejad ready to roll up his sleeves - The Globe and  Mail

2011 (11 scouts; OHL 3, Sweden 2, WHL 2, USHL 2, QMJHL 1)
1-6 Mika Zibanejad (C/W) Sweden-Djurgardens 604-200-234-434 (NYR)
Trade (2016): Derick Brassard and the pick that turned into Luke Loheit; Brassard was traded (2018) for Filip Gustavsson, Ian Cole, a pick flipped to draft Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonathan Tychonick, and a pick flipped to draft Mads Sogaard
1-21 Stefan Noesen (C/W) OHL-Plymouth 205-31-23-54 (long minor league career)
Trade (2013): part of the Silfverberg/Ryan trade above
1-24 Matt Puempel (F) OHL-Peterborough 87-11-5-16 (long minor league career)
Waiver Claim (2016)
2-61 Shane Prince (C) OHL-Ottawa 128-12-26-38 (successful KHL career)
Trade (2016): for a pick that was flipped as part of a deal to draft Logan Brown
4-96 Jean-Gabriel Pageau (C) QMJHL-Gatineau 489-103-109-212 (NYI)
Trade (2020): pick used to draft Ridly Greig and another used in a trade that saw them draft Tyler Kleven
5-126 Fredrik Claesson (D) Sweden-Djurgardens 161-7-21-28 (lengthy minor league career)
6-156 Darren Kramer (F) WHL-Spokane DNP (long minor league career)
6-171 Max McCormick (F) USHL-Sioux City 83-8-5-13 (long minor league career)
Trade (2019): J. C. Beaudin
7-186 Jordan Fransoo (D) WHL-Brandon DNP (played Canadian university hockey)
7-204 Ryan Dzingel (F) USHL-Lincoln 372-82-98-180 (Arizona)
Trade (2019): Anthony Duclair, a second that was part of the Matt Murray deal, and another second used to acquire Derek Stepan; the org re-acquired him in 2021 for Alex Galchenyuk and Cedric Paquette

This draft was meant to be the start of a re-build and the org batted well above average in having four players hit the 200-game threshold, but it’s undeniable that they wasted Zibanejad as an asset and received a poor direct return; they also bombed out on their other two first-round picks.

Senators draft homegrown defenceman Ceci - Sportsnet.ca

2012 (12 scouts; OHL 2, USHL/USHS 2, WHL 1, QMJHL 1, Sweden 1)
1-15 Cody Ceci (D) OHL-Ottawa 549-37-106-143 (Edmonton)
Trade (2019): Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, and Michael Carcone
3-76 Chris Driedger (G) WHL-Calgary .929 (Sea)
3-82 Jarrod Maidens (F) OHL-Owen Sound (retired due to injury)
4-106 Timothy Boyle (D) USHS-Prep DNP (short minor league career)
5-136 Robbie Baillargeon (F) USHL-Indiana DNP (brief minor league career)
6-166 Francois Brassard (G) QMJHL-Quebec DNP (Canadian university to minor leagues)
7-196 Mikael Wikstrand (D) Sweden-Mora (refused to play)

While Driedger may eventually hit the threshold, this was an abysmal draft as Ceci was highly overvalued (as witnessed by the poor return when traded). Unlike in prior years, there was an attempt to target skill in the later rounds, but nothing worked out (although one could argue that Wikstand might have been an NHL player–we’ll simply never know).

Ottawa Senators 2013 draft review - Hockey's Future

2013 (12 scouts; Sweden 2, WHL 1, OHL 1, QMJHL 1, EJHL 1, NCAA 1)
1-17 Curtis Lazar (C) WHL-Edmonton 334-27-47-74 (Boston)
Trade (2017): Jyrki Jokipaaka and the pick used for Alex Formenton
3-78 Marcus Hogberg (G) Sweden-Linkoping .894 (back in Sweden)
4-102 Tobias Lindberg (F) Sweden-Djurgardens 6-0-2-2 (tier-2 Sweden)
Trade: part of the Cowen/Phaneuf trade above, then reacquired him in a minor league deal in 2018, then included in the Stone trade above
4-108 Ben Harpur (D) OHL-Guelph 137-1-13-14 (UFA)
Trade (2019): part of the Ceci trade above
5-138 Vincent Dunn (F) QMJHL-Rimouski DNP (short minor league career)
6-161 Chris LeBlanc (F) EJHL-South Shore DNP (minor league career)
7-168 Quentin Shore (F) NCAA-Denver DNP (short minor league career)

An equally horrendous draft, as Lazar is an even bigger miss than Ceci (someone who struggled at the AHL-level, but whose pedigree has allowed him to fumble around the NHL for years). The rest of the assets were a mix of grinders and skilled players, none of whom panned out.

Andreas Englund Stats and News | NHL.com

2014 (13 scouts; USHL/USHS 2, Sweden 1, QMJHL 1, CCHL 1)
2-40 Andreas England (D) Sweden-Djurgardens 33-0-3-3 (minor leaguer)
3-70 Miles Gendron (D) USHS-Prep DNP (minor leaguer)
4-100 Shane Eiserman (F) USHL-Dubuque DNP (brief minor league career)
7-189 Kelly Summers (D) CCHL-Carleton DNP (tier-2 Germany)
7-190 Francis Perron (C) QMJHL-Rouyn-Noranda DNP (tier-2 Sweden)

The worst draft in the sample size. It’s very rare for an NHL team to have no successes, but Ottawa managed it here. The picks were a mix of grinders and skill, but none are even quality AHL players. You’d expect consequences in the scouting ranks after such a result (not just for this, but the prior two drafts), but that’s not the case.

Senators Draft Thomas Chabot 18th Overall - Silver Seven

2015 (13 scouts; QMJHL 3, USHL/USHS/USNTDP 3, Sweden 2)
1-18 Thomas Chabot (D) QMJHL-Saint John 254-35-115-150
1-21 Colin White (C/W) USNTDP 200-33-55-88
2-36 Gabriel Gagne (F) QMJHL-Victoriaville DNP (minor leaguer)
2-48 Filip Chlapik (C/W) QMJHL-Charlottetown 57-5-6-11 (released)
4-107 Christian Wolanin (D) USHL-Muskegon 61-5-13-18 (LA)
Trade (2021): Michael Amadio
4-109 Filip Ahl (F) Sweden-HV71 DNP (tier-2 Europe)
5-139 Christian Jaros (D) Sweden-Lulea 83-1-13-14 (NJ)
Trade (2021): Jack Kopacka and a 7th-round pick in 2022
7-199 Joey Daccord (G) USHS-Prep .894 (Seattle)
Taken in the Expansion Draft

The analysis of this draft is still still up in the air, although there are two obvious successes. Wolanin, Jaros, and Daccord could potentially hit the threshold, although it’s unlikely all of them will. The mix of players echoes the previous two years, but the quality of the picks are better (despite a big miss on Gagne). We again see the common trend of the org not getting value back for prospects–none of the assets remain for trading the two blueliners, which means they were simply given away.

Let’s summarize excluding 2015’s results (since they are still in flux). Here are the hits to misses from 2008-14:
2008: 5-7 (74%)
2009: 5-9 (55%)
2010: 2-4 (50%)
2011: 4-10 (40%)
2012: 1-7 (14%)
2013: 1-7 (14%)
2014: 0-4 (0%

That’s a linear decline under Dorion to that point. We know 2015 was a better draft and there is an organization change between 2014-15: Tim Murray’s departure to Buffalo. Can we put this all at Tim’s feet? I think that’s too simplistic, but it is worth noting. Let’s take a look at success by region (highlighting the significant players):
US systems (3-14/21%): Wiercioch, Wideman, Dzingel
Sweden (5-12/41%): Karlsson, Silfverberg, Lehner, Sorensen, Zibanejad
WHL/BCHL 8 (5-8/62%): Smith, Grant, Cowen, Stone, Lazar
OHL/CCHL/CJHL (4-9/44%): Borowiecki, Noesen, Prince, Ceci
QMJHL (2-6/33%): Hoffman, Pageau

What’s fascinating is how heavily Ottawa invested in the American junior system despite no serious payoff. The org scored very highly in Sweden while completely ignoring the rest of Europe (no one drafted from any other European league). If you’re wondering, in terms of raw selection, here’s what’s happened from 2015-21 (the numbers represent the number of players from that system per draft):
US systems: 13 (2.0 > 2.1)
WHL/AJHL: 11 (1.1 > 1.8)
QMJHL: 9 (0.8 > 1.5)
Sweden: 6 (1.7 > 1.0)
OHL: 4 (1.3 > 0.6)
Finland: 3 (0 > 0.5)
Germany: 1 (0 > 0.1)

The American fetish continues unabated, while the primary change is a decrease in Swedish/OHL prospects matched by an increase in QMJHL and WHL contributions. I think the scattering of Finnish prospects is related to Mikko Ruutu becoming the director of European scouting (Stuetzle, as a top-five pick, is irrelevant in terms of the org’s normal scouting preferences). It remains an oddity that despite being in Ontario the team has only dipped its toe into the local pond over the last 13 drafts. It’s also strange how consistently the Sens devalue European scouting–on average they have only two scouts based in Europe, which is a deplorable amount to cover the various leagues (meaning they have to lean heavily on tournament performances, which is a questionable guide). I get the feeling that the main reason for ignoring Europe is cost.

Another way to look at success is by round and we get some interesting results:
First round (6-7): 2 of their best 6 picks are from this group (Karlsson and Zibanejad)
Second round (4-5): 2 of their best are from here (Silfverberg and Lehner)
Third round (1-6): extremely poor success rate with none of the best appearing
Fourth round (4-9): better averages (although that success is early) with Pageau being the standout
Fifth round (2-6): Hoffman is the standout (so again, early)
Sixth round (1-6): you expect things to be more difficult later; Stone is the standout
Seventh round (1-9): swinging for the fences is understandable

We have to take the results for first-rounders with grains of salt, since there’s pressure to play those players before giving up on them–I think this is illustrated by the number of best picks being even with the second-rounders. In theory the success ratios should be an inverted pyramid (reflecting the quality and consistency of the scouting group), but that’s not the case. It’s also worth keeping in mind that this period see’s the beginning of a rebuild (2011) that was rushed by a cash-strapped owner (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). Pressure by ownership forces trades for success now and clearly that’s part of the problem with asset retention (along with being a smaller market). That should not, however, impact the quality of picks.

Finally, let’s ride one of my favourite hobby horses: relative success between skilled and truculent players (we have to exclude goaltenders from this discussion, along with Maidens, as injury prevented him from performing):
Skilled (11-24, 45%) – This number includes all the best players
Truculent/defensive (6-19, 31%) – Features the team’s biggest busts/disappointments (Cowen, Ceci, Lazar)

My argument for skill has always been the same: it’s rare and thus much harder to acquire–prohibitively expensive for Ottawa most of the time. The NHL is full of grinders and defensive players, so drafting for that is a waste of time. Clearly the team does not share my opinion.

I’m not sure there’s a clear conclusion to draw here. It’s interesting that Tim Murray arrived with Pierre Dorion and success at the draft declined until Murray’s departure. I hesitate to say that’s the only reason for the change, although going through the many scouts who have appeared throughout this time period provides no meaningful insight. I wish there was better evidence for the drafts from 2015 onward, but it’s quite simply too early to judge (for instance, 2016 might turn out to be a complete bust, or Logan Brown could turn a corner and it’s suddenly not as terrible). Regardless, food for thought and opinions are welcome.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Additional BSens Signings and Miscellaneous Thoughts

Just two days after my Belleville speculation post the team signed three more players. These are two-way AHL/ECHL deals, so they are (in theory) simply there to fill holes due to call-ups or injuries. Here are the additions (an aside: inexplicably the BSens press release calls Hoelscher a defenseman):

Mitchell Hoelscher CL, 21-22, OHL 62-34-42-76 1.22 (OHL career 0.72)
Drafted by New Jersey in the 6th-round in 2018, the Devils chose not to sign him and Ottawa picked him up on an ATO at the end of last year (7-0-1-1). Given the number of injury-prone veterans in the BSens lineup, it makes sense to have a depth player who doesn’t just run people through the boards (particularly one who plays center), but the odds are strong that he’ll spend most of the season in ECHL Atlanta.

Xavier Bernard DL, 21-22, QMJHL 26-0-8-8 0.31 (QMJHL career 0.37)
Yet another discarded New Jersey pick from 2018 (4-110), the blueliner’s offensive peak was his draft year and he’s an unremarkable depth addition I expect him to spend most of his time in Atlanta.

Tyler Parks GR, 29, Slovakia .940 (ECHL career .911)
The undrafted college player has spent most of his pro career in the ECHL, with his first ever AHL call-up coming two seasons prior. He provides depth without challenging the young players intended to carry the load in Belleville.

One interesting change I’ve noticed in the org’s strategy is that they have abandoned their habit of signing players out of Maritime universities (Jordan Murray being the prime example). Both Hoelscher and Bernard are via the more traditional route of the CHL.

Kirill Kaprizov Stats, News, Videos, Highlights, Pictures, Bio - Minnesota  Wild - ESPN

A bit off-topic, but as someone long fascinated with the translation of offensive numbers in Europe to the NHL, Kirill Kaprizov is a great example of how hard that is to do. Unlike so many other KHL stars (eg Kaigorodov), he put up excellent NHL numbers with Minnesota (Artyom Zub‘s numbers were also not that dissimilar from those he had in the KHL). This is why you can’t lean too hard on the averages used by analysts, even if 99% of the time a player’s production falls through the floor (Roman Cervenka comes to mind). A related note: Ary wrote about how rare it is for a player like Zub to come out of Russia in the first place, much less succeed.

Quebec Nordiques - Wikipedia

Speaking of off-topic, but how is it 2021 and there’s still no franchise in Quebec City? I’m aware of the NHL’s Western strategy with both Vegas and Seattle (I feel like the former will struggle to maintain a fanbase when the team declines, while the latter should be on solid ground). Broadly speaking, I think the NHL has over expanded and would better off with around 24-teams. Despite that, whatever the league’s situation, a team in Quebec makes so much sense. Not only is there a fanbase for it, but there’s plenty of corporate money to keep it afloat. Regardless, it seems unlikely to happen any time soon.

Eric Macramalla

Since I’ve dipped my toe back into hockey, various random things have come to my attention and one that struck me is related to TSN 1200 personality Eric Macramella. His idea seems to be that if someone is known to have done something illegal in their past it should forever destroy their future in the league. Cancelling people has become a common occurrence these days, albeit seems more about social media behaviour than actual criminal acts, but the premise that people are forever condemned by past mistakes is dystopian and it’s surprising how often those who preach it are later found guilty themselves–Andrew Cuomo and Roberta Kaplan are the most recent examples. I’ve always found Macramalla an interesting and entertaining guy to listen to, but this puts a dent in that estimation. For those who missed the specifics, he argues that anyone looking to hire Sean Burke is making a mistake–Burke was guilty of domestic assault in 1997, a charge not repeated since. One can argue about how Carolina handled the case at the time (which is to say, horribly), but I think 24-years without recurrence says something. Macramalla makes a similar argument for Craig MacTavish, who as a drunk driver killed a woman in 1984, but again, while the passage of time doesn’t diminish the act, I think 37-years of sobriety is enough that it ought not be controversial to hire the guy (Rob Ramage, who in similar circumstances killed Keith Magnuson in 2003, wasn’t brought up). Let’s leave some room for either Macramella not being clear or me misunderstanding his argument, but if the interpretation is correct, I think it’s beyond the pale.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Belleville Senators Roster Speculation/Analysis

Secondary Jersey Logo - Belleville Senators

It’s still early, but I wanted to take a look at the Belleville roster and speculate on the lineup–feel free to suggest alternatives or point out where I may have gone wrong in my analysis/assumptions.

We’ll start with veteran players on the team, as a block of three were recently signed/re-signed (following earlier signings: Agozzino, Aberg, and Sherwood and Heatherington). This group joins Shaw, who enters the final year of a two-year deal, and Bishop, who signed an early extension. Let’s take a look at what they bring to the team, keeping in mind I’m calling them ‘veterans’ loosely, not the specific sense of AHL rules (so those players who are no longer prospects); those who qualify as AHL veterans are in blue, with the Sens having filled all their available slots; I have their age/s throughout the season noted.

Veterans

Forwards

Andrew Agozzino LW/C, 30-31, San Diego 31-13-14-27 0.77 (AHL career 0.77)
The undrafted OHLer has played over 500 AHL games and his career average is exactly what he posted this past season. He’s only had cups of coffee in the NHL and, barring a rash of injuries, should be with the BSens all season. I think he’s an excellent addition–you need proven scorers on your team to take the pressure off prospects.

Pontus Aberg RW/LW, 28, KHL Traktor 49-10-13-23 0.68 (AHL career 0.68)
The former 2nd-round pick played a full NHL season in 18-19, but wasn’t able to hold a roster spot with Toronto and departed to the KHL. His prior AHL season was more productive than his average (0.80) and, like Agozzino above, he’s someone the BSens can rely on for scoring.

Logan Shaw RW/C, 29, 24-6-9-15 0.62 (AHL career 0.49)
Returning to the BSens for the final year of his contract, the former 3rd-rounder had roughly three full NHL seasons (15-16 to 17-18) before getting transitioned out of the league by Winnipeg. The last two years he’s struggled to stay healthy; at this level he provides second line levels of offense and is unlikely to be recalled to Ottawa.

Kole Sherwood RW, 24-25, Cleveland 9-3-1-4 0.38 (AHL career 0.38)
The undrafted former OHLer failed out of the Columbus system and I’m not sure what he adds to the BSens other than ‘truculence’. His best offensive season in the AHL was his first (18-19) and he’s struggled to stay healthy. This is a bottom-six forward that, besides sandpaper, doesn’t add much (he’s one of three head-scratching yet typical signings by the org).

Clark Bishop CL, 25-26, 8-2-3-5 0.62 (AHL career 0.31)
The former 5th-rounder has had an unremarkable minor league career, but the Sens clearly like him. I assume the appeal is his defensive play, since nothing else stands out. I expect him to center the bottom six.

Scott Sabourin RW, 29, Toronto 6-2-0-2 0.33 (AHL career 0.25)
A player who needs no introduction, the Sens signed him to a two-way deal and we know exactly what his role is.

Tyrell Goulbourne LW/RW, 27-28, Henderson 18-1-1-2 0.11 (AHL career 0.20)
The former 3rd-rounder’s career has been declining the last two seasons and he’s survived by being ‘truculent’ (yes, I will beat that word to death). Assuming he can stay healthy, he’ll plug away on the fourth line as an agitator. [I was doing some research after I posted this and found a video of Goulbourne getting destroyed fighting former Sens prospect Michael Sdao–clearly he’s game to fight, but that’s not his forte]

Defense

Colby Williams DR, 26-27, 27-3-7-10 0.37 (AHL career 0.26)
The former 6th-rounder enjoyed a career year with the BSens (in terms of points-per-game)–I think his career average serves as a better idea of what he’s capable of. His prior minor league seasons were all very similar, except that he’s been injury-prone the last three.

Zac Leslie DL, 27-28, Stockton 30-3-7-10 0.33 (AHL career 0.35)
The former 6th-rounder has settled in as a career AHLer (no cups of coffee in the NHL), putting up solid if unspectacular numbers. He’s someone who can play the powerplay, but you wouldn’t want him to run it.

Dillon Heatherington DL, 26, KHL Barys 41-2-5-7 0.17 (AHL career 0.28)
Like Aberg above, the former 2nd-rounder dipped his toes in the KHL before returning to the minors. Always billed as a safe, stay-at-home blueliner, his limitations have meant that he’s only played 5 NHL games (despite his pedigree and size). He’s a good fit for a partner on the right side who wants to gamble.

Veteran Summary

The forwards add offensive depth and sandpaper, but the blueline is seemingly focused on defensive reliability and veteran savvy. While I think several of these signings are in line with typical Pierre Dorion flailings (cf), a few also make sense, which is a marked improvement. With that out of the way, let’s look at younger players.

Prospects

Forwards

Angus Crookshank LW, 22, 19-5-11-16 0.84 (NCAA career 0.70)
The 5th-round pick left the NCAA early and had an excellent, albeit short, rookie season. He will be leaned on to continue that production, but with Agozzino there to take some of the pressure off.

Yegor Sokolov RW/LW, 21, 35-15-10-25 0.71 (QMJHL career 1.04)
A good rookie season for the 2nd-round pick, who will looked at to improve on his offensive pruduction (with Aberg being his support in that respect); I think he’s more likely to be called-up than Crookshank (due to size/experience).

Logan Brown CL, 23-24, 13-2-7-9 0.69 (AHL career 0.84)
The former 1st-round pick is an unsigned RFA and it’s unclear whether the Sens wish to keep him or not. As a 6’6 playmaking center, I think it’s crazy for Ottawa to give up on him, but as someone picked by Bob Lowes instead of Trent Mann, I’m not sure they feel attached to him. It’s also not clear that they’d put him back in Belleville if they kept him–I think it unlikely (what does he really have to prove at this level?), but I’m including him since it remains a possibility.

Shane Pinto CR, 20-21, NHL Ottawa 12-1-6-7 0.58 (NCAA career 0.98)
The 2nd-rounder turned pro after his sophomore season and despite good production in his short debut, I think it’s possible he’ll play significant time in the AHL–the Sens could opt to take the pressure off and let him develop in Belleville (ala Josh Norris). If so he’ll get top minutes as the first or second-line center.

Parker Kelly CL/RW, 22, 33-10-8-18 0.54 (WHL career 0.69)
The WHL FA signee had a much better sophomore season after an underwhelming rookie year. Given the lineup, he looks like a third line winger who will do some penalty killing and perhaps second unit powerplay time.

Cole Reinhardt LW, 21-22, 33-6-6-12 0.36 (WHL career 0.56)
I’m not sure what to make of the 6th-rounder, but scoring does not seem like it’s on the menu, so I’d expect him to circulate on the bottom lines.

Mark Kastelic CR/RW, 22, 31-4-6-10 0.32 (WHL career 0.73)
The 5th-rounder, an imagined Zack Smith clone, had a middling rookie year (Smith’s rookie year was 0.61). Like the previous two prospects, I expect him to eat up minutes on the bottom lines.

Roby Jarventie LW, 19, Liiga Ilves 48-14-11-25 0.52 (U20 career 0.73)
The 2nd-round Finnish forward played briefly with Belleville at the end of the season and, while his contract can slide, it seems like he’ll return to the BSens (he’s not on Ilves’ roster for the upcoming season). It’s difficult to project his production, but he showed skill in his limited window.

Defense

Jonathan Aspirot DL, 22, 27-7-6-13 0.41 (QMJHL career 0.39)
An undrafted blueliner whose signing I was not a fan of, but he’s somehow maintained his junior production at the AHL level (in an admittedly small sample size). The pressure to produce will be abated by the addition of Leslie and Bernard-Docker.

Lassi Thomson DR, 21, 35-1-12-13 0.37 (Liiga career 0.26)
The first-rounder had a solid season for someone considered unspectacular offensively; while the pressure will be on to take his game to another level, the addition of Bernard-Docker adds depth on his side.

Jacob Bernard-Docker DR, 21, NCAA North Dakota 27-3-15-18 0.66 (NCAA career 0.63)
The first-rounder left college early at the end of last year, but given the logjam on the blueline in the NHL, I think he’s going to spend part or all of his rookie season in Belleville. He projects out like Thomson, although it’s unclear who has the better skill set.

Maxence Guenette DR, 20, QMJHL Val d’Or 36-5-17-22 0.61 (QMJHL career 0.47)
I’m not sure if the 7th-rounder can go back to the Q (cf), but given how crowded the BSens are on the right side, sending him back seems like the better choice. His numbers remind me of Max Lajoie’s, who I liked, although Guenette’s ceiling is probably not as high. Barring injuries or a roster move, it’s difficult to envision him as anything other than a depth defenseman.

Goaltenders

Filip Gustavsson GL, 23, .933/.910 (AHL career .894)
The former 2nd-round pick had his best pro season to date, but with two goalies ahead of him in Ottawa, it seems likely that he’ll return to Belleville (presumably as the starter).

Mads Sogaard GL, 20-21, .917 (WHL career .915)
The huge 2nd-round Dane did well in limited action and will either back-up Gustavsson or take the role of starter.

Kevin Mandolese GL, 20, .888 (QMJHL career .900)
The rookie struggled at the pro level and could see time in ECHL Atlanta to avoid sitting in the pressbox behind the other two. Because the Sens have three signed goaltending prospects, it’s unlikely they’ll add an AHL goaltender.

Prospect Summary

At the NHL level, Pinto, Formenton, and Brannstrom can hypothetically come down (as can Norris and Stutzle, but I consider that impossible). Barring a roster change, only Pinto seems possible (thus his inclusion above). The blueline is so clogged at the NHL-level everyone in the minors is locked in. Otherwise there’s a fairly even mix of skill and grind in the forward group, with the blueliners slightly more generally skilled (albeit with lower offensive ceilings).

Hypothetical Lineup

Centers: Pinto, Shaw, Kastelic, Bishop
Leftwing: Agozzino, Crookshank, Jarventie, Reinhardt, Goulbourne
Rightwing: Aberg, Sokolov, Kelly, Sherwood, Sabourin
Left-D: Aspirot, Leslie, Heatherington
Right-D: Thomsom, Bernard-Docker, Williams, Guenette

Agozzino-Pinto-Aberg
Crookshank-Shaw-Sokolov
Jarventie-Bishop-Kelly
Reinhardt-Kastelic-Sherwood
Extras: Sabourin, Goulbourne

Aspirot-Thomson
Leslie-Bernard-Docker
Heatherington-Williams
Extra: Guenette

There are only three natural centers in the group (Pinto, Kastelic, and Bishop), so looking at the various wingers who play center I’m guessing Shaw is moved to make room for the rightwing prospects who need the ice time. I’m guessing Aberg will play the right side given that he’s righthanded and wasn’t brought in to sit on the third line. If Pinto isn’t here than either Agozzino shifts to center or Bishop slides up (despite his lack of talent) and Kelly moves over. Otherwise I think there will be at least one veteran player on each of the top-three lines. The blueline combos are much less certain, but are placed roughly in terms of assumed talent–it’s likely there will be juggling to see who works best with whom (cf).

In Context

It’s worth remembering that last season was a bizarre one in the AHL. Belleville played 35-games against just 4 teams because of the pandemic. A reduced travel schedule and repeated opponents impacts numbers, but we don’t know to what extent. Within their division they were the lowest scoring team (102 goals or 2.9 per game, which is a long way down from their 3.71 pace the previous season). The top-scorer in the AHL (Andrew Poturalski) played more games than the other top scorers (the top point-per-game player was veteran T. J. Tynan at 1.30–yes, the same Tynan Columbus drafted via the Nikita Filatov trade), but the leader within Belleville’s division was Manitoba’s Nathan Todd with 32 points; the top ppg was Toronto’s Kale Kossila at 1.04 (passim). For an easier visual snapshot, here’s how the BSens compare to their divisional top scorers (minimum 17 games played–half a season–those on the BSens or signed for this season are in bold):

Forwards
1. Kossila (Tor) 28-7-22-29 1.04
2. Agostino (Tor) 22-9-13-22 1.00
3. Todd (Man) 36-12-20-32 0.89
4. Poehling (Lav) 28-11-14-25 0.89
5. Gustafsson (Man) 22-7-12-19 0.86
6. Crookshank 19-5-11-16 0.84
7. Belzile (Lav) 17-4-10-14 0.82
8. Perfetti (Man) 32-9-17-26 0.81
9. Agozzino (San Diego) 31-13-14-27 0.77
10. Robertson (Tor) 21-5-11-16 0.76
11. Dauphin (Lav) 21-5-11-16 0.76
12. Ruzicka (Sto) 28-11-10-21 0.75
13. Blandisi (Lav) 28-10-11-21 0.75
14. Veilleux (Lav) 26-14-5-19 0.73
15. Sokolov 35-15-10-25 0.71
16. Weal (Lav) 34-7-17-24 0.71
17. Phillips (Sto) 30-8-13-21 0.70
18. Teasdale (Lav) 26-8-10-18 0.69
19. Aberg (KHL) 49-10-13-23 0.68
20. Gaudet (Tor) 34-11-12-23 0.68
21. Shaw 24-6-9-15 0.62
22. Gawdin (Sto) 22-4-9-13 0.59
23. Malott (Man) 34-14-6-20 0.59
24. Ylonen (Lav) 29-9-8-17 0.59

The drop off in offense from Belleville’s forward group is obvious and the acquisitions should help solve that to some degree (although Ottawa did not push for the best of the best in terms of AHL-scorers).

Defense
1. Petrovic-D (Sto) 17-2-10-12 0.70
2. Mackey-D (Sto) 27-3-13-16 0.59
3. Heinola-D (Man) 19-4-7-11 0.58
4. Kivihalme-D (Tor) 20-6-5-11 0.55
5. Lilegren-D (Tor) 21-2-9-11 0.52
6. Leskinen-D (Lav) 33-1-16-17 0.51
7. Olofsson-D (Lav) 24-1-11-12 0.50
8. Duszak-D (Tor) 25-4-8-12 0.48
9. Kovacevic-D (Man) 29-2-12-14 0.48
10. Chisholm-D (Man) 28-2-11-13 0.46
11. Brook-D (Lav) 33-2-13-15 0.45
12. Rosen-D (Tor) 30-5-8-13 0.43
13. Aspirot-D 27-7-6-13 0.41

The offensive weakness of the BSens blueline (a systemic issue that goes back six years–the last elite producer was Chris Wideman in 2014-15) is obvious. The org has made a limited effort to shore up this deficit, but are leaning almost entirely on prospects for additional production.

Final Thoughts

Looking through this, and at the Sens lineup, it seems like a move on the blueline has to be coming soon (I can’t see Ottawa keeping 8 defensemen). If everything lines up in Belleville as I’ve guessed above, success is heavily dependent on the prospects. Scoring should at least slightly improve, although I have concerns over how well the blueline can move the puck (which impacts what forwards can do with it). On paper the goaltending looks solid, but we have very small sample sizes for two of the prospects and Gustavsson has been all over the place in the AHL–it’s probably fine. I think for fans I think there’s reasons to watch and be excited, albeit I don’t know how much that will translate into wins and losses. Anyway, as I said above, please chime in with your own thoughts–I did not watch this past season, so there may be some nuances I’ve missed and I like hearing other opinions regardless.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Retrospective: Looking Back at the 2019 Assessment of the Sens Farm System

I’ve been away from the Sens and hockey for a couple of years (funnily enough, the last thing I wrote was a profile of Scott Sabourin). I never wrote about why I did, but there were two reasons: 1) unhappiness with management/the organization (something that hasn’t changed), 2) The NHL’s unwillingness to open the game up–I grew up in the 1980s and while the game is ‘better’ now, the excitement of that high scoring era is not matched (the peak, for me, is the ’87 Canada Cup finals). The NBA and the NFL have (at different speeds) realized that what fans want most is scoring, but the NHL remains far behind making that adjustment. The clutch and grab era may be dead, but despite all the speed of the modern NHL, scoring struggles continue.

So what’s prompted me to write now? No specific reason, although I’ve been thinking about it for awhile. The last couple of years of my Sens coverage was focused on prospects and I think to learn and judge analysis requires reflection. I wanted to see just how well I did in assessing Ottawa’s farm system back in 2019. I tackled it in reference to rankings from The Athletic‘s Pronman and I’ll reflect on both his and my comments. To make this visually easier, those whose development was predicted correctly are in green and those not in red, and where it’s unclear, as it frequently is, I’ve left it as-is. My bias: I value offense over defense, since the former is rare and the latter can be learned.

3. Alex Formenton (2-47/17)
Had an excellent first season in Belleville (0.86ppg), with a solid debut in Ottawa (0.30).
Pronman (& scouts) were uncertain about his skill level at the highest level, with the thinking being he’d be a third line center who could kill penalties. My issue with him was simply how early he was picked given that limited upside, but it’s still too early to judge his ceiling.

5. Josh Norris (Acquired from San Jose in the Erik Karlsson trade)
An excellent rookie season in Belleville (1.09), and an impressive NHL rookie season (0.62).
My fear was that Norris had been buoyed by talented teammates and fall to third-line production without, but it seems like that’s a concern we can wave away at this stage. This was both Pronman and the scouts contention as well, but clearly the Sens saw more in him than most and thus far they have been right. I still think there’s some suggestion that his numbers are boosted by his linemates (both in Belleville and Ottawa), but not in the sense that he’s drag on them (so he’s more like Dan Quinn than Warren Young, to make a reference maybe 5% of you will get).

8. Jakob Bernard-Docker (1-26/18)
Continued to do well in the NCAA (0.78 and 0.66) and made his brief debut.
Scouts and Pronman saw him as a safe, two-way, top-four defensemen. My quibble with him was (again) when he was picked given his upside (the Sens have drafted an abundance of players within that category). We really don’t know what he is yet, but his NCAA numbers imply modest pro production.

11. Filip Chlapik (2-48/15)
Equaled his production (0.60) at the AHL level while not offering much in limited time in half an NHL season. Unhappiness this past season saw the Sens let him go and he played the end of the year in the Finnish league.
There were a lot of questions when he was drafted and Pronman was not impressed, but broadly speaking his offensive side never did quite meet expectations (my concern that his QMJHL production had been boosted by Daniel Sprong seems correct), while he was better defensively than advertised. I always hoped he would develop more.

12. Parker Kelly (WHL FA 2017)
An unremarkable rookie season (0.28) saw necessary improvement this past one (0.55).
Pronman hoped for offensive skills that weren’t evident at the time and while we’ve seen improvement it’s still up in the air what kind of ceiling he has. I’m not sure that you need to sign a defensive forward with speed to an ELC, but he’s not a bust yet so there’s time to see a return on investment (he seems like a poor man’s Formenton).

13. Max Veronneau (NCAA FA 2019)
An awful AHL rookie season (0.30) saw him traded and he’s now playing in the SHL.
Pronman didn’t see NHL potential in him and while I agreed, I had different reasons for doing so. We were both right in the end, as he couldn’t even dominate at the AHL level, so this was a wasted FA-signing. In general the Sens have an extremely poor track record of FA signings out of the NCAA (cf).

14. Jonathan Davidsson (Acquired in the Matt Duchene trade to Columbus)
Unimpressive partial rookie season (0.27) followed by a worse start this past season leading to being loaned back to tier-2 Sweden.
Pronman, while not effusive, wasn’t as down on him as I was, and in this case I was absolutely correct. Davidsson just doesn’t have NHL (or, seemingly, AHL) talent.

16. Shane Pinto (2-32/19)
Good sophomore season in the NCAA (1.14) with an impressive NHL debut.
Pronman was extremely negative about him while scouts were divided; I worried the Sens were won over by his size (think of Gabriel Gagne and others), but thus far it seems as though Ottawa was on the right track.

17. Filip Gustavsson (Acquired in the Derick Brassard trade involving Pittsburgh and Vegas)
Echoed his atrocious rookie season (.889), but was much better this past season in limited action in both leagues.
Pronman was concerned he was in bust territory, while I thought his struggles were fine at the time. It seems like he’s rounding into form, although the small sample size from this past season is something we have to take with a grain of salt.

18. Kevin Mandolese (6-157/18)
Marked improvement (.895 to .925), while looking rough around the edges in his rookie season in the AHL (.888).
Pronman was very negative about him and scouts opinions were mixed. Goalies are extremely difficult to gauge and for a late pick if he doesn’t pan out it’s not that big a deal (I don’t mind the risk).

19. Jon Gruden (4-95/18)
After struggling in the NCAA he had a solid season in the OHL, but was traded to Pittsburgh where he had an okay AHL debut (0.43).
Pronman and I shared the opinion that he wasn’t an NHL player, so why bother picking him? I have no idea why the Sens signed him, but at least they were able to dump him on Pittsburgh soon after.

21. Luke Loheit (7-194/18)
Put up back-to-back horrendous seasons in the NCAA (0.18 and 0.17)–not picked as a scorer, but these are abysmal numbers regardless.
Virtually no one ranked him and it’s difficult to find positive opinions about him (Pronman included)–the Sens could easily have let him sail through the draft and signed him as an FA if warranted.

Depth: Markus Nurmi (6-163/16)
Showing steady improvement in Finland (0.49 and 0.78).
The Sens have sat on Nurmi for a long time, whom they clearly saw as raw material that might develop one day. Pronman was not impressed, but Nurmi is getting to the point where the Sens might sign him. His numbers in Finland aren’t overwhelming and at best he’s a depth player, but that potential remains (he’s only 23).

Not discussed:
1. Drake Batherson (4-121/17) – One of my favourite players; superb AHL numbers turned into strong NHL numbers (0.60)
2. Erik Brannstrom (Acquired in the Mark Stone trade) – Has been great in the AHL; starting to round into NHL form (0.43)
4. Logan Brown (1-11/16) – Excellent AHL numbers haven’t yet earned him a full NHL spot
6. Lassi Thomson (1-19/19) – Decent season in Finland before a solid AHL debut (0.37); this is yet another top-four with limited upside prospect
7. Mads Sogaard (2-37/19) – Tread water in 2019-20, but was solid in limited rookie action in the AHL
9. Vitaly Abramov (Acquired in the Matt Duchene trade) – Has been a good AHL player (0.80 and 0.82), but ought to be a dominant one [After I posted this I saw that he’d signed in the KHL–so ends his tenure with Ottawa]
10. Joey Daccord (7-199/15) – Had a strong rookie season, but struggled as a sophomore; claimed by Seattle
15. Marcus Hogberg (3-78/13) – Had a strong 2019-20, but faltered as an NHL goaltender (.876) and the Sens have moved on (he’s signed in the SHL)

As Pronman said nothing about them, I can’t comment on his opinion. As for me, if you draft for skill it will pay off as it has with Batherson. I don’t have strong opinions on Brannstrom, but I like Brown. Thomson, it’s agreed, lacks high end skill, but let’s hope there’s more upside than predicted. I liked the Sogaard pick. At 23 Abramov needs to establish himself at the NHL-level. I liked Daccord, but the Sens really didn’t have room for him (the same for Hogberg).

Not making the cut:
Todd Burgess (4-103/16) – Middle of the road NCAA numbers saw him unsigned; the Manitoba Moose picked him up; excluding him counts as a win for Pronman
Angus Crookshank (5-126/18) – His 2019-20 season was roughly equal to his prior, but he improved this past year (0.90) and had an excellent AHL debut (0.84); excluding him counts against Pronman
Jakov Novak (7-188/18) – NCAA numbers improved (0.85 and 1.13), he’s switched schools for his final college season; excluding him counts against Pronman
Viktor Lodin (4-94/19) – Took a step back in 2019-20 (spending only half the time in the SHL), then was kept in tier-2 where he put up his best numbers (for whatever that’s worth); on loan to the SHL for the upcoming season
Mark Kastelic (5-125/19) – Matched his prior year in the WHL and then had an adequate debut given expectations (0.32)
Maxence Guenette (7-187/19) – His final two QMJHL seasons were about equal in terms or production (0.61 in the last), which isn’t all that impressive

The only Pronman angle above is that he left them out. The Sens letting Burgess walk makes sense, as he never broke out in the NCAA. I liked the Crookshank selection (again, going for skill). Novak represents the same risk taken with Burgess–both were high scoring NAHL players–but with better results (how well that translates remains to be seen). Kastellic always seemed liked an AHL player not worth drafting and I don’t see Zack Smith in him (which is what I think they were angling for). I was unimpressed by Lodin’s talent when drafted and despite finally putting up numbers in tier-2 this still seems like a wasted pick to me.

In reference to my prospect rankings (posted about a month after the article here), I stand by my goaltender comments (irrespective of changes). On defense the jury is out on whether I was too high on Christian Wolanin (who I saw as a top-four blueliner), but I was spot-on with Olle Alsing (who crashed and burned) and Andreas England (thankfully gone). As for forwards it’s a bit more of a mixed bag, as I undersold Josh Norris and Shane Pinto, but I’m very happy with my Max Veronneau, Michael Carcone (anyone remember him?), Andrew Sturtz, John Gruden, and Luke Loheit assessments. As for those outside the list, one can quibble with my Nick Paul assessment, but I was spot on about Jack Rodewald, too conservative about Brady Tkachuck, and not ready to give up on the potential of the departed Max Lajoie or Christian Jaros. My assessment of the various AHL-signings was all on-point other than, perhaps, Jonathan Aspirot.

Any thoughts or comments are welcome. I have been out of the rotation for awhile, so there could be nuances I’m missing.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)