The Hater’s Guide to Week 19

This is a weekly feature that takes an uncharitable look at the Senators’ upcoming opponents.

yrsf7

Me, putting cookies in a warm, toasty oven (not pictured: you, sharing another ice-cold take)

Hello! Did you have the weekend we had? With the kind of balmy weather that almost demanded a long, quiet walk at the bird sanctuary? And then you saw just the most superb owl, and celebrated with 12 pounds of hot wings and 77 beers? And woke up Monday, logy and covered in hot sauce, only to remember there were four games this week that needed previews?

It’s true, we’re running a little behind at the ol’ hater’s guide today, but don’t worry! We’re bringing back one of our most popular features, where we look at past players who left the Senators to play for one of this week’s opponents, only to endure poor performance, failure, and heartbreak. It’s the kind of feature you can feel good about. Let’s go!

Monday, February 8 – Senators vs. Lightning

109286249

Chris Phillips mentors Brian Lee on the importance of defensive positioning.

Senators: 167 GP, 5 G, 23 A
Lightning: 42 GP, 0 G, 8 A

PREDICTION: Look for a small subset of Twitter to continue to miss Erik Condra with the understated yet intense desperation of a late-70s Neil Diamond album, and for Erik Condra to continue not to score. Senators 5, Lightning 0.

Wednesday, February 10 – Senators @ Red Wings

chris-phillips-hockey-headshot-photo

Chris Phillips in an undated file photo.

Unfortunately, no Senators player has ever left Ottawa for Detroit. But that’s not bad, right?

PREDICTION: Look for a offensive outburst from Alex Chiasson, followed by a post-game revelation that Chiasson has been the latest struggling Senators forward to recently donate $50 to a member of Ottawa’s homeless community. Expect this to be covered as the kind of lightweight, feel-good story that does absolutely nothing for Ottawa’s homeless community. Senators 5, Red Wings 0.

Thursday, February 11 – Senators vs. Avalanche

96427152

Chris Phillips congratulates Brian Elliott after a win in Buffalo.

Senators: 130 GP, 59-45, 2.80 GAA, .903 SV%
Avalanche: 12 GP, 2-8, 3.83 GAA, .891 SV%

PREDICTION: Erik Karlsson may be second in points in the entire league, but he’s still over 15 points behind league leader Patrick Kane. Look for him to make up most of the difference in this game, and for all the post-game questions to be about that pinch he was burned on in the third minute. Senators 5, Avalanche 0.

Saturday, February 13 – Senators @ Blue Jackets

98-99OttSen

Chris Phillips and Ron Tugnutt pose for an intimate personal photo.

Senators: 166 GP, 72-53, 2.32 GAA, .906 SV%
Blue Jackets: 97 GP, 34-52, 2.62 GAA, .910 SV%

PREDICTION: A game against the Blue Jackets is the kind of low-pressure environment where Dave Cameron can try out new lines without worrying about Internet people firing off hurtful, charged phrases like “sub-optimal deployment”. So look for the debut of the Prince-Paul-Pageau line, which will be called the “Triple-P Line” by 99% of Sens fans and the “3 Feet High and Rising Line” by the rest. Senators 5, Blue Jackets 0.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Bobby Ryan, Coded Language, and Prejudice

(CW: prejudice and racism)

On the surface of things, Bobby Ryan’s answer to who he’s cheering for in Super Bowl 50 tomorrow might have seemed innocuous. He was just expressing a preference for one team, one set of players over another. He’s an NHLer with an understanding of what makes for a great professional. He just doesn’t like dabbing. It would be easy to read it this way.

Ryan’s been welcomed into the Ottawa community with open arms. In his three seasons with the team, he’s ingratiated himself to fans and the media alike, with his low key personality, honesty in interviews, and willingness to take responsibility for his and the team’s failings. He plays through injuries. He interacts with fans on social media and is willing to pose for pictures. He does a lot of things you want a player to do.

But he also has a pattern of racial prejudice expressed online and in the media that reflects the racist framework of North American pro sports like hockey. In today’s Ottawa Sun, a piece ran in which an informal poll of the dressing room asked which team the Sens players wanted to win tomorrow’s Super Bowl. Some expressed a desire for a Broncos win to see veteran Peyton Manning go out of top. However, a few players admitted to actively rooting against the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers. Clarke MacArthur commented that Carolina has “Just too much show after every play,” and Bobby Ryan echoed his teammate’s frustration. I don’t know if MacArthur’s comments are indicative of a professional conservatism often found in Canadian hockey players. They might be, as it’s certainly possible to dislike the Panthers and Newton for reasons other than race. But Ryan’s comments stand out because of how he pushed the issue and his personal history when it comes to topics of race. Here’s the relevant section from the Sun:

“I’m not a big Cam Newton fan,” Bobby Ryan said of the Carolina Panthers quarterback. “As a player, yes, I think he’s unbelievable. But I can’t stand the stuff he does.”

Over-the-top celebrating?

“Yeah, it’s idiotic,” said Ryan. “You’re up by 30 last week and you’re still doing it all over the field.”

Particularly annoying to Ryan (although apparently not to Mark Stone) is the dab, a dance move Newton has made even more popular that sees him stick both arms out to one side and bury his nose in the bent elbow.

“Guys do it around here now, which is really disappointing,” said Ryan. “It’s seeped its way into the NHL and I’m not a big fan.

“I don’t know the origin. I feel like it’s a song that’s been played, but you have to ask Stoner because he loves it.”

Prejudice and racism are easier to spot when people hurl slurs and are explicit in their language. It’s why it’s easier to denounce Donald Trump as racist but why we struggle to see why leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement take issue with many of Bernie Sanders policies.

Ryan doesn’t use slurs so many will just see these comments as a preference for the celebration style of Manning instead of Newton. Except it’s not. This is coded language, designed to obscure that race is the objection here. During the media frenzy that is the build up to the Super Bowl, Newton’s celebrations, pants, sandals, and general fashion sense has been interrogated in ways they never are for white athletes. Newton is just the latest in a long line of black quarterbacks who have been subjected to harsh criticisms their white counterparts never received. Interrogating personal choices such as fashion or on-field celebrations of black athletes is an attempt by mainstream media, professional leagues, and fans to control expressions of black masculinity, often perceived to be threatening. When white athletes, coaches, league officials, and media members talk about how to “act like a pro,” it is most often an attempt to discourage expressions of difference, whether it be sexuality, gender identity, religion, or in this case, race. “Act like a pro” more often means, “act like us” – white, cis, straight, and male.

It’s funny that in his concern for professional conduct, Ryan did not mention Manning’s longstanding misogyny, his documented sexual harassment, and his continued refusal to leave his victim alone. Peyton is viewed as professional; his substantial promotional work for pizza and insurance helps cement that image despite what we know about him. Another former NFL MVP, Aaron Rodgers, celebrates touchdowns with a wrestling title-belt gesture to cheers. Cam Newton is not granted similar leeway. Instead, Ryan attacked Newton’s ebullience after scoring plays, which as someone who has watched Bobby’s euphoric celebrations after each of his Ottawa goals, seems hypocritical. Bobby can fist pump, jump into the glass, shout, and hug teammates because his intensity is never viewed as threatening. He’s white. This also provides Ryan the protection to criticize a black athlete for a practice he himself engages in.

Ryan’s dismissal of dabbing is similarly coded and not a principled stance against appropriating black culture. Rather, his ignorance of dabbing’s roots in the hip-hop community and his refusal to acknowledge its current popularity are in some ways a rejection of black expression as valid, as culturally relevant. It’s a rejection of black culture’s influence on the professional sports landscape.

This isn’t a simple difference of opinion rooted in the respective distinctiveness of football as compared to hockey. Players of colour have been subjected to similar critiques in the NHL as well. P. K. Subban’s enthusiastic goal celebrations have been denounced by some Senators in the past and frequently by mainstream hockey media. When Ryan took ownership for his late slump last season by stating “I just suck right now,” it was seen as leadership. When Subban explicitly expressed his frustration at Montreal’s lengthy ongoing slump last month, it was a “profanity-laden tirade” and comments from his parents were sought. But when Erik Karlsson swears, the media doesn’t turn it’s focus to Sweden to consult his mom and dad. In both Subban’s and Newton’s cases what fellow players and media hope to contain is their expressions of individuality, what they hope to maintain is white privilege.

If you’re concerned that this examination of Ryan’s comments is a stretch or an overreaction, please note it fits a pattern of behaviour with the Sens winger. Last year when the Sens were visiting St. Louis, Black Lives Matter protests were in full swing. These activists and community members were protesting the murder of black teen Mike Brown by police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Ryan callously tweeted that the protests were interrupting his pregame nap. It showed disdain for both the protesters and their cause. It would have been a perfect metaphor for white privilege except it wasn’t a metaphor, it was real life.

Ryan’s prejudiced behaviour on twitter goes beyond his tweets. His “likes” are a dumpster fire of racism. They reveal a penchant for agreeing with the worst racists active in American politics right now. He’s liked tweets about Donald Trump preventing Muslims from entering the United States and racists tweets about Barack Obama. There are more examples. This is a pattern, this is prejudice. Like everyone, he’s entitled to his opinions. Like everyone, he’s not above criticism.

Bobby Ryan is polite. Bobby Ryan scored a goal and got a kid a puppy. Bobby Ryan was kind to you when he posed for a photo at the grocery store. Bobby Ryan has done all of those things.

But Bobby Ryan is prejudiced and he’s made that pretty clear too.

Nothing is served by ignoring this pattern in Ryan’s behaviour. Equally, nothing is gained from refusing to interrogate how Ryan’s actions fit within the larger racist framework of professional sports in Canada and the United States. When playing the game the right way is so often code for playing the game within acceptable white standards of behaviour, we will continue to have players like Ryan maintain those standards, and continue to attack players like Newton and Subban who challenge such arbitrary norms.

 

 

Your Model Sucks

20160125_151812

No Fancy Stats argument is actually about stats. A statistic is a number that (theoretically) represents reality, and you can’t argue about reality1. Mark Borowiecki has a 5-on-5 score-adjusted CF% of 44% this season. Can’t argue with that. Patrick Wiercioch has 3 points this season and Erik Karlsson’s got 51 points this season. Can’t argue with that.

Analytics arguments are actually (#ACTUALLY) dissecting what these numbers mean in terms of player evaluation and future performance. These are questions without easy answers2 and really more about one’s philosophy and biases than they are about actual mathematics. This is why participants in a #fancystats argument mostly end up sounding like 3rd year undergraduates trying to nail the 5% class participation mark. This isn’t math class, it’s philosophy class.3

All this to say I’m not here to talk about stats. I’m here to talk about models, which are like stats only worse. Let me explain…

Ed note: This post is about to get wild nerdy. I don’t know how to prevent this. Turns out one can’t talk about their personal philosophy of phenomenological modelling without sounding like a huge dork. So it goes.

In a perfect world, you would describe and make predictions about all physical phenomena by applying the prescribed laws. Physicists love doing this. Physicists write down some laws, solve some differential equations, and boom there’s General Relativity. Very few things ever work out this nicely. Most things worth studying contain too many moving parts to accommodate well-defined system behaviour. The real world is messy. This is where models come in.

A model takes inputs, does math to the inputs (to use the technical term), and then spits out an an output that looks hopefully looks like reality. A good model should help us make inferences about the relationship between Things. However, and this is very important to always bear in mind, just because a model looks like reality does not mean that it is necessarily a good stand-in for reality. This is the origin of the expression from the statistician George Box, “All models are wrong, some models are useful.

Which brings me back to the intentionally inflammatory title of this post: your model sucks. It does. It is in the very nature of modelling that a model is an imperfect representation of reality. Therefore, if a model is to be taken seriously, I believe that the ways in which it is imperfect must be both qualitatively and quantitatively stated (and if your default position is to say “It’s just because of variance”, I will personally wish for you to be haunted until the end of your days by the ghost of Ludwig Boltzmann.)

There is another philosophical question that must be answered, which is “What is this model for?”. Is it meant to be a descriptive model (and if so, why is it necessarily better than examining raw inputs?), or is it a predictive/evaluative model (and if so, just how predictive is it?). There’s a couple of models floating around out here, and it’s not always clear what supposed to be for.

Let’s look at the much-ballyhooed dCorsi. From Stephen Burtch’s post, “dCorsi represents the unexplained residual portion of Corsi results observed for a given skater in a given season.” which is to say it’s the difference between The Fancy Model and Reality. Even if dCorsi is repeatable (its year-over-year R-squared is about 0.15), all that would really mean is that the model is wrong in some consistent ways, which I would find worrying if it was my job to apply the model. I would rather just use dCorsi as a way to quantify the error bars on the model outputs. I think it’s difficult to properly use something like dCorsi as an evaluative tool when it is literally just an expression of what you don’t know.

Then there is this:

In general I feel like weird results such as this, where Brad Marchand has a Goals Above Replacement per 60 that is 50% higher than Patrick Kane, or where John Tavares and Jack Eichel have worse dCorsis than Zac Rinaldo really say much more about the model in question than they do about the player being modeled. It’s tough for me to read this post without coming away with the impression that the values from this Expected Goal model should have some big goddamn error bars on them. Merely posting something that basically says “Aaaaaaay, look how much better Brad Marchand is than Patrick Kane.” is slightly absurd because Brad Marchand is not a better hockey player than Patrick Kane. If anything, this tweet is best understood as an illustration of how much work on these types of models still need to be done4.

Not every deep truth about sports has to be couched in some sort of Gladwellian counter-intuition. Sometimes your model just sucks. I need to know why and by how much if I’m ever going to use it.

1. Ok just work with me on this one.

2. Don’t @ me.

3. Good example: Do secondary assists matter? Answer: it depends! Speaking of secondary assists, we here at Welcome to your Karlsson Years dot com would like to bestow the Lifetime Achievement Award in Petty Hating to Tyler Dellow for his 2012 piece (which sadly no longer exists on the internet) in which he examined every single one of Erik Karlsson’s assists in an attempt to de-legitimize EK’s point totals. You did it, boo! (You can read Travis Yost’s response here.)

4. I believe Zack Lowe’s amazing piece on the Toronto Raptors’ player tracking department is an excellent indication of how much more data (i.e. a ludicrous amount of data) modelers will need before useful models can be created for hockey. Until then, I’ll settle for some big ol’ error bars on this stuff.

The Hater’s Guide to Week 18

This is a weekly feature that takes an uncharitable look at the Senators’ upcoming opponents.

yfof4

Me, pulling off bangs (not pictured: you, shoving extensions under your bowl cut)

Tuesday, February 2 – Senators @ Penguins

Okay campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties because it’s cold out there today! It’s cold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach? Nope! It’s western Pennsylvania, where the only thing less appealing than the weather has been the Penguins’ performance this season. The Penzos find themselves coming out of the All-Star break barely hanging on to the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, which is the kind of position you might shoot for if you’re some middling, budget-ass team, but a disappointing outcome when you’re spending to the cap and your top three forwards make more than most Kuwaiti princes.

As seems to happen every year, people are already wondering whether it’s time to blow up the top-heavy Pingus and start over. Crosby’s not getting any younger, after all, so maybe it’s time to sell high on Malkin and use the return to start building a good young core rather than keep papering over holes in the roster with Cullens and Hagelins and Boninos. Besides, who’s ever gotten less than fair value trading a first-line centre for a package? Oh, right, everyone. Still, it’s fair to say that unless the Pingpongs shake things up somehow, they’ll keep finding themselves on the bubble of playoff contention every year, reliving the same thing over and over and over. Can you even imagine?

PREDICTION: All but three players in this game just spent a week off in the sun, so expect to see the kind of well-rested, tanned hockey you’d find in an energy drink commercial. Look for a lot of talk about how the Senators need to start winning in a hurry to get back in the hunt, and for Mark Stone to respond with 7000 goals. Senators 5, Penguins 0.

Thursday, February 4 – Senators vs. Oilers

Winning the lottery isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s unrealistic to expect anyone who’s not used to being wealthy to suddenly know how to handle having everything all at once. It’s hard not to fritter money away when you really have no concept of what things are worth. So you keep on living the way you’re used to, making the same ill-considered decisions, never thinking about the bottom line and never developing a long-term plan. You make bad investments. You don’t even recognize the grifters and hustlers who act like your friends but swindle you at every opportunity. Before long you find yourself struggling under the constant weight of the expectations of those around you, slowly realizing your winnings are less of a gift than a curse.

This is the scenario the Oilers find themselves in during Year Million of their lottery-financed rebuild. The Oilers are like that trailer with the shiny, expensive powersports vehicles parked all over the lawn, the team with more toys than thoughtfulness, the team that randomly picks up someone like Eric Gryba because what the hell, ain’t got one of those yet. Meanwhile, the locals get more disgusted every year with how little good they’ve done for the community with their winnings. Into this void steps Connor McDavid. Sure, he’ll be excellent, but turning this team around requires more. It requires a conversation about basic asset management and personal responsibility, like telling a Powerball winner, “Hey, maybe don’t leave $50K in your glove box if you don’t want your truck broken into in a strip club parking lot. In fact, maybe don’t go to the strip club in the first place?” Except they’ve already tuned you out, thinking about the next ATV they’re going to get. Good luck, Connor.

PREDICTION: Oilers fans always seem to be well-represented at Senators home games these days, because who doesn’t like 80s nostalgia? Look for Connor McDavid to be narrowly denied a goal for the Oilers but for Eric Gryba to be responsible for at least two for the Senators. Senators 5, Oilers 0.

Saturday, February 6 – Senators vs. Leafs

Over the break I saw a few Leafs fans on Twitter do the math to figure out how many second-half wins the worst-record-in-hockey Leafs would need to make the playoffs, before coming to terms with the fact that, you know what? It probably isn’t happening this year. I feel for you, Leafs fans. There were about five minutes there where the Leafs had enough of a spark that you could be forgiven for thinking that Mike Babcock might actually be the miracle worker you’d heard about. But then before you know it, it’s February, you’re back in the lottery, and Jonathan Bernier has a GAA that would make even a fifth starter for the Red Sox blush.

Some say Senators fans may be coming to terms with a similar reality in two weeks. Who’s saying this, you ask? Oh, you’ll know. They’ll tell you when you see them this Saturday, being ushered out of the CTC for trying to smoke indoors, their Clark and Gilmour jerseys yellowed with what’s hopefully beer. They’ll have signs, and halitosis, and loud opinions about Donald Trump. And they’ll treat a win in this game, if it does happen, as the nearest thing they have to a Stanley Cup victory, walking out holding their heads high with the tragic, misplaced dignity of a drunk who thinks he’s just won an argument. I would like to be at this game, handing out toothbrushes and distance education pamphlets. You have to be the change you want to see in the world.

PREDICTION: Turns out a Google image search for “Drake” + “leafs jersey” returns no relevant results. Wonder why? Senators 5, Leafs 0.

Season prediction record: 23-21-6

Next week: “Avalanche”? “Lightning”? Come on, those are fake names.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

The Hater’s Guide to Week 17

This is a weekly feature that takes an uncharitable look at the Senators’ upcoming opponents.

CNb8ZqJWUAAFUGq.jpg large

Me, the peak of casual elegance (not pictured: you, eating a pizza bagel)

Tuesday, January 26 – Senators vs. Sabres

It’s hard to believe this is only the second game of the year against the Sabres. For Senators fans, playing Buffalo is one of those run-of-the-mill events that feels like it should be weekly, like doing laundry or quietly ignoring a racist statement made by an elderly relative. But so far this year the Sabres have been conspicuously absent from the Senators’ schedule, and if not having them in your life regularly means you haven’t been paying attention to recent goings-on in Buffalo – fewest good bands of any Rust Belt city, BTW – don’t forget that Tim Murray tanked so hard last year he should have changed his name to Rommel, then picked up Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly, and Jack Eichel, and still finds himself at the bottom of the Atlantic Division entering this game. It’s enough to inspire a maudlin ballad by the greatest band to ever come out of Buffalo, uh . . . the Goo Goo Dolls. Yowza.

Not only is this only the second Sabres game of the year for the Senators, it’s only the fourth game of the year, period, for Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, assuming you don’t count the 27 minutes he played in the opener against the Senators before he planted about 255 pounds of post-concussion weight the wrong way on his ankle and sprained it all to hell. Goaltenders rarely rely on their ankles though, right? This season may end up being yet another writeoff for Lehner, who’s already 0-3 and will likely find it even more difficult to get back into full NHL shape this late in the season (Chris Phillips comeback still totally happening though). Expect the reality of this situation to sink in around the time a broken showerhead blasts him with ice-cold water in the Canadian Tire Centre visitor’s locker room after the game.

PREDICTION: A lot will be made about Lehner’s return to Ottawa, but let’s not forget Tuesday’s game will be an emotional homecoming for another ex-Senator, human police sketch David Legwand. Sure, Legs only played about 7% of his career with Ottawa, but he also only has half a season under his belt with Buffalo, so the Sabres celebrating his 1100th game last week feels a bit like if Canada took credit for the Eagles because they once played a show in Calgary in 1972. Enough, Canada. Look for Legwand to play eight minutes in this game. Senators 5, Sabres 0.

BONUS PREDICTION: Believe it or not, some people find the idea of voting for John Scott to play in an exhibition hockey game more objectionable than the idea of voting for Donald Trump to run the free world.  This Sunday, look for Scott to score a shamefully easy goal about 30 seconds after taking the ice, and for the All-Star Game as a whole to be entertaining for exactly as long as it takes for this to happen. Be prepared for half-speed 3-on-3 to look like a woefully under-attended Timbits game. You can also expect some brief chatter about whether or not Erik Karlsson is the kind of defenseman who should win Norris Trophies after he scores a goal while texting. Erik Karlsson 5, All Others 0.

Season prediction record: 23-20-6

Next week: Edmonton, the only franchise it’s impossible to joke about.

The Hater’s Guide to Week 16

This is a weekly feature that takes an uncharitable look at the Senators’ upcoming opponents.

521888135

Me, leaving the building (not pictured: you, asking, “what is a boy/girl/person of non-binary gender to do?”

Hiiiiiii… listen. We ran out of time to put a Hater’s Guide together this weekend. Ottawa Hockey Analytics Conference, that’s right. Yeah, it was like a track off of Fishscale. Anyway, we figured we’d just preview this week’s four – four! – games by highlighting the success, or lack thereof, that former Senators achieved with each of this week’s opponents. Your move, Mike Hoffman.

Monday, January 18 – Senators @ Sharks

83789795

Dany Heatley celebrates with Chris Phillips after yet another goal.

Senators: 317 GP, 180 G, 182 A; 1.15 PPG
Sharks: 162 GP, 65 G, 81 A; 0.90 PPG

PREDICTION: Senators 5, Sharks 0.

Thursday, January 21 – Senators @ Devils

1302540329440_ORIGINAL

Anton Volchenkov commiserates with Chris Phillips after yet another agility test.

Senators: 428 GP, 16 G, 78 A; 0.22 PPG
Devils: 222 GP, 3 G, 29 A 0.14 PPG

PREDICTION: Senators 5, Devils 0.

Friday, January 22 – Senators vs. Islanders

56273331

Alexei Yashin smashes Chris Phillips in the face after yet another confrontation.

Senators: 504 GP, 218 G, 273 A; 0.97 PPG
Islanders: 346 GP, 119 G, 171 A; 0.84 PPG

PREDICTION: Senators 5, Islanders 0.

Sunday, January 24 – Senators vs. Rangers

6120616

Wade Redden and Chris Phillips light up yet another tree.

Senators: 684 G, 101 G, 309 A; 0.60 PPG
Rangers: 156 GP, 5 G, 35 A; 0.26 PPG

PREDICTION: Senators 5, Rangers 0.

Season prediction record: 21-18-6

Next week: The Sabres! And the sweet, tender mercy of time off.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

All the Offseason Signing Questions You Have, Answered*

*Except the one you constantly ask.

Look, the future of Mike Hoffman is probably the most important question Bryan Murray has to answer in 2016. If they can lock him up long term, you do it. But if they can’t, or at least strongly suspect they can’t, Mike Hoffman might feature pretty prominently in a trade for Jonathan Drouin Kevin Shattenkirk or some such useful piece to improve the top-6 blueline. And while it’s the question most Sens fans want answered, I honestly don’t know how it’s going to go down.

So this post isn’t about Mike Hoffman, instead it’s about all the other burning offseason questions about which RFAs/UFAs the Sens should bring back.

But first, quick shout out to Bryan Murray. Whatever you might think of Bryan, he’d never royally screw over one of his players the way Arizona GM Don Maloney did yesterday. He’d never do the league’s dirty work the way Maloney, Nashville GM David Poile and Montreal GM Marc Bergevin did either. He hasn’t been perfect, but even in his most prominent disagreements with players, he’s never traded someone 4,000 miles away from where they want to be out of spite while calling it a hockey move.

All salary info from General Fanager

The burning questions

Chris Neil, Shane Prince, and Patrick Wiercioch

This is an odd sort of grouping of players, but I think for various reasons these three will cause the most stress on management and fans to work out (after Hoffman). A year ago, it seemed like the Sens would be moving on from Chris Neil, if not at the trade deadline when he suffered injury, then at the conclusion of his current deal. In all honestly, I started hearing Barbara Streisand’s voice sing “Mem’ries, light the corners of my mind, misty water-colored memories, of the way we were” when Neil was on the ice (the question remains, who was our Robert Redford!?) But then a funny thing happened. Neil opened the 2015-16 season strong and here we are, more than three months later, and he’s still going strong. Yes, much of the value the fourth line brings can be attributed to his linemates, but Neil has looked quicker, better, and more productive than in recent seasons. Sure he still leads the team in minor penalties, but he’s settled down since a not overly disciplined October. Does it make sense to lock up a fourth line player who will be 37 in the summer? No, but offering Neil another two-year deal was always more about his longevity with the team and what he’s meant to the community. If he can repeat his play from this season (a tall ask) it’ll be ok and any new deal will likely look a lot like his current deal.

Shane Prince is easy in some senses because he’s a young player who’s still an RFA. He’s part of why the fourth line has spent a lot of time in the opposition end and he produces points at one of the best rates on the team. No brainer. It’s going to have to be a one way deal and he’s going to get a bump in dollars. I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets a one year “prove it” deal and Prince strikes me as the type of player to bet on himself.

Patrick Wiercioch might be the most interesting Sens player to watch. He’s played better of late, but has had a disappointing season to date. Any perceived value he built up with his strong finish to 2015/World Championship appearance has been squandered. Wouldn’t be shocked to see him shopped (and have no takers) at the deadline. Why give up an asset for a guy the Sens have repeatedly offered when you think he might be available for less in the summer? Of course, he won’t come free, he needs a new deal. He’s still an RFA, but he made $2M this season and established NHLers in their 20s pretty much never take pay cuts. PW on a three-year deal with a salary ranging from $2.5M-$3.5M (especially when you bring the advanced stats into the negotiations) doesn’t seem too farfetched but does seem like a deal that might make Murray and co. pause (aka the Jared Cowen EffectTM). I don’t know what the future holds for PW, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it takes place somewhere else.

The Automatics

Max McCormick, Cody Ceci, Fredrik Claesson, Chris Wideman, Matt Puempel

McCormick and Puempel have had decent looks at the NHL level this season (and last in Puempel’s case) and seem like decent enough bottom-six NHL players. McCormick is doing all the things on ice that the organization would expect from Neil’s heir apparent. Puempel also has the benefit of being a former first round pick. They’re controllable, won’t be making that much more, and are cheap, controllable replacements. I wouldn’t be shocked if one or both sign a contract that pressures the team to keep them at the NHL level in 2016-17.

Claesson is interesting in that he seemed completely overlooked by the organization until this past month and suddenly looks like he’s a natural and appreciated part of the blueline. Yes, he’s been sheltered with Karlsson, yes he’s made some bad giveaways, and yes he has the smallest of sample sizes in the NHL, but when it comes down to it, he won’t be commanding a huge raise. With the Senators hopefully moving on (dumping) Jared Cowen at the deadline (endless laughter) or in the offseason (likely our sad reality) and with Chris Phillips’ inevitable retirement, the blueline is less cluttered in 2016-17. Claesson easily fits a 5-7 spot on the depth chart but won’t be paid like a Cowen (more like a Boro).

Cody Ceci is where things get interesting. It’s clear the organization loves him and he’s a former first rounder and a local boy. Things are looking good for Ceci to get paid. And that’s fine, he deserves a raise on his ELC. He’ll probably have just over 200 NHL games when the season ends and is still only 22; these are things NHL GMs value. It’s not a question of if Ceci gets a raise, but rather how much and for how long. I think PW’s current deal (AAV $2M) is an acceptable range for Ceci (though I suspect 2 years instead of 3 more likely). The goal with Ceci’s new deal should be more like PW and less like Cowen.

Chris Wideman is going to get a raise and locked up for a couple seasons. He will be seen as a cheaper PW (in relation to the new deal PW is going to sign). I wouldn’t be shocked if Wideman replaces Wiercioch in the eyes of management.

The Alex Chiassons

I don’t really know what Murray is going to do here. I know a lot of Sens fans think he’s a lock to be re-signed because of his inclusion in the Spezza deal but I don’t know how much Murray cares about that. Chiasson isn’t dead weight or anything, doesn’t make a lot of money, and wouldn’t get too much of a raise. He’s a fine fourth line player, but they’re not really the type you should be going out of your way to sign. I think he’s been better this season, but his lack of goals and points in going to hurt him (like it hurts us). Would prefer a Bingo guy (Puempel or Schneider, who also needs to be re-signed) get his spot.

Bingo RFAs

I don’t follow Bingo closely and there are Bingo experts you should certainly be reading (Jeff Ulmer at Silver Seven for starters). All I can say is that if I was a betting person, Alex Guptill won’t be re-signed.