Let me be the first person to welcome you to summer. Welcome! As someone who …hmmm let me choose my words carefully as our lawyers have informed me that I cannot refer to what I do here as “writing” ….k, lemme start again. As someone who smashes a keyboard to produce word-like combinations with the possible intent of creating hockey-esque shapes I must admit that it can be a little tough to come up with interesting and fun subjects to discuss during these dog dangling afternoons. Seeing as the CBA does not qualify as remotely interesting but DOES qualify as a complete fucking bummer, we will skip that! Spotlight please… *soft R and B music*
Baby, there’s been a lot of talk about the rebuild lately. A lot of fussin’ and fightin’ about prospects. Lotta pillow talk about their current worth relative to development ceiling, their trade value, their blah di bling blong bluuuu. All this talk has got me thinking about what last season’s squad would look like if we put on that Natalie Cole record and stripped things dowwwn to …alright I am really sorry, I am creeping mySELF out at this point.
Here’s a chart I made. I wanted to examine what last season’s team looks like if you break it down to who drafted each player and where, what at this point in time is popularly viewed as their role on the team and if they have solidified themselves in said role. “BUT JAMES JAAAAAAAAMES!” You say, “I’ve already skipped over the boring part and noticed a bunch of people missing! Where be Filatov and the like!?” Well, You, that’s why you always read everything, and always leave a note. I arbitrarily chose to define a roster player as someone who participated in 20 or more games for Ottawa last season. Come away with me…
|Legal Name||Draft position, Year, Team||Role on team||Established in role?|
|Jason Spezza||1st Round, 2nd Overall 2001 by Ottawa||First line centre.||Spezz is an over a point per game player at one of the hardest positions in hockey going into his 10th NHL season. Nails.|
|Erik Karlsson||1st Round, 15th Overall, 2008 by Ottawa||First pairing defenceman, Destroyer of Worlds.||In a Norris winning season guy was one Jason Spezza injury away from leading the team in overall points and that’s with an 18 point lead over a 35 goal scorer. EK, you so cray-zay, I think I wanna have YO baby.|
|Milan Michalek||1st Round, 6th Overall, 2003 by San Jose||First line winger.||I say yes, damn it. I read a lot of comments yammering on about how he’s actually a second line player who only plays in the top 3 because the Sens aren’t a very good team. Oy vey. I guess you don’t score 35 goals without making a few enemies…in your own team’s fanbase…Yeah, he’s had lots of injuries. So has Jason Spezza, doesn’t make him a second line player. Anyway, awesome year from Milo! Cheers! TO YOUR FUCKING HEALTH.|
|Daniel Alfredsson||6th Round, 133rd Overall, 1994 by Ottawa||Greatest player in Sens history.||I actually caught myself getting stressed out the other day thinking about how hard it’s going to be to get tickets to the game where they retire Alfie’s number 11. I wish I was kidding about this story.|
|Nick Foligno||1st Round, 28th Overall, 2006 by Ottawa||Jack of all trades, master of none.||Obviously not. Talent, work ethic, good attitude, consistency issues. A team first guy who couldn’t solidify a place on the roster. Landed him a ticket aboard the Antoine Vermette Express to Columbustownville.|
|Sergei Gonchar||1st Round, 14th Overall, 1992 by Renfrew Millionaires||Top 4 Defenseman||Absolutely. Gets a very hard time from fans for his wild ass contract and at times looks a little amzalazycryin’ but still playing over 20 mins a night despite being drafted during the Gilded Age, pretty impressive.|
|Colin Greening||7th Round, 205th Overall, 2005 by Ottawa||First line winger/Third line winger…yeah that’s a real thing,||Not among fans that’s for sure. Despite putting up a very respectable 17 goals and generally keeping up playing against the highest competition in his rookie campaign, Greening is routinely placed on the third (not even second!) line when fans draw up fantasy starting line ups. Though he’ll likely never be a 30+ goal guy I think Greening hit the wall like the other Bingo players from a lot of frigging hockey for one year and will surprise this coming season. Where in the line up, I’m not sure.|
|Filip Kuba||8th Round, 192nd Overall, 1995 by Kevin Costner||Just pass it to Will.||Considering he was drafted in the 8th round the year Waterworld came out and just signed a new multi year deal, I’d say he’s still a good but mini ravioli soft top 4 D man. Good luck in future whatevers.|
|Kyle Turris||1st Round, 3rd Overall, 2007 by Phoenix||2nd line centre.||So far so good but a bit early to tell. Turris got into a groove pretty quickly with Ottawa and his play only got stronger as the season went on. Hopefully fans/the media/the org don’t throw him under the bus too quick if he suffers a scoring drought. Expectations are high but he is still very young so I’m preaching patience here.|
|Chris Neil||6th Round, 191st Overall, 1998 by Ottawa||Bottom six winger. The Mozart of stirring up shit.||What can I say. Haters gon’ hate, lovers gon’ love. Neiler just signed a deal to presumably become a career Senator. Hatred of him by fan bases across the board pretty much confirms his establishment not only in the Sens’ lineup but in the league as a top agitator. Given the toughness exodus this offseason, I hope Neil doesn’t have to fight night after night as I think he possesses pretty good speed and skill for a bottom 6 player. He’s also one of the few brave enough to stand in front of the opposing team’s net on purpose. Filly don’t do trying to tip in high Karlsson point shots.|
|Zack Smith||3rd Round, 79th Overall, 2008 by Ottawa though I don’t know what’s up with that picture of him in a Canucks uniform if you Google image search him.||Third line centre.||Getting there for sure but not quite yet. Startlingly, Z Smith has played one more NHL game than Peter Regin (Z must wear shoulder pads). As much as I loved Chris Kelly, Smith taught me that you don’t have to pay millions of dollars to have a decent 3rd line centre. He’s tough, mean, has a respectable shot and the face of a 10 year old girl who’s having the WORST. BIRTHDAY PARTY. EVER. After a dynamite start that nearly saw me drunkenly buy a Smith t shirt at a game, he eventually deteriorated into to what the coach felt was a lack of nightly effort. This saw him briefly banished to the press box mid-season. Now entering a contract year with plenty of talent nipping at his heels, establish himself Z must! Go youtube him punching Nathan Horton’s face over and over again.|
|Erik Condra||7th Round, 211th Overall, 2006 by Ottawa||Solid 1.5/.5 way forward. A good penalty killer and a hmmmmm not so good scorer.||Another impending RFA with a lot to prove. Much maligned for inability to hit broad side of barn but apparently has very good numbers in terms of stats I don’t care very much about that are named after nerds with nerd names like Fenwick that you can learn a lot more about at www.the6thsens.com where they know what they’re talking about with that stuff. It’s hard to determine what the expectations are for Condra’s game. It’s a very real possibility that he could be replaced by a high pedigree rookie in 2013. So, I will say he’s quite competent at his role but in no way established.|
|Chris Phillips||1st Round, 1st Overall, 1996 by Ottawa||Approx, 3rd pairing shut down D man, reminder of bed times, public house owner.||The Sens have had a lot of no.1 picks in their young history. They have how you say…not really worked out overall. As you can see we have to get pretty far down the depth chart to find a number one overall still with the team/in the NHL. A brutal 2010 season followed up by a pretty awful contract (ANOTHER NTC?) left a bit of a sour taste in fans’ mouths but at over 1000 games at age 34 he is still leaned on pretty heavily for a steadying presence. Big Rig has more than earned his spot at this point. Get used to Dad as he aint goin nowheres and WILL send you to bed without your supper if you smart off to your mother like that again, Missy!|
|Jared Cowen||1st Round, 9th Overall, 2009 by Ottawa||Top 4 defenseman who occasionally plays 10 minutes a night but what do you want the kid’s a frigging rookie.||Damn close to it. He was shown the bench right quick if he screwed up as there’s a very slim margin for error on D. It might actually have been good for his development that he wasn’t left out to be exposed too much if he was having a shaky night. In my opinion the kid has stepped into a very difficult role in a hurry. Truth be told, he had only 10 games of AHL seasoning (late round playoffs only!) before making the leap to the bigs. That’s Karlssonian. I was super stressed out about his knee when he was drafted but he had a great year for a rookie defender logging an avg. of 18 minutes a night and getting playoff experience off the hop. Lots of room for improvement and I am confident he will only improve in time.|
|Bobby Butler||Undrafted, Signed by Ottawa||Human man.||Gotta feel for the people you see at SBP rocking shiny new Butler heritage jerseys. It made sense at the time, right? Let us take a lesson from ye olde adage, “Those who do not learn from the Tyler Bozak hype of the past are doomed to repeat it.” Remember when that guy burst on the scene? I’m not saying he’s a bad player but I will say Bozak’s “figuring it out” at the NHL level more than he’s the super sniper he was originally billed as. Something tells me that even the best undrafted US college player is still just the best undrafted US college player and not a high end prospect. They are worth pursuing because they are akin to a “free draft pick” but should not be billed as much more than that. Unfortunately for Butsy, he was given the ball, did well and made us all get overly excited at a time when there wasn’t a lot to be excited about. Tough to be a below average scoring forward in this league. *Update: Waived* So long and best of luck probably in Europe, Bobby Beantown.|
|Kaspars Daugavins||3rd Round, 91st Overall, 2006 by Ottawa||Bottom 6…bottom 3 winger.||Speaking of being a below average scoring forward, here’s a guy who figured out how to play the NHL game right quick. Though a flashy scorer down south in Bingo, Daug realized he’d better play a whole lotta D if he was to earn a spot on the big club. D he played and he has one year guaranteed with the Sens as a result. Who knows what after that.|
|Jessie Winchester||Undrafted, Signed by Ottawa||4th line centre||Sadly, he was getting quite established in his role until he got his head knocked around a couple times. Another in a long line of US college signings who got way too much hype on arrival. Remember when he was touted (mostly by The Sun) as a slick playmaking centre who would challenge Mike Fisher for second line centre? Oh brother! Caught a humongous muskie recently. Likely looking for a job or more muskie.|
|Jim O’Brien||1st Round, 29th Overall, 2007 by Ottawa||4th line centre …man this team has a lot of those.||Considered a huge bust by fans for years (pretty unfair for such a late round pick) JOB is just breaking into the league. He has emerged as a bottom 6 guy with speed and pretty good vision. Though not signed for a ton of cash his two year feels a little Bobby Butlerian to me until further notice.|
|Zenon Konopka||Undrafted, Signed by Pittsburgh||4th line centre, face off specialist, face removing specialist, pressbox insider.||As an undrafted player, you gotta respect how the former Ottawa 67 has managed to stick in the league for going on 8 seasons now. He is firmly established at doing two things, taking draws and breaking jaws. No more, no less, this is what you get from Zenon and clearly teams want it.|
|Stephane Da Costa||Undrafted, Signed by Ottawa||Top 6 Binghamton Centre.||Yeah, saw 22 games last season! When did THAT happen?. Lots of potential but thank gosh for that Kyle Turris trade. Took a bucket popping hit from Dion Phannerf that overshadowed anything he accomplished. Will it be his Steve Smith moment or serve as a wake up call to round out his game? One thing we know is that he will make a solid call up when Peter Regin’s shoulder is lacerated while attempting to cut up frozen chicken. Stephane Da Costa (career) goal assisted by number 13 Peter Reeeginnn’s shoulllllderrrr!!!|
|Matt Carkner||2nd Round, 58th Overall, 1999 by Montreal||Bottom pairing defenseman, smasher of faces.||Like Konopka, A Big Little Engine That Could. Filled his role effectively and left the team on a very high note with his street justice followed by sweet goal set up in a memorable playoff. Ended up getting more term than anyone expected from the Islanders.|
|Craig Anderson||3rd Round, 73rd Overall, 2001 by Chicago||Starting Goaltender, team chef||So goddamn established at this point that Alex Auld didn’t even come close to making the 20 game cut for this list!Rant: As much time as we spend talking Lehner this and Bishop that we don’t do enough kissing of this guy’s hairy bean bag for stepping in and kiiiiind of being a fucking BO$$ from day one. BTW, day one being a 50 save OT shut out of the leafs. Andy only got better as the season progressed which saw its climax (that’s right) in a beastly playoff performance. Doesn’t get enough credit for being the firm no. 1 this team/fan base has yearned for year after year. Respect.|
|Peter Regin Jensen*||3rd Round, 87th Overall, 2004 by Ottawa||Something line Centwinger||Look we all love the Prince of Denmark. In fact, resident imagesmith Steven would like so much for you to solidify your place on the team so he can get a sweet, sweet Regin jersey already. There’s just one question that really bugs me about this guy and no its not about injuries. It’s this: Is Peter Regin a street cred Bobby Butler? Like Butler, Regin had a brief but memorable breakout moment. In Regin’s case it was the 2010 playoffs which was very endearing to us fans but am I the only one who seriously has my doubts about this guy? How were Bobby Butler or Nick Foligno seen as disappointments but no one really called for Regin’s job after putting up THREE goals in 2010-2011? Three! Regin has been in the system since 2004 and has 52 points in 151 NHL games. That’s not a lot for the top 6 forward he is assumed to be. Injuries are injuries. They are frustrating for all parties but so is this perpetual assumption that a guy who who has 21 points in his last 65 games (spanning 2 seasons!) will be a top 6 forward in a post-Alfredsson world. He was nails in the playoff series though.|
*Oh fuck fine. He played only 10 games for Ottawa this past year but the guy has suited up for over 150 games as a Sen so far so he makes the list.
*dusts hands* Well that just about wraps things up, now if you don’t mind…OH RIGHT, I didn’t talk about anything I noticed yet.
One of the first things that struck me is that the vast majority of picks on the team were selected by Ottawa. Given there have been a couple eras of management at work and quite a few FAs and deadline acquisitions have come and gone over the years, at the end of the day the team is largely made up of in-house picks. I have to admit that it’s a pretty reassuring thing to see as the team goes through a rebuild.
Okay, did anyone else notice that Matt Carkner (who’s not even on the team anymore) was the only second round pick on the squad? And he was another team’s pick at that! I’m not sure what that means. I’m not trying to undervalue 2nd round picks here. It might actually have more to do with how Ottawa tends to donate its upcoming a second round pick to pretty much every team it makes a transaction with. No fourth or fifth round picks on the team either. Funny as with all the talk lately about “Are undrafted signings worth it?” there were more of them on the team this year than rounds 2, 4 and 5 could boast combined. The more you know the more you grow I guess. *shooting star*
Speaking of draft order, it would certainly appear that if you are a forward playing in the top 6 or a defenceperson playing in the top 4 you were likely drafted in the first round. Lots of pedigree up in there except for one weird thing: You may also find yourself playing in the top 6 or top 4 if you were some later round drop in the bucket.
All one has to do is review a draft table from nearly any year to see that being a even a high end first round pick does not mean you’ll get so much as a cup of coffee in the NHL but this chart shows me two things:
1. Pedigree seems to matter greatly to building a team.
2. Quantity of picks also seems to matter greatly to building a team as draft picks are like a box of shrimp boat captains you never know who lieutenant Dan your going to ping pong champion.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Sens fan and I’ve seen so many high pedigree flameouts but it is very satisfying to me that Jason Spezza is out there delivering on what he was supposed to be when taken 2nd overall on draft day. Ditto Erik Karlsson. Also very satisfying is watching a 6th round pick play over 1000 games your team (mostly serving as captain) or a 7th rounder put up 17 goals in his rookie season. Looking at the line up this way makes me feel great about the combination of quality and quantity the Sens currently enjoy in the coffers. The Mark Borowieckis and Mark Stones of the world have just as good a chance of becoming NHLers as the Cody Cecis and Mika Zibanejads. Well maybe not JUST as good, but pretty damn good! Hockey is weird like that.
Anyone else see any patterns emerging from the Da Vinci thing?
Oh, I realized just now I forgot Brian Lee…umm… *shooting star*