30 Thoughts™ on Bobby Ryan’s 7 Year Extension

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Ric Flair and it’s fuckin’ WOO!!! B. Ryan’s number 1 and his deal’s the number 2.

Guess who just rolled up to the spot? Oh, it’s us. We return with our LEGENDARY 30 Thoughts™ on Bobby Ryan’s contract extension. Forgive Varada for his brevity he is currently on vacation in beautiful Portland, Oregon and did his share on his phone like damn champion. I am my regular insufferable self so apologies in advance.

1) They get him for less than $8MM

Varada:
The way the market is headed, is anyone else surprised they could sign a 27 year old elite scorer headed to UFA status in a smallish town for less than what is considered elite money? Carolina has to give a guy like Eric Staal more than $8MM, and they drafted the guy. Truly elite guys like Toews and Kane are getting more than $10MM. Ottawa just signed a core player for what top six forwards are going to cost in a few years. In years 5-7 of this deal, Ryan will be an absolute steal.

James:
Oh, HELL YEAH, I brought up on our podcast that no one listens to that as a fan, I’d be okay with Ryan getting a straight up bad contract to keep him here. Anything to prevent another quality player for bolting. Aside from drafting them, elite players in their prime have to be traded heavily for or overpaid. Seeing as Murray did the former I figured might as well do the latter to make it worthwhile long term. And, hey sometimes a team needs to give their best player(s) a bad contract. Is PK Subban’s contract a good one? Nah, not really but it’s a pretty smart one considering the Habs rocky relationship with him up to there. To lose him over the price that he drove up his value to and some bad decisions (bridge contract) would be inexcusable for the Habs management. They ponied up and kept him the fold. Ditto Nashvillie matching the Philly offer sheet and paying Shea Weber an international airport per year. He’s their best player. Keep that guy.
Being cap smart in today’s leagues is essential but hey sometimes you just gotta be all:

Funny you mention how good this contract will look in 5 years but if he keeps producing like we know he can I think it could be a lot sooner than that. How about how good Karlsson’s deal looks just 2 seasons in. Great to see a team with limited money like Sens  being bullish with contract negotiations and getting in there quick before the price gets past the point they can afford. Sure that strategy didn’t work out with Greening. It sucks, but it’s worked well with Turris, Karlsson, hell, even Zack Smith. Smith’s deal is not as sexy but less than 2 million for a guy who can kill penalties, take faceoffs and put up nearly 15 goals in a year? Take a look at Benioit Pouliot’s deal to show it’s not just the Kane and Toews guys whose salaries are skyrocketing. What I’m getting at here is that with the chemistry he’s shown  with Turris and MacArthur and the ice time he’s likely going to get, I could see a 40 goal season as not out of the question. If they were to negotiate through the season and he were to put up a career high in goals, hey awesome short term for the Sens but I doubt we can afford him at that point and we lose him to the market.

2) They actually managed a limited NTC

Varada:
It’s hard for me to imagine the negotiations between Ryan and Ottawa being anything other than “we’ll give you everything to stay,” so it’s surprising to see Ryan conceding both money and total trade protection. We don’t know the details yet, but it’s probably something along the lines of “pick some teams we can’t trade you to.” Ottawa retains some leverage. Huge kudos to the negotiating team on that one.

James: 
This one I’m slightly ambivalent on…I mean…OH HELL YEAH! I’m not too concerned here. *puts on “I survived the Jason Spezza trade” shirt over “I survived the Danny Heatley drama” shirt which is over two “I survived all kinds of Alexei Yashin bologna” shirts* It’s, of course, ideal to have options but I think with a player of this caliber you can always get something nice back. It’s the Colin Greenings and Chris Neils of the world having NTCs that scares the shit out of me.

3) All of the negative shit from last week was way off

Varada:
I read my fair share of reputable hockey people saying all of the messages coming out of Ryan’s camp were bad signs for Ottawa and there was no way he was going to re-sign. You’ve got to love a deal then coming pretty much out of left field and proving everyone wrong. It turns out that when you ask random hockey executives about their competition they may have skewed perceptions and an interest in sewing discontent ;)

James:
OH HELL YEAH.  Any kind of contract situation…or frankly any sports situation is talked about to an insane degree. Worst of all in the off-season when there’s no actual hockey being played to break things up. Gone are the days of just opening the Sports section and seeing “Player signs new contract” or “Player made team captain.” Say there’s a 2 sentence sound bite about contract negotiations from a player or team management, then 8 days of silence passes before the next. For those next 8 fucking days there is an endless diarrhea stream of hottakes to fill the space between. It’s hard to know what’s credible and what’s a hottake after a while. Seeing as there’s been some ugly recent history, it’s easier to assume the worst. If I was a professional hockey pundit or whatever, I’d probably err on the side that might make me look the least dumb in the end too. I mean, Karlsson’s a garbage pick right? For the record, Dreger did indicate that he thought Ryan would re-sign.
Personally, I never really found Bobby’s remarks too troubling. When he said something along the lines of, “A long term deal is a big commitment and it might not happen overnight” I had to agree. It was just realistic. The guy was potentially signing into his mid-30s. The thing that gave me a bit of  a scare was the part about “Waiting and seeing what his role on the team will be.” I am not one of those who are ready to throw in the towel on Paul MacLean buuuuuuuuuuuuuut he kiiiiiiind of had a tendency to give 0.00 fux about giving his most skilled players the important ice time ice time last season. So that was scary but I more worried about MacLean’s actions ruining it than Ryan’s. If we went into the season with Ryan unsigned and I saw Chris Neil get just just one shift on one power play (Ed Note: THING THAT FUCKING HAPPENED MORE THAN ONCE LAST SEASON!!!) over Bobby I would have thrown up my hands like, “Welp, that’s the end of that chapter.” I thought the lead up to the signing was being a bit overdone but all’s well that … I forget how the rest of that goes.

4) It’s an endorsement of Ottawa 

Varada:
Narrative is a powerful thing, and people were starting to write their own stories about Ottawa. Alfredsson and Spezza leave and there’s almost nothing you can do to dissuade assumptions of a franchise in decline. Ryan could have gone anywhere and he chose Ottawa. He wants to raise a family here. Makes perfect sense to those of us who live here. Maybe it will send a similar message to the rest of the league.

James:
Heyyyyyyyyyyy, you don’t cheer for a team in a city divided in three with fans of your two biggest rivals who could not hate the Sens more without feeling kind of constantly uneasy about pretty much anything that happens. Some fanbases have a self depreciating culture and others have a prideful one. I think it’s clear what side of the coin we’re on by and large.
We talk about this all the time, in the NHL narrative is all relative. Marty St. Louis leaves the team he’s been with his entire career and one that’s considered a contender mid-season, not a big deal. Ownership changes hands in Nashville, they have owners? Good for them! We’re a sketchy franchise these days for sure but the team fails to re-sign the most beloved player in franchise history and some fans stay home out of protest and boom we’re going bankrupt. K. I remember the first Sens-Wings game in Detroit last season and the building looked three quarters full. But hey, HOCKEYTOWN right you’z guys. Have you ever heard anything about attendance issues in Detroit? I haven’t. Considering we’re in a city where a bunch of the people actually out and out HATE the team, it’s a pretty stable franchise as far as the every day business goes. Season ticket sales are up, we have one of the world’s best players, Ryan’s staying, Clarke MacArthur is a perfect hockey player, Lehner’s going to start more, Turris is going to wear a turtleneck with his chain this year (I can feel it!), and I will continue to drink tall cans on the long ass bus ride to the stadium. October 2nd 2014 was an awesome day to be a Sens fan. Here’s to hoping for more ahead and not freaking out too much on the bad days.

Thoughts 5 through 30 coming soon*! 

Bonus:
P.S. Karlsson is captain

Once again proving that our decision to name this blog after Karlsson instead of Bobby Butler was the right one.
KarlKarl

*Probably not.

Is Matt Puempel’s 30 Goal AHL Rookie Season Worth Getting Excited About?

"Guess who just got his second WTYKY post in a week? ....Oh, it's me." - M. Puempel

“Guess who just got his second WTYKY post in a week? ….Oh, it’s me.” – M. Puempel

Yeh, it is. THANK$ 4 READING! *Frazier ending theme song starts fading in*

I suppose I should back that up. After all, this is the Internet Age where accountability and sound arguments have never been more respected.

Part 2 of my 128 part series on Matt Puempel apparently.

2011 24th overall pick Matt Puempel got his first taste of professional hockey at the end of the 2011-12 season when he suited up for the Binghamton Senators’ last 9 games. He managed a goal. His next shot was late the following season when he was brought over from the OHL to bolster the Bingo lineup in time for their brief playoff run. He put up a noteworthy 2 goals in the 3 post season games he appeared in. It certainly got my attention that in the very limited action he’d seen at the pro level that Puempel had made a bit of noise. It’s never easy to be parachuted into new surroundings and make an impact in such a short period of time. Puempel seemed able to do that.  What’s an even greater challenge to a player, however, is to be able to sustain production over the long term. Could he make shit real and produce consistently in his first full season?

Not really. At first at least. In the first half of the season Puempel managed just 7 goals. Not unacceptable output for a rookie finding his way in the pros but considering he’d put up almost half that in the 14 combined AHL games he’d previously played, it seemed a bit tepid. Especially for a player who’d up to then been described as a natural goal scorer.

WELP, turns out it was just a slow start. I don’t know if it’s the “comes ze shooting, comes ze goals” talking or what but in the second half Puempel (TBH I’m getting tired of typing this name…ah, could be worse, could be zDzizuzrzyznzszkziz) and positively a’sploded scoring-wise. PumpittyPumpPump (new nickname!) more than tripled his scoring output and ended up finishing his 74 games with a smoove 30 goals. He even tied the team lead in goals with the King of Bingo, Micheal Seymour Hoffman. It should be noted that Hoffman got his 30 in just 51 games and had 19 more overall points. But you gotta hear both sides and It should also be noted that Hoffman is an AHL All Star who was in his fourth season with the club.
Point being, 30 goals in a season is not quite elite but breaches that nice-nice threshold that get’s you noticed as a standout player. The question on this piece of human garbage blogger’s mind is: Is it special to score 30 with Ottawa’s American Hockey League affiliate?
To investigate (Ed note: *Hand wanking motion*) I had a look back in time and discovered it is pretty special and more rare than I would have thought. Enter the lower fourth dimension with me as we embark on a spiritual journey and I share my findings and thoughts on Binghamton’s past few 30 goal scorers…

2007-08 Denis Hamel (32)
Aloysius (my imaginary grandson): Grandpa?
Me (fantasy grandpa): Yes, little Aloysius?
Aloysius: Why do only start your journey at 2007-08?
Me: Well, that’s because that’s the exact year we Senators fans started caring about our farm system.
Aloysius: Grandpa can we have Hungry Man frozen dinners for breakfast again?
Me: Quiet, grandpa’s trying to get drunk here.  

Denis Hamel, the long serving captain of the Bingo Sens, may be a familiar name to some of you. By 2007 he had already had played 7 successful seasons in the American Hockey League including a 56 goal 91 point year with Bingo back in 05-06 or as some of you may call that season, “Back when the Ottawa Senators were really good”. So now that I think about it, maybe he might not be a familiar name to you…
Why all that production from a guy who’s NHL career can be summed up in one youtube video? Well after a positively dominant junior career in the QMJHL and then building up his name in the AHL to make the bigs, Hamel suffered a terrible knee injury that hampered his speed significantly. He still had the hands to get on the score sheet but the wheels just weren’t there anymore for poor Denis. What you see here in 07-08 are the numbers of an AHL star and veteran in the midst of a long career.

2009-10 Ryan Keller (34) and Josh Hennessy (30)
Ahhhhh, 2009-10. Remember them days? Heatley had jumped ship, made it hurt on the way out and Ottawa was truly in the midst of a downward spiral from powerhouse of the East to eventual draft lottery participant. It was an awkward in between phase where after Erik Karlsson, who spent an hilarious in retrospect 12 games in the AHL before returning to the big club for good, the team did not exactly have many exciting young players developing in Bingo to reverse the suck. They did have a bunch of talented AHL lifers at the time…which is nice…for the fans in Binghamton.

Ryan Keller went undrafted by the NHL and bounced around the AHL eventually managing to carve out a solid career in the Finnish league. The scoring touch he had in Finland carried over to the American League where he led Bingo in goals in 09-10 with 34.
Just behind him in scoring with an even 30 that season was 2003 San Jose 2nd round pick, Josh Hennessy. One year younger than Keller, Henny seemed at that point to be on that same career trajectory of Junior star turned productive Minor-Pro who just can’t stick with an NHL club. 24 years old at the time, Hennessy wasn’t exactly ancient but had been given about 4 call ups to the big club at that point. 1 point in 20 games and scoring forwards like him typically find out it’s a cold, cold world. Hennessy has since moved on to the KHL.

2010-11 Ryan Keller (32)
Again with this Keller guy! Fully established as a veteran leader, Keller led the Binghamton Sens to a Calder Cup victory serving as captain. He also became the first Bingo player since the aforementioned AHL great Denis Hamel to put up 30 or more goals in back to back seasons. I feel it worth mentioning that he put up 25 points in 23 playoff games that year. Respect. He showed a lot of the younger players who are currently with the big club what it takes to win. R-Keller has since taken his talents to the Swiss League.

2013-14 Mike Hoffman (30)
It’s kind of surprising to me that a guy as hyped as Hoffman has only hit the 30 goal mark once in Bingo. Not even a dis really so much as it’s just a bit of a shock. I think it’s again worth mentioning that The Hoff hit the 30 goals in a remarkable 53 games. He had a team high 67 points at season’s end despite some of his teammates, including Puempel, getting to play in 20 or more games than him. Amazing stuff. His explosive season earned him an extended stay in Ottawa to finish the year and likely a roster spot on October 9th.
The down side to this is that Mike Hoffman turns 25 in a little over a month and if he doesn’t significantly improve on his 3 goals and 3 assists at the NHL level right quick, it could be curtains for his chances. Hoffman is an exciting player. A brilliant skater who can put the puck in the net. I’ll take that any day of the week over a guy who’s really tall or can punch really hard, but history shows Hoffy is hitting that age where a goal scorer like him is getting into that top 6 or bust territory.
He’ll have to go through waivers if he’s sent back to down but if he can’t make a strong impression in the first quarter of the season or so, something tells me that the Senators brass wont be too bothered by that.

FUNCLUSION
We’ve had lots and lots and lots of fun skimming through this thing, haven’t we? Well, I did at least. K, so what do we take out of this examination? I think the most obvious thing is that despite having some pretty good players in the system the past few seasons, many who’ve made the jump to the NHL, the only guys who seem able to put up 30 or more goals in Binghamton are established minor-league professionals who are in their mid 20s or older. The only slight exception is Hoffman who will likely get a longer look in the bigs than Keller or Hennessey ever did. As for Hamel, well, a severe injury basically ruined his shot so he’s a bit of a different case.
What makes Puempel’s 30 goal year special, is that despite struggling out of the gate offensively he still managed to reach this milestone in just his first full season with the club and at age 21 no less. I think acknowledging the words “full season” is important too. I’ve already mentioned that Hoffman did it 22 fewer games but had Jean Gabriel Pageau played more than 46 games for Bingo he’d have likely improved on his 20 goals. Ditto Mark Stone who had 15 in just 37 games.
Threatening 30 next year are Shane Prince and Cole Schneider who had 21 and 20 respectively last season. Scheneider is entering his mid 20s but Prince is probably Puempel’s closest rival so that should be interesting.

N-E-WAY, what’s exciting about this is that the majority of the guys I just mentioned are the players you want to see leading your farm team in points. It’s always great to have veteran leaders around the kids to show them the way but as a fan you want to see the guys with the highest pedigree and best shot at the big club heading the charge scoring-wise. To see a young, first round pick like Pumper(?) do it in his rookie year is worth getting…………..wait for it………………………………PUMPED about.

Sorry.

Here’s a song about Matt Puempel:

Five Hot Media Tips for Eugene Melnyk and Sens Management

Apropos of nothing in particular and while sitting for five hours at Dulles airport

Stop describing Sens fans as “fickle”

Try to imagine for a moment that sports are treated less like a religion and more like any other product or service. Say, like a restaurant. Now imagine that the restaurant was difficult to reach, and the quality of its cooking was pretty good, but variable. You never know if you’re going to get a real bummer of a meal, and management, in an attempt to save money, has cut back on talent in the kitchen. Now imagine that the restaurant owner gets on some widely listened-to cooking show and says that the variable quality has less to do with anything that exists in reality and more to do with the perception of the customers and their fickle palate. Would you, as a possible patron at this restaurant, imagine it your community-minded duty to support this business? How about if the business owner kept calling you variations on picky and entitled?

Yes, Ottawa fans don’t mindlessly and automatically purchase the maximum number of tickets possible regardless of the performance of the team, especially considering how inaccessible the arena is. Does that suck as a business owner? Sure. Are we less awesome than fans who lose their shit for a team and shell out no matter what? I guess so. Is there any reason why you have to keep going on the radio (usually Toronto radio, at that) and describe your core customers as fickle? Nope. Knock it off.Your franchise’s value has increased fourfold in the last ten years, you have the kind of stability that only two lockouts in that decade can provide, and we ain’t the Florida Panthers. It never plays well when a billionaire calls normal people cheap.

Stop presenting that you bought UFA years on Gryba and Borowiecki as evidence that you’re not a budget team

As far as I understand it Ottawa has been trying to include Gryba in trade packages for like a year and Borowiecki is a replacement level defenceman who’s played few NHL games and put up poor possession numbers when he did. It’s early in both player’s careers and all that, but my point is that neither player should feel particularly secure that they will play in the NHL for years to come, or so secure that they would want to hold on to their UFA years and negotiate for a higher salary a year or two from now. For management to repeatedly point to their decision to lock both of these players up – at a very low amount of money – while playing hard ball with much better defenceman Marc Methot is just weird. It’s also transparently an effort to lock up the only kinds of players that Ottawa can afford, which is to say, not terribly good / expensive ones.

It’s ok to say that Ottawa plans to spend money later. It’s also ok to say that Ottawa doesn’t have the money and doesn’t know when it will. We can take it. Melnyk can’t generate money from thin air and it’s not like he’s going to sell the franchise with all the money to be made over the next decade. There’s a new television deal, both local and national, expansion fees and a league that keeps expanding in value. We can handle business truths. But contorting budget moves as evidence that the team is doing just fine looks pretty bad.

Spend a little less time with the traditional media

Look, nothing against the talented and connected journalists at the Citizen and the Sun, and also the nationals who spill occasional ink on the Sens. They do their job, but that’s exactly what it is: a job. They have to cover every little in and out of the team, turn every minor drama into a major one, push and push the players so that they know nothing is ever good enough. It happens in every Canadian city, and it might be one small reason why no Canadian team can consolidate the kind of talent required to win a Cup. The Sun has two – two! – full time writers who are expected to cover every single little story with microscopic attention. It’s suffocating to read – I can’t imagine what it’s like to live it.

So screw it. Give them the access you’re obligated to give them, but insulate the players from it. Let Pappa MacLean give his post-game press conference. He doesn’t seem too bothered. But spend less time feeding that particular beast, because it’s never full. All it does is alienate players and develop unrealistic expectations among fans.

Trust Us

We promise: we like hockey. We like the Sens. If we’re not there in person, we’re most definitely watching at home, or at a local bar, and buying up jerseys and shirts and building the kind of loyalty to the team with our families that the two nearby original six teams enjoy. We appreciate that you’re doing all of these things to try to enhance the arena experience and get more butts in the seats. The stuff with Red Scarf Union looks cool, as does this multimedia thing you’re trying, whatever that is. We’re up for an experiment or two. But these things are always secondary to the fact that this is a Canadian city that is coming into its own. Anyone who lives here can feel it. It used to be that you turned 20 and moved somewhere else. But we’re only going to keep growing. So stay the course here. It’s only going to get better.

KEEP MELNYK OFF THE RADIO

Pretty self explanatory. If you don’t know what I mean, listen to literally any Melnyk interview from the last three years or so, or as I like to call this period, “one man’s descent into madness.” I’ve given up on him even having a coherent message, let alone agreeing with him. So, absent a PR director, maybe just lead him into a room with a mic that isn’t plugged into anything and let him go. We can keep a secret.

Risk Assessment: Matt Puempel, the Senators, Drafting, and the Worst Blog Post Title

pumpel

With the closing ceremonies of the rookie tournament long in the rear view, Newfoundland sleepaway training camp done and now main camp well underway, I’ve been thinking about Madagascar a lot lately. I’ve also been thinking about all of those li’l rookies who are camping.
Who’s the new hotness? Who are the “past their prime” 23 year old senior citizens, who are the DARKEST horsies? I’ve been thinking about a you and one camper in particular. His name is Max Math Puempel.

Ever since his draft day I’ve been very interested in Matt Puempel as a prospect. Call me a changed man since Garbage Pick™ Erik Karlsson™ was selected in the first round back in 20 ought-8. Seemed like a crazy choice at the time to (seemingly) gamble on an undersized player let alone defenseman that high in the draft but that event pretty much single handedly changed my view of player selection to this:
Get good players, yes, for the love of Jah get only good players, but don’t be afraid to think outside the bun in the pursuit of acquiring those good players, player.
God, I am so poetic. That would look really nice on a throw cushion.

The 2011 draft was the perfect storm for taking the Karlssonian type high risk high reward action I’m talking about. With the three picks in the first round alone, Bryan Murray took power forward in the mould of Corey Perry, Mika Zibanejad at 6th overall and power forward in the mould of Corey Perry, Stefan Noesen at 21 with his first two selections. He grabbed a couple of guys who fit the bill of hard charging goal scorer with a mean streak that Bryan Murray makes no secret is his ideal type of player. Good, do your thing baby, after all, it should be noted that Murray drafted the real Corey Perry in 2003 at a Jim O’Brienesque 28th overall (Ed note: good value!).
Having more or less played it safe up to that point and with one pick remaining in round 1, the record seems to indicate that B. Murray and Co. felt it was time to take a wee gamble. That gamble was their selection of Matt Puempel (I need to find out what the origin of last name that is btw. He’s like this century’s Todd Gak) at 24th.
As Sens fans well know, the 2011 draft was a special one. Ottawa had an awful season finishing 25th in the league (hi haters!) and sold off many long time players including some fan favorites for picks. As a result of the team’s poor play and the copious amount of selections they’d get in that draft, one plucky young go-getter (me) paid particular attention to that year’s draft class.
I remember an adorable young chipmunk named Matt Puempel being described as one of the best pure goal scorers available. Oh, but he came with a catch. On top of nagging back problems, he had suffered a bone chip in his hip (Ed note: Gross!) that required risky surgery to repair and caused the CHL Rookie of the Year’s value to drop significantly on draft day. Advantage: Team with nothing to lose and a whole world to gain (That’s us btw. I know that was a totally insane way to describe the Ottawa Senators but my backspace key is broken so here we are).
Since making a full recovery from his surgery, Pumper(?) continued his torrid scoring pace in the OHL and made the jump to AHL where he tied Mike Hoffman for the team lead in goals with an impressive 30 in his debut campaign.
Now, its still very early but it seems the Sens made a good move taking a chance on the talented young man. He arrived at training camp this year as one of the team’s best prospects and so far has not disappointed. Let’s see how some of the riskier picks over the past few seasons have fared for the team:

2008
I’ve already noted that Erik Karlsson was a bit of a risk at least as far as Bryan Murray’s draft tendencies go. B-Murr is pretty averse to selecting a forward under 6 feet tall let alone a defenseman. Admittedly I thought it was pretty wild to take him so high with productive forwards like Tyler Ennis or Jordon Eberle still on the board but hey, that’s why I get paid the big bucks to blog (in Doni Brennan’s mumma’s basement).

Risk Vs. Reward: Spending a First Round Pick on an undersized defenseman was a pretty big statement especially when the draft was in Ottawa. But contrary to early scepticism, Erik Karlsson is slowly but surely shaping up to be a competent bottom pairing NHL regular.

2009
Jerry Cowen. Now, a hulking shutdown defenseman from a Saskatchewanese town of less than 700 people seems, at first glance, to be the least risky player you could ever draft. Consider though that he had reconstructive knee surgery just months before being selected. That’s a pretty damn big gamble to take him with a top with a top 10 pick. Despite everyone currently hating his guts, it should be kept in mind that he was coming off another significant injury last season *tugs collar clean off shirt* and should be given a bit more time to see the real Jared Cowen stand up (and hopefully not be severely hurt in the process).

Risk Vs. Reward: Still too early to tell, in my opinion. Come see me at the end of the season and we can talk about our emotions. In the meantime I offer young Jared this olive branch:  

2010
Uhh…Mark Stone couldn’t skate fast?…So they took him way deep in the 6th round…then… heeeee improved his production by scoring 78 more points (!!!)  in the season after he was drafted and THEN he finished his final junior year with 123 points in 66 games on some production of a level that got Alex Daigle hyped as the next Mario Lemieux. Not bad for a guy who played in a tough junior league and was taken at 178th.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, risk stuff.
K. So, in 2010 I suppose the biggest risk Ottawa took was trading away their 1st, 2nd and 5th round picks. The 2010-11 Sens team was terrible and after going on record saying that “Anyone who thinks we should blow the team up, should blow themselves” (slight paraphrase) owner Eugene Melnyk flip flopped and gave Bryan Murray the green light to ship out high priced veterans (a strategy Melnyk has since become addicted to) which lead to both a draft lotto finish and 2011’s big crop of picks.

Risk Vs. Reward: Ignoring the trading of 16th overall pick for David Rundblad for a second, 2010 was overall a fucking terrible draft. Murray n’ friendz couldn’t have played it safer by pretty much only taking big bodied wingers with the few picks Ottawa did have.
If Rundblad ended up the Joe Corvo level healthy scratch in Ottawa that he’s become since being traded (twice), this could have been one of the worst drafts in modern Sens history! Think grumbling over how Kopitar could have been taken instead of Brian Lee but change the names to Tarasenko and Rundbleezy.
Anyway, that whole Rundblad for Turris murky revisionist history aside, Murray and co. goddamn lucky all that chatter about Mark Stone’s lack of adequate foot speed was overdone and they ended up getting an NHL capable player out of him. None of the other guys who were taken in 2010 are even in the conversation as far as call up is concerned. 2010 had the potential to be their worst draft since the 2005 where they were lucky to end up with Colin Greening in round 7. Yeah you just read that shit right. That’s how poorly they drafted that year. LUCKY to get Colin Greening…in round SEVEN.

2011
As alluded to earlier, 2011 is the draft where Ottawa got to play with house money the most (Ed note to Casinos: Can I haz some of this House Money? Only got to gamble with own real money so far, thx). They got the luxury to take some risky picks along with some of your safer bets. Something-something Matt Puempel’s hip drama. Oh but there was a second in that class. Jean Gabriel Pageau.

You know you can’t trust Wikipedia (#staywoke) when they list JG at a generous 5 foot 9. He’s short. AKA The equivalent of the Bubonic plague to most pro-scouts. He’s not just undersized for an NHL player he’s undersized compared to most adult males. I’ve never actually seen dude in person but I have a feeling when I do I’ma step to him and it’s going to look a little something like this…

Still an amazing hockey player tho and it’s pretty foolish to discount that.

Risk Vs. Reward: Look, if there’s one thing GMs continuously front on it’s skilled players under 6 feet tall. There’s just boatloads of them out there up for grabs. Pageau has made it impossible for the big club to ignore him as anyone who’s watched him can see he is a speedy, surprisingly tough two way player with a great head for the game who can both set up and finish plays AND kill penalties. Sounds ideal…except for one thing…this:

But I ask this: Has his size ever really hindered Pageau on the ice? Not that I’ve seen.

With the exception of Karlsson, Bryan Murray rarely drafts players under 6 feet tall let alone a guy of Marty St. Louis-like stature. If Jean Gabriel never suits up for another game again it could be argued that rolling the dice on him has already paid off for that one playoff game alone. The fact that I don’t need to specify what game I’m talking about speaks for itself. I seriously hope JGP serves as a lesson to Murray and his staff that though they are still pretty rare, there are a number of smaller guys doing quite well in the league now and you could potentially buy pretty low on a very good player who other GMs were too conservative to take a chance on. Even if he can’t squeeze into the lineup full time he remains one of the best players in Binghamton and an extremely competent call up. I’ll take a guy with his potential upside over a safer Cody Bass in round 4 any day of the week. Gold star!

2012
Here we go, Jarrod Maidens! Now THIS kid is like the street cred Matt Puempel. Rumored to have the potential of a top five to ten pick before suffering a severe concussion, the Senators scooped J-Maids (?) up in the 3rd round at 82nd overall. If this kid works out we could have a horse SO DARK on our hands that — *Puts on reading glasses to check incoming Jarrod Maidens Ask Jeeves News Alert, starts reading under breath* “mumblemumble Senators prospect Jarrod Maidens mumble mumble suffers set back in recovery mumble mumble mumble hockey career likely over Senators release his rights…”
WELP you know how that go.

Risk Vs. Reward: Def lost out this one. Sincerely,  best wishes to Jarrod. Really feel for the guy.

2013
Uhh, I don’t know. P-solid draft, tbh. Thanks for reading!

2014
Uhh, I’ve got nothin’ so i’m just going to take this opportunity to type in the words Curtis Lazar to drive up hits. #CurtisLazar

Three Preseason Experiments That Could be Interesting which is a Diplomatic Way of Saying They’re Terrible Suggestions and should be Ignored

Gryba attached a leather couch to his back so whenever he's tired all he needs to do is lean back and boom: he's relaxing. Smart.

Gryba attached a leather couch to his back so whenever he’s tired all he needs to do is lean back and boom: he’s relaxing. Smart.

Training camp and preseason are mega-weird; would you disagree? It’s a nexus of emotions in which withdrawal from hockey pushes our interest to peak levels, and yet the hockey being played is literally at its most meaningless. I’m consuming everything I can get my hands on. I just watched a video of Chris Phillips working out.

But what preseason does offer is an opportunity to follow an alternate reality Ottawa Senators where lineup combinations are surreal and fruitful new relationships blossom. Remember when Brandon Bochenski broke some kind of franchise record for preseason goals scored? (Or something.) And then he didn’t last the year? That’s what I’m talking about. For about two weeks we’ll all watch games that don’t mean anything before we start a season that’s already too long and we can feel like acid casualties in the throes of an episode. It’s how our grandfathers taught us to love the game.

So, in the spirit of writing about something that is so irrelevant it might not even exist, I posit three experimental combinations you might see during the preseason that are the hockey equivalent of free jazz, and totally worth exploring.

1) David Legwand on the wing with Mika Zibanejad as his center and Mike Hoffman or Mark Stone on the other side.

WAITWAITWAIT hear me out.

We’ve had some good times talking about where Zibanejad fits in vis-a-vis our second line center fantasies. Is he ready? Are WE ready? What IS ready? Our consensus seems to be something like Zibanejad COULD be a second line center, but it’s probably too early to expect it, and Legwand MIGHT be an ideal third liner, but he’ll probably be a second, and Zack Smith is too good to be a FOURTH line center, but where else do you put him? And Zibanejad can play wing so there’s that. And so on.

But what about David Legwand as a winger? Checking here… (*typing sounds*) he’s…never done it before. Ok. Bad start. The guy’s played like 1000 games as a center. But we know what we’re getting from Legwand at this point: he’s a defensively responsible two-way player on an affordable contract whose ceiling is somewhere between 45-50 points. He’s not much of a playmaker. Zibanejad, on the other hand, we know less about. He hasn’t been given steady ice time with consistent linemates long enough to know if he can distribute the puck. So give him a finisher like Hoffman or Stone, insulate the line from risk with Legwand, and CATCH THE RUSH.

2) A youngin’ on every line

What do I mean by that? Well, we all know that this camp will be chock full of desperate young millionaires (or soon-to-bes) looking to cement their position on the team. Not counting those with significant NHL time already like Zibanejad or Cowen, we’ve got Lazar, Hoffman, Stone, and Chiasson. This isn’t even counting spry cowboys like Pageau, Puempel, or Shane Prince. So what if we spread around the young butter? I’m talkin’:

Stone – Turris – Ryan

Michalek – Zibby – Hoffman

Chiasson – Legwand – MacArthur

Lazar – Smith – Condra

I know, I’m mixing up wings and centers here like I’m mixing vodka and some of the herbs I found in the cupboard when I moved into my apartment. But that’s what makes life exciting / your hockey team not very good / your liver incapable of processing alcohol. It gives the youngins experience. It gives the fans a fresh face on every line. And MOST IMPORTANTLY Chris Neil didn’t even get into the lineup in this scenario.

3) Break up Turris and Ryan, stick Bobs on an all-scoring line

The latest rumblings out of our perpetual “When is a Bobby Ryan Deal GOING TO HAPPEN??” media coverage / hourly anxiety attacks is that Ryan wants to see how he’s going to be used on the team before he commits long-term. This obviously is totally nausea-inducing because it recalls the whole Dany Heatley debacle about usage with Cory Clouston (RIP).

Part of me thinks this is just posturing. “I’m a scoring specialist, and I always have been. I WANT TO PLAY ON THE PENALTY KILL!!” Are you kidding me? Nobody wants to play on the penalty kill. You stand in front of Shea Weber slapshots and get to be on the ice when you get scored on the most. The penalty kill sucks. He basically picked something the team would be totally crazy to humour, asked for it, and got himself wiggle room to see if the team is competitive for the next few months.

But let’s assume for a moment that he’s being genuine. Well, ok then: let’s see if we really can run a responsible line through Bobby Ryan. Take him away from great two-way players like MacArthur and Turris and see what he can do. Put him on a line with, say, Stone and Hoffman. Maybe give him some Milan Michalek, who’s been known to score 30+ goals but whose play is deteriorating. At the very least it might have a positive influence on negotiations.

\\

So there you have it. Three terrible suggestions that entirely ignore the fact that you’re not going to pay Chris Neil almost $2MM not to play and doesn’t even acknowledge that we have a defense. And that is what we call in the business “making sausage.”

Scotchcast Episode 7: Shout Out to Pretty Much Everything

Scotchcast

Your favourite Cyber Badboys are back in the latest, greates—uhh MOST RECENT episode of the Scotchcast.
Join them as they go on a spiritual journey and discuss edgy Senators-related topics of the day. In what has been described as their STEAMIEST (citation needed) episode yet, these legendary (citation needed) bloggers take on:
– Expectations for the team this season in the garbage dump East
– Their player picks for potential breakout seasons, flameout seasons or BOTH (Controversy, She Wrote!)
– Thoughts on the new Supporters Section at the Tires.com Arena
and of course they answer YOUR questions in the Talk To The Audience Segment (Special SexXxy Edition)

Oh, and a special mystery houseguest (It’s Uncle Euge)

Great Mikspectations: Do We Want Too Much From This Delightful Young Scamp in 2014-15?

B-I-G , Z-I, B-B-A /no info for the NHL-PA/ Coach MacLean is mad cuz I'm flagrant/ Calls my cell, says "Youre demoted to the A, kid"

B-I-G , Z-I, B-B-A /no info, for the, NHLPA/ Coach MacLean is, mad cuz I’m flagrant/ Calls my cell, says “Youre demoted to the A, kid”

Missing the 2014 post season and then losing Jason Spezza to a pretty smart business decision trade has left many an Ottawa Senators fan, like this one, with no choice but to look toward the future. Like an army of miniature Alicia Keyeses we sing to the heavens, “Where do we go from here?” Who fills the void in Spezza’s absence this coming season?
Well, for one, Bryan Murray helped provide a bit of an answer by signing free agent centre David Legwand to a juicy very reasonable 2 year contract. Legwand will be the perfect insulation for the up and coming Mika Zibanejad as he at long last slots into that vacant second line centre spot and – whoa, whoa whoa Salade Du Chef, 2nd line centre?
Hey, I’ve been seeing peoples ’round the internet penciling him in that way on their opening night rosters. That’s more or less how I had it too because, well, DJ JazZiba Jeff is the new hotness and David Legwand is boring old Uncle “Mugger #2 From Season 1 of New York Undercover.” The more I think about it though, the more likely it seems that Mika will find himself centering line 3 at least at the start of the season.

David Legwand has Nearly 1000 NHL Games Under His Belt.
I cannot imagine a coach coming off his first season missing the playoffs, a season in which he was roundly and deservedly criticized, telling a 21 years young boy to “Shoot his hopes and dreams” on opening night. Especially over a guy like Legwand who’s been known for his combination of speed and reliability for a decade and a half now. I think MacLean plays it safe. Plain and — Plain and … I forget how that saying goes. Plain and Sisqo! There it is.
At 34, Leggz (a nickname is born) is a dependable veteran type but not so old that he’s relegated to bottom six role player duty. This is a guy that was brought on board to lead an injury riddled Detroit Red Wings into the playoffs just mere months ago. He’s spent a career building up a name for himself as a guy who can handle being assigned the West’s toughest competition; think Toews, think Getzlaf, think outside the BUN. It could prove beneficial to Zibanejad’s growth that Legwand can take the pressure off the youngster and go in there and handle the powerhouse Atlantic Division’s superstar centres like, Nick Bjugstad who led the Florida Panthers last year with 38 points. You read that right. Milan Michalek TOPPED the entire Florida Panthers in points last season. K, then there’s this…

Mika Didn’t Even Make the Opening Night Line Up Last Season
*Dodges most of the terrible looking Kyle Turris bobbleheads pelted from all angles*
Hey, listen, I didn’t like the move that ushered in the brief and frightening reign of Evil Paul MacLean either BUT you gotta hear both sides (you don’t): Obviously the coaching staff felt Ziba still had some elements of his game that needed rounding out or something-something entitlement issues just a calendar year ago. Full “Hi haters” marks go to Mika as he pulled the ol’ Karlsson Special of “Oh, a demotion? Let me just go ahead and put up a point per game in Bingo while you guys lose some games without me.” I can’t decide if the credit goes to the coach or Zibanejad for making the 6 games in the AHL look pretty ridiculous, both I guess…so…we ALL win there?
The point I’m trying to make here is that despite the rocky start last season, it was overall a very positive one for Mika’s development. At an impressive 16 goals and respectable 33 points we are beginning to see what the young Swede can do. If Mika can stay healthy and get some C.O.N.S.I.S.T.E.N.T. shifts with quality line mates (I am glaring at you, Ghost of Evil Paul MacLean) it’s not unreasonable to expect 20 goals from him in 2014-15. His 33 point effort was a high of his very young career and something that I am confident he can surpass. Mika’s current career high in points, however, is one that Legwand has pretty much consistently bested from the time Mika was about 7 years old. What’s more is that Legumi is coming off a particularly productive season by his standards. Between Nashville and Detroit he cracked the 50 point mark for just the third time, notching a career high 6 power play goals in the process. Do I think Mika will reach Legwand’s Mike Fisheresque heights? I do. When that is I’m not sure, but a bump of 20 points is a lot to ask a guy entering just his 3rd NHL season.
Again, given the pressure on MacLean to right the ship, I think he goes with the safer bet of Legwand and continues to shelter Zibanejad another season to let him grow.

Or, You Know, Maybe I’m Being More Conservative Than Shane Prince’s Tweets About This Whole Thing
That’s kind of the beautiful thing about sports. Wacky stuff happens. Sure, being safe in your predictions allows you to save the most face when the dust settles. It’s easy to look like an expert by playing the percentages like, “Karlsson’s a Garbage Pick” or Predicting the Sens to win the Stanley Cup in 2013 (thanks for cursing the season, The Sports Forecaster). But seriously, some unpredictable shit always seems to happen along the way and that’s the stuff that keeps us tuning in. Yes, so and so’s shooting percentage is unsustainable and due to regress back down to Earth and blah blah blah but didn’t we have fun while their shooting % was unsustainably awesome?
My dude(tte), sometimes life comes at you fast and a undersized garbage pick becomes one the best players in the world. Sometimes Milan Michalek scores 35 goals. Sometimes a “reclamation project” in Kyle Turris comes here in a risky trade and within a couple of seasons takes the job Jason Spezza’s held for a decade. Sometimes Craig Anderson basically becomes the best goalie in the league and gets a battered team into the playoffs. Sometimes an 5 foot 8 kid who’s played less than 10 NHL games scores a hat trick in said playoffs. Sometimes Cody Ceci makes the big club in his first year of eligibility and forces Joe Corvo to re-join Crazytown, fedora in hand. What I’m saying is, regardless of how you feel going into a season, there tends to be a couple of pleasant surprises no one was counting on along the way. With the off-season addition of David Legwand, it allows for the possibility of Zibanejad establishing himself as 2nd line centre to be a pleasant surprise, not a requirement.