And now, your 2014 All Good Contracts Team

Benn, Jamie »

$5.250MM

Dallas

Seguin, Tyler »

$5.750MM

Dallas

Oshie, T.J. »

$4.175MM

St. Louis

Kane, Evander »

$5.250MM

Winnipeg

Tavares, John »

$5.5MM

New York Islanders

Van Riemsdyk, J. »

$4.25MM

Toronto

Boyes, Brad »

$2.625MM

Florida

Turris, Kyle »

$3.5MM

Ottawa

Stempniak, Lee »

$900,000

New York Rangers

Roussel, Antoine »

$2MM

Dallas

Goc, Marcel »

$1.2MM

Pittsburgh

Moss, David »

$800,000

Arizona

 

Keith, Duncan »

$5.5MM

Chicago

E-Larsson, O. »

$5.5MM

Arizona

McDonagh, Ryan »

$4.7MM

New York Rangers

Shattenkirk, K. »

$4.25MM

St. Louis

Gilbert, Tom »

$2.8MM

Montreal

Volchenkov, Anton »

$1MM

Nashville

 

Neuvirth, Michal »

$2.5MM

Buffalo

Lack, Eddie »

$1.150MM

Vancouver

I thought, as a corollary to last week’s All Bad Contracts Team post, I would take a stab at the best contracts.

Rules:

  • No ELCs. Otherwise it would be too easy to stick half the top five picks from the last five years in a chart and call it a day.
  • I still adhered to the salary cap. This was especially a challenge without ELCs, and explains why I had to leave off guys like David Backes and Johan Franzen, who would be improvements over, like, David Moss. I also think that Erik Karlsson has a great contract, but I was trying to find an extra million, so I picked Ekman-Larsson at a million less.
  • The contact has to represent value. For example, I think Duchene is totally worth $6MM a year, and he’s a pretty good number one center. But I also think he’s being paid fairly.
  • I tried not to include too many deals where the player received what was perceived to be value at the time, and seems low by today’s standards. Were Sidney Crosby up for a new contract now, he’d get Kane / Toews money. But he was only paid slightly below market value at the time.
  • Goaltending is a bit of a mindfuck. In the last few years, starting goaltenders have been getting paid. Rask, Quick, and Crawford are all going to take up about 10% of your cap right away. I’ve long been a proponent of affordable goalies, given that it’s a crapshoot of a position. So, with that in mind, Eddie Lack had pretty good numbers last year, and Neuvirth is a league average goalie making average money. I also considered Anderson at just over $3MM, Jonas Hiller at $4.5MM, and the biggest mindfuck of all, Luongo at only $4.5MM.

These guys in total come in just under the cap at $68.6MM.

Omissions? Protestations? Hit the comments.

Your 2014 All Bad Contracts Team

Nash, Rick »$7.8MM

New York

Staal, Eric »$8.250MM

Carolina

Ovechkin, Alex »$9.5MM

Washington

Cammalleri, Mike »$5MM

New Jersey

Lecavalier, V. »$4.5MM

Philadelphia

Semin, Alexander »$7MM

Carolina

Umberger, R.J. »$4.6MM

Philadelphia

Horcoff, Shawn »$5.5MM

Dallas

Callahan, Ryan »$5.8MM

Tampa

Filppula, V. »$5MM

Tampa

Bolland, Dave »$5.5MM

Florida

Neil, Chris »$1.9MM

Ottawa

 

Streit, Mark »$5.25MM

Philadelphia

Myers, Tyler »$5.5MM

Buffalo

Johnson, Jack »$4.35MM

Columbus

Wideman, Dennis »$5.25MM

Calgary

Engelland, Deryk »$2.9MM

Calgary

Gonchar, Sergei »$5MM

Dallas

 

Ward, Cam »$6.3MM

Carolina

Pavelec, Ondrej »$3.9MM

Winnipeg

Just for fun on a Friday afternoon, I thought I’d put together an All Bad Contracts team. Here’s what I’ve got. Omissions? Protestations? Hit the comments!

Teams with the most representation: Philadelphia, and Carolina have three turds apiece. You might also include Columbus, with one contract of their own (Johnson, though it was given to him by Los Angeles) and two they gave to players on other teams (Umberger and Nash). Calgary has some stinkers in there, and I almost included Jonas Hiller, which would have qualified them.

The cap hit for this team is $108.8MM, or about $39.8MM over the cap.

Up front you have a trio of declining superstars. It might be controversial to include Ovechkin, given the goal-scoring hardware he’s racked up, but I think with all of the money they’ve sunk into his contract and the fact that he’s basically a powerplay specialist with zero accountability at this point, his might actually be the most disastrous contract of the bunch. He’s signed until 2021, and makes $10MM a year in cash for the next seven seasons.

For the most part, I hesitated to include superstar deals. You won’t see Kane, Toews, Perry, Getzlaf, Crosby or Malkin here. When a franchise player is due a new contract, I feel the team often doesn’t have much in the way of leverage. Columbus couldn’t really give Rick Nash, who they’d built their entire identity around, less than they did. Same for Carolina and Staal. So I don’t blame them too much, but in the cold light of 2014, these deals still look awful, and will only get worse with time. These three guys in particular exemplify the sort of line that can produce points, but nowhere near tantamount to their salaries.

Our second line guys don’t seem too, too egregious until you bunch them together. The fun thing is how these $4MM-$5MM guys, if couched on a line with low-cost ELCs, or other high-value contracts, don’t seem too awful. They’re NHL veterans, after all. But taken together…that’s $16.5MM, or about a quarter of the total cap allowance, for 124 points last year. Semin’s an elite possession driver, but had only 42 points last year, and missed about 20 games to injury.

The third line is made up of character guys you wouldn’t kick off of your team, though they’re overpaid in the extreme. The Callahan deal is especially bad. Yzerman was backed into a corner of wanting to show something for the Martin St. Louis deal, and so gave Callahan too much term and cash. Like Umberger, he’s a leader-y guy making elite production money. Horcoff isn’t particularly good at hockey anymore. (Though I guess it’s worth noting his pay is a couple mill below his cap hit.)

That fourth line is legitimately awful. Bolland and our own Chris Neil bring literally nothing to the ice for that money. Bolland’s deal was the laughing stock of the UFA period this year. Filppula isn’t a bad player, but it’s hard to understand why Yzerman had to give a complementary scorer in Detroit so much to coax him to Tampa to play with one of the best players in the world in Stamkos.

The process of putting together this team helped me to understand how much leeway Yzerman has received over the past couple of years. Yzerman gets a lot of praise for transforming Tampa into a quasi-contender (if third last in the league followed by a first round sweep counts as contending, which it doesn’t), but he’s spent enormous amounts of owner Jeff Vinnik’s money doing it. Every UFA period, he’s right up front handing out long-ish deals to players like Matt Carle, Anton Stralman, Callahan, Filppula, and Boyle. Right now they’re over the cap by almost two million. If Tampa doesn’t do something soon, the shine is going to wear off. Especially when he has to give Stamkos a billion dollars.

On the back end, you have a whole lot of cash spent on a whole lot of mediocrity. No one is really out-and-out awful, except for Deryk Engelland – the rare Defenseman Enforcer! Because you really want to be down a defensemen when killing off a major penalty. Jack Johnson is a noted possession black hole who makes everyone around him worse and is signed until the end of time. Tyler Myers illustrates the problem of signing someone for their potential. Gonchar is 200 years old.

And in net, Cam Ward was 47th in the league in SV% last year, a stunning .898 average, and makes over $6MM a year. That might be the worst contract in the league right there. Pavalec’s trials and tribulations have been well documented. He’s signed for two more seasons after this one, which is amazing.

So…how do you think this team would do? Depending on whether they’re in the West or the East, I think they have a shot at the playoffs. But they’re likely going to miss, and spend a fortune doing it. See, Ottawa? It could be worse!

Giant Sized Summer Special: Is Ottawa more defensively responsible now than it was last year?

mt3

There’s no need for a set-up. Just take a look at last season’s team stats:

  • Goals-per-game: 2.79 – 11th in the NHL
  • Goals-against-per-game: 3.15 – 27th in the NHL
  • Powerplay: 18.4% – 14th in the NHL
  • Penalty Kill: 80.9% – 22nd in the NHL
  • Shots per game: 32.8 – 4th in the NHL
  • Shots against per game: 34.7 – 29th in the NHL
  • Fenwick for percentage: 50.8% – 13th in the NHL
  • Shots for percentage: 49.1% – 20th in the NHL

At a glimpse, the 2013-2014 Ottawa Senators were a team that could score, but couldn’t outscore their opponents. Both coach Paul MacLean and GM Bryan Murray have stated on multiple occasions that the goal for the coming season will be to cut down on the number of shots allowed, possibly at the expense of some offense. So let’s take a look at our new lineup, the moves made, and whether it’s reasonable to expect a more defensively responsible team this season.

Assuming a lineup:

Obviously there are a lot of moving parts here. Let’s presume that Stone and Hoffman will be given a chance to compete for a top six spot, with whomever is cold being bumped down to the bottom six. I’m also assuming that the team doesn’t destroy Lazar’s potential by allowing him to be cast as savior of the franchise at 19 and given top minutes right away. (Though we can assume he’ll get some games during the season, possibly those first nine games before he must be sent down without burning a year on his ELC.)

The top line of MacArthur – Turris – Ryan will almost definitely stay intact. The rest of the lineup, without a go-to offensive catalyst (unless Hoffman and Stone are those guys) will be some combination of Michalek, Legwand, Chiasson, Hoffman, Stone, Greening, Zibanejad, Condra, Smith and Neil.

Curiously, the defense remains much the same as last year: Karlsson with Methot or Cowen, Ceci with Phillips, and Gryba, Wiercioch and Borowiecki all duking it out for about 8 minutes of ice time.

Anderson spends another year checking his brake lines and Lehner spends another year awaiting the Hour of Ascension of the Beast.

The O:

The biggest change here is the loss of Spezza and Hemsky and the addition of Legwand and Chiasson. Though the way the players will be paired and used will be variable, that we lost a center and winger and then gained one of each, and that not much else changed with the team, makes it possible to do some direct comparisons and see if we’re indeed any more defensively responsible.

Jason Spezza and David Legwand comparison [all stats from here on in via Extra Skater]

Spezza scored 15 more points than Legwand in eight fewer games, though he received about a minute more of ice time per 60 minutes of play, had a higher shooting percentage, and more favorable zone starts.

Interestingly, while Legwand is being cast as a two-way forward – I called him a plug on our last podcast – he played an enormous amount of time on the power-play – almost as much as Spezza did – and way less time on the penalty kill as Spezza.

Also interesting is that Legwand and Spezza played with a similar quality of teammates and against a similar quality of competition. They are within 0.3% of each other in both regards.

Spezza’s Corsi relative was slightly negative, where Legwand’s was slightly positive, though both are within 0.5% of each other.

The players also had a comparable PDO, around 97, which means one might expect a slight bump in numbers for both as they rebound to league average on-ice save percentage. They had extremely similar penalty differentials, with each taking just under 20 more penalties than they drew.

The only really big discrepancy is their shots per 60 minutes of play, where Legwand produces almost four fewer shots than Spezza.

It’s no surprise that Legwand is not as offensively capable as Spezza. But my takeaway here, and what people might not know, is that the two players have been used in very similar ways, and Legwand hasn’t been a defensive standout in that time. Perhaps as a result of a lack of center depth in Nashville, Legwand was employed as their principle playmaker. Far from being your reliable utility forward, he was relied on to produce offense, and his ice time reflects that.

Another way of putting it is that Spezza didn’t have it much easier than Legwand. And while Spezza was slightly deficient defensively compared to Legwand, he more than made up for it in terms of shot and point production. With Spezza you end up with a net gain in production; with Legwand, perhaps not so much. So, for those subscribing to the idea that Ottawa swapped out an offensive dynamo for a defensive one, while you might be technically right that there’s a difference, you still have a net loss over the course of a season in terms of production. Legwand isn’t that much more responsible, but he’s a whole lot less dangerous offensively. This is borne out by their overall Corsi differential, which is fairly substantial; Spezza’s is almost three full points better, which is significant in Corsi Land. After all, you don’t care how a player produces possession, just that they do. Be careful what you wish for, Sun readers – you have your hard working, loveable plug now.

Now, this doesn’t account for how Ottawa may choose to use Legwand in this upcoming season. Maybe he flourishes as a utility forward, when he isn’t expected to produce any offense. But there’s a big enough body of evidence to suggest that Legwand, while a legit top six NHL forward, is not an improvement on Spezza at all. Ottawa fans might like bringing in Legwand because he’s a veteran, gritty, and so on, but they better hope those intangibles translate into effects elsewhere.

Of course the big plus for Ottawa is that Legwand is $2MM cheaper than Spezza this season and on a short-term deal. He costs half as much as Spezza, and there’s no expectation from his camp that the team re-sign him for six to eight years after next season. If Ottawa management were pouring those savings into other areas, we might be able to justify the switch. But, as we know, they’re not. For now, this biggest benefit of this swap is to Melnyk’s bottom line.

Alex Chiasson and Ales Hemsky comparison 

Maybe it’s not fair to do a direct comparison between a 14 year NHL veteran and a player with the equivalent of one season under his belt, but Ottawa lost a top six player and traded for someone who, in their mind, was another, so the comparison stands.

And, much to my surprise, Chiasson actually doesn’t do too badly. Though he scored 8 fewer points in four more games, he generated about as many shots per 60 minutes in about the same amount of ice time, against comparable competition, and with a comparable quality of teammates. Their Corsi was almost identical, though on the other hand Chiasson’s teammates outperformed him. (Though on the OTHER other hand…Dallas was a top ten possession team last year, so that ain’t so bad.)

Chiasson’s PDO was two points lower, too, suggesting a slight bump up, potentially narrowing the gap in their offensive production even further. Even though Chiasson did enjoy significantly more powerplay time than Hemsky, all else being equal it’s reasonable to expect them to produce similarly next year.

Over a full season, while Chiasson is a slight downgrade on Hemsky, it’s not as big as I initially thought it would be. When coupled with the fact that he’s making less than 1/4th what Hemsky is making on his entry level contract, this is a high-value swap. (Again, assuming those savings would be funneled elsewhere which yadda yadda yadda they won’t be.)

You might expect a marginal decrease in production here, but I’m far less concerned than I am about the use of Legwand over Spezza.

The Youngins:

One unknown here is whether Stone, Hoffman, and/or Lazar can step into top six roles and contribute. We don’t have the numbers for Lazar, and looking at Stone and Hoffman, neither of them have huge sample sizes from last season.

But both produced great Corsi ratings, both overall and relative to their teammates (Stone’s is particularly good). Neither saw strong competition, indicating some degree of being sheltered, and their PDOs were almost smack average (Stone’s is actually a point higher) so we shouldn’t expect a huge swing in regression to the average.

What’s interesting is that while both players’ underlying possession numbers are good, this didn’t translate into particularly impressive point production. There’s a couple of ways we can interpret this.

Either these guys will learn to finish (which one hopes comes with experience) and translate those shots and possession into points. Or they’re both essentially versions of Erik Condra – strong possession players who can’t finish to save their lives. Or they simply haven’t been put with the right linemates to translate possession into goals.

Small sample size, again, but their strong possession numbers imply that they can contribute to the team, especially if they take away minutes from other bottom six players whose careers are in decline – see Greening, Colin and Neil, Chris.

The D:

The horror show begins…

Nothing terribly novel to say here. There wasn’t much in the way of change on the backend for Ottawa. The most notable changes here are that Mark Borowiecki’s contract becomes one-way, and that Eric Gryba was re-signed to a one-way deal. Neither of them are particularly good. That management seems especially high on Borowiecki because he, I don’t know…sticks up for his teammates or whatever, seems like more evidence of old-schoolism at play. Oh, and they also let Joe Corvo, the weirdest fucking signing of last year, walk. Which, you know…great.

The result: a glut of bottom pairing defensemen on a team that allow more shots than almost any other team last year. Beyond Erik Karlsson and Patrick Wiercioch, no defenseman did particularly well in terms of possession.

I won’t really look at Erik Karlsson. (Spoiler: he’s good!) Borowiecki doesn’t have huge sample sizes. That leaves Cowen, Methot, Phillips, Ceci and Wiercioch.

Jared Cowen, as has been well-publicized, was atrocious. In a good-PDO year, his penalty differential was terrible, and he had the lowest shots per 60. (Though he didn’t get much in the way of power play time, and was relied upon to clear the crease and wave his stick around like a dowsing wand.) His possession stats weren’t as bad as I expected, though they were mediocre.

Chris Phillips is also trending downwards and was inexplicably renewed. He was sheltered, but also had the worst PDO of the group. That means he might rebound slightly, if his regression doesn’t more than erase that rebound. The best case scenario seems like one where he’s still barely, BARELY, a 3-4 guy. Like everyone has already said: why did this guy get two years again?

As has been mentioned on this blog and elsewhere, the banishment of Patrick Wiercioch to the press box for huge chunks of the season was totally mysterious. He’s a strong possession player, producing more shots per 60 than any of the rest of the group. Maybe it was the plethora of left-handed shots on the team, but playing Cody Ceci and Jared Cowen over Wiercioch is just one of those things we’ll have to chalk up to the coaches and management knowing something about him that we don’t. Stop smoking meth, Patrick Wiercioch.

However, Marc Methot wasn’t nearly as bad as he was made out to be, having been divorced from Erik Karlsson from much of the year. His possession stats were respectable, and here’s hoping that his ice time is restored. It might not be enough to remove this team from the bottom of the league in terms of shots against, but given the apparent lack of forthcoming changes to the defensive corp, it’s a no-cost move. Ottawa just needs to use what they have more effectively. You could argue that we used up last season to develop Cowen.

Goaltending:

Not much to say; both had below league average save percentages, but only by about .03% – and that’s impressive considering the number of shots they faced. Anderson saved the team’s bacon in the shortened season with a legendarily unsustainable hot streak, and when he came back to earth this year, the team suffered. No surprise there.

Lehner played more games than ever before, and should continue, in this last year of Anderson’s contract, to shoulder the load unless the team falls quickly out of contention and they play Anderson in order to bolster his trade deadline value. Anderson has been a warrior for Ottawa though, and continues to be a workhorse on a mediocre team. If he’s willing to re-sign on an affordable deal to play backup to Lehner, I think the team has to explore that. Any other goaltender’s head would have exploded facing 45 shots a night.

That top line:

I know the chemistry between Turris, Ryan and MacArthur was a pleasant surprise, and that Ryan was playing with a hernia or something, but we should temper expectations for next season. This line had a consistently high PDO, which means regression to the mean. Turris, who will now be expected to be the team’s number one center – there’s really no other option – may have it especially hard, seeing his quality of competition skyrocket as teams no longer have to worry about matching up against Jason Spezza.

It’s not all doom-and-gloom – between Turris being a still-young and developing player, and Ryan healing, you may get a wash as they regress. But for those hoping that the top line is going to pick up their game in the absence of Spezza and Hemsky, the odds aren’t very good. That doesn’t mean they’re a bad line – all three have excellent possession stats. But from a team perspective, I’d expect their production to hold where it was, and thus the team still ends up with a net loss in production.

Tactics:

There’s a huge X factor here, which is Paul MacLean’s coaching. That’s obviously where our publicly available stats fall short. We know how players have traditionally be used. We don’t know how they will be used.

We may assume that MacLean will continue to preach an up-tempo style combined with a “whole rink” “hard work” mumbo jumbo voodoo combo that pretty much every single NHL coach insists on. But we could be wrong. Hey, even Bruce Boudreau – one of the most successful possession coaches in the league over the last decade – changed his style to be more “defensively responsible” after his Capitals teams experienced some playoff disappointment.

Maybe MacLean discovered something this summer while sitting on his dock staring out into the water and he’ll bring a Dr. Strange-like epiphany home that makes Jared Cowen not pivot like a dump truck. Don’t ask me. I just traded for Jagr in NHL 2014 and scored 56 goals with him. Have you tried turning down the difficulty, Paul?

The rest of the division:

Boston and Montreal look very good, like locks for the post-season, though Boston may start to decline slightly. Tampa upgraded hugely this year, though they were second last in the league the year before and were swept out of the first round this year, so who fucking knows with that team. I think they’ll be pretty impressive. Detroit is pretty much in full decline, but they have the horses to make it in the weak east. Toronto didn’t change much, and are due for a weak season given their underlying possession stats. Florida and Buffalo are awful.

That puts Ottawa pretty much where they were last year – 5th in the Atlantic, and on the outside looking in.

In conclusion:

My takeaway here is that Ottawa can expect a lower offensive output from their forwards this year, based solely on the huge disparity between David Legwand and Jason Spezza. Worse, perhaps, is that the assumption that Legwand and Chiasson are significantly more responsible than Spezza and Hemsky just doesn’t hold up. If anything, they’ll slow the bleeding and save the franchise money, but that’s it. The team will end up with an even larger net loss in production.

For this version of the Ottawa Senators to produce a net gain in goals, they’ll have to do the following:

  • Shore up their bottom six. Letting Matt Kassian walk is an automatic improvement. Zach Smith, Colin Greening and Chris Neil got killed last year, and took way, WAY more penalties than they drew. (Especially Neil.) Relying more often on Zibanejad as your third line center, and one or both of Stone and Hoffman in place of Neil and Greening should help turn around the bottom six’s production. If we see Neil and Phillips on the powerplay again this year, we may as well just start researching the draft.
  • Take Patrick Wiercioch and Marc Methot out of the doghouse. I can understand that if Jared Cowen develops into a top-two or top-four defenseman, one season of growing pains is going to seem like a small price to pay. But given he didn’t have a down-on-his-luck-year last year and still sort of stank, one hopes that development and continued healing from hip surgery contributes to better play. If not, then play the horses you have.
  • Do whatever it is you do to make young players develop. Ottawa might not be able to sneak into the playoffs if Stone, Hoffman, and Ceci all stay where they were next year. It would help if Zibanejad, a blue chip prospect, took a step forward and was given more responsibility.
  • I don’t look at penalties much in this post…but holy hell did Ottawa take a lot of them. Again, and probably for the millionth time, playing Chris Neil and Jared Cowen a bit less will help in this regard. MacArthur took a lot of penalties, but made up for it with production. Neil and Cowen…not so much.
  • Shootouts. Ottawa was 7-7. Not bad – actually right in the middle of the league, so they personify league average. But with a little luck in this total crapshoot of a standings rigger, they could make up the gap.
  • Go shopping. In the last few weeks we’ve seen Nashville pick up three players legit NHLers for about $3MM total, any of whom could have shored up Ottawa’s depth or sat in the press box for less than it cost to sit Wiercioch last season. I’m especially bummed that Ottawa wasn’t interested in bringing back Anton Volchenkov. He was a fan favorite when he was here, nobody resented his choice to leave for term in New Jersey, and he brings exactly what the team needs. At this point there’s not a ton left – Mike Del Zotto, Dustin Penner, and David Booth all look like they could contribute in a depth role – and the market has been set at about one year, $1MM.

In the end, the team is not going to bottom out. They’re a bubble team who can finish anywhere from 12th to 6th in the standings in the East, barring any massively unsustainable runs of good or bad luck. The team will produce a similar result to last year, but they’ll save more money doing it. And that’s good news for Eugene Melnyk, at least.

Scotchcast Episode 6: #forsale

In which James, Steven, and Varada discuss:

  • The Spezza trade. (Did you know Spezza was traded? We didn’t until this podcast was being recorded. We still don’t know where he was traded, or for what, but we feel totally comfortable calling a winner and loser before anyone’s played any hockey.)
  • Bobby Ryan’s contract negotiation, or LACK THEREOF (*foreboding gong noise*).
  • The fact that nobody likes the team anymore and hockey sort of sucks now. (Opinions are Twitter’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WTYKY or its parent corporation.)
  • How painfully uncool Sens marketing campaigns are, and predictions for the 2014-2015 rallying cry. (Hint: it’s in the title.)

Enjoy!

The Hidden #TRUTH Behind Bobby Ryan’s Contract Negotiations

#STAYWOKE

#STAYWOKE

    Benghazi
mOon landing was faked by Stanley Kubrick (name contains letters R.Y.A.N.)
oBama birth certificate
    Bilderberg Group met in Ottawa once
    Y r u covering up the chemtrails?

      Rituals of the Illuminati take place in Bohemian Grove. Ryan used to  play in California
      Y is the Federal Reserve Bank controlling Sens new TV revenue?
      Alluminati
moNsanto foods is putting genetically modified no trade clauses in our chicken nuggets

30 Thoughts™ From Sens Dev. Camp (or “That 2 Period Scrimmage I Watched”)

Fred
I recently attended a two period long, clock running the whole time ass scrimmage where the Senators development camp prospects squared off in a battle where my personal entertainment was on the line. No beer or cell phone reception at the Kanata Rec. Centre means I can actually recall what I saw.
Please note that I was sat up on some gully ass bleachers and could only really catch team black attacking and team white defending. What’s that? That statement mean’s little to nothing? Good, you’ve prepared well for this post! Fuck around and get baptized as I share my 30 Thoughts™ on the affair.

1. Mark Stone was hilariously, hilariously better than all of the other forwards. Maybe it’s the confidence that comes with suiting up for a couple dozen NHL games but Stoner/Stoney/Stones (def. one of those 3 is his nickname) seemed to get 2 extra seconds to decide what to do with the puck. He played with urgency but was noticeably patient as well. Really dictated the pace in the attacking zone. His smarts resulted in him scoring a super nice turn around, top shelf goal from the slot when everyone else seemed kind of gassed on the play.
Best part: Despite a dominant performance he actually looked like it was taking it easy on the kids.

2. I know it’s in style to be very unexcited about any of our prospects right now but you come here to read the garbage musings of a Cyber Badboy like myself so here it is: I’m buying in on this Curtis Lazar hype. I can see why the book on him on his draft day is that he is an extremely safe bet to help your NHL club (or around the house!). Considering that this was a scrimmage my dude had an impressively complete game. I was pretty blown away by how he could consistently be part of the rush, if not leading it, and manage to be first back to his own end. In industry terms, we call this type of play “A Coach’s Wet Dream.” Incredibly fast backchecking. Very hard to tell what role he eventually projects to  but certainly left me with the impression that he will be part of the big team sooner than later. I can’t imagine he has many aspects to round out at the AHL level from what I saw.

3. Time to talk about Anders Englund AKA Li’l Ivan Drago AKA Yung Big Grill. Looked raw like sushi out there at times but made a couple of pretty nice defensive plays. Pancaked a couple of youngins along the boards and made some safe exit passes. Anything fancy seemed to throw him for a loop which is a bit surprising for a Euro WHO PLAY LIKE A BUNCHA GRRLS ON FIGURE SKATING ICE! LETS GOOOO (thumbs up). Given that he was paired with slickster Mikael Wikstrand, Englund would got pretty hot potato when passed the puck with speed. It should probably be noted that Anders Englund is an 18 years young human boy who was drafted in the 2nd round like a week ago and is probably still dealing with 5 hours of jetlag.

4. Didn’t really get to see the much talked about Freddy Claesson as he and Cody Ceci were quite far away from where I was sitting. I did get to see him take a pretty dynamite shot from the point which was a nice takeaway considering all your hear about him is his +/-. Hope to see him get a game or two this season. Sounds like he’s really earning his praise in Bingo. Dmen take time to develop (RIGHT JARED COWEN?!) but sounds like Freddy is on a steep curve.

5. Newly acquired Nick Paul and Alex Guptill each had a pretty solid showing. Guptil even potted a goal. How’s it feel to already be grouped together boys? Anyway I have a feeling at least one of these fellas will go on to score 687 points in 686 games for the Senators. Dare 2 Dream.

6. A surprise standout for me was Tobias Lindberg. My dude was one of the few players that I would describe as flashy in the game. He created a number of chances with his Toilet Mitts™ and blinding speed. Pretty cool to see him stand out as he’s only 18 and was just drafted last year. There’s not a ton about him on the ‘net (internet) but with speed and skill coupled with a 6’2″, 187lbs frame, he doesn’t have a ton working against him. Also not working against him: Not much organizational depth at right wing. Wasn’t really a guy on my radar screen before (What? I’m not MADE of radar screen space, okay? Your mother and I work like dogs to put a radar screen over your head and food on your radar screen, so show a little respect.) but I’ll be keeping tabs on him going forward.

7. Shane Prince (who’s back in the Twitter game on some Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in” shit) missed the scrimmage with a mild injury. He was sitting down the bench from me in the bleachers. I am happy to report he still has the mightiest hairline in the Ottawa Senators organization. Thing is like a fortress.

8. The guys with AHL experience like Buddy Robinson and Ryan Dzingle (whom I found particularly impressive) really showed that extra poise. They were both calm with the puck and always in the right spot positionally. Good to see your farm club guys playing the system effectively.

9. Miles Gendron is just a tremendous, tremendous skater. So smooth he makes 1999  D’Angelo seem like dusted 2010 D’Angelo. The one thing I would say is that despite being listed as tall as 6’2″ and as heavy as 186 on certain prospect sites, he looked very slight out there. I could be wrong but I’m talkin’ getting crossed out and dunked on by Jean Gabriel Pageau slight. He’ll be starting his freshman campaign at University of Connecticut next year so that Residence Cafeteria slop should fatten him up considerably over the season. Expect him to put on an additional…oh I don’t know…15™ pounds.

10. Matt Puempel was fairly quiet all “game” long. Even went so far as to hear someone in all seriousness call the first round pick a bust. I mean, you know what they say, you don’t come second in AHL rookie scoring without making a few enemies. In fairness, I suppose I was hoping for a  bit more flash from one of our more promising hopefuls but I’ll take his performance in his first year as an AHL pro over one scrimmage.

11. They played a recording of Lyndon Slewidge singing “O Canada” over the tinniest PA system at the beginning of the game which…you can’t write this shit.

12. Speaking of quiet performances, one guy I really had my eye on that I didn’t have much to say about afterward was Swedish defenseman Mikael Wikstrand. Wikstrand garnered a lot of attention from Sens fans after putting up 20 points in 27 games for Mora’s tier 2 team.  Fam, you see my dilemma. 20 points in 27 games is a pretty exceptional output for a dman but I don’t know if the tier 2 Swedish league is the Euro QMJHL scoring-wise. I was looking forward to seeing him play in person. He’s earned a graduation to the top level Swedish Hockey League where he seems to be continuing to produce. What was I saying? Oh yeah, couldn’t get a read on him in a 40 minute game where they didn’t even stop the clock between plays. If I knew how to do that shrugging guy emoticon thing…BELIEVE I would be using it right here.

13. Did I talk about the Lyndon Slewidge thing? I did, eh. What a world tho…when you sit and think about it for a second.

14. There was some shootout thing at the end I don’t remember very well. I think Mark Stone scored a nice goal. Mark Stone is really good. Especially at development camp scrimmage shootouts.

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24. Stay woke: New episode of the Scotchcast coming soon.

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Best wishes to Bryan Murray

We publish a lot of acerbic and occasionally humorous (but mostly acerbic) shit on this blog, but it pales quickly and obviously in the shadow of a real life person fighting a real life bullshit thing like cancer. So, all of our crap aside: best wishes to Bryan Murray and his family as he fights this curse of a disease. If he brings a modicum of the competitiveness he brings to hockey to his care plan, Murray will be back in the GM’s box in no time.

Fuck cancer.