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

8 thoughts on “Risk Assessment: Matt Puempel, the Senators, Drafting, and the Worst Blog Post Title

  1. Think of it this way .. a trade .. if you think you;ll be successful in one of three high risk picks. So you have 3 late first round picks. And you have three high risk players. Are you willing to trade the three late round picks for one top ten pick ?? The Detroit organizations has done it for years, 8 late round picks and try to get one or two excellent players

    • Yeah I feel you Sam. I suppose it’s only responsible for the team to take who they feel is the best player available or one who fills a certain role that the team lacks, but it just seems like the Sens system is always full up with Cody Bass type guys. I’m no scout (spoiler!) but C. Bass is my go-to head scratcher draft pick. How such an average player caught the eye of a pro team to the point that they drafted him escapes me. In his best OHL season he scored 16 goals. I literally know people who had more productive OHL careers than that. I mean even Zenon Konopka, who was passed over by every single team, had 86 points in 61 games in his last season with the 67’s. Point per game in the playoffs too!
      Past round 2 or 3 personally I’d be shooting for the moon a bit more seeing as the likelihood of the players making it gets so small at that point. Like I said in the post, Pageau is a perfect case as he is a guy who clearly had all the tools, the points, the speed, the smarts…but one “setback” that he’s short. Okay, maybe you don’t take him in the first round out of fear he’ll get bulldozed in the NHL He’s still a point a game junior player who’s assignment was Jonathan Huberdeau in the Memorial Cup up for grabs almost 100 picks into the draft. He can obviously hang. Give the guy a chance and see how he fares at the next level.
      I think, like you’re saying, if you keep taking a flyer on the guy who’s skating mechanics are strange or is “too skinny” or is from a “weird” country or whatever but is a very good all around player you vastly improve your chances of getting a Martin St. Louis. There basically aren’t PK specialists in junior so I don’t know why a guy like Bass even gets taken with his numbers. Something tells me it’s because he’s decent but is 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds. I know that’s basically an ideal size for an NHL player but if he couldn’t put up points in junior what makes scouts think he could contribute at the AHL level and then NHL level? And Isn’t that what this is all about? Finding potential NHL players? Makes sense to me to just swing for the fence in the total crap shoot rounds. I think it’s so interesting that you bring up the Red Wings, a team that basically hasn’t had a high draft pick in what feels like decades and employ a strategy like this and keep “finding” these diamonds in the rough. Gustav Nyquist comes to mind as the latest. I also know that Detroit is super strict about their prospects spending a couple of years in the AHL to master the Wings’ system before they even get a sniff at the big club which i think is pretty brilliant. But hey, I’m just a Garbageman from Garbage Island I don’t know nothin’ about nothin’. Anyway, thanks for reading and sharing 🙂

  2. You don’t have a choice if you’re like Detroit with all the late round picks, you have to go high risk high reward. That said it is a valid statistical approach. thanks for the interesting blog.

  3. I promise I will read and (probably forget immediately) comment on your post, but first I just had to shout out the ‘glare eyes’ on the SensTV microphone. How cool is that? It’s like yes you’re watching us but REALLY we’re watching you – and not only that but we are really, really disappointed in you.
    Gotta hand it to the Sens, not many professional ice hockey teams can work Big Brother into their promotional materials but somehow they make it work.
    Anyhoo…

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