2014-2015 Retort Cards: Forwards

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Due to overwhelming demand, I return with my flippant letter grade assessments of the performances of professional athletes all of whom, it should be noted, could beat the crap out of me before giving me a swirly.
WELP…it’s a spiritual journey of a read as turns out there are way more forwards on the team than defensemen…so let’s get started shall we?

Forwardsman Letter Grade Teacher says…every take a blog brings, an a-hole gets his wings.
Kyle Turris A Yo. On some admittedly petty shit, massive shout out to the kid for finishing the season with more points than Jason Spezza. I know I’m starting off on a hater tip but Turris doesn’t get to play in a top 6 with Jamie Benn, Tyler Segiun, and..is Ales Hemsky a top 6 player still? Anyway, KT continues to quietly get better and better and prove that he’s a quality 2 way centre at rock bottom prices.
Kyle Turris: Service, Selection, Value.
The best way to describe his game is with this question: Have you ever watched a Sens game and said, “Ah, goddamn it Turris what are you thinking?” He’s just such a smart, dependable player. He makes skating fast look hilariously easy and is continually proving himself a clutch performer.
He is the hockey player version of how he got traded to the Sens and sneakily was like, “Oh, the number 7 is available? Lemme just lowkey put that on my back.”
Mike Bananajazz A To go from starting last season in the AHL to getting extended looks on the top line and putting up a career high in both goals and assists (a 13 point jump) qualifies as a pretty damn impressive season. While I am unabashedly a Ziba fan, I will admit every time I heard Bryan Murray say that he saw Zibanejad’s ceiling as a first line centre, I had my doubts. Personally, I saw him topping out as a Mike Fisher type of rugged, dependable pivot who can put up around 40 to 50 points.
This season, especially when Dave Cameron took over, I felt I started to see the kind of top line potential in him Murray was talking about. Watching homeboy strong arm his way past defenders or shrug someone off his back who probably weighs 200lbs is pretty exciting considering this kid just turned 22 last month. Yes, he is younger than Mark Stone and JGP and aleady has 200 games and 3 playoff series under his belt.
The aspiring young Dubstep artist finished the year with a solid 20 goals and 46 points but what’s most exciting is I think he can do much, much better than that.
David Wandleg D+ I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, how this guy put up 51 points JUST LAST YEAR is a complete mystery to me. I want to see what that even looks like. Can someone please put together a supercut of that? Talk about a tease. When Leggz was signed as an FA I figured he would mentor Zibanejad while he continued to develop. What we got was 4th line centre who consistently makes the safe play. Which, hey, is fair…but you know who else was kind of that? Zenon Konopka who you can pay in Sub Club stamps.
Also, I remember hearing he was “fast.” Okay. Did my dude age considerably between May and October 2014? Thing is, I didn’t even think Legwand was particularly bad at his assignment. What is so disappointing is what his assignment ended up being. I guess I expected a lot more of someone with his career, paycheque, and hell, the numbers he had put up just one year earlier.
Jean Gabriel Pizza Hotline A What? You’re a 5 foot 8 call up and you beat Zack Smith out of the 3rd line centre job and I’m going to give you anything other than an A? That’s nothing against Zack Smith per se. I just think as far as most GMs seem to go, Z is basically the ideal candidate for 3rd line centre.  An agitator who plays with a physical edge and can get on the score sheet occasionally. Pageau is these things plus the team’s second best faceoff man, a frustratingly elusive skater and crack penalty killer. He was a key component of what might have been Ottawa’s best line through much of the 2nd half and playoffs. As Curtis Lazar gets more comfortable playing in the NHL, I expect Pageau’s production to make a decent jump. Should Erik Condra have to leave this summer, I expect JGP to become heir to King Condra’s throne as “guy on the PK you trust the buhjezuz out of with the puck.” Easily one of my favourite players on the team at this point.
Courteous Lazar B First, a round of applause to our fan base for keeping their cool and staying patient with Lazar as he had some ups and downs dealing with the massive learning curve of making the NHL straight from junior as a teen. He’s not the generational talent that most guys who make that kind of jump are so, I was proud to see everyone ready to accept some baby steps. A little more courteousness over killer instinct in the first half of the season but nothing to be concerned about. After the WJCs, Lazar noticeably had more confidence and played a very solid second half. The points are a bit quiet but not abnormal for a rookie with upside. Consider future Hart/Scoring title winner Corey Perry had a modest 25 points his first season. Not to compare them beyond that but some awesome players spend their first year just taking it in. What Lazar’s ceiling is, to me, is not of much concern at this point. Ima let him just cook. If the club’s most inexperienced player captained his junior team to a WHL championship and Memorial Cup as well as Canada to a gold medal (on home ice no less)…all in the last calendar year? Yeah, I think it’s safe to feel good about this kid’s ability to handle pressure and grow.
Zmith D- I’d imagine it was a very frustrating year for the Smith Treat (?). I don’t want to get this twisted that I’m dogging on a guy for missing nearly half the season with a very gross sounding injury. That kind of thing can’t be helped.
No, what’s really rough for Smith is that it became quite clear that he lost his place on the team this year. He was supposed to spend time on the wing and put up bigger numbers. He struggled mightily at that. His game isn’t about points per se but homie has shown the ability to put up 13 or 14 goals in the past. You cant be putting up the same sat line as Chris Philips (3 ponts!) in basically the same amount of games (37 to Phillie’s 36). Greening gunna get bought out for just 2 fewer points than that, girl!
The quintessential mythic “Bryan Murray type player” with his size and toughness, as I already mentioned, was beat out cleanly by the diminutive JGP. What’s worse, even Legwand, unspectacular as he was, held down the 4th line centre slot instead of Smith. He also got bounced in the playoffs for Neil, who up to that point wasn’t given the time of day by Dave Cameron.
Simply put, life came at this guy fast this year. I still think he’s a very useful player who’s a bit of a coach’s dream and has a very reasonable contract. And because of that I believe that he be used to sweeten a trade package in the off season. It happens.
Mark Stone A+++ Just a little taste of how when you write about hockey stuff, shit can change on a dime. A reading from Stoner’s player bio on TSN.ca: “Could use more work on his skating and play without the puck.” I feel you. You don’t top the league in takeaways as a rookie without making a couple of enemies.
K, enough nitpicking. Let’s get to the good stuff:
Mark Stone is what I’ve been waiting to happen to the Sens in the time since Erik Karlsson emerged. A super talent that pretty unexpectedly pulls away from the rest of the prospects. Before someone hits me with the #ACTUALLY about EK being a 1st round pick, remember his initial ceiling was possibly to be a “Brian Rafalsky type” Respect due to BR’s Cup winning ass but EK ended up more of a workaday “Up for his 2nd Norris trophy in 4 years and team captain at age 24” type. I think, like Karlsson, among Sens fans we were pretty confident Stone would eventually find a place on the team but a season like this? And so soon? Wow.
I could really drone on with what you already know about what an amazing year he had but I think it can best be summed up this way: When he was injured in game 1 of the playoffs, it hurt the Sens chances of winning the series significantly. The guy was healthy scratched at the beginning of the season BTFingW. At the risk of sounding over the top, if Stone’s game reminds me of another Sens player it’s Alfie. Those feelings were strengthened when his wrist was fractured and he still managed to put up 4 assists in 6 games. Like #11, even with the chips stacked heavily against him, he adjusted his play and just found a way to get it done.
Bobbito Ryan B This is a bit of a tough one. Bobby’s year reminds me of Craig Anderson’s last season. Obvious struggles that came at parts of the season where they would be most noticeable/memorable. But also, like Anderson in January of ’14, Bobby carried the fucking team at some points. Namely the Western road trip that helped kick off Ottawa’s playoff run.
His season was much like his playoffs. The story is that he was ice cold and sure he had a couple of weak games where he was in his head, but upon closer inspection he scored 2 goals in a big Ottawa win and played some pretty strong games in that series as well. If not for the outstanding play of Stone, Hoffman and Zibanejad during Ryan’s cold streak, this off season could have been one where much of the good he did would be completely overshadowed a bad stretch. With Ryan here for the long haul I am looking at this one big picture. In his two seasons here so far, he has yet to hit the 30 goal mark he routinely did while playing with the Ducks (actual team name). That’s too bad but watching him game in and game out I think Ryan might emerge as more of a playmaker and not just a sniper on this team. I guess what I’m saying is, it’s okay with me if he doesn’t put up 30 goals as long as he’s making his line better. Despite the cold snap, this was his most productive season since 2011-12. When he couldn’t find the back of the net I found he would routinely get on goalies doorstep. Even if he’s not scoring, goalies still have to respect him when he is in position to tap it in. I think this helped free up his linemates.
I also definitely appreciate how much he’s emerging as a leader on the team as we enter the next chapter of the franchise. I expect more next year mostly because I know he can provide more.
Alex Chiasson C (u l8r) The human Participation ribbon. What really can be said about Alex Chiasson’s season at this point? No, seriously, lil help here, it’s very hard to think of anything to say about this guy. There is understandable disappointment with him on the Sensphere given that he was the centrepiece of the Jason Spezza trade.
If this is your view, take my advice: Look at the removal Jason Spezza’s hefty salary and the pressure to resign him as the REAL centrepiece of that trade.
Look, as fans, we have a propensity to slot players into two categories: Goats and Golden Boys. Sure Chiasson is a goat but at the end of the day, it’s tough to sit here and say a guy who put up 11 goals and 26 points (more than fan favourites JGP and Condra) while spending much of the season on the 4th line a “failure.”  He was fine. I was hoping he would at least CHALLENGE the far less experienced Stone for a top six spot on the right side. At no point was that even a conversation.
In conclusion, I don’t hate the guy and at just 24 I could see room for him to grow still but if one RFA wasn’t extended, you’d be hard pressed to make an argument for anyone over him.
Erik Condra A Trying to think if there’s ever been a guy in Sens history who had a job as boring as penalty killer and also had as much trouble finishing a breakaway/in general as Condra who was more of a fan favourite. Im thinking maybe Antoine Vermette…but he had LADIES tho.
Regardless, there’s nobody on the team, aside from Karlsson, who I trust more with the puck than Condra. Just super smart and great at what he does. It will be a shame if he goes but every team seems to have to make these tough decisions once in a while in the cap world. The reality of budget indicates that despite getting paid relatively little by NHL standards, Condra might have to be sacrificed to move toward the future and retain young RFAs.
If he does go, I could not be happier that he went out like a boss making Carey Price his step-nephew on a beautiful goal in all alone. Look for Ottawa to have a significantly weaker penalty kill next year should they be without him.
Chris Neil C- Oh boy, here we go. K, this is going to sound a little over the top but I straight up think it was a pretty huge moment in the history of the franchise that after being given a clean bill of health Neiler was scratched for an extended period of time as the team went on their unprecedented march to a Wildcard spot.
In his 12 years in the capital, even on far better iterations of the team, the idea of a coach saying, “nah, we good” to Neil’s services is jaw dropping. The biggest part of it was that it was the right call to sit him. I highly doubt having him there to “keep the other team honest” was on many people’s minds during that final stretch of the season. Winning is winning and they did a lot of it while Neil, an Assistant Captain, had to watch from the press box.
I think he did an admirable job when he was plugged into the high intensity play of the post-season for two games after missing months. At his age that could not have been easy.
Bryan Murray indicated at the end of the season that some veteran players want to be moved. Much speculation is that the person is David Legwand and it probably is. But if I’m Neil and I’ve been with the team for 12 years and wear a letter and get sat for weeks on end because the team is doing so well without me? I might be wanting to head where my services are more in demand.
Mike Hoffman A You know Mark Stone is fuckin’ up the rookie game for everyone when you lead the entire team with 27 goals in your first full season and you’re not the breakout story of your team. Don’t even get me started on this Hammurderer guy. Talk about bad timing poor Hoff wasn’t even the second biggest breakout story on the Sens.
I will be very interested in his extension this summer as I find Hoffman’s regularly labelled as a guy who might have peaked but uh… it’s not like the Sens can’t use this guy’s kind of speed and scoring touch going forward. He spent a bit of time on the 4th line in the playoffs where one false move can cost a coach his job. That obviously shows he still needs to round out his game and asdsdkfjakdjfhsgrgg. Honestly, who DOESNT need to round out their game in this work a day world? (See below for answer).
Hoffman was eventually returned to the top 6 where he scored the most important goal of the series against the Habs.
Confession: I wasn’t completely sold on the guy at the beginning of the season and was concerned he was a little overhyped by fans and media. With 26 of his biscuits coming at even strength I will admit I was totally wrong. I feel like he could score 7 less next year and I wouldn’t sweat it. You cant have enough 20+ goal scorers who can skate like the wind.
Clarke MacArthur A- Even perfect hockey players go on dry streaks. Grizz had a pretty rough one this year. He suffered a scary head injury too. But you know how MacArthur-types respond to adversity like that? They come back like bosses that none of that shit happened to and help get the goddamn squad into the playoffs.
Additionally I thought he was a beast in the playoffs especially in games when no one else was. I was tempted to give him a B+ but as the only spark in a couple of those rough ass early playoff games against the Habs I gotta bump the boy up. Confident he will return to his normal self on October.
Milan Michalek B Poor Milo, he’s the kind of dude who can do something amazing like put up 35 goals (equal to B Ryan’s career high) and still have fans be all “Doze Spezza passes tho.”
Milo’s super underappreciated I find. This year was no exception. Blessed is the guy who you can plug into the top six one game and put him on the 4th line to kill penalties the next and receive quietly solid performance from each and no complaints from him on what is frankly a pretty harsh demotion. All you hear about Milo from players and staff is how he is a “good pro” and you know what? I believe it. Before he went down with a concussion, Michalek was absolutely flying for a good stretch of the season and when the Sens really needed it too. He’s the kind of player who would be totally reasonable at $4M per on other teams…but ours is broke so you know how that go. Would love to see a him hit the 40+ bracket in points but considering how good he is defensively having him around a point every other game is fine to me.
Matt Puempel Σ Great to see the kid get a couple goals in what ended up being a pretty short call up. What the end of season numbers don’t tell you is how close some of his scoring chances were. He showed in a short time he can be a pretty dangerous presence and i think think the team noticed that. A bounce here or an inch or two there and Pumps (sorry) might have had 4 or 5 goals.
I was super bummed out that just as seemed to get more comfortable his season ended with a high ankle sprain. It’s an injury I’ve had myself and know how frustratingly long the healing and rehabbing process is. Luckily, he’s got a great strength and conditioning staff looking after him unlike I did (thanks Obama).
Shane Prince µ Heyyyy speaking of “Thanks Obama” good to see my favourite right wing left winger Princey finally get a cup of coffee as he has been toiling away in Binghamton and improving every year since 2011. I have no idea if Prince ever gets a legit shot but at 22, as Hoffman has shown, he’s still a good amount of road ahead to prove himself an NHLer.
I’m sure its tough to get only 2 games. One was strong the other not so great but getting a nice assist is a good first step.
Have a great summer. Hit the gym hard and don’t get too distracted campaigning for Ted Cruz! He got this.
College Greening God bless Got paid $2, 650, 000.00 to score an empty net goal where he didn’t even shoot the puck on the play. Greening finished the year with the distinction of all time franchise leader in Cost Per Point. His salary increases next year and again the year after. Thanks for reading.

One thought on “2014-2015 Retort Cards: Forwards

  1. Pingback: Re:Bort Cards: Goalers |

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