The Verdict Part 1: Forwards


With the Ottawa Senators’ 2015-16 season now over, one question looms heavily above all:
What does JAMES have to say about this shit?

Well, I thought I’d never ask! I been reading and hearing a lot of comments from the organization and on the Sensphere that the organization needs to make big changes. While I tend to agree with this sentiment two immediate questions arise:

1. What does that mean in terms of who should actually be moved? 

2. Shouldn’t all personnel decisions go through me first?

Let’s go on a psychedelic rock ride™ examining the Sens org top to bottom and see what I think should be done! Keep or Get RID. We can compare at the beginning of next season. Shower me with compliments if I’m right, allow me to redact if I’m wrong!  

Over the next few days Ima travel these choppy garbage seas in a three legged journey: 1. Forwards 2. Defense and Goaltenders 3. Coaches, Management and Ownership

I will arrive at an ultimate  inconsequential  VERDICT for each. 

Today, a focus on forwards: 

Mark Stone Blessed is the player who puts up 61 points in a streaky year. What’s his ceiling if he has a super consistent season? 80+? For real, remember how Stone was absolutely ice cold for a good stretch before the All Star break? He had a classic spotty sophomore season with twist: He led all Sens forwards in points. Just one of those types of players who make it easy to think that they will be better with each passing year.
Lowkey, I think he will be the franchise’s next Daniel Alfredsson. Yeah, I said that. Fight me.

Verdict: Basically an untouchable IMO. Keep. Hard Keep.

Mike Hoffman I learned a lot about Mike Hoffman this season. As an overage rookie, I think Hoffy pulled the rug out from fans and management alike with his 26 goal campaign. This season watching him as a 26 year old sophomore, I, like many others, concluded he is the most talented pure goal scorer on the team. I also concluded that he is the most defensively inept top 6 forward on the team–WAIT! PUT AWAY YOUR TORCHES AND PITCHFORKS! I’m just saying, if you don’t see some of his bruuutal moments particularly in the neutral zone you need to REGARDÉ LES JEUX.
Noooowww, here’s the other thing: I don’t care that much that he’s not great defensively. You know who wasn’t great defensively? Jason Spezza. When he was here I felt like his points made up for his shortcomings. I think the same of Hoffman. At a time when goal scoring is at a premium this guy can score goals. It’s okay that it’s the main thing that he does. Maybe the firing of Dave Cameron helps his chances of re-signing here?

Verdict: Try…to keep him? I really don’t want to watch a team made up entirely of responsible two way forwards.

Bobby Ryan D’ohhhhhhhhh jeeeeeezuzz…This is the one I was looking forward to writing the least (thx 4 reading!). We are complicated beings and the world’s a fucking complicated place. Bobby Ryan is no exception. With immense pressure to re-sign him after trading for him Bryan Murray actually backed the money truck up for once to make it happen. Now the reality of that deal is kicking in. He’s signed to 2022. But I suppose this is an assessment of his season and here’s the thing about that:
Bobby Ryan is doing his job.
He put up his highest point total as a Senator and did so playing more than half the season with a broken finger. He got quiet again down the stretch but also Cameron was playing him with Scott “The 1 point wonder” Gomez regularly, so you gotta hear both sides. Put simply, he hasn’t hit the mark a lot of fans want to see from him but he’s had pretty viable excuses along the way. I think there’s a growing concern that there will be an another excuse asterisk next year instead of a breakout. Despite all the noise he’s trended upward in games played and points produced each year since coming here.

Verdict: He’s not the team leader in points but that doesn’t mean I think the team is better without him. Keep.

Mika Zibanejad I read a comment on the ‘net from a fan who said that they’d seen enough of old hickory ham Bananajazz. Further, that he was “done” here in the capital. I guess you don’t put up 20 goals and 51 points at age 22 without making a few enemies. Just a FUEGO take from a fan but I think it’s indicative of a larger attitude toward him.
A tagline often given Ziba is that he always“leaves u wantin’ more™” AKA A SECOND LINE CENTRE. Also a bit of an odd thing to say about a player who’s increased his point totals every season.
I just can’t help but think back to hearing / thinking similar things about Mike Fisher back in the day. Then you look back and realize he was a perfectly cromulent 2nd line center. Yet Fish was coveted enough to net Ottawa a 1st round pick when he was traded. Now, consider Fisher’s best season in Ottawa was a 53 point campaign in 2009-10 when he was 10 seasons into his career. Zibanejad just posted up two points short of that at age 22. Fisher didn’t even hit 50 on any of the Sens high flying squads of the mid-2000s. I think it’s funny to re-evaluate Mika this way considering scoring is down league-wide and he’s playing for a bottom 10 team and is only in his early 20s.

Verdict: If the Sens are to keep developing talent as a major means of improving the team on the cheap going forward, I say, yeah, continue to develop this talented, 22 year old top 6 player. Ah doi.

JP Gageau Pros: Habs killer, NHL fucking leader in shorthanded goals, and can apparently fill in as top line centre in a pinch. Scored 19 goals and 43 points for a price tag of 900K. I wish they just gave JGP an 8 year deal when it was time to re-sign him.

Cons: LOCAL BOY WHO GETS HANDED EVERYTHING! Just kidding. I love how that local player bias only applies when the player is bad. But seriously folks…

Actual Cons: None.

Verdict: One of my favourite players on the team. Keep him, renegotiate his contract for 8 years.

Zack Smith Has a guy ever taken so much shit for having an outstanding year as Zack Smith? Milan Michalek 35 goal year maybe? Smith is a super interesting player to watch going forward as goal scoring-wise he either has a solid year or a shite year. This year was V solid. Bro came back from a disgusting injury and improved his goal total by 23. Even cynics should take their hat off to that.
Sure, I’m worried about his next contract being too rich but like Hoffman before him, let’s see if he can do it again.  If he can’t, a tough, solid ass bottom six guy on an expiring deal is catnip for GMs. Either that or will probably re-sign for a reasonable price. I got no issue with Zmith.

Verdict: I don’t know understand why people hate on this player. Keep ‘eem.

Kyle Turris In MacArthur’s absence, filled in admirably with the role of “Perfect Hockey Player.” My one beef with Turris, probably the first I’ve ever had with him since he started playing here, is that I wish he just sat out immediately after getting hurt. Not that there’s any ill will but he went from being one of the hottest players in the league to just getting by after getting his ankle bent in a way not in accordance with God’s Plan. Don’t be a hero, Turry! Sincerely hopes he makes a full recovery in time for training camp next season. High ankle sprains can be, in the immortal words of JCVD, a “sont of a binch.”

Verdict: Like Pageau, I just wish he was signed for 8 years. Remember when that contract was a huge risk? LOLz.

Curtis Lazar There’s nothing to dislike about Curtis Lazar. He’s very likable. He plays a responsible if quiet game.
The problem is I think the Sens might have too many Curtis Lazars at this point. He’s only but 11 and a half years young but I sometimes wonder, what will Curtis grow up to do that JG Pageau doesn’t, that Zack Smith doesn’t, that Nick Paul won’t …that Colin White…won’t. The Sens BEEN had responsible two way centres. If the team’s going to make changes and a team thinks that he could fill a key role for them I’d be okay with it.

Verdict: Could be time to thin the herd down the middle and if Lazar could net the best return because of his pedigree, so be it.

Alex Chiasson This guyyyyyy. Not since Jaisson Spezza has a Sens player had a tougher time cultivating goodwill with fans than this dude.
I thought it was perfect/troubling that he turned up the intensity of his play after he wasn’t be moved at the deadline and the Sens were more or less eliminated from the playoffs. You know, when the pressure was completely off. What really bugs me is that I do feel like Chiasson has another gear to his play that I saw him hit like 2 times over the entire course of his time in Ottawa.

Verdict: Straight up, Jim Nill hustled The Bryan on this one. He’s not really a make or break type guy to begin with but you can’t really win with this type of player. Experiment over. Find someone hungrier. Get RID.

Chris Neil Musings: For all the calls for a complete culture change in Ottawa funny how a guy like Chris Neil, whose whole strength as a player at this point is his connection to team culture manages to avoid being a part of that discussion. Phaneuf was praised for filling a gaping hole in veteran leadership. What does this say about Chris Neil? Sure, MacArthur was missing but Neil has played for Ottawa for 15 years now. He’s all time franchise leader in fighting teammates in practice…which is apparently good and not very, very bad.
Anyway, following a few years of him driving me absolutely bananas I let Neiler cook this season as he was pretty quiet for the most part. If I don’t really notice him in-game, I can handle him. Guy still can’t carry the puck over the blue line 9 times out of 10…and the ONE time he does it’s getting dumped in  (read: turned over to the other team) the second he enters the zone. Hey, here I am NOT letting son cook, oops! One more year, get your thousand games and ride off into sunset.

Verdict: Whatever, fuck.

Scott G.O.A.T.mez I saw a person (allegedly) comment that signing Scott Gomez was one of Bryan Murray’s worst moves of the season. Family, we had JG Pageau as no.1 centre for a stretch of the year lining up against up against the likes of Crosbex or Getzloaf (no disrespect to JGP). I can wrap my head around why a cheap guy with NHL experience and two Cup rings was signed for a song to bolster the line up. Problem: He stunk and his one assist showed why a guy with two Cup rings was available for a song. Enjoy break out passes from David Rundblad in Zurich.


Ryan Dzingel Basically why I wasn’t too busted up about not giving Erik Condra a contract extension. Nothing against Condra, I really liked him as a player, but for a budget conscious team I figured we could find someone who could offer similar services for cheaper. A player that always impressed me at dev camp, he  finally got a serious look at the top level and seems pretty capable in his role. Will not be heartbroken when we look for a cheaper replacement for him in that made up guy Macoy Earglompz or whoever in two years.

Verdict: Keeper

Max McCormick A Binghamton fan favourite who both looks like and shares a name with their mascot, Max. The biggest question surrounding McCormick is this: Is he the NHL’s first player of plush manimal descent? I am so fucking high right now.
A lot is made out of useless facepunchers with a heart of gold getting called up ahead of skilled players but one thing I can’t ignore is that McCormick put up around the same amount of goals as Shane Prince, Matt Puempel and Nick Paul and in fewer games. Not calling Max a skill player so much as I’m saying the higher pedigree guys are putting up Max McCormick numbers. The higher he pushes himself up the depth chart the more of an indication that higher skilled prospects aren’t showcasing themeselves well enough IMO. Can’t knock the hustle tho.

: Seems to make Binghamton fans happy and their happiness makes me happy. Keep him.
Nick Paul A pleasant surprise this season. I didn’t think we’d see him in Ottawa for at least another year. He had a slow start in Binghamton and we all fronted. I found once in the NHL he made his presence known more than players way ahead of him in the depth chart like Shane Prince and Matt Puempel.
Agree with me or not, I just noticed this guy contributing more. Might be one of those players who’s game is actually more suited to the NHL but don’t get it twisted I would not be opposed to him getting more time to grow in Bingo. After all, the team is 80% two way centres at this point.

Verdict: Keep him.

Dade Brzyntski Ahh, the call up that just won’t go away. I predicted the end of the Dziurzynski call up era at the beginning of the season. Wrong again!

Just like McCormick, for the talk of organization favoring braun over skill, the boy Dizzy put up around the same amount of points  as Matt Puempel and Nick Paul in nearly half the games and with less ice time. Again, an indictment of the production of the higher pedigree prospects, putting up those Dizzy numbers while getting more opportunity.

Verdict: Homie’s numbers are lacklustre even in the AHL. Get RID

Buddy Robinson The OTHER Dave Dziurzynski!

Verdict: You can’t teach depth.

Matt Puempel Ended the season with a goal in the last game allowing him to juuuuust edge out the veteran Craig Anderson in total points by one so… he’s developing nicely.
Interesting how there seems to be oceans of patience for Puempitty Pump Pump (sorry) and yet some seem at their wits end with younger, far more productive Zibanejad. Not saying that impatience should be directed at Puempel or something but I can’t help but find it concerning how quiet he’s been the past couple of seasons during his call ups. I’ve noticed Dzingel more, I’ve noticed Nick Paul more. He’s been more Scott Gomez than Mark Stone.

Verdict: Having traded away Noesen, Silfverberg, Shane Prince and with the looming possibility of Hoffman getting moved (for some fucking reason) the Sens can hardly afford to cut bait with Puempel at this point. Still has the potential to show what he can do. Keep.

Clarke MacArthur

Tune in tomorrow (OR WHENEV) for Part Two: Defense and Goaltenders!


3 thoughts on “The Verdict Part 1: Forwards

  1. Pingback: The Verdict Part 4: The Real Problem |

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