The Verdict Part 2: Defenders and Goaltenders

Verdict

Today we carry on our jerky journey of inconsequential judgement. Who’s on the docket? Oh, gooood defensemen and goaltenders. This should be quick and easy. Who should stay and who should go? 

Erik Karlsson Well, you know, best player in franchise history at age 25. In a perfect world he would be a lock for his third, second consecutive Norris trophy.

Verdict: APPARENTLY NO ONE IS SAFE but I suppose keep.

Dion Phaneuf Hi, Dion Phaneuf plays for the Ottawa Senators.

Not since Rocky Balboa’s historic “We can all change” speech that ended Communism have I had to checkitty check the shit out of my feels about anything.
After hating him for years, two games into his time here it was clear to me that Dion was exactly the type of player the Senators needed. I fast realized many of the reasons I couldn’t stand him are exactly why I now love him. The biggest problem with the trade? He was acquired a little too late into the season to help turn things around. Back in September of 2015 if you asked me what the thing I’d be most pumped about going into the 2016-17 season was, I’d have definitely responded “A full season of Dion Phaneuf.” Why? Because history is written by the Victors and I am known as Victor on several prominent dating sites.

My biggest concern with Phaneuf is that his leadershipocity could spill over into “taking over the locker room” territory. After watching that 30 for 30 about Shaq and Penny Hardaway on the mid-90s Orlando Magic, I am suddenly VERY sensitive to keeping your best player happy, rich and thinking he is the undisputed leader of the team, full stop.
I suppose whether an overbearing team takeover happens or not comes down to what kind of a person and teammate Dion is. Considering I’ve only thought of him as a piece of shit from Oct. 5th, 2005 though Feb. 9th, 2016, your guess is as good as mine.

Verdict: Living in the now and not 4 years from now. Very excited about going into next season with him. Keeper.

Cody Ceci We wanted a young team and we got one. With youth comes inconsistency. Ceci is pretty representative of that inconsistency but I honestly believe in him. I think he’s the Mika Zibanejad of defense. Is he a superstar? No, but what he is is a very young kid learning to play an important and difficult role with a tiny margin of error. After struggling with a rotating cast of defence partners, Ceci was a new player when Dion Phaneuf was brought in to stabilize him. He even played with a noticeable confidence without Phaneuf after he went down with a foot injury. Ceci quietly finished 2nd in scoring among defensemen with an impressive 10 goals and 26 points. He’s 22 years old.

Verdict: I believe Ceci will develop into everything Patrick Wiercioch was hyped up to be. Keep.

Chris Wideman Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan this guy switch contracts with Mark Borowiecki? Wideman was not a player I initially had tons of faith would electric slide into the NHL smoothly. Sure he won AHL defenseman of the year…but look up some of the other winners of that award. It’s a mixed bag.

Happily, Wideman has worked out quite nicely in his role. Is his game perfect? No, but that’s why he’s a 3rd paring defenseman and that’s okay. I think he could thrive even more if he had a bit of a better partner to work with.

Verdict: Great deal for what you get. Keep

Marc Methot Kind of a quiet year for Methot…I guess that’s good? Solid player on a good deal with both the wheels to keep up with Karlsson and the acumen to hold him down while EK hits us with The Art. Injuries are becoming more and more of a concern for the 30 year old who has never played a full 82 game season in his 9 season career. Also, from time to time, I worry about his [ALLEGED] Vengaboy lifestyle catching up with him.

Methot also stands to benefit greatly from the Phaneuf trade going forward as he is no longer the sole capable, big minute shut down defender on the team. Put simply: We are no longer proper fucked if Methot goes down with an injury.
Meth put up his second highest scoring total this year with 5 goals, none of which I remember. Could he be upgraded over? Yes. Will he be? Nah but he’s fine. I do kind of hope a replacement emerges for him in the next couple of seasons.

Verdict: Keep but gotta come up with a contingency plan pretty soon.

Patrick Wiercioch If you follow my Twinder account, you already know that I don’t have any love left in my heart for Patty W nor his Patty Wagon full of almost inexplicable die hard defenders.

I know, I know, why don’t I cut the most disappointing player on the roster some more slack! In a world where we’re disappointed in Ceci for his 26 point season then YEAH, Ima stay mad at Wiercioch for putting up 5.

Offensive dynamo Ben Harpur put up one point in 5 games. How you gunna tell me PW didn’t hit 10 points BY ACCIDENT in 52? Patty was the most frustrating player on the team this year not because I hate him but because I believed in him. Believed the hype more accurately. At least we knew Jared Cowen sucked from the get-go.

Anyway, I am a fan who’s willing to accept shortcomings in exchange for offence (See: Kaufman, Mike) but if you’re not a great defender and you don’t put up points what are you? A guy who can ONLY pass? I’m sorry but that’s not going to cut it in the NHL. Just ask only good at passing, former NHL player Scott Gomez. You seem like a good dude but you blew it, Patty.  After a 5 point season, an injury and a 2.7 million dollar qualifying price, homie seems bound for Europe. I truly hope he can turn it around, just not here.

Verdict: Get rid.

Mark Borowiecki Oh goooooooooooooooood finally an opinion on Mark Borowiecki. K, the biggest trick the devil [Dave Cameron] played on the world was making this no.7 defenseman a 6th…and OCCASIONAL FORWARD?! Borowiecki should basically be a non-factor on this team like Chris Neil. You know, a tough but not offensively blessed NHLer who at the amount ice time they are [ideally] allotted, shouldn’t really be a player who wins or loses games. What’s fucked is that the coach on numerous occasions put him in a position where he had to carry out a tougher assignment than he should have. It’s not Boro’s fault that he was paired with Karlsson on the top pair or that he was played at forward [More. Than. Once.]. I just hope the Sens get a coach who says, “Wow, this guy works extremely hard and sets a great example. He will be first off the healthy scratch list when one of the better defenders is sick or injured.”

Tip: Set him up to succeed by playing him less.

Finished ahead of Patrick Wiercioch in goals scored btw. These are the facts of the case and they are undisputed.

Verdict: I’m tempted to say we are totally stuck with this guy but now that management and coaching is changing hands, I’ll be interested to see if he’s still the Golden Child next season. If Greening can be sent to Bingo at 2.65 million I could see Boro getting the heave-ho at 1.1. Should be downgraded to depth regardless. Would count him being demoted to the AHL as getting rid.

Ben Harpur I don’t know, shout out? No, for real, even though he’s just 21 the kid had kind of already became an afterthought for me once I heard he got demoted to Evansville of the ECHL early in the year. A rash of injuries to the big club certainly helped things out but you have to respect him working his way up from the ECHL to a cup of coffee in the NHL in just one season. Even one NHL game is something a lot of very talented hockey players never get to experience.

Verdict: LOL like we can give up any semblance of defensive prospect depth. Keep.

Mike Kostko Michael was a pleasant student to teach. Good luck in future endeavours. I respect him but let him go, he’ll find work somewhere.

Verdict: Get rid

Freddie Claesson I think I was one of the few people  luke warm on FC when he got called up to a struggling, injury riddled D corps . Nothing against Yung Claess per se, I was just skeptical of a young shutdown down defender with zero NHL experience saving a team who was dead last in shot suppression.

I set my expectations pretty low and his inconsistent play was in line with those expectations. Some games he looked like a guy playing in the NHL for the first time and other games you could see him getting more comfortable. Diagnosis: Prospect!

A restricted free agent, there are rumours that he has AL-LEG-ED-LY been tendered an offer to play in the Swedish league. I don’t know if that’s true but if he elects to play there at 23 after only 16 NHL games I think that really says something about his drive at this point.

Verdict: Stay or go. Up to him, I suppose.

Greg Anderton Andy once again kept the Sens in more games than he should have had to. Did he have some rough ones? Well, when you start three quarters of the season for the team who is 30th for shots against you know IT HAPPENS.

Honestly, all things considered, his 31-23-2 record is pretty remarkable. He’s put up two of his 3 winningest seasons here. One of them was this year. The Sens finished in 19th. Brazy. Could you imagine the defence started lightening his load? Oh you can’t at this point? Yeah, I know that feel.
He’s getting long in the tooth on paper but can obviously still handle a ton of games. I wish he wasn’t leaned on quite so hard but I’m convinced he can still play out his deal as a bona fide quality starter. It’s the team in front of him that needs to step up

Verdict: Keep

Andrew Hammond Ah, it feels normal to get back to my roots criticizing a back up goaltender for having a whatevs season. No one expected a repeat performance of his legendary run. I mean, dude was handed the 2nd regulation, regular season loss of his CAREER this year. I didn’t expect a Vezina from him this season but a winning record was something I did.
He got off to a rough start suffering an injury just as the season began. Never a great position to be in. Still, Hammond was shaky enough that I suspect Cameron was reluctant to play him at times especially during the first half of the season. I could be wrong but I found Anderson was overplayed a little and I believe Hammond’s slow start had to do with it. He was also in net for a few of those CLASSIC blowing a huge lead games. Not entirely his fault but as a goalie you’re always going to be blamed for those type of losses. Hammond started looking like his solid self again toward the home stretch. Hopefully he goes into next year that way.

Verdict: *Looks at the Binghamton goalies’ records* OH wow, fuckiiiing Keeeeeep

Chris Dreidger Kind of brazy to think this guy is only 21. He’s been in the pro system for over 3 seasons already. Rocked a DEEC 0.00 GAA in the NHL this season. Seriously, by all accounts he really took the reins as starter in Bingo this year. Pretty impressive he squeaked out a winning record considering the season they had down there. His numbers could stand to be better but at his age he has tons of time to improve.

Verdict: Keep

Matt O’Connor Aight, so, got a rough trial by fire by being handed the home opener against a divisional rival for not only his first NHL start but first  PROFESSIONAL start. Sans pression. He was actually alright in that game but failed to get much offensive support.

In Bingo he had a concerrrrrrningly rough go. His brutal 10-20-3 record and 3.31 GAA make one think he might need time in ECHL to build up his play. I ain’t know nothing about goalie confidence building / destroying though. Until someone comes along to change my mind, I’m starting to think this whole “sought after US college player FA signing” thing might not be something to get overly excited about. Still, O’Connor turned his play around toward the end of the year. Like the case with defence, I don’t know what is gained by giving up on a prospect after one [very] bad season given the lack of depth in net. Probably the most disappointing Sens prospect this season.

Verdict: Keep. Give him another chance but …you know…yikes.

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