The Jail Phone: Real Talk About a Real G(M)

jail

Stringer: More like P.R. Dorion, feel me?                                    Avon: Not on the phone.

In which James and Luke burn all the topics they could have talked about individually from here to training camp. Hi, it’s still August. 

James:
Hi how’s your Sex Life? Oh. Let’s change the subject.
Since taking over as El Generalissimo just 5 months ago, Pierre Dorion has been a very busy human person. He did all of his things that he had on his To Do list and then some.  RELATABLE. Son really hit the ground running on an intimidating first few months on the job. Now that Pierre has done his part to set the table well in advance of training camp let us now do our job* and assholishly pick apart the major moves he’s made.

*LOLz

Clearing the decks of entire coaching staff, replacing them with The Guy Boucher Singers:

James:
And I mean the ENTIRE staff, my G. Even Binghamton’s Food and Beverage Coordinator.
Since Bryan Murray stepped down as coach following the 2007 season to focus on his duties as GM , the on-ice results have been not so premium pour les Senateurs.
The team has seen 5 coaches (6 if you count Murray’s second tour to finish out 2008) and one measly –but glorious AF- playoff round win. For my drachma, the decision on a new coach was the one with the most pressure facing the rookie general manager. Without having coached one game yet, who are we to pass judgement on – just kidding this is the Internet, serve up your scorching ass take on what you think of some of the coaching hires, Luke.

Luke: 
First of all, thank you for you concern regarding all aspects of my health. I appreciate it.

Secondly, let’s talk about the Binghamton Food and Beverage Coordinator for a minute. Have you SEEN this menu? $45 for a basket of fries? $11 (!!!) for a Mike’s Hard Lemonade? Did they start making Mike’s Hard out of unicorn tears? HOW YOU GONNA PUT A 22% SERVICE CHARGE ON A $70 VEGGIE AND DIP PLATTER, MY GUY? That is goddamn extortionate, and I, for one, applaud Dorion for putting an end to this highway robbery. #MakeBingoSkyboxesGreatAgain

Ok, now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s move onto the comparatively minor issue of The Entire Coaching Staff. Installing a new coaching staff is a no-brainer for any new GM who is looking to put their stamp (???) on a team. Add in the fact that Ottawa frequently looked like white hot garbage in it’s own zone and the fact Mark Borowiecki Once Played At Forward (A ghost story I will tell to my children), and it had to be done. What was more than a little curious to me was the fact that even goaltending coach Rick Walmsley was relieved of his duties. Ottawa’s goaltending development had frequently been praised by goaltenders other than Robin Lehner, so I wasn’t entirely sure why Dorion wanted to address an area that many considered a strength. On the other hand, Matt O’Connor didn’t exactly destroy the AHL last year, so maybe a new set of eyes and drills was warranted.
I’m glad you wrote me about this because I’ve been thinking a lot about coaching lately. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about the effect coaching can have on an individual player. We have more than a handful of examples where a coaching change has brought about noticeable differences in a player’s production and shot differentials. Just look at Sidney Crosby last year or Phil Kessel two years ago. Coaching and systems don’t really get talked about much in the context of player evaluation, but it’s clear there is some effect. This is very exciting to me because I think it’s possible that Guy Boucher is a Super-Genius.
I was in the tank pretty hard for Bruce Boudreau. His regular season success (the phrase “regular season” is contractually obligated to appear next to the word “success” when discussing Boudreau) with multiple teams over multiple seasons was pretty incontrovertible proof that the guy knows what he’s doing. That said, I really gotta give it up to Guy Boucher for nailing his interview and subsequent media appearances. Imagine you call this guy in from Switzerland and he gives you a three hour lecture and powerpoint presentation about your own hockey team. Who isn’t going to be impressed by that?
I also love the fact that Guy Boucher’s coaching philosophy seems to be “play to your strengths”. Steven Stamkos had a 60 goal season once, and Guy Boucher was his coach at the time. Let’s see what Super-Genius Guy Boucher can do with Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman. The powerplay and penalty kill can’t possibly be worse, so they’ll almost certainly be better right? Guy Boucher is gonna take us all the way, James!
My one extremely small, quite tiny concern is that Guy Boucher’s hockey teams seem to win right up until they don’t. Boucher made the Eastern Conference Finals in his first year as Tampa Bay’s head coach, missed the playoffs the next year, and then got fired 2/3rds of the way through the lockout season. In Switzerland, he coached SC Bern to a Swiss Cup in February and got fired in November. That aforementioned Stamkos 60 goal season happened during a year Tampa Bay didn’t even make the playoffs.
In more ways than one, Ottawa can’t afford to Bern (see what I did there?) through another head coach. I hope Boucher’s got the interpersonal skills to adjust to his team’s personality and to keep his approach fresh, and I hope his assistant coaches can compensate for whatever weakness he has in that area. Otherwise it’s likely Ottawa just hired Mike Keenan With Better Hair.

Still, if we’re grading #Process here, I gotta give Pierre Dorion a B+ for this one.

James:
The coaching staff still has a record of 0-0-0 so I give this a cautious A for A-ddressing (barf) the fact that the Sens haven’t had a head coach with NHL experience let alone NHL success in almost 10 years. He also got two coaches with NHL experience AND. I hope they can get along btw. For the hand wringing over losing Rick Wamsley and Luke Richardson, it sucks but goaltending nor the Bingo Sens did particularly well of late. These are Pierre’s people that’s for d_rn sure.

Moving forward…Did not qualify Patrice Wiercioch

James:
Can someone out there recommend me a good metric for measuring the degree to which a player completely fucking blew a contract year?
Ahh, the offensive defenseman and stats darling who SLIGHTLY underwhelmed in one statstical category: Points. Listen, my frustrations with Wiercioch are well documented. I’ll give it you straight like a pear cider made out of 100% pears: Like Peter Regin before him, you can choose to miss him because he had a couple of deec seasons and one good playoff round or you can just move on.

I am moving on because after his abysmal production relative to his role last season it would have been unacceptable for Dorion to agree his qualifying number. He let him walk and another team gave him the 800K he earned with his five points.

He’s not terrible but if you’re not a particularly tough stay at home defenseman you should probably put up some points. And by put up points I mean more goals than Mark Borowiecki (a total of zero to Boro’s one if you want to be a dick about it, which I do).
Can he bounce back and be DEEC for the Avalanche? Sure. But DEEC, nothing more. It’s okay to let go of DEEC players from time to time. Andre Benoit put up 28 points (better than PW’s career best) with the Avs the year after Ottawa let him go, no one cared. Anyway, in conclusion, after that season, I don’t really see what Wier would have brought to that 3rd pairing that Chris Wideman wont.

Luke: 

How is it August 24 in The Year of Our Lord 2016 and I’m still being forced to have Patrick Wiercioch takes? He had good shot differentials, but somehow was exceedingly average at both individual defense and individual offense creation. (Note in the second link: Wideman is second only to Erik Karlsson on the Sens in terms of his ability to create shots for himself and others.) Ask me what Patrick Wiercioch’s #FancyStats were and I’d tell you they were good. Ask me what he was good at, and I’d be unable to tell you. I’d have loved to keep him on the 3rd pairing, but some birds were not meant to be caged. Ultimately, if you’re not sure what a guy brings to the table, it’s tough to justify keeping him at the table at the cost of Whatever PW’s Qualifying Offer Was That I’ve Forgotten Because I’d Rather Remember Anything Else.

Speaking of which…

Trading Alex Chiasson for a Real Boy. A. REAL. BOY.

James:
Traded him for a real boy, Luke. I’ve heard this hockey jewel that if you’re a middling NHL player and you get traded fairly early in your career you will continue to be traded for the rest of it. I see that future for Chaser. Ideal hockey size, good at deflections, kind of invisible outside of that. Related: Welcome to the Sens family, Tom Pyatt!
Hard to have a problem with Dorion managing to trade a player on an expiring deal he wasn’t going to extend while addressing defensive depth with a player who has actually seen NHL ice and also freeing up roster space for the, at this stage, more promising Lazar. So what I’m saying is, trading Alex Chiasson is the kind of fuck up that will haunt Pierre Dorion for the rest of his career. But in all seriousness, look for Chiasson to score one (or two) of his 7 goals this season on Thursday January 26th when Ottawa hosts the Flames because FMFingL.

Luke: 
Getting anything back for Chiasson goes down as W in my books. For all of Alex Chiasson’s physical tools, I can’t think of a hockey player I’ve watched who did less with more. Maybe this is overly harsh, but Chiasson was an uninspiring beige force in the lineup last year and I look forward to his spot being replaced by someone who is actually going to try to do something with it.

Best of luck something something future endeavours etc., and you’ll see no ill will out of me if he goes on to be a highly productive member of someone else’s hockey team.
James: 

You’re firm but fair. Like a Yung Judge Mills Lane in his prime…of being a Daytime TV show judge.

Now let’s address one of the most controversial moves of the off-season that rocked the hockey world.

Signing Christ Kelly

James:
So, apparently the Sens needed a stabilizing veteran presence on the 4th line. So that, you know, reflects well on Chris Neil (973 GP). I don’t hate this signing. Who hates it? Who could haaaaaaaate it? I’ma cheer LOUDLY when he gets announced at the home opener. I was very sad when he got traded. I confess he was a real favorite of mine back in the day. *Looks wistfully at framed desk photo of JG Pageau* I guess I just have a thing for extremely competent bottom 6 centres. Still, I am a little edgy about my nostalgia and love for Kells obscuring the reality that he is coming back from a devastating broken femur bone (barrrf) injury. Returning at a more advanced age than others who’ve overcome it like Dany Heatley’s Nuermberg Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers teammate AND GOOD, BEAUTIFUL CARP, ONTARIO BOY AND EVERYTHINK LIKE THAT, Kurtis Foster. What if Kelly ain’t Kelly no mores and actually sucks and doesn’t improve the PK and makes that Legwandian heel turn and morphs into the slow old guy that we all blame for our life’s problems via sport? I don’t want to live in a world where I’m pissed at Chris Kelly every other night.

How do I REALLY feel about this Luke? Show me the way to Take Town. I’ll hang up my computer and listen.

Luke:
I guess the scariest thing about the Chris Kelly signing is the fact that it’s only good given assumptions we don’t know are true, assumptions like “Chris Kelly can still be a useful depth forward at age 35”. Hmm…I don’t know about that. Let’s try some positivity. Yes, Kelly suffered a devastating broken femur last year that required a 6-8 month recovery period, but at least he’s coming into camp well-rested? Hmmm…..this isn’t going too well.

Dorion’s made some moves this off-season that were calculated risks, but this feels like a case of playing it too safe. It feels like he just looked at the list of UFAs and said “Oh Chris Kelly, I remember him. Get me that guy’s agent on the phone.” when there were players like Sam Gagner or Jiri Hudler still available. On the other hand, you can’t beat that price point of $900,000 for one year.

I think the risk in this deal comes down to how good Chris Kelly needs to be to keep the bottom 6 average. If he’s frequently scratched, will the bottom 6 be ok, or do the Sens need him to come in and play like he did back when he was still wearing this jersey? I worry it’s the latter, which means there’s a lot riding on the steel plate in that dude’s leg.

Grade: C-. This is the Dorion move I’m least happy with.

James:
Chilling stuff, Jack that was like reading a Goosebumps…I mean…Go Sens Go! Plowing ahead to the next tiny little off season move…
Trading Mickey Banana Jazz and a 2nd for Derick (sic) Brassard
James: 

Oh, we gamblin’ now.

I gotta take my backward Kangol cap off to Dorion for doing all the shit that was required of him while not being boring or complacent about it. This is a move the likes of which we havent seen since Bryan Murray blockbusters such as Rundblad & a second for Turris or Lehner for Buffalo’s first round pick or The People vs. Silfverberg and Noesen plus a first round pick for Bobby Ryan. I digress.

I’ve spent many braincells I could have been killing with alcohol OR WHO KNOWS WHAT SPICE defending Zibanajad, his ceiling and his only 22 years oldness. Now he’s gone for a statistically comparable but older dude AND GOOD, BEAUTIFUL HULL, KWABECK BOY AND EVERYTHINK LIKE THAT Derick Brassard.

Truly our new Team Overlord’s boldest move thus far. It’s definitely a factory-wrapped “you gotta give to get” trade. I hated it at first because I’ve grown quite attached to Ziba over the years. So much development invested plus we had to endure a very, very shitty season in order to pick him at no.6 overall in 2011. The more I think about it though the more I see the strategy. Much like a skilled right hand shot defender, to have a well balanced team you can’t ice a line up without a skilled left handed centre. What’s that? Oh, we did that last year. How did the power play finish? *THINKING EMOJI*
Zibanejad is awesome but the thing I’ve had to keep reminding myself is that we didn’t trade him for Corey Conacher or some shit. Brassard was the Rangers leading scorer last year. Scoring is not even his forte, more of a play maker apparently so…blessed is the play making 27 goal scorer?

I think he’s likely going to be a better fit for the team and Ottawa was never going to get a lefty centre of Brassard’s quality on the free agent market. His contract is also great and not overly long. Added bonus: should the Sens make the playoffs in their GARBAGE division, you have to love Brassards rich creamery post-season numbers.
The fact that the Sens have drafted burly, two way centremen in the first round of the past 3 drafts provides a bit a hint of the next phase to this plan. Still a gamble as all trades are but I get it and I’m frankly lowkey excited about it. If we end up liking him half as much as Rangers fans seem to, it should make it easier to forget about Mika. Oh, speaking of whom, look for Mika Zibanejad to score a natural hat trick in under 2 minutes when Ottawa hosts the New York Rangers on Saturday April 8th on HNIC because FMFingL.

Luke:
Most of the moves Dorion’s made so far had a degree of difficulty of about 0.2. You don’t have to be the sort of next level GM who can see through The Matrix to realize you should get rid of under-performing personnel and re-sign the players who are good. The Zibanejad trade though…the Zibanejad trade took some real GM-ing to pull off. Faced with a looming contract crunch on several RFAs, Dorion had to assess that centre was an area of strength for the team in the long-term, and then persuade another team to give up their leading scorer in exchange for an Ottawa prospect who is gonna make more money on his next contract. All this to get the legendary centre for Bobby Ryan. I really hope this handedness angle pans out, and if the extent to which Mats Zuccarello benefited from playing on Brassard’s right wing is any indication, I think it will.

I said pretty much everything else I had to say about the trade here.
This trade gets an F in my heart and a B+ in my head.

 

Re-Signing Mike Hoffman

James:
Hey, on behalf of all Sens bloggers at the edge of the off-season desert, I just want to give a quick shout out to human man P. Dorion for signing Mike Hoffman to a contract that it is impossible to have an opinion about. Hoffman’s back for 4 more years. Just like we all predicted the night The Hoff ice grilled Dave Cameron instead of celebrating his goal after spending the 3rd period benched against Florida City. Seriously tho…is it too early for an A+++? Highkey, I thought that in order to have a prayer’s chance of getting this done for less than Bobby Ryan prices I thought Dorion was going to have to offer him Bobby Ryan term. Keeping in mind that Hoffman is turning 27 this year and he managed to sign him for 4 years? Just wow to this shit. This signing was most vital to keeping the Sens chances of being DEEC alive going forward. Bravo. Imagine he didn’t get this thing done? Your 2016-17 Ottawa Senators: “Alright Ryan Dzingel go out there and have FUN!” *Danger Flutes*

Luke: 
Mike Hoffman’s next deal overshadowed EVERYTHING last season. Every time Mike Hoffman scored a goal, or didn’t score a goal, or glowered at Dave Cameron, or got benched, or didn’t get enough powerplay time, or got powerplay time, or told an Ottawa real estate agent that he was only looking to rent at this time, the underlying question was always “What does this mean for Mike Hoffman’s next contract?”. It even started to look like the answer to those questions was “What contract?”. As recently as March, Elliotte (sic) Friedman wrote “Are we looking at the final 15 games of Mike Hoffman’s tenure in Ottawa? Sure looks like it.” What a time that was. As I said to a Sens Store employee in March, “Well, this year has been the greatest calamity on the face of the earth since the last Robin Thicke album, but at least I have the looming departure of one of our best players to look forward to. Anyway, how much for this Scott Gomez shirsey?”

In return for our emotional turmoil, we received Mike Hoffman for four more years (Four more years! Four more years!) on a deal that is unfuckwithable. The term is, as you pointed out, perfect, and even if Hoffman does not improve, he’ll still be a great value player on a team that needs a lot of great value players.

I hope the Sens front office has player evaluation skills that are at least DEEC because early indications are that Pierre Dorion is tha contract negotiation GAWD.

Grade: A++. If drafting Erik Karlsson is Dorion’s Aja, the Hoffman contract is Pretzel Logic.

James: 
Now let us move on to the contract that could end up either his “Katy Lied” or his “Everything Must Go” …god, who is this blog for at this point? ANYWAY —>

Re-Signing Kobe CC.

James:
This is the Hoffman Contract Lite. Meaning to a slightly lesser degree, if you have a fuego take on why you don’t like this deal, you might consider shutting yourself and your kids the fuck up out of respect for the community. I have actually read some commenters out there moaning about the salary jump to $3.35M in the second year of the deal being a rip off and that it will end up “Wiercioching” (actual word I saw used) his next contract. K, stop my music – If Cody Ceci is not a second pairing defenseman who’s worth 3.5 to 4 million dollars in two full seasons from now well he can catch the ol’ PW Express to the bottom pairing of a non-playoff Western Conference team.
Remember Cowen getting offered 8 years by noted moneypuck genius Tim Murray? Glad they ended up settling on a REASONABLE 4 year deal that caps out a REASONABLE 4.5 million in salary this season? Yes, Jared Cowen will make just 400K less than Marc Methot this year. That’s how delicate these contracts are. Just a four year deal can turn out to be a massive disaster. Taking the wait and see approach with the two year ‘prove it’ deal was perfect. If he doesn’t prove it, the team can move on. My money’s on that he has what it takes. The kid is 22 and spent half the year paired with either a guy who played himself off the team or a guy who played himself out of the league.

Luke: 
I’ve read all the criticisms of Cody Ceci and I just can’t believe that a kid with that skating ability and puck skill is going to have bad possession numbers forever. I can’t do it. How you gonna tell me that the player someone is at 22 is the same player they’re going to be at 26? Player development is black magic dark arts stuff that’s highly dependent on individual-specific factors, but it’s definitely a thing that exists. Players improve. I remember back when Patrick Wiercioch was good, he talked about how working with veteran Sergei Gonchar helped grow his game. How about we sign Cody Ceci up for Being A Mean Bastard classes with Dion Phaneuf and see what happens. In a worst case scenario, there are ways of taking even the most defensively deficient players and making them useful. Justin Schultz is a Stanley Cup winner! You’re telling me Cody Ceci can’t be Justin Schultz good? Come on, Cody. Let’s get to defending some of these clowns.

All this to say, I approve of Cody Ceci’s bridge deal and everything you said about it.

James: 

Thx 4 agreeading, Luke.

It’s August what do you say we do one more for cultural purposes…

 

Flipping a 3rd round pick to the Devils to move up and draft Logan Brown at 11th o’erall.

James:
I know, I know, “Area GM makes selection in first round of draft” isn’t really a move on the level of Ziba for Brassard. Still, flipping NJ a 3rd to move up in round 1 is not insignificant. A couple months back I read a thing on The Hockey News dot co dot ck (registered in The Cook Islands, m8) on “Winners and Losers At This Years Draft.” As an Ottawa Senators fan reading any kind of mainstream hockey media, I clicked the link to find out why they thought the Sens were losers. SPOILER: They thought the Sens were losers! Why? Well, who(m)ever wrote the thing blessed us with the wild #ACTUALLY that NJ probably wasn’t going to draft Logan Brown anyway [Ed. Note: K] so PD was a fool to surrender that 3rd rounder he could have used to draft this year’s model of Jakub Culek to ensure he got the player he wanted in round 1. SAD!
What does your juicy chess club brain think of this?

Luke: 
My personal theory on Flipgate™ (the scandal that rocked the draft) is that the Sens offered their 1st round + 3rd round pick to move up a number of times and New Jersey just happened to be the team that called them back. I like this move because there’s something for everyone. Draft Models Are Jesus Types get to say “The Sens lost this trade by approximately 0.72 Replacement Players”, and Old-Timey Scout Types get to say “That’s the human difference right there. The Sens got their player.”. The best part is that everyone is correct! The Sens DID make a terrible trade from a pick-for-pick perspective and they DID get the player they wanted! Lukewarm (because my name is Luke) Take: If the player the Sens wanted is good, no one is going to care about the 3rd round pick.

Personally, I like the fact the Sens drafted someone about whom they said “This guy was so high on our board, we couldn’t risk missing out on him.” even if they had to trade sub-optimally to do it.
SENS ORG: We are super excited about this player we scouted extensively and then drafted.
THE HATERS: You are an irrational actor in this market. Your inefficiency will be punished by The Model’s true believers.
ME: I choose………………………………excitement.
Grade: I/C. Final grade will be given upon completion of Logan Brown’s development.

Pierre Dorion’s GPA for the Summer Semester: B+.

James: 
Well I give it a —

Luke:
*dial tone*

Summer Reading: DEEC Moments In Sens History

DEEC

Hello, how’s your summer? Cool, shut up please, thank you. Listen, I have a very healthy relationship with the sport of hockey. I definitely don’t watch this video every now and then when I’m having a bad day.


No, that would imply that my mood can, in large, be dictated by the outcome of a sporting event and as an adult that would be pathet- OKAY LET’S STOP THE CHARADE.

Look, I’m just a caveperson headbutting their stupid way through life. I need stuff like this to get by. Sure, it’s not a Stanley Cup clinching goal or anything but this video has the makings of a legit DEEC Moment.

  1. Stars a player I really, really like being glorious
  2. The goal is of a hater-ass nature and on a very good (looking) goaltender
  3. The sound the crowd makes is a natural alternative to MDMA
  4. Jimmy O’Brien, who I can barely believe was on the ice in overtime comes through with the uncharacteristic Santana feat. Rob Thomas smoove AF drop pass.
  5. 🙂

 

Up till now, the modern Ottawa Senators greatest moment has been Daniel Alfredossauce’s 2007 overtime goal against Buffalo to send les boys to the Stanley Cup Final. Proud of this we each and every last one us are. As indelible a moment as that is, I am starting to realize we’re fast approaching the “That was like 10 years ago” era. I suppose this is in part due to the fact that since the NHL added 24 more teams to the league, huge moments don’t grow on trees or who knows what type of foliage (no judgements).

Nothing of that level of consequence has happened for the Sens in the near decade since that goal but I’d like to go on a psychedelic rock ride™ with you to explore a few of the DEEC Moments that have occurred in the mean time. Some are big and memorable, some are just little hater-ass nuggets. Come away with me, it’s August.

 

Craig Anderson’s Debut for the Ottawa Senators

As the reigning champs of tracking the career of every player that is traded from the team, nothing says more about Ottawa’s goaltending troubles post-2007 than the complete lack of longing for Brian Elliot. Since he was dealt, dude’s won a Jennings Trophy, played in an All Star game, set a franchise record for shutouts with the Blues and just generally posted excellent numbers. Our reaction: None.

I’ve heard more longing for Ben Bishop who played 13 games for the Sens. I think the complete lack of fucks donated to Elliott’s post-trade success shows how frustrated we fans were when he was dealt.

Enter Greg Anderton. I knew him as Western Conference guy who could win you your hockey pool one year but then maybe bottom out the next. Considering we traded him straight up for the 13-19-8, 3.19 GAA Elliot I didn’t expect much. Fortunately, he’s been one of the better goalies that our franchise has seen since, and it all started in his debut performance:

http://video.senators.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=98802
(Sorry, Gary HUSSEIN Bettman wants to take all easily viewed Youtube vids from us)

A Saturday night road game in Toronto broadcast on Hockey Night in Canada and called by Bod Cole. No matter how bad the leafs are (saying something!), that just feels like a guaranteed loss. What did we get? A hate hate HATIN-ass 47 save shutout, shootout win. Flawless victory for Andy. I remember watching this game alone (that’s right) perched on the edge of the chesterfield (that’s right) after the win was in the books and saying aloud to myself “Lifetime pass…lifetime pass.” That was one of the few good nights of that whole goddamn season and Craig made it so near singlehandedly. What other Sens goalie has his own (positive) chant? Lifetime pass.

 

This Clarke MacArthur Pass that Kyle Turris Had Enough Respect for the Community to Bury

Yaaas, my Kweens! Expose theeem, draaaag them!

And in the heritage jersey too. Considering Clarkey was healthy scratch for the leafs for TWO playoff games just a few months prior to this, I was not expecting to see anything resembling this level of skill from him when he was signed here. The fact that the goal is scored by alleged “enigmatic brat” turned gentlemanly first line centre who we traded magic beans for? Makes it all the more DEEC a moment. A play to remind us that sometimes the dice roll ole’ Ottawa’s way.

 

Erik Karlsson’s Entire Career..ugh, Fine, If I Have to Pick How About Him Winning That Second Norris

LOLz. Slight jump in DEECness levels here. I chose this moment because in this particular case, your man won another Norris after his devastating Achilles injury. A YEAR AFTER. The night of that injury I was laying in bed wide awake (healthy relationship w/ the sport of hockey) thinking in circles that we’d possibly never see the same electrifying Erik Karlsson again. He’s kind of even fucking better now somehow. We’re in the midst of watching a Hall of Fame career unfold. Enjoy it purely from time to time.

 

Sens Are Going to Have A Stadium Downtown, You Know, Just Like a Big Kid Team!

Please I’d never subject you to a video of an NCC meeting. Instead enjoy this clip of another DEEC moment where the Sens stormed back from a 3-0 deficit (given up in the 1st!) to beat the Penguins and keep their playoff dreams alive.

Seriously though, I am so thrilled about this new arena thing. Never thought it would happen. Our stadium is fine but real talk it’s located beside an outlet mall in a farm field. Cleveland has three stadiums downtown. Three. Cleveland = Three.

 

Chris Phillips Scores 2.8% of His Career Goals During his 1000th Game

Look at the man’s face on that second goal. Guy deserved a DEEC moment like that. We all did. No shade, Phillips was a Marine for the Sens but his long career is not exactly brimming with highlight moments. Salute to this one. C whut eye did they’re?

 

Mark Stone Seals The Most Hater Ass Run to the Playoffs In Team Herstory

(at the 10:12 mark. Sorry so sloppy)
…m8…m8

I chose this of the many DEEC moments from the Hamburger Heard Round the 4th Most Popular North American Sport World Era not just because it capped off a run the likes of which we’ll probably never see again. I chose it because it is the perfect encapsulation of the “Holy shit we have a very special player on our hands here” experience that was watching Mark Stone that season.

Here we are, stressfully up just one goal in the third period of an absolute, hack the bone level must-win game. Only Stone left in the O zone while his teammates go off for a change. He strips the puck from Philadelphia star that no one cares about Jakob Voracek and in all alone makes no mistake on Artist’s Conception of a goaltender Steve Mason. Beyond clutch. Resembles something another jewel of a late round pick round pick might do. Which reminds me…

 

This

That series with Montreal was such an emotional thrill ride that I don’t remember the following series against the Pens save for this moment. This one is staying in the old brain bin forever. What a captain. Truly a DEEC Moment in post-2007 history.

 

Perhaps This Moment Was Mildly DEEC

Closure. I should go easy on the Alfie Moments. I could do a whole post just about his contributions to DEEC Culture post-2007. Gotta sway back to some Young and/or Hungry Sens moments.

 

#Rispekgate

Excuse me but that exchange was on some Sun Tzu shit.

Now, as you well know, part of your responsibility as a Sens fan is to be on the side of the villain. No one out there is rooting for us or even likes us. Like I said, if certain other teams went on that run to the playoffs on the back of an undrafted AHL goalie like Ottawa did two seasons ago, they’d have made a commemorative coin for it. This being our reality, we must enjoy our small hater-ass victories personally. This piece of art is one for the ages. I’m truly sorry things didn’t work out better here with MacLean. He seemed like he had so much potential to be a special coach. Regardless, the way he fried Michel Therrien’s mind grapes while making him look like a humongous, bracelet wearing lizard baby was truly masterful. Awe, domage, les pauvres canadiens! Won’t someone step in and stop these heroes from getting their heads kicked in by the big, bad #7 seed? Somewhere on a dock in Nova Scotia right now, there’s a sly smile hiding under a gigantic moustache.

 

Unveiling the Heritage Jersey

Peace to the design gawd @Le_Collectif and, you know what, credit to the Sens for letting him cook on an official level. Before the Great War, I grew up never thinking twice about the Sens logo and jersey. It was fine, I liked it. I’d draw it on my binder and things of that nature. Then the design started changing and changing and the team looked worse and worse as more eyeliner, chevrons and speed lines were added to it.

Over time, things were scaled back a bit and the jersey came to settle where it is now. I could at least live with it. I didn’t like it but it was shaped up to a better look than the dreaded Senagoth days (not that hard). Then the slap in the face that was the SNES flying squirrel arms jersey was delivered. I was hopeless when I saw that some people actually bought those. Flash forward to the day I pulled on my Heritage jersey. I actually felt proud for the first time since I put on my first Sens jersey as a bright eyed 45 year old back in 1992. If we’re gonna play like a “hope for a wildcard spot” team at least (some games) we can look DEEC doing it.

 

And Now…The Most DEEC Moment Since Alfie’s 2007 OT Goal

You already knew.

A French kid. From Ottawa. Against a hated rival. On home ice. With their MVP goalie in net. Kid gets his tooth knocked out off a slash to the face on the first goal. Pageau responds by scoring 2 more. Fans respond by mocking the most annoying song in the history music with the now staple “Pageau” chant. Salut les hateurs! Added bonus: Listen to Bob Khol’s reaction on that third goal. Was not joking about that playing the villain role thing earlier😉

For all the putting down the team’s penchant for acquiring local players, which I lowkey think is really just code to talk about how Mark Borowiecki sucks, you gotta hear both sides in a moment like this. Magique. I’d give Pageau an 8 year deal off the rip for this.

 

I actually have a bunch more moments big and small to share but I think you’re probably fed all the way up with reading the words “DEEC” and “hater-ass” at this point.

 

Got some DEEC post-2007 moments you want to contribute to the community? Put em in the comments or share them on twitter. Disagree with some of my choices? Slide into my DMs with your address and I will mail you a rope for you to go piss up.

 

THXu 4 Reading.

 

The Verdict Part 4: The Real Problem

Euge

Eugene Melnyk First off, I am very glad that Eugene is healthy again. Thanks to an extremely brave and unspeakably generous person he’s been given a second lease on life. Lowkey,  the most amazing fan moment in team history.  Oh, you threw a hamburger on the ice and Curtis Lazar took a bite of it, Sheldon Cutestory?
How about this person saved the owner’s fuckin’ life and hit him with the wild “Now win us a Cup.” Swish from full court…backwards.
Okay, these real-talk transitions  don’t get any easier to do, so in the spirit of “now win us a Cup” I’ll just dive in.
As all three of you may have noticed reading through the previous 3 parts of this series, aside from coaching, the actual changes I would make to player personnel are more complimentary than core. Would I part way with guys like Wiercioch and Chiasson? Yeah, but they aren’t making or breaking the team. Despite a bad performance this season, I’d like many of the players to remain on the team.
My biggest gripe up to now was always the need for a proven top 4 defenseman. Now that it’s been addressed, I wouldn’t be against giving a similar lineup a mulligan. Especially with a healthy Turris, MacArthur and non-broken finger edition Bobby Ryan. I don’t think they’re ready for the President’s Trophy but in a Florida leading the division with a 66 point, 44 year old leading scorer paradigm,  I think the East is still open enough to do some damage without having to sign Stamkos (whom I hear is very interested in signing in Ottawa for a discount).I was okay with Murray stepping down and Cameron getting the axe but really, if they got one more year too, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Actually, Cameron played Mark Borowiecki as a forward more than once so…good luck in future endeavors (Last time I will bring that up, I promise).No, in all seriousness, for me, the main issue holding this franchise back is ownership. Eugene Melnyk saved the Sens from Bankruptcy when he came in and bought the team and now he’s ruining them. He’s BEEN ruining them for a minute too. It’s one thing that his personal finances have deteriorated. It’s another that he’s stepping on the coach and management’s toes and meddling with their ability to make the “on ice product” the best it can be. Think potential coaches didn’t notice that Dorion said the money was there to sign a big name only to be contradicted by the owner like a day later?
If you can’t pay them you can’t pay them, why state your reluctance to sign the cheque to the media? I thought this guy was a fucking businessman. I’m a BLOGGER [who’s definitely not a virgin] and even I know that was a dumb move.I’ve heard it said the The Euge is the owner with the passion of a fan. That’s true but here’s the thing: I talk about hockey with a lot of different people. He does talk like a fan but he talks like the type fan that 2 minutes into talking to them I think to myself, “This guy doesn’t really know what he’s fucking talking about…but, you know, love the passion!” What kind of fan does he sound like? Ah, yes, the type of fan that you’re glad isn’t the one making the decisions. That’s where things are messed up in the organization. He’s imposed his influence, he’s meddling and he’s not a professional. No greater proof of that than how he handled the question of Dave Cameron’s future in the press. He should take a queue from the Anaheim Ducks owner and how they handle press…oh wait I HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA WHO THAT IS BECAUSE YOU NEVER HEAR ANYTHING ABOUT THEM. Euge isn’t the only owner who has had a reputation for being what leading anthropologists classify as “The Worst.” Daryl Katz, Charles Wang, “Dollar” Bill Wirtz, and hell, peace to the originator Harold Ballard [thanks for making the leafs awful btw!] come to mind. Most of the time, if you know the the name of a sports franchise’s owner it is because they are: Meddling with operations, broke, holding the team back out of sheer cheapness, or threatening to move the team if some expensive toy they want isn’t handed to them [usually by the city] on a silver platter. Any of this sound familiar?

Personally, for a long time I’ve thought that Bryan Murray has flattered The Euge’s penny pinching with many of his signings and trades. But you can only really get away with dealing with those kind of constraints for so long before the cracks show. This was probably best evidenced by Alfie’s failed final contract negotiations and the “you can have Spezza OR Ryan but not both” ultimatum. See also: the current downplaying of re-signing the team’s leading goal scorer. Some of these magic moments can be blamed on managerial blunders but others are definitely due to just not being able to make certain financial commitments work because of lack of available resources.

Operating under the cap in spending is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a blessing to have payroll flexibility with a team as young Ottawa’s. As kids develop and perhaps emerge as core players they will ultimately earn bigger pay days. You have to factor that in so you need some cap space to keep them in the fold down the line. But “flexibility” isn’t really what the Sens have, do they? No, it’s a money in, money out fixed internal cap. Again, Murray’s Turris, Karlsson, Stone, and Methot contracts (among others) were amazing. A first line centre for under 4 million? A two time Norris winner and team captain for under 7? Two of the best deals in the league / sports (and for term!). Those aren’t the kind of deals that you’re going to be able to lock down over and over. Especially when trying to fill needs on the market. Also, Turris and Karlsson and Stone are going to need to be re-signed at some point. I’m sure this is the first you’ve heard of this. We Sens fans are not absolutely obsessed with this at all.

Not that you needed any of this pointed out [sad!] but why I feel like Eugene is the biggest problem facing the team is this:  Deep down I believe he is stalling the sale of his team as long as he can and operating the Sens on a shoestring season after season to pay down debt so the franchise is worth as much as possible when he eventually does sell it. It’s his business to run and I get why this would happen. However, if he truly loved the team as much as he says he does he’d realize it could be much better and more stable without such tight constraints on spending “when the time is right.”
I don’t know what to believe when he speaks (problem: I rarely believe him). I’m no Dom Trumps, you know, the business genius who bankrupted a casino, but when he says that in this market, you need to make the 2nd round of the playoffs to break even I don’t know how to make sense of that. The numbers show that attendance is very good compared to the rest of the league. This despite Ottawa being a city of 1 million people whose hockey fandom is divided in three among smart, good looking Sens fans who have pleasant smelling breath, and the remaining fucklords who attempting to connect with their parents, cheer for one of two other cities stupid, dumb teams [for jerks]. The team operates millions and millions of dollars under the salary cap, recently got a TV deal, the owner also owns the arena where Garth Brooks just had a sold out, month long residency. Oh and by the way it’s not always pretty but the team DOES make the playoffs most years. They’ve only missed 3 times in the 12 seasons he’s owned the team. The Panthers are older than the Sens, just made the playoffs for the 5th time EVER and didn’t even sell those games out. How are they making it work?
I digress. Operating the way he asks, he can’t expect things to somehow improve. We’re going to games, we’re buying the merch. We’re doing our bit. We’re also supposed to believe that the plan is that the Sens just magically make the playoffs past the first round every year, as is? That’s a risky plan when you consider the Islanders just won ONE round for the first time since Mika Zibanejad was born. They didn’t do it one time under the sole ownership of notorious cheapskate and Proto-Melnek, Charles Wang.

The Sens are still a relatively new franchise and I think a lot of current fans were converted during the Sens powerhouse years.  Melnyk is not helping develop the brand by creating an environment to scrape by in, badmouthing his employees and the players while threatening and even in some cases blaming fans in the media.

He is simply too broke to be in the business of winning anymore and it becomes more obvious with each passing season. His attitude toward his paying customers is contemptuous and alienating and this almost worries me the most as a person who lives and dies on Senators hockey. Thank you for saving the Sens, Eugene. We had a hell of a run with you writing the checks but face it now someone needs to save you.

 

Verdict: Sell the team to Rich Uncle Space Clown.

 

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The Verdict Part 3: Coaching, Management & Moves

Verdict

Daaaaaamn, Judgey Judgerton back at it again with the inconsequential taaaaaakes

Coaching 

Dave Cameron Ugh. This.

K. As much as some seem folk out there to want it to be, this bad season is not all on Dave Cameron…but also gotta hear both sides because this guy wasn’t all that great as a coach too.
The tough thing with evaluating coaches is that you’ll never know the full story behind 100% of their decisions but at the end of the day, some of Dave’s came off kind of desperate and didn’t make much sense.
The team had a lot of injuries this year and I’m sure that messed up his plan. I’d be willing to bet it wasn’t in his grand design to have to start either O’Connor or Dreiger in the home opener or to put Pageau on the top line.
That said, when judging Cam’s performance it always comes down to one decision for me: Playing Mark Borowiecki as a forward. I know I’m like a broken record with this but it’s only because this one is cut and dried just a horrible, avoidable decision that in no way helped the team win. It’s not as if Boro had a history of playing both defense and forward in college (a time for experimentation!). Nor does Boro even have an applicable skill set to warrant the decision to move him there. If Cameron, had played, say, Chris Wideman, up front I could wrap my head around that. He’s a crafty puck handler with a great speed and a hard, accurate shot. Wiercioch as a forward for a game? I could see that too potentially, I guess. Why Boro?

Related: How TIGHT would you be if you were Cole Schneider leading the BSens in points and the shutmost of shutdown defenseman was getting the nod to fill in ahead of you. Damn.

Speaking of player usage, I’d like to bring up one thing that I just cannot forget about: One of the questions asked of Cameron in his first presser after he took over for MacLean was “Will this be the end of Line Juggling Bingo” and Cameron said, “I’ve never been big on juggling the lines.” Then less than a calendar year later we have shit like Boro at forward and Bobby Ryan in a “non-scoring” role. Like injuries shminjuries WTF? He ended up worse than MacLean with the bingo balls in just one full season.
Could Cameron have been given another year? Yeah. He’d have probably had better results with a healthier line up and a year of Phaneuf instead of Cowen/Wiercioch.
Was Murray too zesty to extend him for multiple years given mistakes of the past? Definitely. With so little NHL experience Cameron would have accepted a one year contract.
Finally, did Ol’ Coach Blue Eyes seem in over his head a little at times? I think, like every coach since Bryan Murray, it showed. Post-Hartsberg/Paddock/Clouston/MacLean and now Cameron I think the team does need to return to someone with NHL head coach experience.

Verdict: Right to part ways but I propose a media blackout of Eugene Melnyk.

André Tourigny Did you run the power play? Well you’re fuckin’ fired.

Simple as this: How you gonna have the 9th highest scoring team in the N HAITCH L and have a 15% power play?

Verdict: Right to part ways.

Jason Smith Are you the defensive coach? Well you’re fuckin’ fired.

This guy arguably did a worse job than Tourigny. I’m pretty bummed that he was shuffled around the organization and not dismissed outright but whatever. The defensive coach will be different next year and that’s what matters most to me as a fan.

Verdict: Absolutely should have been dismissed.

Rick Wamsley Uhhh, look lady, this ain’t my real job, okay?

A huge reason credited to Hammond’s emergence was Rick Wamsley’s coaching. A big factor leading Matt O’Connor to sign here was a chance to work with “Wammer”. Seems rash to get rid of him. I also heard he played a big role in running practice drills which were apparently shit, M8. So…

Verdict: I plead even more ignorance than usual. I suppose this gives the new coach a chance to fully staff their ranks going forward? Man, this coach of the future better slaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

Luke Richardson I would like to start off by acknowledging that Luke Richardson is an awesome and inspirational person who has been through unimaginable stuff. My respect for him and his family almost makes writing stuff like this objectively quite challenging. Here goes nothin…

On a professional level, one thing I’ve never quite understood is the degree to which Luke was coveted as the golden goose of the coaching staff. So much fear of Luke over being snatched away by Tim Murray was expressed over the years. Like, I wouldn’t be thrilled about that happening I guess but I don’t know if that what it is about him leaving that had people so shook. A couple of good seasons in Bingo, one DEEC season and then one brutal one. Kurt Kleinendorst won a Calder Cup and was gone just one season later. I don’t remember uproar about that. Life goes on.

Luke seems like a positive guy and a very good communicator from what I can gather from interviews. These qualities in a coach  don’t grow on trees, unfortunately. With his eyes set on a chance at an NHL job, with the Sens regime change, it obviously wasn’t going to happen for him here. I think Dorion is banking on the next coach having NHL experience and for them to be in charge for a few years. Makes sense if it will be best for both parties to move on.

Verdict: A tough one. I hate that the organization loses such a quality person but ultimately I support both a full coaching changeover as well as giving Richardson his best chance to advance his career.

Management

Bryan Murray First off, again, respect to the person. This man is a Marine and a hockey legend. I hope he winds up in the hockey hall of fame sooner than later.  I don’t know if I should really sum up his entire tenure with Ottawa in this small space. That’s another post and one that should probably be written someone more eloquent than me.

Focusing on more recent Brystory, I can see at the end of the last few off-seasons why BMurr would waver about his future only to re-up the next year. He’s built a pretty solid but still growing core here over the years. I’m sure he’d be thinking ‘just a few more moves and this could be something’. There were blunders along the way but I felt this year he cleaned up a few huge ones. Dumping a bunch of burdensome or straight up dead salary for an actual player who can fill a much needed role was undeniably huge. The Phaneuf trade has it’s critics and he deserves blame for putting the team in that position but what I see in that deal is the wizardry required to address team needs without the option of money to fix things.

Under the ever-looming shitcloud of budgetary restrictions, Murray hit some absolute monster home runs as GM. But as the years pressed on, he’s taken his share of L’s too. I think he set the table as best he can. He’s had the management reins for nearly a decade, an eternity in modern pro sport. Deep down I fell much of the heavy lifting has been done and it might be alright for a fresh set of eyes to have a look at things.

Verdict: Not happy to say it but it was probably time.

Pierre Dorion Good luck in future endeavors ha ha ha…no but seriously do not fuck up your future endeavors.

Given the restrictions that Bryan Murray had to work within for the past few years it’s not the worst idea to have a guy who was learned the ropes under a GM who did an admirable job dealing with both the budget AND A MEDDLESOME EGOMANIACAL OWNER – wow. Sorry.
Seriously, Dorion has negotiated some seriously shrewd contracts over the past couple of years. They are a shitty reality necessary to making the club “work” so it’s a vital strength to have as Sens GM. I also really like that PD’s background is in scouting. Something not only helpful for drafting but also figuring out who to acquire in the Mike Hoffman tra—ahahaha *tear*

Under Melnyk the general manager position is a uniquely tense and difficult one. Dorion has been groomed for it for years now. Unlike nearly every goalie we’ve drafted now that he’s been developed he’s actually being kept around and given his shot.

Verdict: Probably one of the few people who actually knows HOW to run this team under current ownership [theme].

 

Randy Lee Made that giant trade with Rocheste and the BSens seemed to improve greatly after. I’m no expert with the BSens (peep the gawd Alicia Straunch’s insight for that) but after an apparent lockey room rift and 2nd last place finish I’m for a new look Binghamton team. Shout out to addressing problems. Seems like they changed things up without really sacrificing whatever depth is still there.

Verdict: Brutal BSens season not a good look but at least he did something about it instead of sitting on his hands. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if he did. Good to keep him on board.

In Memoriam: A look back at the players we lost this year. Was it right to let these players set sail?

Milan Michalek Milan Michalek, man…You know, when Milo is talked about in the press it’s never long before how much respect his teammates have for him is mentioned. This is just a pet theory [thx4reading] but I think a lot of it comes from his teammates watching a guy with chronic knee injuries show up to a physical job every day and compete at a high level without complaint. No further proof of that to me than after he was traded to Toronto they promptly shut him down for the year with a knee injury. Damn, he’s had a rough career.

In terms of his usefulness as a player I’ve long said, $4M is a lot of money but blessed is the guy who can fill in on any line without issue, kill penalties and chip in with the odd goal. That said, with the injuries piling up and another 4 mill on the books for next season, it was time for our poor ass team to let go of 9MM. Basically the only player on TML’s current roster that I admire.

Verdict: Right to part ways.

Jared Cowen Is it too much to say this guy was basically the Alexandre Daigle of defence? JC had great size, some offensive upside, and WJC pedigree when he was taken 9th overall in 2009 (Seven years ago tbx!). Of course, he never had the hype of Daigle but at least Daigle was kind enough to at least be a DEEC if mediocre player. I mean, he did have a 24 goal 51 point season here. Cowen…gave Jeff Skinner a concussion…so…
Anyway, there’s not much to say about Cowen that hasn’t already been said. On paper he was the perfect partner for Erik Karlsson so can’t blame the organization for taking him high as they did (even if he was their second choice after Nazem Kadri).
Where one absolutely CAN the blame organization is for giving this guy too many goddamn chances. I can think of a few high pedigree players who the organization had the sense to cut ties with. Brian Lee and Nikita Filatov come to mind.  Thank Christ he rejected that 8 year deal that the genius Tim Murray offered him. I guess Cowen’s massive ego came in handy for something. 

Verdict: Extremely LUCKYYYYY to part ways with him.

College Greening I know it’s super outto talk about intangibles these days but if there’s a je ne sais quoi that is REAL real, it’s confidence. Good LORD. What happened to this guy? You know you fell the fuck off when you used to play in the top 3 and BOOM a $2.65M cap hit seems crazy unreasonable for your services.
I don’t know if there’s a player I feel less sympathy for than a handsome, buff 30 year old millionaire with a degree from an Ivy League school. Hope he can land on his feet. 

Verdict: Amazing to dump his contract on the leafs…I mean respectfully and amicably part ways.

Shane Prince *Vapes thoughtfully, exhales a massive cloud of Monster Energy Drink flavoured smoke*

Now that he’s gone one big question looms: Did Shane Prince get the most ideal chance to succeed here? Given Dave Cameron’s questionable player usage, it’s fair to argue he didn’t.
Still, I sometimes wonder if players like Pageau, Hoffman, and Stone really got treated much differently early into the careers. They all started off in and out of the line up by toiling away in the bottom six until further notice. Sure, Prince didn’t play with the most talented line mates but I just don’t know if I can call a player who due to his contract was pretty much guaranteed a roster spot a victim. Also, other than a few games  I must admit he was okay but didn’t exactly dazzle me. That’s not to say I don’t think he’s talented or could be something in the NHL one day but his 3 goals in 42 games left something to be desired.

Take this for what you will but I had heard that since he requested a trade last season, he and the organization did not get along well. I think that might have played a large role in why he was dealt before he’d played even 1 full pro season here. As for the return. Yes, a 3rd round pick is pretty weak but imagine for a second Ottawa acquired a guy who was drafted going on 6 years ago and had 12 NHL points. Would you expect to give up more for that player?
Regardless, I for one am looking forward to every point he gets for the next 5 years to be carefully catalogued on twitter. Please be better than this guy Matt Puempel. I’m begging you.

Verdict: The way this played out I feel like we don’t know the full story here. Probably should have waited out the year before moving him though. He was still a controllable RFA at seasons end. Remember what Hoffman got in arbitration? Could have given him another year for peanuts.

Tobias Lindberg Loved seeing people freak out to the “Lindberg could make the leafs roster full time as early as next year” headlines on TML fan blogs like TSN.ca/NHL. That or the hand wringing over him getting called up all to the bigs all, “SEE we gave away an NHL player” like, okay, also, Toronto is literally the worst fucking team in the league.

Advice: When it comes to giving up players in trades, don’t waste your energy on when the crown jewel of a trade for a top 4 defender who can play 20+ minutes is a guy putting up single digits on a shit team.
I’m calling it, Lindberg’s not going to do much that Nick Paul or Matt Puempel won’t. Save the trade rage for Vezina nominee Ben Bishop being dealt for a dude who’s now a Swiss league player and perennial candidate for the Spengler Cup roster AKA Hockey’s Purgatory.

Verdict: You gotta give up SOMETHING in every trade. Sometimes it’s handsomeness. I think he’s a good player but honestly probably wasn’t going to get much of a shot here. Again, prepare for every point he gets for the rest of his career to be chronicled, bronzed, polished and compulsively rearranged on a shelf beside Silfverberg’s.

 

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.

The Verdict Part 1: Forwards

Verdict

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.

Verdict: Get RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIID.

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.

Verdict
: 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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRFEz2MjZgg&nohtml5=False

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

LONG READS: How Did This Get Made? A Colour Coded Guide to How the Current Roster Came to Be

how

Depth Chart (Artist’s Conception*) 

Forwards :
HoffmanTurrisRyan
MacArthur/Lazar – ZibanejadStone
MichalekPageauChiasson/McCormick
PrinceSmithNeil

Call ups: Puempel, Greening, Dzingle, *long sigh* Dziurzynski

Defense:
Methot/ClaessonKarlsson
Cowen/WierciochCeci
Borowiecki – Wideman/Phillips

Call ups: Kostka, Frozen Dinner

Goaltenders: 
Anderson / Hammond

Call ups: Dreidger / O’Connor

(*Look, the lines move around virtually every game so just let me rock with this config, K? I’m tryin’ to hit the Publish button at some point, my G. Thxu)

First impressions:
Wow, the current team was sure as hell constructed with Bryan Murray and Co’s hands. 13 of the 24 above listed players are Sens draft picks. Another 6 players acquired by Murray trades.
The team has hit the lotto once during The Bryan’s reign; the 2011 daft which they lost the NJ btw, and picked in the top 10 just one other time (2009) since taking Jason Spezza 2nd overall in 2001 [AKA when Thomas Chabot was 4 years old].

50% of the current top 6 and 75% of the top 4 of the defense are made up of draft picks. It’s worth mentioning that of the internally developed guys in the top 6 and top 2 there are a 2 time Norris winner & team captain, a Calder Nominee and last season’s [and the current] goal scoring leader. DEEC drafting tbh. Another thing that jumps out to me is that legacy Christophers Neil and Phillips are the only Non-Murray Regime picks drafted by Ottawa on the entire roster right now. For better or worse this team is almost completely Bryan Murray’s.

A Wee Bit of a Break Down: I’ve colour coded the team into 5 categories [YOU‘RE
WELCOME] using the 2011 Retool (shied away from the word Rebuild to avoid getting pelted with #ACTUALLYS) as a major milestone of the Murray Era.
I broke it down like this: Pre-2011 picks, 2011 picks and beyond, Pre-Bryan Murray picks, Players acquired by trade and finally free agent signings. Let’s do the damn thing shall we?

Pre-2011 Retool Draft Picks – Post-Cup Final Era AKA Wha’ Happen? (Green):

Forwards:
Mike Hoffman – Round 5 #130 overall, 2009 draft

Zack Smith – Round 3 #79 overall, 2008 draft

Mark Stone – Round 6 #178 overall, 2010 draft

Defenders:
Erik Karlsson – Round 1 #15 overall, 2008 draft

Patrick Wiercioch –  Round 2 #42 overall, 2008 draft

Mark Borowiecki – Round 5 #139 overall, 2008 draft

Jared Cowen – Round 1 #9 overall, 2009 draft

Chris Wideman – Round 4 #100 overall, 2009 draft

Smooth Jimmy’s Funalysis:
Using the 2011 Retool as a major milestone, looking back, it would seem that love or hate the current line up, some very important players were acquired before going fire sale and jettisoning most of the 2010-11 team for picks.
Up front, we have vital top 6 forwards Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone taken late in the ’09  and 2010 drafts. Two forwards most fans would consider untouchable. It’s nothing for both of these guys to play on the top line. Whether you consider these guys lucky breaks or seeing eye picks cant complain about these dudes.

On D things get more complicated. We, of course, have team captain/whole entire world Erik Karlsson famously taken mid-way through the first round of the 2008 draft. Easily the most important pick in franchise history since Daniel Alfredsson.
A quick aside: I was tripping out the other day thinking about how Erik Karlsson will be in the Hall of Fame one day. Brazy.
Now, that Chris Wideman seems to have established himself as a full-time roster player, it’s clear that it’s the guys who were selected pre-2011 that make up the majority of the current defense corps.
This isn’t exactly a good look if you’re one of the many among us who think the defense is the team’s weakest point. I’m sure opinions here will be mixed as we seem to have a split down the middle.
On one hand we have the beloved Karlsson and the welcome addition of the competent Chris Wideman. On the other, the hard working but much derided Mark Borowiecki and the wildly detested Jared Cowen. Serving as the creamy middle we have the Human Gotta Hear Both Sides Patrick Wiercioch. You take the good you take the bad you put em together and there you have *takes enormous hit off bong* … fuckiiiiin’ whatever.

Hmph. Weird this. Seems the pre-2011 draft classes have given this team:  The sublime (#65), the good (#61 and 68), the DEEC (#46), the bad (#74) and a young, healthy top 10 pick that I would trade for “future considerations** (Try and guess what player I’m talking about!)”
In conclusion, I forgot to mention Zack Smith and neither of us noticed.

**buy out.

 

2011 Retool & Post-Retool Draft Picks – Rebirth of a Nation’s Capital (Blue): 

Forwards:
Mika Zibanejad – Round 1 #6 overall, 2011 draft

Shane Prince – Round 2 #61 overall, 2011 draft

Jean Gabriel Pageau – Round 4, #96 overall, 2011 draft

Curtis Lazar – Round 1 #17 overall, 2013 draft

Defenders:
Freddie Claesson – Round 5 #126 overall, 2011 draft

Cody Ceci – Round 1 #15 overall, 2012 draft

Kibitzing Korner:
In 2011, Murray sold off heaps of the team’s veteran-laden roster and had 5 picks in the first two rounds. In a draft that Bryan and his team really needed to make count, a whopping 7 of the 10 players selected in 2011 have stepped on the ice for Ottawa in at least one game. Not counting Stephan Noesen who was moved. What’s interesting to me is the diversity of players they got from that draft. The line-up features ZBad as the ever important (and harshly criticized ) role of 2nd line centre, JG Pageau as 3rd line centre and Habs killer, heir apparent to Chris Neil’s Pest sash in McCormick, a raw like sushi but decent looking shut down D in Claesson and a couple of young scoring wingers still finding their way in Prince and Puempel. Fam. You know you had a good draft in 2011 when the “disappointment” so far is 22 years old and has already put up 30 goals in a season in the AHL and shown flashes of chemistry in the Sens top 6.

Though many forwards have made the jump in a pretty short period of time, it’s pretty clear that the only D man that’s been able to do the same since 2011 is 2012 1st rounder Cody Ceci. His play has been getting roasted of late but the pre-2011 picks show it takes time to develop on D. Way too early to tell what the 22 year old’s ceiling is but I don’t think its outlandish to think he could top out as a 3-4 defender.
It appears that not many quality D men have been picked since 2011 but it could be a bit early to call that as the Sens have drafted 11 other defensemen besides Ceci since 2011. Ceci just happened to make the leap very quickly. Many of the guys taken since the retool are too early in their development to judge quite yet. Claesson seems to be making a case for himself of late but I’m apprehensive to call him a roster player just yet and almost didn’t include him here as he’s played less than 10 NHL games. Harsh, I know but you knew I had a temper when you married me.

 

Pre-Murray Regime Picks – Dark Ages (Grey – see what I did there?):

Chris Philips – Round 1 #1 overall, 1978 draught (see what I did th–)

Chris Neil – Round 6 #161 overall, 1998 draft

Uhhh, I don’t know, prob skip this part:
Legacy players doing their legacy thing: Being hurt or playing on the 4th line.
I don’t know what to say here other than Neil has been fine so far in what might be his last season in Ottawa and Phillips won’t play professional hockey again. It’s hard to continually beat on Big Rig who’s best years were back when he was paired with Boaz in the Book of Ruth (ugh who am I Dennis Miller with this joke?). I realize it’s harsh to say his career is a wrap but remember last season how we were worried that Marc Methot might not have been able to keep up after missing half a season? Yeah. That guy was 29 at the time.
Pretty cool for Neil to go from NHL longshot to closing in on 1000 games. Good late round find, GM I’m too lazy to look up! Will Neil will get one more year here to reach the milestone or get the oil painting of Legwand in a Sens uniform treatment? Hard to say. What’s most important here is that our boy Andrew should be the one who paints it

After some ups and downs the past few seasons, neither player is hurting the team at the moment. Thx 2 U 4 Ur Serviss.

 

Players Acquired by Trading Assets/Picks (That Purp):

Milan Michalek (w/ junk) – Acquired in 2010 from San Jose for Dany Heatley

Craig Anderson – Acquired in 2011 from Colorado for Brian Elliot

Kyle Turris – Acquired from Phoenix in 2011 for David Rundblad, 2012 2nd round pick.

Marc Methot – Acquired from Columbus in 2012 for Nick Foligno

Bobby Ryan – Acquired in 2014 from Anaheim for Jakob Silfverberg, Stephane Noesen, 2014 1st round pick.

Alex Chiasson – Acquired in 2014 for Jason Spezza

Smobservations:
As much as the Sens are known for their ability to draft, the trades might be the most interesting part of this whole thing for me. Gawdbody Bryan catches much flack for his whiffs but it would appear that you gotta give the guy that he knocks many of his trades out of the park too.
Since 2011, he’s both wheeled and leaded to BLESS the Sens with a starting goaltender, a first line centre, a first line winger and a top pairing defenseman. Who do you miss from those exchanges? Jakob Silfverberg? (Guy JUST potted his 4th goal of the year…he’s a forward btw) All in all, pretty damn shrewd, dude. The big loser out of this bunch is Alex Chiasson and two prospects for Jason Spezza but meet me up in this tree for a second so we can meet in private about something:

K, Alex Chiasson is def turning out to be a Corey Conacher sitting on the shoulders of a another Corey Conacher but for all the talk of the lack of return for Spezza there’s one forgotten element of the return on that trade: Spezz’ impending FA status at the time. Though Dallas managed to re-sign him, mazel tov btw, Spezza was no guarantee to the teams he was being shopped to. A young NHL player with potential upside in Chiasson, a high pedigree prospect in Nick Paul [hey he’s off to a slow start in Bingo but my guy was playing on a line with Connor McDavid at the WJCs last year] and such and such (Forrest Guptil) is an alright if unspectacular return for a guy with one year left on his contract.
I invite you to make peace with Spezza’s departure like I did by considering this: Spezza was done here. He wanted out for years and it was time to deal him. What made trading him finally possible was that Turris had emerged as the first ever viable replacement for him.
Further, could you imagine our budget team being painted into the corner of Ottawa having to re-sign Spezza? An aging but still very good legacy player who was team captain? Yipes. I would much rather use that money to keep other, younger players.
As great as Spezza is, as Sens fans, we know he is on the back 9 of his career. He is a far better fit as second line centre on an elite Dallas team not a core piece of the Sens. Lowkey, we also know my dude is like, one back injury away from missing an entire season. Oh, also on some hater shit, Turris put up more points than him last year and has the vast majority of this year as well.

What happened? I just blacked out.

Goalie chat: It’s pretty telling that Brian Elliot’s won a Jennings and been in an All Star game since being dealt and not one Sens fan pines for him. Craig Anderson meanwhile is putting together a strong argument for the best goalie in franchise history who isn’t a dumb dickhead who played here for most one season…let me get you on scope in the streets Dominek Hasek. Ima suplex you through a pizza shop window. Anyway, beautiful trade.

AYYE, GOOD LOCAL BILINGUAL BOY MARC METHOT! Can you imagine our team without Marc Methot? Oh yeah I can, the first half of last year. We were terrible. Perfect trade this was. Both teams got a quality player they needed for a quality player they could do without. Don’t get used to these.

Bryan’s made his fair share of shitty trades over the years [see: every trade deadline deal of playoffs past] but I suppose at least as far as the current roster goes we aren’t stuck with any remnants from said bad trades. Well, okay, again, Alex Chiasson is that but he makes like 1M dollars and his contract is up at the end of the season. I also still hold fast that making the trade for him and clearing Spezza’s cap space is why we have Bobby Ryan. Look for Chiasson to be tipping shots from Corey Conacher on the 2nd power play unit in next year’s Spengler Cup.


Free Agent Signings – Rare Like Mr. Clean With Hair (Metallic Pumpkin):

Clarke MacArthur – Signed in 2013, extended in 2015

Andrew Hammond – Signed in 2013, Extended in 2015

Musings:
For a team that basically doesn’t “do” free agents Bryan Murray seems to have picked up  a couple of SLEEPAHS here. A top six winger and a backup goalie without breaking the bank for either? 2 for 2. Nuff said. Also, get well soon Clarkey.
As If This Fucking Thing Needed a Closing Thought:
A common criticism I come across on social media and even the mainstream media is that the Sens lack top flight talent in the minors.

With a relatively young and cheap top 6 and top pairing D everyone seems to be quite happy with, my question is who are we trying to replace sometime soon?
Injured Clarke MacArthur? Seems a bit rash. I guess in a few years MacArthur might be moved down the lineup to play more of a 3rd line role…again, in a few years. Not exactly an emergency. Zibanejad? The guy’s a bit inconsistent but he’s 22. Also, is anyone ever happy with a 2nd line centre? It’s one of those spots in the line up like 2nd paring D where it always seems like the guy could be better. Anyway, I suppose Craig Anderson will be getting up in years soon but his play doesn’t seem to be dropping off yet either.
I think it might appear that the cupboards are becoming bare for one big reason:

Most of the teams “top flight” prospects from several years of drafting have graduated to the Senators in a relatively short span of time. This is a very good thing.

Think about it. If you go back to the depth chart at the top of this post [plz come back, I’m almost done, I swear!] many of Ottawa’s newer players to the team had either been developing in Binghamton for a couple of years or made the team relatively quickly. Stone, Hoffman, Zibanejad, Pageau, Wiercioch, Cowen, Borowiecki, Ceci and Lazar are all draft picks who’ve have made the jump to the NHL the past few seasons. More recently, the additions of Wideman, Prince, McCormick and Claessson(ish) have further cleared out the Farm team’s roster. Different players, different positions, high picks, low picks, some top flight, some Mark Borowiecki. I’m just illustrating that nearly half the current Sens team were prospects not long ago. Calling up 13 players (14 if you count Hammond who was not a draft pick) will empty the stockpile some.
Essentially, there are no Mike Hoffmans left to call up at the moment because all the Mike Hoffmans are already on the team. Now is a time of hopefully temporary down swing in Binghamton. Be it via rebuild or injury, Ottawa has gutted that team of whatever NHL talent it had. I’d argue that the lack of prospects left to call up from the AHL is due to good drafting, not bad.

Honest question: Is an array of top flight talent waiting in the wings year upon year a thing most teams have? If so, follow-up question: Have they set a date for their attack?

Following the hype surrounding recent 1st round picks Thomas Chabot and Colin White I think more re-enforcements are on the way. Factor in that Andreas Englund, Marcus Hogberg and….maaayyyybe Mikael Wikstrand are still on the way, things are likely to balance out a bit soon.

Going forward, if the more hyped aforementioned players don’t necessarily work out that may not mean there’s no high end talent on the way either. For me, the most fun thing about following the Sens prospects is seeing afterthought players come out of the woodwork. Hoffman and Stone are proof of that. I still remember looking up Mark Stone out of boredom back in the day and seeing he was putting up over 100 points a year in the WHL. I thought, I’m going to keep an eye on this kid. It took him almost 5 years to establish himself but homie took himself from 6th rounder to untouchable top six player in the that time. Hockey is pretty cool sometimes (Note: most of the the time it’s shit, m8).
As much of a safe bet Colin White looks like, who knows if he’ll top out at the AHL level. Maybe it will be 6th rounder Francis Perron who rises to the top. Hey, as of the time of this writing he’s quietly put up 66 points in 33 games in the QMJHL. Yeah, I know, I know, kids stay putting up points in the Q but if we’re all salivating over Thomas Chabot I mean I’ma at least keep my eye on a kid who’s leading his entire team by 21 points.

Anywa—
You: James what was the point of all this?

Oh, thought you’d never ask! Sens need a second pairing defenseman. Thx 4 Reading.