Ottawa Senators Weekly Review: Week 1

Warning, this following article will mention Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. Viewer Discretion is advised
This offseason has been especially tough for Sens fans. I don’t know about you, but during the summer, sometimes when I closed my eyes, I could see Chris Kunitz’s shot going over Anderson’s shoulder, and then the Penguins horn blaring. It’s been tough having that moment as our last hockey memory for the season, but luckily the 2017/18 season has arrived and we can finally get rid of that memory and focus on making better ones! 

The Sens finished the preseason with a 3-3 record. Now that doesn’t seem terrible however, the Sens not only lost the last 3 games of the preseason, but they were outscored 22-6. Not a good sign, especially with the season opener coming against the perennial contender Washington Capitals. Speaking about the Caps, let’s fast forward to that game
Ottawa Senators (0-0-0) vs Washington Capitals (0-0-0)

Once the news broke that Erik Karlsson would not be playing in the Season Opener and that Cody Ceci would be our top defenceman against the reigning President Trophy champions, the Washington Capitals, things were not looking good for the Senators. However, to our surprise, the Sens put up a very good fight and put up 4 goals against the Caps however, they let in 4 goals themselves and ended up losing 5-4 in shootout. Now before I talk about the positives of this game, here are some negatives: The Sens had a lead 3 separate times and not only that, they had a 3-1 lead in the third period, and they still managed to lose. Why? Costly turnovers that led to Ovechkin scoring a hatrick. When Ovi is on the ice, you can not leave him open and you can not gift wrap goals for him. However the Sens did and it cost them a point. Another negative is the powerplay. Once again that “O” on the centre of the ice, also stood for the amount of goals we scored on the powerplay. The Sens had 5 opportunities! That’s basically half a period with a man advantage, and you are trying to tell me that you couldn’t score once!? Something needs to change, or else we will be in for a long run. Yes I understand it’s the first game and we shouldn’t read into it too much but, the powerplay has been a problem since last year, and it looks like nothing has changed. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, so here are the positives: The Sens scored 4 goals without Karlsson being in the lineup!!! When the news came out that Karlsson wouldn’t be playing many people thought “there goes the Sens offence”. But boy were they wrong. The Brassard – Ryan – Stone line had a hand in all the Sens goals and finally it is looking like the big boys might actually play like their contracts describe their play. That is the biggest positive of the night, and honestly it cancels out all the other negatives. 

Ottawa Senators (0-0-1) vs Detroit Redwings (1-0-0)

If you just looked at the box score of this game, you might have agreed with most people that it was a snooze fest. However, if you actually watched the game you would have known that it was actually a very exciting game. Both goalies stood on their heads and had multiple showdowns to see who could make the better save. That explains why it took to the 2:36 mark of the 3rd period for the first goal to be scored. Freddy Claesson in his own zone bobbled the puck and gave it away and Detroit’s Martin Frk capitalized and put the puck in the Sens net. At this moment, many Sens fans were thinking “What the Frk are you doing Claesson” and “Oh boy here is another undeserved loss”. However 45 second later, Dion Phaneuf found his inner Erik Karlsson and stole the puck at the blue line, skated inwards and fired a shot towards Howard that sneaked in. Tie game! And at this point Sens fans were now thinking “Hey, maybe we have a chance”. Overtime solved nothing and once again for the second straight game, the Sens were headed to a shootout, where Detroit’s Frans Nielsen scored the only goal, and the Senators fell 2-1. Yay… Here are the negatives of this game: Remember that 0 in the Sens PPG column from last game? Well that 0 just grew to the size of the “O” at centre ice. The Sens went 0-7 on the power play this game! That’s again about half a period with a man advantage, and you are trying to tell me you can’t score one goal!? This is becoming a serious problem and it needs to be fixed quickly, especially as they are heading on a Western Canada road trip and practice time will be limited. Another negative: It always seems that the Sens start playing offensively, and score in the last minutes of the game, especially when they are down. They did it last year in the playoffs and yesterday they did it again. My question is, why do they not play this way in the beginning of the game? How about instead of playing conservatively, they go out and try to get a goal. We know they can score, we just don’t know why they wait until the last minute. Now onto brighter things, the positives: Anderson looked like the Andy we know and love. He rebounded perfectly from the last game, where he let in 4 goals, and in this game he was lights out. This is very good news for the Sens, as the Sens are going to need another stellar season from him. Another positive is, the Sens got another PWK (Point without Karlsson). Many “experts” predicted that the Sens wouldn’t even get a point with Karlsson out, but what do you know, Sens got another point!

Final thoughts

Sens finished the opening weekend with a 0-0-2 record. In my opinion, the Sens should have won both games. But hey look at it on the bright side, we haven’t lost a game in regulation #Knockonwood. Sens powerplay is looking awful, finishing 0-12 but Andy is looking stellar again. The biggest news of this opening week however, is that the Sens are down 2 defenceman. This means that Guy Boucher will have to call up 2 defenceman from Belleville. Will Chabot be one of them? Well you are going to have to find out on the next edition of “The Ottawa Weekly Review”.

Tell us what you think about this week on our Twitter or Facebook or On the comment section and tune in next weekend for the next Weekly Ottawa Senators Review. 

NHL Draft Dilemma

Captain of the Dallas Stars and the 2016 NHL point leader, Jamie Benn has had an illustrious career to date; however, would you believe he was barely drafted? Due to the NHL’s draft eligibility set at the young age of 18, slower developing players like Benn often fall through the cracks as they’re passed up on for players who have developed faster despite their potential. Benn currently has the 2nd most career NHL points out of his draft class, even though there were 128 players selected before him. There are countless other examples of players who nearly missed being drafted that have gone on to have very successful careers for example, Mark Stone of the Ottawa Senators and Pavel Datsyuk, formerly of the Detroit Red Wings. There is a simple fix to this problem, the NHL needs to move the draft age from 18 years old to 19 years old to allow players more time to develop and display their skills. There are players every year who go through this ridiculous process and a change needs to be made. This change will not only help players being drafted, it will also allow NHL teams to do a better job drafting and it will benefit hockey at the minor league level.

Every year a new group of players go through this taxing process. Imagine how stressful it must be to potentially have your entire plans for the future changed for better or worse at such a pivotal age. Many young men at this age are just graduating high school and put all their faith in being drafted and do not have a backup plan. Moving back the age of draft eligibility would allow players another year of planning for their future, possibly attending post-secondary school or even entering the workforce, essentially allowing players another year to plan for the future will allow the thousands of players that never go to the NHL to be more successful later in life. To gather more first hand information, an interview was conducted with Ottawa Junior Senators forward Griffin McGregor, a player who is currently experiencing this process and also has had friends go through it. When McGregor was asked for his thoughts on the current draft age he stated, “The draft age right now is okay but it’s sort of tailor made for those fast developing players who’ve known since they were 5 years old that they were gonna play in the NHL, it doesn’t really give slower developing players like myself a chance to prove ourselves”. Immediately upon being asked about how it has affected his own future McGregor got slightly emotional and admitted that it has certainly changed his outlook on life, “It’s really made me have to think of a more realistic and reasonable career path. Ever since I was young my dream and plan was to one day play professional hockey for a living; however, I feel this current system doesn’t allow me to live up to my full potential and it is extremely disappointing. Pushing back the draft age by simple one year would allow myself and my peers a crucial year of physical and mental maturation.” (McGregor).While this entire process has been very stressful for McGregor and his family, he is not giving up and is currently contemplating playing hockey in Europe professionally after he graduates until he figures things out.

A change of this nature would allow NHL teams to be more successful with their drafting process. Every year only a handful of players make the NHL from each draft class. From the 2000 – 2014 draft classes only 43.6% of players drafted have played even one single NHL game. This is a terrible turnover rate and looks abominable on the part of NHL scouting departments. Not only does this reflect very poorly on the NHL, it is also a terrible use of their extensive resources. Scouting players is not cheap, teams must pay their scouts salary, for their flights to watch prospects, to fly in the prospects for interviews and much more. All this money is being spent, only to have more than half of the players they draft to never get a chance to play in the NHL. Moving back the draft age may be more expensive as it requires payment for an additional year of scouting however, if it results in scouts finding more talent in late rounds of the draft, it would be beneficial financially and in overall depth of teams in the long run. New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was a seventh round selection in the 2000 draft, where he was selected 205th out of 293 players. He has had a very successful career winning the Vezina trophy in 2012 the award for best goalie, Olympic gold and silver medals as well as being a finalist for the ESPN Sports Humanitarian of the year award. Lundqvist also had the sixth best selling jersey in the entire NHL last season, with jerseys selling for approximately $170 USD each. It is evident how quickly this additional revenue stream could benefit the teams. If the draft age was moved back it is extremely likely teams would find more players like Henrik Lundqvist. It is simply a scientific fact that as a young adult your body develops more every year, the jump from 18 to 19 is a big one and if teams were able to see an extra year of a player’s development they would have a much better chance of correctly predicting his future talent level. Allowing teams to see an extra year of development will give them a better chance at finding their own Lundqvist. Essentially, drafting a player is an investment, if the player becomes successful and popular with fans, the player will see an increase in jersey sales which is more money returned on the investment the organization has made.

Making the change from 18 to 19 would also benefit developmental leagues such as the CHL (made up by the OHL, WHL and QMJHL) and NCAA. This change would allow these organizations to keep their star players for longer which would have multiple benefits. Not only would it allow teams to generate more revenue from marketing the players, it would also allow teams to create more exposure for their talented players making them a more well known commodity upon entering the NHL. A good example of this is Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, who was selected 6th overall in the 2016 draft. Tkachuk played one season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League before being drafted and making the NHL his first year. Had the draft age been 19, Tkachuk would have had to play at least one more season with London, this would have benefited both parties. Not only would Tkachuk have been able to develop more and prove himself even more, making it very likely he would be drafted even higher then he was which means a higher base salary on his rookie contract. Furthermore, a player of Tkachuk’s caliber sells tickets plain and simple, fans will be more inclined to buy tickets to games if these exceptionally talented players are on the ice. Once fans are at the game, they will be more eager to buy team merchandise, food and drinks which is additional revenue for teams.Also if there are more spectators are at the game, the players will have a better chance of displaying their skills and making a name for themselves.  Additionally, it would help the development of less talented players as well as they are playing against stronger competition improving the overall performance and reputation of the league. If star junior players such as Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, and Matthew Tkachuk had to play an extra year in the minors, it would improve the overall play of their respective leagues. Players on opposing teams as well as their teammates would improve by playing with them. Opponents would improve due to having to defend these extremely talented players and teammates would improve from getting to see how these exceptional athletes carry themselves, and how they train to be as good as they are. Overall, there would be an outrageous number of benefits for players and organizations alike at the developmental level were the draft age to be pushed back from 18 to 19.

The NHL has a major problem on its hands. With a draft eligibility age being set at such a young age of 18 they are ruining young men’s lives. The NHL is the only major sporting organization in North America with a draft age under 20. There are countless benefits for all parties involved if the draft age were to be pushed back. A change would allow teams the opportunity do a better job at drafting the right player and also would give borderline players more time to make plans for their future, in case they don’t get drafted. Imagine how the parents of these children must feel when it is their child who has had their dreams crushed because they were not allowed to develop to their maximum potential due to a flaw in the system that has prevented them from achieving the goal they’ve been striving towards their entire life.

Rebrand or Promotion?

 

It has been a very busy and confusing offseason in the nation’s capital. This off-season the Ottawa Senators have been apparently rebranding their logo without actually acknowledging it to the fans. On the official website, the Sens changed their logo to the “O” everywhere, including the schedule and logo on the ice for the seating map. Now to seemingly confirm many suspicions, a photo has been released of the “O” as the Centre ice logo at the Canadian Tire Centre and as the logo outside the building. So the question is, are the Sens actually rebranding, or is this some elaborate scheme set up by Eugene Melnyk to promote the Heritage Classic Game?

Now if you think about it logically, it would be such a hassle to rebrand the logo now. The centurion jerseys have already been released so changing the logo now would mean creating new jerseys and shirts. Since this is Adidas’s first year, I really doubt they want this happening as all the team jerseys have already been released and they want everything to run smoothly. However the Heritage Classic Game could be a key factor in everything that is going on. Ottawa will be hosting the game December 16. With all the attendance issues this past playoff run, it is obvious that Melnyk will be making sure that TD Place is jam packed as the game will be viewed by not only Canadians but Americans too. So could this mean that all the rebranding of the logo is just promotion for the game? It is a good tactic as it will constantly remind the fans of the Game and it will create an atmosphere for it right from the start of the season. Think about it, you walk into the Canadian Tire Centre and all you see is the Heritage logo with banners and posters everywhere promoting the game. That seems like a Melnyk type of thing to do and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what’s going on.

I myself want the “O”, but realistically and logistically it doesn’t make sense for the Sens to be rebranding now. So until the Sens make an official statement, I believe this is all a promotion tactic and not a rebrand and I will not be getting my hopes up for a possible logo change. However let’s keep fighting and bugging the Sens and maybe, just maybe they might actually change the logo to our beloved “O”.

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The Red and Black Plague

1-6-1. No these are not lottery numbers, this is the record of the defending Grey Cup Champions, your Ottawa Redblacks. With a record like this, you might think that the Redblacks have been atrocious, however that is not the case at all. In total the Redblacks aggregate this season is 215 – 229. That’s only a 14 point difference. Basically the Redblacks have been outscored this season by 2 touchdowns. Now with a stat like that, you would think that they would have won more than 1 game, but they haven’t. So who is to blame for this disaster in the 613?
Earlier last week, recently retired 3 time Grey Cup champ and the hero of the Redblacks, Henry Burris dropped some tweets that lit up RNation and got everyone talking. This is what he tweeted. 

So basically his tweets are calling out the management for letting some key players go in the offseason. I half agree with Henry in these tweets as I think that the management did a lackluster job this offseason keeping the team together. The RedBlacks lost multiple key players in Ernest Jackson, Chris Williams, Abdul Kanneh and Travon Van and it appears to be coming back to haunt them. The RedBlacks are lacking offensive weapons outside of Ellingson and Sinopoli, they are also missing a true shutdown corner who can be physical and make big plays. However I do not agree with Henry saying there is a lack of leadership on the team now. The Redblacks still have a great Quarterback in Trevor Harris, great wide receivers in Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli and also Jerrell Gavins at Defensive Back. These players and others all won the Grey Cup last season, so they have the experience and leadership to help lead this young Redblacks team this season.
Henry Burris thinks it’s lack of leadership and poor management that is the cause of this plague. What do I think? I think it is the coaching. With a 1-6-1 record, most people will think that teams are beating the Redblacks. However a lot of the time the Redblacks are beating themselves. For example in the Winnipeg game, the Redblacks had a 30-23 lead with 5:21 to go in the 4th quarter. They held the Bluebombers to a field goal making the score 30-26. Now you would think a Grey Cup winning coach would be able to call some nice plays and get the win. However their drive fizzled out and Winnipeg got a field goal and an extra point off the kickoff to tie the game with 51 seconds remaining. Alright, here is the plan, put together a decent drive, get the ball into field goal range and kick it for the win right? Shouldn’t be too hard with all the weapons on their team right? But noo, drive fizzled out again and instead Winnipeg kicked for the win, winning a 33-30 decision. Now that is what I call poor coaching. With a 7 point lead with 5 minutes to go in the CFL, you would expect the Redblacks to have the ball a couple of times and be able to put more points up. But they didn’t and instead allowed 10 points in 5 minutes. How? How is that possible. Poor play calling led to the loss in this instance and has lead to this 1-6-1 record. In my opinion, the organization needs a shakeup, whether it is a big trade, signing a player from NFL training camps or a change to the coaching dynamic, something must be changed, because it is unacceptable to be beating yourselves. Not even losing! But beating yourselves is a big No-No.
Now I might be overreacting a tiny bit, but i’m a big Redblacks fan and I want this team to make the playoffs. And it is still possible! The East is so weak that if we string together a couple of wins, we would be right in a playoff spot. However what makes me mad is the way we are dropping points. It is unacceptable and something needs to be changed. This is my opinion, tell me what yours is by tweeting at us @613_sports or commenting on our Facebook Page. 

The Loss Of A Legend

The hockey community lost a legend after the passing of Bryan Murray was announced Saturday afternoon. Murray passed away after an extended battle with cancer. Murray was an inspiration to many throughout his battle as he was more often than not sitting in the press box at Sens games cheering on the team despite the struggle he was going through. Murray boasts a very impressive National Hockey League career having coached for 13 years (Washington, Detroit, Florida, Anaheim and Ottawa) and also 4 years as the General Manager of the Ottawa Senators. Bryan Murray is in large part the reason there is still a hockey team in Ottawa. Bryan Murray brought so much credibility with him to Ottawa and took the team to whole a new level making them contenders. Bryan’s list of accomplishments in Ottawa is phenomenal; making the cup finals in 2007, drafting Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman, trading for Kyle Turris and Craig Anderson and so much more. Bryan Murray touched the lives of so many in the hockey community and will be a measuring stick for manager and coaches for years to come.

Cameron: My greatest memory of Bryan Murray actually came away from the rink. After Daniel Alfredsson’s rocky departure from the team Bryan met with him in Detroit and the two went for a drive. Less than a year later Alfredsson would be back in a Senator’s uniform for his retirement. This just speaks to the great personality of Murray that after all that happened he still had the character to go for a drive with an old friend and smooth things out.

Eddie: My favourite memory of Bryan Murray was always his reactions on the bench and in the press box. I loved seeing him so intense and involved with the game and when it went well for the Sens, seeing the look of excitement on his face brought a smile to my face. This just shows that he was always involved with the game and took it very seriously. Personally Bryan Murray has always been around the Sens since I’ve been following them and I am for sure gonna miss seeing him and hearing him on the TV and Radio.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Murray family through these hard times

Prospect Pyramid

We’re at the point in the off-season where many fan bases compile their team’s prospect pyramid. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it is essentially a way to rank a team’s prospects into groups, without projecting what line or potential role the player might play in the future. Basically, Tier 1 prospects are the best the organization has to offer, Tier 2 would be a step down from that and so on.

Tier 1:

The first tier of the Ottawa Senators prospects is rather simple to put together, except for one exception. It is obviously Thomas Chabot and Colin White, as they are a clear cut class above everyone else in the Sens system. After debating way longer than I should have, I decided to include Logan Brown in this tier. The 2016 11th overall pick still has great potential and has a very real chance of being a number 1 center in the NHL. Although Brown did struggle a little this year, as he had an injury plagued season, he did finish as a point-per-game player and was crucial to his team the Windsor Spitfires winning the Memorial Cup. Although Brown is not a sure fire NHLer like White or Chabot, his potential still warrants him being in the same tier as them.

Tier 2:

The second tier still includes players very likely to have long NHL careers, they just don’t have a high enough ceiling to warrant them being in the same discussion as Brown, Chabot and White.This tier includes some players who have been in the Sens system for a few years, as well as one new face. The second tier is made up of Shane Bowers, Filip Chlapik, Andreus Englund, Ben Harpur, and Marcus Hogberg. These players are all at different stages of their development. Shane Bowers is just at the beginning of the developmental process; however, he does project out as a top 6 forward in the future and should have a very long and successful NHL career. The next name in this category is a rather intriguing one. Filip Chlapik had an outstanding year in the QMJHL, causing scouts and the organization itself to be very excited for his future. Look for Chlapik to play on a top line this year in Belleville, as well as challenge for some powerplay time. Andreus Englund should begin the year on a top defensive pairing in Belleville and may even get into some NHL games this season, if the Sens run into injury trouble again. I considered not even including Harpur on this list, since he played so many games down the stretch last season- he’s not really considered a prospect; however, because his role on the team is not guaranteed for this upcoming year, I decided to include him, as it is possible he sees some games in Belleville this year. Marcus Hogberg had an outstanding season in Sweden last year, and finally came over to North America before the end of the season. Hogberg is expected to be crucial to the Sens goaltending in the future and is set to compete for the final goaltending spot in Belleville with Chris Driedger this upcoming season.   

Tier 3:

Tier 3 is made up of some very different players, it includes some players who will challenge for a spot on the opening night roster but, have low ceilings. It also includes some players who have the talent to be a borderline tier 1 prospect but have struggled so far in their development as well as a few late round picks, who are looking like they may be diamonds in the rough. Tier 3 is made up by Alex Formenton, Drake Batherson, Gabriel Gagne, Christian Jaros, Nick Paul, Filip Ahl and last but not least Francis Perron. Alex Formenton remains in the early stages of his development process, as he continues to grow into his 6’2” frame and attempts to increase muscle mass. However, Formenton is a tremendous skater and is believed by many to have been the fastest skater in the 2017 draft which is very promising considering the Sens view him as an offensive threat winger in the future where speed is crucial.

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Drake Batherson is a bit of an unknown player for the time being, though he had a great development camp and appears to have plenty of skill; however, his ceiling is yet to be determined. He will play an important role in the Cape-Breton offense this upcoming season. Gabriel Gagne is a prospect who has the talent to be a potential tier 1 prospect yet, he has not been able to have an overly productive season since being drafted by Ottawa. The Senators knew Gagne was going to be a project when they drafted him but I’m sure they would have hoped he’d be farther along in his progress by now. Management fell in love with his size and goal scoring ability. Gagne is 6’5″ and is touted to be a pure goal scorer however, he had an abysmal year in Binghamton last year only scoring 2 goals in 41 games and he even spent some time in the ECHL. This is not what you’re hoping for from a 36th overall pick in a stacked draft class. It is crucial that Gagne has a bounce back year in Belleville, this upcoming season. Christian Jaros has been the prospect receiving plenty of hype from the organization this summer. The Sens have fallen in love with Jaros’ work ethic and it is believed he may get into some games this season. Another prospect who has an opportunity to make the team out of training camp is Nick Paul. Paul had a very disappointing season last year, as he failed to earn a call-up to the NHL even though the majority of his teammates did. It is crucial for Paul to earn some NHL games this season, or it is very likely he will fall out of favor with the organization quickly. This is the final season of his contract and he needs to show the organization he can still be a useful player down the road. Filip Ahl has all the tools to be a pretty good power forward in the future, he is listed at 6’4″ and 225lbs. Ahl needs to work on his skating and improve his foot speed before making the jump to the NHL. He will be playing the upcoming season in Sweden as he has decided not to return to the Memorial cup host Regina Pats. The final prospect of Tier 3 is 2014 7th round selection Francis Perron. Perron had an incredible close to his junior career as he took home both the QMJHL regular season and playoff MVP awards. Perron had a bit of a down year last season, being expected, as it rightfully took him some time to adjust to pro hockey as he is on the smaller side at 6’0″ and 163lbs. Look for Perron to have a bounce back season and contribute much more offensively to the revamped Belleville Senators.

Tier 4:

The final tier is made up of prospects who are either late round picks or mid round picks who have had injuries derail their development to date. This tier includes Jordan Hollett, Todd Burgess, Max Lajoie, Markus Nurmi, Christian Wolanin, Joey Daccord, Miles Gendron, Shane Eiserman, Macoy Erkamps and Kelly Summers. Todd Burgess is a rather intriguing prospect, he has decent skill but he has not played a game since the Sens drafted him in 2016, due to injuries. Hopefully this is the year he can get healthy and show the organization and fans what he is capable of. Markus Nurmi is another project selection who has the height (6’4″) but still needs to bulk up (176lbs). Nurmi was invited to take part in the summer showcase for Team Finland and can hopefully make his way onto the roster and gain valuable experience at the World Juniors.

The Senators cupboards are starting to replenish after a rough few drafts. These prospects will hopefully continue to develop into strong NHL players or valuable trade assets. At the end of the day, drafting is really all about asset management and the Sens have done poorly with that in the past. Hopefully, these recent strong drafts have put the Sens on their way to a brighter and more successful future.

 

Expansion Draft Reaction

Last night the NHL awards took place. The Las Vegas Golden Knights announced their team and some trades that were made. A brief recap from the Senator’s point of view: Erik Karlsson was nominated for the 4th time for the Norris Trophy, the award would however go to Brent Burns. Sens GM Pierre Dorion was nominated for General Manager of the year, the award would end up going to David Poile of the Nashville Predators. The third and final Senator nominated for an award was Craig Anderson. Andy was nominated for the Bill Masterton award for perseverance. Anderson would take home the award which was one of the highlights of the night. Now onto the expansion draft, the Las Vegas Golden Knights would go on to take Marc Methot from Ottawa as everyone expected.

Cameron’s Thoughts:

Personally the awards were a bit of a bust. Karlsson was robbed of his third Norris and it is absurd that two voters left him off their ballot all together. Burns was a very deserving candidate Karlsson was just better overall plain and simple. Burns won for the same reasons Karlsson lost last year.

Dorion really was not deserving of the GM of the year so I have no complaints with David Poile taking home the award. Poile has been an outstanding GM for years and that Subban trade was a work of art.

Anderson was extremely deserving of the Masterton and all the best wishes to his family.

Now onto the expansion draft. Vegas claimed Methot from Ottawa as everyone expected. I am very sad to see Methot go but hockey is a business and these things happen. I’d personally like to wish Marc the best of luck wherever he ends up playing this season. I’ll still be rocking my Methot jersey with pride at sens games. Although many fans are acting as if the sky is falling, losing Methot won’t harm the sens as much as you may think. First of all the money freed up from dumping Methot’s 4.9 million dollar cap hit should allow the sens to lock up Pageau to a long term contract as he is currently an RFA. Also the sens have plenty of internal depth that can fill the slot left open by Methot’s departure. Karlsson himself has stated he is fine playing with Claesson who obviously is not the same level of player as Methot but can be close enough by the end of the season. Also Chabot is coming through the system and should be more than capable to fill the void by the start of the 2018 season. So yes although this makes the sens a worse team as of today, it really does not harm them long term.

Eddie’s Thoughts:

The Norris Trophy, the great prize that all defenceman want right? The key word there being “defenceman”. Last year, Karlsson did not win the Norris Trophy because he was too “offensive”. This year however, he changed his game; finishing with a +10 and scoring 71 points. So logically, you would think that he would win the Norris, right? However, the Norris Trophy was instead given to Brent Burns, a former forward, just because he finished with 78 points. Well excuse me, but last season Karlsson finished with 82 points and he still wasn’t given the Norris because he was considered too “offensive”! Why isn’t the same standard being applied to Brent Burns? Oh yeah, I had forgotten that NHL media is the most biased and pathetic group I have ever seen. Take this in: some reporters did not even have Karlsson as a top 5 defenceman! How? I thought the Norris was supposed to be awarded to the best defenceman, not highest scoring defenceman. I guess it is awarded to the highest scoring defenceman, as long as Karlsson isn’t the scoring leader.

In other news from last night, the Golden Knights took the hometown boy Marc Methot. Yes, we Sens fans are not happy, but if you take a look at it logically, it is not that big of a deal. Erik Karlsson can play with any defenceman, he doesn’t need Marc Methot. In fact, Marc Methot needs Erik Karlsson; however losing Marc is a big loss to the community. He was always active in charities and involved with the city, and he was a fan favourite for sure. Marc played for the Sens for 5 seasons, but it feels like it had been much longer. He had graced us with his solid defending, and from time to time, his timely goals. Oh yeah, how can we forget his signature hip checks; every time he made one, the crowd rose to their feet cheering for Marc Methot. Off ice, Methot was a very friendly guy who was willing to stop and have a conversation with you. He was also very active on social media and chances are if you hit him up, he would reply to you. There is almost nothing you can find wrong about him. I like Methot a lot and he was one of my favourite players. Me, alongside many other Sens fans, will miss him for sure, and we all wish him the best in the future.

End Of An Era

For the first time since the 1994/1995 season, none of Alfredsson, Phillips or Neil will be playing next season for the Sens. News broke Wednesday that Chris Neil would not be returning to play in an Ottawa jersey next season. The 37 year old winger decided that he would like to play another season, however there is no space for him on the Sens roster. His agent did say however that when Neil eventually retires he will most likely stay in Ottawa with his family.

Neil was drafted by the Senators in the sixth round, 161st overall, of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. Neil spent two seasons with Ottawa’s then-American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he posted back-to-back seasons of 300+ penalty minutes and established himself as a solid team player at the professional level. Chris Neil made his NHL debut on October 3, 2001, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The next night, he recorded his first NHL point in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. On October 30, he scored his first NHL goal, against the Atlanta Thrashers. In his rookie season, Neil appeared in 72 games and scored 17 points, while accumulating 231 penalty minutes and establishing himself as a fearless combatant. In the 2005/2006 season, Neil posted his best offensive totals of his career with 16 goals and 33 points. On September 14, 2013, Neil was awarded the role of Alternate Captain. The very next year Chris Neil scored his 100th career goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning. However since the 2014/2015 season, Neil has been playing a declining role as he has struggled with injuries and diminishing skills. Chris Neil finished his 15 seasons with the Sens with a total of 1026 games, 112 goals and 250 points. He amassed 2,522 penalty minutes.

Personally, Chris Neil was always one of my favourites. Whether it was his constant smiling while agitating opponents or smashing people’s faces with his fist, Neil always provided an entertaining game for fans. As a Sens fan, I always felt a savage pride when Neil took matters into his own hands and protected the team. Every time I went to Sens games, I always took note of all the fans in a Neil jersey. He was a fan favorite and he will be greatly missed, Thank you Neil for an awesome career and best of luck in the future!

 

 

Off-Season Plan: Expansion Draft Edition

The Senators came painfully close to their first Stanley Cup Final birth in a decade. They were one shot away and that game 7 double OT loss is going sting for years to come. However, if they follow my off-season plan it may help reduce the heartache. The Senators are on the brink of success however, their window is small and they must act now. The Senators simply can not stand pat, they must make moves to bolster the roster and support Karlsson this off-season. If the Senators are serious about their “win now” motto then this summer will be huge.

Expansion Draft:

The expansion draft will be a huge talking point for the time being and it is crucial to this franchise’s future success. (Link to expansion draft rules for those who are unfamiliar with them: https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-expansion-draft-rules/c-281010592 ) To briefly summarize the rules: teams will be able to protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or they may choose to protect eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender.

The sens should and most likely will go with the first option. Obviously the goaltender the sens should protect is Craig Anderson which would leave Mike Condon (if re-signed) and Andrew Hammond exposed to Vegas. Neither is likely to be taken as there are much better options that will be available.

Along the blue line is where things start to get difficult. The sens have 7 defensemen that are eligible to be taken in the expansion draft. I’ll get the easy one out of the way, there is not a chance in hell the Senators leave Karlsson exposed. That leaves them with 2 slots for 6 remaining defensemen. As you may know Dion Phaneuf has a no move clause in his contract and therefore he has to be protected or the club will need his permission to expose him. If I’m Pierre Dorion I’m hard selling option 2. Phaneuf’s contract would most likely be considered “untouchable” by Vegas. So, if I’m Dorion this is what I’m pitching to Phaneuf and also that if he waives this allows the sens to basically protect 4 defense and keep their core on the backend together. The same defense that shut down the Bruins, the Rangers and nearly the Penguins. With the 2nd of the 3 spots I would protect Marc Methot. Marc has been a rock solid option on the sens blue line for years now and has made one of the league’s better pairings with Karlsson. So in my opinion it is a no-brainer to protect him even if his contract is a little hefty. With my final spot things become very circumstantial. My 3rd spot is contingent on a potential Cody Ceci trade that I will be suggesting later in the post. However, for the purpose of this piece assume Ceci has been dealt. In this case scenario my final defenseman being protected is Freddy Claesson. Freddy is arguably the sens 3rd (potential to be 2nd) best defensemen. Claesson is the player the Senators think Ceci is. What I mean by that is the franchise and coaching staff seem to think Ceci is a young stud two-way defensemen however, while Ceci is getting pummelled by opposing forwards on a nightly basis Claesson has been lighting it up. He’s also only getting better (Ceci is 23 Claesson is 24). Ceci has 1 year left on his contract with a cap hit of $2,800,000  whereas Claesson has 1 year left with a cap hit of $650,000. This extra cap space will help the sens in free agency this year and also allow them to re-sign some of their own players. After all is said and done this would leave Dion Phaneuf, Mark Borowiecki and Chris Wideman exposed. In my opinion there’s a 50/50 chance Wideman gets taken, his play in the playoffs hurt his chances as he was practically invisible down the stretch. Even if the sens lose wideman, all it does is clear space for blue-chip prospect Thomas Chabot. Chabot is already better than multiple members of the sens blue line so I predict these moves will make their defense even stronger next year then it was this past season.

This leaves the Senators with their final decisions of the expansion draft: which seven forwards to protect. There are 4 obvious game breaking forwards that should be no doubt protected by the sens: Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris and Derick Brassard. All 4 were crucial to the sens success this season and it is likely Stone and Hoffman are even better next year with another season of experience under their belt. With the next spot the most obvious choice is RFA Jean-Gabriel Pageau. If the sens failed to protect JGP it would be a marketing disaster. Pageau is a fan favourite in the city of Ottawa as displayed by the “Pageau, Pageau, Pageau, Pageau…” chants often ringing through the concourse at the CTC. Pageau is also a great depth player for the sens and it would be foolish of them to lose him for nothing. This leaves the Senators with a tough decision, they have 2 spots left and 4 eligible players to protect (Macarthur is exempt from expansion draft). The sens have to choose between Zack Smith, Bobby Ryan, Alex Burrows and Ryan Dzingel. The obvious choice to expose is Alex Burrows as the sens gave him a ridiculous contract last season and Vegas would be doing the sens a favor getting it off the books. This leaves 3 players. I think the sens have to protect Zack Smith, he’s proven he can score when given the opportunity, he’s a great penalty killer and an above average faceoff taker. This leaves the sens a huge decision: playoff monster Bobby Ryan or young “flyin’ Ryan Dzingel”. The sens should expose Bobby, his contract is just too overwhelming and I just don’t think Vegas will take that risk. When Bobby is on, he’s on however, the problem is he can never piece together an extended stretch of consistently good hockey. It isn’t worth the risk for the sens to expose a good young talent in Dzingel.  

The Cody Ceci Trade:

I know this is beating the dead horse as I’m sure most of you are tired of hearing people constantly dump on Cody Ceci. However, this summer provides the sens with a huge opportunity. If all the analysts are correct and teams truly are making trades left and right the sens need to capitalize on the market. Teams are apparently trying to unload multiple players as they are afraid to lose them in the expansion draft for nothing. This has caused the analysts to predict a crazy summer is coming on the trade market. Now there will be many players available for trade this summer but, the key for the sens is targeting the right one. It is very likely John Tavares, Jonathan Drouin, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog will be available and some others who are a tier below. The price for Tavares is too high and he will be a free agent next season so I’m canceling him out. Next is Drouin, we’ve gone through this whole fiasco before and it traumatized many sens fans. I’m also crossing off Drouin as I feel Hoffman and Stone provide enough similarities to make it not worth the cost of Drouin. That leaves us with the two Avalanche studs: Duchene and Landeskog. In my opinion this decision is an easy one. The sens already have two great centers in Brassard and Turris however, they are lacking a true big bodied power forward who can drive the net and bury some goals. Landeskog would also help improve our dreadful power play with his net front presence. Landeskog has 4 years left on his contract with a cap hit of $5.571 million. This is definitely affordable for a player of his talent. Now here’s where it gets tricky, what would Ottawa have to give up in return? First of all, Cody Ceci as the Avalanche have a clear need for some young defense. I would also include one of Andreus England or Ben Harpur to help bolster their blue line. Finally, I would throw in a 2nd and if that doesn’t do it I would upgrade the 2nd to a 1st as this year’s draft class is billed to be rather weak so it isn’t a big loss for the sens to lose the pick. To conclude this trade would see Ottawa sending Ceci, Harpur/England and a 2nd round pick to Colorado in exchange for Gabriel Landeskog.

This is part 1 of 3 for my off-season plan. I’m breaking it up into parts as it would be way too long to post all at once. Also this way it keeps a steady flow of posts coming throughout the summer to provide you guys with some content on those slow news days. The next part of my plan will cover the NHL Entry Draft and the third and final post will cover Free Agency.

This Is “R” Cup!

Our beloved city is suffering from what I like to call #IsItOctoberYet syndrome. Symptoms of this fever include: breaking down crying whenever someone mentions the Sens; being in denial that the sens season is over and also turning into the Hulk whenever the Penguins are mentioned. This fever is especially impacting the Sens twitterverse. For example take a look at @brian5or6’s tweet:

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However there is a cure to this terrible sickness! The cure is to shift your focus to another local sports team! That’s right, I’m talking about our Grey Cup Champions, your Otawaaaaaaa Reeeeeeedblacks!

The Ottawa Redblacks start their preseason Thursday June 8 versus the rival Hamilton Tigercats. Now to refresh everyone’s memory, here is a little recap:

The Redblacks finished first in the East Division with an 8-9-1 record. This was the first time in CFL history that a team finished first with a losing record. Since they came first, they gained a by to the Eastern Division Final where they faced the big bad Edmonton Eskimos in the typical Ottawa snow. The hometown boys came out of the game with a 35-23 win. This put the Redblacks in the Grey Cup Final for the second year in a row. The Grey Cup final was an exciting match with the Redblacks taking the lead multiple times. However the Calgary Stampeders eventually tied up the game in the fourth quarter, meaning Overtime was needed. The Ottawa Redblacks elected to go first and their decision earned them a touchdown through Ernest Jackson’s bobbling catch. It was then Calgary’s turn and they needed a touchdown to keep the game running. Their first play was a long bomb to the Endzone which ended up incomplete, their second play was a quick short pass which was also incomplete. This left the final down. If Calgary did not complete the pass, Ottawa would be Grey Cup champions! Mitchell snapped the ball and looked down the field and launched it……. INCOMPLETE!!!! And the Redblacks won the Grey Cup!

The Redblacks finally brought a championship to Ottawa. Now it’s our turn to pay them back! Preseason kicks off soon, so let’s show them our support now and for the rest of the season. We will be doing some player profiles throughout the preseason to get you ready for the Redblacks bid at becoming repeat champions!

Post by: @beddieb on twitter