Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators: The Maple Leafs Are Coming!

Let’s take a look at what the Ottawa Senators have done so far in free agency. 

Ceci/Zaitsev Swap

The Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs finally completed the Zaitsev trade. I am a little confused at this one. Ottawa paid Toronto to take on a bad contract, shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t like Cody Ceci as a player whatsoever and the Sens management finally answered longtime prayers from the fanbase by trading the struggling defenseman.

I believe that if Ceci were used in the right capacity, he could be an effective top 4 defenseman in the NHL. However, he was never used in the right capacity in Ottawa. Ceci is a puck moving defenseman who was used as a shutdown defenseman and he simply does not have the skill set to be a shutdown defenseman. Let’s see what happens with Ceci next, does he re-sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs? Or does he move on?

Ron Hainsey

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Next, the Ottawa Senators signed Ron Hainsey to a one year contract at a 3.5 million cap hit. I like this signing, he can help mold guys like Thomas Chabot and Erik Brannstrom into high caliber defenseman. While Chabot and Brannstrom are remarkable talents, it doesn’t hurt having a guy like Hainsey in the locker room to help them mature.

Hainsey is a decent defenseman, but he brings a lot more to the table than his on ice play. Remember, this guy won the cup his first two times playing in the postseason. He knows what it takes to win, he is a voice in the locker room and he can mentor everyone. As much as I think Ottawa overpaid for him, we need to get to the cap floor, and I think the signing is actually a pretty good one.

Tyler Ennis

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The next move was signing Tyler Ennis. Ennis signed with the Sens at 800k for one year.

I don’t know how to feel about this signing. He has jumped around the league recently and I don’t really get the point in this signing. Tyler Ennis went from Buffalo to Minnesota and then he went to Toronto. Does this show that he isn’t the most coachable player? Or does it mean that new Sens coach, D.J. Smith likes him a lot and just wanted him to come along?

Former Sens coach Guy Boucher had a few players like this, Tom Pyatt and Nate Thompson to name a few. I think Tyler Ennis is the same type of signing that Pyatt and Thompson were a few years back. Let’s see what happens.

Sticking To Rebuilding

Instead of using the massive amount of cap space the team to sign superstars, Pierre Dorion sticked to his rebuilding plan and made a few depth signings. I do not believe that Dorion is done yet tho, he has a few more things up his sleeves. For example, he needs to sign Colin White and he should sign Thomas Chabot as quickly as possible to avoid a situation like in Toronto where it took half the season to sign Nylander.

stats from hockey-reference.com

research from CapFriendly.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Nikita Zaitsev

Zaitsev-Ceci Trade Reaction Round-up

featured image photo credit – Dinur Blum

Taking a look at everyone’s first impressions regarding the Toronto and Ottawa trade that included Nikita Zaitsev and Cody Ceci.

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John Shannon confirming the pieces involved in the trade.

Alex from Sens twitter doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of the return.

Sean Tierney, known for his data analysis reacts with Toronto having the clear edge in the trade.

Draglikepull just like all Leafs fans are worried about Ceci’s deployment in the lineup, while still happy to get rid of Zaitsev’s absurd cap hit that lasts until 2024.

 

On the flip side, Leafs super fan and Sportsnet analyst Steve Dangle has his own concerns about the trade. They have more to do with Babcock getting a new favourite however.

Ottawa Senator’s super fan and MVP of last season, @Brain5or6, had this reaction to the trade. It’s fair to say he’s not a huge fan.

https://twitter.com/brian5or6/status/1145662869985476608?s=21

Ottawa Senator’s super fan and MVP of last season, @bRian5or6, had this reaction to the trade. It’s fair to say he’s not a huge fan.

 

Scott Wheeler, prospect writer for The Athletic woke up to good news as a Leafs fan.

 

Senators parody account Bonk’s Mullet felt that he’s seen something similar before.

Editor and Pittsburgh Penguins contributor at Puck77, Justin Miner, had this to say on the trade, providing a little light at the end of the tunnel for Sens fans.

“Zaitsev will thrive outside of the spotlight of the Toronto media and connor brown could be a steal as a top 6 player, much like the players in Vegas that got expanded roles and flourished with the opportunity. I am not saying that they make Ottawa a threat but they will perform admirably with the opportunity.”

Tony Ferrari, Editor and contributor at Puck77, immediate reaction was a mix of positive for the Leafs and worry for the Senators.

“The fact that the Leafs were able to unload the Zaitsev contract as well as dumping Brown, as much as he was loved in Toronto, was a smart move. My hope is that the Leafs can flip Cody Ceci for a pick or prospect and use that additional space to sign a defender that fits in on Toronto’s roster a little bit better. Also, why did Dorion send Dubas a 2020 third round pick?”

Lastly, our very own Josh Tessler from ThePuck77, doesn’t understand what Ottawa was doing in this trade and sees the Leafs as the clear winners.

Overall, the reactions to the deal that essentially boiled down to Nikita Zaitsev-plus for  Cody Ceci-plus was fairly positive from the Toronto Maple Leafs side of Twitter and less than positive from the Ottawa Senators focused media/fan base. The Senators seem like the losers here but only time will tell. Could the fresh start get Zaitsev back to being a top-four defender? Will Ceci stay in Toronto or be flipped? Connor Brown could be the player that decides who wins this trade. If he can return to his 20-goal form of his rookie season with an increased role in Ottawa, they may feel better the trade a year from now. 

Ottawa Senators

Toronto Maple Leafs trade Nikita Zaitsev to the Ottawa Senators.

News trickled in overnight of the details of the long expected Nikita Zaitsev trade to the Ottawa Senators.

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It has been speculated throughout the week that Toronto would get Senators D-man, Cody Ceci, in return. Following Darren Dreger breaking that Zaitsev had agreed to waive his no trade clause, Bob McKenzie alluded to the trade including more pieces than just the two aforementioned D-men.

Toronto’s focus in this move was clearly to shed salary. Moving the $4.5M and $2.1M cap hits of Zaitsev and Connor Brown should free up the space needed to resign Mitch Marner and look at other free agents or trades involving a big defenceman. Toronto is losing a former 20 goal scorer, in Connor Brown, and their number one penalty killer, in Zaitsev. The telling part of this move is whether the Leafs decide to renew Ceci’s contract. If Ceci is renewed it will likely come in at around the same price as the Zaitsevs contract they just moved. That would leave minimal room outside of the Marner extension and would likely symbolise that this is the defensive core the Leafs head into the season with. This would be a lateral move for the Leafs and one that would be viewed pretty negatively by the fanbase.

Ottawa, however, are getting a player in Connor Brown who could produce with the ice-time he likely is afforded there. In Zaitsev, they are getting a slightly older Cody Ceci who is locked up to term. If Ceci didn’t want a renewal, this could have been seen as a necessary move for Ottawa. A more comprehensive breakdown of this trade will be coming in the future.

 

Sources: Hockey-reference.com

Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche Draft Recap and Analysis

The Colorado Avalanche were able to come away from the draft weekend as the big winners. Thanks to a complete lack of self realization and foresight by Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion, the Avalanche were armed with the fourth overall pick as well as their own pick at 16.

The Picks

Bowen Byram, LHD, Vancouver Giants (WHL), Round 1, 4th Overall

The Colorado Avalanche were able to land themselves the consensus top-ranked defender in the 2019 NHL Draft. A silky, smooth skater who led the WHL playoffs in scoring from the back end, Byram was an offensive catalyst. The Vancouver Giants blue liner was able to affect that game in every facet.

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The young Canadian showed outstanding potential offensively. Byram proved able to make any pass he’s asked whether it be transitioning out of the defensive zone with a long pass through the neutral zone or a short pass to alleviate pressure along the boards. In the offensive zone he is a facilitator from the point. He threads passes through the zone finding open lanes through the slot to create high danger scoring chances. He also skates extremely well with the puck on his stick, understanding when the opportunity arises to make a move and get himself into scoring position.

Defensively, Byram was consistently improving throughout the year. His gal control was excellent due to his outstanding skating and edge work. He was able to pivot and keep oncoming attackers to the outside preventing dangerous chances. His board play was impressive as he was able to win battles in the corners and along the side walls with consistency. The future Avs defender was a presence in the net front, clearing the crease with proficiency. Overall, the top defender I the draft will be a luxury for a team who’s defensive pipeline already includes Connor Timmins, Sam Girard and Cale Makar which could lead to the Colorado Avalanche having once of the best blue lines in hockey within a few short seasons.

Alex Newhook, C, Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL), Round 1, 16th Overall

Despite playing a level below major junior, the BCHL star proved that he was a first round talent. Alex Newhook battled through a slow start and not making the Canadian Hlinka-Gretzky squad. Often times players are unable to perform at their top speed but the young Grizzlies star has speed to burn and can play the game at full speed. His skating is elite among NHL talent already and his hockey IQ is top level. Often ranked among the top-10 prior to the draft, Colorado’s ability to land a top flight center to pair with the best defender in the draft class helps solidify the Avalanche as the big winners of the draft.

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Using his high-level burst and edge work, he does an excellent job of tracking opposing players into the defensive zone. He uses a quick, high-skill stick work to separate player from puck. Once the puck is turned over, Newhook is able to take a couple of strides pulling away from his adversaries with ease. The east coast native is a neutral zone wizard when it comes to the translation game. Whether it be using his crisp, accurate passing or his high-octane speed, Newhook gets through the zone efficiently and at a high rate of speed.

Once into the offensive zone, he creates space with his ability to drive defenders back with his speed before stopping on a dime. His edge work and quick first step allow him to create separation in tight spaces and get into tight areas with the puck. Newhook has a solid frame, able to handle being leaned on in the corners and still coming out with the puck more often than not. His vision and hockey sense are constantly on display as he finds and sets up his teammates. His shot is NHL ready, especially off the rush or on a one time opportunity. He is able to change the angle on his shot with excellent stick handling off the rush, which becomes nearly unstoppable at times when you combine it with his exceptional speed.

Drew Helleson, RHD, USNTDP (USHL), Round 2, 47th Overall

Helleson is a solid defensive blue liner who is a very fluid skater. He makes efficient plays with the puck on his stick and he is able to skate confidently with the puck when needed. Offensively he has a decent shot from the point that relies on accuracy to get it through more than power. He makes simple passes to the forwards, allowing the high skilled players to make plays and facilitating when needed.

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He is patient and poised with the puck in his own zone, rarely making a mistake. He moves well forwards and backwards, able to gain speed and keep pace with attacking forwards. He could stand to improve his lateral quickness as he can be turned around at times when being driven back with high-level speed. He provides a physical presence but doesn’t rely on the bone crushing hit that can often take a player out of the play. He uses his large frame with a purpose and engages at the appropriate time. He is with attend Boston College in the fall, along with fellow Avs draft choice Alex Newhook, where he is likely to continue his development for at least two seasons before making the jump to the professional ranks.

Matthew Stienburg, C/RW, St. Andrews College (CAHS), Round 3, 63rd Overall

This was the first pick that Joe Sakic and the Avalanche management team may have reached on. Due to being diagnosed with Osteomyelitis, an infection in the shoulder that was eating away at the muscle tissue and bone, the CHL route was taken away because he only played in 15 games in his CHL draft eligible year. Electing to go through multiple surgeries in an attempt to return his a to fill mobility, he dealt with adversity at a young age. He opened up to the prep school-NCAA route and is committed to Cornell next year.

While Stienburg showed skills, his physical presence is his calling card. Often compared to Tom Wilson, the young Canadian is a bit of a throwback type player. He fought in a call up to Sioux City of the USHL, racking up 15 PIM. He possesses pro-ready size at 6’1″, 185lbs. His offensive game is well rounded as he was able to produce 33 goals and 42 assists in just 56 games proving that he isn’t just a goon despite in 98 PIMs on the season. Certainly a project, Stienburg will attend Cornell for at least a couple of years and continue to develop and hone his raw skill set. With his plus hockey IQ, he may be able to turn himself into a solid middle-six forward at the professional level.

Alex Beaucage, RW/LW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL), Round 3, 78th Overall

The 2019 Memorial Cup champion was the Avalanche’s second pick in the third round. Alex Beaucage is one of the youngest players in the draft and he put up impressive offensive numbers as the fifth highest scoring first year draft eligible players in the QMJHL. Beaucage was an offensive producer with 79 points in just 68 games, he played with older, more experienced players and was often the beneficiary of their solid play.

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He wasn’t strictly as passenger as he possesses solid traits such as a good shot and vision. He is able to get the puck off his stick quickly and efficiently whether it be a shot or a pass. Next season will provide a lot of answers for Beaucage as he will likely be asked to lead a line of his own rather than ride shotgun with some veteran players. It was a puck worth taking the risk on as he could grow into a lead-dog role with the Huskies next season.

Lottery Tickets: Round 4 and Beyond

Sasha Mutala, RW, Tri-City Americans (WHL), Round 5, 140th Overall

Mutala is a good skater with quick acceleration. He is a high-motor player who is an active forechecker creating chances from the dirty areas of the ice. Mutala has a heavy shot and decent vision. Projects as a third-line winger.

Luka Burzan, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL), Round 6, 171st Overall

Originally eligible for the draft last year, Burzan thrust himself in the scene with a 40 goal, 78 point campaign following a year where he had 9 goals and 21 points. Burzan is a project player who could continue to grow offensively.

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Trent Minor, G, Vancouver Giants (WHL), Round 7, 202nd Overall

Trent Minor led the Vancouver Giants to the WHL final where they fell to the Prince Albert Raiders in seven games. A sub-2.00 goals against average and a .924 save percentage which were aided by playing on an outstanding team. A teammate of Byram, the Avalanche 4th overall pick, Miner is slightly undersized but shows promise in net.

Draft Recap

The Colorado Avalanche were able to take advantage of the poor situation that Matt Duchene our them in by getting the Ottawa Senators first round pick. That gave Colorado the opportunity to use the 2019 NHL Entry Draft to bolster their depth all over the ice despite experiencing some on-ice success. Having the 4th and 16th pick in the first round was an advantageous spot to be put in. After selecting Byram with the fourth pick they were fortunate to have Alex Newhook, a player often ranked in the top-10, with the 16th pick. Those two players will bolster this team in areas of need and they were also the best players available. Byram adds to the defensive prospect pipeline making it the best blue line group of prospects in the NHL. Newhook will likely solidify the second line center spot behind Nathan MacKinnon where he will be able to follow MacKinnon’s speed with a second wave of breath taking speed.

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After the first round Colorado continued to make good decisions, going with a mix of safe picks such as Helleson and riskier picks like Stienburg. Adding a defensive defender who can skate and make a solid first pass the way Helleson does in the second round was a smart choice and then they took risks as the puck certainty decreased. Balancing the risk of drafting Stienburg with a bit of a safer pick in the offensively gifted Beaucage was a strategy that could pay off in time. Mutala and Burzan are good upside picks where Colorado took a bit of a risk later in the draft as they should. Trent Miner is a goalie who has some winning pedigree and good statistics. He has some good tools and grabbing him in the 7th round may end up being a steal.

Overall, the Colorado Avalanche May be the team that won the draft as early on as day one. Acquiring two top-10 talents, one of which being the clear-cut best defender in the draft, means that they more than took advantage of the opportunity that they were presented with. Colorado had success on the ice this year, making it to the second round and pushing San Jose to a controversial game seven. Now, after pulling in the draft class that they did, they are starting the offseason with some success off the ice.

For more the draft, prospects and the NHL in general you can follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari

All statistics and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL, Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats.

Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators: 2019 NHL Entry Draft Analysis

In the midst of a rebuild, Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion was seen reaching on a few players in the draft.

The Ottawa Senators were only able to leave Vancouver with 6 new prospects. But, the Senators scouting staff have surprised many fans in the past with their picks, so there is optimism around the players selected.

Picks

Lassi Thomson, 19th overall, Round 1

Shane Pinto, 32nd overall, Round 2

Mads Søgaard, 37th overall, Round 2

Viktor Lodin, 94th overall, Round 4

Mark Kastelic, 125th overall, Round 5

Maxence Guénette, 187th overall, Round 7 

Analyzing the Draft

Lassi Thomson, RHD, Kelowna Rockets, WHL

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I strongly believe the Senators picked this player out of organizational need instead of picking the best player available. While I do like this pick, I can’t help but feel that there were better options out there. Thomson might’ve still been available at pick 32, but you can never be sure. A few notable names I would’ve liked the Senators to target with this pick are Ryan Suzuki, Samuel Poulin and Philip Tomasino. Nonetheless, I’m extremely happy with this pick because it helps fill a shortage on the right side of defense. Thomson is a heavy right shot defenseman with a cannon of a shot. He still has time to fill out his frame and improve his skating, but that will come with time.

Shane Pinto, C, Tri-City Storm, USHL

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Now here’s where many fans and experts were confused. Somehow, Arthur Kaliyev and Bobby Brink fell out of the first round and Ottawa had the 32nd overall pick. Dorion and company opted to select USHL forward Shane Pinto instead of Kaliyev or Brink.

I was really hoping for the Senators to select Kaliyev with this pick, but it’s far too early to make any conclusions on who will become the best player, although, Kaliyev seems much more promising. Kaliyev managed to put up 51 goals and 51 assists in 67 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs this past season. Seventeen year olds don’t often put up those kind of numbers. But, Senators management had made a point that they were going to target character players and I believe this may be the reason why they weren’t high on Kaliyev. However, I do believe Dorion should have traded down as some teams may have been interested in trading up to land Kaliyev or Brink. They could have potentially added another draft pick. 

Regardless, Pinto is a right shot forward with size and possesses a high hockey IQ, especially in the offensive zone. He will be joining fellow Senators prospects Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonny Tychonick next season at the University of North Dakota.

I’m cautiously optimistic about this pick.

Mads Søgaard, G, Medicine Hat Tigers, WHL

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Søgaard actually outplayed fellow Senators 2017 6th round pick Jordan Hollett last season and stole the starting goaltender spot in Medicine Hat. The towering 6’7 goalie has a ton of promise. He has already drawn comparisons to former Senators goalie (now on the Dallas Stars) Ben Bishop because of his size. He has good lateral movement and can handle the puck quite well. Søgaard is heading back to Medicine Hat, where he should be the teams starting goalie throughout the year.

But, here’s my problem with this pick. Ottawa are a rebuilding team and should stock up as many picks as they can. I just didn’t understand their logic behind giving up a 3rd round pick just to move up a few spots and select a goalie who was predicted to go in the late 2nd or 3rd round. It’s possible management knew another team in front of them that were interested in the goaltender, but even then if that were the case, Ottawa should have kept their 3rd rounder to select an additional prospect. It just seems underwhelming when a rebuilding team comes out of the draft with only six selections.

On a positive note, the addition of Søgaard further solidifies Ottawa’s promising goaltender situation as they own quite a few young goalies with upside in Marcus Högberg, Filip Gustavsson, Joey Daccord and Kevin Mandolese. You can never have too many goalies. And if a few of them become studs, they can be used as trade bait. Goalies are always a hot commodity. 

What this means

The addition of Lassi Thomson improves Ottawa’s RHD (right handed defenseman) depth as their only other prospect worth noting in that category is Jacob Bernard-Docker. Both, Bernard-Docker and Thomson project as top 4 defenseman, which bodes well for the team’s future. Dorion also addressed their right handed forward situation with the addition of Shane Pinto to their prospect system. 

It’s well known that the 2019 NHL draft was a weaker crop than usual, so I’ll give Dorion the benefit of the doubt with his six selections. The 2020 draft however seems to be a strong, deep draft. It’s also a draft in which the Senators own a bevy of picks, including 7 (possibly 8) in the first 3 rounds. So, hopefully we’ll be seeing some more talented prospects join the organization next year.

Although, I do believe the Senators reached on a few picks, I’ve been proven wrong before and I have full confidence in the one thing this team actually does well, drafting.

stats from eliteprospects.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals