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

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

 

2019 NHL Draft: Potential Gems Part 1 – Atlantic Division

Welcome to a new series I’m starting here on Puck77. Hidden gems in the NHL Draft.

 
If you couldn’t tell already, I’m an absolute draft nut. And I was starting to get antsy with me not having done a prospect series of some sort in a while. One of my favourite weekends of the year just wrapped up, and as a result, all 31 NHL teams have a new crop of young talent in the pipelines. Some of them could be hall of famers, some of them could be NHL mainstays, some of them might not even see a game of professional hockey. But that’s the beauty of the draft. And to give you all a little more information on who to look out for, I’m going to start a series going over one potential hidden gem from each team’s 2019 draft class. Without further ado, let’s kick things off with the Atlantic Division.
 

Boston Bruins – Matias Mantykivi (D, 6th Round, 185th Overall)

 
The Bruins went slightly off the board with their first round pick and drafted forward John Beecher, a dynamic centre who has good size and great offensive tendencies to make it a good selection overall. Because they didn’t have a second or a fourth round pick, they ended up picking four more players on day two, with one of them being Matias Mantykivi.
 
Mantykivi is a small Finnish defenseman who spent the majority of this season palying for SaiPa U20 of the Jr. A SM-Liiga, which is essentially Finland’s junior league. He was very good offensively this season, putting up 36 points over 34 games for the team while also seeing some ice time with Kettera of the Mestis league (Finland’s version of the AHL) and Saipa of the SM-Liiga, their top league. It’s unknown where he will be playing next season, but the most likely scenario is that he remains in Finland to further develop his game until the Bruins believe he’s ready to come to North America.
 

Buffalo Sabres – Filip Cederqvist (LW, 5th Round, 143rd Overall)

 
Without a doubt, the Sabres’ most hyped up pick was forward Dylan Cozens, taken at seventh overall. The big centre from the WHL could look to provide a really solid one-two punch with Jack Eichel eventually. They also selected a solid two way defenseman at 31st overall in Ryan Johnson. After these two were selected, the Sabres went on to make four more picks, three of them being forwards and one of them being a goaltender. If I have to pick one of these guys to be a potential hidden gem, I’m going with Filip Cederqvist.
 
After getting passed over last year in his first year of eligibility, the Sabres took a flier on Cederqvist in the fifth round and it looks like a pick that could pay off for them. The Skara, Sweden native is a 6’1 winger who spent most of this season playing for the Vaxjo Lakers of the SHL and had a pretty solid campaign, putting up eight points in 33 games. He also spent time with the Lakers’ J20 team where he put up 32 points in 26 games. As of now, it seems like Cederqvist will spend most of his development in Sweden, but he could turn out to be something for the Sabres.
 

Detroit Red Wings – Albin Grewe (LW, 3rd Round, 66th Overall)

 
The Red Wings had one of the busiest days at the draft of any team, leaving Rogers Arena with 11 new prospects under their belts. Their first pick was off the board, but not surprising to me at all, taking German defenseman Moritz Seider at sixth overall. I firmly believe Seider could turn out to be a gem for the Wings, seeing that he wasn’t getting much coverage playing in Germany. But that’s a post for another time.
 
Instead, I’m going with Albin Grewe as the Wings’ hidden gem (his last name is pronounced Gree-vay. Don’t make the same mistake I did). He’s said to be a gritty winger who can also put the puck in the back of the net. Through 25 games with Djurgardens IF J20 of the SHL’s junior league, he put up 34 points. He’s under contract with Djurgardens IF of the SHL, and will more than likely start next season on the main squad rather than in the minors. I personally had Grewe going mid-second round, so the fact that they took him in the third round strikes me as a potential steal for the Red Wings.
 

Florida Panthers – Cole Schwindt (C, 3rd Round, 81st Overall)

 
With Roberto Luongo on the brink of retirement and James Reimer entertaining the possibility of getting bought out, it’s not at all surprising that the Panthers went with the top goaltending prospect in Spencer Knight as their first round pick. They had a busy day on day two, leaving with eight more draft picks. Out of all of the Panthers’ mid-to-late rounders, Cole Schwindt was the one that stood out to me.
 
The 6’2 Kitchener native spent this season with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, and finished a solid campaign with 49 points in 68 games. He has good size and he’s only 18 years old, so another year or two in the OHL could do wonders for him until the Panthers are ready to bring him to the pros. There’s a great chance we could see Schwindt turn into something.
 

Montreal Canadiens – Arsen Khisamutdinov (LW, 6th Round, 170th Overall)

 
The Habs got one of the first presumed steals of the draft in the first round, selecting forward Cole Caufield at 15th overall when he was projected to go as high as seventh overall. Like the Red Wings, the Canadiens had a busy day at the draft and left with ten new prospects. One of these ones was Arsen Khisamutdinov.
 
Khisamutdinov (I feel bad for the announcer who has to say that name) is an overage forward who was born in 1998 and spent this season playing back home in Russia. The 6’3 winger spent the majority of this season playing for Reaktor Nizhnekamsk of the MHL (Russia’s version of the CHL) and also impressed in a small sample size with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk of the KHL, putting up five points over nine games. There always seems to be a number of overage Russians that go in the mid rounds of drafts, and Khisamutdinov looks like he could become a solid pickup for the Habs.
 

Ottawa Senators – Mads Sogaard (G, 2nd Round, 37th Overall)

 
The Senators could have had the fourth overall pick in this draft but sacrificed it in the deal that brought them Matt Duchene (who isn’t with the team anymore). Regardless, they ended up getting a first round pick back from the Columbus Blue Jackets in an ironic deal that sent Duchene to the Jackets. Either way, one first round pick is better than none, and they used theirs to select Lassi Thomson, a solid Finnish defenseman from the WHL. While they only selected six players this past weekend, they might have found a gem in Mads Sogaard.
 
It might be hard to call Sogaard a gem considering he’s a second round pick who was picked right around where he was projected to be, but he has potential to become a really good starting goalie in the league. The 6’7 Danish goalie spent this season with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and finished with a record of 19-8-2 with a GAA of 2.64 and a save percentage of .921 to go with it. He will likely head back to the WHL for at least one more season, but he could turn out to be something special for the Sens.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning – Max Crozier (D, 4th Round, 120th Overall)

 
After drafting defenseman Cal Foote in the first round a couple of years back, the Lightning went with his younger brother in 2019, drafting forward Nolan Foote. The Bolts drafted a total of seven players in 2019, and one player in particular that sticks out as a potential gem is Max Crozier.
Crozier spent this season playing for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL, putting up 43 points in 60 games from the back end. Being 6’1 and right-handed, he already has an edge in terms of value over some other players. He’s committed to play for Providence College of the NCAA next year, and it will be interesting to see how he develops over a couple years of college hockey.
 

Toronto Maple Leafs – Mikko Kokkonen (D, 3rd Round, 84th Overall)

 
The Maple Leafs didn’t have a first round pick in 2019, but kicked things off in the second round by selecting skilled forward Nick Robertson at 53rd overall. They only made six picks this year, but their potential gem might have come in the third round in the form of Mikko Kokkonen.
 
After reading some scouting reports on his game, he was described as the type of defenseman who won’t blow you away with any one aspect of his game, but plays a steady all around game. He put up 16 points in 59 games for Jukurit of the SM-Liiga and is known to be good defensively as well. If his development goes according to plan, it’s possible he could cap out as a good top four defenseman at the NHL level.
 
Thanks for reading. Tune in next time when we’ll be going over a potential gem from each Central Division team.