I kind of expect him to be able to do this with his eyes closed. - Jamie Sabau
Lockouts have a way of making us all feel rather sour, whereas prospects make many giddy with endless optimism that, when hockey does return, we have umpteen budding stars waiting in the wings. Here's a very slightly more grounded update on the players in Ottawa's system.
In the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Senators opted for a homegrown product in the first round, Cody Ceci of the Ottawa 67's. In retrospect, any fan who thought the Sens would take Ceci were predicating their belief on a Dustin Byfuglien-sized 'if' (that's not my best material). Ceci was the sixth-ranked North American skater in a defense-heavy first round. Yet, for whatever reason, Ceci was not among the initial scramble for top future defenders and he fell to the Senators lap at the fifteenth slot. It will be many years before we can collectively look back and hold his production up against Ryan Murray, Griffin Reinhart, Hampus Lindholm, Matthew Dumba, Derrick Pouliot, Jacob Trouba and Slater Koekkok. They all have two important things in common: they play defence and they were picked before Cody Ceci. Of course, since Morgan Rielly was the player the Leafs took, we can expect the comparisons to start next year. In fact, they're probably already ongoing. Similarly, it's much too early to say whether or not the Murray team selected the right player in the spot. It seems as though every year, one player slips down the chart for no discernible reason. Ottawa fans are hoping it was for no reason at all.
So far this year, Cody Ceci has been an offensive stud on the blueline of a team that has gone 7-18-0-2. Oh, and just if you're curious, that puts him at second overall in defensive production. Once again, it will be a very long time before we know if the right decision was made, so it doesn't really matter that Slater Koekkok is eleventh. I just figured I'd pass it along.
Among the things the Ottawa Senators do to help make my life easier when there is no lockout is post a weekly prospect update, neatly compiling the stat lines of nearly everyone in the Senators' system in one convenient location. Sadly, the lockout has resulted in no weekly prospect updates for me to mooch off of-- yet another example, if an inane one, of how this lockout is hurting the little guy. Still, here's a focus with some insight on how some of the players in Ottawa's system are faring through their junior campaigns:
- I wrote back in September about how this is a critical campaign for Matt Puempel. Coming off an extensive time away from the ice owing to a concussion he sustained in the New Year, Puempel was traded to the competitive and fairly stacked Kitchener Rangers. The two-time thirty-goal scorer is well on his way to surpassing his previous goal total. In 26 games for Kitchener this year, Puempel has 21 goals and 7 assists. Jeez. When you get tired of being so selfish Matt, let us know.
- Puempel deserves serious credit for the manner in which he's been making the puck meet twine. And it certainly doesn't hurt that his head coach, Steve Sprott, will also be taking Canada to the World Juniors in Russia.
- Stefan Noesen is also well on his way to a third thirty-goal season, and his have been consecutive. Through his first 21, he has 14 goals and 8 assists, good for an average just a shade higher than a point-per-game. Noesen doesn't seem to attract as much attention as other prospects in the system, but he quietly has put together very good campaigns since the Senators drafted him. Allen Panzeri of the Citizen did give him some well-earned credit the other week, though. As for nicknames for Noesen, I don't mind LBJ, but then just because they were both Senators from Texas might fly over the heads of some.
- Unfortunately, Jarrod Maidens has yet to return to hockey. He is nearing a year since he last played hockey, but the biggest concern obviously is his health. Pardon my kindergarten-level understanding of head injuries, but it seems to me as though this kind of patience would rarely have been exhibited in years' past. Good.
- You'd know this by now if you follow me on Twitter and read the mostly mundane things I send out to the world, but Jakub Culek was traded to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles the other week and has responded to the move well. He has put up six points in his first six regular season games of the year. I'm still mystified as to what went on there, but it's good to see a hockey player get to play hockey again after sitting because of other people's mistakes.
- Everyone likes to hear about Nikita Filatov, right? Well, he has 17 points in 28 games in the KHL, which can put a )))))))) --Russian smile emoticon-- on everyone's face.
- This has nothing to do with the Senators, unless they draft the kid, but Pro Hockey Talk had an article yesterday about how Donovan McNabb's nephew is rocketing up NHL draft charts. I only point that out because McNabb would be pleased to find out that, unlike in football, there are actually no ties in professional hockey.
In Binghamton news, the team is on its best run in the past two seasons, having won six games in a row. I've been lagging behind on my Bingo coverage at a bad time because I've written plenty about their losses over the past year and a quarter. I'll be back to recap this weekend's coming games. When it's time for the weekend recap, I will also have finished watching the replays of the current run. I'll offer a few opinions, fodder for those of you who have been keeping a keen eye on the team this season.
They've already beaten both the Adirondack Phantoms and the Syracuse Crunch over the current run and will be tested by those two teams this weekend, playing the Flyers' affiliate on Friday and the Lightning club on Sunday. It's worth pointing out (again) that the Syracuse Crunch are essentially the same group that won 28 straight to finish out the regular season on their way to a Calder Cup. They were the Norfolk Admirals then, but switched affiliations during the offseason.
Ottawa's other upstate New York team, the Elmira Jackals are currently sitting at 6th in the ECHL's Eastern Conference. Players who made their way to Elmira from Bingo include Darren Kramer, Louie Caporusso, Danny New, Jack Downing (a victim of the numbers game in Binghamton), Ben Blood and offseason goalie signing Marc Cheverie. Speaking of the ECHL, why does Devin Setoguchi not have the most points-per-game in the league? (The question is intended to be mostly rhetorical and any answer you offer shouldn't have anything to do with Scott Gomez playing for the Alaska Aces.)