Like most other Senators fans, I welcomed the news Andre Petersson had signed a three-year ELC to come play in North America. The minor story came out towards the tail-end of Ottawa's 2009/2010 season, at a time when most Sens fans were eager to turn positives out of anything related to Ottawa. However, beyond the grasping of straws philosophy I all too happily endorsed, I really didn't know much about the young Swede. Here is what I knew: he had been a mid-round pick of the Senators two drafts earlier, he was small, he was apparently very talented, he was Swedish, and there were a few YouTube videos in which he often made five players of the opposing team look about as mobile as the players on those vintage table hockey sets. I had gleaned these facts and opinions from a smattering of hockeydb, Hockey's Future and the aforementioned videos. Other than that, Andre Petersson was a mystery.
Petersson's first year in the organization was an enlightening and promising one. Here's what I wrote about him in our Top 25 Under 25 series back in March (we ranked him 15th):
His transition to play in Binghamton took all of about three weeks before he was putting up competitive numbers. Since then, his performance has been exemplary. His 38 points in 51 games ranks as fourth on Binghamton for the season.
The young Swede's season only continued to improve. By the end of the year, he had put up 44 points through 60 games, including breaking through the twenty-goal barrier. The rare blemish in his otherwise smooth transition came through his awkward distaste for upstate New York. Don't Google it. So who can blame Sens fans for feeling some anticipation and excitement about Petersson's year in 2012? One of the bright spots out of Binghamton's otherwise miserable 2011/2012 year, Petersson's electrifying shot, speed, creativity and less tangible tenacity looked to be a good recipe for success on a more talented team under Luke Richardson.
It hasn't materialized. Petersson has five points through his first seventeen games of the season (he wasn't healthy on Wednesday night) and in spite of some flashes of his terrific hands, he has been contained by opposing defences and thus made into a marginal contributor. To be effective, Petersson goes up the middle, playing a style that is somewhere between high-wire act and an NFL kickoff return: when you succeed, it looks great, but when you make a misstep? Yikes. This year, for whatever reason, Petersson just hasn't looked good.
It's easy to ask why. It's harder to give a clear answer. So, brace yourself for some editorializing. Andre Petersson was a reliable and good player on a bad team. He played top minutes and was (likely, there are no stats on this) given protected offensive zone starts. Along with Mike Hoffman, Rob Klinkhammer, Corey Locke (he spent much of the year nursing injuries), Pat Cannone and, to a lesser extent, Stephane Da Costa, Andre Petersson was one of Kurt Kleinendorst's most reliable offensive threats. That just isn't the case this year. Petersson has to compete for time. Mark Stone, Jakob Silfverberg, a resurgent Derek Grant and a middle group of fairly productive forwards in Dziurzynski, Jessiman, Prince, Pageau and Cannone have made Petersson's job tougher and his opportunities fewer and farther apart.
To some degree, Pat Cannone seemed to be suffering from the same affliction. However, he has picked up his game of late and seems to have found some chemistry with Jakob Silfverberg in recent weeks. Sens fans expect more out of the eminently talented draft pick in Andre Petersson than the undrafted college free agent Pat Cannone and many of Binghamton's other forwards. Yet, when this season is all said and done, performances in the season will likely matter more than projections before it.
One of the biggest problems Petersson faces is making himself relevant every night and every shift. At the moment, when he isn't going straight up the middle, it seems he's hardly on the ice at all.
Some Other Prospect Notes:
- Mark mentioned it yesterday in the Nuggets, but Binghamton dropped their second straight after a nine-run tear. If they win two games to every loss, I'm okay with a little regression to the mean. Binghamton will try and get back in the win column tonight against those smug WBS Penguins.
- Matt Puempel's shoulder is still causing him discomfort, evidently. He has yet to return to game action.
- After not playing the first few of Union College's games this year, Brian's brother Tim Boyle has seen seven games of action, putting up two assists.
- Did anyone know the World Junior Championship will be taking place over the holidays?
- Mika Zibanejad is still a little under the weather, or something. He has yet to return to play in Binghamton.
- The spread of the flu around the Bingo dressing room that left Patrick Wiercioch off the ice has made the blueline look weaker than Ottawa's would be should the NHL season start up soon. Luke Richardson surely counts himself lucky to have the services of Andre Benoit. Quite the decision by Tim Murray to bring him back into the fold-- he has been a rock for the defence.