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Silver Nuggets: Who should play second-line wing?

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Will Mike Hoffman see offensive time with Mika Zibanejad this season?
Will Mike Hoffman see offensive time with Mika Zibanejad this season?
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest battles coming into training camp will be around the second-line wing position. The departures of Ales Hemsky and Jason Spezza have created a gap in the top-six forwards for a number of Senators players to step-up, and this mini-article will highlight the prospected candidates for the position. Based off of a number of interviews (that have been linked in the Nuggets), it appears that the first line of MacArthur - Turris - Ryan is almost set in stone, and that Mika Zibanejad is going to get an extended shot at second-line centre, with David Legwand and possibly Zack Smith serving as insurance for the young Swede. Thus, the question becomes, who should line up alongside Mika Zibanejad?

One important thing to note in the introduction is the average point totals that second-line forwards usually amass - and the number may surprise you. Thanks to some great work by user CanadianGuest on HFBoards, the average second-line forward should be around 39-42 points, with the low end being around 32-33 and the high end being close to 50.

Milan Michalek

The speedy Czech winger was finally healthy last season (he played all 82 games!) and put up a respectable 39 points. Though this is a far cry from his 60 in 77 games during the 2011-12 season, we can reasonably expect Michalek to be productive this year. It remains to be seen how he'll play without Jason Spezza, as the frequent linemates were usually injured together. Perhaps playing without Spezza may be good for Michalek's defensive game, as the two were a disaster in the defensive zone together, so pairing him with a strong-skating centre like Zibanejad may be conducive to his possession numbers.

Alex Chiasson

Other than Michalek, Chiasson is the only other player that we'll consider that has actually had NHL point totals in this range, putting up 35 in 79 games in what I'd consider as a successful rookie year. The young power-forward is a prototypical Bryan Murray player and will be tasked with providing a net presence, crashing the net, and looking for rebounds. Despite his "meh" possession numbers, it was Chiasson's first year in the NHL, and he was hampered by an injury during the second-half of the season. More information about him can be found in his Top 25 Under 25 post here.

Mike Hoffman

One name that isn't mentioned enough in this discussion is the Binghamton Senators best player last season, Mike Hoffman. Comparing all players with a minimum of 20 games played, Hoffman had the AHL's 3rd highest PPG total (1.31) and finished as the league's 8th highest point totals. Hoffman has been playing pro hockey for three years and has been brought up in a similar way as Detroit's Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, two players who really took off when given an extended NHL opportunity. Despite his lackluster point totals in 25 games, Hoffman had some of the best possession numbers on the team, and generated a lot of individual shot attempts. The former QMJHL star has been asked to work on his defensive and overall game, and feels like he was able to do so last year. He will be most effective by attacking defenders with his speed to win one-on-one puck battles. More information on him can be found in his Top 25 Under 25 profile here.

Mark Stone

Already a fan favourite, Mark Stone brings high hockey IQ and underrated playmaking ability to the Ottawa Senators. Like Hoffman, Stone was a star in junior, and played at above a point per game pace in his second season with the Binghamton Senators. His 8 points in 19 games would be prorated to 35 points if he played a full season - meeting our point range for a second-line forward. Stone looked great with MacArthur and Turris last year, but with Bobby Ryan healthy again, Stone could be used with Zibanejad in a playmaking role, or possibly on the third line with David Legwand in a defensive role. Stone had great possession numbers, albeit playing with two of the best possession drivers on the team, so this season will be big for him to establish his role. More information on him can be found in his Top 25 Under 25 profile here.

Colin Greening

We all know that Colin Greening had a poor season last year, but as one of the veteran forwards on this team (yes, you read that right), Greening will be expected to contribute more offensively. He has put up solid point totals before, with 37 in 82 during the surprising 2011-12 season, followed by 19 in 47 in the lockout shortened year. Was last season just a blip, and can we expect Greening to put up 33-40 points this year? Without Jason Spezza as his linemate, Greening will have to use his big body and underrated speed to attack the middle of the ice, instead of playing on the perimeter, and increase the rate at which he carries the puck into the offensive zone.

Zack Smith

Even without Jason Spezza, the Senators are loaded with NHL-ready centremen, even though many aren't yet established in the NHL yet. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, fresh off his Silver Seven reader poll win over Derek Grant, is ready for a full-time NHL role and Paul MacLean loves Pageau's ability in the neutral zone to attack defenders with speed. However, with Turris, Zibanejad, Legwand and Smith occupying the position, one player may have to shift to wing. Zack Smith has been told that he may spend some time on the wing this year, but who would he play with? I've always thought that Smith has looked better than his linemates Greening and Neil, and despite his lackluster point production, could possibly be effective as the first forechecker in to create space for his linemates. Could he play with Zibanejad?

Due to the poll only allowing for one option, feel free to comment below on what your specific combination would be (both linemates)!

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Sens Links

  • Loads of content from the Sens website and Chris Lund's team. First, to finish the rookie camp content. Curtis Lazar's thoughts on making Ottawa and his rookie camp [I, IIIII], Matt Puempel's thoughts on his offseason and rookie camp [IIIIII], Luke Richardson's day-to-day thoughts on rookie camp [IIIIII] Ben Harpur's four assist game [I], Max McCormick on his first rookie camp [I], and lastly, noted peanut butter jar innovator Darren Kramer on his rookie camp [I]. Lastly, our rookie camp wrap-up! [Silver Seven]
  • Now onto content from main camp! Here's the official roster. In addition, some articles on the competition heading into main camp for a number of Senators players - young and old. [Ottawa CitizenSenShot, SensChirp]
  • To get yourself started, Amelia has a media roundup! [Silver Seven]
  • As always, the Senators official blog "Inside the Senate" has a ton of great stuff. Paul MacLean's thoughts on the upcoming season, which features a number of interesting tidbits, Bobby Ryan explaining the role he wants on the team and updating us on contract negotiations, Chris Phillips on the importance of defensive play, Erik Karlsson on defensive hockey and a health update, Marc Methot on contract negotiations and the upcoming yearZibanejad and MacArthur on 2014-15, and David Legwand on his first taste of being an Ottawa Senators player.
  • Nichols has a transcript of a great Paul MacLean interview, where he touches on his personal philosophy, leadership, and the addition to his coaching staff. [6th SensOttawa Citizen]
  • The week started with an extremely honest interview from Senators GM Bryan Murray, with excellent questions from Bob McKenzie. One thing I can always appreciate about Murray is that he isn't afraid to speak honestly about whatever situation is affecting the team - not caring about media cliches. [TSN6th SensSensChirp]
  • One of the big storylines to emerge from that Murray interview was the fact that he isn't afraid to trade Methot if a contract can't be done, saying that the team can't afford to lose a player of Methot's calibre to free agency. [Ottawa Citizen6th SensDorion interviewSenShot]
  • Ultimately, the start of training camp was mired with stories about the contract negotiations with Methot and Bobby Ryan, after reports surfaced that he had rejected a contract offer - which was soon denied on all fronts. [Ottawa CitizenSenShotSensChirp]
  • Ray Ferraro and Ken Warren give their thoughts specifically on the Bobby Ryan negotiations. My gist on this is the same as Bob McKenzie's (which is always good), as Ryan just wants to see how the team plays at the beginning of the season, and if his requests for an expanded role on the team are granted. [Nichols On HockeyOttawa CitizenSBNation]
  • Eugene Melnyk was on the air and cried poor said that making hockey work in Ottawa is "tough". [Ottawa Citizen6th Sens]
  • Ken Warren and Jared from SenShot want to know if the Methot contract negotiations are affecting the Sens PR reputation. Pierre McGuire also weighs in. [Ottawa CitizenSenShotTSN1200]
  • Zachary from SenShot has a nice piece on Karlsson's case for captaincy. [SenShot]
  • A couple of really nice prospect articles. First, Jeff from SenShot on Nick Palmieri and Chris Wideman. Secondly, Ken Warren on Vincent Dunn and the duo of Shane Prince and Matt Puempel. Thirdly, Wayne Scanlan on Curtis LazarNick Paul, and Alex Guptill, and Tobias Lindberg.
  • As you can tell, there was a ton of content on the Citizen's Senators Extra blog. Scanlan had an article on the Atlantic division, and Warren hypothesized how the Senators could be one of those teams.
  • Speaking of division previews, our Silver Seven staff rolled ours out this week! [GoaltendersDefenseForwardsHockey Operations]
  • A couple of nice Silver Seven fanposts with optimistic projections for the Sens defense and forwards by a user with a great name, Carlyle's Toaster.
  • Our weekly question is about the best goalie in Senators history. [Silver Seven]
  • To end our Nuggets off on a light note, here's Mrs. O with her Ottawa Senators musical playlist. [Silver Seven]
  • Finally, Scotchcast Episode 7 is out from the folks over at WTYKY. [WTYKY]

Sports Links

  • Though this isn't directly related to the NHL, I think that it's worth noting as brain trauma is definitely something that will become an even bigger topic in hockey over the next couple of years. A study has found that brain trauma will affect 1 in 3 NFL players. [New York Times]
  • Another related topic, FIFA has started a new project that focuses on athlete mental health research [SB Nation]
  • A fantastic article by Gabe Kapler on how baseball teams try to gain a competitive advantage. With all the recent hirings of hockey analytics bloggers, this will be the next step for hockey. [Just a bit outside]
  • Here are some details about the next World Cup of Hockey! [ESPN]
  • A really good article from Seth Rosenthal on giving your opinion via social media regarding controversial topics (hi, NFL!) [SB Nation]
  • Elliotte Friedman's fantastic 30 thoughts column has found a new home on Sportsnet. Always a must-read. [Sportsnet]
  • Friend of the blog Travis Yost has now joined TSN as part of their Hockey Analytics team, with Scott Cullen and James Mirtle. I'll miss his Sens-specific coverage, but wish him the best of luck in this new endeavour. [TSN]
  • Lastly, a great piece from garik16 on how context is important, but that we shouldn't overemphasize it. [Isles Analytics]
  • An update on the ever precarious Ryan Johansen situation, first from Columbus beat writer Aaron Portzline, and then a fantastic legal perspective from Elliotte Friedman. [Columbus DispatchSportsnet]
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Thanks for reading!