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Silver Nuggets: In the system - left-wing

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After a little delay, I'll now continue our look at the prospects currently in the Senators pipeline, this time focusing on the left-wingers. Maybe it was meant to be that the two left-wingers closest to the NHL were swapped this week, and in terms of NHL-ready depth, this is the most stacked position in the Senators organization. We'll start off by looking at both Shane Prince and Matt Puempel, followed by their five other Binghamton colleagues listed as left-wingers, before turning to the lone junior player - Vincent Dunn.

Shane Prince

A lot has been written about Prince recently (scroll down for your Sens links that feature him!), and for good reason - he's a skilled forward who went through the 67s system and showcased himself well in the AHL this year by stepping up to be the BSens leading scorer. As you look through his boxcar numbers, Prince has always been a balanced scorer and we saw a little bit of that in his two games here: a quick wrist shot, good vision, and strong skating down low. Here's a really cool column from SenShot that features an interview with Prince's sister after he was drafted - a good way to humanize the player. As a fun note, in the final 2011 CSS draft rankings, Prince was ranked 26th among North American skaters - two spots ahead of a player taken by the Senators ~20 picks prior to Prince - Matt Puempel. For some draft context, here's a piece from the great Bobby Kelly as part of our Top 25 Under 25 series.

From Ottawa 67s Hockey Blog:

Off a great second half of the 2010-11 season, Shane Prince continued his stellar play into the 2011-12 regular season. His skating has improved and his hockey IQ is still at the top of the pack in the OHL. He ended with 43 goals and 90 points in 57 games good enough for Top 4 scorer in the OHL.

From scout Corey Pronman:

Year in Review: Prince was inconsistent in his first AHL season, as he did show flashes of his significant talent, but he still underwent a notable adjustment to the pro game.

The Good: Prince is a talented winger with desirable puck possession skills. He skates with good speed and above-average agility. He has great offensive instincts with the puck, and when he is on, he can create a lot of scoring chances. Prince's puck skills are also very good.

The Bad: Prince's consistency was an issue last season. His all-around game also needs work, such as his defense and handling the physical game, especially as a smaller player.

Projection: He could be a second line winger.

What's good about Prince is that he appears to have really worked on his weaknesses. He had supposedly asked for a trade last season when things weren't going too well, though it never came to fruition. What's good for the Senators though is that he took everything in stride, and despite being a surprise cut at training camp, he's worked hard at his game and has been the BSens most consistent player this season while leading by example.

From Jeff Ulmer's grades this season:

First quarter

Prince looks good and more consistent as he's upped his game so far with some strong skating that leads to undeniable nose to drive the net knowing he can pot one. Haven't seen that out of him in the past. No benching so far as he's on pace for a big season offensively and recent six game point streak backs it up.

Second quarter

Prince looks to be having his best season so far as the second quarter mirrored the first with his offensive output. Wish we had more of him as his talent's are beginning to blossom as of late.

I think that we can expect to see Prince push hard for a full-time roster spot next season, or be traded as part of a package as the team's left-wing is full except for the "4th line" position (MacArthur, Hoffman, Michalek). Hope he sticks with Ottawa, though.

Matt Puempel

Matt Puempel has had a rocky career as a 21 year old. He was a leader for the Petes until they went through a rocky OHL season, where Puempel asked to be traded and got his request. He was also considered to be part of Canada's world junior team before his inconsistent play, suspensions, and two hip injuries cost him any chance at that. Despite all of this, Puempel had one of the best rookie seasons for the BSens after last year, putting himself among the AHL rookie leaders in goals with 30 - just off Mike Hoffman's team lead. This year, he's on a similar point per game pace (0.64), which is decent but a little disappointing for those expecting growth. However, I'd say that Puempel's been getting a bit unlucky, as his shot rate has gone up (2.86 per game vs. 2.5) but has scored less goals - probably due to the combination of opposing players keying in on him and Shane Prince getting the better linemates of the two.

Puempel was highly touted by Pierre Dorion and now Sabres Dir. of Amateur Scouting, Greg Royce, as having one of the best shots in the CHL. Drafted 6th overall in the 2009 OHL draft, Puempel was named the OHL AND CHL rookie of the year by scoring 33 goals with the Petes. Due to a hip injury in his draft year, Puempel's stock fell and he was ranked 29th overall among North American skaters by CSS.

From an NHL.com feature:

"He is dangerous with the puck and has an excellent shot," Edwards said. "He has the ability to make highly skilled passes through traffic and can make his linemates better. His goals are skilled goals."

"I think Matt just needs to continue to find a complete game and he made great strides in that direction," Peterborough coach Mike Pelino told NHL.com. "I think throughout his whole youth, he was such a natural scorer. This year we've got him killing penalties and playing in key defensive situations, primarily to give him the opportunity to develop in those areas. As he continues to round out his complete game, he'll continue to be that much more effective."

From Hockey Prospectus:

He has terrific mechanics and accuracy on a shot that is above-average and flashes plus potential. The word "quick release" is sometimes overused in scouting circles, but with Puempel his release is something that separates him from other goal-scorers and his ability to get quality shots off in motion and without having to set his feet is a very desirable trait.

Finally, from scout Corey Pronman, we get to Puempel's weaknesses:

Year in Review: Puempel was solid in his final OHL season, but he dealt with some minor injuries. He ranked top 15 in league goal scoring.

The Good: Just about every scout will describe Puempel as one thing, a goal scorer. He is a true plus-or-better shooter, with one of the best releases in junior hockey. Puempel is a skilled player with the puck as well, with above-average hand-eye coordination and offensive hockey sense. He is a decent-sized player who battles well and goes to the front of the net.

The Bad: Puempel's defensive reads can improve. He will also not individually create a lot of chances. Sources are divided on his skating, as some think it is plus, but most that I have talked to feel he needs work in that area.

Projection: He could be a below-average second line forward.

When Puempel played in Peterborough, the Petes weren't a great defensive team at all (hence the +/- numbers on his stat sheet; read more here from a great Copper n' Blue write-up), but it's still a bit worrying that it's continued to his AHL game. That's why Luke Richardson has tried him out in different roles, even putting Matt on a checking line every now and then to teach him how to be defensively responsible. He's also unlike Mike Hoffman or Shane Prince in that he can't generate a lot individually with speed. The offensive hockey sense (hi Mark Stone!) is good though, and I think Puempel will have to play with other puck possession wingers to get him the puck - similar to Bobby Ryan's role now on the Hoffman - Zibanejad - Ryan line. Trying Puempel with Turris and Stone in one or two years may turn out to be pretty good.

From Jeff's grades, Puempel also has a competitive, physical game too. Despite being undersized, he fights quite a bit for an AHL scorer:

First quarter

Off to a quiet beginning but not as bad as last season's start but it's starting to come around. Very hard on the puck and comfortable with his smaller frame and won't back down in mixing it up with players twice his size. Look for him to explode offensively soon as he is hopefully earmarked for the big club one day.

Second quarter

Having a good second quarter but look to improve in the third. Has that lethal very quick one timer featuring the wrist shot as he's still on the radar. Kid has dynamite reflexes.

Look for Puempel to get an extended shot with the Sens as this season is a developmental year, and then strive to (likely) fight Shane Prince for a left-wing spot next year.

Dave Dziurzynski

David (I promise you I didn't have to look up the spelling) Dziurzynski is someone who the organization is high on, and that may be because Bryan Murray and co. took a shot in the dark on the big undrafted free agent a couple years back, and have watched him refine his game to be a capable pro player. A really good starting profile on Dizzy can be found here from Peter Levi, but in the eyes of most Sens fans, Dziurzynski is remembered from his fight with Frazer McLaren after scoring his first couple of NHL goals in a surprise call-up. There isn't much in the way of scouting reports on Dziurzynski, but he's a big, rugged winger who plays a physical game down low and is a character guy in the locker room. On his dominant BCHL line, he was viewed as the guy that was the most essential with really good puck protection and underrated vision.

From Jeff's first + second quarter grades, linked above:

Thought we had turned the corner offensively with last season's ending result's but apparently that's not been the case so far this quarter. But he did score his first of the season on Friday. He does the little things on the ice using his large frame in the corners to wreck some havoc as points are currently few and far between. Still feels good to have him for the next two seasons.

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Just one of those players you need in keeping the peace and being a grinder at that same time. He's been solid in his role as a grinder and playing hard in the corners with the organization locking him up for the next two seasons.

An issue I have with management viewing Dizzy as a potential NHL call-up is with respect to this concept: I think that the Sens organization will sometimes misinterpret how useful a player is based off of a) expectations and b) rate of improvement. Though Dizzy has improved a ton from his BCHL days, where the Senators had low expectations after signing him, he's still not better than Prince or Puempel and in no way should be given a roster spot because he fits a role due to the discrepancy in skill between the three players. Despite this, he seems like a great AHL role player and leader, and I'm happy to have him in the system -- I just don't think he's an NHL-calibre player.

Alex Guptill

I don't want to say that he's the Bill Muckalt equivalent just yet, but Guptill has had a disappointing rookie season for the Binghamton Senators. A healthy scratch some nights, Guptill just hasn't found the consistency from his first two years at the University of Michigan, where he was named the CCHA's rookie of the year. Despite this, it's important to remember that the 2010 3rd round pick has a couple things on his side: A) size (6'3, 195lbs), B) age - he's only 22, and C) he's a rookie that entered the AHL early as he turned pro after his third season at Michigan. The devil's advocate would then say that Ryan Dzingel and Max McCormick, both who turned pro early as well, have had better seasons, to which I would have no reply.

From David Burstyn from McKeens:

"He brings a lot of speed to his game and is dynamic with the puck when he has room .. he tends to operate too much on the perimeter and does not force plays up the middle or drive wide to the goal .. at this point, he relies more on his first-step quickness and offensive instincts to get into position to exercise his hair-trigger release. ... Guptill has a great second and third gear, however he does not commit himself to the defensive zone .. physically he is rather slender, at 6-foot-2, he offers good height but there is not much to his frame, therefore he does not initiate many hits and if he does he rarely dislodges a player off the puck .. Guptill is a natural finisher who relies heavily on others to get him the puck .. his speed allows him to get behind defenders and creates many of his opportunities .. his game should mature under coach Berenson, as he will be more accountable for his actions."

From Stars scout Jimmy Johnston, who helped advocate for drafting Guptill 77th overall:

Here's what Stars scout Jimmy Johnston says: "Guptill is big and strong, one of the most talented guys that comes out of tier two. He has good hands. He's going to the University of Michigan. Alex really does not lack anything, he just needs to continue to play games. He was injured a bit last year."

What's perhaps a bit telling is that he wasn't ranked by many scouting services in his draft year:

Central Scouting Final Ranking: 99th among North American Skaters

International Scouting Services: 164th overall

- "Good offensive upside... Nice mix of speed and skill... Very good skater... Good shot, can score... Good size/solid frame... Protects the puck well... Needs to improve defensive game... "

The Hockey News: Not Ranked

Red Line Report: 159th Overall

- "Jr. A scoring machine is rather one dimensional."

TSN: Not Ranked

McKeen's Hockey: Not Ranked

Guptill's career at Michigan was also a bit rocky off the ice at Michigan, as despite defensive + work-ethic issues, Guptill was also charged with misdemeanour assault. Let's check in with Jeff to see how his season has gone:

Sorry Ottawa fan's as Guptill looks lost at times but the rookie has to begin somewhere. A few healthy scratches here and there but when he is in the line-up, don't really notice him at times with coaches giving him ample opportunities. Has been given chances on the first line but rather he didn't take someone's spot.

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Improvement was apparent in the second quarter as the rookie showed signs of some offense knacks as well as dropping the gloves. Better second quarter with less healthy scratches. Still a project.

At least he's improved from quarter to quarter! All in all, Guptill is a project that is doubtful to reach his NHL potential. I'm hoping he can turn his game around for himself, and for the BSens.

Darren Kramer

Maybe known for his peanut butter jar invention by Ottawa fans, the former leader of the Spokane Chiefs is a fan favourite in Binghamton as their "Chris Neil" grinder type. Kramer is what he is, and has steadily improved his overall game from season-to-season, nearly tripling his point total (though only at 11 points) from last year. The 2011 6th round pick came out of the Alberta Junior Hockey League before playing at Spokane, and is on pace to have been the most penalized player in every league he's played in after recording 311 PIMs in 2009-10 (AJHL), 306 PIMs in 2010-11 (WHL), and the current AHL penalty minute leader at 192 over 48 games. Despite is size, Kramer also lives up to his Chris Neil comparisons by being a strong fighter (click for TSN feature). For more information, click to see Senators scout Bob Lowes opinion of Kramer when he was drafted.

From Jeff:

Darren tries and is not the most gifted player on the ice, but does gives you a 100% effort on the ice so gotta give him that. Love his trash talking as witnessed in the penalty box after a recent line-brawl on the ice. With Brad Mills looming in the background he might find the pine at some point to make room. Tied with his league leading 7 majors.

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Always the loud mouth as Kramer is one of the best chirping players in the game. Really gives his all in an 100% effort on the go. Love his passion as his team mates do as well.

Max McCormick

Out of all of the sparkplugs currently playing for the Binghamton Senators, Max McCormick has the best shot of being an NHLer. A teammate of fellow prospect Ryan Dzingel at Ohio State, McCormick was taken a round earlier (6th round - Jarkko Ruutu pick!), despite worse USHL numbers than Dzingel, because of his strong numbers at Notre Dame Academy (US High School league) after being ranked 161st by Central Scouting. A good primer on McCormick can be found by the folks over at SenShot here.

From Jonathan Willis on Hockey Prospectus:

159. Max McCormick, Left Wing, 5'11", 174 lbs. USHL: 55GP, 21G, 21A, 42P, +6. McCormick may be diminutive, but he's no wallflower, recording 102 penalty minutes and fighting numerous times. Eighteen of his 42 points came with the man advantage and his plus-six mark was one of the best numbers on the team. Described as a "smart, solid player".

My take: Another player on the draft bubble, I think McCormick gets selected. He doesn't have phenomenal size but he's feisty, puts up a bunch of points, and is the kind of guy that could fit in without difficulty on an energy line if all else fails.

From the Senators scouting staff:

ASSISTANT GM TIM MURRAY SAYS: "He's a hard-nosed kid that plays a two-way game. (Scout Bob Janecyk) was on him. He's a mature kid who is extremely hard to play against."

From Jeff:

Kid looks good after coming back from an early injury to start the new season. Stands up for his teammates and is willing to drop the gloves, thrives on being a fast skater, competes and had a few nice goals. Some potential might be there, too early to tell.

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This kid plays gutsy and has offensive abilities that will perhaps land him in the bigs some day. Sticks up for his team-mates and will drop the gloves without hesitation. Love his desire on the ice and all around hustle.

Looks like McCormick is a safe projection to be an energy line player with some grit and a scoring touch - something the Senators love. He's probably going to need another 1-2 AHL years, and there's definitely other left-wingers ahead of him on the depth chart for now, but I'm excited to see where he is next year.

Vincent Dunn

The lone junior player on this list is Vincent Dunn, who was one of the youngest players taken in the 2013 draft after a strong second season in the QMJHL. However, the development of the young pest, often likened to Brad Marchand, hasn't been positive as his point totals stayed the same in his third year before dropping significantly this year. Surely this wasn't what anyone was expecting after Dunn was taken 16th overall in the QMJHL draft before being a 5th round pick by the Senators.

From The Scouting Report:

Dunn is only 1 day shy of being a 2014 NHL Draft Eligible and was just recently traded to Gatineau in a QMJHL Draft Day deal... Very aggressive player who is not shy about contact and going to the traffic areas... Really took advantage of increased opportunity this season, breaking out with 25 goals... Overall game needs development but he's got some tools which are exciting.

From McKeens:

Among the youngest players eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft, born just one day before the 9-15-95 cut-off date .. distinguishing himself as a real sparkplug for the Foreurs this season as he is willing to get his nose dirty and also quite capable of aggravating opponents .. missed a couple of games due to a racial comment made to a Mooseheads player .. possesses average skating speed .. his stride can be a little choppy - and his turns are not as balanced as they could be .. generally scores ugly goals as his shooting release is on the slower side .. shows minimal creativity in terms of his puck movement, although that is not really his game at all .. started out the season playing some games at the center position, however he had trouble winning face-offs with regularity and is now being used mainly on the wing where he has shown to be most effective working along the boards .. however, his work as a pivot is quite underrated and this versatility won't be overlooked by NHL scouts .. displays a knack for cutting off passes as opponents break out of their zone, an attribute that comes to the fore when he is operating in the middle .. works hard in his own zone, winning many hard battles for the puck .. not afraid to block shots and will drop the gloves albeit is not really an enforcer type .. runs full-throttle on adrenaline most of the times, but will have to learn to better contain his emotions as he can go overboard at times.

Peter Levi has a ton more on Dunn here. What's next for Dunn? He may have played himself out of a contract this year, so we'll wait and see if the Senators choose to sign the young forward. If so, it's off to Binghamton, but I am skeptical seeing that the BSens have a ton of players in a similar role.

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Sens Links

  • The Senators only played one game since our last check-in, but wowee was it a fun win against Montreal. A night Andrew Hammond will surely remember. [Silver SevenRank the PerformancesOttawa CitizenSensChirp]
  • As you've all heard by now, the Senators called up Chris Driedger from the ECHL to serve as Andrew Hammond's backup. I talked about Hammond and Driedger in a previous Nuggets. I'm glad they didn't waste an asset to trade for a veteran goaltender. [Silver Seven6th SensOttawa Citizen]
  • Shane Prince was sent down after two excellent games in order for the organization to get a look at Matt Puempel. [Silver Seven6th SensOttawa CitizenSensChirpSenShot]
  • Bryan Murray had an update on the Senators injuries today. Chris Neil is out 4-5 weeks with a broken thump, and both Clarke MacArthur and Robin Lehner have concussions. Guess Driedger is going to be here for a while. Murray also had an interview on what to expect for the rest of the season, including trade deadline info and playing time for young players. [Silver SevenTSN12006th Sens transcriptSenShot]
  • The Senators proposal for LeBreton Flats is one of the four finalists. Mike has a fun take on the arena situation![Silver SevenOttawa CitizenBonk's MulletSenShot]
  • Sheer_Craziness takes a look at one of the most polarizing players on the Senators roster, Patrick Wiercioch. [Silver Seven]
  • Trevor builds off our discussion from Monday around the costly veterans on the current roster. [SenShot]
  • Mike Hoffman's goal at the start of the year was to score 20. Now he wants 30! Can he do it? [Ottawa Citizen]
  • The BSens won a crazy game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. [SenShot]
  • Here's Episode 12 of the Sens Callups podcast! They cover the Marc Methot + Shane Prince news as well. [Sens Callups]
NHL Links
  • Haven't had the chance to showcase many of the news around the league lately with the Nuggets being so packed in terms of content (though the last installment of this series is Monday), but I did want to highlight the NHL's new stats system. Fear the Fin also has some improvements for it, but it's a good start. [NHLPuck DaddyFear the Fin]
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Thanks for reading!