He has been often referred to as a big body and for good reason, as 20 year old Ben Harpur from Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON is indeed a towering figure at 6' 6". He was the Senators' fourth round pick in 2013 and will be heading to the pros beginning next season in Binghamton. Harpur will be entering his second year of a three year entry level contract signed back on Nov 2014 and is known to be a stay at home type that should be a big boost over last season's offensive minded core for the B-Sens.
A quick interview after he was drafted back in 2013 by Gord Wilson;
In 2013-14 Harpur had 3 goals with 13 assists in 67 games and a +34 in helping the Guelph Storm to a 52-12-2-2 record. That was good enough to win the OHL Championship and a berth to the Memorial Cup finals before losing (ironically) to Curtis Lazar's Edmonton Oil Kings.
He was then the key figure in a late season trade to the Barrie Colts the following season as part of a four player swap that also sent a handful of picks to the Storm. Ben finished with a goal and 11 assists in 29 games for the Colts before his team lost in the second round in the OHL playoffs.
Then Guelph Storm head coach and former long time NHL'er Scott Walker had this to say about Harpur:
"He has been one of our most steady, reliable defencemen..he has been a real treat for me to see where he is now compared to his first year in the league. He is one of those guys that I see having a long and good future in the NHL."
"He is a big kid who skates well, shoots well, understands the game and reads it well [for] a defenceman," Walker said. "Last year, he was one of our steadiest defencemen and this year he has taken it to another level."
As told to Bernie Puchalski, St. Catharines Standard
I'm looking forward to him playing and giving us fans another big body on the ice other than Buddy Robinson.
Captain (?) Claesson Returns
The return of Fredrik Claesson is enormous news for the Binghamton Senators as he now slips into the #1 position on the blue line. His smart, steady, physical play stands out for the 22 year old Sweden-native entering his fourth season in Binghamton. Claesson has always been counted on in crucial shorthanded situations and can be relied on as one of the best shut down defensive players in the league.
One stat which cannot go unnoticed is his being one of the league leaders with a +37 in 2013-'14, to a drop to -6 last year. The 13-14 numbers should be taken with a grain of salt as his second-unit partner, Mike Sdao, had a +14 on a team loaded with offensive talent that captured a division title. This is not Claesson's style - he found himself on a tear that year in the +/- category, but has now settled into playing tougher minutes as a more reliable D-Man.
Claesson was the only player to play in all 76 games for the Sens in 2014-15, with limited injuries and consistently low penalty minutes throughout his career. He has had solid grades in my quarterly reports dating back to my past SenShot articles over the last two years with an A- average rating, with the latest one here for S7S. He also played in 75 games the previous season before serving a late one game suspension for a high hit to the head to an annoying rival opponent, whom I shall leave anonymous.
This team would be in trouble if he hadn't resigned with him serving as the club's back bone on defense and should be named Captain if long term forward David Dziurzynski isn't. At the same time, Claesson should get a look from Ottawa and he won't disappoint with his smooth skating and high on-ice IQ amongst his greatest assets. He would have a decent ceiling on the bottom pair to start for the big club.
Regardless, I can't but help but notice his resemblance to TV real estate agent Fredrik Eklund of Millionaire Listings of NY with his jawlines but with less flare. Ha-ha!
Binghamton's Blueline Starting To Shore Up
With the welcome addition of Harpur and the recent signing of Claesson, all that's left is to snag the biggest offensive juggernaut in the AHL in Chris Wideman in the few upcoming weeks before his UFA status kicks in on July 1st. Meantime, Harpur will become the lone rookie on the defense, as he will join returnees Sdao, Troy Rutkowski and newly signed veteran Guillaume Lepine.
One thing the team certainly won't be short on is size (Editor's note: get it?) with the exception of Wideman, as players mentioned here are all over six foot.
Projected lineup on the back end provided Wideman re-signs:
*At 6' 4" 217 lb., the 22 year old Clarkson University defenseman Kevin Tansey is still in the picture and on the bubble to sign with the Senators (latest rumors have it he wants in). He will be a part of the Binghamton core as well which would give the team seven D-men, required in case of injury.
Anaheim and Ottawa are the finalists for free agent Clarkson U. D-man Kevin Tansey. He's a big, tough shutdown man.— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) June 7, 2015
Gone are veterans Aaron Johnson, Alex Grant, Patrick Mullen and utility man Danny New as Binghamton looks to get lean while shedding some dead weight which should help after a disastrous year after two previous winning seasons.
Up Next, forward Vincent Dunn as the final piece of this four part series introducing four new players into the system.