The Binghamton Senators had a poor year. Yes, there were some standout performances by players like Shane Prince, Chris Wideman, and Cole Schneider, but overall, the team couldn't make the playoffs. Intriguingly, the BSens finished with a top-five offense (242 goals for, T-3 in the league) and a bottom-five defense (258 goals against, last in the league), which is perhaps why Murray and co. sought out Matt O'Connor to help bolster the goaltender position.
Unfortunately for Binghamton, there isn't much defensive help on the way, and there's a potential for the defense core to be worse off than last year if All-Star Chris Wideman leaves as a UFA. Thus, it'll be interesting to see whether Luke Richardson adjusts his systems accordingly to adjust for that, in addition to accommodating for the NHL's club changes with Dave Cameron. Remember, the Senators love to have their NHL and AHL teams use similar systems so that the transition for call-ups is easier, which is similar to what Detroit did with Babcock and Blashill (Grand Rapids).
What help are the BSens receiving, though? Really important offensive pieces for the future, courtesy of the Jason Spezza and Ben Bishop trades. Today's Nuggets will give a short profile of the four drafted prospects expected to suit up for the BSens this season, and if you're interested, Jeff Ulmer will go more into detail on these players over the next two weeks!
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Dallas' 3rd round pick in 2013 cemented his status as the key piece in the Jason Spezza deal after finishing up his final OHL season with the North Bay Battalion in style, with a 1.14 PPG in the regular season and 1.00 PPG in the playoffs. Paul's North Bay club was the only one to take the Memorial Cup winning Oshawa Generals to six games. In addition to winning Gold with Team Canada, Paul was also recognized in the OHL's coaches polls, winning the Eastern Conference awards for "Best on Face-offs" and "Best Defensive Forward." Perhaps most importantly, Paul was recently named the OHL's Humanitarian of the Year, primarily for his work with the 'Points for Paul' campaign to benefit the North Bay Regional Health Care Foundation. We know that Bryan Murray and co. place character at the top of their list, and it certainly looks like Paul is oozing with it. Whether his game can translate to the pro level remains to be seen, as Paul will have to put in a took of work with Ottawa's skating coaches over the summer to increase his quickness in a game that is only getting faster.
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- Prospect Tobias Lindberg scoring and comfortable at the Memorial Cup - Ottawa Senators
- Senators prospect Tobias Lindberg shining at the Memorial Cup (by Callum Fraser) - The Hockey Writers
- Senators hope Tobias Lindberg's game takes flight on this side of ocean - Ottawa Citizen
- Sweden's Tobias Lindberg fitting in nicely with Oshawa Generals - Durham Region
Lindberg, the player drafted with the 4th round pick that Ottawa received from Tampa Bay in the Ben Bishop trade, is the prospect of the hour at the moment. Coming off a wonderful Memorial Cup where led the Generals in scoring (5 points in 4 games), Lindberg scored in each the Gens first three games before setting up the Cup winning goal in overtime, Lindberg has the size and skill combination that fans and GMs love. He joked in an interview how he doesn't feel big on an Oshawa team that featured two 6'6 players and a 6'7 forward, but Lindberg is no slouch at 6'3. He's also shown an ability to handle the puck well with speed, as Coach DJ Smith plays a quick straight-line game, in addition to a wonderful shot. The Senators asked him to work on his skating and physicality when he was transitioning onto North American ice, so I'd put those two things down as his weaknesses. He also wasn't used much in a defensive role, though it's hard to tell if it's because Oshawa has so many good defensive players, or whether it was because Lindberg's defensive ability was lacking. He IS still eligible to play another year in Oshawa, but I'd look for Lindberg to push hard for an AHL spot. Since he came over from Europe, Lindberg bypasses the NHL-CHL agreement and can play for Binghamton next year if he makes the opening roster.
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The player that's the biggest question mark to remain with the organization is the eccentric Vincent Dunn. A 5th round draft pick in 2013, Dunn showed a ton of promise by putting up ~ PPG pace in his second QMJHL year despite being one of the youngest players on his team. A pest with a bit of skill, Senators fans were looking forward to the second coming of Chris Neil or Brad Marchand, but it seems unlikely that Dunn will ever get there. Suspended for racist remarks, and then traded by Gatineau to Rimouski after comments made by respected head coach Benoit Groulx, Dunn ended up being cut by the QMJHL winning Oceanic due to undisciplined play and poor work ethic. The article linked by Alex over at SenShot provides more detail, but the path to recovery is clear for Dunn: clean his game up in the pros. Only time will tell if he'll be able to do it, though.
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After winning the OHL Championship with the Guelph Storm last year, Ben Harpur is the lone defensive prospect heading to help the depleted BSens in 2015-16. Harpur was traded by the rebuilding Storm mid-season to the Barrie Colts, and took on a more defensive, tough-minutes role, leading to a decline in regular season point totals. Harpur outscored draft eligible puck-mover Rasmus Andersson in the playoffs though, with 6 points in 9 games to lead the Colts D before they were eliminated. Harpur has a booming point shot, but still needs to improve his puck skills. His defensive game is solid with good physicality, but sometimes, he makes mistakes when reading the play. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Harpur was a right-winger until he started playing with Guelph, so he is still learning the position with one of the toughest development curves for young players. Look for him to take on a role on one of the BSens bottom two pairs next year, with hopes of being ready for the Sens in 2017-18.
Hope you enjoyed these quick profiles on four drafted players that are expected to join the BSens next season. For more information, keep your eyes peeled for Jeff's detailed articles! Our poll today asks: which of these prospects are you most excited for?
- In case you didn't hear, Silver Seven has a new site manager! Welcome (?) Ross! Ross has also been heading our playoff bracket, and now that the third round is over, check out where you stand! [Silver Seven - New Site Manager, Playoff Bracket 3rd Round Results]
- Also, the Senators expansion partners, the Tampa Bay Lightning, are heading to their second Stanley Cup final. Hope we also reach our second one (and win the Cup) in the near future. [SenShot]
- Nichols has a news and notes column which features tidbits on the goaltending situation, Tobias Lindberg, Erik Condra, and the coaching staff. [6th Sens]
- With more on the coaching staff situation, here's Chirp and Jack! [SensChirp, SenShot]
- Nichols and Jack also have fantastic pieces on Bryan Murray's last offseason at the helm of the Senators. It looks to be a pivotal year in the shaping of the franchise, and will provide us with a glimpse at where the front office thinks this team is at. [6th Sens, SenShot]
- How would you rate Kyle Turris' season? What do the Senators have in the 24 yo? A #1 centre? A complementary #2 centre? [Silver Seven - Your Say, SenShot]
- Our 'Your Say' series continues with the chance for you to give out grades to two important members for the Senators leadership group for years to come: Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan. [Silver Seven - Your Say: Karlsson, Ryan]