Thoughts? Who's got thoughts? I've got 'em right here, get your thoughts! Five Thoughts, in fact, is what I have. Let's get to 'em:
Yesterday, the highly regarded Corey Pronman released his annual ranking of the top 100 prospects for the 2015-16 system. (Sidebar: if you don't have an ESPN Insider account, Pronman's content alone is worth the $3 a month. ESPN didn't even pay me to write that. I promise.) Pronman's definition of a prospect is a player that has yet to play 25 games in the NHL, and that's important to remember when you see that the Sens have but one player in the top 100. The truth is that despite what may seem initially like a gross oversight, it's not that surprising to read the Sens don't have too many top shelf prospects left in the pipeline; they're virtually all in the NHL. It was, however, a bit of a surprise to read that the player in the top 100 was Colin White and not Nick Paul. I don't see this necessarily as an indictment of Paul, but more as a ringing endorsement of White. It's still way, way, way too early to judge the merits of the 2015 draft class but an appearance on a list like this is a good sign.
The bigger reality, though, is this: the Sens aren't very likely to have a game-breaker come up the ranks any time soon. Maybe one of their kids will flourish, but the more likely reality is that the success of the big-league club will depend on the improvement of players that are already there.
The Forgotten Prospect:
Speaking of prospects, one whose name hasn't been mentioned as much lately is Tobias Lindberg. The 2013 selection had a fun interview with Sens TV that you can watch below:
Lindberg's maybe a year or two away from having a chance to crack the Sens' line-up, but he's exactly the kind of player the Sens are counting on to fill the third and fourth line roles in the coming seasons. Look out for him at camp in the fall -- if he makes an impression, he's got a decent chance to leapfrog some of the guys who might have already had their shot.
(As an aside, my favourite part of this video is at the :39 mark when Lindberg is sitting at that table and they're supposed to be having a serious discussion but he's got a team picture in front of him. "Yes, yes, look at your smile in this shot. Excellent enamel")
NHL Players and the Code of Conduct
Many people have already written much better than I already could on the topic of Patrick Kane and the charges that are being brought against him. It's a bad situation and a woman is in a terrible way because of it. I just don't have anything to add that would be of any substance. However, some of the surrounding discussion did make me think back to this time last year when Gary Bettman was pretty on high on himself and the NHL as the NFL was going through some serious public scrutiny. The money quote, in reference to not seeing a need to implement a formal Code of Conduct was: "Our players know what's right and wrong" When things are seemingly going well, it's easy to act as if there's no need to implement additional oversight. I'm actually not even sure a codified set of rules is necessarily the way to go, or that it would have helped in this case, but let's not forget instances like these when the news inevitably fades. Hockey players are people too, and they come with all the good and the bad of people. Acting as if they're saints serves no one, not even the players.
Speaking of the NFL: Geno Smith, quarterback for the New York Jets, recently underwent surgery to repair a broken jaw he suffered at the hands of one of his own teammates. This isn't the first time a player will punch a teammate in practice, nor will it be the last Our very own Chris Neil, in fact, has a bit of a history of getting into it with teammates at times. Justin Bourne of The Score shared a story of a particularly nasty incident from his time playing NCAA hockey:
Ahh, college memories of a locker room suckerpunch that left our captain in an orange jumpsuit and the other guy in hospital.— Justin Bourne (@jtbourne) August 11, 2015
Coles notes: repeat rule breaker skips a 6am punishment run w/ captain. Latter up, there for no reason. Guy walks in to the dressing room— Justin Bourne (@jtbourne) August 11, 2015
for pictures hours later. Capt waiting in his stall. Slugs him, shattered jaw (out for months), assault charge (I think eventually dropped?)— Justin Bourne (@jtbourne) August 11, 2015
Setting aside the moral/legal issues involved in these types of things, there's a persistent need among NHL teams to project an aura of unity. Coaches, players, management talk about it all the time: "We're all in it together, all pulling in the same direction, etc" When stuff like this happens though, we're reminded that teammates, maybe more often than we know, will sometimes just HATE each other; you just hear about it a lot more often when there's not a lot of winning going on.
Sens Summer Fan Fest
The last thing I wanted to mention is that you should all be heading to Sens Summer Fan Fest! It's a great event put on just for you! Our own Callum Fraser will be a participant on the Panel, Bruce Firestone will be there to talk about his upcoming book and much more. It'll be a blast, and your best chance to talk hockey on a Sunday in the middle of August.
Thanks for reading!