Three players on tap with the latest trade to affect the Binghamton Senators, along with thoughts on the captain, and the talented new guy in this week's Bingo Bites. After Ary's piece breaking the trades down in his recap with all of the activities that have taken place the last few days, I'm giving another perspective from here in Binghamton.
First trade now official: The #Sens have acquired forward Michael Keranen from Minnesota for defenceman Connor Allen.— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 29, 2016
Utility man Conor Allen was traded on Monday for forward Keranen, as Allen finished his short tenure with the Senators participating in 17 games, recording a goal and four assists. He started out on defense, but saw some action up front with the club severely short-handed. He became expandable once offensive-minded defenseman Jerome Leduc was involved in the trade on Saturday, as Leduc scored his eighth goal of the season in his Sens debut on Sunday.
As for Keranen, 6' 1", 170 lbs native of Stockholm, Sweden is in his second season in North America after spending the previous four playing for the Finland Ilves Tampere of the SM-liiga league in Europe. This season he scored eight goals and 15 assists in 45 games for the Iowa Wild, where in 2014-'15 Keranen recorded 10 goals and 27 helpers in 70 contests for Iowa. He also played one game for the Minnesota Wild this season with no points.
The free agent's report from Hockey's Future reads;
Keranen is a light, but highly-skilled playmaking forward who is effective at creating scoring opportunities. Not overly combative when it comes to physical play but willing to take a hit to create chances.
I'm not going to rely too much on the source, but he's portrayed like most Swedish forwards within the organization, soft yet skilled. Let's hope the sour grapes attitude doesn't follow. I believe he'll get a shot in the starting line-up come this weekend to see what skill set he possesses.
Why Do You Love Playing Hockey: "I love the competition. The spirit of the game, the passion, emotion. The simple fundamental parts of the game. Going out there and battling, using skill and brute force to try to put the puck in the net. There’s no better feeling than working with twenty guys and winning a hockey game." ~ Mark Malinowski, The Sporting News
It's been a long, trying season for the 30 year-old Captain of the Binghamton Senators. There have been a few ups, and many downs, giving the fan-base some anxiety fits along the way. However, all fingers shouldn't point towards him and how the season has been a bust, as there have been 28 roster changes for the team so far in the 2015-'16 campaign.
Stortini has played in 53 games, tied with Akeson and one behind the departed Cole Schneider and Leduc. He would've very well been in all 55 games if it weren't for his two game suspension earlier on in the season. Mark Fraser (51) is the only other to reach the 50 game mark.
Storts, who has seven goals and eight assists in 53 games and a -14, obviously was not brought along to a new two-year contract for his offensive prowess within the organization. He was brought along for his leadership and toughness, agitating bystanders in front of the net, sometimes resembling an ancient dinosaur.
Despite his diminishing skating and limited skill set, his 140 PIMs leads the team and is second behind Oleg Yevenko of the Lake Erie Monsters for the league lead by only two minutes. The team is way out in front leading the league with 1070 PIMs, averaging 19.45 per outing. I knew they would be high on the list, but not to this magnitude. But this is not what you would expect from a Captain by any means. Then again, take Mike Angelidis of the Syracuse Crunch and all the shit he pulls off.
It'll be interesting to see what's in store coming up on Mar 13th, as the very first game will take place between Rochester and Binghamton since the trade. It'll also be interesting to see what transpires between defenseman Mike Sdao and Stortini, as they had some epic battles in the past before the Sens signed Storts with absolutely no love shared between the two heavies. A rematch is scheduled to be six days afterwards in Binghamton.
The question is though, how has his role been served as a Captain? I'm sure he has that great locker room, poetic blend of passionate goon presence that is currently a dying breed, but let's be frank. It's not all on him, as this year's squad has been a revolving door of players coming and going, up and down, trying to find some cohesiveness along the way and at times they have looked surprising good, thanks to the Captain. Or just awful, thanks again to the Captain.
Still, he's gotta be better than Aaron Johnson.
Akeson has produced in the past — 47 goals and 70 assists in 127 games the past two season for the Flyers' AHL affiliate — but was the wrong fit with the Amerks. He's more play-maker than finisher, more perimeter than drive-to-the-net, more dance and dart than crash and bang. The Amerks needed net-front presence and goal-scoring hands, especially since they had the hands of Cal O'Reilly and Varone to set up linemates.~ Kevin Oklobzija, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
One of the key pieces for the Senators is Akeson with the after-mentioned belonging to Phil Varone. For their debuts on Sunday against the Syracuse Crunch, they shared a line with Matt Puempel that created instant chemistry, as Akeson and Varone had two beautiful set-ups for Puempel, and he cashed in on both in the SO loss.
But now with Puempel on re-call for Ottawa, we have two experienced table setters with limited seating for forwards. The team just does not possess that natural goal scorer like Puempel. Someone asked me who will take Puempel's spot now that he is up, I didn't have an answer other than Kyle Flanagan. Perhaps Casey Bailey will need to step-up along with Keranen, the newest addition. Talk about thin up the middle suddenly, which was the BSens' greatest asset at one point over the years.
Back to Akeson. He now finds himself as the starting center after one game. Like Keven Oklobzija mentioned, he had 47 goals in his two seasons prior to signing with the Sabres. But he did have a supporting cast of players like Nick Cousins, Andrew Gordon, Petr Straka, Kris Newbury, Tye McGinn and, wait for it...Zack Stortini. (They were teammates in the 2014-'15 season for Lehigh Valley.)
I knew there was a common denominator between the two that I was after. Does this make Zack a good Captain after-all? Yup, I'm sold. I think.
Let's get through the final quarter and see how this plays out for the new players, possibly ponying it up for new contracts next season. It's a good script to follow with very little down the pipeline. Who knows what's in store, but if Luke Richardson returns, he needs to be more of a disciplinarian. Your hint for next week's Bites.
*Cover Pic Courtesy of @AliciaS20