Fourth and final quarter results are in for the Binghamton. They finished with a 9-7-3-0 record over the last 19 games of the season for an overall record of 31-38-6-1, a total of 69 points that kept them at the bottom of the North Division, 14th in the Eastern Conference in the AHL.
New players that made an impact were forwards Jason Akeson and Phil Varone in the trade that took place with the Buffalo Sabres. It turned out to be a rather big upgrade over Eric O'Dell and Cole Schneider, the other two players involved up front. The problem was they lacked a goal scorer up the middle between them, as Matt Puempel played a few games on that line until he got called up, only to return towards the end and produce where he left off.
Another player that stood out in Puempel's departure was, as the rookie looked good in his short term with the club.
Goaltenders Matt O'Connor and Chris Driedger both saw some improvements in winning some games on their own, despite a slanted defense at times. One position that won't be addressed during the off-season as both will be back.
Here are my grades covering the final quarter of the 2015-16 campaign in numerical order with a minimum of 8 games played, 5 for goaltenders. As usual, I'm shooting from the hip with very little usage of stats in the thought process and besides, there is little to none available in the AHL. Previous three quarter results are listed for a comparison and past reports can be found here; 1st Quarter, 2nd and 3rd.
Winners of Team Awards that were voted by the players themselves are shown in bold italics.
This is the chart that I use which is a familiarity here in the States when grading school papers and such.
#3 Fredrik Claesson B+, A-, B+, Inc. (Called Up)
(Should re-sign, but only if it's a one way deal)
#4 Kevin Tansey N/A. N/A, N/A, D
I mean, it's such a small sample size to take in with his few playing days as a pro, it's not truly fair, but he earns the low grade for obvious reasons. Did show some physical upside and has size, but just needs time on the ice, as I'm not opposed in bringing him back next season.
#5 Mark Fraser Best Defenseman Award
(Won't be back)
#6 Jerome Leduc N/A, N/A, N/A, C-
Not truly impressed with a throw in the blockbuster trade with Buffalo. Looked good in the beginning, but made some terrible missed assignments that left the goaltending out to dry. Not so sure if he returns.
#7 Chris Carlisle Rookie of the Year Award
Again, like all season long, well rounded player that filled in when it was needed on offense, as well as doing an adequate job on defense. Your Danny New type of player from the past that anyone can use. Bring him back!
#21 Michael Kostka B-, A-, A, Inc. (Called Up)
(Won't be back)
#24 Ben Harpur
Meh. Did however show signs of improving, but he's got a ways to go, as the big man found himself struggling once again through the fourth quarter. Slow to the puck, lacks contact and lack luster performance won't cut it at the pro level. Ben Blood 2.0.
#28 Guillaume Lepine
One of the better defenseman on the team and showed his worth with his consistent play as the year wore on, and brought toughness to the table when called upon, dropping the mitts. Need him back next season pronto, a must on the bucket list.
#37 Nick Tuzzolino Inc., Inc., Inc., D+
Slow, cumbersome and vitality ineffective is best to describe another tall player that doesn't utilize that size to his strength. Late addition, after spending the majority at the lower level. Let him walk, please.
#8 Kyle Flanagan N/A, B-, B+, Inc. (injured) 7th Player Award
(Should be back)
#9 Matt Puempel
(Will be back)
# 10 Buddy Robinson
The PK specialist is just that when defending the puck, but continued to be lousy handling it in many instances, including shorthanded breakaways with more than ample opportunities and nothing to show for. Clumsy finisher and skater, with little use physically for such a big guy. I don't have a real problem if he's not welcomed back.
#11 Travis Ewanyk
Receiver of a lot of ice time, as the team was short of players up front, otherwise your average floater with some average grit. Don't expect him back.
#17 Max McCormick Best Defensive Forward Award
Great hustle and hard competitor. He might run you over when it comes to a two-man challenge to the puck, and he'll beat you to it 9 out of 10 times, every night. Always a crowd pleaser, and a no-brainer when talking a new 2-way deal during the off-season.
#18 Jason Akeson N/A, N/A, N/A, A
Hard not to think of Corey Locke when his name is mentioned, as he comes as advertised being one of the best table setters the league has to offer. Tough, smart, and yet fast on his skates with great ice vision. When you build a team from the ground up around one player, he's it. But just like Locke, it'll come at a high cost for sure, but well worth the price.
#19 Danny Hobbs
Kid is getting better with grit and determination, as the fourth quarter was his best. However, maybe it's time to cut ties and look for someone that makes a stronger impact than what he has to offer. Just another floater, or perhaps a good depth signing? On the fence.
#20N/A, N/A, C-, C+
I think there is something to his game that is worth the risk in bringing him back next season. Small forward, but has some wheels with decent drive to the net and not afraid to sacrifice his body willing to crash into the opposing goalie to get the job done. Sure let's do this.
#22 David Dziurzynski B-, Inc., B, Inc. (Injured)
(I have a feeling his playing days are over with the Senators' Organization.)
#25 Casey Bailey N/A, N/A, B-, B+
Solid player with great hands and decent speed. Seems to be one of the leaders on the ice in his own, subtle way, as that role should suit him well next season. Definitely one to re-sign, as he shows promise in his sophomore year as a pro.
#26 Phil Varone N/A, N/A, N/A, A
Solid, yet gritty forward that payed off with the late season trade with Buffalo. Showed his love putting up huge numbers when he faced his former team, as it looked like a man possessed. Am a little concerned about his apparent reported attitude from the past, as he showed his displeasure on a bench tirade, yelling at his new teammates during a recent home loss. Clearly a passionate player, but the question is, will he fit in?
#27 Mike Borkowski N/A, N/A, N/A, D
One of Luke Richardson's late signings that didn't exactly pan out, as he was let go of his ATO soon after he signed. It looked to be a favor, as the two skated together during the off-season in a men's league.
#36 Michael Keranen N/A, N/A, N/A, C+
Wasn't overly impressed with what little there was from him, as the Swede was just another, average player with nothing spectacular to report on. Came over in the Conor Allen trade with Minnesota.On the fence if he's returning.
#39 Ryan Penny N/A, C+, C-, Inc. (Sent Down)
(Most likely a new AHL contract for depth)
#45 Zack Stortini Man of the Year Award
Recently been out injured, but maintains the C grade throughout the season, including the last quarter. Much of the same can be expected next year but to his credit, is well received by his teammates. Too bad Luke won't be back to live up to his end of the bargain with his bud playing in year two of his contract.
#29 Matt O'Connor Inc., B-, C, C+
Positive vibes and better play, with him coming up big a couple of times bailing out his teammates, as he has the tools but needs another solid year of conditioning in the A. Guy is going to be a solid goaltender in the near future, and will look to bounce back next season after a difficult start adjusting to the pros.
#33 Chris Driedger MVP/ of the Game Awards
Appeared to clearly be the number one goaltender in the final quarter, as he won his fair share of games and kept the numbers down and in check. Seemed to have gotten quicker, and his positioning was improved. There was a period of time when his glove wasn't his best asset, but seemed to have harnessed it in to perfection.
Inc. = Incomplete
No grades available for Nathan Todd, Nick Trecapelli, Kevin Morris, Andrew Miller and Daultan Leveille.
Overall, one can sum up the season if you are a BSens fan with an emphasis on the word frustration. There were times when the team looked great, while at the same time looked down right awful. I believe one of the problems that was a major concern was the goaltending.
In my mind, Ottawa did the right thing to get rid of goalie coach Rick Wamsley. He dropped the ball when it came to O'Connor's early season struggles with him not offering his services to fix what was wrong, and his on-going feud with Driedger over conditioning issues. Both goaltenders struggled as a result. That shouldn't have happened.
Richardson was also an issue. I think he lost interest mid-way through the season and checked out. The team took so many undisciplined penalties in the beginning and it didn't stop. I also don't believe the club was properly prepared to start any games, as they found themselves quickly in the hole down by a goal on many occasions.
There were also some locker-room tensions that took place in the beginning. However, that was cleared up afterwards with several trades that followed, but the damage was already done and the team sat in last place.
This summer is going to be a somewhat of a re-build for the BSens. A new coach, along with some new signings, and hopefully some new attitudes to come with it, that otherwise plagued Binghamton this past season.
*Cover Pic & Inserts Courtesy of @AliciaS20