There are two players I’d like to touch base upon for this week’s edition of the Bites with that being defenseman Ben Harpur and rookie forward Francis Perron, as both have come along in major strides towards their development this year for the Binghamton Senators.
Let’s begin with the forward from Laval, QC, CAN.
#27 Francis Perron
This 20-year-old Perron was a seventh round pick in 2014 (#190th overall) and played four years in the QMJHL for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and helped them to a Championship in 2016 while he served as the Captain. Perron led his team with impressive numbers that season with a total of 41 goals and 67 assists in 62 regular season games and continued his offensive onslaught in the post season with 12 goals and 33 assists in just 18 playoff games.
That earned him the Guy Lafleur Trophy as MVP of the playoffs as well as the Michel Brière Memorial Trophy as the league's MVP. The Huskies ended up as runners up in the 2016 Memorial Cup finals to a red hot London Knights team with a final score of 3-2 in overtime as the Knights ended up winning their last 17 straight games.
Ottawa soon signed Perron to a three-year ELC in March of 2016.
The potential is there for the 6’0 163 lb. forward, but the question is how easily will it translate to the top level talent in the NHL as Perron currently has 6 goals and 8 assists in 45 contests with the BSens so far this season.
Perron has showed some promise in his rookie campaign with a similarity of another recent graduate from Binghamton in Mike Hoffman. While he might lack the range of a distance shot by The Hoff, it’s still eerily impressive with his velocity once the trigger is released on a short range snipe by Perron.
Perron’s skill level is his lethal wrister, however, he still needs to find his game with his limited ice vision and play-making abilities. That is one phrase where Hoffman excelled that landed him in the NHL.
If Ottawa was going to have any thoughts of rushing him, DO NOT. That would be a grave mistake as they should take their time with the potential talent that Perron has to offer. Give him another year in the AHL and then roll with it as its taken some time for him to adjust to the quickness at the pro level. Let’s not pull another Curtis Lazar, please.
Fans have questioned why he hasn’t been aligned with better talent on Binghamton’s roster. With Max McCormick and Nick Paul ahead of him on the left wing, along with another rookie in Alex Krushelnyski in the mix, I think that’s where he belongs at the moment while playing on the fourth line with Kyle Flanagan and Marc Hagel.
- Grades: Earned a 83 by The Panel in the 2nd Quarter Grades Report that continues to rise in the second half of the season.
- Pros: Has one lethal shot that has carried him to the pros. Needs to continue to work in getting open and create chances to unleash the beast of a shot.
- Cons: Adding some weight wouldn’t hurt (during the off-season) as he’s the lightest player on the team, followed by defenseman Chris Carlisle at 174 lbs. As a result, Perron gets bounced around quite often while handling the puck.
Next up, the big guy on the blueline.
#24 Ben Harpur
While he towers over the competition at 6’6”, 214 lbs., Harpur is competing in his second tour of duty in the pros this season while recording 1 goal and 14 assists in 41 games so far for the BSens. With his recent offensive contributes, the 22-year-old native of Hamilton, ONT, CAN, has renewed confidence that he can compete at this level and build from it.
In a look back, Harpur was a fourth round pick in 2013 (#108th overall) and was signed by Ottawa in Nov of 2014 to a three-year entry level contract and made his NHL debut in Mar of 2016 against the Minnesota Wild.
Harpur played for four years in the OHL representing the Guelph Storm along with the Barre Colts after a mid-season trade in 2014-’15. Over the past two seasons he has played in six games in Ottawa while recording an assist.
The turning point now has been his challenge to play a more physical role from upper management, and Harpur has answered with some solid hits and willingness to drop the gloves, a rarity amongst this current bunch of players. But there were times that drove fans absolutely crazy including myself with his careless turnovers. But it’s a slow process and it’s begun to get better.
Harpur has been paired up with rookie Andreas Englund on the first unit and has seen increased ice time with the occasional double shift to boot. A new confidence level has been reached with his offense recording 11 points in his last 19 games, leading Binghamton to a 10-9-0-0 during that stretch and time on the power play as well as the PK.
- Grades: Earned a 74.5 by The Panel in the 2nd Quarter Grades Report that has significantly improved so far in the third quarter.
- Pros: Big offensive improvement lately whereas Harpur recorded 0 goals and 4 assists in the first 22 games. Physically has stepped up with his large frame, which he currently shares as the tallest member on the team with netminder Matt O’Connor at 6’6”.
- Cons: Needs to improve on his skating with the puck, as he has a tenacity to create turnovers notability near the corner boards, and up the side wall during a break out session from behind the net.
Both players are on the right path but need some time to develop in the AHL to further understand what their role is and what it takes to play at the next level. My advise would be, take your time with youth on their side.
Again, I implore you Ottawa. It’s in your best interest to not rush these two players in any way, shape or form. Perron and Harpur will most likely play a role in the NHL if they continue to follow the road that’s ahead, but with careful guidance.
Next up I will feature a BSens’ Profile Series report on rookie defenseman Andreas Englund.