Welcome to this week’s edition of Five Thoughts for Friday! Let’s jump right in!
Colin White’s Debut
After signing an ATO on Sunday, Colin White joined the Binghamton Senators to kick off his professional career. Although the B-Sens lost 6-1 to the much better Syracuse Crunch, it should ease the mind of fans that Colin White had a good game. He even picked up the primary assist on Binghamton’s lone goal, and seemed to find instant chemistry with Jason Akeson and Francis Perron. You can read the full review of White in Jeff Ulmer’s game recap. Here’s the goal:
Colin White sets up Jason Akeson for the PPG. White's first pro point just 7 minutes in. pic.twitter.com/94xfKRdTn1— SensProspects (@SensProspects) March 29, 2017
Although I’m still not convinced White is a blue-chip prospect (maybe my standard is too high), it’s comforting knowing that one of our top two prospects has committed to the Sens for the immediate future. Should he continue to be dominant in the AHL, the option is available for Pierre Dorion to offer White an ELC.
Prospects are exciting to follow, and it’s great to see one of them off to a nice start in his professional career.
Marcus Hogberg Signs
Speaking of prospect signings, the Sens made another one yesterday by inking goaltender Marcus Hogberg to an ELC as well as a tryout agreement to play the rest of the season in Binghamton.
It’s another fantastic signing, as Hogberg’s coming off the best season of his career. Playing his third year for Linköping in the SHL, Hogberg posted a .932 SV%, good for second in the league amongst goalies with at least 30 games played. He backstopped his team to 4th in the league, but unfortunately fell to the 5th place Brynäs in the quarterfinals. Keep in mind he’s only 22, and is doing this in a professional league.
This is news Senators fans should be getting really excited about. With Chris Driedger and Matt O’Connor both having an inconsistent 2016-17, Hogberg should provide an immediate boost to a team that has struggled to find consistent goaltending ever since the departure of Robin Lehner. He’s big, he’s agile... he’s pretty much everything you could ask for in a goalie.
Because he was drafted in 2013, this was the last year the Sens owned Hogberg’s rights. Now with O’Connor and Driedger being RFAs at the end of the season as well as having another year of Andrew Hammond’s contract, the B-Sens’ goalie situation is definitely worth keeping an eye on this offseason. My personal guess: Hogberg takes the starting job backed up by Driedger, and O’Connor doesn’t get qualified. As for Hammond, it will probably depend on how well he recovers from his surgery.
Erik Karlsson Injured
Last night’s game against Minnesota had something happen to the Sens that hadn’t happened in almost three years: Erik Karlsson missed a game. After blocking a shot against the Flyers earlier in the week, the severity of Karlsson’s injury still remains unknown to the public. It was obviously bad enough to force Karlsson to sit out yesterday’s game, and possibly for a bit longer. He could be out for the playoffs, for all we know.
The loss to Minnesota was also a demonstration how much this team needs Karlsson in the lineup. The Sens don’t have an overflowing amount of star players like the Penguins or Blackhawks. Karlsson is our team’s generational talent, leading both on and off the ice. He’s been hot as of late too, with 10 points in his last 10 games. Let’s hope for a speedy return for the captain, as the team is not the same without him.
Stars vs Depth
If you’re familiar to the site, you probably know by now that I really enjoy reading working with the analytics side of the game. A recent post on Hockey-Graphs.com by Alex Novet presented some very interesting information, which I think is not only relevant to the Sens, but to the entire league.
In a simplified summary, Novet tried to answer the question “Is hockey a strong link or a weak link game?” Strong link is like basketball, where the team with the best player generally wins (ex. Cleveland with LeBron). Weak link is essentially the opposite, where the team without the worst player is more likely to win. The entire post goes through the whole process and gives a clearer explanation, but the end result is that hockey tends to be more of a strong link game.
From the perspective of a Sens fan, you could look at these results both positively or negatively. On one hand, it feels great knowing we have a franchise defender in Erik Karlsson, as well as a stellar goaltender with a small handful of high end forwards to provide the offence. The rising of Thomas Chabot and Colin White also provide hope for the future.
Looking at this pessimistically, however, you could say the Sens are far from matching the high-end talent of other teams, even within the division. Pierre Dorion has also been making a definitive effort to acquire a bunch of depth players, when some of those resources could’ve instead been allocated towards upgrading a high-end piece.
Make what you will of it, it’s an interesting concept that I’ll definitely be keeping in mind moving forward.
Ready to Rumble
For any old-time Sens fans on the site (one of which I am not), you may remember Darren Rumble, who was one of Ottawa’s expansion draft selections in 1992, and proceeded to play 139 games for the organization. You may not have known this, but his son, Chris Rumble, has been playing for the Binghamton Senators this season on an AHL contract. And although this story was first released a couple weeks ago, it’s definitely still worth sharing.
Back in 2012, a week away from turning 22 years old, Chris got a call from his doctor saying he’d been diagnosed with leukemia.
Let’s stop and think about that for a moment. At this point he has a verbal agreement to join an division-1 NCAA team on a scholarship, with aspirations of making a career out of hockey like his father. In an instant, all of that came into question.
He spent time in the hospital going through chemo and fighting the tough battle, unable to play hockey. In the meantime, he collaborated with the hospital to make a video synced to the song “Stonger” by Kelly Clarkson, which generated over 4 million views on YouTube.
The treatments continued, with at one point a doctor telling him he’d never play hockey again due to his heart condition. But man, was that doctor wrong. Now fully recovered and playing regular time in the AHL, Rumble has been one of Binghamton’s best surprises of the season. He has 25 points in 52 games, the highest point-per-game rate amongst B-Sens blueliners.
The story of Chris Rumble is truly inspiring, and I highly recommend you read the full version here, written by Chris. It’s a true testament of bravery in hockey, one which shouldn’t go unnoticed.