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Ottawa Senators 2016-17 Report Cards: Forwards

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A look at how every forward’s season went

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators
Bobby Ryan doesn’t like to share his camera time
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-17 season’s over, which means it time to rate the members of the Ottawa Senators. Today, we take a look at the forwards on the team. Note that a player had to appear in at least five games to be eligible for this list. The ratings are an average of votes from the staff members with the aggregate readers results also getting a vote. Here are the forwards, in alphabetical order.

Casey Bailey: C-

Reader Grade: C

Bailey was no. 18 on our annual Top 25 Under 25 series, so we may have expected better from him this year. Instead, we got zero points in seven games playing on the fourth line. After 21 points in 30 games for Bingo last year, he only put up 37 in 62 this year. At age 25, it’s hard to see an NHL future for this guy.

Derick Brassard: B+

Reader Grade: B

Fans spent the whole season wanting to see more from Brass (just 39 points in 81 games), only to see him turn things up in the playoffs. We found out he managed to do that with a torn labrum that now requires surgery, making it all the more impressive. Hopefully the way he ended the season with the Sens is how he starts next season.

Alexandre Burrows: C+

Reader Grade: B-

Pierre Dorion’s big trade deadline acquisition came on the scene in a big way, scoring two goals in his Senators debut. He eventually settled into a checking role with some powerplay duty. He mustered five assists in the playoffs, including two on OT winners. It’s hard to say also how much his playoff experience helped a very green team reach Game 7 of the conference finals. Unfortunately, his season ended in injury. But we’ll have two more years of him to see what he can bring.

Ryan Dzingel: B+

Reader Grade: B

A strong training camp and start to the season earned him a permanent spot in the lineup, playing in 81 games. At some point he seemed to pick up Erik Condra disease, having great speed but being unable to finish on so many chances. He was often a healthy scratch in the playoffs, but earned Boucher’s trust enough to get the chance to score the biggest goal of his life against the Penguins in Game 7. He’s an RFA with arbitration rights, and should end up with a healthy one-way contract.

Mike Hoffman: A-

Reader Grade: A-

It’s hard to view 61 points in 74 games as a disappointment, but many were hoping he’d pass 35 goals with a coach who actually liked him, and he couldn’t even reach last season’s goal totals. Still, on a defensive-first, offence-by-committee team, he definitely impressed with his raw ability to generate goals.

Chris Kelly: D

Reader Grade: C

How you feel about Kelly’s season likely depends on how you feel about analytics. Some saw him as a reliable faceoff-winning fourth-line centre who could kill penalties. Others saw him as a complete drag on possession. It was nice to see him return from a full-season leg injury, and his return to Ottawa was a feel good story, but it’s probably time for him to consider retirement.

Curtis Lazar: F

Reader Grade: D

Lazar had a terrible season for Ottawa. Sure, he languished on the fourth line, but he also managed one point in 33 games after starting the season in the AHL to work on his game. His disappointing season (to follow up to other disappointing ones) earned him a trade to the Flames, where he did score a goal, but also was a frequent healthy scratch.

Clarke MacArthur: A-

Reader Grade: B+

This grade was so close to being an incomplete. He suffered another concussion in training camp, and was told in January to shut it down for the season. Instead, he returned at the end of the season and was a key contributor in the playoffs. He even scored arguably the biggest goal of his career, the OT winner to beat the Bruins and send the Sens on to the second round.

Max McCormick: C-

Reader Grade: C

Did you know he played seven NHL games this year? Me neither. He had no points, seven shots, and most impressively, 0 PIMs. He’s a UFA now, and he may realize he doesn’t have an NHL future with Ottawa and test his luck elsewhere.

Chris Neil: C

Reader Grade: C+

Neiler reached 1000 games this year, a fitting moment in what may be the end of his career. He was actually decent possession-wise this year, and as we saw in the playoffs, his teammates still love having him around. He’s not as young as he once was, but he’s still more than willing to drop the gloves and pump up the crowd.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau: B+

Reader Grade: A-

Pageau spent most of the season as a shutdown centre with lots of PK play. He did manage a four-goal game in the playoffs, cementing his place in Senators playoff lore, and ended up leading the team in goals. He’s also up for a new contract, so watch for him to get a sizable raise as he looks to be a top-six forward for this team.

Matt Puempel: D+

Reader Grade: D+

The last remaining first-round pick of the fabled 2011 draft has now moved on too. He finished with no points in 12 games before being claimed on waivers by the Rangers (to replace the injured fellow ex-Senator and 2011 first-rounder Mike Zibanejad). He scored a hat trick during the season, but only finished with six goals and was scratched for the entirety of the playoffs.

Tom Pyatt: C+

Reader Grade: B

Pyatt is probably an even better test of your belief in analytics than Kelly. Most people agreed Kelly looked older and slower this year. But Pyatt was either a reliable defensive forward or a horrible drag on possession depending on who you asked. He was a favourite of Guy Boucher’s though, likely owing to their overlapping time in Switzerland, and figured into the lineup whenever he was healthy.

Bobby Ryan: B

Reader Grade: B

What a difference the playoffs can make. He was likely headed for a grade around a D+ until the playoffs, when he suddenly seemed to figure things out and became a power forward with a knack for scoring goals. If he can keep the confidence he showed in the playoffs, he should have a much better 2017-18.

Zack Smith: B

Reader Grade: B

After finishing last season as Pageau’s left wing, it was unclear where he was going to fit into this year. He finished as the fourth-line centre with significant PK time. It seemed to work out well, especially because he convinced Boucher that Kelly was unnecessary in the playoffs. I see no reason to expect anything different from him next year.

Viktor Stalberg: B

Reader Grade: B

He was the less flashy trade deadline addition, but was arguably as important as Burrows to the team’s playoff push. He fit in anywhere from the first to fourth line, and used his speed to fit in well with the team. You never got excited when he was on the ice, but you also didn’t cringe.

Mark Stone: A-

Reader Grade: B+

His year started off so well, but after missing a few games with injury after an illegal hit by Jacob Trouba, he wasn’t himself. He went a couple months without a goal, and wasn’t nearly as dominant in the playoffs as most would’ve hoped. It’s hard to know how to grade a guy who was worse than expected but obviously injured. Both staff and readers were pretty generous.

Kyle Turris: B+

Reader Grade: A-

I was a big advocate for Turris all season. Not only did he end up leading the team in goals, but he did it with a rotating cast of wingers (while Brassard saw lots of Hoffman and Stone). He was indisputably the team’s top centre all season, and had a fairly good playoffs as well, with 10 points in 19 games.

Phil Varone: C

Reader Grade: C

He’s the winner of this year’s Brandon Bochenski award, using a great training camp to earn a roster spot to start the season, only to lose it by having an unimpressive start to the season. He ended up with seven games, no points, and likely no future with the Sens.

Tommy Wingels: C+

Reader Grade: C+

Ottawa acquired him late in January for spare parts, and he settled in as a fourth-liner and occasional healthy scratch. The good news is that he didn’t do anything memorably bad, but it’s unlikely he’s back. It’s probably not good when the highlight of your time in Ottawa is when you were paired with the only other NHL player with a last name that rhymes with yours.

Not ranked: Buddy Robinson (4 GP), Christopher DiDomenico (3), Colin White (3), Mike Blunden (2), Nick Paul (1)