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Silver Seven Mailbag: Your Questions Answered, Part 2

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Questions about re-signing Erik Karlsson, expectations for Thomas Chabot, Clarke MacArthur’s health, and more

Sweden v Canada: Semifinal - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Yesterday we gave you part one of the Silver Seven mailbag, and today we give you the rest. Thanks for all the submissions and don’t forget to ask your question(s) next time around!

Here they are:

Considering that in 2019 Karlsson is due a huge raise, and with the Senator's ever tight budget, do you think he might get traded beforehand so the Sens could maximize their return, or do you think they will pay him whatever he demands (10+ million/ season) or even possibly risk losing him anyway to another club willing to outspend the Sens?—Righteous637 (similar questions from Grando and sens4lyfe)

As most Sens fans know, the last year of Erik Karlsson’s bargain $6.5M deal is 2018-19. We know that on July 1st, 2018, the Senators will sign Karlsson to an extension or we will face an eternity of questions of why Karlsson is holding out. Think John Tavares right now, or Steven Stamkos last year, only Karlsson is a better player than either of those guys. I expect that Ottawa will do everything in its power to re-sign him.

After losing Daniel Alfredsson, I think Melnyk will want to avoid a similar scandal with a superstar in his prime. I expect we’ll be looking at $11-12M for eight years. Connor McDavid has set the maximum for superstars in the near future at $12.5M. I expect Karlsson will end up just under him, claiming the full eight-year maximum contract.

I can’t imagine a situation in which Karlsson gets traded over fear of him walking. Maybe if he requests a trade knowing he plans to leave as a UFA, kind of like Jason Spezza did. That’s the only situation I can think of. The Sens will have to keep up a brave face all 2017-18, even if he has no contract extension in place, making everyone believe he still wants to stick around.

However, it’s fun to imagine a trade scenario for Karlsson. The classic good player trade is what Down Goes Brown calls a “plickspect”: a roster player, a pick, and a prospect. However, we haven’t seen a superstar traded for pieces in a long time. If Andrew Ladd pulls back a big name prospect like Marko Dano and a 1st, it’s harder to imagine how much more Karlsson could garner.

If for example, Colorado decided they were done with taking things slowly, Ottawa would probably ask for Mikko Rantanen (player), Tyson Jost (prospect), and their 1st. That’s a huge ask, but also basically the only way to have comparable value to someone like Karlsson. It’s why this kind of trade would be so hard to complete. The other option is the one-for-one superstar swap – P.K. Subban for Shea Weber or Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones.

This would have to be a huge offering for Karlsson – Matt Duchene wouldn’t be enough to push the needle on his own. Either a player with potential to be incredible, like Nikita Kucherov, or a great player + extras. For example, Vladimir Tarasenko + a 1st. I don’t see Ottawa trading their captain, but it’s fun to think of what could be a fair trade—RA

Who do you think is the biggest breakout candidate for Senators in the 2017-18 season?—Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB)

There’s really only one answer here, and that is Thomas Chabot. Colin White has a chance to make an impact as well, but I think Chabot will be more heavily relied upon throughout the season. The Senators defense needs to be better, and I think Chabot can instantly become Ottawa’s second best defenseman behind Erik Karlsson.

I hate putting out these high expectations for him, but it’s hard to not be extremely excited about this kid. He danced around players in the QMJHL and made them look like Midget House players. He was one of the best performers in the WJC, which features the best of the best amongst his peers.

Simply put, he’s ready for the next challenge. It remains to be seen how Guy Boucher will deploy him, as he may be hesitant to give him lots of responsibility early in the season. However, I have no doubt in my mind that Chabot has the skills to become a very good NHL player, and he should quickly become a fan favourite—TS

Despite his age and fragility, Clarke MacArthur is still one of my favourite players on the Sens and seems to make everyone around him better. What do you think the chances are we get another full season of MacArthur? Can management rely on him being healthy for 82 games?—Gully (@Gully_Chris)

I don’t think anyone can really predict what MacArthur’s role will be next season. Concussions are unpredictable, and none of us know the severity of his injury. Was he really so sick that there’s no way he could have played last season? Or was the team just being careful and he’s actually feeling 100%? We don’t know.

That said, he showed us in the playoffs that he’s healthy enough now that he can handle the physicality of an NHL postseason game, so as long as he doesn’t end up on the receiving end of any really bad hits, we can assume he’ll stick with the team. Personally, I’ll be surprised if he plays the full 82 games, because I’m guessing he’ll take a few maintenance days and the team will want to be really careful with him, but I can see him playing about 70 games as long as nothing goes horribly wrong—BE

Do you believe that the Sens can repeat what they did last year under Guy Boucher's system or will teams have figured us out by now? Do you think we got better or worse this off season compared to other teams in our division especially?—kaz1722

This is the money question, and it's really hard to have an answer. There has been some preliminary work looking at the impact of a new coaching staff on a team. The lesson from this work (baring in mind a small sample size + multiple other factors): a good coach in year one will continue to help the team get more scoring chances than their opposition (measured by SCF% or scoring chance percentage for).

Likewise, if you aren't seeing improvement quickly into year two, you likely won't see improvement across a coach's tenure. Ottawa will be a really interesting case study, because their underlying numbers (shot metrics, scoring chance metrics) weren't really good under Guy Boucher until after the team's depth improved post-trade deadline, when the Sens became respectable.

With an improved roster, at least according to GM Pierre Dorion, these numbers should help the team start off better. If they're not in the top-16 by around game 21 or 22, some warning bells should be going off.

With respect to the division, here's how I have it playing out. Keep in mind that this is just my opinion :)

  • Toronto - similar to last season (playoffs) or better; their rookies are good and shouldn't slump, although the Leafs really didn't have any major injuries this past season and may run into some bad luck this year
  • Detroit - similar to last season (out of the playoffs) or worse; they signed Trevor Daley and were lucky not to lose Petr Mrazek in the expansion draft. They have a few good players coming, but are in a dire cap situation with aging players
  • Tampa Bay - better than last season (playoffs); they struggled and signed aging players like Chris Kunitz and Dan Girardi, but better injury luck and the return of a star player in Stamkos should help the Bolts get the extra points they need to rebound.
  • Buffalo - similar to last season (out of the playoffs) or wild card contender; like Ottawa last year, Buffalo enters with a new GM (Botterill) and coach (Housley). They've revamped their D corps with Scandella, Beaulieu, and Antipin, and Eichel is a star. The biggest wild card in the Atlantic this year.
  • Boston - similar to last season (wild card) or worse; the Bruins lost a puck-mover in Colin Miller, but have Charlie McAvoy ready to step in. They have decent talent across the board, but Tampa's improvement and Buffalo's wild card potential may force them out of a spot.
  • Florida - similar to last season (fighting for the wild card) or worse; surely the Panthers will have better injury luck this year (Ekblad, Huberdeau, Barkov all missed time last season) but they also shed four of their top-six point getters last season. Will the rookies step up? Will Luongo and Reimer be enough in net? I'd have Boston over them.
  • Montreal - similar to last season (playoff spot); It's hard to bet against Carey Price, and I think Drouin will do well, but it'll be close. They lost Beaulieu and Radulov, so they'll need Galchenyuk and Alzner to be as advertised.

Standings: Toronto (sorry), Tampa Bay, Ottawa; Montreal (WC); Buffalo, Boston, Florida, Detroit. If you disagree, let me know in the comments! I'm probably wrong anyway!—AM

Are we tempering our expectations for Thomas Chabot too much? We are all excited about Thomas Chabot. And for good reason. It's been a long time since we've had a prospect who looks to have all star potential. That being said I think we as a fanbase might actually be underestimating the impact he could have this year.

Take the cases of both Zach Werenski and Charlie McAvoy. Werenski was logging major minutes for Columbus, a team although very good, lacks a true defensive difference maker. Yet he put up 47 points and was in the mix for the Calder Trophy at times last season. Or McAvoy, who we as a fanbase saw jump in and play nearly 30 minutes a night in our series against Boston this spring.

My point here is, at the junior level (and in a better league no less) Chabot put up better numbers than both Werenski and McAvoy. Why do we as a fanbase only expect him to play in Belleville or on the third pairing? I fully expect Chabot to contend for the Calder this upcoming season—BingoStillLovesYou

I’m 100% with you in that I think Thomas Chabot is being very undervalued on what his impact could be this season. He was debatably NHL-ready for 2016-17, and I think at this point he may already be our second best defenceman.

You’re far from the first person to make a connection to Werenski or McAvoy, and I agree in that I think they’re proof that young defencemen have the ability to make the immediate leap. Chabot could very well be the superior, and all his awards seem to indicate so.

Although the Sens have a lot of depth on the left side, and I mean a LOT, I don’t see how Chabot should have a hard time moving up. Guy Boucher’s shown conservatism in his use of young players this past season, and I think this has to do with why he’ll most likely start in the AHL. Let him prove what he can do, and if he deserves to be brought up, then he’ll be given NHL minutes. This is the strategy they used with Colin White, so I’m confident they’ll use the same approach with Chabot—CC

Of the still active former Senators, who would you like to bring back to the team and do you see this as a real possibility?—Joshuacanada77

There’s so many possibilities! If this was a couple weeks ago I would’ve said Matt Cullen as a superior 4th line centre to Nate Thompson, although that ship has sailed with him signing in Minnesota. There’s also some fantastic players around the league as well in Silfverberg, Foligno, Spezza and Zibanejad, but it would take a lot of resources to bring them back.

In terms of a combination of skill and realism, I’d choose Stéphane Da Costa. As of writing he still doesn’t have a contract for next season, and I doubt he’d come at a high cost. He scored 96 points in 94 games in the KHL over the past three seasons, and although some of it can be attributed to playing next to Alex Radulov, it’s still an impressive total.

He’s shown he can be a useful player in the past, so a cheap two-way contract for a 28-year-old who might be able to play in the NHL sounds like a great move. Even if he doesn’t play for Ottawa, Belleville’s top-six is still desperately in need of a right winger, which could make a perfect fit for Da Costa.

Will this happen? I doubt it. Randy Lee seems content with Belleville’s squad, and Da Costa didn’t leave the organization on the best terms. Although if I were in Dorion’s shoes right now, Da Costa would be one of the first players I’d be calling (after Jagr, of course)—CC

Do all the players start the season injury free, and how important is this to the team’s success? I’m mainly thinking about Turris, Stone, MacArthur, Brassard, and Bobby—gee.mo3

If we go off of the injury reports reported at the end of the team's playoff run, the following players had injuries: Karlsson (ankle, hairline fracture), Borowiecki (high ankle sprain), Burrows (high ankle sprain), Ceci (finger), Smith (abdominal), Stalberg (abdominal), Neil (hand), Phaneuf (wrist), Anderson (back), Claesson (back), Pyatt (ankle), Brassard (shoulder), Methot (finger), Stone (leg), Dzingel (wrist).

Only Karlsson and Brassard required surgery, leaving most of us to think that all of the returning players will be fully healthy. Much of the talk surrounding the duo is that Karlsson hopes to be ready for the start of the season, but will likely miss the pre-season; meanwhile, Brassard is likely to be out a little longer, leaving room for Logan Brown, Filip Chlapik, or Colin White to make an impression with the big club.

Regardless, high ankle sprains (Borowiecki, Burrows, maybe Pyatt) can take quite a while to recover from, and may dampen offseason training plans, such as when a player can get back on the ice. In addition, back injuries (Anderson, Claesson) and head injuries (MacArthur) can always come-and-go, meaning that they're riskier as well. Of these players, I'd be most worried about Anderson as the team likely doesn't want to rely on Mike Condon as much as they needed to this past season.

The relationship between injuries and points have been explored, and greater than 0.10M a game. Basically, the teams whose injured players have high cap hits (usually meaning a good player) don't get as many standings points as those in the opposite scenario. The lesson: avoiding injuries is important, and sometimes due to luck. However, I'm of the opinion that more teams should invest into 'sports science' groups or have larger training and medical staffs in order to try and prevent as many injuries as possible, similar to baseball (pitchers!) and basketball—AM