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Five Thoughts for Friday

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Some thoughts on Christian Wolanin, Mark Stone’s upcoming contract, goalie interference and more!

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Ottawa Senators
“I am briefly, modestly excited”
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve got some thoughts to share. You may be surprised to learn that there are five of them, in fact.

On Expectations for Christian Wolanin:

Now that Wolanin has played an entire NHL game, it’s time to stake out deeply held, never changing positions on his potential.

Jokes aside, it was a breath of fresh air to watch the offensively gifted UND grad ply his trade on Thursday night. The Sens are sorely lacking in defensive prospects outside of Thomas Chabot, especially any with Wolanin’s skill set. So what can we reasonably expect from the youngster?

As far as competition goes, the NCHC (where Wolanin was playing up until a few days ago) is the best of the NCAA hockey conferences and seemingly a clear step up from the three major Canadian hockey leagues. Rob Vollman’s calcuated translation factors, a measure of how scoring in non-NHL leagues translates to NHL scoring. It’s a reasonable proxy for quality of play:

Wolanin’s also highly regarded by many in the know when it comes to prospect evaluation -- Corey Pronman had him just outside the top 50 prospects in his mid-season roundup. My wildly unfounded guess? He has top 4 potential, but if he turns out to be a slightly better version of Chris Wideman that would be a great outcome.

On Cody Ceci, First Pair Defenseman

Believe it or not, I’m not anxious to beat a dead horse here but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this. With Erik Karlsson out of the line-up for the last two games, we’ve gotten our first look at what a defense group led by Ceci might look like. It hasn’t been pretty. Reasonable people can disagree about whether Ceci has a place as a contributor on a good NHL team, but there’s no reasonable way to see him playing 25+ minutes a night on the top pair with Ottawa as anything but a bottom feeder. If Sens management really thought that he could handle the load, here’s to hoping they’ve been disabused of the notion.

On Mark Stone’s Pending Contract

During the intermission of last night’s game, Bruce Garrioch joined the TSN broadcast to talk about Mark Stone’s impending contract negotiations. The Sens have a lot of leverage here considering that Stone is an RFA and that offer sheets are more of a theoretical concept than an actual practice in today’s NHL, but Garrioch seemed to imply that the negotiations might be a bit tricky nonetheless. Matt Cane, one of the best in the analytics business, projected Stone’s next contract to be the in $9M range. I highly recommended going through the model in its entirety, but Matt explains his reasoning as such:

Matt’s model is probably a bit high (and he explains as much in the thread if you click through that tweet) but his projected number is high enough that it should give you an idea of just how valuable Stone is.

Garrioch suggested the Sens might be inclined to use a comparable in the $5-$5.5M range, which is frankly laughable. Stone’s camp, again, according to Garrioch, is believed to be looking at $6.5-7M on a long term deal. Opening positions are just that, but if Garrioch’s to be believed and Stone is looking for something like $7M for the next 8 years then the Sens should be falling all over themselves to sign that deal.

On Goalie Interference:

The advent of the coach’s challenge has led to some strange moments in the last couple of years, but the furor surrounding the goalie interference rule reached such a crescendo in recent weeks that the NHL and NHLPA agreed to change the way the challenge would be handled. In essence, under the current system the on-ice referees made the ultimate call based on feedback from the league. Under the newly adopted format, the league will make the final decision and relay their choice to the on-ice officials. The claim here is that this will increase consistency. Maybe, but I’m not so sure the controversy is going away quite so easily. Goaltender interference, as the rules are currently written, is subject to personal interpretation. Instant replay is at its most effective when it serves to answer yes or no questions, not make judgement calls. An instant replay can, most of the time, help you to see if a puck fully crossed the line — I’m not so sure that even with this centralized decision-making that the verdicts will be any less subjective. I’d wager this isn’t going away quite so soon.

On Being There for Each Other

This last one isn’t hockey-specific, but life is more than just hockey. In the wake of Erik and Melinda Karlsson’s tragic news, I can’t help but be reminded of how important it is to be there for each other — not just when the times are good, but when the going gets rough as well. No one is an island, and we can’t navigate this life with the help of others. Be good to your fellow person, be there for them. Sometimes it takes a tragedy for us to be reminded how important the people in our lives are to us. Let someone you love know it; it’s important that they know.