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Five Thoughts for Friday

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Time for some thinking

Ottawa Senators v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
  1. Player Grades

We’ve finished revealing our player grades (they’re here) and as such, it’s time for some overall review. I think the comments from people are that they appear too high on the whole for such a dismal season. I’d agree with that I think. There should be more Ds, more Fs for such an awful year. I think the biggest reason there aren’t more is the players who were let go. I think it’s fair to say Dion Phaneuf would’ve been divisive (I’ve seen comments ranging from he isn’t even an NHL player anymore to he should’ve been Erik Karlsson’s permanent partner), but I think Nate Thompson, Johnny Oduya, and Gabriel Dumont would’ve both got D-minuses or something. So at least the Sens started to ship out the players who were the most frustrating, even if a bunch were by waiver claim. It’s amazing how good your team looks when you remove the worst performers.

All that being said, there’s also something to be said for averaging grades. If everyone gives a player a D, except one person gives them a C+, their grade will be inflated. I’ve noticed in particular that Fs are almost impossible, because you need the majority to give someone an F. I think one thing in particular stood out though: many of us see faith in most of the players, it’s just management and especially coaching that worry us about actually having a good team next year.

2. Team Improvements

The Sens released their latest list of improvements to season ticket holders and, well, it was kind of disappointing:

Compare this to Melnyk’s release a month ago about how the team was going to re-invest in hockey ops. When asked at the town halls, fans were rebuffed for saying this team needed more scouts. And now the team is making no promises of hiring any more hockey ops staff, but at least there will be early-bird food bundles. I value the atmosphere at Sens games, but I value a good on-ice product more. The Sens’ handful of staff are heavily over-worked, and to succeed as a budget team, this team should be investing in scouts, analysts, anything relatively inexpensive that could give them a leg up. This... this isn’t one of those things.

3. Mark Stone

Sean McIndoe, aka Down Goes Brown, did a Reddit AMA a week ago. One of the questions he got asked was who’s the most underrated player in the league, and his pick was Stone. He then went on to comment that he finds it so funny that everyone’s speculating about what will happen to Karlsson or Matt Duchene in the media, while meanwhile the Sens’ second-best player needs a contract THIS summer. There have been no rumours about trades, nothing about him wanting to leave. I do wonder how much he gets though. I imagine it’ll be a steal of a deal for the Sens, because it’s probably going to be $7M. The real question though is if the Sens can afford to have Stone AND Karlsson AND Duchene all at the rates they’re going to command.

4. Goaltending

One of the big takeaways from our grades series, as well as Trevor’s Cost Per Pointcast, was that the goaltending this past year was horrific. The big problem is that the Sens have $7.15M wrapped up in the Craig Anderson - Mike Condon tandem for two more seasons. Getting rid of Andy will be impossible. He’ll be 37 before next season, and nobody would trade for him making $4.75M after the year he just had. We’ll have to hope for a bounce back year. There’s always the possibility he retires and the Sens just have to absorb his cap hit, but why would he give up more than $9M to help out the Sens?

The tradability of Mike Condon is a little more intriguing. He should be a serviceable NHL backup, and $2.4M isn’t ridiculous for one of those. People definitely wanted him last summer. Would there still be a market? The question is if it’s worth it though. The Sens would then likely have to sign a backup to replace him. Probably the best bet is to give him a year to hopefully rehab his stats, and then depending on how Marcus Hogberg and Filip Gustavsson fare, to think about trading him at the deadline when he might get you a later pick.

5. The Playoffs

I’ve been pretty satisfied with the playoffs so far, with the Maple Leafs eliminated, and with all my Conference Finals picks (Predators, Sharks, Lightning, Capitals) still alive. I’ll get an update of the S7S Playoff Bracket up by tomorrow, so you’ll get an update on the standings. How are you feeling about these playoffs? Personally, I’m a little annoyed to not see the Sens, but there’s also something great about watching low-stress playoff hockey.