The Vegas “we stole your 8th best forward or 4th best defenseman” Golden Knights are heading to the Conference Finals. Nobody thought they’d be this good, and even those who were optimistic on their chances didn’t think they’d be in the final four. This entire season they’ve essentially laughed at everyone who said how bad they were going to be.
I was certainly part of that group, and if you post regularly in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever, you probably have a comment about them being awful in 2017-18 as well. I’ve seen Deadspin writer Barry Petchesky have his article from June be retweeted a lot on Twitter, and to his credit, he’s owned up to how poorly that analysis has aged.
That got me thinking...There are inevitably going to be plenty of things that writers like myself are wrong on. Whether that’s how a player develops, a trade working out or not, a hiring being good or not, or any number of things. Of course, every hockey fan will be wrong on lots of different things too, it’s just that writers and other members of the media are the only ones who have to share their views with thousands (if not millions) of people.
With that in mind, I wanted to go through some viewpoints that I held at one point that I can now acknowledge as being wrong. They may have seemed right at the time (like Vegas looking like a bad team), but they did not age well for whatever reason. I think it’s good to recognize when you’re wrong and own up to it, so let’s take a look at what I’ve been wrong on over the years:
Trading Shane Prince
Prince was traded to the New York Islanders at the 2016 trade deadline, and there was a lot of anger from the Prince fan club.
Is Prince replaceable? Probably. But if you're already a bad team, why give up on a guy like him? This team is infuriating— Trevor Shackles (@ShackTS) February 29, 2016
He wasn’t incredible or anything in his time in Ottawa, but his very impressive AHL career and his solid possession numbers made it seem like he could be an effective third line player for the Senators.
He scored some big goals in the playoffs for the Islanders that spring, but overall, he’s been pretty disappointing in his NHL career. He has just 25 points in 84 games in New York, and considering he’s turning 26 in November, it’s hard to imagine a big breakout coming in the future.
It’s funny that Ottawa later used the third round pick acquired for Prince to move up one spot in the draft to select Logan Brown, so they essentially traded Prince and a 7th to move up one spot. Even though Prince hasn’t really panned out, I didn’t love that asset management. At the end of the day though, losing Prince is even less of a problem than I thought it was going to be.
Acquiring Cory Conacher
I remember seeing the news that Ottawa had acquired Conacher and a 4th for Ben Bishop, and I was ecstatic. Because Anderson was the clear starter and Robin Lehner was supposed to be the goalie of the future, Bishop was the obvious goalie to trade. With all the injuries the Senators had suffered that season, they really needed another scorer, and Conacher seemed like the perfect young player to come into the lineup.
He burst onto the scene with 25 points in 34 games for Tampa Bay, but with Ottawa, including the playoffs he had 8 points in 20 games. Then essentially one year later, he was put on waivers after recording 20 points in 60 games, making the trade one of the worst in Senators history.
I don’t even blame Murray that much for this deal though, because it made total sense at the time, and there was no guarantee that Bishop was going to become a Vezina-caliber goaltender. Either way, I was incredibly excited to get Conacher, which is hilarious looking back on it now. Oops.
Bobby Butler: top-six winger
I believed in Bobby Butler so much that in 2011 he was my laptop wallpaper for a few months in the summer. He looked incredible at the end of the 2010-11 season playing with Jason Spezza, and he ended up with 21 points in 36 games. With those point totals, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect him to be at least a 40-50 point player.
Yet just 56 games and 16 points later, his Senators career was over. Butler was most likely being carried by Spezza in 2010-11, and although he has been a good AHL player throughout the years, he just wasn’t quite good enough for the best league in the world.
Drafting Christian Wolanin
In the spring of 2016, almost a year after Christian Wolanin had been drafted, I commented that I didn’t love the pick because he was a 20-year old at the time:
Sens 21-year old college prospect is a healthy scratch. Still seems like a really weird pick as an over-ager https://t.co/aVHCHWbvpO— Trevor Shackles (@ShackTS) March 26, 2016
One of the likes on that tweet happened to be from Wolanin himself, seemingly because he either searches his name, or a friend showed him the tweet. It was weird to see, but either way, it made me root for him even more because I know he wants to prove people like myself wrong. And this is one of the rare cases where I want to be wrong.
The good news is, it looks like I will be wrong on him. He’s already made the NHL, and he looks like he could be a regular in the lineup as soon as next season. His 10 games were as good as one could hope for, and he brings some offensive upside. His defensive zone play will need some tinkering, but there’s a chance he can be an every-day defenseman, and maybe even a second pairing player.
In a small sample size, he finished first on the Senators in relative corsi and second in expected goals, so I’m excited to see what he can do next year. I’m already willing to say I was wrong about him.
Acquiring Nikita Filatov
Much like with Conacher and Butler, I loved this acquisition at the time, mainly because it was low-risk and high-reward. It didn’t pan out in the end, but I was convinced “Filly” was going to be a very good player playing alongside Jason Spezza.
He was a former 6th overall pick just three years prior, and he was only given 44 games in Columbus to prove himself. Those 44 games were quite bad, but he also had 52 points in 75 games in the AHL across two seasons, so it seemed like he had enough skill to at least be a decent NHLer.
After just 9 NHL games (with one assist) and 15 AHL games, Filly was gone though, and he’s been in the KHL ever since. That particular move didn’t work out, and I was wrong about him becoming a good player, although I have nothing wrong with the Senators taking a risk like that on a player who oozed skill.
I guess if there’s one takeaway from this article it would be that I believe in too many fringe wingers like Prince, Conacher, Butler, and Filatov. Those guys will break your heart!
There are definitely a few more things I could add to this list, although now I want to hear from the readers. What have you gotten wrong regarding the Senators over the years? Let’s make fools of ourselves.