FanPost

A Reason for Optimism

Hi fellow Sens fans,

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Starsky. I'm 23 years old, have lived in Ottawa my whole life and have been a Sens fan for just as long. As far as I can tell I am the only diehard Sens fan among my family, friends and even coworkers. While normally I'm fine being alone on my fandom island, "recent events" have made this almost unbearable. There's just something about spending an hour telling your family about the astronomical significance of Erik Karlsson (long live the King) being traded only to hear back "That's too bad, I liked his hair". We all did mom, WE ALL DID!

During this time I've found solace online on Sens blogs and pages, with SilverSevenSens being my OG from Day 1. However, as is the nature of the internet a lot of the articles, comments and feedback has been negative, and rightfully so! Our owner is Donald Trump with a better wig, we've lost the heart and soul of our team (twice, somehow) and just recently we learned that we will likely never have an Ottawa Senators Arena downtown.

But readers, I am an optimist. I don't look at a glass half empty or half full, I just enjoy drinking what's there and filling it up again. That's why today I want to share my optimism with you about the future of our franchise, even in this era of darkness.

The Ottawa Senators are not a good hockey team. They haven’t been a good hockey team for a long time. Yes, even with our magical run in 2017 I don’t think we have ever been a good hockey team since we lost Dany "All-Star" Heatley. Every run we’ve had has been on the back of statistical anomalies and lights out goaltending. We have always had poor goal differentials, awful Corsi and the worst 2nd pairing in the league. Our playoff runs have been on the back of lights out goaltending and timely performances. Now that our goaltending heroics have naturally run out our team has fallen to the league basement. As much as it hurts to lose stars like Hoffman, Karlsson, Duchene, Stone and Dzingel (okay that’s a long list), we were the worst team in the league even when we had those players because of our weak defense and goaltending. I know Melnyk is responsible for them leaving and that hurts, but you can’t say we were a cup contender with them. The results just don’t show it.

But where is the famous optimism I so clearly wanted to tell you all about? Surprisingly, the optimism is in current Sens GM Pierre "The Proudest" Dorion.

As unpopular as Melnyk is, and rightfully so, as fans we have allowed this distrust to bleed into our thoughts on Pierre. He is the face of the current Senators and boy oh boy it does not look good. But as bad as Pierre is at public speaking, and man is he bad, his actual moves have us in a much better position than we would be in otherwise.

Let’s look at Pierre’s skillset as a GM and see why I’m so optimistic:

Scouting: A

Obviously this is Pierre’s specialty, and does not need much explanation. Drafting is not a perfect science, but PD has managed to consistently find late round gems (Daccord, Jaros, Wolanin, Lajoie, Batherson and possibly now Crookshank and Mandolese) along with early round hits (Chabot, White, Chlapik, Formenton, Tkachuk, JBD and now maybe even Logan Brown). I know this list includes 2015 when Pierre was just the AGM, but I think we can safely assume he had a large influence on those selections given he was named GM less than a year later. Say what you want about Pierre Dorion’s inability to read a room, that man can read a prospect.

Trades: B and trending upwards

A year ago this would have likely been a much lower grade. Pierre got off to a rough start with the ZBad, Burrows and Duchene trades (although the burrows trade is aging well) and I was nervous. But if we look at how Pierre has trended since then (and how some of the trades have aged) we can see that he has grown as a GM and has certainly become a better negotiator.

Okay, so this probably looks very confusing. Basically, I evaluated PD’s trades using letter grades ranging from F to A+. For some reason Excel doesn’t understand letter grades so I had to convert them to numbers in order to make this chart. Here is a simple conversion table for you:

F

0

D-

1

D

2

D+

3

C-

4

C

5

C+

6

B-

7

B

8

B+

9

A-

10

A

11

A+

12

Now that you can hopefully understand my chart, lets break it down. Early on in his GM career, Pierre Dorion was getting fleeced in trades. He managed to turn an NHL player (Chiasson) into an AHL player (Sieloff) and traded a number 2 center with upside (Zbad) for a number 2 center with downside (Brassard). While he made smart minor trades afterwards (Condon, Lazar), he overpaid in the original Duchene trade even considering the first-round pick was originally expected to be a late one.

As time has gone on; however, Pierre has found his footing in GM discussions and has learned how to properly negotiate a trade. Asides from the unique Hoffman trade, which was obviously handcuffed as a result of the Karlsson bullying scandal, Pierre has only made good trades since the team announced they were entering a rebuild. The Brassard trade is looking better every day with how his play has declined, the Karlsson trade has aged well with the promising results of Tierney, Norris and Balcers, and the deadline moves, while painful, have been graded highly by every analyst I’ve seen since the players traded were going to leave on July 1st anyways. This general trade trend is illustrated by the red "trend line" rising through the chart. Obviously, the grades are my opinion and I’m sure many of you will disagree, but I will try to include my rationale for certain trades at the bottom of this article and will defend others in the comments section. The moral here is that Pierre was a rookie GM a few years ago and it showed in trade negotiations, but since he has experienced trial by fire Pierre has shown the ability to control the trade market, the intelligence to take on low risk/high reward pieces and the conviction to wait until teams flinch and include pieces that were originally "off-limits". Hellooooo Brannstrom!

Contracts: ???

This is the one area that I genuinely have no idea how good Pierre Dorion is. It’s painful to say but there just hasn’t been enough of a sample size because no one is resigning. Now, I’m not going to tell you this area is going to be fine and Melnyk will suddenly start handing out bonuses, but I can say that I believe players will be more likely to resign in future years. As Matt Duchene said, "It wasn’t about the money". This team had no sure thing in terms of a starting goalie and top 4 D now or in the future. After trading away our stars, this is no longer the case. By the time our new stars are UFAs our prospects will have established themselves in the NHL. We won’t be selling a rebuild anymore, we’ll be selling a championship. Like I said, optimism.

In summary, part of the reason I am so optimistic about our future is the strong results of recent trades and the fact that they pair perfectly with Pierre’s scouting ability. We won’t hit on all our picks, and not all our prospects will fulfill their potential, but this is why PD’s scouting ability is so valuable. Our pipeline is bursting at the seams with prospects having either breakout or bounce back seasons. Now armed with a wealth of picks in the upcoming drafts Pierre will turn this into the best pipeline in the NHL and stars will have a reason to stay other than money. For once in my life the rebuild will FINALLY be done the right way in Ottawa and I for one, am looking forward to it.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Silver Seven community, and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs or opinions of the site managers, editors, or Sports Blogs Nation, Inc.