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A Tale of Two Finns, Return of the Honk, and some OHL Controversy

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It’s YOUR Monday Links, News, and Notes

NHL: OCT 15 Stars at Senators Photo by Steven Kingsman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

First of all, I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Halloween, and thank you to everyone who entertained my silly Samhain special on Saturday. You’re the real heroes, dearest readers. In the wake of the postseason, the draft, and free agency, NHL teams continue to round out their NHL rosters while their younger prospects get in some reps overseas in the European leagues. We’ve also got some Sens prospect action closer to home with Maxence Guenette and Philippe Daoust suiting up in the QMJHL. While players reporting to the NCAA, OHL, and WHL continue to wait in the wings, let’s start with a couple of Sens in Finland:

  • It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times. While one of the newest Senators prospects, Roby Järventie, has flown out of the gate and won over the hearts of fans in Ottawa to the tune of 11 points in 12 games, his Ilves teammate, Lassi Thomson has struggled with just two points in 11 games while seeing limited ice-time. Small sample sizes can mislead, but Thomson’s struggles serve to remind me that maybe Ottawa’s defensive depth still needs some shoring up and that taking a defender fifth-overall in the entry draft may have made more sense than I initially reckoned. You truly cannot ever have enough defenders in the system, as top-four potential can always go untapped. Also, for the zillionth time, please follow @SensProspects for the most up-to-date insight and info:
  • Speaking of young defenders in Finland, Julius Honka and the Dallas Stars have mended fences with a one-year contract after a one-year separation that saw the former first-rounder spend the 2019-20 season with JYP of the Finnish Liiga. I had always hoped to see the Senators make a run at acquiring Honka, had the Stars remained unable to sort of a contract. Alas, the rich get richer as Honka joins a blueline already consisting of John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen. If nothing else, we need to keep in mind that not all defenders selected in the first round find their strides in the NHL immediately, if at all. Patience is a virtue, and depth a necessity.
  • Here at home, the OHL has, to foreseeable criticism, proposed at least one iteration of play resumption that does not include bodychecking. This proposition has drawn the ire of those who feel contact integral to the sport, and drawn criticism from most as a rather lacklustre solution to the potential spread of COVID-19 in junior hockey. As the resumption of play remains a matter of public health and safety, expect a protracted negotiation between the league and the provincial government before OHL hockey resumes. The Senators currently have no prospects due to return to the OHL.
  • In yet more controversial news, former replacement-level defender Robert Gordon Orr finds himself in the spotlight this week for non hockey-related reasons. I won’t get into this one in detail as this is a news article and not an opinion piece but golly gee I sure do wish athletes would stick to sports, don’t you?
  • In possibly equally controversial news, the University of North Dakota has followed in the footsteps of the Arizona Coyotes and released Mitch Miller. While again, this isn’t the forum for my personal opinions on the matter, I have linked an article from Shireen Ahmed that touches on a lot of the nuance of this whole situation, and I recommend giving it a read. Sens fans naturally awaited an update from the University as the Fighting Hawks currently boast four Senators prospects on their roster.
  • And finally, while Marian Hossa will indeed enter the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2021, the greatest forward in franchise history will have to wait at least another year before getting the call. While I don’t personally put much stock in these types of accolades, I, like most Sens fans, want to see Alfie get the call just to get under the skin of the traditionalists.