Thoughts. And five of them. Coming your way below:
Jacob Bernard-Docker: Leading the Way
If you time travelled from 2019 to Wednesday December 2nd, 2020 and went on Sens Twitter, you would’ve thought that they were playing in a weird December-version of a playoff game. Senators fans have been so deprived of actual games to root for, so when the University of North Dakota played their first game of the season, of course fans were going to be heavily invested since not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Senators prospects play for them.
Shane Pinto finished the night with 2 primary assists in a 2-0 win over Miami University, but Jacob Bernard-Docker was the main focus of the night, and rightfully so.
Bernard-Docker and teammate Jasper Weatherby knelt during the American national anthem, and made sure to get ahead of the story on the same day:
Jasper Weatherby and Jacob Bernard-Docker will kneel during the national anthem before tomorrow's season-opener. To my knowledge, they will be the first D-I men's college hockey players to do it. They want people to know why they're doing it: https://t.co/xREhhmrVPG— Brad Elliott Schlossman (@SchlossmanGF) December 2, 2020
There are plenty of good excerpts from that article and I recommend you read it if you have not already, but here is one of the more important ones:
Say it louder for the people in the back. pic.twitter.com/mIGemt8sax— Everyday.Sens (@EverydaySens) December 2, 2020
They go on to say that they both heavily respect the military and that they have family ties, but the fact of the matter is that this is not and has never been about the military: it’s about the fact that BIPOC are being killed at an alarming rate at the hands of the police. More broadly, systemic racism is still alive not just in the USA, but in Canada as well.
I could dedicate an entire article about this, but to keep this shorter, I will say that I am extremely proud of Bernard-Docker. Not only does he seem like a good prospect, he seems like a great person to bring into this organization as soon as 2021-22. Ottawa needs to build a positive culture, and I sincerely hope he can essentially be someone to take over for what Mark Borowiecki meant to the team, the fans, and the city.
The NHL is Blowing it
Brandon talked about this last week so this isn’t exactly new, but...the NHL as a whole is really missing a golden opportunity here. Of course, COVID-19 greatly complicates things and there is always the question of whether or not it is ethical to play during this time. However, that decision is out of our control, and we know that these massive professional sports leagues will continue anyway.
Now, I’m not going to pretend to know the intricacies of the NHL CBA, but even if there is one side or both sides to blame, the stalemate between the NHL and NHLPA is a terrible look for the sport. The NBA was able to figure out this coming season incredibly quickly, and there is no reason why the NHL can’t as well. The owners agreed to what the financials would be moving forward back in July, when the effects of the pandemic were already clearly visible.
So they can’t go back now and say “but we expected fans!” That’s on them for being naïve and agreeing to a deal they were bound to regret. As with most of these negotiations, I’m almost always going to side with the players too, because although most of them are very rich too, the difference between millionaires and billionaires is massive. Furthermore, it’s not as if an NHL “tweener” on a minimum salary is exactly living it up.
I loathe discussing labour disputes, and I’m sure there are some valid points that pro-owner people could throw back at me. No matter what though, the lack of a plan is incredibly frustrating. Instead of a January 1st start date, the end of January or early February is much more likely now.
Maxence Guénette Gaining Attention
The QMJHL is on a temporary pause until January due to rising COVID-19 numbers, although Senators prospect Maxence Guénette had played in 15 games before that. The other Canadian leagues such as the WHL and OHL haven’t started play yet, so it had been nice to follow at least one league where a few prospects were playing. Guénette hasn’t been a top prospect in the system in the time after being drafted in the 7th round in 2019, as there are simply too many interesting names ahead of him.
However, with the QMJHL being on display, this was his time to shine and he didn’t disappoint. In those 15 games, Guénette put up 16 points, ranking 3rd on Val-d’Or and 5th in the league amongst defensemen. As a right-shot defender, he has a decent shot at rising up the depth chart because of the lack of organizational depth at the position.
Realistically, the only prospects ahead of him on that side are Lassi Thomson, Jacob Bernard-Docker, and perhaps Christian Jaros, although he’s on a short leash and might be gone by the time Guénette is ready. Beyond that, Nikita Zaitsev, Artem Zub, and Josh Brown might be here in a few years, but none of them profile as impact players, so the path is pretty wide open for Guénette to make it to the NHL.
Realistically, if he begins 2021-22 in Bellevile and begins to turn some heads there, he could rise in the system much more quickly than a prospect would in some other positions. His development is fantastic news for Ottawa.
Going Against the Grain
As we’re all aware, Colin Cudmore does fantastic prospect work at Silver Seven, and he released his draft performance rankings over the past week. It’s a very interesting read, especially in regards to Ottawa. With his chart below, you can see that Ottawa ranks 6th overall in the updated power rankings, but 1st in overall value, and 22nd in their “best player available efficiency” based on consolidated draft rankings:
Swapping this out for the raw difference in the original post, we can also have some new power rankings!— Colin Cudmore (@CudmoreColin) December 3, 2020
Some key movers are Ottawa (+19), New Jersey (+8), Nashville (+5), Arizona (-5), Vegas (-5), Montreal (-5) and San Jose (-5) pic.twitter.com/bg3gNbkYzM
Nobody was going to question that Ottawa acquired a ton of talent at the draft due to the quantity and quality of their picks. However, there has been a ton of debate about whether their strategy is efficient or not. They clearly have lists that are much different than consensus ones, as they’ve rarely gone with consensus picks over the years. It’s still up for debate whether or not their most recent drafts from 2015-2020 have been good or not (2015 is good but has the potential to be even better), although due to very positive prospect progression, there is a sense that they have already proven themselves.
The truth is somewhere in the middle, as we will see in a few years if players such as Logan Brown, Drake Batherson, Alex Formenton, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Lassi Thomson, Tim Stuetzle, Jake Sanderson, etc. can turn into legitimate NHL players. It’s certainly true that prospects supposedly taken “too soon” have out-performed expectations after being drafted, and if the Senators are able to turn those players into important players, then they deserve a ton of credit.
They are going against the grain just as much as anyone, and it will be fascinating to see if it pays off.
File this under: “tiny details that only matter to some people.”
We all know that the only change to the “new” Senators 2D logo is that the cape turned from red to gold, as shown below:
It’s weird but everytime I see the “old” 2D Sens logo with the red cape outline it just looks off—recency bias I guess, but I think the gold there does look a bit sharper pic.twitter.com/me5crTmXHN— Trevor Shackles (@ShackTS) November 29, 2020
It’s such a small detail, but I honestly think it makes the logo look much better. That might be some of my recency bias, but I feel like it suits the logo. The version of gold they have been using seems much better too, as it is much more metallic than mustardy. I mean, this looks beautiful:
The best free agent acquisition of the day. pic.twitter.com/80hGSAkK7u— Lorne Geller (@LorneGeller) October 9, 2020
I have to say, the reverse retros are growing on me too...