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Five Thoughts for a Friday

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Past, present, and future

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New York Islanders v Ottawa Senators Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

Ye Olde Virtual Book Club

Once frivolous shopping returns, I highly recommend go find a copy of Chris Stevenson’s 100 Things Senators Fans Should Know and Do before They Die if you haven’t read it yet. It’s a coffee table-type light read that you can pick up occasionally when you feel nostalgic and just want to reminisce about the old days. It has some contemporary content as well (up to the 2017 cup run). What makes it an indispensable part of my library, though, is the early- to mid-nineties trivia. A lot of chapters in this book will bring back long-forgotten memories of the days of the Civic Centre and I can almost guarantee that you’ll read one or two anecdotes that even the most die-hard fans will have missed. You’ll laugh at the locker-room shenanigans, you’ll wallow in the despair of early-2000s post-seasons, and even the most hardened souls will shed a tear or eleven reading the praise of Bryan Murray as sung by his former players.

Draft, Sign, or Trade?

The peerless @sensprospects is at it again, this time with a highlight pack featuring the daunting Dane, Mads Søgaard. And again I found myself daydreaming about Ottawa’s tandem of the future and wondering if it could feature two NHL-calibre ‘tenders drafted by the organization. Ottawa has had some good fortune drafting goalies. Although, the best of them have gone on to enjoy their most successful seasons after departing from Ottawa:

  • Brian Elliott: Blues 2011-12 94.0 sv%
  • Ray Emery: ‘Hawks 2012-13 92.2%
  • Robin Lehner: Islanders 2018-19 93.0%
  • Chris Driedger: Panthers 2019-20 93.8% (to be continued?)

In terms of success with the Senators, arguably the four best individual seasons in Ottawa came courtesy of goalies acquired through trade or free agency:

  • Ron Tugnutt: 1998-99 %92.5 sv%
  • Patrick Lalime: 2000-01 91.4%
  • Dominik Hasek: 2005-06 92.5%
  • Craig Anderson: 2012-13 94.1% or Andrew Hammond: 2014-15 94.1% (smaller samples)

In summary, goaltenders remain the most mercurial of hockey players when it comes to yearly projections and no team can ever have enough goalie prospects in the system.

Service Time

As even the most skeptical about the pandemic begin to accept the reality of several more months of physical distancing and, by extension, cancelled public events, baseball fans are coming to grips with the idea that we may not see a 2020 season. Over at Fangraphs, the staff took a look at how a lost season could affect service time. For example, would teams lose out on a year of pre-arbitration service with promising young prospects? Have teams who traded for “rentals” in 2020 paid for nothing? On the flip-side, if service time goes on hold, how does this affect players holding out for their big payday? The NHL has a slightly less cloudy picture as we will likely see abbreviated seasons in 2019-20 and 2020-2021 or an abbreviated 2019-20 and a full 2020-21. Either way, teams who acquired talent at the deadline this year will feel cheated if the postseason gets scrapped altogether. Players heading into free agency this offseason may also feel deprived of a big part of their audition. These issues pale in comparison to the overall health and safety of all parties involved. We can speculate in the absence of games to distract ourselves though.

Where are they now?

Admit it. You want to know. You think about the todays of yesterday’s stars of the future —tomorrow! Part of the fun of researching prospects over in Europe is coming across old Senators and seeing what they get up to for fun nowadays. So without further ado, through 50-60 KHL games played in 2019-20, here are the point totals for some of your old favourites:

  • Kaspars Daugavins 19 goals 21 assists — 40 points
  • Peter Regin 16-24-40
  • Stephane Da Costa 14-21-35
  • Ilya Zubov 9-26-35
  • Mikael Wikstrand 4-28-32

Positive Change

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it becomes more apparent that we will not return to the world we left behind in 2019. For thousands of families, there will be no “return to normal.” These tragic circumstances present us with a choice as to how we can best prepare ourselves for, and treat each other during, times of trial and sacrifice. And, yes, we can apply this thinking to hockey. Involved parties knew of the risks of forging ahead with the NHL season, and recommended suspension of play, and in hindsight we know that the Senators should not have completed their California road trip. And we can only hope this leads to a change in league and/or team culture around health and safety going forward. I like to believe that we might have begun to witness, metaphorically, a new day dawning in Ottawa and I don’t lament the passing of yesterday when I can hope for better tomorrow.