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End-of-Season Report Cards: Coaching and Management

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The staff hand out their grades for the folks running the organization

Ottawa Senators v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Happy Canada Day, everyone! With the forwards, defense, and the goalies all covered in previous editions, today we reveal our grades for the last pillar of the Sens’ franchise: coaching and management.

DJ Smith (Grade: B+, Previous: B, Readers: A-)

When DJ Smith joined the Ottawa Senators last off-season, he knew full well that there was a large task ahead of him. The Sens finished rock bottom in 2018-19, and there wasn’t much to suggest that they would be better in 2019-20. Nonetheless, there were some expectations for Smith: develop the youngsters that would make up the future core, while forging the team’s identity. One might say that Smith’s success in developing the youth is a bit checkered, but there can be no doubt that this year’s edition of the Sens was more disciplined in their positional play, and that they played hard for every minute of every game. Their talent was lacking, but they never failed to embody the tone set by the bench boss.

The 5v5 numbers improved versus last year, and friend of the site Micah McCurdy’s model thinks Smith was part of that positive impact:

Image courtesy of hockeyviz.com
Image courtesy of hockeyviz.com

As for special teams, the Sens finished near the bottom of the league once again in both Penalty Killing and Power Play once it was all said and done. There is an upper limit for how good a team’s power play can be without the necessary talent, but the gradual collapse of the PK was a bit disappointing to see. In the end, it was a strong first year for Smith but there are a few areas of potential improvement that could see him boost his grade to an “A”

Pierre Dorion (Grade: B, Previous: B, Readers: B+)

Pierre Dorion was a busy man in the weeks that followed our mid-season report card, dealing away Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Vladislav Namestnikov, Tyler Ennis, Dylan DeMelo, and Max Verroneau. The Sens were also the eventual winners in the Artyom Zub sweepstakes. Dorion achieved most of what he set out to do in these trades: recoup future assets for players that no longer had a future with the organization. Losing Pageau stings emotionally, but there is no doubting that the haul Dorion extracted far exceeds what most of us believed was possible. For his biggest, most meaningful trade, Dorion gets an A+ in my books.

The rest of the transactions are a bit more uneven: the Namestnikov acquisition then trade was a small net negative since the 4th round pick got worse, failing to retain DeMelo is a bit of a bummer, and it’s hard to have a strong opinion one way or another on the Ennis and Verroneau trades; they aren’t likely to make a big difference one way or another. Zub was a low-risk gamble about whom very little is known.

Taken all together it was a good, if unspectacular year for Dorion. The thing that worked out best for him (the Sharks falling off the face of the earth) was beyond his control but still sets the team up well for the draft to come. There are no glaring errors like some years past, this was one of Pierre’s better performances no doubt.

So, now you’ve seen our grades for the coaches and management. What did we get right? What did we get wrong?

Let us know in the comments!