Ottawa Senators 2016-17 Report Cards: Management

Giving grades to Pierre Dorion and Guy Boucher

As the final instalment of the Sens’ player grades, we’ll be looking at the two main components of the Sens’ management team: coach Guy Boucher and GM Pierre Dorion. If you missed the first three parts, you can find the grades for forwards, defense and goalies. As was same with the previous sections, the main mark is an average of the the staff and reader grades.

Pierre Dorion: B+

Reader Grade: A-

Wrapping up his opening season as the Senators’ general manager, Dorion ended on a high note by having his actions rewarded by being nominated for GM of the Year (the first to be nominated from the Sens since the award’s conception in 2011). His first main move was gutting the management team, bringing in coaches Guy Boucher, Marc Crawford, Rob Cookson and Martin Raymond to formulate The System. He also hired goalie coach Pierre Groulx, who seemed to help immensely with Mike Condon.

For a new GM, Dorion wasn’t afraid to fidget in the trading market. He finally moved on from Alex Chiasson, and made his first big splash by controversially sending Mika Zibanejad to the New York Rangers for Derick Brassard. The lopsided exchange of picks included can ultimately declare Dorion defeated in the deal, although it was a move that saved the team money in the short term. He also acquired Mike Condon for a 5th round pick, a quick and smart move that filled a void after Andrew Hammond spiraled downwards. The trade provided exceptional value later on in the season.

Then came the trade deadline, which is what really pushed Dorion into NHL Awards territory. He recognized the Sens’ gaping need for depth, and contrary to the years of Bryan Murray, he went out and got it. Brought into the lineup were Tommy Wingels, Alex Burrows (albeit at a steep price), Viktor Stalberg and Jyrki Jokipakka, who all helped solidify the Sens’ lineup. Remember all the injuries Dorion listed in his end-of-season press conference? Imagine how much further worn everyone else would’ve been had these players not been there for lineup support.

All in all, 2016-17 has been a successful ‘rookie’ season for the GM. It’s easy to remember the poor decisions and criticize, although it’s just as important to look back at the good things and see how crucial he was in getting the Sens to where they are now.

Guy Boucher: A

Reader Grade: A

Although it’s usually difficult to pinpoint who was responsible for what on the coaching staff, it’s fair to assume that Guy Boucher was the main guy responsible for The System. After making his return to the NHL after three years in Switzerland (including one championship title), he brought structure to a team that was in dire need of one. His neutral zone traps may not have made for the most exciting brand of hockey, but it proved to be effective, especially in the playoffs. A coach has never won the Conn Smythe trophy before — but should the Sens have gone all the way, he would’ve been a good candidate to be the first.

As revolutionary as The System was to the Senators organization, Boucher still had his shortcomings. His reluctancy to try new things with the defensive pairings while having a dozen different forward combos every game was an odd way to optimize the lineup. It took way too long at the beginning of the season to realize that Curtis Lazar wasn’t working in the lineup, and of a more personal opinion, he refused to give Matt Puempel any time on the power play, the place that he excels at most.

I still haven’t mentioned the elephant in the room of the disastrous special teams (yes, power play AND penalty kill), although at this point it seems l’m just complaining. We have to remember that despite these shortcomings, Boucher still gave us an incredible improvement from the previous season, an improvement so big that we were one bounce away from the Stanley Cup Finals. I think it’s safe to say we have ourselves a keeper.

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