Ottawa Senators Player Report Cards 2015-16: Defence
Second in our season review, we take a look at how the defencemen did
Staff Grade: D (Highest C, Lowest F)
Reader Grade: C (Highest A+, Lowest F)
Last year: C
There are few more debated on the Sens' roster than Borocop, who the analytics say is one of the worst players at hockey, and yet wins TSN 1200's Hardest Working Senator award more than half the time. What most will agree on is that skill isn't his thing, as he's more likely to bring the hits and the fights, and his teammates seem to love him for it. A late-season knee injury kept him from playing a full season, but he most likely would have without the injury. It will be interesting to see how much he gets used with a new GM and a new coach in place.
Staff Grade: C+ (Highest B, Lowest C)
Reader Grade: B- (Highest A+, Lowest D)
Last year: B-
Ceci's another interesting case, showing offensive flair but defensive-zone faults. His 26 points were easily second-place among Sens defencemen, but his possession numbers were very weak until he ended up with Dion Phaneuf as his partner. It'll be interesting to see what kind of contract he gets this offseason. Most signs point towards a short-term bridge deal, so he can prove he is a top-four defenceman in the long run.
Staff Grade: B- (Highest A, Lowest C-)
Reader Grade: C+ (Highest A+, Lowest F)
Last year: N/A
The long-awaited Claesson finally got his first NHL action this season, and he was perfectly mediocre. Which was great considering how awful the Sens' defence was for most of the season. No one expected Freddy to be a saviour, and he wasn't. At times he made poor decisions, but he also showed solid positioning and a decent ability to walk the opposing blue-line with the puck to find a shooting lane. He should get a chance to be the Sens' seventh defenceman next season.
Staff Grade: F (Highest D, Lowest F)
Reader Grade: D- (Highest A+, Lowest F)
Last year: D
It finally happened. The Sens gave up on Cowen. After yet another lacklustre start to the season leading to another string of healthy scratches, Cowen was traded to the Leafs as part of the Dion Phaneuf deal. The Leafs then fully admitted they were going to sit Cowen at home and buy him out in the summer. This season wasn't worse than other season, but after getting far too many shots at redemption, Bryan Murray had finally seen enough.
Staff Grade: A+ (Highest A+, Lowest A)
Reader Grade: A (Highest A+, Lowest F)
Last year: A+
Karlsson followed up last year's Norris-winning campaign with the best season of his young career, doing things defencemen haven't done in decades, like scoring more than 80 points (first time since 95-96), finishing top-five in scoring (first time since 85-86), and leading the league in assists (first time since 74-75). Not a bad year for the team's captain, especially considering how much he had to do thanks to the team's deficiencies nearly everywhere.
Staff Grade: C- (Highest B, Lowest F)
Reader Grade: C (Highest A, Lowest F)
Last year: N/A
It's hard to know what to make of Kostka's year, as evidenced by the high spread of staff votes. He was signed to be a veteran presence in Binghamton and by all accounts seemed to play well. Then injuries allowed him to be called up, and he was OK in helping Ottawa play out the stretch. He wasn't inspiring in his play, but he also wasn't signed with the expectation of getting NHL action. Seems unlikely he'll be with the organization next season.
Staff Grade: C (Highest B-, Lowest D+)
Reader Grade: B- (Highest A+, Lowest F)
Last year: A-
It hasn't been talked about much, but Methot had a really disappointing year. He was OK when paired with Karlsson, and pretty terrible when paired with anyone else. Phaneuf-Ceci played a lot better than Methot-Ceci, which isn't a great sign considering how overpaid people seem to think Phaneuf is. The good news is that we've seen Methot player better, and that injuries likely played a role in this year. The bad news is that Methot has struggled with injuries before, and at 30 years old, his body isn't going to recover in a hurry.
Staff Grade: B (Highest B+, Lowest C+)
Reader Grade: B (Highest A+, Lowest D)
Last year: N/A
GM Bryan Murray pulled off the stunner of the season, trading for the Maple Leafs' captain in early February in an effort to shore up the Sens' defence. Phaneuf came largely as expected: pretty good on the offensive side, a little slow in his own end, and occasionally crossing the line when tempers flair. He did help to improve Ceci, and seemed to help stabilize things. The only question with Phaneuf is how much of anchor his contract will be in two or three seasons, with lots of key Sens players needing extensions.
Staff Grade: B- (Highest B, Lowest C)
Reader Grade: B- (Highest A+, Lowest D-)
Last year: N/A
Wideman finally got his first taste of NHL action this season, even though he was voted the AHL's best defenceman last year. His offensive skills were decent, and he was pretty good against low-level competition, though his size was sometimes an issue with defending in his own zone. Still, he managed to earn a three-year one-way extension out of this year's play, which says the organization is happy to let him be a bottom-pairing guy for a few years. Plus he's headed to the World Championships for Team USA, which is always a good thing for Sens players...
Staff Grade: C- (Highest B, Lowest D)
Reader Grade: C- (Highest A, Lowest F)
Last year: B+
Wiercioch was instrumental in last year's run to the playoffs, solidifying his pairing with Ceci, leading the team in points in the playoffs, and earning a spot on Team Canada at the World Championships. Then this year happened, and he never earned the trust of the coaches or management. He was a frequent healthy scratch again, and finished with just five assists in 52 games. When he may have finally got a chance to play down the stretch, he was injured and didn't get a chance. He's unlikely to be qualified at $2.7-million this offseason, so will likely have to sign a prove-it low-money contract with another organization if he wants to stay in the NHL. Definitely the biggest loser of the team this season.
Not ranked: Ben Harpur (5 GP), Chris Phillips (
retired 0 GP)
Here are the histograms of how readers voted (average ranking shown in orange):