The minor league depth the Senators have is outstanding, and credit must be given to Bryan Murray and co. for drafting and developing well over the past few years. Any fan of the Binghamton Senators who remember the Muckler years will tell you how much of an improvement Murray's regime has been, and this development of young talent has started it's "second wave". The "first wave" was the promotion of Colin Greening, Erik Condra, Zack Smith, Bobby Butler, Eric Gryba, and Patrick Wiercioch among others to the NHL level after the BSens won the Calder Cup in 2010-11. Now, we're ready to see what players like Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, and Mark Borowiecki can bring to the NHL club this season. Two names that haven't been talked about as much as the previous three are centres Derek Grant and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
Grant is the older prospect, and was drafted in the prolific 2008 draft from the BCHL. We saw a bit of what he brings to the lineup this past year, where he suited up for 20 games and provided timely faceoff wins, good possession numbers, and strong play on the penalty kill during 4th line minutes.
Pageau is the hero from 2013 - the young, diminutive centre who vanquished the Montreal Canadiens and had big expectations on him for 2013-14, where he took a step back in play for a number of reasons, including poor linemates and usage.
Both were featured in our Top 25 Under 25 series, with Pageau coming in at #10, and Grant soon after at #15. Both are RFAs for the foreseeable future, with Grant re-signing to a one-year, two-way deal this offseason, and Pageau on his last year of his entry-level contract. Both are also known to be strong, "safe" defensive players with great hockey IQ. Grant was often used in a shutdown role in the AHL, and Pageau played tough minutes both in the QMJHL, and in the AHL.
Despite the similarities in their game, the two centres differ in ways other than their age. Here are two scouting reports from Hockey Prospectus and ESPN's scouting guru, Corey Pronman.
The Good: Grant is a decent skater who doesn't really show a dangerous top speed, but moves pretty well in a straight line for a 6'3" forward. He's a solid distributor who can move the puck around at a fair level and is quite coordinated. He's not a flashy handler or distributor, but he just consistently makes the right, smart plays and rarely turns the puck over. Grant projects as an above-average to plus physical player as he's quite effective along the walls and in front of the net. He wins a good portion of his battles and he has the frame to be a force in front of the net on the power play. Grant plays a notable defensive game and his reads in that regard are impressive.
The Bad: Grant's first few steps could use some work, as he can look a little slow out of the gate. He's not a great offensive player and there's no true standout tool to him. He needs to continue to work on his strength and conditioning.
Projection: A below-average second to above-average third line forward who safely projects onto a top nine.
The Good: Pageau has a couple of high-end elements to his game. He is a tremendous skater, with an equally great work ethic. He buzzes around the ice with his energy and pressure. Pageau puts defenders on their heels as he comes through the neutral zone. He is a plus thinker who knows how to get the most out of his assets. He is a solid defensive player, with good awareness off the puck in both ends.
The Bad: Pageau's size works against him, although it has been reassuring how well he has played in professional hockey despite his stature. His pure offensive skill is also roughly average.
Projection: He could be a good NHL regular, although whether he will settle into a more offensive or defensive role is debatable.
Thus, it appears that Grant is the "safer" bet and can definitely play on the 4th line right now in a defensive role, and I'm sure that Paul MacLean would love his work on the PK as well as his ability to win puck battles down low and intercept pucks with his strong reads. Pageau, on the other hand, plays a more offensive game and has a higher ceiling. Based off his recent NHL play, he's strong at using his speed through the neutral zone and intercepting pucks on the backcheck due to his strong hockey IQ.
Which player would you like to see play more minutes this year for the Senators, and why? Let us know in the poll and the comments!
- the Senators announced yesterday that they've promoted Jim Clark to the position of Chief Pro Scout, and have added two new full-time scouts to look for talent in the NHL, AHL, and Europe. [Ottawa Senators, 6th Sens]
- Kyle Turris was the focus of Chris Lund's recent Fun with Numbers article. SensChirp also had a piece on the expanded role Turris is expected to play this year. [Ottawa Senators, SensChirp]
- Ian Mendes had a fantastic interview with Jason Spezza, who reflected on his time in Ottawa. [TSN 1200]
- Nichols has the latest on the latest Garrioch article, where he reports that the Senators are looking for another top-nine forward through trade. [6th Sens]
- Varada also looks at trade options, this time focusing on teams close to the cap ceiling. [WTYKY]
- Speaking of trades, Amelia looks back at the Marc Methot - Nick Foligno trade. Win win? [Silver Seven]
- Cyril Leeder was on TSN 1200 recently, and Lund has a recap of what he said. [Inside the Senate]
- Ken Warren had a great article on Bobby Ryan's future with the Senators. Given what it took to acquire him and the timing of the trade, what happens to Bobby Ryan will be key in determining how fans feel about the 2013 offseason. Amelia had a status update on Ryan's contract negotiations as well, which is a great roundup for all Ryan news. [Ottawa Citizen, Silver Seven]
- Varada also had a great article yesterday on whether the offseason moves and comments mean that management is looking for the return of the #PeskySens [WTYKY]
- SensChirp talks about how the recent signings of MacArthur and Anderson show a commitment to winning. [SensChirp]
- Did you all know that we have 7 defenseman on one-way deals this year? What could that potentially mean for Cody Ceci, who spent the majority of the season in Ottawa but is on a 2-way deal? [SenShot, SensChirp]
- Jeff has a nice read on Bryan Murray's relationship with the Binghamton Senators. [SenShot]
- We wrapped up the Top 25 Under 25 series with three Swedes: Robin Lehner, Mika Zibanejad, and Erik Karlsson. The staff then released their ballots and answered some questions! [Top 25 Under 25 Series]
- Amelia then had a nice two-part series that looked at the most successful and disappointing prospects of the past ten years. [Successful, Disappointing]
- Yost has a piece on an article last week that talks about what happened in the negotiations between the Senators and Matt Kassian. [HockeyBuzz]
- Some great stuff by Manny Elk on his new site, Senstats. I highly recommend you check it out if you're into advanced stats, or analysis of the neutral zone. [Senstats]
- Eric returned, with his fun #AskMullet column! [Bonk's Mullet]
- Sens 4th round pick in 2012, Tim Boyle, is transferring from D1 to D3. That's.... not good. Probably wasn't the best thing when the most that was mentioned about him when he was drafted was that he was Brian Boyle's brother. [SBN College Hockey]
- Guillame Latendresse, known as the guy who made Bonk's Mullet famous, is now a coach in Quebec. Here's an article (FR) on him, where he had some nice quotes about Senators coach Paul MacLean [Radio Canada]
- Don't forget to read Michaela's Five Thoughts for Friday! [Five Thoughts]
- Lastly, five dates that Amelia recommends that you mark off on your calendar. Almost time for hockey! [Silver Seven]/
- Stephane Quintal is Brendan Shanahan's replacement in the NHL's player safety department. [NHL]
- One of my favourite writers, Nick Cotsonika, has a fantastic piece on new Penguins head coach Mike Johnston [Yahoo Sports]
- Red Wings players are trying to convince Daniel Alfredsson to come back, calling his leadership experience "invaluable" [Sportsnet]
- Jason Spezza is "excited as he's ever been" for the new season to start. [Pro Hockey Talk]
- Kent Wilson has a couple of fantastic reads on witnessing the "rise of advanced stats" in hockey from an outsiders perspective. [FlamesNation Part 1, Part 2]
- An oldie but a goodie, here's Kent Wilson on incentive and decision making in hockey. [NHL Numbers]
- The Hockey News thinks that the Senators will finish 7th in the Atlantic, citing unproven depth at forward along with player usage issues as two reasons for the poor finish. [The Hockey News]
- Rob Vollman, of Hockey Abstract fame, had a great podcast on TSN Radio where he talked about analyzing the "game within the game" [TSN]
- I highly recommend checking out the Score's offseason roundup posts, which include very insightful work from Thomas Drance and Justin Bourne. [The Score]
Thanks for reading!
Which of these two players would you like to see spend more time with the Senators this season?