Silver Nuggets: Discussing our satisfaction with the Senators season

The reason why I asked about what you all would be happy with as a result of the 2014-15 Ottawa Senators season is because it was a question that I was undecided on as well. Given that, I'm not surprised that there's a variety of opinions on the issue, and it was fun to read the comments and see the final poll numbers. Thanks to everyone for participating!

Overall, I think I agree with the majority here that a competitive team on a nightly basis is probably the most satisfying result for the Senators season. There's been a ton of turmoil on and off the ice the past few seasons, so having some stability in the play of the team would definitely be welcomed on my end, even if the result may be a missed playoff spot. I do, however, have leaned to both the "top-10 pick" option and the "playoffs or bust" option in the past, so the rationale behind those were interesting to read!

User Be_rad grappled with the options and had a really interesting answer around the "culture of losing", which I think many of us are thinking about, especially as we watched what the Oilers and Leafs went through for most of the last decade.

One of the arguments about tanking is that it creates a culture of losing. However, I don’t see any of the players in your list making a significant difference to that factor.

Our veterans are sort of divided into segments – some are simply well past their best-by date (Neil, Phillips, eg), some are useful, but not very high end (Michalek, Legwand, eg), and some are younger, more established players who may even still have some upside or are giving at their peak right now (Turris, MacArthur, Anderson, eg). You can fill in your own idea of names where you feel appropriate. What we are missing in that group is the likes of an Alfredsson; someone who is a role model, who exemplifies the work ethic, preparation and competitiveness you want all your players to aspire to and who played the game at its highest talent levels. If he weren’t injured, he would still be playing at a top 6 level and would be a genuine leader.

As it is, we have no genuine leaders of that nature on the payroll. So if we were to lose the ones past their best-by date and even one or two of the useful but no big deal level, I would be happy because it would give younger players a chance to acclimate to their eventual roles.

When it comes to culture of losing, I don’t see the players I’m thinking of making a difference. One’s injured and one’s a scratch anyway. If the outcome is a solid or elite draft pick, I’m ok with that. That isn’t tanking, as I see it. And if we get picks and our draft position is high enough that we get a great center or defenceman, then we are way further ahead next year than we would be if we eked out an 8th place spot in the playoffs or, worse, 9th and out of the playoffs. That’s Leafs’ M.O., and I have had enough of that in my life, thanks very much.

User SensBomb had a dual-answer, with a competitive roster being the most important, but a scenario where a lack of experience leads to a top-10 pick anyways.

Because I want the right mind-frame for the kids. That being said, I think they ultimately try hard and lose down the stretch because of their inexperience. We end up with another solid top 10, maybe higher if Murray can parlay an asset and/or pick(s) for an upgrade to a top 5. Next year should be better with Karlsson being in his second year as C, Hoff/Stone/Chiasson/Lazar/Ceci that much wiser, and hopefully a breakout year for Zibby.

There were also some votes in the 'other' category that were really interesting. Accountability is something that would satisfy user Turris' Ass Goals (#bestname):

I was looking through the teams roster last night and it was depressing. Chris Neil, Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, Zack Smith, Chris Philips and every defenceman who has not successfully proven themselves at an NHL level.

We are an overcrowded land of misfit toys and management needs to recognize this and change something. The players mentioned before are anchors to the bottom of the standings and should be dealt with accordingly (trade or buyout or whatever the hell is available). Specifically Michalek, Greening and Philips who’s salaries could be used much more productively in players with a higher level of talent. It amazes me that they do not wish to spend money yet when they do spend money its on players like these. I know hindsight is 20/20 but there is no coming back from these players.

What will make me happy is the usage of the best year of Karlsson career and building a team around Lehner/Anderson, Karlsson and Ryan. Because right now they are not building anything, they are letting the team marinate is losses and controversy.

User modsuperstar had a really interesting reply to this around roster construction that I'll have some thoughts on below:

You can begrudge the construction of the roster, but there are certainly reasons for it. The Senators have trouble attracting talent to play in Ottawa. The Sens only have a few tactics available to them.

  • Overpay for loyalty and being a good soldier who is willing to stay in Ottawa long term.
  • Draft players and give them an opportunity to be an NHLer, then lock them up long term and hope they haven’t hit their potential caps yet
  • Overpay for an older free agent looking for a decent payday on the downslope of their career
  • Trade for a player in a bad situation, show them this is a decent organization and get them to sign long term by showing them a good fit
  • Sign non-descript free agents who are locals and Ottawa has a family draw for them

That basically covers all the players that currently fill our roster. Premium free agents will never give the Sens a sniff. Stars with no trade clauses will usually have Ottawa and Edmonton at the top of their list. So Ottawa is left to pick at the edges using the criteria I outlined above.

This is definitely an issue that the Senators, as a small(er)-market Canadian team, faces in the NHL free agency landscape, and may also be one of the reasons why this roster is primarily 'homegrown' talent. What's interesting is that Bryan Murray's best free-agent 'get' in a long time was Clarke MacArthur, a younger winger who had produced points historically and had good possession numbers, but was put in a bad situation by his former team. As user Everen points out below, there were many such players available in free agency this year as 'bargains' and would provide inexpensive depth production that the Senators are sorely missing at the moment.

Even the maligned mid-career guys – Ribeiro, Santorelli, Raymond, Kulemin, Grabovski, Jussi Jokinen – where were we? Did we not even make a pitch? I certainly didn’t hear of one.

In fact, the threshold of 1.0 points/60 during 5-on-5 play is the current median production from fourth line forwards at the NHL level. After doing some research on HockeyAnalysis, I found that Greening, Legwand, Smith, Michalek, Neil and Condra are ALL under that benchmark. SIX players. Those players are also locked up for more than one year, with the exception of Erik Condra (who is the closest to 1.0 points/60). Maybe if that wasn't the case, the Senators wouldn't be close to a top-10 pick and instead, be closer to or in the playoff picture, which would satisfy a lot of us.

Thanks again for your participation and interesting responses!


Sens Links

  • The Senators only played one game since Tuesday, and had their first regulation win in almost a month against the New Jersey Devils. [Silver Seven, Rank the Performances, Ottawa Citizen, SensChirp, SenShot]
  • The other piece of big news this week was the Senators officially deciding to send Curtis Lazar to the World Juniors. I remember polling all of you on this a while back and I think this is a move that a lot of us support. The various posts linked here talk about whether the move is a right one to make, and how it potentially opens up a spot for the Senators to get a glimpse of their AHL players like Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Shane Prince for two weeks. [Ottawa Senators, Silver Seven, 6th Sens, SenShot, Ottawa Citizen,
  • Some more Lazar news - Ken Warren talks about Lazar's first NHL goal with a nice column. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • A hilarious photoshop post from Mike and Matty on Bonk's Mullet featuring Curtis Lazar. [Bonk's Mullet]
  • Another piece of fantastic Alfie content that had be close to tears - an exclusive SensTV video of Alfie's final day as an Ottawa Senators player. [SensTV]
  • A really packed Sens Callups podcast that recaps the last two weeks! Good listen, especially if you didn't manage to catch most of the games. [Sens Callups]
  • How much ice time is too much ice time for Erik Karlsson? [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Chris Phillips is closing in on Alfredsson's games played record in Ottawa Senators franchise history. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • A fun Phillips - Lazar feature TV feature. [CTV Ottawa]
  • The Binghamton Senators were on the wrong side of history this week, as they gave up three goals in the first 36 seconds of the game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and lost 5-3. [Binghamton Senators, SenShot]
  • The mumps outbreak has taken the NHL by storm! Joe has the Senators "anti-Mumps" action plan. [Bonk's Mullet]
  • Sheer_Craziness had a really interesting piece that made a comparison between Bobby Ryan and quintessential Senator, Daniel Alfredsson. [Silver Seven]
  • NKB has thoughts of various pieces of Sens-related news this week, including the aforementioned Devils game and Lazar news, in Five Thoughts! [Silver Seven]

Sports Links

  • Eliotte Friedman's fantastic 30 thoughts column was released today [Sportsnet]
  • Lots of stories around the KHL situation as well. Here's former NHLer Tim Stapleton talking about his experience [Sportsnet, The Globe & Mail]
  • A tactical piece from Boucher Scouting on the dump-in and how it's primarily a defensive play. [Boucher Scouting]
  • Yost with some good analysis on TSN about how teams can be good at possession in different ways. [TSN]
  • Here are 10 lessons we can learn from the Edmonton Oilers, from Sean McIndoe. [Grantland]/

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