Silver Nuggets: In the system - right wing
Now that we're done looking at the goaltenders and defensemen in the Senators system, we'll turn our attention to the forward position, starting with the right-wingers. From here on out, I'm going to be using the position classification on forwards in the Senators prospect report. Though it will list the Binghamton Senators as having only two right wingers when they obviously have four players playing the right side, I assume that the official organization report reflects what position the Senators see any of these players playing in the future with a potential NHL team.
All-in-all, the Senators have two right wingers in the AHL, two in the NCAA (both in Hockey East), and two in the CHL. Let's start with the AHLers.
The Senators have loved the NCAA + college free agent route since Murray took the helm in 2007, and both of the AHL right-wingers at the moment are college free agents signed over the last two years. The 23 year old Robinson played two seasons at Lake Superior State (CCHA, now WCHA) before catching the eye of many NHL teams due to his blazing fast speed for a player his size (6'5, 230lbs). He's now in his second AHL year, and although his overall game has gotten better, his point totals are not on pace to improve, which is a worrying sign, especially for a player who some thought had a shot at a 4th line job in the NHL this year.
From an NHL.com training camp profile:
Senators left-winger Clarke MacArthur, a veteran of eight NHL seasons, said he's impressed that so large a player has the finesse and speed that Robinson displays.
"He's a big body, and when he gets his feet going he's a big horse going down the wall," he said.
Robinson caught the eye of Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray during his second year of college, and was offered a college free agent contract. He took the deal and left his college days behind.
Senators head coach Paul MacLean said he'll make his final cuts around Oct. 1, and that so far he's impressed with Robinson.
"He's got good size and skates, and the puck is going in the net for him," he said. "He's doing a good job."
From Luke Richardson via Ken Warren:
Richardson says Robinson is blessed with the tools that could make him a big league player in the modern NHL and says the player’s "gung-ho" attitude makes him easy to coach.
"He’s a big guy, he can skate, he gets in on the forecheck and that just terrorizes defencemen nowadays, when you can’t hold up anybody," he said. "And he’s got some good hands around the net. He scored a couple of real nice goals for us (in Binghamton) and had dozens of other chances that just missed, but maybe that was just part of the excitement of being up a level."
If there’s one specific area where Robinson can improve, Richardson says, it’s in discovering the puck control he can have because of his size.
"It’s about managing the puck and he doesn’t realize that it’s so hard to get the puck off a big guy. It’s not about being selfish, it’s about knowing the areas to hold on to the puck."
For two other reports, there's this from Lake Superior's beat writer and this great fan scouting report. Overall, we see that Robinson is gifted with two great tools: size and speed. He needs to work on utilizing these skills better and managing the puck more, which he'll need some more AHL time for. It's disappointing that Robinson hasn't been able to produce much at the AHL level - both in points and in shot rate - but maybe he'll have a shot next year. Here are his first + second quarter grades from this season from Jeff:
Up and down start as the big guy plays his best on the penalty kill but hasn’t raised his game to the level it ought to be with a somewhat limited ceiling. Needs to find a grinding role or could be the next Coin Greening but would love for some offensive production from the second year pro as he’s been placed on the top two lines.
A rather quiet second quarter that saw him scratched as a healthy. Excels on the PK. Seems to not be able to finish offensively in getting rid of the puck too quickly resulting in a panic mode. Although proven wrong with his latest two goal effort.
The Senators major college free agent from last year, Thompson has had a rocky start to his pro career after a great development camp, where he was named one of the hardest working players. Already 24, Thompson played all four years at Ferris State, culminating in a NCAA Championship win in 2011-12. There's not much in terms of background on Thompson, other than this 2013 article from Thompson's invite to Blackhawks prospect camp:
Heading into his senior year at Ferris State, Garrett Thompson was not a highly sought after recruit at the Division-I college level after completing three seasons with the Traverse City North Stars of the NAHL U.S. junior ranks. But Thompson got a shot with the Bulldogs and through perseverance and hard work he’s become one of Ferris State’s top players. The Davison, Michigan (outside of Flint, more than an hour northwest of Detroit) native posts points more by way of effort and understanding where to be on the ice than natural abilities. At 6’2" and 195 pounds, he’s good in front of the net as well.
In terms of scouting reports, there's only this from SBN's College Hockey Website:
Thompson, a 6-2 191 lbs. forward originally from Traverse City, Michigan was the leading scorer for the Bulldogs this past season, with 16 goals and 16 assists for 32 points in 43 games for the WCHA regular season-champions. For his career, he scored 87 points in 139 games.
Thompson is a powerful left wing, that excelled in the type of grinding, physical, defensive style of play that Ferris State plays, while also using his size and strength to be a big contributor on offense. He likely projects as a third or fourth-line grinder at the NHL level.
Thompson is a meat and potatoes type of player, but maybe needs a bit more adapting to do before being a productive AHLer. From Jeff's grades, he looks to be improving as the season goes on:
Seems to be having a hard time adapting in his rookie season losing the puck and not completing plays. Had a nice spin-o-rama pass leading to a goal recently so perhaps in that one play he might be the opportunist in producing points as he gains confidence from here on in.
Thompson has flashes of brilliance but in the second quarter it was lacking. Still learning and gives effort. Has a good hockey sense that is otherwise hidden. Seems to be finding his groove.
A product of USA Hockey's fantastic development program, Shane Eiserman is a highly touted NCAA prospect that was taken 100th overall in the 2014 draft by the Senators. He's got average NHL size (6'1, 200lbs) but is built to play a Bryan Murray type game: relentless forechecking and puck pursuit. He's not near the top of the freshman forwards playing in the NCAA this season, but he has a decent shot rate and will improve as UNH improves. Here's Senators scout Bob Janeyck on Eiserman after he was drafted:
From the New England Hockey Journal's great profile on Eiserman:
Scouting report: Big-bodied winger with a sturdy build. Skates well for his size, generating fine straight-line speed thanks to a powerful stride. Needs to get a little quicker and improve lateral mobility, but tough to contain when he gets up a full head of steam and drives to the net. Protects the puck well and does the dirty work along the boards and in front of the net. Generates scoring chances by overpowering opponents and keeps his feet moving. Likes to initiate contact and finishes his checks. Some have questioned his consistency of effort this season.Scouts Out: "For me, he was a better prospect last year (in underage season). He’s already thick and strong; in junior he can be effective because he’s stronger than his peers. He’s been an inconsistent worker, but if he gets back to his physical play and net-drive game, he has a chance." — NHL scout, Eastern Conference
Draft outlook: Second-round prospect, but will need a strong and productive second half to stay there.
In his own words…
Strengths: "I can play a skill game with some finesse but as a bigger guy, I can also go into the corners and grind. I’m a power forward who can create space for linemates or do that extra work to get a dirty goal when you need it."
Weaknesses: "I always feel like I can improve my shot. I can get quicker and faster. I think that as a player, you have to understand that no matter how good you might be at something, there is always room to improve."
Eiserman was ranked 45th overall by Central Scouting despite not having the same hands/skill as others in the top-50 due to his projection to being an NHL player and the strength of his physical game. From Jeff Cox on SBN's College Hockey Website:
"He can change the game single-handedly, said Dubuque head coach Matt Shaw. "He was a vital player for us. Numerous times he made a play or two with or without the puck to change the momentum of the game. His physicalness can back other teams off."
Eiserman, who tested better than anyone else in the strength categories at the NHL Combine, is a strong, physical power forward.
"He's got assets you can't teach. He's got size, he's physical. He plays a pure power game. He is a big man with a powerful stride. Coaches love that because that's stuff you can't teach," said Shaw.Eiserman projects as a second or third liner at the professional level, a player that will bring grit and energy each shift and chip in offensively from time to time. He has a good shot and crashes the net well, but he doesn't have the high-end skill of some of the other players in the top half of the draft.
Lots of good indicators on Eiserman, and we'll know more about the validity of his NHL projection if the point production comes next year. If you'd like more information, this UNH blog has a great profile including Q&A's after the Sens development camp and a highlight video.
Another big, strong power forward - Leblanc started off the year injured before continuing his sophomore season with Merrimack where he left off. Despite similar production, Leblanc has upped his shot rate from 1.33 to 1.88/game and has continued to work on his all-around game. He was unranked in his draft year coming out of the EJHL, but selected by the Senators late in the 6th round as the scouts mandate at the time was to go for home runs, not just bodies to fill the organization. The 6'3, 205lb forward is someone Tim Murray said that the organization could develop, and Pierre Dorion added that his two-way abilities could be honed at Merrimack. There really isn't anything else on Leblanc, but we'll see how he fares next year. If the production doesn't come (top-3 on the team in scoring at least), then I don't know if he'll be offered a contract out of college.
A CHL Import Draft pick by the Oshawa Generals, Lindberg was developed by Djurgardens like Mika Zibanejad and Fredrik Claesson. He hilariously didn't expect to be drafted in 2013, and went on vacation before getting the call that he was taken in the 4th round by the Senators. I was worried that his development had stagnated a bit in Sweden, so was happy when he announced that he was coming over to North America because it suits his style of game (6'3, 198 lbs). I'm sure he's happy too, as he gets to play for an OHL Championship contender in an important role and currently ranks 2nd on the stacked Generals team in goals, 3rd in points, and 4th in assists, putting him at 17th in league (!) scoring.
From Senators European scout, Vaclav Burda:
He's a kid who was not selected or ranked very high -- he was pretty low -- but we feel pretty good about his potential, like Colin Greening in our organization. He's a big guy who can skate, he drives the net, he's not high end intelligent with the puck but he drives the net with speed an strength and we see these tools that down the road he could play on the big team. He's not (physically) mature, he's got lots of room to build up and we believe that big body might be hard to play against some day.There's not much else on Lingberg, but it's safe to say that he's impressed - as he should for an older, drafted OHL player. He projects to spend at least two years in Binghamton, so there's lots of development to come for Lindberg.
This last player may be the right winger that I'm the most excited for. Francis Perron was drafted 6th overall in the 2012 QMJHL entry draft but had a rough 16 year old season for the Huskies. In his last two seasons though, Perron has been electric - ranking close to or above a point per game pace. The smallest player of this group, Perron is listed as 6'0 and 163 lbs, so clearly needs to add strength to make it to the NHL. The Sens draft clearly had lots of discussions on Perron, as they owned the 190th pick in the 2014 draft (where he was taken) and traded to get the 189th pick from Winnipeg in order to take Kelly Summers, who I looked at last week.
From The Hockey News:
|Assets:||Is a very cerebral player who uses his vision, passing skills and strong hockey IQ to create offense. Can be a major asset on special teams, too.|
|Flaws:||Is rather thin and lacks bulk, so he may struggle to play his offensive game well at the highest level. Therefore, he must get significantly stronger.|
Perron is also self-reflective, and had this to say in a great Buzzing the Net article:
"After Christmas, I felt my work ethic was more consistent from game to game," says Perron, who is NHL Central Scouting Service's 70th-ranked North American skater. "I was going in the corners more and winning more of my battles. Even though I'm not very big, I was finishing my checks
"It's all in my head," Perron adds. "I have to be more confident in my work ethic ... This year I had a lot of ups and downs. I need to be more consistent in my work ethic. I also need to put on a little weight and go in the corners."
From Hockey Prospect via Nichols, who has a fantastic post on the 2014 draft picks (including Eiserman):
"Perron is very creative with the puck; his linemates have to be alert all the time as they can get the puck back when they don’t expect it. When in possession of the puck, you can see him wait an extra second to find open teammates, making him tough to predict for the defence. Because of this creativity and playmaking ability, the Huskies used Perron on the point on the power play all year long, a rare case for a 17-year old in the QMJHL."Perron is currently 18th in QMJHL scoring and I'm excited for what he could potentially do as a skilled player with good hockey IQ. Still has two more years of QMJHL left.
- The Senators have played two games, and lost both tight-checking affairs 2-1. First, the recaps from the Devils game. [Silver Seven, Rank the Performances, Ottawa Citizen, SensChirp, SenShot]
- Next, the recaps from last night vs. Washington. [Silver Seven, Rank the Performances, Ottawa Citizen, SensChirp, SenShot]
- A ton of links from Phillips' franchise record game yesterday. My favourites? These two from Amelia and James. [Silver Seven, WTYKY]
- Pieces from Chirp, Nichols, and the Citizen on the career of Chris Phillips. [SensChirp, 6th Sens, Ottawa Citizen]
- Bobby Ryan has had a fantastic season thus far, and I've noticed a ton of great defensive plays. Jack has as well written a piece about Ryan and the Selke. [SenShot]
- Just because the season is slipping away doesn't mean Dave Cameron has stopped coaching. Here's a piece on him and the young players. [Ottawa Citizen]
- Our "Spare Parts" trade deadline series continues with a piece on Milan Michalek from B_T. [Silver Seven - Michalek]
- Nichols has a pretty fun chronological timeline that follows reports on the future of Chris Phillips and moreso, Chris Neil. It gradually goes from: "Phillips and Neil wish to stay Ottawa Senators" to "The Senators are considering trading the two as offers come in". The Thursday piece has a comment from ESPN's Craig Custance on the Senators being wide open for business. [6th Sens - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday]
- From the Citizen, Neil doesn't want to leave yet and believes he has a ton left in the tank, but also wants to play an important role on the team, not under 10 minutes a night. [Ottawa Citizen]
- Trevor with a nice little two-part roster series on Senators free agent targets and trade candidates [SenShot - Targets, SenShot - Candidates]
- Lots of reaction yesterday due to the Evander Kane - Winnipeg Jets saga. Mike with a hilarious parody of it here. [Bonk's Mullet]
- The fabulous Chet Sellers power rankings, featuring Mike Hoffman looking like a famous celebrity that I will never be able to unsee. [WTYKY]
- A fantastic profile from Jeff on one of my current favourite BSens, Ryan Dzingel. [SenShot]
- Jack with a prospect feature on the OHL trio of Paul, Harpur and Lindberg. [SenShot]/
Thanks for reading!