Silver Nuggets: Answering who's the most improved Senators player

The Nuggets last Friday generated a really interesting discussion around the Senators most-improved player so far this season, and I quickly want to thank everyone for participating in the poll and comments! Reading through everything today, I'm in a positive mood and want to highlight a comment from Sheer_Craziness below:

One thing I get out of reading these comments is that the Sens have several much-improved players. I think that's a big positive to take away from the first month of the Sens' season.

Although I fall into the "Sens haven't been good as their record" camp, I think that highlighting the positives is important, and there definitely have been some encouraging performances. There appears to be consensus though, and last year's BSens MVP, Mike Hoffman, took home 48% of the vote. I'll have to concur with the majority here, as Hoffman has definitely improved. Part of the reason for this though is the fact that the shots are actually going in for him this year. Hoffman's shot-rate at even-strength was extremely high last year, which is one of the reasons I was vying for him to get a permanent spot on the team this season, and it's gone up (!) this year to be among the league leaders in that category. It's scary to think that if he didn't score two goals in the final two preseason games, and that he didn't get off to a hot start, we may have been talking about him as trade bait or to be put on waivers. The impact of shooting percentage (4.9% last season, 18.4% this season) clearly has a huge impact on the perception of players by both fans and management. I just hope that when Hoffman's shooting percentage goes back down to normal levels (~8-9%), he's still given opportunities to succeed offensively. The Citizen ran a nice feature on Hoffman this week, so give it a read.

Other candidates include Mark Stone, who I wouldn't vote for just because of semantic reasons as he was fantastic in a limited sample last year, and Jared Cowen, who I concede has looked a lot better, but it may have been from disaster (AHL) to being a third-pairing defenseman. He's going to have to play like this consistently for the rest of the year for me to believe that he's a solution for the Senators current defensive problem.

Here's user Everen on the logic for Mark Stone:

From a garbage-rounds draft stock to a World Junior standout and now in a role where he’s primed to excel in the NHL, I’ve got to tip my hat to my fellow Winnipegger. He’s shed his label as "too slow for the NHL" and has proven that strong positional awareness, combined with soft hands and great decision-making, can lead to success in this league. He’s the most markedly improved player I’ve seen rise through our organization’s ranks since Daniel Alfredsson.

User jmikelittle touches on how hard of a decision this was, with a number of good candidates. He eventually votes Cowen:

Hoffman’s shots are going in the net more often than last year, but he was really good last year. It’s possible he is a bit better than where he was last year, but he was so good at the end of the season I can’t vote for him here.

Cowen on the other hand has gone from mid-level AHL talent to passible NHL-level D. For a long time I advocated Cowen sitting out games and watching tape with coaches and working on the ice. If that is what helped him get better than horray. It’s possible he’ll regress back to where he was only a few weeks ago (CONTEXT), but all things staying equal, he’s had the biggest improvement.

Honourable mention goes to Ceci, who’s been their second best D by my eyes this season, although his numbers are worrisome.

lee.zamparo touches on the context that was discussed in the last comment but citing some cool usage charts that highlight differences between Hoffman and Cowen:

Was tempted to vote for the Hoff. There are very compelling reasons. Check out his usage chart comparing the past three seasons of NHL data.

Ice time has remained about the same from last year (?!?), but his line is dominating their competition, and he personally is pouring in the goals. The only reason I didn’t vote for him is that I’m unsure whether he was unlucky not to score more last year, or if he’s just come into the season hot. Ask me again at the 50 game mark.

Cowen, on the other hand, has improved a huge amount. His player usage chart from last year to this year is comically different

So, Hoffman’s probably better this year, but Cowen is WAY better than last year.

Thanks for all of your great responses!


Sens Links

  • Here are your recaps after the Sens disappointing loss to the Flames. [Silver Seven, Rank the Performances, Ottawa Citizen, SenShot, SensChirp, Senstats]
  • After a couple of busy weeks for the Senators, they only play twice this week: Thursday night against Nashville, and Saturday afternoon (!) against St. Louis. Brad has a look at your week ahead. [Silver Seven - Week Ahead]
  • Wondering why the logos across the SBN network have changed? Well, they're about a really important issue. Amelia and Sheer_Craziness have columns discussing the "Its on Us" campaign.
  • Marc Methot skated with Erik Karlsson at practice yesterday (!)... but Chris Phillips was absent so don't read too much into it. Chirp talks about this and about the Greening rumours. [Ottawa Citizen, SensChirp]
  • Nichols with a ton of content this week. First, he has his Friday thoughts on Bryan Murray, Greening, and Methot, and then transcribes a Pierre Dorion interview with TSN1200 on similar topics. [6th Sens - thoughts, Dorion]
  • Jack also has a piece on the Greening/Methot tidbits from Elliotte Friedman and Darren Dreger. Interesting that St. Louis/New York were considered potential destinations for Greening and that AGM Pierre Dorion recently watched a game between them last week. [SenShot, 6th Sens]
  • Mike has a... different take on Marc Methot's contract demands. #gunshow [Bonk's Mullet]
  • Varada has a great piece on what the upcoming offseason means for Ottawa's financial health relative to the league. [WTYKY]
  • Nichols analyzes the Sens shot rates and shooting percentages after 17 games using a pretty cool data visualization tool. Check it out! [6th Sens]
  • A cool read from Peter Robb, who talks about how coaches approach their young teams. [Ottawa Citizen]
  • Why has David Legwand been getting so many minutes recently? Well it may be because Paul MacLean is giving him a ton of PP time. Trevor looks at whether that should continue. [SenShot]
  • Mrs. O looks at a player who's 35 goal total from a couple years ago seems so far away, Milan Michalek. Despite saying that, Michalek has still been a dependable two-way possession player for the Senators, and I'm glad he's healthy. That contract extension though? ... [Silver Seven]
  • Ian with your weekly prospect update! Click through to see how the BSens did against the Norfolk Admirals. Jeff also recaps the Admirals game. [Silver Seven, SenShot]
  • Jack has a really good piece on the Sens prospect pool, and looks at the question of depth in the system. It's a good read, and brings to the forefront the question that a lot of the players on the BSens right now are depth players. Most of the high-end young players are either a) currently on the roster, b) in the CHL/NCAA, or c) in Sweden. [SenShot]
  • Given that last piece... it appears that the Sens may be dipping into the college free agent pool. Reports surfaced this week that they were scouting Ohio State d-man Drew Brevig - former teammate of Ryan Dzingel and Max McCormick. [6th Sens]
  • Sheer_Craziness is on Ups and Downs duty this week - see who his biggest gainer is. Hint: #donthasslethehoff [Silver Seven - Ups and Downs]
  • Lastly, the folks over at Sens Callups have their episode recapping last week! Give it a listen. The Citizen also has a column recapping the Western road trip [Sens Callups, Ottawa Citizen]
Sports Links
  • Over at Pensburgh, Lyle has a fantastic piece on how to evaluate a powerplay. Relevant giving the discussion about the Sens PP concerns. [Pensburgh]
  • The great Corey Massiak discusses the globalization of the Hockey Hall of Fame, talking about the recent European NHLers that have entered the Hall recently. Pierre LeBrun also has similar thoughts. [NHL, ESPN]
  • Given all of the HHoF talk, Justin Bourne put together a list of 10 players who would go into the "fun-to-watch" Hall of Fame. [The Score]
  • The must-read for this week? Sean McIndoe (@DownGoesBrown)'s piece on NHL Enforcers. [Grantland]/

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