The dog days of summer – a time when our hockey appetites cannot be wetted by news that Cody Bass has moved on or that Chris Neil has been appointed as the new honorary chair of Roger’s House or that Mike McKenna is taking pictures with ugly Senators garb at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Sure, I can laugh hysterically at Stan Fischler referring to the newest Maple Leaf, Tim Connolly, as Syracuse’s gift to the NHL but even that doesn’t last for long.
It’s times like this when the mind starts to wander and think of hockey inanities. For example, just this morning I was wondering whether or not the employees of Rogers Sportsnet and HNIC ever fuck with Doug MacLean or Mike Milbury at the office.
Do these employees go into work each day hoping that they'll be able to trade food like a couple of kids on the playground to test these failed GMs' negotiation skills?
I could envision the conversations going something along these lines:
“Hey Milbury, I'll give you cup of yogurt for that Fruit Rollup, Sprite and that can of peaches. Sorry? No, my thumb isn't strategically placed over the expiration date.
No I won’t let you see it!
What? You’ll still do the deal? Great!”
Fortunately, there was this afternoon's announcement that Mika Zibanejad had inked a 3-year entry-level contract with the organization. A 1.9M$ annual caphit (bonuses included) per Sweden's Aftonbladet.No wonder Mika's been dancing.
As discussed yesterday, under the parameters of the NHL's CBA, by signing Mika before Friday's 5:00 pm deadline, Ottawa avoided paying a $100,000 negotiation fee to Djurgarden.
While signing an ELC is a precursor for playing in the NHL next season, I don't know if I want to read too much into it and immediately assume that management has made plans to have Zibanejad remain in Ottawa next season. Simply put, signing him now not only saves the organization some coin, it permits the organization to bring him into the fold for training camp and allow him to demonstrate that he's ready to play at the next level.
Looking at the signing from a player personnel standpoint, with the number of one-way deals that currently on the books, if Zibanejad is ready, it's going to create quite the logjam at the center position. While it's a nice problem to have, the Konopka signing and the team's depth affords the organization the opportunity to be patient with its forward prospects.
I sure as hell hope so. I know I'd much prefer to see the organization return Zibanejad and Silfverberg to Sweden for just one more season.
From my personal viewpoint, there should be no rush. As an organization that on paper looks to be one of the five to ten worst teams in the league, it seems illogical to go against the expressed wishes of Silfverberg or burn a year off of Mika's ELC to have them play on what will assuredly will be a bad team.
As Scott (@Wham_City), another one of The 6th Sens contributors, put it, there's no sense in wasting the competitive advantage of ELC's on players who are going to play small minutes or sit on the bench.
He makes a great point, and it's one that Tyler Dellow harps on quite regularly when critiquing the Oilers rebuild. Especially since they have the veteran stopgap (cough, cough, Konopka, cough, cough) talent to accomodate the team for this season. It makes much more sense to let them spend one more season in the SEL, develop on another team's dime and retain them as controllable assets when the two of these Swedish prospects and the Senators will be better.
Bryan Murray and the rest of Ottawa's management team need not look for lessons learned. Having acquired a rushed prospect in Nikita Filatov and having seen how well David Rundblad flourished this past season in the SEL, these two examples should provide all of the motivation the organization needs to make their decision.
Looking at Ottawa's pipeline, I know there's talent coming through the system. I'm not insecure enough with my faith in this organization to demand to see it all at once and I believe there's some importance in staggering the number of rookies who come into the fold.
Jared Cowen and the aforementioned Rundblad should make an appearance at some point this season, that's enough for me. There's no reason to shell shock Ottawa's best prospects all at once. It would probably be in everyone's best interests to let Mika go back to where he left off in the second half of the SEL and take the experiences of development/training camp back with him. Give him the opportunity to play in the IIHF World Juniors and come back to training camp next season with a fervor and confidence.
Like Silfverberg said, this would afford them the time to ensure that they come to Ottawa with confidence in their own play. Tim made a point recently saying, if the team's winning record isnt going to provide them the assurance that they're playing well, you might as well lose with vets. Are Mika or Jakob going to make the difference makers in their first year? Probably not. So why bother?
*** At the request of Twitter follower Brochenski (@Brochenski), I've posted a depth chart on how I feel the Senators NHL/AHL lineups should look below. Take a look... (Note: Created the chart before Derek Smith signed a two-way contract with the Calgary Flames.)
I doubt Konopka will be a scratch. His face off percentages are through the roof. Secondly, with Zibanejad it really all depends on training camp. Also i think DaCosta will get a place on the team after training camp as well. He is much better than Regin, Smith, and Winchester in my mind. He has shown it in the prospect camp.
I'm confident they're going to make room for Cowen and Rundlad in one way or another.
Great blog, I'm starting to check in more and more often.
I think rushing prospects is definitely a reason why some rebuilds (or builds) tend to take forever. Early career injuries have ruined many good prospects like James Sheppard, Derek Brassard, Gilbert Brule, Tuomo Ruutu, etc. And there is another consequence: If you put your top prospects in a losing culture, what happens then? Do they grow more accustomed to it? Of course players hate losing, but there is something to be said about learned helplessness (sorry, I'm a psych student).
For Rundblad, I think he has very little left to prove in the SEL. I am worried because his game may not be suited to a stronger, faster, smaller game across the pond. Maybe some AHL time is needed, or maybe it would hurt his confidence to lose his job to a carkner/kuba/lee, and confidence is extremely important to a game breaker in any position.
@kozelp I only half buy into the 'losing culture' thing - I think the more compelling arguement against rushing prospects has already been brought up by T6S - avoiding burning off years from the ELC, so we can get more value for the money. The longer we have to wait until offering our prospects multi-million dollar deals, the longer we get to hold on to them.
Not sure I understand why Cowen and Rundblad are in 'prospect purgatory'. First of all, the Vatican got rid of purgatory and all its incarnations a few years back. More importantly, Cowen was pretty close last year and Cowen/Rundblad seem like virtual locks to make the Sens, judging from their performances and EVERYTHING management has said about them.
If it's a question of finding room on our blueline, there are several ways it can be done, so I'm not worried.
Also, it should be noted that there are always a couple of exceptions to the "don't rush your prospects" rule. Some kids just play well with the big boys. We can never know for CERTAIN, but my guess is Skinner & Karlsson, for instance, greatly benefited from being "rushed"
Sorry to be such a prudish curmudgeon - I think your site is tops for Sens analysis. Good to see an amateur sports writer that actually know how to WRITE, not just about sports (I like not having to sacrifice one for the other). AGain, sorry for being a long-winded ass, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
@PalladiumDirt Prospect purgatory wasn't mean to be some condescending title. It was to represent that we don't know where any of those four prospects will start the season. Bryan Murray has said that Cowen and Rundblad are close to NHL-ready but whether that means they'll start the year in the NHL remains to be seen.
I liked your answer to the rushing the prospects question and completely understand and appreciate your sentiment. However, as stephen_g mentioned earlier, I feel like the organization would best be served by not burning a year off of Z-bad's ELC since they have a number of centers signed and one in particular, Regin, I feel should be given an opportunity to play on the second line to improve his own worth.
Thanks for the comment. Hope this clarifies some things.
"if the team's winning record isnt going to provide them the assurance that they're playing well, you might as well lose with vets. Are Mika or Jakob going to make the difference makers in their first year? Probably not. So why bother?" - Reminds me of the extra 2%. How many more wins would these two players add? Say they go from 74 points to 80 - that's still 13 behind the number 8 spot last year - so I agree, send them overseas for a year.