After watching the Cup Finals I feel like I was watching a 2003 Sens playoff rerun. The team with more 'skill and 'finesse' lost to the team with the better goaltending and playoff 'system'. Whistles were put away and the boys were left to play. If the game is reverting back to this grinder style hockey then I'm flip flopping on my desire for Ryan Strome and saying Landeskog might be the man. Only two questions: Will he slip to 6th? Will Lehner give us a real chance?
Trevor (in Toronto)
Well Trevor, be grateful that it didn’t feel like you were watching the 2002 Senators team. Then you wouldn’t be frustrated blaming Ricard Persson’s equivalent for boarding a Neanderthal and receiving a match penalty during the first period of an important game that put your team down a defenceman and cost them a 2-0 game six lead that ultimately would have sealed the deal. (My apologies for the run on sentence, it's a manifestation of repressed anger.)
I can understand the concern in seeing the offensive struggles of Vancouver’s elite players but that Conn Smythe Trophy sitting on Tim Thomas’ shelf has as much to do with their lack of production than their inefficient perimeter play due to Boston’s ‘grit’. And even though these skill players demonstrated some Muckaltian finishing touch, it took the Bruins seven games to eliminate the Canucks.
It’s interesting that you bring up Landeskog’s name. He’s one of the few prospects mentioned in the top 10 whose blend of physically maturity, leadership and style of play has drawn comparisons to that of Mike Richards. Once you acknowledge that Alfie’s career is winding down and Landeskog has ‘future captain’ written all over him, it’s pretty easy to understand why so many Senators fans want to see the Kitchener Rangers captain wind up in their lap.
Not everyone shares the same enthusiasm though…
Corey Pronman from Hockey Prospectus recently explained why teams picking early in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft should pass on Landeskog.
Based on my ranking of him as the 13th-best prospect in the 2011 class and this column, some may get the perception that I think he's a bad player, but I don't. And based on evaluation talks I've had with scouts, my talent evaluation on his tools has been more or less in line, but in terms of how valuable the next person thinks he is, that's where my opinion tends to differ. While I think that he is the most NHL-ready prospect in the class and will be great at his role in the league, I ultimately don't see lottery-type value in that role.
There are three terrible mistakes you can make at the top of the draft that can end up biting you in five years:
1. Draft a safe, projectable player instead of a high-upside/potential star player
2. Place a high emphasis on intangibles in your evaluation process
3. Look at premature physical development as a significant plus instead of what it actually is: premature
In talking to Pronman on a recent episode of The 6th Sens Podcast, he indicated that there is absolutely no chance Landeskog will still be available when the Senators pick sixth. However, from all accounts, there seems to be a genuine interest by the Senators to move up in the draft and get the player that they want.
Who that player is? We’re not entirely sure. Personally, I’d prefer to see the team draft a center who can eventually slide into the number two spot within a season. Even if it means signing Ryan Shannon as a one-year stopgap until this prospect is ready.)
Obviously the best case scenario would be a good two-way player who can contribute and play the game using the whole 200' of ice but for all of the laurels and accolades that Landeskog receives, I can’t shake this nagging fear that he could develop into Nick Foligno 2.0. (Although in the event that Ottawa does draft Landeskog, it’d probably take me 0.2 seconds for this fear to be curbed. Go figure.)
Although Bruce Garrioch mentioned the New Jersey Devils as a possible trade partner, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Senators work out a draft day deal with the Panthers instead. Looking at Dale Tallon’s draft record over the course of his time with the Blackhawks, he’s typically drafted with an emphasis on players who have higher ceilings. Instead of choosing a player like Landeskog, they might be inclined to trade down and draft a Ryan Strome – a player whose ceiling might be just as high as any in the draft.
So what could Ottawa offer to move up? I’d look at that 6th overall selection as being the starting point with a young defensive prospect like Wiercioch or some combination of draft picks going the other way.
And will Lehner give the Senators a real chance?
My old man used to joke that a cardboard cutout could have given us a chance to win with the amount of talent that the team had up front during the early 2000 years. But as the traditional media has noted on more than one occasion, Ottawa's become a bit a goalie graveyard in recent years: Mike Morrison; Dominik Hasek; Ray Emery; Alex Auld; Pascal Leclaire; Mike Brodeur; Curtis McElhinney; and the list goes on...
Can Lehner change that?
I sure as hell hope so. The kid has the Midas touch! Through his Calder Cup winning efforts, he's inadvertently turned Jim O'Brien into a winner. Two seasons ago, who could have imagined that?
Draft Landy! Isn't he exactly the kind of player we've never had? A Mike Fisher type with a bit more finish/fighting...
Also, yay to Scot Mccormack for reminding us all of the insanity that was acquiring Craig "The Lehner Blocker" Anderson - crazy business that. And then a 4year deal, yeesh. On the plus side, I know well ahead of time what negative thing I'm going to dwell on all year, so that's good.
Draft Landy! Ditch Andy!
I really think Foligno will bounce back this year. Between losing his mother 18 months ago, Clouston (evident by comments he had made during the presser for MacLean) and the team in general, I think people are passing judgement far too quickly on his fate as a player. The fact that Nick was the MacLean presser leads me to believe Murray see's him as a big part of this moving forward.
All this draft postulation is starting to get to me. The more you see and read about a player, the easier it becomes to find things wrong with them. I imagine as a scout it's even worse to control. I'm all for taking any one of the guys who appear to be available at our spot. Granted I'm not even remotely close to a knowledgeable person about junior players, other than did I notice them at the WJC (brutally small sample size).
There are arguments for drafting each guy, we draft a super skilled guy, Strome or whatever, who with Spezza may be a solid 30 to potentially 40 goal guy. We certainly need ANY goal scorers on this team. Those guys get us to the playoffs. Then again, a guy like Landeskog, gritty two way forward with some good offence, and apparently a leadership type. We could use that too in our top six. Alfie's getting old, and that style of play really shines in the playoffs. Second line center, we've needed that almost as long as a reliable goaltender. Boy it'd be nice to have two reliably threatening lines, let alone the ability to juggle the two as required.
For me, I'd hope to draft a player who's overall abilities and whatnot I believe could add up to more than the sum of his parts. That could be grit, two way play, and leadership. That could be skill, speed, and swagger. Hell even self belief, will to win, and herculean work ethic have made heroes out of seemingly lesser players. Perhaps that's what you mean by higher ceiling, I don't know.
As a card carrying homer, it's real hard to ignore the idea of drafting a Sens fan (no one lies about that, especially when they're a lottery team) and potential next Alfie in Landeskog. Unrealistic as it is.
I have read Pronman's argument and agree with his analysis in principle. In reading the various blogs I detect a certain level of anxiousness and impatience on the part of the the Sens fans. I look at this rebuild as a multi-year effort. In doing so I am more inclined to see the team select players on their projected ceiling rather than immediate potential to help (Lando playing on Spezza's left wing). I am not sure if Lando is worst or better than Strome or Zibanejab but I trust the current scouting staff to get it right. Ottawa's draft record is pretty good. I am not so sure that they share fan's love of Lando or Courtourier. We will see. Only seven more sleeps!
It's interesting to me that if a player is more NHL ready at the same age as his peers he is considered to have reached his ceiling. I'm not a scout and haven't seen him play but why does Landeskog's ceiling project to be 9' and Nugent-Hopkins' cathedral? Is it a skating issue? Hands? Vision? What are people saying Landeskog lacks? Will Brad Marchand be a better NHL player at the end of both their respective careers?
Any way of trading up with Jersey by giving up the 21st pick and two of the three second round picks? Garrioch says that the Devil's prospect cupboard is pretty bare...that way maybe Landeskog AND Strome?? Dreaming in Technicolour??
I don't know with respect to Alex Auld, Mike Brodeur or Curtis McElhinney that Ottawa has been the place where their careers have gone to die, as they have been marginal or mediocre goalies at best; even if none of them had been associated with the Senators it is hard to see how their careers could have followed a more favourable trajectory. Arguably the only goalies whose careers have died thanks to Ottawa, at least recently, are Martin Gerber, Brian Elliott, and Pascal Leclaire.
As for Landeskog, if Pronman is correct (which I suppose is debatable), then the Senators should be trying for another player with a higher ceiling, even if that player is not perceived to be as tough as Landeskog. Alternatively, if they are settled on Landeskog, and are confident that he will be drafted low, which is not certain, then I suppose they could trade down. Pronman may not be right, of course, in which case it may be worth the Senators' while to ensure they are able to draft Landeskog.
Landeskog is the perfect blend of offense and toughness. Future captain material. The type of player this organization needs.
As for Lehner, I think it's a good idea not to put too much pressure on him, but the Calder run likely gave him a lot of experience. IHe's shown he can win the big games, which is really what this club has needed for a long time.
In hindsight, I wish Murray had kept Elliott until the end of the season, then traded for Anderson. Maybe then we'd be drafting 3rd or 4th, where we could take a Landeskog or Huberdeau without worrying about having to trade up.
@robotvsunicorn Foligno's a bounce back candidate? He posted a new career high in points last season.
I also think you're reading too much into the he was at the presser and are making a leap in logic that it reflects what Murray thinks of him. It probably means he was at SBP to use the gym's facilities earlier in the morn.
I'm not too sure if you've listened to our podcasts but we talked about this being the opportune moment to trade Foligno (if it's ever going to happen) with TSN's Scott Cullen. We came to the conclusion that it would in Ottawa's best interests to maximize on Foligno's value while some people, like yourself, still believe that he can be a top six forward.
Landeskog's favorite player is Mats Sundin and his favorite team is the Red Wings. (Bubble bursts.)
@LongliveAlfie I like that idea a lot. I prefer they stay at 6 and concentrate a move up with the 21st to as high as they can. The 21st + a 2nd round - (even if it's the 35th overall) + maybe Weircoch (or another prospect) -- would that be enough. It would probably take a lot more since you would be moving into the top 4...
@LongliveAlfie Two top 10 picks doing something like that would be a coup.
@S_Church "You dont win cups with Swedish captains." - Nicklas Lidstrom, Serbian Assistant Captin and Stanley Cup winner
@jaskwith67 I think Pronman's point is that it the odds of obtaining elite talent when you're outside of a top 5 selection are exponentially worse than finding a Landeskog-ceiling type player later in the 1st round.
@scotmccormack It's an interesting point about the Anderson trade + extension but one now that looks better now that the likes of Lehner, Cowen and the variety of projected third line fodder have experienced a Calder Cup championship.
@Nichols6thSens Bounce back was a poor choice of words, no coffee, but I guess more along the lines of live up to expectations. Foligno has never been a high points player, even in the O.What do we trade him for though? A draft pick or two? Someone who might be as good as he is? We have enough middle of the pack draft picks that may or may not produce. I think we need to see how he plays under MacLean. Foligno can skate, we know MacLean wants to use the ice and speed. Perhaps I'm being naive, but I think he can flourish this year with the right system and line mates.
@Sandysensfan Maybe the 21st and Lehner (heir to King Marty plus we have another four years to find a goalie of the future with Anderson between the pipes) and one of the 2nd rounders...
@birra.moretti85 oh yeah ONE! What about the billions who have failed....
I heard about the anderson trade right when it happened, and sat there thinking "wow. Why the hell would the avs do that? "It seemed crazy. Then I thought about it for 5 minutes and got it. They wanted to get worse fast. And better fast. BM wanted to try and save his ass. It worked for both. They have the opportunity to draft a first line centre or top-pairing d. We got a goalie no one wanted and could have had for far less (both term and money) this summer. Almost forgot, we also got a far lower pick (from 1st overall to 6th). There were those absolutely delightful wins over florida, the devils, and the islanders though. I'll never forget those.
Why the hard-on for Landeskog? Who gives a shit how tough, good defensively, and full of "grit" and "character" you are if you only score 20-25 goals? I'm personally praying we don't trade up to take a middle-six forward. With a pick this high, we HAVE to go for a guy with top-line (or pairing) potential.
I just look at Foligno as a guy who some team might mistake for a top six forward and if Ottawa could package him with Nashville's 21st pick to bring in someone with a higher ceiling or to move up in the draft, I wouldn't hesitate to do it.