If you don't read The Hockey News, odds are you probably missed this stinker of an article penned by Ryan Kennedy. Don't worry though, I'll walk you through it, one paragraph at a time. As is the norm, my thoughts are in bold.
Sens risk alienating Karlsson with demotion
Defenseman Erik Karlsson is apparently not a happy camper right now. The Ottawa Senators prospect, who has three assists through nine games this season, is heading to Binghamton to play with the American League’s Sens; not exactly the destination he was hoping for when he came over from Sweden this summer.
Great. This article looks like it's going to be about maximizing Karlsson
Dropping rookies back to junior (or in the case of most Europeans, the minors) is a common practice these days and with that famous nine-game window – the point at which a year comes off their entry level contract – closing on most players right now, it’s interesting to see who stays and who goes.
Regardless of the circumstances, people are always interested in seeing who stays and who goes. Especially if the news comes from an ambiguous source. People eat that shit up.
Luca Sbisa has already been sent back to the Western League by Anaheim, while Colorado’s dynamic teen duo of Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly have been given the green light to find houses in Denver. John Tavares, Dmitry Kulikov and Tyler Myers can also feel safe.
So even though it's admittedly common for rookies to be sent down, Kennedy has named five rookies who will stay with their parent clubs to just one other who was sent down. Hmm, what kind of anti-thesis bullshit is this? It'd be like me writing a 3,500 word essay on how great the current state of Canadian music is only to spend the bulk of my time discussing how bands like Nickelback, Hedley, Simple Plan and Three Days Grace make me want to stab my eardrums with knives.
But for those who go, such as Karlsson, the demotion is a tough one. After all, the Sens were in desperate need of a true offensive defenseman to quarterback the power play and that’s the young Swede’s game. Three points in nine games isn’t setting the world on fire, but it’s not bad, either.
So there was a need for Karlsson's offensive game and his numbers weren't that bad. Surely, there must be some reason for this. Because Ryan's only listed his point production and none of the reasons attributed to why the Senators sent him down, I'm convinced that he probably hasn't watched Erik Karlsson play very often.
The Sens need to tread lightly here. I have to imagine Karlsson’s mindset right now is, "if they didn’t want me this year, why didn’t I just stay in Sweden?" After all, the B-Sens aren’t off to much of a start in the AHL this season and Karlsson would probably feel more comfortable in his native country.
Do you know where you can't get comfortable playing the North American game? Sweden.
At this point I must acknowledge that learning North American culture, putting in your dues by riding buses up and down the I-90 and playing 80 games plus playoffs is a great way to get prepared for the NHL grind; it’s just tough to appreciate when you’ve had a taste of charter planes and beautiful hotels.
I think Ryan Kennedy has just summarized Denis Hamel's career in 56-words or less.
Okay. An asanine comparison between Karlsson and a Russian, fringe prospect in Zubov. Not only is this is a slap in the face to Karlsson, it's dirties Zubov's legacy as a Senator as well. Zubov might not have had the talent to play at the NHL level, but he spent two years in Bingo plying his trade without complaint. When Kovalev was signed as a free agent and Heatley was dealt for Michalek and Cheechoo, all of Ottawa's forward spots were accounted for. Zubov likely read the writing on the wall and saw that his window of opportunity to crack this squad had closed.
Patient Zero? Ilya Zubov, former leading scorer on the B-Sens and now a much happier member of Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the Kontinental League. Zubov, who played 11 games over two seasons for Ottawa, never seemed to be happy in Binghamton and when he didn’t make the big squad this year (reports said he was out of shape when he showed up), the writing was on the wall.
First-rounder Brian Lee (ninth overall in 2005) is also suiting up for Bingo this year after spending the majority of last season in Ottawa. Think he’s getting a bit squirrelly after leaving the University of North Dakota after his sophomore season in 2007?
If haven't noticed or heard anything pertaining to Brian Lee acting oddly since he was sent down to start the season in Bingo. Besides, does anyone actually think that Brian Lee regrets his decision to forego his last two years of collegiate eligibility to turn pro? For one, he's now getting paid to play hockey professionally. Two, he gets to escape North Dakota. And three, by the time that Brian turns 45, he can go back and finish his degree. Maybe at that age, he'll finally start to resemble a collegiate junior.
Maybe Ottawa’s cool with the slow burn. After all, the Sens are sitting second in the Northeast Division right now, so why mess with a good thing? Some of the franchise’s best prospects are college kids (Louie Caporusso at Michigan and Patrick Wiercioch with Denver) with several more years on the clock before graduation, so there’s no rush. But they may be playing with fire when it comes to some of the other kids.
Actually, many of the clubs best prospects are either Swedish or are Canadian defencemen. And a number of them are expected to fast-track (ie. Lehner, Cowen, Karlsson). So in a sense, you're right. There's no inherent pressure on guys like Caporusso and Wiercioch to opt out of college yet. That being said, the throwing out of blanket statements like "they may be playing with fire when it comes to some of the other kids" is ridiculous when the only substance to back that sentence up is that Karlsson's upset over his demotion.
Alienating Karlsson right now when he’s already been touted as a future building block doesn’t bode well for a Sens team that has had trouble churning out and keeping its own elite talent since the turn of the century when Jason Spezza, Ray Emery and Anton Volchenkov all made their way through the development process and into the NHL (Andrej Meszaros could be included, but the Sens traded him after just three NHL seasons).
I'm sorry. Karlsson's being alienated? That's news to me. I thought the Senators were doing their best to get him acclimatized to North America by having him live in Daniel Alfredsson's basement with his lady friend. Maybe Kennedy knows something that we don't? Maybe Alfie is keeping Erik's girlfriend to look over the kids and act as a maid. Otherwise, what's the big deal? It's not like Erik's unfamiliar with many of the guys down in Bingo. Between this past summer's conditioning program and the rookie development camp, Erik's going to be pretty familiar with a number of the guys down there. If you're alarmed at the number of Sens prospects that have come through the system lately, go author an article on how shitty of a GM John Muckler was. Or better yet, read mine.
The Ottawa brass may not be in the wrong here, but if the end result is another unhappy prospect, it doesn’t really matter who has the moral high ground, does it?
Weird. I thought the only end result that matters is whether or not Karlsson pans out. Anyone who watched Karlsson play this season should know that Ottawa brass wasn't wrong to send him down. In Bingo, Karlsson will get a chance to log some big minutes, work the power play and adapt to the North American game. All of which will come without affecting his entry level contract.
Besides, I've consulted some medical literature and have noticed that unhappy people have a tendency to binge eat. Maybe Karlsson can put on some more weight down on the farm.