By Sylvain Godin | OSJ Staff
We're back again with some odds and ends of Senators news as it comes in. Honestly, this feels like the best approach currently, until such a time our world comes back to a semblance of normalcy and that the NHL starts revving up with whatever plans. If the season ends now, then we can start salivating about the draft, which a bit of the article will touch upon. If the playoffs are to come…well, there's not a whole lot to talk about on a Senators front, naturally, but at least the order of the draft will be set.
Honestly, at this point, the focus point of the team news will be draft related. This article will focus on the GM's Zoom meetings with the media, plus the signing of a few players to entry-level contracts. Finally, a bit of a surprising twist: Eugene Melnyk is in the news again...but, once more, not for bad reasons?
Without further ado:
Dorion keeping the Senators’ interest at the forefront of the NHL draft
Dorion spoke about the upcoming draft and the proposals that teams have sent to the NHL. Most of these plans touch base on a few contingencies; one being similar to the draft lottery a la 2005. Pittsburgh won and a certain NHL GM who is now an analyst, famously said, “They won a damn lottery.”
First: Any potential way to screw the Senators out of their well-earned position at the bottom of the pole will be met with derision by Sens fans. Their one key silver lining out of this season was having the strongest shot at getting the number one pick. Any deviation to this outcome ‘cannot’ be considered. Detroit ‘should’ have the highest single odds to get it. Ottawa ‘should’ have the best odds overall (combined with the San Jose and Islanders picks they also own). Los Angeles ‘should’ have a great chance of getting the pick for ...well…sucking all year.
With that in mind, I can also support the other side’s argument: Some GMs traded high picks for players for a playoff push that may not even happen. Those transactions are final, so they should have ‘some’ sort of reward. If the playoffs are indeed cancelled and the season is a lost, those teams need some sort of reward for a well-played season. As such, here is what I propose: Allow every team to get a shot to win the lottery. But add a clause: if you, at the end of the year, got a top sixteen rank, no matter how they decide to rank the players, and win the draft, you ‘cannot’ go beyond spot 5. Your highest chance of winning, if you were to be in the playoffs, is the 5th overall pick. This will still give them a fantastic player to add to their roster to ease the burden of not getting into the playoffs to challenge for the Cup, and still grant the top four teams that did not do well a shot to further strengthen their team.
For example: Let’s say, gods forbid, Toronto won the draft (I feel dirty suggesting that). Because Toronto is ranked to have made the playoffs, the above comes into effect:
Detroit still gets 1
Ottawa gets 2-3
LA gets 4
Toronto gets 5
Everyone below LA gets bumped down one, so Anaheim, New Jersey, Buffalo, etc etc etc.
As there are three picks to be awarded (1-2-3), let’s say Toronto won that third spot. The second ball goes to Montreal (again, I feel very much dirty suggesting this), the draft would then turn to this:
Detroit is still slotted 1
Montreal gets 2 (They are not in a playoff spot so they get the bounce up here)
Ottawa gets bumped to 3 and 4
Toronto keeps 5 as they won that
LA gets bumped to 6.
Now hold on, you say. How is it fair that LA gets bumped out of the top 5 when having a horrid season? Sadly, not everyone is going to be happy with the outcome. In order to let everyone at least get a fair shot at this, due to the fact the cup is not being awarded, everyone needs to have at least a chance at a good pick. Anyway, LA won’t be too sad picking at 6 in this year’s draft.
Finally, say Ottawa wins that last spot. The draft would then look like this:
LA 6th, so on and so forth.
This gives the top teams a chance to do well in a draw. It’s no cup, but having at least a shot at a good pick should be the option here. It could very well be that the top 16 basically take 5-6-7 out of the equation but, even then, this is a deep draft that allows for the first round to have really good players. Not a whole lot of teams will be disappointed with their first round pick, no matter who it is. Oh, and the Sens still get to keep the Islanders’ pick!
Entry-level signings: There were three official signings in the span of five days and here is the breakdown on each player:
Mark Kastelic: Kastelic is a 6’3” Centre at 220 pounds. He comes from the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL and was picked in the 5th round of the 2019 draft by the Senators. In this shortened season, he notched 68 points (38 goals, 30 assists), was the captain of the Hitmen and leader of his team in goals. He was also the points leader in the WHL. Pretty decent but note that this is an over-ager at this point. His previous seasons were 77, 45 and 35 points which is probably what you’re looking at in the player. A solid depth signing at center and, at this time, I see him more of an AHL bound player for a few seasons who could come up and be a good role player in the future.
Jonathan Aspirot: Aspirot is a 6-foot Defenseman at 190 pounds. He played 44 games in the AHL and was a +/- of +14 with 16 points (2 goals, 14 assists). He was undrafted and signed an AHL contract and played for the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL, netting 35, 26 and 12 points in his whole time there. (Last to first years). Aspirot to me seems to be a depth signing for the AHL and good on him for getting into the AHL and digging himself a niche there. I don’t honestly think he’ll jump any of the defensive prospects that we currently have in the system, but he’ll be making sure that a good AHL team last year keeps going hopefully in the year to come. Granted, the group may lapse back if some of the players this year make it to the NHL.
Kevin Mandolese: This is the biggest signing of the three. Mandolese is a 19-year-old goaltender coming from the QMJHL, at 6’4 and 187 pounds. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2018 draft (157) by the Senators. What makes this interesting is his last year in the Q: in 37 games played, he held a 2.33 GAA and a .925% which ranks him the top goaltender in the Q in save percentage this year. Of those who played more than 30 games, anyway. We also are starting to see a crowded crease in the organization. Dorion says the plan is to keep all these goaltenders on their roster and have them compete at the AHL/ECHL level. Who knows? With Ottawa still deciding on a legit number one replacement for Craig Anderson, who is most likely done his playing for the Senators (if not his career), healthy competition with a slew of goalies is one way to go. I’d like to think that he makes a surprise entry and shines in at the AHL level and bumps someone out of there.
Eugene Melnyk donates to first responders at hospitals in the form of lunchesWell, the Melnyk redemption campaign is in full swing as Eugene bought lunch for people at the General Hospital, Civic Campus, Montfort, QCH and Roger Neilson to thank them for their service during this pandemic.A video was released with numerous Senators players saying thank you to everyone on the front line, from Thomas Chabot, Mark Borowiecki, Brady Tkachuk, Anthony Duclair and a surprise inclusion of retired forward Chris Neil appears:
Credit where credit is due, Melnyk is doing good things during this pandemic and doing his best to keep the staff hired, if possible, and trying to help in the community in any way he can. He and the City Council have not seen eye to eye with the disaster of Lebreton, but maybe this an begin a thawing of the frozen relationship between city and team owner and open up more avenues.
Wherever this goes, it is still a fantastic gesture and I tip my hat to him.
Stay safe and healthy, everyone!