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Thursday Think Tank: The Playoffs Full of Controversies

May 16, 2019, 2:45 AM ET [8 Comments]
Trevor Shackles
Ottawa Senators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
You can follow me on Twitter @ShackTS

Newest Think Tank, which did not have too many topics to discuss this week:

Ottawa-area analytics people

Friend of the Cost Per Pointcast, Matt Cane, was recently hired by the New Jersey Devils to join their analytics team, adding to an expanding staff in the organization. He was/is a Senators fan and is one of many incredibly smart and talented people in the hockey analytics community that supports the Senators or has at least been affiliated with the city of Ottawa. The Senators have been so reluctant to have their own department of analytics, and they are falling further and further behind the curve. It makes it even more maddening that they can simply hire people in their backyard who know the team very well and I genuinely think that would help them a lot.

People such as Cane, Micah Blake McCurdy, Brad Timmins, Manny Perry, Sean Tierney, and others are all associated with Ottawa somehow, and if they constituted the Senators analytics team I think that would put them in a great spot. Do they have to lead the team and be GMs? No, but they would be able to help Pierre Dorion with valuable information, which he clearly does not have. If Dorion is “all-in” on analytics like he says he is, he would hire at least a few of these people.

Trent Mann’s draft strategy

Colin Cudmore said in the TSN1200 interview he was listening to, Trent Mann (Troy’s brother and Senators director of amateur scouting) gave some brief insight as to what the Senators will be looking for this draft:

The most important part of this is that Ottawa might be employing the best player available (BPA) strategy. It’s the one that makes the most sense, especially for a team at the beginning of a rebuild. Back in the fall, Dorion made some bad comments about how they might shy away from taking risky players in the draft just because they might get burned, even though some of their best picks have been late-round gems that had high-upside such as Daniel Alfredsson, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Ryan Dzingel, etc. Perhaps Mann sees things differently though, and I hope Ottawa is willing to draft players with higher ceilings, although it’s usually not their m.o to take the most risky players.

The playoffs of controversy

The 2019 playoffs have been genuinely enjoyable to watch with plenty of intrigue (although less so as we have gone further along), and I’m excited to watch every single night. However, there has been so much controversy that that intrigue is being overshadowed, and just as I was thinking about this before writing, I saw Dimitri Filipovic sum it up perfectly:

A botched major penalty. Offside reviews. A non hand-pass. Goaltender interference reviews. A puck in the netting that was missed. Inconsistent suspensions. There are so many times that the referees or the league have either missed calls or gotten them wrong, and it’s gotten to the point where you can expect at least one fanbase to be enraged every single night. The refs have an incredibly tough job and I think we need to cut them a bit more slack sometimes, but there’s no doubt that they can definitely be better, plus the league needs to figure out its review system.

Offside and goaltender interference reviews have been ridiculous, but plays that should have obviously not counted such as the hand pass yesterday and the puck in the netting by Columbus were not allowed to be reviewed. The NHL has no idea how to handle this right now, and it’s clear that there will be some major changes to how reviews are used next season. There needs to be a way that egregious mistakes can be called back, but there is absolutely no need to call back goals where a player was 1mm offside.

It’s a shame that the refereeing will be the story these playoffs as opposed to the fantastic games.

Joakim Nygard signing?

For his latest 31 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman noted that Calgary and Ottawa are two teams interested in Swedish winger Joakim Nygard (which we already knew), plus there will be one to three others involved by the end. It’s certainly not a guarantee that the 26-year-old will sign in Ottawa, but if he does, then I wouldn’t want any of Magnus Paajarvi, Brian Gibbons, or Oscar Lindberg to come back. I’m already expecting them to sign another veteran free agent forward anyway, plus there’s the possibility that they take on a bad contract as well, and that might not necessarily be a Marian Gaborik situation where the player does not even play.

Prospects such as Drake Batherson, Logan Brown, Filip Chlapik, and Alex Formenton will be looking for full-time spots in Ottawa next season, and although not all of them have to make the team right away, I don’t want too many spots blocking them from the roster. Nygard wouldn’t be a sure-fire NHLer, but he would be getting a chance to prove himself, and there’s no need to have more bottom-six players than is necessary. Perhaps we’ll know where he signs after the World Championships end.

Another Sens prospect in the Memorial Cup

Sens prospect Parker Kelly and his Prince Albert Raiders defeated the Vancouver Giants in overtime of Game 7 on Monday, giving them a berth in the 2019 Memorial Cup. With Kelly being in the tournament, this potentially begins another streak for Senators prospects:

Kelly is obviously not as interesting to follow as someone such as Thomas Chabot or Logan Brown, but I’m hoping for the best over the next week plus, as it’s always great to see a prospect get to know what it feels like to win. Good luck to the Raiders!
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