Week 2 of the SensNation Hotstove. Make sure to follow the panel: @DefenseMinister, @Fffeisty, @IneffectiveMath, @Senturion. Also, be sure to chime in with your answers and feedback below in the comment section. Enjoy!!
Q1: Can Zibanejad be a true #1 centre?
@DefenseMinister: If by “true #1 centre”, you mean a PPG player, then that’s a hard leap to make (even though I’m a huge Zibby fan). Zibanejad’s value has always been attached to his raw potential as opposed to actual results. He’s never even approached being a PPG player in Sweden or the AHL so I’m not sure how that’s supposed to magically happen for him here. He’s probably closer to a guy like Radek Bonk than Jason Spezza longterm but that doesn’t make him an piece you want to discard, maybe just not your #1 C.
@Fffeisty: Why not? He has the size, skill and skating. I feel like he needs a bit more confidence and trust in his instincts. He’s developed some on-ice chemistry with Bobby Ryan, who has shown a willingness to provide advice and guidance (what a great guy). For a 21 yr old, I am pleased with his development.
@IneffectiveMath: Is he among the best thirty centres in the league? No. Are there teams where he could drop in on the top line and make a big improvement? Yes, several.
@Senturion: If Todd White was a #1 centre then Z-Bad can be too. While having a dominant #1 centre is ideal, they are rare. What’s far more common is a steady, responsible player who carries the puck effectively and makes room and chances for his teammates. I think Colour Z-Bad can be that guy. The Sens nearly won a Cup with White, however that team was stacked on the wing (Alfie, Hossa, Havlat) the issue isn’t really whether Mika (or Turris for that matter) can be a 1C, it’s whether or not they will have the talent around them to distribute the puck to.
Q2: What is Patrick Wiercioch?
@IneffectiveMath: He is an absolute monster driving, as the heatmap shows — he’s much more likely to found well into positive territory on any given night. Even if he doesn’t score himself, that’s what you do to give your teammates chances. The org’s unwillingness to play him every night until he’s “fixed” (like they did for long, long stretches with the not nearly as good Cowen) is inexcusable.
@Senturion: Right now Wierioch is numbers on paper and not much else. The fancy stats tell us he’s good, but on the ice it’s hard to discern. Don’t get me wrong, he’s probably the third best defensemen on the team, but he seems to excel by being practically unnoticeable. This is a problem because I fear that the only way he convinces Sens management of his worth is by excelling in more traditional, visible ways.
@Fffeisty: Man, how do we answer that question when the guy plays every 3 games and with a revolving door of defence partners? His numbers are good but the team seems to expect him to come in and be Erik Karlsson, while keeping him on an extremely short leash (and remember, even the greatness of EK couldn’t fix CP4). I feel like he’s a better option than anyone not named Karlsson or Methot, but Sens management seems to disagree. If the organization doesn’t see him in their long term plans, they should trade him for assets.
@DefenseMinister: To coin a phrase from @Don_inFarrhaven, I like the “idea” of Patrick Wiercioch more than the real thing. What’s been pretty well established is that more good things happen when Wiercioch is on the ice than bad things (which is good). But I really struggle to see exactly what he’s doing well out there. Mostly my annoyance stems from the fact that I’ve seen a Wiercioch in 2012/13 that really made things happen offensively. Until he stands out more, he’ll be known to me simply as Kyle Turris’ toke buddy.
Q3: Who is currently the most overrated player on the Senators?
@Fffeisty: The Sens defensive corps. The greatest failure of the 2014-15 Sens is that management rated their defence as adequate and failed to make much needed changes in the off-season. “Surely they won’t be as bad as a group as last season” is not risk management and I almost want to fire them for that gross miscalculation.
@Senturion: This isn’t going to be popular, but Lazar. I know he’s young, and I know he’s not being relied on for huge minutes now, but I fear his value is being overinflated by fans, media and management. Lazar is projecting as a solid 3C, nothing more. Lazar is the personification of the Sens depth problems, yes they have a lot of prospects, but they are mostly projecting to bottom 6/ bottom pairing. The Sens have no elite talent in the pipeline. If a package for a top 6 winger or a partner for EK65 comes along with Lazar as the return, I’d strongly consider it.
@DefenseMinister: Not by people I associate with but Zack Smith seems to get an inordinate amount of fanbase love for a guy that hasn’t done jack shit on the ice for the better part of 3 seasons. Remember the golden rule folks: if the only positive defining characteristic you can come up with for an NHLer is “gritty”, it’s because he sucks.
@IneffectiveMath: Again it depends on who’s doing the overrating. Fans overrate Phillips and Neil, because of long history and happy memories. The GM and coach overrate Mark Borowiecki, who somehow manages to get lots of games at the expense of better players despite his almost total inability to breakout of the defensive zone with possession or avoid taking penalties.
Q4: Based on what you have seen so far, would you keep or replace Dave Cameron before next year?
@Senturion: Keep him. Full disclosure: I was anti-Cameron back when it seemed Mean Gene was hand picking him for the top job. When MacLean became the head coach, it always appeared like his leash would be short with Cameron waiting in the wings. That said, I think MacLean was given a fair shot. Cameron hasn’t been much better, but at least he seems to be making slightly more rational personnel choices. The fact is, this team is bad, and no coach is going to rescue this roster. With that in mind, why burn another coach until the roster is in place to actually have success? Might as well give Cameron a shot to grow along with what will hopefully be a rebuild.
@DefenseMinister: Replace him because I can’t stand his Fargo-by-way-of-Sudbury accent. But for real, just bring in new blood, no point in having a guy running things that’s been entrenched with the staff for this long.
@Fffeisty: Sure, but I’m not married to the guy. Until/unless there are lineup changes and until the Sens name a successor to Bryan Murray, Dave Cameron is a temp, no matter what the organization says. In the interim, he’s at least been somewhat less perplexing than Mac.