If you’re not too busy laughing or puking at the suggested names that are being leaked by the Ottawa media in prospective trade negotiations with Columbus for Rick Nash’s services, you can check out Pierre Dorion’s appearance on Calgary’s Fan 960 radio. To listen to his appearance, you can follow this link or you can check out the transcript below. As always, my thoughts are in bold.
Did the team exceed expectations?
A: I think in some parts, yes. I think we knew our team probably wasn’t as bad as what we thought it was last year. I think there were lots of circumstances where a lot of things went bad for us in 2010/11. I think after hiring Paul MacLean and just going through the process of changing the culture around here, I think it really helped us have some success this year.
How do you change the culture and how did Paul MacLean do it in one season?
A: Well, I think it was just his approach. I think Cory Clouston did a good job here but his approach was maybe a bit harder than Paul’s approach and I think with the type of team that we had, I think the players they all needed to be loved. And Paul showed them the love and showed them that we were still going to do things his way but we’re going to play the game maybe a different way. With the type of the team that we tried to build, with more transition game, I think it was more the way that our players wanted to play, so I think that was really an indication on how we could have some success.
Cory Clouston’s idea of a soft approach was matching his purple shirt and tie.
Erik Karlsson couldn’t have asked for a better contract season, could he?
A: No, and as in a lot of players it happens that way. We’re very happy we took Erik. Bryan (Murray) had the initiative to listen to us scouts and when we talked about moving up, because this was one player who we really targeted, we knew that some teams around pick fifteen had interest in him, so we moved up to pick fifteen. With Erik, I know Bryan is meeting with his group of agents today or tomorrow if I’m not mistaken. We know we’d like to get him under contract as quickly as possible, but those are things that might take a bit of time. But, I think a player of Erik’s calibre was a big part in our success this year and hopefully he can be a big part of our success moving forward again.
If Murray’s meeting Karlsson’s reps today, he’s certainly working quickly:
Don’t know if OTT’s Erik Karlsson will win Norris Trophy but he may have new contract in matter of days. Negotiations ongoing in Las Vegas.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 19, 2012
Expectation for Karlsson is 5 to 7 year term with cap hit of $6M or more. Not Drew Doughty money ($7m/yr) but close. Still being worked on.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 19, 2012
How are you with Mika Zibanejad’s development and will he fit in next season?
A: I think we’re okay with his development. I think when we’re realistic about things, I always tell people that it’s not a 100-metre race when you’re developing prospects or putting prospects into your lineup. I think it’s a marathon. Only certain special players can step in at 18 years old and have an impact. We knew with Mika, he played 10 games – he was good for us some games and some games he struggled. We just felt for his development, the best thing would be to go back home. He had a good World Junior. (He) scored the winning goal for Sweden for them to win the gold medal which was something that they hadn’t done in a while. And right now, he’s coming over for our development camp next week. I think he had a much better second half this year for his team and I think we’re going to see him try and play for us next year. Whether he plays or not, whether he goes to the American (Hockey) League, which is an option, is something we’ll look at but I think he’s a prospect that down the road, will contribute again to our team’s success.
Zibanejad certainly sounds like a player who could be headed out of town…
What is Mark Stone? When and if he plays in the NHL, where does he fit in?
A: First of all, when we talk about Mark Stone, I always have to give Bob Lowes credit – our former Brandon Wheat King coach and our western league scout. That year, from the fourth round on, Bob kept pushing for him and I said, ‘Bob, don’t worry. We’ll get him. We’ll get him in the right spot,’ and we took him in the sixth round. But when we talk about Mark Stone, to me, he was probably one of the best juniors this year in the world. He showed that he could be a leader on Team Canada. Unfortunately, they fell short. He played for us in the playoffs (laughs) in a game that we won. He made the play on the winning goal. He showed that he’s very close to the NHL. I think Mark has taken it upon himself to improve his skating greatly. He came back by himself a few times in the last few years to Ottawa to work with our skating coach – which he paid, all paid himself. So I think we saw the dedication. I think we’re going to see Mark Stone, whether it is next year, the year after or the following year, as long as his pace can improve and his strength can improve, as someone who can play on the top two lines and create offensively. Mark isn’t just a pure goal scorer; once you give him the puck in the offensive zone, he can also make plays and he’s also got the great range and quick release… So we see Mark as a big part of our future. He’s just got to get stronger and quicker and we know that and I think everyone in the hockey world knows that.
In your time with the Senators organization, he must rank near the top of the list as a value pick.
A: (He’s) number one. There’s no doubt. I give credit to Bob Lowes for liking him so much. Our other scout, George Fargher, out west also liked him as well. Also people here, our skating coach, a guy by the name of Mark Powers, has done tremendous work with him and our development coach Randy Lee. But Mark has taken it upon himself to get better and that’s just a great character and human being who only wants to get better. But I think he’s one of our guys that I think value for pick… and another one would have been in our first year here together in Ottawa, a kid by the name of Mark Borowiecki, I think we took him in the fifth round and he probably has a good chance of making our team this year. He was probably one of our top defencemen in Binghamton and I think if you go value for picks, another guy, not that I want to bring up this scout’s name but Bob Lowes is from out west, a guy by the name of Zack Smith who is from Maple Creek – who has played third and fourth line minutes and just become a real key part of our team.
Interesting to hear Dorion go out of his way to throw a lesser-known name like Borowiecki to a Calgary fan base that probably is not familiar with him as a prospect. On our last podcast, Wayne Scanlan mentioned how the Senators organization just raves about Borowiecki and his development, today’s comments by Dorion certainly seem fitting.
When you have a quick rebuild, you had ten draft picks in 2011, you’re not going to hit on every pick. You need to have bullets in the chamber.
A: Yes. I think if you have a good staff — and in Ottawa, we feel like we have a great staff – myself, I’m not going to see every player or know every player like the back of my hand. I think you have to rely on your scouts, and in Ottawa, we have a tremendous staff and we give a lot of our scouts a lot of input from the first round to the seventh round. If you have guys that you feel strongly about, you know you’re going to jump on your list a few spots just to get those guys because your specific scouts really feel strongly about these guys. That is what has happened in the past here and it happened last year. It’s happened in previous years where we feel that we work as a group here. I always say, ‘ten heads are better than one head,’ and if we can have that thought process going into a draft, it seems like we’re going to have a lot of success.
Where is Jakob Silfverberg’s development at? What can we expect from him this season?
A: For sure he’s going to challenge for a spot for the upcoming season. You mentioned that it’s tough to throw him into a playoff situation – you throw him against the best team in the Eastern Conference in the New York Rangers and then you throw him into game six at home and then game seven in Madison Square Garden for his first road game so it’s not the easiest thing. But Jakob had a great year. He was the MVP of the Swedish Elite League at 21 years old, if I’m not mistaken. He was the second youngest player after Peter Forsberg to earn that award. He was the MVP for their playoffs and they won the playoffs. They won the league. He was the captain of his team because if I’m not mistaken,(former Senator Andreas) Dackell got injured, so he had a lot of things on his plate but he always seemed to succeed through adversity and always seemed to push himself to get better. He’s a Swede but he competes for a Swede and he’s got great tools. He’s a good offensive zone player. He’s responsible defensively. He knows how to play the game 200 feet on the ice. There was a certain adjustment. In game seven in New York, he was like a deer in the headlights, I think, in his first three shifts and he didn’t know where he was. But in the third period, when we needed offence going, I remember Paul (MacLean) telling me after the game that he felt that he was one of the guys that got our team going. So I think he’s someone that we look forward to challenging for a spot next year on our team and hopefully down the road, we can have him be a big part of our team.
Kudos to Dorion for not referring to Silfverberg as ‘a guy from Sweden who didn’t contribute one bit of blood, sweat or tears for the club’ like Don Cherry did.
What’s the one aspect of your team that you would like to address at the Draft? Would it be the blue line because if that’s the case, it’d be a great year to do it?
A: Yeah, obviously. It’s tough to say what the first fourteen teams are going to do in front of you. Last year at six, we had a good idea. We knew Nugent-Hopkins would be gone. We knew that Landeskog would be gone. We knew that Larsson would be gone. We had a pretty good feeling that Huberdeau would be gone, so we knew where our pick was going to fall. Three or four guys that we figured would be in the mix this year, it’s a good draft. We have mentioned to our media and we have mentioned to our people that there are fourteen guys that we like so if Calgary seems to like the same fourteen as us, they’re in a good position. We feel that we’re going to get one of those fourteen guys that we really like. I think there is a certain drop off in the draft. As far as our needs, I know it’s a cliché and our fans don’t really like to hear it, our media don’t really like to hear it, but we’re just going to take the best player available. I know we took three forwards in the first round and our first five picks last year were forwards but you need to fill twelve spots or thirteen spots for your NHL team. Some of our forwards quite a bit older and on defence, we obviously we don’t have the depth in younger prospects. We’d like to add a defenceman but if we feel that a forward is the best possible player, we’d do that. And it could be a goalie also. We have three goalies in our organization and we feel that we have one of the best goalies outside the NHL in Robin Lehner. He won a Calder Cup last year and was the MVP of the Calder Cup at 20 years old, so it might not be a position but he’s the youngest goalie in our organization at 21 years old, so we might feel the need to draft one at a certain point in time in this draft.
Dorion’s a good poker player. My money’s on them taking a defenceman.