News & Notes: Greening, Shits And Giggles, MacLean

Colin Greening is being shown the green.

With a year left on his current deal that will pay him $816,667 through the conclusion of the 2013/14 season, the ‘Cyborg’ inked a three-year extension with the Senators today that carries an average annual cap hit of $2.65 million.

For the past three seasons, Greening has tantalized fans with flashes of what his physical tools can bring to the table. His blend of size, speed, physicality and modest offensive production in the three years that he’s been in the league, has lent itself it to fans questioning whether he can be a dominating force on one of the team’s top two lines.

The problem is that he spent the bulk of the 2013 season being used in a bottom six capacity.

At times, often because people believe his NHL career is still in its relative infancy, we have a tendency to forget that Greening isn’t really that young. He has only played 153 games – essentially the equivalent of two full NHL seasons – but he’s only one year younger than Milan Michalek. And now that he has that three-year extension in hand, Greening ensures that he will not hit unrestricted free agency until he turns 31.

But because of those aforementioned tools, people still think there’s some upside here.

Granted, Greening probably has a lot less mileage on his body than some of his peers who went the junior hockey route or who, like Michalek, jumped straight into the NHL as a teenager. Nevertheless, for a ‘late bloomer’, his production rates have dropped since entering the league.

Here’s a look at 5v5 the past three seasons:

Season
G/60
PTS/60
2010/11
1.13
2.45
2011/12
0.70
1.57
2012/13
0.60
1.51

Incidentally, it’s worth mentioning that Greening scored 40 of his 50 points from his first two seasons in the league while Jason Spezza was on the ice. (Note: According to Hockeyanalysis.com, no other Senators forward played more with Greening in 2010/11 and 2011/12 than Spezza.)

Now obviously the season ending injury to Spezza (back surgery), helps explain why Greening’s production rates have dropped, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. It ignores the fact Jakob Silfverberg bumped Greening to a bottom six role where he ineffectively played the bulk of his minutes alongside Zack Smith and Chris Neil.

Too often last year, this line expended their energy chasing the puck without much result. Each of them saw their offensive production take a hit because they were too focused on trying to dole them out – the trio finished first (Neil), second (Smith) and third (Greening) amongst Senators forwards in hits.

So while Greening’s contract isn’t terrible, it could look bad provided he continues to be misused again playing on a bottom six line with these two.

To this point, he hasn’t proven that he can be as effective of a player away from Spezza. On too many occasions, it felt like his intensity level or willingness to impose himself on the opposition, just wasn’t at the same levels that they had been in previous seasons. We did see more of it in the postseason, but there’s no question that Greening needs to bring these elements more consistently.

In the words of the immortal @steffeG, the question is whether Greening is a third or fourth liner carried by Spezza or is he a top six forward dragged down by Neil and Smith?

I’m leaning towards the former, but this season should provide us with some clarity.

According to an article in today’s Sun, Paul MacLean told reporters that a healthy Michalek will start on the first line with Ryan and Spezza, but things can change quickly. And hopefully for everyone’s sake, we’re not exposed to more of the Greening/Smith/Neil trio.

Fortunately, the saving grace in all this is that Greening has had some modest success playing alongside Spezza, and because of it, MacLean and his staff have the flexibility to move Milan Michalek to Turris’ line to create what hopefully will be a more balanced offensive attack.

MacLean himself acknowledged in the same article that Greening is one veteran who can see that time amongst the team’s top six.

“The other guys are all veterans who can make the adjustment. If a guy comes in and he’s a right winger, we can put the other guy on the left. There’s a spot as a top six forward. Who is that? Colin Greening, Zack Smith or Chris Neil? We have a lot of people that may be in that spot.”

Moreover, if we’re to take the Senators’ internal budget seriously, Greening’s the cost-efficient option to replace Michalek internally – should Milan hit the unrestricted free agent market next summer. Doing so would allow the Senators to promote one of their prospects and allocate more of their payroll budget towards re-signing Ryan and Spezza.

First LIne Name Is Settled

Melnyk Pimping Articles About Power Struggle With The City

Yesterday on Twitter, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk tweeted a link to an Ottawa Sun article that detailed how Senators President, Cyril Leeder, had resigned from four community boards.

It’s the first foray by the organization to follow through on its threats that were issued after City Council opted to sole-source the site of a prospective casino in Ottawa and dismiss Melnyk’s attempts to get consideration for putting a casino on property adjacent to the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata.

In a letter addressed to the Ottawa tourism and development committee, the National Arts Centre, the planning committee to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday and the Ottawa Convention Centre board, Leeder wrote:

“In light of recent decisions taken by city council, it has become abundantly clear that the business objectives of the Ottawa Senators will require an even greater commitment of my time in my role as president.”

Who says you need Erik Karlsson manning the point to run an effective power play?

The Saga Of Mika At Center Or Wing

In an interview with the Ottawa Sun, MacLean dropped this interesting nugget, giving us his opinion on where he envisions Zibanejad playing:

“For me, personally, I think he’s a better centerman than winger. That’s just me. We want to have our best team on the ice. If that means Mika has to play the wing and someone else is at center, then that’s the way it’s going to be. We’re going to play Mika at center and see where it goes. If we struggle somewhere and need someone on the wing, he’ll be the candidate. He was drafted as a center, he played fine at center last year … Is he creative enough to be center? Can he see it? Can he pass it? Those are all things we’re going to find out. That will be part of the decision of whether I need to keep him at center or on the wing. To give him a chance to be the best that he can be, it has to be at center.”

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