Pascal Leclaire: Ottawa's source of frustration

Thumbnail image for leclaireagain.jpgEvery now and then, Pro Hockey Talk will ask for insight from some of the best team bloggers out there. For this feature, we asked a simple question: “Who is your team’s most frustrating player?” Just for fun, I decided to throw my guess in the hat, too.

First, here is my guess for Ottawa.

Pascal Leclaire: He’s horrible and his looks make me laugh. So he’s a source of frustration and comedy.

For the Ottawa perspective, I tabbed my pal Ryan Classic. He has his own blog (irrationally titled The Classic Blog) and also is one of the great writers carrying the torch at my old blog, Cycle like the Sedins. Ryan is also quite the presence on Twitter. Oh yeah. there’s also his work at Silver Seven. Phew, that’s a lot of blogging.

Ryan Classic: As much as I want to say Alex Kovalev has been the most frustrating player, he’s come exactly as advertised. The book on Kovalev is that he’s streaky and often looks like he doesn’t care enough to put effort in, and that’s pretty much what we’ve gotten. At times he’s spectacular, scoring four goals in a game against Philadelphia in January. At other times he’s staggeringly ineffective, waiting until the last game in March to put up his first post-Olympics point. But that’s what we were told to set our expectations at, and he’s delivered.

Pascal Leclaire, meanwhile, has not.

More on the ever-frustrating Leclaire after the jump.


leclaire.jpgThe Ottawa Senators have had a long history of goaltending problems, and Pascal Leclaire was sold to us as the saviour, the best goalie the team had ever had. He’d battled injuries while in Columbus, but we were told he would be healthy and ready to go to start the season. His one good season with the Blue Jackets was 2007-08, a year where he played 54 games and had 9 shutouts. The rest of his career stats were actually pretty terrible, but the media bought into the hype that the one great season was the real Pascal Leciaire. In retrospect, it was more of a red herring.

Want a rundown of how bad Leclaire’s stats are this year? He has a losing record on a team with 13 more wins than regulation losses. His goals against average is above 3.00 and his save percentage below .900. He has been pulled seven times in 29 starts. He’s been pulled four times in his last nine starts. Before his recent win against Florida, he didn’t have a win in 2010 and had a 4.05 GAA and .868 save percentage. Only twice in 2010 has he started a game and put up a save percentage above .900.

He’s been supplanted by his backup Brian Elliott, a former 9th-round pick with half a season of NHL experience. He’s been injured twice: a broken cheek from a deflected puck and a concussion after taking a shot to the head in practice, both off the stick of Mike Fisher. The Senators set a franchise record with an 11-game win streak, of which Leclaire earned no victories. A couple months later they went on a 6-game win streak, with Leclaire not seeing a single minute of action. Worst of all, when the Senators went into the tank after the Olympic break, rather than give Leclaire another chance, the fans wanted to call up AHLer Mike Brodeur and give him the reigns instead.

When large portions of your fan base would rather see a goalie who has more ECHL games under his belt than AHL games, you’ve earned yourself the title of Most Frustrating Player.

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    McPhee says Golden Knights ‘accomplished a lot of things’ in first draft

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    No team was busier at the NHL draft this weekend than the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

    Armed with 13 draft picks thanks to their dealings in the expansion draft, the Golden Knights began the process of building the real future of their team. It started on Friday night when they kept all three of their first-round selections and used them to select a pair of centers along with a puck-moving defenseman. They continued the process on Saturday with the remainder of their picks.

    A quick look at the selections indicates McPhee tried to begin by building his roster down the middle by selecting six centers, two defensemen and a pair of goalies.

    “We accomplished a lot of things in this draft,” McPhee said, via Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review Journal. “We got some skill, we got some size and we got some goaltending.”

    Their entire draft haul ended up as follows

    1 (6) — Cody Glass, center

    1 (13) — Nick Suzuki, center

    1 (15) — Erik Brannstrom, defense

    2 (34) — Nicolas Hague, defense

    2 (31) — Jake Leschyshyn, center

    3 (65) — Jonas Rondbjerg, right wing

    4 (96) — Maksim Zhukov, goalie

    5 (127) — Lucas Elvenes, center/right wing

    5 (142) — Jonathan Dugan, left wing

    6 (158) — Nick Campoli, center

    6 (161) — Jiri Patera, goalie

    7 (189) — Ben Jones, center

    Along with those picks, they also traded one of their second-round picks (No. 45 overall) to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for prospect Keegan Kolesar, a 6-2, 223-point forward that is ready to make the jump to pro hockey after averaging a point-per-game the past two seasons in the Western Hockey League.

    Size did seem to be a common trend with their picks as eight of their selections were listed as 6′ or taller, including Hague, a 6-5, 207-pound defenseman.

    While the inaugural Golden Knights roster will be made up primarily of players taken in the expansion draft this past week, most of them will not be with the team for more than a year or two as the organization begins to take shape.

    Some of them probably will not even begin the season on the team as McPhee continues to wheel and deal.

    This weekend is where the real building of the organization started.

    Treliving: Flames paid price in Hamonic deal, but ‘you can never have enough top d-men’

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    Two years ago, Brad Treliving acquired Dougie Hamilton at the draft. On Saturday, he picked up Travis Hamonic from the New York Islanders.

    Those are two moves that have significantly helped the Flames build a formidable top-four defense in the Western Conference, and it’s already been suggested it could be in the conversation with Nashville’s group that includes Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm.

    Yes, the Flames paid a price — first and second-round picks in next year’s NHL Draft and a second-round pick in either the 2019 or 2020 NHL Draft.

    But after making the playoffs this season and then making a recent trade with Arizona to acquire goalie Mike Smith, the Flames seem to feel they’re in their window to win now. Today’s move further solidifies that notion.

    “You’ve got to give to get,” said Treliving, the Flames general manager, of the Hamonic deal. “You hate paying the price. But we looked at a lot of things: We looked at the makeup of our team, where he fits. He’s a right shot. We think he fits in real good with our team.

    “I like the looks of our top-four. He moves pucks. He’s a character kid. He’s got some bite to him.”

    The Flames now have their top four defensemen locked into contracts through at least 2020, which was one of the important factors in acquiring Hamonic, according to Treliving. Mark Giordano, who turns 34 in October, is signed through 2022 and Hamilton is signed through 2021.

    Treliving lauded the puck-moving ability of Giordano, Hamilton and T.J. Brodie — who combined for 31 goals and 125 points, led by Hamilton’s 13-goal, 50-point campaign. But, he said, the move to acquire Hamonic brings added toughness and versatility into the group.

    “He checks a lot of boxes for us,” he said. “I think you build up through the middle. This, to me, solidifies our defense. I like our center ice position. There’s depth there and we’ll keep tweaking at it, but I like the looks of that defense.”

    As a result of injuries, Hamonic played in only 49 games last season.

    With the way Hamonic plays, Treliving admitted there may be greater risk for injury, but the Flames don’t have any concerns about that heading into next season.

    The Flames also have some young, up-and-coming defensemen in their system, most notably 20-year-old prospect Oliver Kylington, who fell to 60th overall in 2015, even though there was talk he could be a first-round pick.

    “I think we’ve got some young kids coming. It allows them to progress and develop at their own timeline,” said Treliving. “But you can never have enough defensemen. You can never have enough top defensemen.”

    Snow open to trading picks, prospects to improve roster now

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    CHICAGO — Garth Snow may not be done dealing.

    After trading defenseman Travis Hamonic to Calgary, the New York Islanders’ general manager said the return from the Flames could be used as “currency” to bolster the roster.

    The Isles received a first-round pick in 2018 and a second-round pick in 2018, plus other considerations, for Hamonic.

    “I don’t envision anything happening here in the next two days, though that could always change,” said Snow. “We feel we have a good hockey team. We have a team that’s built for now and for the future. I mean, you look at our prospects and the draft picks, we also have the ability to use some of those assets to bring in a player that can improve our club in the near term.”

    Snow has reportedly had his eye on Colorado forward Matt Duchene, but so far has been unable to make a deal with the Avalanche.

    As for trading Hamonic, Snow said it was made more palatable by the “great depth” the Isles have got on the back end.

    That said, it was a tough, emotional decision.

    “I think the world of him, on and off the ice,” Snow said of Hamonic. “Just a first-class player and first-class person.”

    Snow would not divulge if the move was related to Hamonic’s trade request from 2015.

    “I think he’s in a good place to play for his family, and the Islanders got a solid return,” said Snow. “I think it’s a win-win for both teams.”

    Report: Rangers to hire Lindy Ruff as an assistant coach

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    More coaching news on Saturday.

    Lindy Ruff’s time with the Dallas Stars ended in April following a disappointing regular season, but it appears he’s found another coaching gig in the NHL.

    It is, however, a different role than what he’s been used to for the past 20 years.

    Per Larry Brooks of the New York Post, a deal has not been done yet, however, Ruff will join the Rangers as an assistant coach on Alain Vigneault’s staff. He’ll reportedly replace Jeff Beukeboom and will be in charge of New York’s defense.

    Ruff certainly brings experience, with 1,165 games coached in the NHL. He’s been a head coach since 1997 when he joined the Buffalo Sabres, and hasn’t been an assistant since a four-year tenure with the Florida Panthers from 1993 to 1997.

    The Rangers’ defense has undergone notable changes this offseason, with Dan Girardi getting bought out of his six-year, $33 million contract. With about $20 million now in cap space, New York may not be done making moves to their blue line this offseason.

    The Rangers made a blockbuster trade with the Coyotes on Friday, sending Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Coyotes in exchange for the seventh overall pick and 21-year-old defenseman Anthony DeAngelo.