In a tidy bit of business, the Senators signed a player who’s not not known for his veteran grit.
Today the organization formally announced that it had signed Penn State’s Andrew Sturtz to a two-year entry-level contract. According to the official press release, Sturtz will not join Belleville or Ottawa this season. Instead, he will remain at Penn State through the remainder of the school year to complete his degree before joining the rest of the Senators’ prospects at development camp this summer.
Any time the Senators sign an undrafted collegiate free agent to an entry-level contract, it doesn’t really register or move the needle with this fan base and it’s understandable. There have been high hopes before for the Bobby Butlers, Stephane Da Costas and Matt O’Connors, but none of this organization’s undrafted collegiate signings have ever gone on to really have a long and productive career as an NHLer.
Of course, this track record should never preclude the Senators from making these kinds of signings in the hope that they unearth some overlooked talent.
Although the design behind a number of the Senators’ NCAA signings has been to provide some inexpensive depth to the minor league ranks, these signings have often seemingly involved bringing a big or gritty player who has modest offensive upside into the mix.
No one will ever accuse Sturtz of being big.
The diminutive 23-year old is listed at 5’8″ and 173 lbs by Eliteprospects.com, but he is skilled. Sturtz will graduate Penn State as the leading scorer in the school’s history. Over the course of 111 NCAA games, Sturtz tallied 54 goals and 104 points.
Naturally, there’s also a local connection.
Although Sturtz hails from Buffalo, New York, from 2013 through the 2014-15 season, he played for the CCHL’s Carleton Place Canadians where he put up 81 goals and 176 points in 116 games. His 2013-14 campaign was particularly noteworthy because he led the CCHL in goals (51) and points (104), which landed him accolades like the CCHL’s and CJHL’s ‘Most Valuable Player’ awards, the CJHL’s ‘Top Forward’ and the RBC Canadian Junior Hockey League’s ‘Player of the Year’.
Thanks to Sturtz’s size and age — Sturtz began his NCAA career as a 20-year old freshman — naturally there will be reservations regarding his offensive upside given his advanced age and or lingering questions once he transitions into playing against bigger and faster professionals, but, Sturtz has had success at every level that he has played at, so that’s something.
Or maybe it’s nothing.
If Sturtz only manages to become a skilled depth player at the AHL level, at least it’s an attempt to bring another skilled player into the fray.
Town Hall for Senators Season Ticket Holders
The Senators sent out the following letter to season-seat members this afternoon.
According to the letter from owner Eugene Melnyk, the Senators will officially be holding two town hall sessions with season-seat members on Tuesday, April 10th and Wednesday, April 11th.
Obviously these are going to be important must-see events because of recent events and the dramatic shift in public opinion regarding Melnyk’s ownership over the past few years. From Daniel Alfredsson’s decision to leave this organization on two separate occasions to Melnyk’s comments at the NHL 100 Classic to the #MelnykOut billboard unveilings, there’s no question that Melnyk’s actions and words have created a rift in the trust between this fan base and the owner.
Whether Melnyk can rebuild this trust remains to be seen, but this is a unique opportunity for fans to vent their frustrations and express their displeasure with the organization.
For me, there’s a great deal of intrigue because this event could mark the first time that Melnyk will answer questions off-the-cuff since the NHL 100 Classic. For a man who’s renowned for his willingness to jump in front of a microphone and occasionally put his foot in his mouth, these town hall events have all the elements — fan resentment, an unapologetic owner and a poorly operated small-market franchise — to bring out the worst of each of the involved parties.
Then again, the likelihood that the organization would risk more bad PR by giving fans and the owner the time to express their anger and frustrations seems risky. Like Pierre Dorion’s conference call last week, it feels safe to assume that the organization will find some way to vet the questions and create a more structured (or scripted) event to limit the possibility that things could go off the rails.
Some fans are going to be disappointed that these events are restricted to season-seat holders, but I’m hoping that these events can be broadcast online so that these fans can feel like they’re included and appreciated too.