Even with the addition of Matt Duchene, the Senators’ search for an extra forward had reportedly gone on for quite some time and having recently used Chris Wideman on the wing, the shoe had to drop at some point.
At noon on Wednesday, we learned that the Senators put in a successful claim on forward Gabriel Dumont off waivers from Tampa Bay and today it was announced that the Belleville Senators added Chris Kelly on a PTO.
No one should have been breathlessly anticipating Pierre Dorion’s next blockbuster deal, but Gabriel Dumont and Chris Kelly?
The moves are almost as wholly uninspiring as Dumont’s professional resume.
Okay, so that’s a tad harsh, but picking up Dumont is a head-scratching move and giving yet another opportunity to a 37-year old Kelly is even more bizarre.
At least in Kelly’s case, there are no strings attached and the organization isn’t committed to anything beyond giving him an opportunity to extend his career and get into some games. Hell, it could even just be an organizational favour to get him into some AHL games, play before some scouts and parlay this opportunity into a contract with another NHL organization.
With Dumont, he is in the first year of the two-year contract that the signed with the Lightning last June. Dumont’s one-way salary will pay him $650,000 through the rest of the season irrespective of whether he plays in the NHL or AHL, but the second season of his deal does not carry the one-way status. If he will earn $650,000 if he plays in the NHL or $200,000 if he plays in the minors. With few impending UFAs or RFAs on the parent roster or at the minor league level, it’s not like the organization desperately needs the depth that Dumont’s multi-year deal affords — especially when Zack Smith is expected to return soon from his dislocated thumb injury.
Perhaps most importantly, Dumont hasn’t demonstrated that he can be an effective player.
After a successful junior career in which the centre/winger averaged 0.94 points per game across parts of four seasons, Dumont has struggled to replicate that level of production at the professional level.
The centre/winger has put up modest offensive numbers in the AHL, but in 64 NHL games, Dumont has only tallied three goals and seven points.
He has spent most of those games playing in a fourth line capacity with lesser skilled players, but the underlying metrics are underwhelming too. Whenever he’s on the ice, his team exhibits a tendency to give up a greater volume of shots, unblocked shots, shots on goal and goals.
So why would the Senators want a 27-year old player who doesn’t put up points?
Management will allude to his intangibles, experience and leadership. The 27-year old’s calling card is his reputation for being an energy player. Despite his smaller stature — the Senators’ official site lists him at 5’10 and 190 lbs — Dumont’s grit and ability to play an agitating role are the kinds of traits that coaching staffs love.
It’s hard to believe that there isn’t a player in Belleville who could bring to the table what Dumont does. I mean, isn’t that why the organization felt compelled to give Max McCormick a one-way contract for the 2018-19 season?
Unquestionably, the biggest contributing factor to Dumont’s presence on the Senators roster is his connection to Guy Boucher.
Dumont played parts of three seasons under Boucher in Drummondville and then he played 11 playoff games for Boucher’s Hamilton Bulldogs during their 2009-10 run.
Dumont joins players like Tom Pyatt, Chris DiDomenico and Nate Thompson as players that Boucher has encouraged management to bring into the fold because of their history together.
None of these players are difference makers, but the Senators have made a concerted effort to acquire players who have familiarity with ‘The System‘.
Last season general manager Pierre Dorion admitted during an interview after the team acquired Viktor Stalberg that it took him some time to understand ‘The System‘.
“Yeah, and I’ll admit it, I don’t have the greatest coaching background and it took me about four games to understand what players can have success in Guy’s systems. He always talked about ‘the slash’ and ‘the dash’ and I said, ‘Guy, what are you talking about?’ When I first hired him, we sat down for about eight hours, so he’s going through every system and everything. And now once you see it, you really get it and now I get it. Viktor (Stalberg) is exactly one of those guys that can be programmed and Guy and him had a great conversation today about playing left wing or right wing and where his strengths come. Guy said, ‘Okay, I think he’s better there than there,’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t care. Just play him and we’ll see what happens.’”
The hockey industry has always been slagged for shunning meritocratic practices in favour of extending opportunities to friends, former colleagues and familiar faces. Ideally, the goal is to create a work atmosphere that fosters a culture of constant self-improvement wherein everyone across every department is empowered to contribute to the process with their respective values, knowledge and skill-sets.
Not that this isn’t happening in Ottawa, but when so many of these personnel moves seem to follow a pattern and you hear the general manager joke about wanting to punch people within his own organization for daring to present an opinion that he disagrees with, it fuels a public perception (rightly or wrongly) that there isn’t a strong collective and that the true decision-making power rests in the hands of a select few.
Senators Lose DiDomenico to Waivers
Twenty-four hours after claiming Dumont, the Senators lost Chris DiDomenico to waivers after the Lightning put in a successful claim.
In 12 games this season, the centre tallied three goals and six points and the Senators’ performance while he was on the ice was pretty good.
He didn’t generate a ton of individual shots and his shooting percentage was due for regression (30.0%, three goals on 10 shots), but the Senators generated more shots, shots on goal and scoring chances than the opposition when DiDomenico was on the ice.
Granted, it’s a small sample size of NHL games to evaluate when it comes to DiDomenico, but even if the moves seems inconsequential, it still feels reasonable to believe that the organization downgraded its depth here.