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Friday Web Gems

Having pillaged the Binghamton Senators of many of their best young players, the Ottawa brass has done a remarkable job of convincing some of their NCAA to leave school early and jump into the thick of an AHL playoff race. Just one day after Derek Grant left Michigan State during his sophomore year, Clarkson University junior Mark Borowiecki has signed a 2-year entry level contract with the Senators and will report to the Baby Sens.

According to the Sens press release:

Borowiecki, 21, was the Senators’ fifth-round pick (139th overall) in the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft. An Ottawa native, Borowiecki recently completed his third season at Clarkson University, which ended when the Golden Knights were defeated in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference’s playoffs by Harvard.

Borowiecki played in 31 games this season, tying for the team lead in scoring among defencemen with 11 points on three goals and eight assists, while posting a career-high 67 penalty minutes. He served as Clarkson’s team captain this past season. In three years with the Golden Knights, he scored 12 goals, 20 assists and recorded 146 penalty minutes in 99 games.

Before attending Clarkson, the 6-1, 205-pound Borowiecki played two seasons for the Smiths Falls Bears of the Central Junior Hockey League, scoring five goals, 49 assists and adding 165 penalty minutes in 99 games. In 2007-08, he was named the CJHL’s top defenceman.

Borowiecki, the first Ottawa native ever drafted by the Senators, has participated in the team’s summer development camp in each of the last three seasons.

Apparently Will Colbert, a 7th round selection in 2003 and Arnprior native doesn’t count. As @SensTown noted: I like to pretend The Prior isn’t part of Ottawa either, so can’t fault them on this.

To listen to what Assistant GM Tim Murray has to say about the signing, you can listen to the clip below:

For more Friday news and notes, follow the jump…

McElhinney Gets the Start & More Goaltending Notes

Reports from practice today indicate that Curtis McElhinney will get the start and make his Senators debut tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Thank goodness because just as much as the Senators need the loss tonight, I need a correct prediction for the SenatorsExtra.com prediction panel pool. Bruce Garrioch noted via Twitter (@SunGarrioch) that McElhinney doesn’t talk to reporters on game-days when he gets the nod. So much for building a rapport with the media here. I can understand the mental side of the game and the preparations that go with it, but looking at his numbers, it’s not exactly like this practice has worked for him in the past.

Now that the Colorado Avalanche are in free fall (a 1-7-2 record in their past 10) and lie only three points ahead of the Senators, those who fall into the sect of the fan base that wants to see the team bottom out should be rejoicing at the news that Anderson is getting a rest. Even if it is only for one night. Since this is the second last set of back-to-back games, McElhinney may only start one more game after tonight. And don’t acted surprised… Cory Clouston’s future in the NHL (in Ottawa or elsewhere) could hinge on Craig Anderson’s ability to keep the Senators competitive down the stretch.

Statistic of the Day

From Lee Versage (via @ProfBruce): the players gone from the Sens have 10 pts all-in since & their young replacements 20.

Here are the numbers:

  • Alexei Kovalev: 6 GP, 1 goal
  • Mike Fisher: 13 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, -5
  • Chris Kelly: 9 GP, 2 assists
  • Jarkko Ruutu: 8 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist
  • Chris Campoli: 5 GP, 2 assists, +5

So the players that Ottawa has sent out of town actually have 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) and have contributed to a +/- of zero. As much as I liked Mike Fisher as a player and person, I think the realization that the loss of him and Kelly created a natural pecking order down the middle of the Senators lineup that had a little more flow. I think the lesson that should be learned here is that it’s too easy for fans to fall in love with their own players and prospects. And yes, I think it’s easy to point to the contributions and exuberance that the young players have provided the Senators over the course of the past few weeks but I think it’s equally (if not more) important to recognize the effect that Craig Anderson’s performance has had on the rest of the team.

Looking back to the Rangers game when Anisimov scored the third goal seconds after the Rangers went ahead 2-1, it reminded me of how the Senators had a penchant for folding up their tents with Elliott in nets and deflating goals were commonplace. Murray created a lot of goodwill as he stockpiled future assets and brought in a capable goaltender, however, how an Anderson contract extension sorts itself out will have a lot of bearing on how we judge Murray’s handiwork.

Although Anderson’s numbers might be a little inflated right now, they’re hardly indicative of being fluky. His 8.8 goals versus threshold already leads the Senators in that category and is beginning to mirror the numbers that he posted while healthy during the 2009-10 season. (Note: Anderson had the 19th highest GVT rating in the NHL last season.)

As we draw closer to July 1st and Anderson continues to play well, there’s less incentive for Andy avoid testing the open market and seeing what kind of offers are out there. As the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater noted Anderson turned down a two-year, $7.5 million contract extension last summer and with the way that he has played of late, he should be able to command a salary that approaches the $4 million per annum that Antti Niemi signed for in San Jose.

Simply put, Anderson has Murray’s balls in a vice and with each passing game, there’s going to be more inherent pressure on Murray to sign him. He simply can’t afford to let Andy walk away in free agency because we’re not going to remember the draft picks that Murray accrued.

Anderson’s agent told the Sun’s Don Brennan that, “(Trading for Anderson) was an outside-the-box move. At a time where everyone thought there was a firesale going on in Ottawa, all of a sudden he picks a cherry off the tree.

Was it surprising? Yeah, very surprising. But this is a smart guy. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. And I think to make a move like that really caught a lot of people off guard.

Potentially, it could be sheer brilliance on his part.”

Or it could be silliness. Unless Anderson signs an extension, we’ll remember Murray for trading Brian Elliott a sieve for a player who single-handedly elevated the team out of the basement towards less favorable lottery pick odds. (Note: If you don’t believe that revisionist history will lend itself to the opinion that Andy could have been pursued in free agency anyways, you’re only fooling yourself.)

So name your price Craig…