Senators AHL/ECHL prospects 2009-10 review

By Nathan White

The Binghamton Senators finished out of the AHL playoffs with a middling 36-35-6-3 record, fifth in the East Division and five points short of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Binghamton had a solid, veteran-led attack, scoring 251 goals, third in the conference and sixth in the 29-team league. Even goalie Chris Holt scored, the 10th time that’s happened in AHL history. Defensively, however, only four teams surrendered more than the 260 goals the B-Sens allowed, with four different goalies playing behind a young blueline. The end of the season served as a chance to audition potential future Sens such as goalie Robin Lehner and defenseman Eric Gryba. Ten other Ottawa prospects spent all or most of the season with the top farm club.

The Elmira Jackals, meanwhile, finished tops in the ECHL‘s East Division at 37-26-6-3 before being downed in five games by the Florida Everblades in the opening round of playoffs. Elmira was the top-scoring team in the loop with 275 goals for, and seventh out of 20 with 231 goals against.

AHL

Jason Bailey, RW

The 22-year-old grinder took a step, spending the whole season in the AHL after making his pro debut in the ECHL with Bakersfield in 2008-09. He also scored his first pro goal, and finished with six goals and seven points in 62 games. The 6’1, 210-pounder added 78 penalty minutes.

Cody Bass, C

Bass doesn’t have impressive offensive numbers – just five goals and 11 points in 57 games. But the 22-year-old was named Binghamton’s top defensive forward at the year-end team awards. His minus-18 is another exhibit in the case against plus-minus being a useful stat, as Bass was relied upon for top defensive assignments and penalty killing. Two of his five goals came with the B-Sens down a man. His 109 penalty minutes were third on the team, and tops among players with more than one point. After getting in 33 NHL games over two seasons, Bass didn’t receive a call from Ottawa this year, with the big club preferring Zack Smith for that role. The 6’0, 209-pounder is a restricted free agent in the offseason.

Erik Condra, RW

Apart from being charged with disorderly conduct after police said he urinated on a police car, the 6’0, 195-pound 23-year-old turned in a solid rookie pro season and earned Binghamton’s rookie of the year award. Condra was eighth on the B-Sens with 11 goals and 38 points in 80 games. He didn’t score a short-handed goal this season but he finished tied for first in the AHL with five shorthanded assists. A speedy all-around player who can dish the puck, Condra will have to continue to develop as a pro to move ahead of some other forwards in waiting. As a seventh-round pick, the Detroit native certainly won’t have anything handed to him.

Kaspars Daugavins, LW

Binghamton’s top five scorers were older players, with Daugavins the top scorer young enough to still be considered a prospect. The 6’, 205-pound Latvian scored 21 goals in his 21-year-old season, his first full campaign as an AHLer after a 23-game taste in 2008-09. Daugavins added 25 assists for 46 points, and was slapped with just 16 minutes in penalties while playing in 72 games. He scored 10 of his goals on the power play, tied for third on the team. Daugavins made his NHL debut Jan. 14 at Madison Square Garden, and could be in line for more appearances with the big club if he continues to show his offensive prowess.

Geoff Kinrade, D

The 24-year-old was second among Binghamton defensemen in scoring with 27 points, including seven goals. He played in all situations, notching two goals on the power play and one short-handed. The 6’, 200-pounder was signed just for one year and is a restricted free agent, but Senators assistant GM Tim Murray has spoken about him as though he’ll be back.

Tomas Kudelka, D

After posting seven goals and 23 points in 2008-09, his first full AHL season, Kudelka had similar numbers. He tallied three goals and 20 points in 55 games, missing a solid chunk of the season to injury. The 6’3, 206-pound Czech has a mean streak to his game, with his penalty minute totals jumping to 81 from 67 in fewer games. Kudelka is a restricted free agent in the offseason.

Jim O’Brien, C

O’Brien got his feet wet as a 21-year-old rookie, getting some regular playing time and even a taste of the power play as he tries to establish himself as a gritty forward who can play on both sides of the puck. The 6’2, 200-pound Minnesota native showed a little more offensive ability towards the end of the year, notching seven points in his last 24 games after managing just 10 in his first 52. It’s an encouraging sign because he did have some scoring touch in junior, twice scoring 20 or more goals, including 27 goals and 62 points in 63 games in 2008-09 for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. A first-round pick in 2007, O’Brien should get plenty of opportunity to move up the depth chart.

Craig Schira, D

Schira had a solid finish to his rookie pro season to end up third among Binghamton defensemen in scoring with eight goals and 21 points. He’s not overly imposing, at 6’0, 195 pounds, but Tim Murray noted his competitive streak to the Binghamton Press. With the B-Sens expected to have a young defense again, Schira should have lots of ice time as he looks to continue to prove himself as a 22-year-old.

Derek Smith, D

With three pro seasons under his belt, Smith will turn 26 next season and graduate from the prospect list. The good news is, he made his NHL debut, getting into two games with Ottawa. He also led Binghamton in defenseman scoring with 14 goals and 51 points, good for sixth in the league. The bad news is the Sens have plenty of young defensemen coming through the pipe, so time is running out for the 6’2, 199-pounder to make a breakthrough. Smith is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but still could be back. His days as a prospect are over, however.

Zack Smith, C

Smith was right behind Daugavins on the Binghamton scoring list with 14 goals and 41 points in 68 games. Although he has offensive ability, it’s the edge to Smith’s game that earned him a late-season call-up, and kept him with the big club through the playoffs. The 6’2, 199-pounder had 100 penalty minutes with Binghamton and 14 more in 15 games in Ottawa. An effective penalty killer, Smith had three short-handed goals for the B-Sens, and one of his two goals with Ottawa was a short-hander. Injuries created an opportunity for Smith, who turned 22 in April, and he could soon earn a full-time NHL spot.