If Senators fans were asked who would be the players leading the team’s offense among forwards to start the season, names like Bobby Ryan, Mike Hoffman or Mark Stone would come to mind. However, 16 games into the 2016-17 campaign, it’s Kyle Turris and former 2011 seventh round pick Ryan Dzingel leading the offensive production among Senators forwards. Having Dzingel in the top two in team offense among forwards is certainly one of the major surprises to start the 2016-17 season.
Dzingel: An Offensive Player?
There were 203 players drafted in 2011 before Dzingel was selected by the Ottawa Senators. Prior to his draft year, Dzingel was over a point per game player, with 93 points in 90 regular season games played in the United States Hockey League (2009 to 2011). After he was drafted, he made the jump to the NCAA where he played for Ohio State University (2011 to 2014). Many players don’t have the same production when they transition to NCAA, as the players they are playing against tend to be stronger and the pace of the game picks up. Dzingel, however, was an exception to the norm. He had a seamless transition, scoring 108 points in 110 games. As of right now it looks like the Senators hit a home run in drafting Dzingel 204th overall.
When the 6’0″, 187-pound winger moved up to the professional level and played with the Binghamton Senators in the American Hockey League, his offense dipped slightly but was still productive with 77 points in 119 regular season games.
Last season, Dzingel played 30 games with the Senators in the NHL, generating nine points total. However, he did not have consistent linemates (HockeyAnalysis.com), and played with six different players. When your linemates are constantly changing, it is hard to generate any significant amount of offense.
Can Dzingel Be Offensively Consistent?
Looking at Dzingel’s numbers dating back to 2009 when he was playing in the USHL, it would be a pretty safe bet to say that Dzingel’s performance in the first 16 games is not a fluke. Fans should expect to see more offense from the 24-year-old forward.
To start the season, Dzingel has played mostly in Ottawa’s top six. However, he’s also spent some time on the bottom six as well. Per statistics compiled by HockeyAnalysis.com, the Wheaton, Illinois native has been most productive when playing alongside Bobby Ryan and Derick Brassard. On this line, Dzingel has managed to net three of his five goals this year to date. The lower down the lineup Dzingel has played, the less offense he has contributed. If head coach Guy Boucher wants to get consistent production from the speedy winger, he will need to play him with Ryan and Brassard consistently.
Speaking late last month with the Canadian Press, Dzingel spoke highly of playing with the duo. “It was easy to play with those guys. They’re great NHLers and great people. Two good friends, and to be honest I just had a lot of fun out there — just trying not to get in their way. I was proud to play with those two guys [Ryan and Brassard].”
The Senators currently sit second in the Atlantic Division but to date, the overall lack of scoring throughout the team is an early and big problem for the Senators. Currently, Ottawa sits 27th in the NHL for goals scored, with 35 on the season. The one thing that is helping the Senators maintain a playoff position is that they have been very good defensively to date, and are in the league’s top ten among fewest goals against. As the season matures, the Senators are going to need to significantly increase offensive production from the rest of their forward lines and moving Dzingel back to a line with Ryan and Brassard would help in that regard.