Reviewing the Ottawa Senators’ 2011 NHL Entry Draft

[July 25th update: Red Line Report‘s draft analysis has come out and Ottawa was ranked as having the 3rd best draft (behind Edmonton and Florida).  “The draft was all about their aggressive trade-ups to secure players they felt strongly about.  Mika Zibanejad is the big power center they’ve lacked forever [apparently Mike Fisher was not].  For a team with no offence, Matt Puempel was a godsend at No. 24 as one of the best pure scorers in the draft.  Nobody improved as much as Stefan Noesen over the course of the season.  And Shane Prince is a first round talent stolen at the top of the 3rd round [they mean the end of the 2nd] – only available due to troubling late season shoulder and head injuries.  In the later rounds, they also tapped the draft’s nastiest enforcer in Darren Kramer.  That’s four of Red Line‘s top 36 ranked prospects, plus our best fighter.”  They also list Shane Prince as the 14th best value pick [“Clear 1st round talent in our view.  Did enough before the injuries that he shouldn’t have dropped this far, but small guys always have ot deal with durability concerns.”  All in all, very positive sentiments, unlike their review of last year’s draft.]

With the draft in the books it’s time to take a look at how the Ottawa Senators did.  Following the team’s usual pattern under Murray, they selected a Swede (two this year), over-age players (three), a player off-the-board (Fransoo), and made draft-day deals (trading picks #35 and #48 to Detroit for #24, then trading pick #66 for Nikita Filatov).  They also illustrated how much their own player rankings varied from those published (for example, taking Noesen at #21, whose best ranking I could find was Bob McKenzie’s at #33).  In total the team selected eight forwards and two defensemen.

The picks are outlined below, followed by scouting reports on each of them.

First Round
-selected Mika Zibanejad 6th overall
-selected Stefan Noesen 21st overall (Nashville’s pick, acquired in the Mike Fisher trade)
-traded two second round picks (their own at #35 and Chicago’s at #48, which was acquired in the Chris Campoli trade) to Detroit in order to select Matt Puempel 24th overall

Second Round (31 picks due to Montreal’s compensatory selection)
-35th overall pick traded to Detroit (Tomas Jurco)
-48th overall pick traded to Detroit (Xavier Ouellet)
-selected Shane Prince with the 61st overall pick which they acquired from Boston in the Chris Kelly trade

Third Round (29 picks due to New Jersey losing their’s for the voided Ilya Kovalchuk contract)
-traded their third round pick (#66) to Columbus for Nikita Filatov; Columbus selected T. J. Tynan

Fourth Round
-selected Jean-Gabriel Pageau 96th overall

Fifth Round
-selected Fredrik Claesson 126th overall

Sixth Round
-selected Darren Kramer 156th overall
-selected Max McCormick 171st overall (Anaheim’s pick acquired in the Jarkko Ruutu trade)

Seventh Round
-selected Jordan Fransoo 186th overall
-selected Ryan Dzingel 204th overall (Pittsburgh’s pick acquired in the Alex Kovalev trade)

The Players

Mika Zibanejad (C/RW, 6’2, DOB 1993, 26-5-4-9 SEL)
The second highest ranked European by Central Scouting,  Zibanejad split the year playing for Djurgarden’s junior and men’s team.  An assistant captain for Sweden’s under-18 team (where he tied Gustav Bjorklund for the team lead in points), he’s considered to be one of players in the draft closest to being NHL-ready (“Like Landeskog, he’s physically developed and capable of playing with men“, THN).  Prior to the draft Zibanejad was brought with Ryan Strome (#5 to the Islanders) and Sean Couturier (#8 to Philadelphia) to workout with the team–there’s little reason to doubt the three were the competing options for Ottawa depending on who remained at the #6 slot.  I don’t foresee the Sens rushing Zibanejad, so if he isn’t ready for the NHL he’ll be returned to Djurgarden.  Otherwise, he’ll compete with either Peter Regin as the second-line pivot or Bobby Butler on right wing.
Two things to note in the scouting reports: ISS and RLR have the exact opposite opinion of his ability to receive difficult passes; RLR and FC have the opposite opinion of his speed.  Regardless, all the comparisons are flattering and deserving of such a high pick.
The ISS Scouting Report (ranked #7): “A very intense player, Zibanejad has extremely explosive technical skills combined with great power and a determined work ethic. He applies tremendous physical pressure on the puck carrier in all zones and can really hammer opponents with his hitting ability. He displayed excellent awareness and intelligence away from the puck and is always calculating his next move. Zibanejad drives the net well and never has very much trouble penetrating the middle lanes off the rush with the puck. His hands and offensive timing could still stand to improve as he doesn’t always handle passes well and struggles to deal with bouncing pucks. NHL Potential: Two-way energy player who can fit a variety of roles including special teams and offensive situations. Style compares to: Jarome Iginla.”  They list his strengths as his intensity, passion, desire, and net drives, while his weaknesses are his backhand pass reception and shot execution.  They list his physical play and competitiveness as excellent and all his other skills as very good (besides size/strength which is merely “good”).
The Red Line Report assessment (ranked #14): “plays on the wing internationally, but is more natural and effective at center – his position in league play [SEL].  Drives the net hard using his size effectively to power through checks and win battles along the boards.  Plays a physical game, banging opposing players in puck pursuit, winning loose pucks and causing turnovers off an aggressive and determined forecheck.  Creates space for linemates and is tough to separate from the puck.  Has outstanding speed for a big man with a long, smooth, powerful stride that eats up ground.  Has good hands, receiving even tough passes well without breaking stride.  Also has a very heavy shot that he likes to use when busting down the wing with speed.  Good scoring touch around net, but not always instinctive in his offensive reads.  Tough to contain because he’s got so many facets he can beat you with.  Fine defensive effort level.  Projection: 2nd liner with size/speed on a strong club.  Style compares to: Brenden Morrow.
The Future Considerations assessment (ranked #10): “Strengths: A balanced wide leg skater who has a nice top speed that once he get it going is hard to stop or slow down. A power game and uses his strength and size to his advantage in both sides of the puck. Throws hits, has good energy and engages in battles all over the ice, usually coming out ahead. Hard to knock off the puck as he shields it with his reach and body
positioning. Sees the ice well and makes chances for himself and his teammates by driving the puck to the net or getting one of his heavy and accurate shots on net. Can handle the puck but is not really a quick stick puck dangler but instead utilizing more of the strong power moves and positioning. Plays with some compete and real desire to win. Defensively he has some room to grow but is aware most of the time and does backcheck effectively. Should be a real beast once he adds another twenty pounds of muscle. Weaknesses: Largest area that needs work in his game is his foot speed and overall quickness out of the gate. This is not considered something that will hold him back from getting to the next level but more of a small blemish to an overall impressive package and should be easily corrected. Could also use some added leg strength which will help his skating correct itself. Notes: Started off the year as a solid prospect in the books of most but it wasn’t until the month of December that he became a must see prospect. He has been compared to Mats Sundin by some in the scouting community. NHL POTENTIAL: First line offensive forward.
Other rankings: Hockey Prospect’s #4, TSN #9, THN #11.

Stefan Noesen (RW, 6’0, DOB 1993, 68-34-43-77 OHL)
An off-the-board pick in the sense that his highest ranking was Bob Mckenzie’s at #33, the Sens were clearly thrilled to get him.  Noesen’s production in Plymouth almost muliplied by 10 this season (scoring eight points in thirty-three games last year) and clearly the Sens believe the sky is the limit.  He was tied with Robert Czarnik (LA 3rd rounder from 2008) for leading his team in scoring.  There’s no reason to doubt that he will be returned to the OHL next season to continue developing.
The assessments below are all very similar, with the only variety being projections about his upside.  THN quotes a scout “He’s very skilled, has great speed and makes plays at full speed” and then they add “Consistency is an issue“.
The ISS Scouting Report (ranked #49): “He kept elevating his game throughout the year to secure his promising ranking here at ISS for the upcoming NHL draft. Noesen is a big, physical center that plays a real hard-nosed style of game. He possesses a very good combination of physical tools; he skates well considering his size, displays soft hands and a real touch with the puck while using his size effectively. He seems to relish playing in traffic while showing a willingness to compete in all three zones. Noesen shows the odd flash of quickness and he is always moving his feet. A very unselfish player, he is aware of where his teammates are and makes good crisp passes. Excellent secondary scoring option that brings great energy to shifts. NHL Potential: Solid two-way forward can chip in offensively. Style compares to: Colin Wilson.”  They list his strengths as playing hard in all three zones, being a competitor, and having a heavy shot; his weaknesses are foot speed and keeping his feet moving.  Most of his assessments are listed as very good, with his puck skills, offensive/defensive play given a “good” and his skating “average”.
The Red Line Report assessment (ranked #36): “Texas native decided to get serious about the game, especially his conditioning, and as a result took huge strides this season.  Always possessed buttery soft hands and a quick release, but took his game to the next level.  In the process, became more of a physical power-type forward who down the homestretch and playoffs was Plymouth’s “go-to” guy, and most consistent and dangerous scoring threat.  Plays an edgy physical game that makes opponents take notice when he’s on ice, but also takes lots of questionable penalties.  Still has to work on first two-step acceleration, but the time he put in last summer showed us he’s grown up and is now willing to give that off-ice effort.  Strong on skates and tough to separate from puck.  Has trouble defensively handling coverage assignments down low.  Projection: 3rd liner for playoff team, 2nd for lower tier.  Style compares to: Jamie Benn.
The Future Considerations assessment (ranked #45): “A hard working winger with some offensive ability. A good straight line skater who has some trouble with quick turns and his first couple steps. Nothing that will hinder him from developing but should improve with added strength and time. Is a tenacious forechecker who likes to lay the body and disrupt using physical play. Hard along the wall and drives to the net with
abandon. A very strong penalty killer who is not afraid to drop in front of shots and take a hit to make a simple clearing play. Has a good quick stick and a nice hard shot. Put up some good point totals as an opportunistic scorer this past season however his pro offensive upside is questionable as he lacks creativity and offensive instincts.  NHL POTENTIAL: Third line checking forward.
Other rankings: TSN #33, CS #35NA, HP #36, THN #39.

Matt Puempel (LW, 6’0, DOB 1993, 55-34-33-69 OHL)
Ranked between #15 (RLR) and #29 (ISS), Ottawa traded two picks to get Puempel, who was nearly selected at #21 instead of Noesen.  A hip-injury hurt his season, but the former CHL rookie of the year easily lead Peterborough in scoring.  Like Noesen, there’s no reason to expect that he won’t be returned to junior to continue his development.
The scouting reports below include two comparisons to Patrick Sharp (ISS and RLR) along with two admonishments that he needs to improve his effort level (RLR and FC), with THN saying “He’s not a great skater, but he has good feet and is a pretty hard worker“.
The ISS Scouting Report (ranked #29): “Puempel is a left handed skilled forward that possesses a great stick and shows a high end of ability to finish. His lofty ranking here at ISS may surprise some experts however. Pure goal scorers are a highly sought after
commodity come draft day, and Puempel may just be the best sniper in this draft. Has good speed with quick acceleration. He makes a lot of smart touches with the puck and makes pretty solid decisions. He is at his best in the offensive zone, especially below the top of the face off circles. He has tremendous offensive instincts and is tenacious in offensive situations. He had to have season ending hip surgery, causing him to miss the Under 18’s, however he is expected to make a full recover. NHL Potential: Pure goal scorer with a bright future ahead of him at the next level. Style compares to: Patrick Sharp.”  They rate his shot as excellent, defensive and physical play average, competitiveness and size/strength good, and everything else very good.
The Red Line Report assessment (ranked #15): “After winning CHL Rookie of the Year last season had a rollercoaster sophomore campaign.  Battled inconsistency early before beginning to get it going around Christmas, then had his season derailed by hip injury.  Smart and highly instinctive offensive player.  Sees the ice very well and can create opportunities for linemates, but his real calling card is as a top-notch sniper down low.  Very dangerous from the circles in; has a knack for getting himself open in scoring territory and always has stick on the ice ready for passes and to pounce on loose pucks.  Great shot release and hand/eye coordination on deflections.  Not a blazing skater, but always gets there when there’s a chance involved.  Must bring a higher effort level on a more consistent basis.  Solid defensively and on the PK when he’s working hard.  Projection: 2nd line sniper and key PP guy.  Style compares to: Patrick Sharp.
The Future Considerations assessment (ranked #16): “Strengths: A goal scorer who puts up good offensive numbers. When on his game, is a force on the ice not only offensively but also with a little agitation to the opposition. Skates well with a healthy amount of speed and an extra gear that comes out when he has the puck on his stick and smells blood in the offensive zone. Shows good creativity with the puck and instinctive offensive anticipation. Possesses goal scorers hands that delivers a heavy snap shots and an accurate wrist shot with lightning quick release. Finds the sweet spots on the ice to get open for a scoring opportunity and has a willingness to go to the net looking for rebound opportunities. When he is on his game he is a threat to score every time he is on the ice. Weaknesses: Consistency is something he will need to improve if he plans on becoming a productive pro hockey player. You never knew what you were going to see in Peterborough or if you would see him at all as he went through stretches of invisibility. Needs to round out his game and work on the defensive aspect as well as his board work to really up his overall effectiveness from shift to shift. Showed that a goal scorer is not much use to a team if he is not scoring goals and that is the rut he fell into a couple times this past season. Notes: His season was an up and down roller coaster ride as he started the year with a bad back while playing at the Ivan Hlinka U18 Championship before coming on mid-season in the OHL and then missing the final month with a bone chip on his hip which ultimately required surgery to repair. He is not excepted to have any long term negative effects from his injury. NHL POTENTIAL: Top six goal scoring forward.
Other rankings: THN #21, HP #23, TSN #27, CS #28NA.

Shane Prince (C/LW, 5’10, DOB 1992, 59-25-63-88 OHL)
The final selection of the second round, Prince becomes only the third Ottawa 67 selected by the Senators (after 2009’s Corey Cowick and 2003’s Will Colbert).  An undersized, skilled forward, Prince will return to the 67s for another year of development.
The scouting community cited below is divided along the lines of whether Prince benefitted from his linemates or vice versa (ISS and RLR); he’s viewed as a boom or bust selection.  THN cites two scouts with varying opinions, one emphasizing his results and the other saying “I’m not sure how much substance there is“.
The ISS Scouting Report (ranked #72): “Prince hasn’t enjoyed a lot of the same hype that fellow OHLer Ryan Strome has even while eclipsing him in the scoring column for part of the season. The reason for this is that scouts believe Princes stronger supporting cast is amplifying his skill set and that without this he doesn’t project as well. Ranked much higher at CSS, however ISS scouts have not been impressed by Prince’s production away from his star teammate Tyler Toffoli. Prince is the big risk/reward!” All his skills are listed as very good except his size/strength which is “average”.
The Red Line Report assessment (ranked #31): “Was a real revelation for Red Line this year, and one of our true favourites.  We love everything about him – except his inability to stay healthy.  Plays much bigger than his mediocre size; edgy player who isn’t afraid to stick his nose in – very competitive and smart.  Biggest concern in his penchant for carrying the puck into traffic without regard for his body – takes some big hits to make plays but also ended up with a bum shoulder and a head/neck injury late in the season.  Has terrific speed and is an agile, elusive skater.  Makes imaginative passes at top end gear – excellent vision and playmaking skills.  Team catalyst has tremendous work ethic.  Blocks a ton of shots on the PK unit and starts dangerous rushes the other way, transitioning from defence to offence in a heartbeat.  His team was one of the OHL’s best with him in the lineup, and couldn’t win a game when he was out injured.   Projection: Versatile 2nd/3rd liner who helps on specials.  Style compares to: Ryan Callahan.
The Future Considerations assessment (ranked #39): “A small but highly skilled playmaker who likes the puck on his stick. He skates real well with both impressive top speed and a nice quick jump to his first couple steps. Has soft hands that enable him to dance around the offensive zone with the puck looking for an opportunity. Excellent vision and timing on his passes. Can not only set-up a play but also shows some nice goal scoring ability as well. Does not have the ideal size and can get crunched pretty good by bigger bodies. Can play a solid defensive responsible game when needed but not always willing, preferring to stay on the attack. If game gets chippy, Prince has the tendency to become invisible and a non-factor. One heck of a good Junior player but pro upside and how his game translates to the next level is the real question. NHL POTENTIAL: Top six playmaking forward.
Other rankings: CS #26NA, TSN #43, THN #52, HP #69.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau (RW, 5’8, DOB 1992, 67-32-47-79 QMJHL)
A small forward from the Gatineau Olympiques who lead his team in scoring and impressed Senators brass with his strong playoff performance (24-13-16-29).  His rankings were all over the place (from #61 by Hockey Prospect’s to #176 by RLR).  None of the scouting material I read had a detailed report on Pageau, but RLR offers this, “Another midget with 2nd round skills, but no size“, and THN “Hardworking and very talented, size is an obvious handicap“.  He’ll return to junior to continue his development.  Other rankings: THN #93, ISS #102, CS #116NA, #159 FC.

Fredrik Claesson (DL, 6’0, DOB 1992, 35-2-0-2 SEL)
Ranked as the #27 European skater by Central Scouting, Claesson spent most of the year playing with Zibanejad‘s Djurgarden’s SEL squad (he also played with Sens draft pick Marcus Sorensen, who will play with Skelleftea next year).  He was the youngest blueliner to dress for the team.  Last year he won a silver medal at the under-18 WJC.  The organisation has compared him to Anton Volchenkov, which is high praise indeed, but he’ll return to Sweden for at least another year.  Other rankings: ISS #112 and FC #172.

Darren Kramer (CL, 6’1 DOB 1991, 68-7-7-14 WHL)
A rough and tumble player who was passed over in the 2010 draft.  Krammer made the jump from the AJHL to the WHL and turned into a glue-guy for Spokane (Jared Cowen‘s team; also coached by former Binghamton bench boss Don Nachbaur, who loves him–see the Silver Seven link below).  According to Hockey Fights he dropped the gloves 47 times this past season, so the focus in his development will be less on toughness and more about rounding out his game.  He’ll be returned for his final junior year.  Only RLR had him ranked coming into the draft (#242), calling him the best fighter available.
http://www.hockeyfights.com/players/15705
http://www.silversevensens.com/2011/6/25/2243902/senators-select-darren-kramer-156th-overall

Max McCormick (LW, 5’11, DOB 1992, 55-21-21-42 USHL)
Ranked #161 CSNA (but nowhere else), McCormick is on his way to Ohio State of the NCAA after his first and only USHL season.  He was named an all-star while leading his team in penalty minutes.  Last year he won Wisconsin’s Mr. Hockey award after posting huge numbers for Notre Dame.  A long term project, McCormick is a hard working energy forward who can fight.  He’s expected to spend the full four years in college under the tutelage of coach Mark Osiecki.

Jordan Fransoo (DR, 6’2, DOB 1993, 63-6-12-18 WHL)
Not listed anywhere that I could find, Fransoo graduated from the SMHL to join Mark Stone on the Brandon Wheat Kings.  Fransoo is viewed as a very raw defenceman that will develop slowly (the Silver Seven say he’s expected to be a physical blueliner).  He’ll spend the next two seasons with Brandon.
http://www.silversevensens.com/2011/6/25/2243947/ottawa-senators-take-d-jordan-fransoo-at-186-overall

Ryan Dzingel (CL, 6’0, DOB 1992, 54-23-44-67 USHL)
Eligible for last year’s draft, the Sens selected the Lincoln Stars leading scorer as a long term project.  He’ll join Max McCormick at Ohio State where it’s expected he’ll spend the full four years developing.  The hope is that he’ll turn into a high skill, top end player.

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7 Comments

  1. […] Mika Zibanejad (SEL, http://eyeonthesens.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/reviewing-ottawas-2011-draft/) 1-21 Stefan Noesen (OHL, […]

  2. […] says a scout quoted by The Hockey News).  Full scouting reports on Zibanejad can be found here eyeonthesens.wordpress.com/ 2011/06/26/reviewing-ottawas-2011-draft, so I won’t repeat them verbatim, but his pre-draft rankings ranged from #4 to #14 (with ISS […]

  3. […] which is a reasonable supposition.  Here’s my review of the pick when he was drafted (link), “Ranked as the #27 European skater by Central Scouting, Claesson spent most of the year […]

  4. […] While a number of Sens prospects are in the midst of the playoffs or getting ready to begin them, their regular seasons are over and it’s a good time to assess each prospect’s season and how they’ve grown or regressed.  When I say “prospect” I’m referring to those who are not playing in the NHL, AHL, or ECHL currently.  I’ll list the players in the order they were drafted (for detailed talent analysis of the 2011 picks go here). […]

  5. […] It would hard to be more generic, but Sonier echoes what was said about McCormick when he was drafted.  Sonier gives the organisation a B- ranking for the draft related to them not having a second […]

  6. […] The draft lacked the high-end talent of previous years, but was considered to have good depth.  Because of Ottawa’s trades they had a plethora of picks to re-stock the organisation (for full scouting reports go here). […]

  7. […] reports are much better guides to these players and you can find most of them by draft year: 2010, 2011, 2012, and […]


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