Thoughts on Senators Prospects (Part One)

The signing of prospect Mikael Wikstrand on Thursday got me thinking about what we can expect from Ottawa’s many prospects.  Given the great multitude this will be done in two parts.  I’m leaving out players like RFA Ben Blood (he won’t be retained), Francois Brassard (the organisation has made it known they have no intention of signing him), or the injured Jarrod Maidens.  Acronym of note for players in pro: ppg = points-per-game.  Players who will be playing pro next season have been coloured green.

CHL Prospects

It’s worth noting here that production (unless it’s bad) doesn’t mean much at this level; Tyler Donati was an OHL star and couldn’t manage to become an AHL-regular, so keep that in mind.  Scouting reports are much better guides to these players and you can find most of them by draft year: 20102011, 2012, and 2013.

Curtis Lazar (1-17/13; WHL 58-41-35-76; previous season 72-38-23-61)
The scouting consensus was that the first-rounder was a solid, well-rounded second-line player and nothing from this season would suggest otherwise.  His numbers were up from his draft year and he performed very well at the WJC.  The organisation has talked about him making the jump to the NHL next season, but there’s no reason (beyond budget) to rush him into the lineup.

Vincent Dunn (5-138/13; QMJHL 50-31-20-51; AHL 1-0-0-0; previous season 53-25-27-52)
Super pest dropped a long way in the draft; his numbers were essentially unchanged from the previous season and all the scouting reports project him as a pesky bottom six forward–nothing from this year has changed that estimation.

Ben Harpur (4-108/13; OHL 67-3-13-16; previous season 67-3-12-15)
Drafted primarily because he was big; a stay-at-home blueliner,  his limitations with the puck are going to make the transition to pro very difficult (his numbers did not improve over his draft year); I don’t believe the organisation will sign him when they have to make that choice next year.

Chris Driedger (3-76/12; WHL 28-14-7 2.64 .918; ECHL 1-2 3.92 .893; AHL no result; previous season 36-14-4, 2.51 .915)
Won the goaltending sweepstakes within the organisation by beating out sixth-rounder Brassard; scouting reports are all over the place and contradictory, largely because Driedger was not the full-time ‘tender in his draft year; his numbers have improved in each of the two season since he was drafted and he’s slotted in to play backup in the AHL (a backup at the NHL-level is where he projects out).

NCAA/USPHL

College scoring is more predictive at the minor pro level than that of the CHL, but it’s still not the best guide.  The various US junior systems are as potentially misleading as those in CHL.

Tim Boyle (4-106/12; USPHL 37-5-16-21; previous season NCAA 15-0-2-2)
The Sens surprise pick of the 2012 draft, Boyle left the NCAA after a year at Union College to go back into the US junior system; his numbers were good, but not dominant (ala former Sens prospect Bryce Aneloski who did the same thing); there’s a lot of time left for him to develop so it’s too early to judge him, but there’s a lot for him to prove.

Ryan Dzingel (7-204/11; NCAA 37-22-24-46; AHL 9-2-5-7; previous season 40-16-22-38)
Left college early (after three seasons) to turn pro; another skilled player who fell in the draft (his second) because of his size and lack of physicality; after dominating at Ohio State he did not look out of place in his short debut with Binghamton; is he another Ryan Shannon, or is he something more than that?  It’s difficult to judge at this point.  The challenge for all top scorers when they turn pro is can they do anything else if their scoring doesn’t translate.

Max McCormick (6-171/11; NCAA 37-11-24-35; previous season 40-15-16-31)
Teammate of Dzingel and drafted in the same year; he has been very good at Ohio, albeit not quite as electric as the above; he”ll finish up his college career before turning pro; he’s a hard-working player who projects as a depth, energy player.

Garrett Thompson (FA 2013; NCAA 43-16-16-32; AHL 7-1-2-3; previous season NCAA 37-11-15-26)
Free agent signee from Ferris State I don’t know enough about to project–he was not on the radar when he was draft eligible and has been described as a meat and potatoes type of player, so projects as a depth forward.

Robert Baillargeon (5-136/12; NCAA 35-10-17-27; previous season USHL 55-18-23-41)
Lead Boston U in scoring in his rookie season, benefitting from a more settled season than his last in the USHL; his stock fell at the draft due to a lack of “toughness”, but all the things that actually matter (speed, skill with the puck) are present and were demonstrated this season.  I think to his the highest level he’ll have to become an Erik Condra; a depth player with good possession numbers.

Quentin Shore (6-168/13; NCAA 33-7-18-25; previous season 39-10-9-19)
A solid season at U Denver; drafted as a two-way player and something of a gamble, we’re still a few years away from judging him.

Chris Leblanc (6-161/13; NCAA 23-6-6-12; previous season EJHL 44-13-20-33)
A surprise draft pick enjoyed a solid rookie season with Merrimack; there were no scouting reports on him beyond the organisation describing him as a “big two-way player”; he’s a long way away, but projects as a depth player.

Europe

Much like the CHL above, production does not mean much except in absence here.

Mikael Wikstrand (7-196/12; SHL 19-4-7-11; Alls 27-4-16-20; previous season Alls 45-11-14-25)
Benefitted the previous season from playing with lockout players like Anze Kopitar, but this year he not only maintained but improved his production in the absence of NHL superstars.  Scouting reports when drafted all indicated he was a good, two-way player (his 3 points in his draft year seem the primary reason he nearly fell out of the draft), but his performance as a powerplay quarterback eluded everyone (including the Sens organisation).  He should do well in Binghamton this upcoming season, although the usual switch to smaller ice might lead to a slow start.  He was projected as a bottom-pairing NHL player, but if his offense translates he might also be a second unit PP guy.  Time will tell.

Tobias Lindberg (4-102/13; SuperElit 38-7-15-22; Alls 3-0-0-0; previous season SuperElit 43-9-13-22)
An off-the-wall pick last year, Lindberg‘s numbers improved only slightly from his draft year (ppg went from 0.51 to 0.57) and I think his future is heavily tied into how he does next season.  I have a suspicion he’ll wind up being Marcus Sorensen (4-106/10)–an energy player whose skills don’t quite translate outside of Europe.

Marcus Hogberg (3-78/13; Alls 5-8-0 2.93 .892; SHL 4-0-0 1.08 .960; previous season SuperElit 2.77 .906)
Scouts struggle to figure goaltenders out (have some fun and scan goaltending picks from any draft), so what little was said about Hogberg at the draft was all over the place; his numbers weren’t great this season for Mora in the Allsvenskan, but he was fantastic in the SHL and one wonders how much of his stats are dependent on the defense in front of him.  He’ll spend another year in Sweden, but I’d expect him to come to Binghamton in 15-16.

ECHL Prospects

Elmira just finished a disastrous season (24-40-8, third worst in the league), which is their last season in affiliation with Ottawa (no official replacement has been named for the Sens).  The Jackals produced the second fewest goals in the league and allowed the second most–it was an unmitigated disaster and that’s worth keeping in mind for the players below.

Troy Rutkowski (FA WHL 2013, ECHL 41-0-9-9 PPG 0.21; AHL 12-1-0-1; ECHL splits 10-0-3-3/10-0-2-2/10-0-1-1/11-0-3-3)
The disaster that is Troy Rutkowski makes it clear why Colorado walked away from him (5-137/10) last year.  Now, it’s possible that he could turn into a decent AHL player (and certainly he might have a future bouncing around Europe), but NHL-calibre players don’t struggle in the ECHL.  With plenty of opportunity in Elmira, the offense-minded blueliner was unable to translate his CHL success.  Yes, the Jackals had a terrible season and a bad team, but that didn’t prevent other prospects from performing adequately.  There was no sign of evolution of his play over the season (his production did not increase).  Ottawa is stuck with Rutkowski‘s contract for two more seasons and given the thinness of their blueline in Binghamton he’ll probably get one more try before they attempt to move him.

Jakub Culek (3-76/10; ECHL 49-8-22-30 PPG 0.61; AHL 7-0-0-0; ECHL splits 10-3-6-9/10-1-5-6/10-4-5-9/10-0-4-4/9-0-2-2)
Enjoyed a moderately successful rookie season in Elmira, although he faded badly down the stretch (18-0-4-4).  I don’t think there’s any NHL potential in him (when drafted he projected as a depth, checking forward), but he could become a solid bottom-six forward in the AHL.

Ludwig Karlsson (FA NCAA 2013; ECHL 39-11-13-24 PPG 0.61; AHL 8-0-0-0; ECHL splits 10-2-2-4/10-2-5-7/10-2-4-6/9-5-2-7)
Did not perform as expected (you don’t sign a college free agent to play in the ECHL), but at least in Elmira he was decent (other than the games immediately after his injury).  His season was derailed early and he got stuck behind a huge logjam at forward–next season will be make-or-break for the Swede.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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3 Comments

  1. Great article Pete as always, always enjoy your work!

    I wanted to infuse some of my thought’s on 3 particular player’s mentioned above since I’ve seen them play late this past season.

    I believe Chris Driedger will be playing a key role next season for the B-Sens while Andrew Hammond takes on the starting job between the pipes. I got to see a small sample of him late for half a game and he looked really good considering as his reflexes were fairly quick for a big guy.

    Also taking in account what Rick Wamsley did for Andrew’s performance this past season, I am equally excited what he can do for Chris’ development in 2014-’15.

    Another interest of mine is in Ryan Dzingel, as he was a late addition to the club and played pretty good in producing numbers and skated really well setting up some scoring opportunities, but ran out of gas in the end. Luke played Ryan for Game I in favor of Corey Cowick that he later admitted was his mistake as Ryan was overwhelmed in that Game I loss vs the Pens.

    Lastly Garrett Thompson, could be another good find for the organization. Big kid, played well in the limited time on the ice. Little confidence ca go a long way and I believe Garrett has got it in the few games he played here in Bingo.

    • I always appreciate the feedback! I like hearing first-hand accounts. It will be interesting to see what the roster looks like given all the RFA’s, but at least the org continues to add pieces (even if some, like Rutkowski, aren’t panning out). Thompson in particular is a bit of a mystery, because there’s just not that much information about him out there, but Ottawa has a good track record with NCAA FA’s so I expect good things from him.

  2. […] Thoughts on Senators Prospects (Part One) […]


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