Senators Prospect Review (2011-12)

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).

Ben Blood (D-L, 6’3, DOB 1989, 4-120/07)
2010-11 NCAA N. Dakota 44-2-10-12 4th d-pts (ppg 0.27)
2011-12 NCAA N. Dakota 40-3-17-20 1st d-pts (ppg 0.50)

Ben Blood is the longest serving amateur in the organisation, hailing back to Bryan Murray’s first draft which was largely dominated by just-fired John Muckler’s philosophy.  Blood is a big, strong, defensive blueliner who is finishing his senior year at North Dakota.  He’s had a career year in points and I’m sure the Sens would like him to play in Binghamton once his college season is over (they offered him a deal last year, but much like Colin Greening a few seasons ago, he rejected it to play his final year in the NCAA).  When he was drafted Blood was thought to be a well-rounded defenseman (link), but his offensive output in college has remained muted and he projects as a physical, depth player.

Jakob Silfverberg (C/W-R, 6’1, DOB 1990, 2-39/09)
2010-11 SEL Brynas 53-18-16-34 3rd pts (ppg 0.64)
2011-12 SEL Brynas 49-24-30-54 1st pts (ppg 1.10)

Silfverberg was signed this year, but decided to spend a final season in the SEL to round out his game.  He lead Brynas in scoring and was named league MVP by his fellow players (keep in mind this success doesn’t guarantee NHL success–consider how dominant David Rundblad was last year in the SEL).  He has a good chance to make the Senators next year because he’s always been responsible defensively and as such he doesn’t have to crack the top-six.  I don’t think there’s doubt that Silfverberg will be an NHL player, although his ceiling is up in the air (when he was drafted opinions varied about whether he would be a solid checking center or be able to play in the top-six).  Pierre Dorion talked about him last summer, “I can tell you this guy is an NHL hockey player. He plays a north-south game, he’s strong down low, he’s got good skills and good (hockey) sense. He can play the power play, but he also plays the penalty kill. He’s a versatile player. For a European, he competes, he’s strong on the puck and shoots it well. The one thing that’s got to pick up is his quickness off the mark. If he can work on that … that’ll determine where he plays in the NHL. If that quickness off the mark can be just a tad better, he’s a top-two line player. If not, he’s a third-line player.”

Chris Wideman (D-R, 5’10, DOB 1990, 4-100/09)
2010-11 NCAA Miami 39-3-20-23 1st d-pts (ppg 0.58)
2011-12 NCAA Miami 40-4-19-23 1st d-pts (ppg 0.57)

An undersized, puck-moving blueliner, Wideman is finishing his senior year at Miami and I expect the Sens to sign him when his college season is over.  He never topped his rookie production (39-0-26-26), but consistently remained Miami’s most productive blueliner over his four year career.  As with any undersized defenseman, his quickness (decision making and speed) will determine how well he adapts to the pro game (here’s an old scouting report on him, link).

Jeff Costello (LW, 6’0, DOB 1990, 5-146/09)
2010-11 NCAA Notre Dame 44-12-6-18 11th pts (ppg 0.41)
2011-12 NCAA Notre Dame 28-5-7-12 9th pts (ppg 0.42)

Drafted out of the USHL, Costello has finished his second year at Notre Dame where.  His production remained unchanged in his injury-plagued season.  He’s a hard working energy forward who will likely finish out his collegiate career before turning pro.  Costello describes himself as “I think I’d fall as a very physical forward that likes to bang the body around. But at the same time, I have the ability to score. Not necessarily pretty goals, but I can get those dirty, greasy goals that you have to have. I like to lead by example, and really bring the physical part of the game and get a lot of that exposed out there.”

Brad Peltz (LW, 6’1, DOB 1989, 7-190/09)
2010-11 NCAA Yale DNP
2011-12 NCAA Yale 9-1-0-1 20th pts (ppg 0.11)

An off-the-wall pick, Peltz dressed for his first college games this season after being an extra player his entire freshman year.  A sniper, Peltz is a long term project expected to finish his collegiate career before turning pro.  The only scouting report I can find is from Pierre Dorion who said, “hard-working player with good sense … Didn’t play this year because of an infection. We were thinking about taking him last year … Going to Yale for four years. Will become a good college player and from there, we hope he can help us down the road.

Michael Sdao (D-L, 6’4, DOB 1989, 7-191/09)
2010-11 NCAA Princeton 27-3-7-10 4th d-pts (ppg 0.37)
2011-12 NCAA Princeton 30-10-10-20 1st d-pts (ppg 0.66)

Picked out of the USHL as one of the best fighters in the draft, he’s continued to improve the other parts of his game each year at Princeton.  This is his third season at Princeton and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sens made him an offer to leave college early.  If his offensive game translates at the pro level he’s going to be a very pleasant surprise for Ottawa.  His coach Guy Gadowsky describes him as, “He can really shoot the puck, and he’s in even better shape: he’s definitely stronger, he’s definitely quicker, and he’s as focused on becoming the best hockey player as he can possibly be. I won’t say he’s changing – he’s still going to be a tough, hard-nosed defenceman – but he can definitely shoot the puck.

Jakub Culek (LW, 6’3, DOB 1992, 3-76/10).
2010-11 QMJHL Rimouski 54-7-15-22 12th pts (ppg 0.40)
2011-12 QMJHL Rimouski 55-13-27-40 5th pts (ppg 0.72)
WJC Czech Republic 5-1-3-4

While he rebounded from his terrible 10-11 season, Culek did not set the world on fire in his third season in the Q.  His upside was projected as a third-line player, but whether or not the Sens retain him remains to be seen.  He’s big, but not overly physical and doesn’t possess great offensive instincts.  His future in the organisation would be as a checking center.  When he was drafted ISS said, “Culek was one of Rimouski’s better player’s night in and night out. He centered one of Rimouski’s top two lines plus played both PP and PK minutes. He finished the regular season with decent numbers. He possesses above average puck skills, puck protection and hockey sense. His skating has shown improvement from the start of the year, with added strength. He is a big project with third line upside.

Marcus Sorensen (RW, 5’11, DOB 1992, 4-106/10)
2010-11 SupEl Djurgarden 31-14-22-36 4th pts  (ppg 1.16)
2010-11 SEL Djurgarden 7-1-1-2
2011-12 SupEl SkellefteaJ20 8-2-3-5
2011-12 Allsvenskan Boras 29-8-9-17 9th pts (ppg 0.58)

An off the wall pick, it was a rough year for Sorensen. He was signed by Skelleftea, but couldn’t make their lineup and spent time with their junior team before finishing the year on loan to Boras of the Allsvenskan.  The Sens have the same decision to make on Sorensen as they do with Culek–sign him or he becomes a free agent.  Projected as an energy forward, it will be interesting to see if the Sens keep him or not.  Anders Forsberg described him on draft day, saying “He’s a long (time) away. He’s a character guy who sticks his nose in everywhere he goes. He battles, he hits the (opponents). He just needs to put muscles on his body … he’s a raw, raw kid. We believe if we work with him well, we might get a home run. He has the potential to be a very good player. He has good hands and is a good skater.”

Mark Stone (RW, 6’2, DOB 1992, 6-178/10)
2010-11 WHL Brandon 71-37-69-106 1st pts (ppg 1.49)
2011-12 WHL Brandon 66-41-82-123 1st pts (ppg 1.86)
WJC Canada 6-7-3-10

He enjoyed a fantastic career year where he finished second in scoring (behind Brendan Shinnimin) in the WHL and was a star in the World Junior Championships.  He was signed before the season began and will be in Binghamton next year.  The year he was drafted he was projected as a fourth-line player, with Red Line Report saying, “Big winger has nice hands, but skating issues drop him on our list.  Stride saw improvement this season, but is still a problem – heavy footed and has a short stride.  Has good hands in close and a decent passing touch, but tends to be a garbage goal scorer and we’ve only seen rare glimpses of an accurate shooting touch.  Makes accurate passes and is especially adept at finding linemates in transition. Very good at protecting the puck, but skating keeps him from being able to drive the net with authority.  Despite good size and decent strength, doesn’t use the body at all.  Tends to be a bit timid in board battles and doesn’t initiate much contact.  Progress stalled this season due to broken thumb and concussion.”

Bryce Aneloski (D-R, 6’2, DOB 1990, 7-196/10)
2010-11 NCAA Nebraska-Omaha 39-2-17-19 2nd-d pts (ppg 0.48)
2011-12 NCAA Nebraska-Omaha 38-6-14-20 1st d-pts (ppg 0.52)

The Sens final pick of the 2010 draft, Aneloski played with Jeff Costello in Cedar Rapids after struggling with Providence in the NCAA.  A puck-mover, he finished his second season with Nebraska-Omaha where he lead the team in scoring and slightly improved his offensive totals over last year.  It’s safe to assume Aneloski will play at least one more year in the NCAA before considering turning pro.  He describes himself, “I think I’m a good puck-moving defenseman. I think I can make a good outlet pass. I think I can play good stick-on-stick in the d-zone and stuff like that. I’d say the biggest strength that’s come this year [09-10] has been my play in the offensive zone, just making a little bit more stickhandles, like the feel of the puck and stuff like that, and I think my shot, too, just by working at it this summer.”

Mika Zibanejad (C/RW, 6’2, DOB 1993, 1-6/11)
2010-11 SEL Djurgarden 26-5-4-9 17th pts (ppg 0.34)
2011-12 NHL Ottawa 9-0-1-1
2011-12 SEL Djurgarden 26-5-8-13 14th pts (ppg 0.50)
WJC Sweden 6-4-1-5

Zibanejad made the Senators to start the year, but lost his confidence and was loaned back to his club team Djurgarden.  He didn’t get the ice time the Sens thought he should as his team went through two coaching changes during the season.  The highlight for Zibanejad was the WJC, where he scored the gold medal winning goal for Sweden.  He will play with Ottawa or Binghamton next year.  RLR compared him to Brendan Morrow while ISS compared him to Jerome IginlaGoran Stubb said this about him, “Mika‘s a real power forward but also has soft hands, good vision and fine skating skills. He has tremendous balance and is hard to knock off the puck. He’s very strong in the battles along the boards, finishes checks with authority and has a heavy shot that he gets off quickly.”

Stefan Noesen (RW, 6’0, DOB 1993, 1-21/11)
2010-11 OHL Plymouth 68-34-43-77 t-1st pts (ppg 1.13)
2011-12 OHL Plymouth 63-38-44-82 1st pts (ppg 1.30)

An off the radar first-round selection, Noesen shook off a slow start to lead the Plymouth Whalers in scoring and improve on his production from last year.  He was signed by the Sens during the season, but he can only turn pro next year if he makes the Sens (which I think is very unlikely).  He should dominate the OHL next year and would play for the US at the WJC.  RLR compared him to Jamie Benn while ISS compared him to Colin WilsonPierre Dorion said, “He’s shown that he’s a power forward type of winger who was willing to go to the net and had good skills. He made plays off the rush and he’s got a really good shot. We believe he’s going to be a guy that helps us win down the road.”

Matt Puempel (LW, 6’0, DOB 1993, 1-24/11)
2010-11 OHL Peterborough 55-34-35-69 1st pts (ppg 1.25)
2011-12 OHL Peterborough 30-17-16-33 6th pts (ppg 1.10)

Puempel‘s season was derailed by a lengthy suspension followed by a concussion.  As such, it was largely a wasted season in terms of his development.  He was signed during the season and will join Binghamton for the end of their season.  Like Noesen, he can only turn pro in the fall if he makes the Sens, so expect him to return to Peterborough and challenge for a spot on Canada’s WJC roster.  Both ISS and RLR compared him to Patrick SharpThe Hockey News said, “He’s not a great skater, but he has good feet and is a pretty hard worker.”

Shane Prince (C-L, 5’10, DOB 1992, 2-61-11)
2010-11 OHL Ottawa 59-25-63-88 2nd pts (ppg 1.49)
2011-12 OHL Ottawa 57-43-47-90 2nd pts (ppg 1.57)

The intense Prince was picked by the Senators at the end of the second round.  He followed up his breakout season last year with another strong season this year.  He’ll likely be signed and join Binghamton in the fall.  As an undersized forward, it will be interesting to see how his game translates at the pro level.  RLR was a big fan, saying, “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.”

Jean-Gabriel Pageau (C/RW, 5’9, DOB 1992, 4-96/11)
2010-11 QMHL Gatineau 67-32-47-79 1st pts (ppg 1.17)
2011-12 QMJHL Gatineau/Chicoutimi 46-32-33-65 3rd pts (ppg 1.41)

The Sens Pierre Dorion is a huge fan of the undersized Pageau‘s, who was the dominating leader for Gatineau before a trade to Chicoutimi saw a drop in his production.  There’s little reason to doubt that he will be signed and join Binghamton in the fall.  As he’s very responsible defensively, it’s less incumbent on Pageau to score at the next level.  The Hockey News said, “Hardworking and very talented, size is an obvious handicap.”

Fredrik Claesson (D-L, 6’0, DOB 1992, 5-126/11)
2010-11 SEL Djurgardens 35-2-0-2 7th d-pts (ppg 0.05)
2011-12 SEL Djurgardens 47-1-6-7 t-5th d-pts (ppg 0.14)
WJC Sweden 6-0-0-0

A defensive defenseman, Claesson is a teammate of Zibanejad‘s and continued his strong, safe play with struggling Djurgarden this year (he was also a member of Sweden’s gold medal winning WJC team).  He might return to the SEL for another season, or the Sens may sign him and start him in Binghamton depending on how far along they think he is.  I haven’t been able to find a decent scouting report on Claesson, but the organisation has compared him to Anton Volchenkov.

Darren Kramer (C-L, 6’1, DOB 1991, 6-156/11)
2010-11 WHL Spokane 68-7-7-14 18th pts (ppg 0.20)
2011-12 WHL Spokane 71-21-19-40 7th pts (ppg 0.56)

The overage draft pick was considered the best fighter in the draft and considered a great team guy.  The Sens sent him to Spokane with the instruction to work on his skills and he responded with a career year.  He had 46 fights his draft year, but cut the fisticuffs down to 26 this year.  He will be signed and join Binghamton in the fall. Describing himself he said , “People ask me why I do it and I say ‘if I could score 47 goals, I’d do it that way. But after you get to a certain age, you see the guys get better and spots become limited on teams. So I figured out (fighting) was something I enjoyed doing and I wasn’t too bad at it, either. I started fighting and playing an energy role. But I didn’t fight just to fight. I did it for the right reasons and tried to pick my spots properly and try to motivate the team and the crowd at times.”

Max McCormick (LW, 5’11, DOB 1992, 6-171-11)
2010-11 USHL Sioux City 55-21-21-42 4th pts (ppg 0.76)
2011-12 NCAA Ohio 27-10-12-22 t-3rd pts (ppg 0.81)

The former Wisconsin Mr. Hockey winner enjoyed a strong (if injury-plagued) rookie season with Ohio State, playing with fellow Senator draft pick Ryan Dzingel.  A long term prospect, he’ll likely finish his NCAA career before turning pro.  McCormick is talented offensively and plays a physical game (link).

Jordan Fransoo (D-R, 6’2, DOB 1993, 7-186/11)
2010-11 WHL Brandon 63-6-12-18 4th d-pts (ppg 0.28)
2011-12 WHL Brandon/Victoria 71-3-18-21 2nd d-pts (ppg 0.29)

An off-the-radar pick by the Sens, Fransoo was a teammate of fellow Senators draft pick Mark Stone, but was traded mid-season to Victoria.  He improved slightly on his point totals, but Fransoo is seen more of a shutdown blueliner so they are less relevant.  He will return to the WHL next year to continue developing his game.  Quality scouting reports on him are lacking, but he’s considered a hard-working competitive player (link).

Ryan Dzingel (C-L, 6’0, DOB 1992, 7-204/11)
2010-11 USHL Lincoln 54-23-44-67 1st-pts (ppg 1.24)
2011-12 NCAA Ohio 33-7-17-24 t-1st-pts (ppg 0.72)

One of the USHL’s top scorers when drafted, Dzingel finished tied for the point-lead at Ohio State, but slowed down considerably as the season wore on.  A long term prospect, he’ll finish his NCAA career before turning pro.  Primarily a play-maker, Dzingel will need to bulk up over his collegiate career (link).

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