Reviewing Ottawa’s 2017 Draft

dorion's reward

This was not an inspiring draft for Ottawa, as Trent Mann’s first time running the board seemed timid and uninspired (reminding me most of 2014, but even that draft class had more skill). As for the Sens usual trends, we saw both the CHL and US systems involved as per usual, a continued commitment to avoiding smaller players, along with using later rounds for goalies. Variations included not drafting out of Sweden for the first time since 2007, as well as taking a USHL player in the first round. In terms of my mock draft the org had different ideas in the first round and all my first-selections after that were gone long before Ottawa made their pick (two of my options, however, were selected). Pierre Dorion was looking for credit for trying (and failing) to make a trade (!), which is more than a little embarrassing. Let’s dig into the players added to the system.

1-28/17 Shane Bowers C-L USHL (Waterloo) 60-22-29-51 t-1st pts (4th points-per-game)
A late first to second round round pick (26-41) with red flags attached. Nichols quotes his Lord and Saviour Corey Pronman:

[He] play[s] on both sides of the ice. The ultimate question with Bowers is his offensive ceiling. Some scouts I talk to swear by him as a potential frontline NHL player; other scouts, including myself, question whether he’ll be able to score much as an NHLer.

Grant McCagg (also via Nichols):

not a high-end talent but he’s a hard working, smart two-way guy

Red Line Report (RLR; also via Nichols):

Has the look of a solid third line, two-way NHL center one day, but we just don’t see any one exceptional carrying tool that leads us to believe he’ll be a difference-maker

International Scouting Report (ISS):

He competes hard. He skates through checks, goes to the net and not afraid to go into traffic. He is aware of his defensive responsibilities. He can play all forward positions and excels on the powerplay and penalty killing effectively. … mid-range NHL player with an upside.

Future Considerations (FC):

Bowers is a bit vanilla when it comes to his offensive game as he lacks flash or creativity and takes only what is available in front of him

Hockey Prospect (HP):

Shane plays a very detail oriented game in all three zones; rarely will he miss an assignment defensively or try to cheat up ice. Bowers isn’t going to make a lot of plays that jump out at you but he uses his elite skating and hockey sense to be in the right places at the right times and will take advantage of the chances he gets.

The commonalities are that Bowers is responsible defensively; most agree he has a limited offensive upside and that he’s very fast. One salient comment I read from an NHL scout was “high floor, low ceiling,” which sounds the Curtis Lazar alarm bells. For an organisation short on skill, using a pick on someone projected as a third-liner checker is a little depressing, although clearly the Sens believe his ceiling is higher than that. He’s slated to attend Boston University in the upcoming season.

2-47 Alex Formenton LW OHL (London) 65-16-18-34 11th pts (13th ppg)
Slotted evenly between the second and third round (32-66), he’s similar to Bowers above (as you’ll see below). Nichols quotes Pronman:

He has average creativity though, I wouldn’t expect him to become a big assists guy. … upon repeated viewings it became apparent that he had trouble finishing plays or paying the ultimate price to get to the scoring areas, perhaps because of his youth.

Red Line Report (via Nichols):

If he’s ever able to get his hands and brain to catch up with his feet, has the tools to be a fine two-way winger.

Hockey Prospect:

Offensively he has good tools. He gets his shot off quickly, and he has fairly good passing ability. His play below the hashmarks in the offensive zone improved as the season progressed.

Future Considerations:

he didn’t show much creativity with the puck when set up in the offensive zone and stuck to more of a cycle game. He’s very engaged defensively, hustling to cover the trailing player on the backcheck and was often the first forward back in his own end in tonight’s game.

ISS:

Plays a 200-foot game. Strong backcheck and back pressure. Plays with a bit of an edge. Project as possible 3rd line forward in NHL with possible upside.

All agree he’s fast (although there’s disagreement on his lateral movement and overall agility); most see limited creativity at this stage, with some seeing hope for more in the future. Just like Bowers though, his ceiling is not high and he projects as a responsible energy player at best. If any pick this year demonstrates organisational fear of failure this is the one.

4-121 Drake Batherson C-R QMJHL (Cape Breton) 61-22-36-58 3rd pts (3rd ppg)
Overage center was only listed by half the draft guides (122/213) and as such there’s very little scouting material on him. Only HP has a report in what I have on hand:

[H]as the ability to change speeds, which makes him tough to handle for opposing defensemen. He has great hockey IQ and puck skills. He has the ability to make defenders miss him one-on-one with his slick hands. … He sees the ice really well, and he’s as good a scorer as he is a playmaker. He has really good patience with the puck…. … he’s way more effective in one-on-one battles along the boards and in front of the net [than in the past].

This all sounds good in the skill department, but it’s worth noting prospects who put up big numbers only as overagers are less likely to replicate those as pros–you also have to ask the question: how much of that production is due to his teammates who lead the team in scoring (Giovanni Fiore, who was signed as an FA by Anaheim, and Massimo Carozza)? On the plus side, at least the Sens picked a player whose principal element is skill (as they generally do out of the Q).

6-183 Jordan Hollett G-L WHL (Regina) 2.83 .901
Serving as the backup goaltender on the high flying Pats (behind the undrafted Tyler Brown), the 6’5/6’4 prospect improved slightly on his numbers in the last season (.887). Only slotted in the draft by half the guides, there are two scouting profiles to look at.

Future Considerations:

[S]ize and athleticism immediately jump out at you. … Hollett’s natural gifts make him an intriguing option but one who will need some time.

RLR:

Huge upside long-term project or bust.

Both agree he has the raw tools, but it’ll either come together or not and the sample size isn’t large enough for a firm indication either way. It’s clear the Sens are impressed by his girth–that raw physicality–because this version of the org has never drafted a back-up goaltender before (the fact he was playing on prospect Filip Ahl‘s team likely gave him more exposure to the org). He, along with Batherson above, is a shot in the dark, but of all the players here he has the most potential upside (with the flipside of busting equally present). He’ll play for Medicine Hat this upcoming season.

Other than Batherson none of these players is coming to a pro arena any time soon. Goaltenders need more development time anyway, but both Bowers and Formenton can be expected to spend a couple of years developing before going anywhere.  Batherson, as an overage player, should be in Belleville sooner than later.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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3 Comments

  1. Batherson is NOT an overage player.he is aonce passed over player who still has jr.eligibility.bowers and formenton are amongst the youngest draftees,but your negativism is always refreshing.

  2. […] beats those above presumably based on potential; as I said in my review of the 2017 draft, whatever happens at least he was drafted based on […]

  3. […] 20+ games played), and you have to wonder how much of that production was helped by teammates. The scouting reports on him are not kind and make him sound more like an elite AHL/European league player rather than […]


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