Ranking the Sens Prospects

prospects

I don’t think I’ve ever formally made a prospect list before–I’ve commented on them, but never put out my own. The lists can generate some interesting discussion, although there rarely seems to be a strong framework for why player X is higher (or lower) than player Y (one would assume higher is better, but that’s often difficult to discern especially the lower you go on the list–it comes across as a mishmash of ‘best potential’ to ‘best right now’ or even ‘most likely to be signed’). I also think comparing across positions is problematic–is a starting goaltender better than a top forward? The question isn’t asked. I prefer an apples-to-apples approach, so for my purposes I’ll be looking at players by position and potential.

Projected potential isn’t comprehensively covered in these kinds of lists–to my mind the guy who tops out as a #6 blueliner should not place ahead of someone who might be top-four regardless of relative performance at the time. To determine that potential I’m using the scouting consensus (when available) and performance (stats), tweaked by my own observations when possible.

I’ve removed players who have 50+ games of NHL experience because at that point there’s access to much better statistical breakdowns, leaving less room for speculation; I’ve also cut out those with four or more AHL seasons (by which time they are no longer truly prospects). Given those parameters I won’t be discussing Thomas Chabot, Ben Harpur, Patrick Sieloff, Chase Balisy or Ben Sexton (you can find breakdowns via The Silver Seven or my own). I’ve also excluded players on AHL-contracts (Boston Leier, Ryan Scarfo, Joseph LaBate, and Jordan Murray–I’ve detailed them in various places previously–for example)–until they sign ELC’s they aren’t true prospects. Despite all these cuts it still leaves us with thirty-four players to look at and I will detail them all below.

Some general comments about scouting: while the prejudice against size is slowly eroding away, there’s an overabundant affection for physical play that colours perception: the weaknesses of physical players aren’t seen as debilitating as a lack of physicality is seen in skilled players (Tkachuk is an obvious example of this, but there are many more). This is why we see an avalanche of ‘character’ players drafted despite most bombing out as prospects. There’s an impression many scouts have that a player who hits people is providing something a player who scores is not. In addition to this, scouts continue to struggle to project goaltenders and this means much of their material is difficult to parse (Ary talks about that here).

The scouting material included below focuses on potential and flaws (generally speaking we’re aware of what each player is supposed to be). Acronyms: HP: Hockey Prospects, FC: Future Considerations, ISS: International Scouting Service, RLR: Red Line Report, CP: Corey Pronman (via his Athletic article from this summer [paywall])–I use CP selectively because some of his breakdowns don’t contain enough specifics to be useful.

A final note: there’s less to say about players who have just been drafted–there’s no new information to discuss so we’re completely dependent on scouting and their statistical output.

Goaltenders (5)

Potential Starter (4) [None project as elite starters]
1. Filip Gustavsson 2-55/16 Pit
2016-17 SHL .911 2.70 4-10-0 4-10-0
2017-18 SHL/AHL .918 2.07 9-11-0/.912 3.01 2-4-0
2018-19 AHL
Draft: HP thought he was the best ‘tender in a weak class, having good fundamentals, but they had some concern over his rebound control; FC saw his potential as an NHL-starter; ISS mostly echoed the above, but expressed concerns about his blocker play; RLR gave him the same potential, but added the caveat that this applied if he were on ‘an upper echelon team’ (ie, with good defensive support)–they also questioned his play with the puck; there was a general consensus that he played too much on his knees.
Gustavsson enjoyed a career year in Sweden last season (playing backup to Joel Lassinantti–someone who appeared on my European FA list a couple of times, but has been passed over due to size), so why did the Penguins let him go? They have a young starter in Matt Murray (only 24) and two young prospects (Tristan Jarry and Alex D’Orio) on the way up, making him an option for the Derick Brassard trade. When he came over to play with Belleville for the final stretch of the season he looked good, although as I pointed out he was beginning to regress to the mean (his last two starts he was .865 and .867; with three of his six starts in that range). This means I can’t be sure he’s better than the other goaltenders who played for the BSens last season, but as a 20-year old there’s breathing room for him to grow and he’s expected to get more opportunity than Hogberg did last year.
While his Swedish numbers have never been as good as Hogberg’s, projections for him are better and he’s only 20 years old (Hogberg posted .917 when he was that age). This and the latter’s struggles in Belleville are what land him in the top spot.

2. Marcus Hogberg 3-78/13
2016-17 SHL/AHL 19-14-0 .932 1.89/.865 4.34 0-3-0
2017-18 AHL/ECHL 6-12-0 .899 3.27/.915 3.10 8-7-1
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR liked his size, but thought he lacked mobility and confidence; FC said he needed to improve his lateral quickness and confidence; McKeen’s profile is effusive, but they note excessive movement (something I noticed in Belleville); he was not ranked by HP/ISS. In general he was seen as great raw material that needed work.
The Sens left Hogberg in Sweden for four full seasons and after a bit of a wonky start in the first he posted solid numbers with Linkoping: .917, .911, and .932; good for 8th, 10th, and 4th in the league (splitting duties with David Rautio initially before earning the starting role his final season). There was nothing left for him to achieve in the SHL and he came over with considerable hype. His rookie AHL season didn’t meet expectations, but wasn’t as bad as the raw numbers make it appear (bad enough that CP simply ignored him in his list this summer). When you compare him to the other goaltenders in Belleville, his numbers are virtually identical (both Andrew Hammond and Danny Taylor were at .900, while Chris Driedger was down at .885)–only Filip Gustavsson, who barely played, is well above him (.912), but as I discuss above he could have benefited from the small sample size. The BSens were an awful team defensively and while that doesn’t mean Hogberg couldn’t do better, it does mean his numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt. I really wonder how much he was affected by being part of the ridiculous four-goalie rotation for months until the Sens finally moved Hammond and demoted Driedger. The biggest criticism from me about Hogberg is his consistency–in both the AHL and ECHL he was all over the place. He has plenty of talent, but his technique needs work and there may be confidence issues (not helped, I think, by starting this upcoming year as part of a three-headed monster in goal).

3. Kevin Mandolese 6-157/18
2017-18 QMJHL .884 3.46 15-13-0
2018-19 QMJHL
Draft: RLR thought he had starter potential, but thinks he stays too deep in his net; ISS was more effusive (offering the same potential); FC liked him but said sometimes he over commits and can lose focus if he’s not facing a lot of shots; HP repeats that he stays too deep in his net and isn’t aggressive enough, but has pro potential.
His numbers in the Q aren’t particularly impressive, so he skates by Hollett because he hasn’t had a down season after being drafted.

4. Jordan Hollett 6-183/17
2016-17 WHL .901 2.83 15-2-0
2017-18 WHL .896 3.43 16-13-0
Draft: FC liked his potential, but noted he struggled to follow the puck on broken plays; RLR thought he had huge upside, but was a boom or bust prospect; ISS/HP didn’t rank him (HP didn’t even discuss him, despite having comments on many players they don’t rank).
His season after being drafted wasn’t impressive, although he was (marginally) better than his goaltending partner (Michael Bullion); finishing 24th in the league in save percentage is worrisome. He needs to be much better this upcoming season if he wants the Sens to sign him (his struggles are undoubtedly part of the reason Mandolese was picked).

Backups (1)
5. Joel Daccord 7-199/15
2016-17 NCAA .892 4.03 3-8-1
2017-18 NCAA .909 3.51 8-19-5
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: no one ranked him, but HP had one game report which was positive but pretty generic.
Since he was picked he’s played for a very poor Arizona team where his underlying metrics are improving, but what is his ceiling? I have to think the best hope for him is as a backup in the NHL, as there’s nothing that I’ve seen or read that suggests he has more potential than that. I’d expect further improvement this year and he’ll need to do so in order to get signed when his college career is over (which won’t be this year but next).

As a group the goaltenders aren’t particularly impressive. There’s no elite talent–no one flashy like Robin Lehner–and while having either Gustavsson or Hogberg achieve their potential is fantastic neither goaltender projects as the kind that can put a team on his back. Since the Murray regime took over in 2007 the org has struggled to either draft or sign goaltending prospects who reach their potential (Lehner remains the best in either category and he never did fully evolve as expected–being bipolar and having addiction issues being a huge reason for that).

Defense (8)

Top-Four [None are projected in the top-pairing]
1. Jonny Tychonick 2-48/18
2017-18 BCHL 48-9-38-47 (0.97)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: RLR thinks he’s purely offensive (comparing him to Shayne Gostisbehere); ISS has him as a top-four blueliner with a need to get stronger; FC is effusive, but does reference defensive inconsistency; HP saw him as both offensively gifted and tenacious/aggressive, but agreed his defensive play is average.
In the absence of him having played since there’s not much we can add to this (the offensive potential is certainly exciting–I’d take a Gostisbehere if that’s what he really is).

2. Christian Wolanin 4-107/15
2016-17 NCAA 37-6-16-22 (0.59)
2017-18 NCAA/NHL 40-12-23-35 (0.87)/10-1-2-3 (0.30)
2018-19 NHL/AHL
Draft: no one ranked him, but HP had one game report that’s positive but vague (McKeen’s profiled him, but it’s vague suggesting that he needed to improve his defensive play). CP doesn’t think much of him–his hands aren’t high end and he’s not a great defender–this opinion isn’t shared by The Silver Seven (sadly their profile includes zero analytics from his NHL games). Brad Phillips thinks he’s a deep sleeper for fantasy hockey folks.
In his final (third) season in college he was second on his team in points-per-game (just behind forward Nicholas Jones) and tenth in the NCAA among defensemen. It’s difficult to parse his numbers because someone like Patrick Wiercioch also had very good college numbers (with much more scout-hype) and never established himself as an NHLer. Clearly the expectation for Wolanin is as a top-four defender who produces points.

3. Christian Jaros 5-139/15
2016-17 SHL 36-5-8-13 (0.36)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 44-3-13-16 (0.36)/2-0-0-0 (0.00)
2017-18 AHL/NHL
Draft: FC was effusive–their only criticism being he was sometimes overly physical, projecting him as a top-six, two-way defender; ISS put his potential as a top-four, shutdown defender, believing his primary weakness was offensive consistency; HP noted he’d improved his skating since his initial draft year (2014), but would never be an offensive defenseman despite a powerful shot; RLR’s only comment was they didn’t think he could skate and that criticism seems rooted in his 2014 impression.
Arriving in the AHL Jaros was fantastic–his production didn’t drop in transition and despite injury issues he was among the best defensemen in Belleville (the team was much better when he played); he was strong on the powerplay and spent most of his time carrying around the dead weight known as Andreas Englund. CP’s comments about him illustrate that he didn’t to watch him very often (“there was an adjustment period to the AHL in terms of pace and knowing when to try and make a certain offensive play”)–the only adjustment for Jaros was getting used to some of his useless partners whose failings meant his play varied considerably depending on who he was paired with. My concern coming into last season was that Jaros would waste time running around looking for big hits, but by and large he was careful and picked his spots. The guy is built like a truck so requires no adjustment to the physicality of the next level.

4. Jacob Bernard-Docker 1-26/18
2017-18 AJHL 49-20-21-41 (0.83)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: RLR saw him as a top-four blueliner; ISS has him as a top-pairing, two-way defender, but questioned his consistency; FC/HP liked him, but questioned his creativity. Much like Tychonick until we see more of his play we are reliant on the scouting opinions and his numbers, but certainly his ceiling seems lower than those above (since defense-first blueliners are a dime a dozen). The question for Bernard-Docker going forward is how well he distributes and moves the puck (since we can presume he’s solid defensively already).

5. Maxime Lajoie 5-133/16
2016-17 WHL 68-7-35-42 (0.61)
2017-18 AHL 56-1-14-15 (0.27)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR saw him as a top-four, two-way defender or bust; ISS put his potential as a 4-5 two-way defender (with concerns about his defensive consistency); FC was effusive and had him as a top-four, two-way; HP was very positive and liked his hockey-IQ. The org was also excited about him, signing him far earlier than necessary.
His rookie pro season was disjointed and hampered by Kurt Kleinendorst’s coaching (his usage was bizarre). His excellent puckmoving was often hampered by incompetent partners and with limits to his TOI it wasn’t easy for him to truly get into the flow of the game. It wasn’t a wasted season entirely, but it skewed his numbers. How much opportunity he’ll get to play in an overstuffed BSen lineup I don’t know, but hopefully it will be more.

Marginal Pros/AHLers
6. Julius Bergman 2-46/14 SJ
2016-17 AHL 64-3-27-30 (0.46)
2017-18 AHL 65-10-10-20 (0.30)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: ISS thought he could be a top-four player, but needed to work on his shot and physicality; FC saw his potential as a top-six blueliner with a pretty generic description of his abilities; RLR didn’t rank him; HP didn’t rank him because they thought he was too soft for the next level.
Three years in the San Jose system have shown he has solid AHL-talent, but not enough to move beyond that. Last season the Sharks’ AHL-team saw a 20% drop in total offence, meaning his drop in production (30%) has some context. While it’s not impossible for Bergman to show NHL talent at this stage, it’s getting very late in the game for that to happen and it’s certainly not what I expect.

7. Andreas Englund 2-40/14
2016-17 AHL 69-3-7-10 (0.14)
2017-18 AHL 69-1-9-10 (0.14)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR liked his mean, physical play and compared him to Alexei Emelin; ISS questioned his skills with the puck, but projected him as a top-four shutdown blueliner; FC saw him as a top-six shutdown blueliner and liked his outlet passing; HP questioned his hockey sense (as do I).
Needless to say most of these estimations are overly optimistic as Englund struggles to be an effective AHL defensemen, much less an NHL blueliner. The org still likes him, but that’s purely because of his physicality. His zone exists are either lobbing grenades up the ice or pounding the puck off the boards–in both cases forwards are forced to adjust to prevent turnovers because he can’t make a pass; his supposed defensive acumen is overblown (this was most apparent on the penalty kill), so other than his physical play he doesn’t excel at anything. He’s shown no sign of improvement since turning pro and the org would do well to shuffle him along at the first opportunity.

8. Macoy Erkamps CHL FA 16
2016-17 AHL/ECHL 11-0-2-2 (0.18)/58-6-19-25 (0.43)
2017-18 AHL/ECHL 46-1-3-4 (0.08)/2-0-0-0 (0.00)
2018-19 ECHL/AHL
Draft: FC said he was an efficient puck-mover who isn’t consistent; HP liked his physicality, but questioned his vision and hockey IQ; RLR thought he was underrated; ISS and McKeen’s didn’t rank him.
When the Sens signed him I pointed out that a lot of his production was likely due to his partner (Flyer first-round pick Ivan Provorov), who would make any partner look good. This thought proved entirely accurate as Erkamps is at best an adequate ECHL defenseman and his lengthy tour with Belleville last season was comically bad; he doesn’t do anything well at the AHL-level. The org needs to move on from him.

Because I removed Chabot from the equation this list doesn’t jump out with elite talent; what it has is a lot of useful potential, but all capped at a relatively low ceiling. The org is going to need a couple of guys to push beyond expectations to truly flesh out their future blueline.

Forwards (21)

Top-Six [None are projected as first-line players]
1. Logan Brown 1-11/16
2016-17 OHL 35-14-26-40 (1.14)
2017-18 OHL/NHL 32-22-26-48 (1.50)/4-0-1-1 (0.25)
2018-19 NHL/AHL
Draft: RLR had him as a second-line playmaker, wanting him to be more assertive; ISS/FC also saw him as a top-six player who needed to shoot more; HP puts him in the top-six.
CP questions his conditioning and ability to keep up with the pro pace.
One thing the Sens do routinely is shove top picks into the NHL and use them as part of their marketing (Curtis Lazar, Jared Cowen, Mika Zibanejad, Cody Ceci, etc), so I think regardless of whether Brown is ready or not he’ll be on the roster. He was a very good junior player (with improving metrics) and would produce in the AHL, but how well will he do in prime time? The concern here is the long haul and at least thus far fears over ‘assertiveness’ and physicality haven’t mattered, just his overall durability. If he actually has a conditioning issue that can absolutely hurt his ability to perform, but otherwise even if his skating is average as a puck distributor there’s no reason to doubt his ability to achieve his potential.

2. Brady Tkachuk 1-4/18
2017-18 NCAA 40-8-23-31 (0.77)
2018-19 NCAA/NHL/OHL
Draft: RLR has him as a top-six, physical winger; ISS has him as a second-liner with questions about his quickness and consistency; FC also wonders about his speed, defensive play, and him overhandling the puck; HP brings up his skating, but likes his defensive play; CP bends over backwards to make his own caveats come across as acceptable: “His skill isn’t dynamic … I saw the occasional [my emphasis] high-end flash of vision … he’s never going to wow you with his speed”–this is all okay because of his physicality.
One of the painfully obvious things about the scouting reports is how enamored they are by his physical play, something we’ve long known has little impact on the game, but this appreciation clearly colours their view of him. What I need to see is him dominant offensively in whatever league he’s playing in–he’s a top-five pick and there shouldn’t be these kinds of questionmarks about his ability. There’s a very real fear that Tkachuk won’t live up to expectations and if he doesn’t no guarantee the Sens will get the chance to roll the dice on another top-five pick for quite some time. There’s also the question: why use the #4 pick for someone who tops out as a second-liner? It’s a rare opportunity to truly swing for the fences and the Sens decided to bunt instead–as fans we can only hope it all works out.

Middle-Six (second or third line)
3. Filip Chlapik 2-48/15
2016-17 QMJHL 57-34-57-91 (1.59)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 52-11-21-32 (0.62)/20-1-3-4 (0.25)
2018-19 AHL/NHL
Draft: FC had his potential as a top-nine, two-way forward, liking his hockey sense, playmaking, and defensive ability; RLR saw him as a dynamic third-line forward whose only concern was his skating; ISS saw him as a third-liner who can do spot-duty on the second (their only issues were his physicality); HP was concerned with his skating. CP continues to be concerned about his skating and his defensive play.
I don’t share the latter concern, but certainly some of his AHL tendencies offensively will have change at the NHL-level (he tends to hang on to the puck longer than you can get away with at that level). With that said, his AHL-achievements are remarkable when you move beyond the raw numbers–no one was jerked around the lineup more than he was and despite spending nearly half the season in the bottom six he was second on the team in production (points-per-game). I really like Chlapik’s game and I hope he can translate his skills at the next level.

4. Drake Batherson 4-121/17
2016-17 QMJHL 61-22-36-58 (0.95)
2017-18 QMJHL 51-29-48-77 (1.51)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: HP praised him and called him a legit prospect, liking his hockey IQ and offensive instincts; FC/ISS/RLR didn’t rank him.
Batherson eluded most scouts because he’d sailed through one draft already and it was a strong second half that put him on the radar (there’s only so many times he’s going to be seen by scouts–HP seems to get more reps than most, which is why they almost always have scouting feedback on prospects who are drafted or otherwise).
Needless to say his final junior year was a monster one where he dominated (fourth highest points-per-game in the league, which dropped somewhat when he was traded mid-season). How do we project him? His background puts him in Tanner Pearson-territory–maybe a poor man’s Pearson (Pearson was another player skipped over in his initial draft year who put up monster numbers subsequently and enjoyed a strong WJC). I expect him to be a productive AHL-player and the question is simply how far beyond that he can go.

5. Gabriel Gagne 2-36/15
2016-17 AHL/ECHL 41-2-4-6 (0.14)/19-6-5-11 (0.58)
2017-18 AHL 68-20-5-25 (0.36)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: FC put his potential as a top-six scoring winger, with their major concern being him filling out his lanky frame; ISS saw his potential as a scoring third or fourth-line winger, questioning his desire/competitiveness; HP said he needed more consistency and ‘jam’ in his game, but that the tools were all there; RLR didn’t like his character or work ethic, making him highly overrated (the character issues seem tied him being benched by his coach (Bruce Richardson) for a January, 2015 game). CP’s comments (“He gets a lot of goals hanging around the net”) are another indication he simply wasn’t able to see him play much, as Gagne is not a crash & bang rebound guy–he generally just beats goaltenders with his shot.
It was a strange sophomore campaign for Gagne, but one thing he established is that he can score at the AHL-level. He’s young, still hasn’t filled out, and the BSens were awful offensively, which makes judging his performance difficult (he spent much of the season playing with other shooters, meaning the usual formula of pairing a playmaker with a shooter wasn’t happening). He was horrifically bad his rookie season, but made a big jump from that last year, so it’s within reason that he could take another big step forward this year–it’s all very much in flux (he is a great example of a boom or bust prospect).

Top-Nine
6. Colin White 1-21/15
2016-17 NCAA 35-16-17-33 (0.94)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 47-11-16-27 (0.57)/21-2-4-6 (0.28)
2018-19 NHL/AHL
Draft: FC projected him as a top-nine, two-way forward, whose only weakness was his offensive upside; RLR saw him as a third-line character center with concerns about his size; ISS was effusive, but noted a lack of offensive consistency; HP’s sentiments are very similar (third liner with offensive limitations). CP offers “his puck skills for me are very average. I’ve come down a bit on his offensive expectations as he seems to project out now as more of a good third-line forward.”
I agree wholeheartedly about White’s offensive potential, which is echoed by B_T‘s breakdown of his NHL numbers. White was better in the AHL, but his production is still lower than it should be (and, unlike Chlapik, he wasn’t jerked around as much in terms of TOI/usage). Don’t take his ranking here as me being down on White, he’s a very good player, but until we see otherwise it doesn’t appear he has the offensive chops to contribute any better than at a third-line level.

7. Alex Formenton 2-47/17
2016-17 OHL 65-16-18-34 (0.52)
2017-18 OHL 48-29-19-48 (1.00)
2018-19 OHL
Draft: RLR didn’t think he could score, projecting him as a third-line checker; ISS saw him as a bottom-six energy forward with upside whose weakness was puck skills; FC saw him as a third-line winger with questions about his shot and creativity; HP had him within the third/second line category. CP’s analysis also slots him as a third-line checker.
So why hasn’t Formenton’s jump in scoring impressed the inestimable Pronman? For the draft guides he was buried on a talented London team, but not last year. Certainly older players in the CHL see their numbers boosted (he finished fourth on his team in points-per-game), but the knock is his creativity. We won’t know how well that will translate until he turns pro, but his post-draft season was excellent and everything remains on track for him to at least meet projections (I haven’t linked his brief AHL foray last year because he was hurt early in his second game, so there just wasn’t enough to glean from it).

8. Andrew Sturtz NCAA FA 18
2017-18 NCAA 37-22-15-37 (1.00)
2017-18 NCAA 37-14-26-40 (1.08)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: He was never ranked or discussed while draft-eligible (playing in the GOJHL and CCHL at the time). He attended Pittsburgh’s development camp in 2017 and there’s a profile of him as a free agent from Ben Kerr that describes him as aggressive and having discipline problems–otherwise there’s not much material on him.
The org, after years of drafting NCAA free agents (Bryan Murray’s notion I’d wager), has started to shy away from them as they’ve had virtually no success (one good year out of Andrew Hammond being the exception). This makes Sturtz signing somewhat unusual (as does his size for the org–he’s listed at 5’8). Good numbers in college (far and away the leader his final year at Penn State) tend to translate to good numbers at the AHL-level, but what about beyond that? As a smaller player it’s possible he was overlooked based on size and that has to be what the org hopes for–his offensive production has always been good, so there’s no question about where his talent lies. I didn’t see enough of him last year to make much of an assessment. Usually what keeps high scoring players out of the NHL (besides size) is speed, so that’s something to keep an eye on, but like Luchuk below his potential has to be as a scoring player (he earns the nod over the OHL star because of his more consistent production over his career and because I didn’t find the same level of criticism about his skating).

9. Aaron Luchuk CHL FA 18
2017-18 OHL 68-50-65-115 (1.69)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: While never ranked, HP profiled him in 2015 along with a vague game report in 2016–in the former they felt like his offensive potential was being stymied by the bodies ahead of him.
As a smaller player prejudice against size still exists (despite undrafted examples like Tyler Johnson and Jonathan Marchessault). With that said, big numbers in the CHL don’t always equate to success (Tyler Donati is a favourite example of this). CP indicates his issue is a lack of speed (echoed here, although I suspect CP is the source of that comment) and that indeed can kill a smaller player’s chances (since they can’t make up for slowness with strong board work or overpowering checkers). His production didn’t slip when traded mid-season, but the offensive explosion was in his final year of junior which rings the Tyler Donati warning bell. I’m not sure what to expect from him, but he wasn’t signed to check so the expectation is that he projects as someone who can chip in.

10. Francis Perron 7-190/14
2016-17 68-6-20-26 (0.38)
2017-18 44-4-11-15 (0.34)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR projected him as a third-line winger with a good head for the game; ISS didn’t like his compete-level and saw him as a top-six or bust; HP liked his skill set but questioned his strength; FC had his potential as a top-nine forward, but shared the concerns about his strength.
The clock is definitely ticking for Perron who struggled last season (above and beyond Kleinendorst’s erratic coaching). He’s still very young and in neither season given the kind of opportunity he needs, so hope remains he can translate his talent to meet projections. He’s a smart player, but (judging from this past season) can’t translate that into PK-acumen–he needs to start putting up points this year or his time with the org will be over (how he’ll do that in an overcrowded lineup I have no idea).

11. Todd Burgess 4-103/16
2016-17 Injured
2017-18 NCAA 34-1-11-12 (0.35)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: HP didn’t think his scoring would translate at the NHL-level, but that his playmaking could; they also thought his skating and defensive consistency needed work; RLR listed him as a sleeper; ISS/FC didn’t rank him.
He’s hard to assess because injury lost him an entire season (when the Sens drafted him he was the NAHL’s top scorer and put up a ton of penalty minutes). When he returned he put up solid numbers (only one player younger than him had better points-per-game, Jacob Hayhurst). His totals aren’t earth shattering, but for a team that didn’t score much they are fine for a guy who missed an entire year. It will be interesting to see what he’s able to do this upcoming season. Since no one projected him out I’d say that he tops out as a scoring third-liner (he certainly wasn’t drafted to check).

Bottom-Six
12. Markus Nurmi 6-163/16
2016-17 Finn Jr/Mestis 27-12-16-28 (1.03)/11-0-2-2 (0.18)
2017-18 Liiga 51-10-11-21 (0.41)
2018-19 Liiga
Draft: FC saw him as a top-nine two-way player; HP thought he topped out as a checker; RLR didn’t like his skating; he wasn’t ranked high enough for ISS to profile him.
He finished tenth in scoring for players 20 and under this past season, which is impressive given that he spent more than half the season on the bottom six. Projected as a checker (almost a default for bigger players who don’t put up monster numbers), it’ll be interesting to see how he does as he gets more opportunities to score in Finland. As it stands he continues to progress and remains on target to achieve his potential (he showed soft hands at the development camp, but that’s a poor place to judge anything).

13. Parker Kelly CHL FA 17
2016-17 WHL 72-21-22-43 (0.59)
2017-18 WHL/AHL 69-29-30-59 (0.85)/5-1-0-1 (0.20)
2018-19 WHL
Draft: HP liked his all-around game and while they weren’t sure his offensive skills would translate they thought he had enough intangibles to make him worth drafting; ISS/RLR/FC didn’t rank him.
He has good speed, but the question about his hands remain. His numbers don’t blow you away so he seems to slot into the bottom-six as a checker (barring some change). If he puts up even bigger numbers this season it could mean revising expectations for him.

14. Jakov Novak 7-188/18
2017-18 NAHL 56-32-41-73 (1.30)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: No one ranked him, but HP does have a profile, calling him a power forward with good offensive tools who struggles with discipline.
There are a lot of similarities between the Novak pick and Burgess above–both are from the little regarded/scouted NAHL, both led the league in scoring and put up a ton of penalty minutes. He’s the epitome of a boom or bust player, even if we’re unsure of his range. He was drafted for his offense so that’s what he needs to produce.

Marginal Pro/AHLer
15. Nick Paul 4-101/13 Dal
2016-17 AHL 72-15-22-37 (0.51)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 54-14-13-27 (0.50)/11-1-0-1 (0.09)
2017-18 AHL
Draft: HP said he was physical with good hands, but a poor skater; ISS called him a shutdown forward with poor skating; RLR liked his skating; FC thought he was an inconsistent producer; McKeen’s didn’t rank him.
There’s little evidence to support those early ideas of him being a shutdown forward (often a default option for bigger players), but offensively he isn’t as the org hyped him to be either. Despite a wealth of opportunity he remains a very average producer at the AHL level who doesn’t particularly effect his team one way or another. He has decent hands, but every season he’s had enormous slumps and at this stage that lack of consistency seems systemic. I think we’ve hit the point where he’s simply a marginal pro, although he’s still young enough to have faint hope for more (at this stage he needs a monster season to shake off doubts).

16. Adam Tambellini 3-65/13 NYR
2016-17 AHL 68-13-22-35 0.51
2017-18 AHL 69-16-16-32 0.46
2018-19 AHL
Draft: HP great speed, not physical, questionable work ethic; ISS liked his overall game; RLR projected him as a second-line forward, but didn’t like his work ethic defensively; McKeen’s echoes these sentiments; FC noted he needs the puck distributed to him to be effective and that has been the case in his pro career.
Going through his numbers he’s reliant on teammates to produce and his usage doesn’t impact production much regardless (I compared him to Jim O’Brien in that respect and it continues to seem apt). This is not someone who is NHL-bound and is simply a regular, if unspectacular, AHLer.

17. Johnny Gruden 4-95/18
2017-18 USHL 61-28-32-60 (0.98)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: ISS projects him as a third/fourth-liner with concerns over his defensive play; FC is effusive with their only concern being that he overhandles the puck sometimes; RLR calls him an intelligent, complimentary player; HP’s concern is whether his game translates at the next level; CP says his skill level isn’t that high.
That’s a lot of conflicting scouting opinion, something not uncommon with obscure players, but Gruden actually had a great deal of exposure because he played for the US development team, so it suggests true uncertainty. How he projects out isn’t that exciting, but Colin Cudmore slightly mollified my fears by citing positive underlying offensive numbers (although no one can say how dependent he was on talented teammates). My question is: do you need to roll the dice on a guy who projects this low?

18. Angus Crookshank 5-126/18
2017-18 BCHL 42-22-23-45 (1.07)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: RLR calls him a great skating energy winger; FC is effusive, but questions his strength and defensive play; ISS ranks him, but doesn’t offer a profile; HP didn’t rank him or profile him, but have a few game logs that simply echo similar sentiments.
His BCHL totals were good for his team (2nd), and I like his speed, but we’re at a deficit of information so we’ll have to wait and see what he is. It’s a little unfair to him to place him so low, but with so little to work with it’s a safe estimation.

19. Filip Ahl 4-109/15
2016-17 WHL 54-28-20-48 (0.88)
2017-18 Allsvenskan/SHL 29-11-4-15 (0.51)/15-0-1-1 (0.06)
2018-19 Allsvenskan/SHL
Draft: FC put his potential as a top-nine power winger, but questioned his consistency; RLR questioned his character and work-ethic, despite liking his tools; ISS put his potential as a top-six power forward with concerns about his defensive play and agility; HP had worries about his conditioning and agility.
While he had an adequate season in the WHL after being drafted (7th in scoring), things came back to earth in Sweden where he was unable to stick in the SHL and wasn’t that great in the Allsvenskan (tier-2) either. Despite the tools he possesses you really have to wonder if he can put it altogether at the pro level (the upcoming season is his last chance for Ottawa and he’ll need strong numbers to intrigue them).

20. Jack Rodewald AHL FA 17
2016-17 AHL 66-18-9-27 (0.41)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 62-14-11-25 (0.40)/4-0-0-0 (0.00)
2017-18 AHL
Draft: While never ranked for the draft HP had a profile on him in 2012 where they praised his hustle and aggression, but didn’t think his offensive skills would translate at any level.
The Leafs signed him to an AHL-deal and then lumped him into the Dion Phaneuf trade. He pushed his way onto a very bad Binghamton team and that earned him another AHL-deal. A hot start this last season excited Randy Lee and he was signed to an ELC which resulted in absolutely no change in his performance. Despite being given every opportunity (with favourable usage) he produced at the exact same rate as the year before. He’s an incredibly inconsistent producer, which is something I suspect the org has finally realized (given the myriad of free agent forwards they’ve signed). At this stage whatever faint NHL hopes the org are gone–he’s just an okay AHLer (big, fast, but not much else).

21. Luke Loheit 7-194/18
2017-18 USHS 40-15-22-37 (0.92)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: Only HP ranked him, calling him a two-way player, but one of the scouts they quote didn’t care for his hockey sense. There’s very little written about him and what I have seen bends over backwards to try to find something that suggests pro potential. He’s going to have to show a lot more for me to think he’s anything other than yet another Vincent Dunn/Shane Eiserman (a modestly productive pest who is useless at the pro level).

This is a large group of forwards, but none of them project as first-liners and that’s very concerning. The org has struggled immensely to draft elite forwards with top picks and the best they’ve produced have been traded away (Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad). What the Sens do consistently is target character players–hard-nosed guys you need to win (not that any actually help them win)–the Curtis Lazar’s of the world. While the team stills struggles to draft skill they’ve started signing skill, as most of their free agents are players known for scoring rather than punching. Despite that I’ve had to slot guys like Sturtz/Luchuk in the top-nine category due to lack of information that suggests otherwise.

What the org has had is good luck with is late picks–skilled guys who fell through the cracks (Mike Hoffman, Ryan Dzingel, etc). There’s not much of that represented here, although Perron is a similar sort of hail mary. Despite that, there is talent–guys who might push beyond expectations–but the team needs a good success rate (both hitting targets and exceeding them) to fill out the org’s future in the years ahead.

Summary

What should our reasonable expectations be in terms of how many players turn out to be NHL regulars? My research (which needs updating) has an average of 1.5 players per draft playing at least 200 games, so between 6 and 9 should make it (I’m smooshing the 2013-14 drafts together since only a few prospects from those years remain). As for free agents, the Sens have never had much success on that end (with apologies to Jesse Winchester and Andrew Hammond), so if even one turns out that’s fantastic.

Clearly some of the players above (regardless of rank) are greater certainties than others. I have no doubt that Colin White will be a regular NHLer regardless of his numbers, but he’s a complimentary player not a dominant one–he is, in many ways, the defining characteristic of the prospect pool–a lot of solid pieces missing the high end parts they are meant to compliment.

There are many interesting storylines to watch for this season–how do Gustavsson and Hogberg perform in Belleville? What’s a full season of Wolanin like? Do we see growth from Jaros/Lajoie? Is Logan Brown the real deal? What’s Batherson like as a pro? Where does Chlapik wind up? Does Gagne take another step forward? How do the FA’s perform in the AHL? There’s a lot to watch for and without a doubt some of the estimations above (pro or con) will turn out to be incorrect. What I think this exercise accomplishes is placing each prospect in their proper context with the best comparable information available (avoiding, as much as possible, personal bias).

List Format

Goaltenders
1. Filip Gustavsson
2. Marcus Hogberg
3. Kevin Mandolese
4. Jordan Hollett
5. Joel Daccord

Defense
1. Jonny Tychonick
2. Christian Wolanin
3. Christian Jaros
4. Jacob Bernard-Docker
5. Maxime Lajoie
6. Julius Bergman
7. Andreas Englund
8. Macoy Erkamps

Forwards
1. Logan Brown
2. Brady Tkachuk
3. Filip Chlapik
4. Drake Batherson
5. Gabriel Gagne
6. Colin White
7. Alex Formenton
8. Andrew Sturtz
9. Aaron Luchuk
10. Francis Perron
11. Todd Burgess
12. Markus Nurmi
13. Parker Kelly
14. Jakov Novak
15. Nick Paul
16. Adam Tambellini
17. Johnny Gruden
18. Angus Crookshank
19. Filip Ahl
20. Jack Rodewald
21. Luke Loheit

All mistakes and errors are mine (please let me know and I will correct them) and if anyone out there has additional scouting information or data to share that will help revise these opinions I will happily incorporate them.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens

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5 Comments

  1. […] Ranking the Sens Prospects […]

  2. […] Ranking the Sens Prospects […]

  3. […] projected Gruden to be a marginal pro, but like Norris there are positive underlying numbers despite the […]

  4. […] the pick wound up with Detroit (who picked Berggren slightly early); Loheit will almost certainly never be signed 5th (Jan Drozg) for Mike Condon (Pittsburgh) Condon: 71-24-31-11 .908 2.81 I’m not a huge […]

  5. […] Christian Jaros DR 1996; 5-139/15 44-3-13-16 0.36 Projection: 0.50 Probably belongs in the NHL and may not stay in Belleville for long. If he’s given the right opportunities I expect his numbers to improve significantly (he was much-hindered by Kleinendorstian coaching). It was extremely difficult to find a comparable defender (physical D out of the SHL with some skill)–the best I could do was Carl Dahlstrom, but he struggled in his first AHL season which is unlike Jaros. In the end I gave him an increase that’s hinged on him playing on the top-PP. […]


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