Sens Prospects

As I did almost a year ago, I thought I’d take a look at the Sens prospects currently not in the NHL or AHL. I like to sort players by age, as I think that’s a better way of comparing where they are in their development curve (keeping in mind goaltenders almost always take longer–a couple of Sens examples: Ben Bishop and Brian Elliott were both 26 when they reached their peak). I also want to point out that good defensive players at the NHL-level are typically productive in junior, so in those cases we need to see some sign of being able to move the puck as prospects.

Jakov Novak, LW/C, Oct 98 (24-25), 6’3, 7-188/18
2017-18 NAHL 56-32-41-73 1.30
2018-19 NCAA 37-7-8-15 0.40
2019-20 NCAA 35-16-14-30 0.85
2020-21 NCAA 15-7-10-17 1.13
2021-22 NCAA 39-8-9-17 0.43
2022-23 NCAA 34-8-4-12 0.35

Novak went unsigned after his nominal final NCAA season, so he returned for one more to try to increase the odds of being signed. Instead he’s had worse production and won’t be in the org’s plans. The only comparison for him is another Sens pick (pre-Mann), Todd Burgess (2016), who travelled the exact same path (I suspect picked by the same scout). Burgess was never signed and spent his rookie pro season playing with Manitoba in the AHL (35-7-6-13), but this year hasn’t been able to get out of the ECHL (30-10-11-21). The two players have very similar NCAA production (0.56 vs. 0.49), with both spending an extra year in college. The Sens haven’t drafted out of that league (NAHL) since.

Jonny Tychonick, DL, Mar 00 (23), 6’0, 2-48/18
2017-18 BCHL 48-9-38-47 0.97
2018-19 NCAA 28-0-4-4 0.14
2019-20 NCAA 24-4-7-11 0.45
2020-21 NCAA 23-3-5-8 0.34
2021-22 NCAA 24-2-6-8 0.33
2022-23 NCAA 32-8-18-26 0.81

The 2018 one-two punch with JBD, he’s in his fifth NCAA season and the purported offensive defensemen’s production has finally appeared. Is this enough for the org to sign him? I’m doubtful, with at least Kleven, Hamara, and Donovan ahead of him (along with the org’s preference for defensive blueliners). A PTO is highly plausible if he can’t find another place to land in, as the Sens have done that with quite a few unsigned prospects in the past (Kelly Summers comes to mind in 2018).

Luke Loheit, RW, Jul 00 (22-23), 6’1, 7-194/18
2017-18 USHS 24-12-18-30 1.25
2018-19 BCHL 43-8-16-24 0.55
2019-20 NCAA 33-5-1-6 0.18
2020-21 NCAA 28-3-2-5 0.17
2021-22 NCAA 34-2-4-6 0.17
2022-23 NCAA 32-7-10-17 0.53

Drafted as a pest/defensive player whose production was abysmal until his senior year, I don’t think this season is enough to justify a contract from the Sens (I’m fine with drafting agitating players, but I want Crookshank-levels of production).

Tyler Kleven, DL, Jan 02 (21), 6’4, 2-44/20
2019-20 USDP 45-2-10-12 0.26
2020-21 NCAA 22-5-2-7 0.31
2021-22 NCAA 38-7-3-10 0.26
2022-23 NCAA 31-6-9-15 0.48

There’s plenty of hype from the org around him so he’ll be signed sooner than later. How good is he? That’s up in the air–the Sens often get blinded by size, so we’ll have to wait and see if he can fulfill their plans for him.

Stephen Halliday, CL, Jul 02 (20-21), 6’3, 4-104/22
2021-22 USHL 62-35-60-95 1.53
2022-23 NCAA 37-9-30-39 1.05

The Sens took a flyer on an older offensive player they can leave in college to marinate; his rookie season in Ohio has been impressive (he leads the team in scoring). As my regular readers know, I’m always onboard with risks based on skill. As for when he’ll appear that’s largely up to Ottawa, but there’s certainly room for him within the AHL-forward group.

Leevi Merilainen, GL, Aug 02 (20-21), 6’3, 3-71/20 (signed)
2019-20 U20 .908
2020-21 U20 .934
2021-22 OHL .891
2022-23 Liiga 0.921

An off-the-wall pick from Finland, he had a middling season in the OHL, but has been good back in Finland. The Sens amateur scouting for goaltenders has been pretty good–not great, perhaps, but they do find players who can play pro hockey (at least at the AHL-level).

Ben Roger, DR, Nov 02 (20-21), 6’4, 2-49/21
2020-21 did not play
2021-22 OHL 55-1-12-13 0.23
2022-23 OHL 45-2-10-12 0.26

When drafted the mystery was: Can he be more than a big body? The answer so far is: No. It’s always hard to predict what the Sens will do with a big blueliner, but he looks like a pass to me (keep in mind this is the org who signed people like Ben Blood and Michael Sdao, so sometimes size is enough).

Tyler Boucher, RW, Jan 03 (20), 6’1, 1-10/21 (signed)
2020-21 USDP 14-9-5-14 1.00
2021-22 OHL 24-7-7-14 0.58
2022-23 OHL 21-10-8-18 0.85

Son of former NHL goalie Brian, it still boggles my mind that the Sens used a top-ten pick to draft a fourth-line checker (cf). I can already picture the laundry list of better players he was picked ahead of manifesting over the next few years. To my mind it’s up in the air if he can be a full-time NHLer (perhaps it’s as a Curtis Lazar-type, where he floats around the league soaking up 9-10 minutes a game–good enough to keep getting signed, but not good enough to keep).

Carson Latimer, RW, Jan 03 (20), 6’1, 4-123/21
2020-21 WHL 22-5-11-16 0.72
2021-22 WHL 62-18-22-40 0.64
2022-23 WHL 53-14-26-40 0.75

When drafted his claim to fame was being fast; the unanswered question was can he be anything else? He was having a career season with Prince Albert (31-10-18-28), but his numbers have dropped since he was traded to Winnipeg (22-4-8-12).

Zack Ostapchuk, LW, May 03 (19-20), 6’3, 2-39/21 (signed)
2020-21 WHL 22-7-9-16 0.72
2021-22 WHL 60-26-17-43 0.71
2022-23 WHL 47-23-31-54 1.15

It’s good to see his numbers up and another stint at the WJC, but for me his NHL-potential remains a bit of a mystery. My gut suggests a depth forward, but we’ll need to see him in the AHL before we can make that call.

Chandler Romeo, DL, Jul 03 (19-20), 6’5, 7-202/21
2020-21 did not play
2021-22 OHL 67-2-16-18 0.26
2022-23 OHL 47-7-7-14 0.30

Normally I’d complain about picking a player purely on size, but the seventh round is the place to swing for the fences–will Romeo pan out? Probably not.

Oliver Johansson, CL, Jul 03 (19-20), 6’0, 3-74/21
2020-21 Allsven 5-0-3-3 0.60
2021-22 J20 33-19-22-41 1.24
2022-23 Allsven 27-6-3-9 0.33

An excellent skater who isn’t ready for prime time in the Allsvenskan/SHL. Nothing to worry about, unless these numbers are repeated next season.

Theo Wallberg, DL, Dec 03 (19-20), 6’4, 6-168/22
2021-22 J20 46-2-21-23 0.50
2022-23 USHL 45-4-11-15 0.33

The second (and older) of two big blueliners drafted out of Europe last year. I’d call his performance unimpressive given he’s in a fairly weak junior league, although to be fair it’s a big change for him and there’s runway left for improvement.

Cameron O’Neill, RW, Jan 04 (19), 6’0, 5-143/22
2021-22 18U AAA 62-57-76-133 2.14
2022-23 USHL 39-6-21-27 0.69

Via the Winnipeg pick they got in the Zach Sanford trade. His two older brothers played in the NCAA, but were never drafted. His USHL numbers are underwhelming (I’m assuming the org grabbed him for his offensive talents), but they can play the long game with him as he’s on his way to UMass.

Oskar Pettersson, RW, Feb 04 (19), 6’2, 3-72/22
2021-22 J20 46-25-11-36 0.78
2022-23 SHL 29-1-1-2 0.06

His J20 numbers (21-18-10-28) show improvement and I’d call his initial season as a prospect a success. Like most of the 2022 draft class, he’s a long-term prospect and we’ll have a better sense of him in a couple of years.

Tyson Dyck, CL, Feb 04 (19), 5’11, 7-206/22
2021-22 BCHL 54-34-41-75 1.38
2022-23 NCAA 28-5-4-9 0.32

Via the Islanders pick they got in the Brayden Coburn trade. A great final season in the BCHL got him drafted and his rookie year at UMass is perfectly fine–plenty of time to see how things pan out (although, broadly speaking, the Sens have not had much luck drafting out of the BCHL).

Filip Nordberg, DL, Mar 04 (19), 6’4, 2-64/22
2021-22 J20 42-6-21-27 0.64
2022-23 Allsven 25-2-2-4 0.16

Via the Tampa Bay pick they got in the Marian Gaborik trade. With no first-round pick in the draft the big Swede showed up Andreas Englund-style–let’s hope he’s not a carbon copy. Bigger blueliners tend to take a little longer and his Allsvenskan numbers are adequate.

Tomas Hamara, DL, Mar 04 (19), 6’0, 3-87/22 (signed)
2021-22 Liiga 24-0-2-2 0.08
2022-23 OHL 47-2-13-15 0.32

Via the Boston pick they got in the Mike Reilly trade. The son of marginal Czech pro player Tomas (who had more success as a coach), the Sens were in a rush to sign him, but he’s having a disappointing season as an offensively talented blueliner. I suspect he’ll be loaned to Europe next year to give him more time.

Jorian Donovan, DL, Apr 04 (18-19), 6’2, 5-136/22 (signed)
2021-22 OHL 64-3-19-22 0.34
2022-23 OHL 55-12-33-45 0.81

Joins the ‘son of’ cadre in the organization. Unlike Hamara above, he did have an explosive season following his draft year and that makes signing him early a better decision (although it’s not impactful enough to start to make predictions).

Kevin Reidler, GL, Sept 04 (18-19), 6’6, 5-151/22
2021-22 J18 .910
2022-23 J20 .914

Via the Boston pick they got in the Josh Brown trade. The youngest player picked in 2022, the huge goaltender was undoubtedly picked with Mads Sogaard in mind, but it’s far too early to say whether he’ll have that kind of success. I suspect the Sens will want him to cross the pond to play junior hockey next season (as they did with Merilainen).


At the end of my article last year I made assessments over what kind of player each could be. I’m a bit more cautious in doing that now, but I will offer up who I think has improved their stock and who has not (with what they are about in brackets).

Stock Rising
Tychonick (puck-moving D)
Kleven (big, physical, good shot)
Halliday (offense)
Merilainen (backup/starter)
Ostapchuk (physical/some offense)
Donovan (high skill)

Stock Unchanged
Loheit (pest)
Boucher (checking forward)
Latimer (fast)
Johansson (fast/hard worker)
Pettersson (hard worker/scoring)
Dyck (hard work/offense)
Nordberg (big but slow)
Reidler (he’s huge!)

Stock Declining
Novak (offense)
Roger (big, fast, no hands)
Romeo (big)
Wallberg (big/skating)
O’Neill (plays hard/offense)
Hamara (well-rounded)

The list simply represents performance, not what I think the org will do. For instance, I don’t think Tychonik‘s career year makes much different, just as Hamara‘s underwhelming junior season doesn’t either. What the Sens desperately need is more puckmoving talent on the blueline and more skill upfront (both elements are in relative short supply above). I know some fans might think the top-six is set so why worry about skill, but players get hurt, players decline, cap crunch can come–you always want more talent no matter what your situation is. There would be less resistance, I think, from the fanbase about the blueline, where the NHL group is one injury away from serious weakness. What’s most clear from this list is how high the Sens value physicality and hard work–outside top picks, that seems to matter more than anything else.

This article was written by Peter Levi