Sens Prospects Turning Pro Next Season

As an adjunct to my BSens review (as well as future speculation about Ottawa’s roster), let’s take a look at Sens prospects who will or could be turning pro for the 2023-24 season. Those below in green are signed to an ELC.

Jorian Donovan has to go back to junior (his only other option is playing in the NHL)
Luke Loheit (CR, 7-194/18, via the Mika Zibanejad trade) won’t be signed
–Jonny Tychonick (LD, 2-48/18, a pick acquired as part of a pick-swap to get JBD) won’t be signed (he turned pro with Toronto’s ECHL affiliate; technically the Sens hold his rights until August 15th)
-Jakov Novak (C/LW, 7-188/18) signed with the Allen Americans, who are Ottawa’s ECHL affiliate, so in theory he could get a PTO or AHL-contract from the BSens
Leevi Merilainen (G, 3-71/20, pick acquired in the Dylan DeMelo trade) will be playing in Belleville.

We also need to keep in mind what we know about Belleville’s roster next season. Given the nature of the AHL, many spots are up for grabs and prospects can graduate to the NHL, but here’s how things stand right now (those with a decent chance to be on Ottawa’s roster are in italics):
Goaltenders (2): Merilainen, Sogaard
Defense (3): Thomson (R), Guenette (R), Heatherington (L)
Forwards (5): Jarventie (LW), Greig (C/LW), Crookshank (LW), Daoust (LW), Reinhardt (LW)
Goaltenders (2): Mandolese, Ferguson
Defense (3): Bernard-Docker (R), Aspirot (L), Larsson (L)
RFA (2): Lodin (C/LW), Sokolov (RW)
This means there’s plenty of room at forward, especially on the right side and at center, while the same applies to defense on the left side.

Pro Candidates

Stephen Halliday (Jul/02) CL, (4-104/22), NCAA 40-9-32-41
The only prospect the Sens don’t have to sign who could be signed (given his season); I don’t think it’s likely (memories of Louie Caporusso loom–still playing in the ECHL after years in Europe), but no one else for whom a decision must be made is anywhere near turning pro.

Ben Roger (Nov/22) RD, 2-49/21, OHL 49-2-11-13
Selected after a pick-swap with St. Louis; he signed an ATO with the BSens towards the end of the season, but never dressed (unlike Donovan). Despite his early selection (2nd-round), he was picked on hope–that puck skills would evolve–but that’s almost never the case (unlike defensive play or skating). I’m not sure what the Sens will do with him–the numbers don’t support signing an ELC, but they clearly like the package he represents.

Tyler Boucher (Jan/03) RW, 1-10/21, OHL 21-10-7-17
Since he was drafted he’s struggled, but barring a trade he’ll be trying to justify his draft position in Belleville. There’s a lot to criticize about the pick, someone whosenot going to score that much, though, due to a lack of offensive IQ and NHL speed, but he could be a “hard to play against” bottom-six winger who plays every day.” He’s also struggled to stay healthy (often the case with rugged players), with just 89 games over the last three years.

Carson Latimer (Jan/03) RW, 4-123/21, WHL 53-14-26-40
The pick acquired as part of a pick-swap with Carolina; his claim to fame was speed, but his junior numbers never really evolved so I suspect he’s not in the org’s future plans.

Zach Ostapchuk (May/03) CL, 2-39/21, WHL 55-31-36-67
A pick via the Karlsson trade; not a top-line player, but projects as a third or fourth-liner who will get plenty of ice time in Belleville. The latest sentiment: “I don’t think he’s going to be the most natural scorer as a pro who makes a ton of plays, but he has some offense. I think he’s for sure a bottom-six winger, with a chance at more if his offense is more consistent.” Keep in mind that Corey Pronman generally thinks no one will score much at the NHL-level, but in this case I think his assessment is fair.

Chandler Romeo (Jul/03) LD, 7-202/21, OHL 54-9-8-17
Picked because of his size and fitness, but just like Roger above, the puck skills are modest. He is a big blueliner, so there’s a chance the org will give him a shot (perhaps on an AHL-contract).

Tomas Hamara (Mar/04) LD, 3-87/22, OHL 56-2-15-17
Pick acquired in the Mike Reilly trade; because he was drafted from Europe, he could turn pro, but given his lackluster season in the OHL I think the Sens will let him play another year before doing so. He seems like a carbon copy of JBD. “As a 6-foot defenseman who doesn’t excel at either end it’s unclear what his NHL role would be, but he has a good enough toolkit to be a third-pair defenseman.” I have no idea why the Sens were so eager to sign him, but maybe this was an off year for the Czech defender.

What I think we’ll get is Boucher and Ostapchuk in Belleville; possibly Novak on an AHL-deal, with an outside chance of Romeo or Roger getting something similar.

This article was written by Peter Levi



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