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)

Ottawa Senators Mock Draft

markus nurmi

Pictured above is the rarest of things: a prospect drafted from Finland (with Randy Lee looking like he’d rather be anywhere else).

With my massive draft article now posted as well as my look at Ottawa’s draft tendencies, it’s time to make predictions for who the Sens will pick in the 2017 draft. This is a difficult exercise because it’s impossible to know who will be available when the Sens pick, but it’s fun to speculate on possibilities based on who we might expect to be available. As a quick refresh, here’s the basics of what the Sens do: draft out of Sweden, draft out of the CHL, draft out of the US leagues; what they don’t do: draft Russians, draft smaller players, draft out of the rest of Europe, draft goaltenders early.  With that said, let’s take a look at who they might land.  I’ve listed six players around the pick based on my list (two just before, the actual number, and three after), and we’ll tackle them for probability (with the most likely in green).

First Round Pick (1-28)
26. Jason Robertson (OHL forward) – this is a popular online pick, but it’s unlikely he’ll drop to them
27. Urho Vaakanainen (D; Finland) – he plays in Finland and picking Markus Nurmi last year doesn’t convince me we’ll get a bunch of Finns this year (bus tickets for Mikko Ruutu cost money kids!)
28. Jake Oettinger (G; NCAA) – the Sens don’t draft goaltenders in the first round; they also don’t draft college players in the first round
29. Kole Lind (WHL forward) – the most probable pick
30. Shane Bowers (USHL forward) – the Sens have never drafted a USHL player in the first round (the closest is Colin White from the US developmental program, but Bowers doesn’t have that pedigree)
31. Henri Jokiharju (D; WHL) – I’m not convinced the Sens are over their aversion to taking Finns, so I think Conor Timmins (#33; D; OHL) is more likely (I have Maxime Comtois at #32, but think the Sens would take Timmins)

Second Round Pick (2-47; from Calgary)
45. Keith Petruzzeli (G; USHL) – Sens don’t really draft goalies in the second round either
46. Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen (G; Finland) – he’s Finnish and a goaltender, so no
47. Nikita Popugayev (or Popugaev) (D; WHL) – he’s Russian
48. Joni Ikonen (SWE forward) – he’s 5’10 and Finnish
49. Jake Leschyshyn (WHL forward) – the son of the former NHLer and Senator Curtis, he’s very much in Ottawa’s wheelhouse
50. Joshua Brook (D; WHL) – a plausible alternative to Leschyshyn

Fourth Round Pick (4-121)
119. Nate Knoepke (D; USDP) – he fits Ottawa’s drafting trends (players in the US system proliferate from the fourth round onwards)
120. Tyler Inamoto (D; USDP) – see above
121. Noah Cates (US high school forward) – in the wheelhouse
122. Adam Thilander/Tilander (D; OHL) – also in the wheelhouse
123. Rickard Hugg (SWE forward) – at 5’10 he’s too small for Ottawa, so #124 Jocktan Chainey (D; QMJHL) is a reasonable option

Sixth Round Pick (6-183)
181. Yaroslav Alexeyeev/Alexeev (QMJHL forward) – he’s Russian
182. Calle Sjalin (D; SWE) – in the wheelhouse, although I don’t think the Sens have picked a Division 1 player before (he could easily slide to their pick)
183. Corey Andonovski (CISAA forward) – he comes from the kind of obscure league the Sens occasionally tap into (ala Colin Greening)
184. Jordan Hollett (G; WHL) – I’m a dubious because I can’t recall them drafting a backup goalie with so few games played before
185. Finn Evans (OJHL forward) – in the wheelhouse

It’s possible, depending on how things play out, that the options above would not include a player from Sweden and the inclination to pick one is strong (have to justify those European scouts somehow), so here are the possibilities that are close to the various picks: Jesper BoqvistLucas Elvenes; and Jonatan Asplund (D).

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The Silver Seven’s Ary M and Colin have been doing a series of draft articles on the Sens and I thought I’d go through them.  Rather than compose a list as I have above they’d pushed out six articles covering forwards, defense, goaltenders, overage players, European defensemen, and late round forwards (I’m amazed at how many separate pieces they’ve pushed out on the topic).  Here are my thoughts:

European Defensemen
Jonatan Asplund (Swe SuperElit) – a possibility
Juho Korhonen (Finn Jun) – no (he’s 5’9); he’s also not listed by anyone
Otto Latvala (Finn Jun; WJC-18) – he’s Finnish so seems unlikely
Gustav Lindstrom (Swe Allsvenskan) – a possibility
Adam Thilander/Tilander (Swe SuperElit; WJC-18) – despite being smallish at 6’0 he is within the org’s range, so maybe
Overage
Giorgio Estephan (WHL; Buf 6-152/15) – he’s not on anyone’s radar (the Sens do go off-board occasionally, but with forwards it’s either off of back-to-back big numbers (Hoffman) or numbers plus grit (Smith))
Nikita Korostelev (OHL; Tor 7-185/15) – he’s Russian (and see the no radar above)
Denis Smirnov (NCAA) – he’s 5’8
Tim Soderlund (SHL) – he’s 5’9
Matt Timms (D) (OHL) – the Sens haven’t picked a D-man under 6’0 since 2009 (he’s 5’10); see the no radar above
Linus Weissbach (USHL) – he’s 5’9
Forwards
Aleksi Heponiemi (WHL) – he’s 5’10
Joni Ikonen (Swe SuperElit) – no (see above)
Antoine Morand (QMJHL) – I think it’s unlikely (he’s 5’10)
Jason Robertson (OHL) – see above
Kailer Yamamoto (WHL) – he’s 5’8!
Late Round Forwards
Linus Nyman (OHL) – he’s 5’9
Jonas Rondbjerg (Swe SuperElit) – possibility
Mason Shaw (WHL) – 5’9
Zach Solow (USHL) – as above
Joel Teasdale (QMJHL) – possibility
Defense
Erik Brannstrom (SHL) – 5’9
Henri Jokiharju (WHL) – see above
Pierre-Olivier Joseph (QMJHL) – possible
Conor Timmins (OHL) – see above
Filip Westerlund (SHL) – 5’11 so not very likely
Goaltenders
Adam Ahman (Swe SuperElit) – no chance (he’s 6’0)
Michael DiPietro (OHL) – as above
Olle Eriksson Ek (Swe SuperElit) – possibility
Lassi Lehtinen (Finn junior) – 5’11 and not listed by anyone other than CS
Jake Oettinger (NCAA) – see above

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa Senators Draft Trends

I was going to wait for Ary M and Colin’s draft series to conclude before putting out anything of my own, but as that’s going to stretch on for quite some time I decided to move ahead. The Senators have followed particular trends since John Muckler was fired in 2007, and ignoring that specific draft (since Bryan Murray’s people were not in place for it), let’s look at the trends from 2008 until the present.  Before we dig into the numbers, here are the current picks for Ottawa: 28th, 47th (Cal), 121st, 183rd (their 2nd is with Tor, 3rd to Chi (via Car), 5th to Pit, 7th to SJ).

First Round
1-6/11 Mika Zibanejad – 6’2; Djurgardens (SuperElit/SHL/WJC-18)
1-9/09 Jared Cowen (D) – 6’5; Spokane (WHL)
1-11/16 Logan Brown – 6’6; Windsor (OHL; WJC-18)
1-13/13 Curtis Lazar – 6’0; Edmonton (WHL)
1-15/08 Erik Karlsson (D) – 5’ll; Frolunda (SuperElit/WJC-18)
1-15/12 Cody Ceci (D) – 6’2; Ottawa (OHL)
1-18/15 Thomas Chabot (D) – 6’2; Saint John (QMJHL)
1-21/11 Stefan Noesen – 6’1; Plymouth (OHL)
1-21/15 Colin White – 6’1; USDP (WJC-18)
1-24/11 Matt Puempel – 6’2; Peterborough (OHL)

Second Round
2-36/15 Gabriel Gagne – 6’5; Victoriaville (QMJHL)
2-39/09 Jakob Silverberg – 6’1; Brynas (SuperElit)
2-40/14 Andreas Englund (D) – 6’3; Djurgardens (SuperElit; WJC-18)
2-42/08 Patrick Wiercioch (D) – 6’5; Omaha (USHL)
2-42/16 Jonathan Dahlen – 5’11; Timra (Allsvenskan)
2-46/09 Robin Lehner (G) – 6’3; Frolunda (SuperElit)
2-48/15 Filip Chlapik – 6’1; Charlottetown (QMJHL)
2-61/11 Shane Prince – 5’10; Ottawa (OHL)

Third Round
3-70/14 Miles Gendron (D) – 6’3; The Rivers (USHS)
3-76/10 Jakub Culek – 6’3; Rimouski (QMJHL)
3-76/12 Chris Driedger (G) – 6’4; Calgary (WHL)
3-78/13 Marcus Hogberg (G) – 6’5; Linkoping (SuperElit)
3-79/08 Zack Smith – overage; 6’2; Swift Current (WHL)
3-82/12 Jarrod Maidens – 6’1; Owen Sound (OHL)

Fourth Round
4-96/11 Jean-Gabriel Pageau – 5’9; Gatineau (QMJHL)
4-100/09 Chris Wideman (D) – 5’10; Miami (NCAA)
4-100/14 Shane Eiserman – 6’2; Dubuque (USHL)
4-102/13 Tobias Lindberg – 6’2; Djurgardens (SuperElit)
4-103/16 Todd Burgess – 6’2; Fairbanks (NAHL)
4-106/10 Marcus Sorensen – 5’11; Sodertalje (SuperElit)
4-106/12 Tim Boyle (D) – 6’2; Noble & Greenough (USHS)
4-107/15 Christian Wolanin (D) – 6’1; Muskegon (USHL)
4-108/13 Ben Harpur (D) – 6’6; Guelph (OHL)
4-109/08 Andre Petersson – 5’10; HV71 (SuperElit; WJC-18)
4-109/15 Filip Ahl – 6’3; HV71 (SuperElit; WJC-18)
4-119/08 Derek Grant – 6’3; Langley (BCHL)

Fifth Round
5-126/11 Fredrik Claesson – 6’0; Djurgardens (SHL)
5-130/09 Mike Hoffman – overage; 6’1; Drummondville (QMJHL)
5-133/16 Maxime Lajoie (D) _ 6’0; Swift Current (WHL)
5-136/12 Robert Baillargeon – 6’0; Indiana (USHL)
5-138/13 Vincent Dunn – 6’0; Val-d’Or (QMJHL)
5-139/08 Mark Borowiecki (D) – 6’1; Smith Falls (CJHL)
5-139/15 Christian Jaros (D) – 6’3; Lulea (SHL; WJC-20)
5-146/09 Jeff Costello – 5’11; Cedar Rapids (USHL)

Sixth Round
6-156/11 Darren Kramer – overage; 6’1; Spokane (WHL)
6-160/09 Corey Cowick – 6’3; Ottawa (OHL)
6-161/13 Chris Leblanc – 6’3; overage; South Shore (EJHL)
6-163/16 Markus Nurmi – 6’3; TPS (U20; WJC-18)
6-166/12 Francois Brassard (G) – 6’1; Quebec (QMJHL)
6-168/13 Quentin Shore – 6’2; Denver (NCAA)
6-171/11 Max McCormick – 5’11; Sioux City (USHL)
6-178/10 Mark Stone – 6’2; Brandon (WHL)

Seventh Round
7-186/11 Jordan Fransoo (D) – 6’3; Brandon (WHL)
7-189/14 Kelly Summers (D) – 6’1; Carleton (CCHL)
7-190/09 Brad Peltz – 6’0; Avon (USHS)
7-190/14 Francis Perron – 6’0; Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
7-191/09 Michael Sdao (D) – 6’4; Lincoln (USHL)
7-196/10 Bryce Aneloski (D) – overage 6’2; Cedar Rapids (USHL)
7-196/12 Mikael Wikstrand (D) – 6’2; Mora (Allsvenskan)
7-199/08 Emil Sandin – 5’10; Brynas (SuperElit)
7-199/15 Joel Daccord (G) – 6’2; Cushing (USHS)
7-204/11 Ryan Dzingel – 6’0; Lincoln (USHL)

So, basic numbers first (through 9 drafts):
CHL (OHL, WHL, QMJHL, tier-2): 28
US systems (USHS, USHL, NCAA): 18
Europe (Sweden, Finland): 16
Goaltenders: 5 (2 CHL, 2 Sweden, 1 US)
Defensemen: 20 (9 CHL, 7 US, 4 Sweden)
Forwards: 37 (17 CHL, 10 Sweden, 10 US)

Thoughts: in general there’s not much preference, other than the restriction of CHL, US, and Swedish systems.  There are trends within those limitations, but I’ll get to them later.

First-rounders (10): 7 CHL, 2 Sweden, 1 US; 4 Defensemen
Second-rounders (8): 4 Sweden, 3 CHL, 1 US; 1 Goalie, 2 Defensemen
Third-rounders (6): 4 CHL, 1 Swede, 1 US; 2 Goalies, 1 Defenseman
Fourth-rounders (12): 5 US, 4 Sweden, 3 CHL; 4 Defensemen
Fifth-rounders (8): 4 CHL, 2 Sweden, 2 US; 4 Defensemen
Sixth-rounders (8): 4 CHL, 3 US, 1 Finland; 1 Goalie
Seventh-rounders (10): 5 US, 3 CHL, 2 Sweden; 1 Goalie, 5 Defensemen

Thoughts: with few exceptions, the top-90 picks will be either from the CHL or Sweden; there has been a shift towards the CHL for the first-round (5 straight selections are from Canadian junior), but otherwise this preference is unchanged. The org also likes to stash various players in college or Europe from the fourth-round onwards (all tier-2 picks are within this range as well as 15 of the 18 US selections; in total 27 of 38 have more time on the development clock). What’s also clear is that goaltenders are not first-round material (we haven’t had even a second round selection since 2009).

Size*
6’0: Peltz (09), Claesson (11), Dzingel (11), Baillargeon (12), Lazar (13), Dunn (13), Perron (14), Lajoie (16)
Under 6’0: Karlsson (08), Peterson (08), Sandin (08), Wideman (09), Costello (09), Sorensen (10), Prince (11), Pageau (11), McCormick (11), Dahlen (16)
Goalies 6’0 and under: none
Defenseman under 6’0: Karlsson (08), Wideman (09)
*we can quibble over size all day long, since teams tend to “grow” players, but for the sake of simplicity I’m using what’s listed on Elite Prospects

Thoughts: it’s painfully obvious that whatever tolerance the organisation had for smaller players has ebbed away.  Since 2011 only one player under 6’0 has been drafted (Dahlen), and he was subsequently moved.  Five players at the bubble height have been taken in that time, with one already moved (Lazar), one failed (Dunn), one unsigned (Baillargeon), and the other two undetermined (Perron and Lajoie). In essence the Senators will not take a smaller player outside of extraordinary circumstances.

Trends:
-First-round players are from the CHL and will not be a goalie
-Rounds 1-3 are from the CHL or Sweden
-No goaltenders until round 3 at the earliest
-Always 1 player from Sweden and 1 from the US systems taken; there’s also been at least one French-Canadian player picked since 2008
-Despite having done so in the past, it’s unlikely the Sens will take a tier-2 or NCAA player (just 1 in the last 8 years and 1 in the last 7 respectively)
-Despite taking a Finnish player last year, Ottawa does not draft from anywhere in Europe outside of Sweden
-Russians are not drafted regardless of circumstances
-Size is important; just one player under 6’0 has been taken the last five drafts; no goalie 6’0 or smaller has ever been drafted by this org; there hasn’t been a D under 6’0 since 2009
-The org has relied more on the Q than the OHL and WHL of late (4 of the 6 players drafted from the CHL in the last 3 years have been from the Q)
-As much as Dorion/Lee still overvalue toughness, they haven’t drafted a bonafide goon since Kramer (2011); they may also be moving away from drafting agitators/pests, as neither Dunn (13) nor Eiserman (14) have panned out; perhaps they’re settling on big as opposed to targeting aggression

I’ll get into my specific picks for Ottawa subsequently, but with all the mock drafts out there (and more forthcoming) I think remembering the tendencies of what the org actually does will get you closer to what’s actually likely.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

fail

Thankfully the Alex Chiasson era is over in Ottawa, as he was shipped off to Calgary in exchange for underwhelming defensive prospect Patrick Sieloff.  The latter, a former second-round pick by Calgary (2-42/12), never had impressive numbers either when he was drafted or since (reading the scouting reports on him everything praises his strength and competitiveness rather than his skill).  He’s signed for the upcoming season, so it looks like B-Sens fans can look forward to his 10-15 points playing the left side.  That said, the fact that the Sens got anything for Chiasson is something.

2016_NHL_Entry_Draft_logo

I posted my review of draft prognostication (mein gott in himmel! Nichols RT’d it), as well as my thoughts on Ottawa’s draft, so those of you interested you can check them out via the links.

Speaking of the draft, both The Silver Seven and The 6th Sens have weighed in on the Sens performance.  Nichols’ piece leans heavily on Corey Pronman (because reasons) and McKeen‘s (a little quid pro quo for Grant McCagg’s appearance on his podcast) when it comes to analysis.  I’m not a big fan of either (I have more time for the latter), and Nichol’s piece would benefit from the inclusion of multiple scouting profiles on each prospect, but he does cite an SBNation profile I missed that I’ll quote about Todd Burgess:

There are a couple factors working against Burgess’ impressive point total. First, he’s already two years past his initial draft year, so he’s an older player, dominating a league where it’s traditionally tougher for a player to be drafted from. Second, he played a softer schedule even by NAHL standards. Due to travel/cost considerations, the Ice Dogs play an unbalanced schedule with 16 games against fellow Alaska team Kenai River, who only won four games this season. Burgess scored 32 of his 95 points in those 16 games. He averaged about 1.4 points per game against everybody else, so the extra Kenai games added about an extra ten points to his total

For those of you who math this would take his totals down to 47 points in 34 games, which would still lead the league in points-per-game, but not by as wide a margin.  This isn’t to say he’s a bad pick or poor prospect, but to temper expectations (perhaps he’ll be another fourth-round dud ala Ben Blood (a Pronman favourite) or Timothy Boyle), or perhaps not–we’ll have four years in the NCAA before we’ll know for sure.

Moving along Nichols echoes a point about the Sens blueline depth that I share:

the Senators don’t have a lot of good puck-moving defencemen within their system – whether it’s at the AHL level, the junior ranks or in Europe. It seems like the bulk of their defensive prospects are blue collar types who play the prototypical defensive style that is becoming more and more outmoded as the years pass

The aforementioned Sieloff certainly fits that outmoded category.

Nichols posted a piece in the midst of writing all this that I’ll shoehorn here because it’s draft-related and the thing that struck me is very short: Pierre Dorion gave us the “they have size” comment for Burgess and Markus Nurmi–yay?

As for Trevor Shackles writing for The Silver Seven, his piece is more about the depth in the organisation, noting the disappointing 2012 draft and middling 2013 effort (now that Tobias Lindberg is gone).  I’m less enthused with Andreas Englund than most of the fanbase (until I see signs that he can move the puck he’s just another 7th defenseman), but I do like Francis Perron.  I don’t think this draft (2016) will match the twosome from 2015 (Thomas Chabot and Colin White), but it’s a solid haul.

prospects

Sens development camp is underway as of today and I like to see who they invite as sometimes we later see these players signed by the organisation later for the AHL or ECHL:
Michael Babcock (RW) – son of the NHL coach, he’s in his first year at Merrimack (so yet another teammate of Chris Leblanc); an unimpressive USHL player, his rookie year in the NCAA was no different (38-3-4-7); at only 5’9 he’s an oddity at a Sens camp
Vito Bavaro (RW) – just graduated from high school on his way to Sacred Heart in the NCAA (28-17-20-37)
Domenic Commisso (C) – an OHLer I expected to be drafted this year (#152), he’ll be eligible next year (at 5’9 he’s not someone I’d expect the Sens to take); 66-18-24-42
Hampus Gustafsson (LW) – Chris Leblanc’s teammate from Merrimack, the 6’4 Swede is coming off another solid season in the NCAA (39-8-18-26); he’s entering his senior year
Hunter Miska (G) – after an impressive year in the BCHL he put up a middling season in the USHL (2.46 .913, tied for 11th in the league in save percentage), prior to his attending Minnesota-Duluth in the NCAA
Brady Reagan (DR) – 6’3 WHLer will go through the draft again next year (71-6-14-20)
Eric Robinson (LW) – Buddy’s brother has been a pretty unremarkable NCAA player at Princeton (31-7-4-11)
Zach Saar (RW) – he’s 6’5 and that appears to be the only reason the Penn State player is in camp (25-6-3-9)

Gnomes_plan

In somewhat tangential news Sportsnet shook up their hockey coverage as attempts to appeal to a younger audience with George Stroumboulopoulos were thought to have failed (the overall audience has dropped by 30% in just two years), so Ron MacLean has replaced him as a sop to older fans.  I was less interested in the host change than in the firing of the insufferable Glenn Healy along with P. J. Stock (Damien Cox was shuffled to PTS which services an even older demographic).  I won’t miss either Healy or Cox, while I’m indifferent to Stock (a feeling apparently in common with the audience).  For those who missed it, I wrote a piece back in March discussing the struggles of traditional sports in appealing to a younger demographic–the very conservative hockey powers are certainly not in a good position to stop the trend.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa Senators Draft Preview

One of the fun things about the draft is making predictions.  Despite the Ottawa organisation having many of the same pieces since Bryan Murray became GM (back in 2007), deciding on who they will pick is a devilish task.  Due to various constraints on my time I didn’t make predictions for last year’s draft, but I’ve managed to squeeze it in this time around.

The framework of how I’ll do this is: 1) look at Ottawa’s trends, 2) use my master list to determine who will be available, 3) provide potential options for each pick and predict which is the best.

History

Craig Smith quite rightly looks at picks after Tim Murray left for Buffalo (although since that was mid-season his fingerprints remain on the 2014 draft; I made a comparison between Tim’s drafts and Ottawa’s not long ago).  With that said there are older trends that indicate the preferences of the Sens since Bryan Murray was hired as GM.  Without further ado, and skipping over the 2007 draft as that’s John Muckler’s draft in all but name, here’s what we have:
2008: Sweden 3, WHL 2, BCHL/CCHL 2
2009: USHL/USHS 3, Sweden 2, WHL 1, QMJHL 1, OHL 1, NCAA 1
2010: QMJHL 1, WHL 1, USHL 1, Sweden 1
2011: OHL 3, Sweden 2, WHL 2, USHL 2, QMJHL 1
2012: OHL 2, USHL/USHS 2, QMJHL 1, WHL 1, Sweden 1
2013: Sweden 2, WHL 1, OHL 1, QMJHL 1, NCAA 1, EJHL 1
2014: USHL/USHS 2, QMJHL 1, Sweden 1, CCHL 1
2015: QMJHL 3, USHL/USHS 3, Sweden 2

Totals
NCAA/USHL/USHS/EJHL 16 (0-4-1-2-2-2-2-3)
Sweden 14 (3-2-1-2-1-2-1-2)
QMJHL 9 (0-1-1-1-1-1-1-3)
WHL 8 (2-1-1-2-1-1-0-0)
OHL 7 (0-1-0-3-2-1-0-0)
BCHL/CCHL 3 (2-0-0-0-0-0-1-0)

Note: Ottawa has not drafted a player under 6’0 since 2011

Notable organisation changes:
-Pierre Dorion was added after the 2007 draft as head scout (arriving from the Rangers)
-Tim Murray left mid-season in 2014, having come to Ottawa at the same time as Dorion (and also from the Rangers)
-Swedish scout Anders Forsberg (now with Buffalo) was with the org for the 08-10 drafts

Trends

In terms of CHL activity the QMJHL has remained steady while both the WHL and OHL have fallen off–I think some of this (particularly the WHL) is purely coincidence as head scout Bob Lowes is a western guy; there’s been a consistent emphasis on American leagues; the org always picks at least one player from Sweden, but no players from any other European league outside of Sweden and no Russians in any context (for example, the Sens gave up the chance to draft Vladimir Tarasenko to acquire David Rundblad in 2010).

What can we expect?  We’re guaranteed at least one QMJHL player, one Swede (what other option do the European scouts have?), and one player from the various US systems.  With that said, here are my predictions:

1-12 – the rankings puts Clayton Keller here, but given his size (5’10) either defenseman Dante Fabbro or Jake Bean (Smith’s choice above) are strong possibilities (despite being on the short side for defensemen, both around 6’0)–both are western players (BCHL and WHL) and I’m inclined to agree with Smith’s pick
2-42 – rankings have WHL defenseman Lucas Johansen here, but I don’t see back-to-back WHL blueliners (or blueliners in general) being selected, so Taylor Raddysh (the OHL rightwinger) is my guess
3-80 – I have another defenseman here (OHLer Sean Day), but I think QMJHL center/RW Maxime Fortier (who isn’t much further down) is more likely despite his size (at 5’10 he would break the 6’0 obsession)
4-103 – WHL center Beck Malenstyn slots here, although I think 6’5 WHLer Hudson Elynuik is more likely (Swedish forward Jesper Bratt is a possibility, but at 5’10 this is a bit of a stretch)
5-133 – 6’7 OHL Belarussian overage defenseman Stepan Falkovksy slots here, but I don’t see him being taken (he’s almost Russian and his numbers aren’t that impressive); USHL defenseman Samuel Rossini is next up, but USDP RW William Lockwood looks more likely to me (the former has traditional size, but his numbers aren’t remarkable)
6-163 – USHS forward Michael Graham slots here, but we’re due for at least one Swede so I like 6’3 overage defenseman Filip Berglund

This leaves me with:
Jake Bean (WHL)
Taylor Raddysh (OHL)
Maxime Fortier (QMJHL)
Hudson Elynuik (WHL)
William Lockwood (USDP)
Filip Berglund (Sweden)

This is a bit light on the US-system side of things and includes two players below the Sens usual height-minimum (Fortier and Lockwood), but it’s close enough to organisational trends to be reasonable.  Ottawa is notorious for taking players who aren’t well known or regarded however, so at least one pick is likely to be a player no one expects.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing Ottawa’s 2014 NHL Draft

With the draft in the books it’s time to take a look at how the Ottawa Senators did.  While they were unable to get a first round pick, the Sens picked in the second round for the first time since 2011.  The normal Murray draft trends continued, as they selected a local kid (Summers), a player from the QMJHL (Perron), picked from Sweden (Englund) and US leagues (Eiserman), but did not take anyone from the WHL (a staple) or go completely off the board.  While the team failed to trade Jason Spezza, they did make a minor deal with Winnipeg in order to acquire the pick they took Summers with (giving up their 6th in 2015).   I’ve compiled all the scouting reports I have.  Here’s who was picked (acronyms: Red Line Report (RLR), International Scouting Service (ISS), Hockey Prospect‘s (HP), and Future Considerations (FC)):

2-40 Andreas Englund (DL 6’3 SuperElit Djurgarden 33-5-5-10) Ranked: HP 42 RLR 44 FC 63 ISS 67
Physical defenseman with good feet was picked ahead of projections; scouts question his puck-skills, but they did the same for Mikael Wikstrand so I’ll take a wait-and-see attitude on that.  He’ll play for Djurgarden in the fall (either their junior or men’s team, or more likely, both).
ISS: Englund is a big, physical defenseman who shows strong toughness below the goal and when battling for pucks. Strong awareness and anticipation to step up and lay the body. Above average mobility for his size and good feet to quickly react and takeaway offensive room. Doesn’t possess many offensive weapons as he thrives in the defensive leadership role utilizing every inch of his 6.03 frame. Thrives playing in a similar role with Djurgardens Junior and Allsvenskan this year where he could focus on his shutdown game and defending his own zone. Elevated his game to a higher level with Sweden at the U18 World Championships, took on a leadership role on the backend and showed tremendous character in doing the little things needed to win.   Size/Strength  Very Good Skating   Good Puck Skills  Average Shot   Average Offensive Play  Average Defensive Play  Excellent Physical Play  Very Good Competitiveness Very Good Hockey Sense  Very Good
HP: Englund is really big kid who competes hard. He didn’t show us a huge amount of hockey sense but he can really skate. He was in a group of the ‘big three’ we needed to see more of coming into the season. He’s the best skater by far over Lagesson and Olas-Mattsson. The size, skating ability and compete level make it easy to rank him as a draftable player. He plays with heart and wants to make a difference every game. He could have a wide range of rankings amongst the NHL teams.
FC: A two-way defenseman who is more physical than technical, Englund is solid in his own zone and pretty dangerous on the opposing blueline. Englund demonstrates impressive mobility and speed. He is a powerful skater and gets going quickly. He is balanced and controlled on his skates, and can move well for his size. He demonstrates strength on the puck and the ability to escape pressure in his own zone. Englund makes a good first pass and sends his team quickly up ice with quick outlets. He is a little too aggressive at times in his own zone, but he was mostly smart with his decision making. He takes space away quickly and isn’t afraid to use his body to take a man off the puck. He contains his man well and is strong against some bigger forwards. He shuts players down well with his size and is impressive down low in his own end, with the ability to win pucks and earn his team possession. Englund edges out opposing forwards well into the corners. Very strong and harsh on opponents in front of the net. Can be very tenacious, especially in those little one-on-one battles. NHL POTENTIAL: Top-Six Two-Way Defenseman

3-70 Miles Gendron (DL 6’2 USHS Rivers 22-6-13-19) Ranked: HP 73 RLR 77 ISS 121 FC 179
Mixed opinions from scouts on the former forward; there are questions about how well he’s adapted to being a defenseman, but these are early days in his development.  He’s slated to play in the BCHL in September and then go to the NCAA with University of Connecticut subsequently.
ISS: A gifted offensive player with natural play- making ability. An excellent skater with good speed who can change gears without hesitation and loves carrying the puck. Possesses a hard, accurate point shot that he can get off in no time and is adept at skating in from the blue-line and making cross-crease passes to his team-mates. Had played as a forward in the past and is a work in progress defensively who can sometimes create too many turnovers due to his high-risk approach. Tries to do too much on his own. Still needs to get stronger physically as he has a lanky frame. Was Green Bay’s 11th Round Pick, 177th Overall in 2014 USHL draft and has verbal with University of Connecticut, 2015-16.  Size/Strength  Good Skating   Excellent Puck Skills  Very Good Shot   Good Offensive Play  Very Good Defensive Play  Average Physical Play  Average Competitiveness Good Hockey Sense  Good
HP: Miles is an outstanding skater, especially for his size and he utilizes his size and speed to take the puck end to end. He has strong puck handling ability but likes to utilize his skating to his advantage. Miles is a bit of a project as he needs to get stronger and needs to improve defensively but he has the skating to recover when he goes out of position. He has signed on to join the Penticton Vees of the BCHL for one year before heading to the University of Connecticut in September 2015. He will be a long term project but could really pay off in the end to a team that remains patient.
FC: A very raw, but talented puck-moving defender. Made the switch to defense for his senior year and there have been many struggles. With his size, his exceptional skating ability and his ability to skate with the puck, he can be a dangerous puck rusher. Looks lost during some of his shifts as he struggles to find proper position. However, when he gets the puck on his stick, he has the ability to create offense quite quickly by making a strong, long-range breakout pass or carrying it out of his zone himself. Very creative, has impressive vision and is able to control the puck well with his skilled hands and reach. Might have the best skating ability on the East Coast. Has a decent wrist shot, but needs to improve his velocity and release of his slap shot. Playing as a defenseman might have been the wrong choice. After watching him closely since last summer, he has yet to develop any type of feel for the game from the backend. Has no idea how to keep a solid gap, and often has incredibly poor stick position. Could a move back to forward be in the cards? NHL POTENTIAL: Top-Six Offensive Blueliner

4-100 Shane Eiserman (LW 6’2 USHL Dubuque 53-16-24-40) Ranked: ISS 48 FC 57 RLR 95 HP 97
Mixed feelings about Eiserman who dropped beyond anyone’s expectations (if not by much); some question his work-ethic, his skating, and whether he’s plateau’d, but projects as a rugged power forward and pest.  He’s committed to the University of New Hampshire (NCAA) in the fall.
ISS: Eiserman has come a long way in the past few years. His development with the US NTPD was strong and developed him into an extremely competitive player. He is a relentless and intimidating forechecker who can be like a bull in a china shop at times. He likes to battle and play the body as much as he possibly and that includes driving lanes right down the middle of the ice or the most direct route to the net, regardless of how many opponents occupy those lanes. It is not uncommon to see him mixing it up around the net and making life hard for opposing goaltenders. He has a strong powerful stride and shows great balance on his skates and can also show off a strong shot from time to time.  He can lose sight of other options other than the net at times and that can cost him here and there.  Size/Strength  Very Good Skating   Very Good Puck Skills  Good Shot   Very Good Offensive Play  Good Defensive Play  Good Physical Play  Very Good Competitiveness Very Good Hockey Sense  Very Good
HP: The QMJHL draftee opted for the USNTDP for a season before leaving the national program for Dubuque after the 2012-2013 season. While with the national program he also represented Team USA at the 2013 U18’s, where he recorded one assist in six games during the tournament. Eiserman is a big, strong, physical power forward with the skill and skating ability to match. He is a heavy hitter, and is always looking to put a body on someone whenever given the chance. Some of the biggest hits viewed all season long came courtesy of Shane. High compete level at both ends of the ice, responsible defensively. He backchecks hard, always covers his assignment in the defensive zone, has good support, and is responsible with the puck in his own end. He always plays it safe and smart outleting the puck, and is very largely mistake-free in his own end. He’s a big body, and that combined with his high effort level leads to him winning most board battles. There are times where the effort level was in question, however, and was less consistent than you would like. Offensively, Shane has the skating ability, strength, and hands to bull his way through traffic. When he’s not bulldozing, he’s drawing defenders to him and dishing the puck off to teammates. He uses his line mates well and creates a lot of space for them and himself to operate. He often just simply overpowers defenders, plain and simple.  He has decent foot speed and mobility, but it could be improved. Once at full speed, though, he’s tough to stop. His offensive play did tail off a bit toward the end of the season, and he had a disappointing Clark Cup Playoff, registering only two assists in seven games. The dip was a bit concerning, as were the periods where it seemed like he could work harder, so it will be interesting to see how he responds at the University of New Hampshire next season. If he works hard and the effort is there, he could be a real good power forward at the NHL level, but the effort has to become much more consistent.
FC: A prototypical power forward, Eiserman has effective size and impressive skill with the puck. Eiserman is a very good skater with a powerful stride and highly effective acceleration coming down the wing. He is effective playing a north-south game, and likes to use his power and speed to take the puck down the wing and then find a lane to crash the net. Eiserman has a quick, powerful shot that he’ll use off the rush, and he is also very successful when driving the net from an outside lane. He does a good job finding his teammates off the rush, but there are times where his decision making with the puck fluctuates. He has a tendency to attempt to force the issue with the puck and will give it away or make a poor feed. Eiserman does a good job using his size both with and without the puck. He protects it well, and also does an exceptional job at getting in hard on the forecheck and banging players off the puck. Eiserman will return defensively, but at times, seems lost in his own zone and can improve his defensive game as well as his overall consistency. NHL POTENTIAL: Top-Nine Power Forward

7-189 Kelly Summers (DR 6’2 CCHL Carleton Place 56-17-43-60) Ranked: ISS 61 FC 66 HP 134 RLR 235
Taken well ahead of his rankings (excluding RLR), the blueliner, who may have skating issues to work on (ISS and FC have opposite opinions about it), but otherwise is thought well of.  He’ll play for Clarkson (NCAA) this upcoming season.
RLR: offers no scouting report on him
ISS: Possesses an excellent head for the game and makes smart decisions with the puck. A good skater with plus mobility and above-average play-making skills. Is an effective general with the man advantage and likes the puck on his stick. A reliable defensive zone player that can either carry the puck out thanks to his mobility and skating ability, or who can get the puck up quickly to his forwards. Plays with poise and confidence in all situations and can log a ton of minutes when required. Has a very high panic threshold when being pressured by opposing fore-checkers. Can be physical and has game in this regard, picked his spots to be physical especially on the offensive blue line when pinching. Front net presence was very good with a very active stick.  Size/Strength  Very Good Skating   Very Good Puck Skills  Very Good Shot   Very Good Offensive Play  Very Good Defensive Play  Good Physical Play  Average Competitiveness Good Hockey Sense  Very Good
HP: offers no scouting report on him (despite the ranking)
FC: Summers is a good skater with excellent pivots and lateral movement. Uses his skating ability to get out of trouble and has no problem handling the puck. Always seemed to have his head up. Summers moves the puck extremely well. Good tape-to-tape passes and doesn’t take unnecessary chances coming out of his zone. His point shots always seem to find their way to the net. Strong sense of when to pinch and when to back off. He uses his big frame effectively in the corners, tying up his competition and winning puck battles. Summers is not a player who will get into many fights, but he will not shy away from contact either. Makes smart plays in his own end and has good vision quarterbacking the power play. Challenges rushing players one on one and wins the battles. He also uses his frame to battle at the front of the net and does not get out of position looking for big hits. It’s impressive how much he has worked on his skating since the beginning of the year. He has clearly been working on his foot work and improving his overall speed. NHL POTENTIAL: Top-Six Two-Way Defenseman

7-190 Francis Perron (C/LW 6’0 QMJHL Rouyn-Noranda 68-16-39-55) Ranked: RLR 78 ISS 110 FC 145 HP n/r
Taken well after his usual rankings, the playmaker is knocked below mostly for his size (a dubious quality the further we get into advanced statistical analysis).  He’ll spend a couple of seasons in the Q before the team has to make a decision on him.
ISS: The first thing that stands out about Perron is his smooth fluid stride, good quickness and edge use.  He is a player with good offensive upside; good 1 on 1 skill set and shot, good read/anticipation on the offensive side of the puck, plus sees the ice well and has above average playmaking ability. The biggest weakness in his game is the lack of a physical game and a willingness to play in traffic.  He plays mainly in open areas, seemed unwilling to compete and battle for pucks, and unwilling to compete and battle for space.  He did play in all situations for Rouyn-Noranda and does utilize his speed, quick feet and stick well on the penalty kill.   Size/Strength  Average Skating   Very Good Puck Skills  Good Shot   Good Offensive Play  Good Defensive Play  Average Physical Play  Average Competitiveness Average Hockey Sense  Good
HP: does not include him
FC: Perron is a small-framed, but skilled player. He is a really good skater, agile and shifty, not really powerful though and doesn’t have very good balance. Because of his frame, he is not a physical player. He will finish a check, but it doesn’t impact the game at all. He’s not the kind of guy to engage and he tries to avoid being hit as well. He plays at the point on the power play, where he displays really good, quick hands and nice vision. He can make good, accurate saucer passes and touch passes. Puts the puck into open space for teammates ahead of them being open, and can do so with pressure in his face. He has yet to find that shift-to-shift consistency, but has some flashes each and every game. He can finish plays as well as set them up. He is not a goal scorer per se as his shot is accurate, but not very hard. Perron is the kind of skilled guy who can become a late bloomer if he adds more weight and strength to his frame. He has a good skill set, but the transition to the next level is a question mark due to his size. NHL POTENTIAL: Top-Nine Playmaking Winger

Was it a good draft?  With three college-bound players it will be a long time before we know for certain–none of these players will be suiting up for the Sens or B-Sens in the near future.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa 2014 Draft Thoughts

Just a brief thought on who the Sens may draft today and tomorrow.  Ottawa is a difficult team to predict, regularly taking players who are off the radar (Emil Sandin in 2008, Brad Peltz in 2009, Marcus Sorensen in 2010, Jordan Fransoo in 2011, Tim Boyle in 2012, and so on).  The best fans can do is look at player rankings and pay attention to what the organisation is saying and doing beforehand.  The mantra of best-player-available has been consistent.  The only firm trend the Sens have had under Bryan Murray has not picked from Europe unless it’s from Sweden.  I don’t think this is an actual “rule”, but clearly their scouting is strong in Sweden and circumstances have worked against Finnish or Czech or any other European league.  We can be assured there will be players from the CHL, US leagues, and Sweden taken, but not preclude other possibilities.

The Sens currently have the following picks: 2nd (40), 3rd (70), 4th (100), and 7th (190).  Here’s who they would pick according to each guide I’ve seen (Future Considerations, Hockey Prospect’s, ISS, and Red Line Report) and my own list list:
2nd: Markus Pettersson (FC), Julius Honka (ISS), Aaron Irving (RLR), Sebastian Aho (HP), Alex Nedelijkovic (me) – I don’t believe Pettersson or Honka will be available at this point and it’s unlikely the Sens will take a goalie (Nedelijkovic), so from this list I’d go with Aho
3rd: Nick Magyar (FC, ISS), Edwin Minney (RLR), Miro Keskitalo (HP), Oskar Lindblom (me) – my list (Lindblom) works here
4th: Michael Bunting (FC), Ryan Donato (ISS), Jonathan MacLeod (RLR), Matt Iacopelli (HP), Logan Halladay (me) – I don’t believe Bunting, Donato, or MacLeod will be available, so I’ll stick with my pick here (Halladay)
7th:  Nicholas Jones (FC), Ryan Hitchcock (ISS), Waltteri Hopponen (RLR), Arkhip Nekolenko (HP), Nikita Lyamkin (me) – the Sens won’t touch Russians and I don’t think Hitchcock or Hopponen will be available, so this defaults to Jones

Take it all with a grain of salt, and remember it’s likely the Sens will get a pick from trading Jason Spezza, but it’s food for thought.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)