Reviewing the Sens 2020 and 2021 Drafts

Let’s start off with the drafting philosophy with the advent of Trent Mann: take a sure thing with lower potential rather than take a risk and get nothing (you can read a poorly thought out fan iteration of this argument here). Let’s briefly put aside whether that’s a good idea or not and see how many ‘wins’ the team has had after the 2nd round since 2008 (the first draft controlled by Dorion and the first one where the Sens returned to trying to build through it)–we’ll look both at the high end players and the depth talent (excluding goaltenders because it doesn’t really apply), to see how either end of this philosophy has panned out (how the players are categorized is based on how scouts viewed them–going through 2010 you can see those assessments on this site, prior to that you’ll have to hunt a little harder; ‘winning’ is determined by NHL games played, cf, so it’s not an inherent assessment of their value as players).

Third Round
Talent (0-2)
Wins: None
Losses: Jarrod Maidens* (12), Miles Gendron (14)
Pluggers (1-2)
Wins: Zack Smith (08)
Losses: Jakub Culek (10)
*Maidens never played due to injury

Fourth Round
Talent (2-5)
Wins: Chris Wideman (10), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (12)
Losses: Andre Petersson (08), Tobias Lindberg (13), Todd Burgess (16)
Undetermined: Christian Wolanin (15)
Pluggers (2-5)
Wins: Derek Grant (08), Marcus Sorensen (10)
Losses: Timothy Boyle (12), Shane Eiserman (14), Filip Ahl (15)
Undetermined: Ben Harpur (13)

Fifth Round
Talent (1-2)
Wins: Mike Hoffman (09)
Losses: Robbie Baillargeon (12)
Undetermined: Maxime Lajoie (15)
Pluggers (1-4)
Wins: Mark Borowiecki (08)
Losses: Jeff Costello (09), Fredrik Claesson (11), Vince Dunn (13)
Undetermined: Christian Jaros (15)

Sixth Round
Talent (1-1)
Wins: Mark Stone (10)
Losses: None
Pluggers (0-6)
Wins: None
Losses: Corey Cowick (09), Darren Kramer (11), Max McCormick (11), Chris Leblanc (13), Quentin Shore (13), Markus Nurmi (16)

Seventh Round
Talent (1-7)
Wins: Ryan Dzingel (11)
Losses: Emil Sandin (08), Brad Peltz (09)*, Bryce Aneloski (10), Mikael Wikstrand (12)**, Kelly Summers (14), Francis Perron (14)
Pluggers (0-2)
Wins: None
Losses: Michael Sdao (09), Jordan Fransoo (11)
*There’s some indication that picking Peltz was a favour for Melnyk’s close friend (his father)
**Refused to play in the league

Total
Talent 5-17 (29%)
Pluggers 4-19 (21%)

What’s clear in the numbers is that the org (up through 2017) was no better at identifying quality pluggers than talent. Obviously some of the scouting staff has changed over the years (three remain from 08, one from 09), but certainly Dorion’s history doesn’t betray evidence to support the change in philosophy. I’ll also briefly touch on the goaltenders over this period:
Successes
Robin Lehner (09, 2nd round)
Failures
Francois Brassard (12, 6th round), Jordan Hollett (17, 6th round)
Uncertain
Chris Driedger (12, 3rd round), Marcus Hogberg (13, 3rd round),* Joey Daccord (15, 7th round)
*Given that he signed a four-year deal in Sweden it’s unlikely he’ll return to the league, but we don’t know the terms of the deal and goaltending careers are against the grain anyway, so for now he lands in the uncertain pile

Before we dive into the two drafts, let’s recall that the scouting consensus (so not the opinion of some, but the opinions of the vast majority of those paid to scout) is that the Sens left talent on the board when they made their picks–this isn’t a matter of debate or discussion, simply a fact, so the team is betting on the fact that they know better–do they? Time will tell, but not only does the past does not support that idea, it’s simply unlikely that Ottawa has better scouting acumen than the consensus overall.

Characters like Dean Brown and Gord Wilson are what make a city cool |  Ottawa Citizen

Let’s address a response to criticism of individual players (those drafted or playing) that I’ve heard from people like Gord Wilson and others: these players are better than you are, ergo STFU (the most recent comment was in reference to Scott Sabourin, if you’re wondering). I’ve heard this sentiment many times from people covering the team and it’s profoundly absurd. Hockey is entertainment run by a cartel–it’s not making the world a better place–and as such it relies on the investment of its fans–no one is as invested as someone frothing mad about how a player is performing. That passion doesn’t excuse poor behaviour, but Gord (& others) tends to associate any criticism as being uncalled for. Making assessments is human nature (how many voters actually understand what they are voting for or could hold a political position?). Discussion and opinion is not only a normal part of human behaviour, but absolutely necessary to keep the sport alive, so any attempt to kill it is inherently pernicious. Let’s wrap this up to point out that this kind of thing only comes up regarding good-in-the-corners, salt-of-the-earth players–criticizing those with skill is never called out or questioned. Why this is the case in hockey I have no idea (perhaps the long standing way of differentiating Canadian hockey from everywhere else has made it part of self-identification). During the dead puck era I think players like that were useful, as were enforcers when they were required, but now? It’s a terrible opinion, but I don’t expect it change.

Senators Draft Tim St├╝tzle Third Overall - Silver Seven

2020
1-3 Tim Stuetzle, C/LW, 6’0, Jan/02, DEL, 20-21 NHL 53-12-17-29
The pick was Ottawa’s via the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018. There are plenty of scouting reports to read about him (Pronman, Wheeler, summaries, etc) and with a full season in the NHL one can dig into his stats and have a good old time. He’s a skilled player, so of course I like the pick
1-5 Jake Sanderson, DL, 6’1, July/02, USDP, 20-21 NCAA 22-2-13-15
Son of former NHLer Geoff (who was one of the best skaters in the NHL); reading Pronman’s recent article that included him, he sounds like all the recent high Sens picks on the blueline: a lot of hustle, a lot of competitiveness, solid defensively, but with limited offense–you get the feeling Dorion/Mann are putting all their eggs in the Chabot basket to drive the play. My reaction to him is the same as the rest: show me at the pro level and I’ll become a believer
1-28 Ridly Greig, LW, 5’11, Aug/02, WHL, 20-21 21-10-22-32
The pick was Ottawa’s via the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade in 2020; he’s the son of former NHLer Mark; like Jarventie below, he’s among the youngest eligible selected; there were concerns about his ability to play disciplined hockey and his skating (cf), but the former seems to have improved; because of his age it’s either the WHL or NHL for him and I think the latter is what’s on the menu; given his size and style of play there has to be a concern about his body breaking down earlier in his career (he makes me think of 2011 pick Stefan Noesen)
2-33 Roby Jarventie, LW, 6’3, Aug/02, Ilves, 20-21 48-14-11-25
Son of former Liiga veteran Martti. There’s a good breakdown of him pre-draft from Ary and Colin which provides the proper context for him (among the youngest eligible for the draft, playing against men in the Mestis, being used as a third-liner and defensively while breaking the rookie scoring record, etc); we again have the concern about his skating, but Ottawa (long before Dorion) has always believed that’s fixable
2-44 Tyler Kleven, DL, 6’4, Jan/02, USDP, 20-21 NCAA 22-5-2-7
The pick via Toronto (in exchange for 59th and 64th picks, Roni Hirvonen and Topi Niemela); there’s an amusing little profile of him from A & C (who don’t care for him at all, but sniffed out the Sens would like him); in his first year as a prospect Pronman projects him as a bottom-pairing player; it’s very much a wait-and-see attitude for me
2-61 Egor Sokolov, RW/LW, 6’4, Jun/00, QMJHL, 20-21 AHL 35-15-10-25
The pick is from Dallas via the Mark Stone trade in 2019; an overager where the concerns for him were whether his talent and skating would translate at the next level; at the AHL-level Sokolov showed no impediment with playing his game–will it translate? It’s hard to say, although given his size the Sens will certainly give him the opportunity
3-71 Leevi Merilainen, GL, 6’2, Aug/02, Karpat, 20-21 .934
The pick is via the Dylan DeMelo trade in 2020; an off-the-wall pick because in his draft year he was stuck behind other Finnish netminders, so he didn’t play internationally; he had an outstanding first year as a prospect and this caused folk to upgrade their estimates to potential NHL backup levels; I think the Sens under Dorion have been solid in projecting goaltending talent (although their pro evaluations remain, in all areas, underwhelming)
5-155 Eric Engstrand, LW/RW, 6’4, May/00, Malmo, 20-21 SHL 45-1-4-5
The pick is via the Mike Condon trade in 2019; an overager, you can see a brief profile of him from A & C pre-draft, but there’s not a lot of material on him (on the surface he reminds me of Filip Ahl in 2015 and Markus Nurmi in 2016, both big European power forwards who failed to develop)
6-158 Philippe Daoust, C/LW, 6’0, Nov/01, QMJHL, 20-21 21-6-22-28
The pick is via the Mike Hoffman trade in 2018; there’s not a lot of material on him (cf) and he’s taken the Hoffman route of being waived out of the OHL only to find a home in the Q (I’m not saying he has that kind of ceiling, just that he’s had that route to getting drafted)
6-181 Cole Reinhardt, LW, 6’1, Feb/00, WHL, 20-21 AHL 33-6-6-12
The pick is via the Chris Wideman trade in 2018; an overager who benefited from playing with Sokolov in Belleville, should he find pro success he’s taking a very unlikely path to get there (not just because he’s overage, but because of his middling production in junior)

They seem to have landed a complete stud in Stuetzle, so that’s fantastic (a lot of fans may not appreciate just how hard it is for a teenager to make an impact at the NHL-level). I’m not on the Sanderson train yet (how many Lassi Thomson’s do we need?), but I’d love to be surprised (his father was a fun player to watch). A number of the prospects intrigue me–both Finns, Sokolov, as well as Daoust (the Sens occasionally hit homeruns with late picks from the Q and who doesn’t miss J-G Pageau?). I feel like Kleven, Reinhardt, and Engstrand are much more likely to fail out in the AHL, but it’s far too early to say. All-in-all, this isn’t a bad draft from my perspective and I don’t feel like the Sens completely wasted their first round (at a guess, I’m thinking it will closely approximate the 2011 draft).

GARRIOCH: Tyler Boucher is tough as nails, a good omen for Senators |  Ottawa Sun

2021
1-10 Tyler Boucher, LW, 6’1, Jan/03, USDP 12-6-5-11
Son of former NHLer Brian; the scouting consensus is pretty simple: he’s hard to play against, but does he have the talent to make an impact as a pro? You get a sense of his issues via Ary; this has the whiff of another top-ten pick from years ago–Dylan McIlrath–a guy who was very hard to play against, but simply didn’t have enough talent to be an NHL pro (a Sens example is Jared Cowen); for the Sens sake, let’s hope they truly do know better
2-39 Zack Ostapchuk, LW, 6’3, May/03, WHL 22-7-9-16
The pick via the Erik Karlsson trade in 2018; looking at scouting reports it’s clear he’s a work-in-progress–a player with a lot of potential, but a big hill to climb; Pronman doesn’t believe in his hockey sense and the kind of changes he needs aren’t typically the ones that can be easily coached; that said, I’m happy to gamble on skill
2-49 Benjamin Roger, DR, 6’4, Nov/02, OHL DNP
The pick acquired in exchange for the 42nd (Francesco Pinelli); there’s not much information about the player, but he trained with Belleville staffer Jeremy Benoit in the offseason, which is likely how the Sens became attracted to him (historically a number of Dorion’s picks are via connections); the concern is how much talent he actually has behind his big, mobile frame (does he have the limitations of a Ben Harpur, or is there more to him?)
3-74 Oliver Johansson, CL, 6’0, July/03, Timra Allsvenskan 5-3-0-3
One of the younger players picked in the draft; scouting reports are few and far between, but he performed well across three leagues in his draft year and is a good skater who plays both ends of the rink (a hard worker, which is very much a theme in who the Sens pick); I expect the Sens to be patient about his development
4-123 Carson Latimer, RW, 6’1, Jan/03, WHL 22-5-11-16
The pick acquired in exchange for the 136th and170th (Robert Orr and Bryce Montgomery); everyone agrees he’s a great skater, but what’s not clear is what else he is (in part, perhaps, because of his usage)
7-202 Chandler Romeo, DL, 6’5, July/03, OHL DNP
The big blueliner reminds me a lot of Ben Harpur–big, can skate, but what else can he do? The Sens think he has the hands to get the puck moving and not be a one-dimensional defender, but that’s typically what they say of every blueliner like this that they draft, so we’ll have to wait and see

What do I think of the 2021 draft? All of these players are wait-and-see types, with none inherently exciting. Because I wasn’t paying attention to the draft class, I’m not fulminating over what could have been, but the various flags about the prospects are worth keeping in mind–during Dorion’s time the Sens have completely failed during a draft before (2014). With that said, with two players who didn’t play the previous season and an obscure Swede, I am intrigued to see how those players develop.

One thing that’s changed under Dorion–and this is pre-Trent Mann–is the Sens no longer draft enforcers. The last fighter they picked was Darren Kramer in 2011, but since then (with fighting spiraling into oblivion) they’ve given up picking them. The team still signs players like that (Sabourin is an example), but at least have realized it’s not worth wasting a draft pick.

I should end this on what seems obvious to me, but perhaps isn’t to readers: I’d actually like all these players to turn out and for Ottawa to be an elite team. That’s always been the dream. I’m simply doubtful that will be the case given Dorion’s checkered track record, the team’s questionable approach at the draft, and an unlikable fool who owns the team.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Senators News & Notes

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Here are some bits & pieces:
Filip Gustavsson‘s new contract is typical of the Sens (a two-year deal with the second being one-way); I’m less certain about his abilities given that in the past he has struggled with being ‘the guy’ while doing very well in spot duty (cf)–has he turned the corner? It won’t matter if Mads Sogaard is ready for prime time, but it will be interesting to watch.
–In retrospect I should have included Erik Brannstrom in my BSens lineup speculation; to inject him he slides into the top spot on the right side, shifting Thomson down to the second pairing, Bernard-Docker to the third, and Williams to the pressbox. I just don’t think that situation can remain tenable throughout the season and trading a blueliner must be on the menu for the Sens.
–I stopped reading The Athletic around the same time I stopped writing this blog, so returning to it almost two years later I was surprised to find that only Ian Mendes covers the Sens (RIP articles from Nichols, who moved to Substack–you can read a bit of a word salad from him on the draft, which can be boiled down to “Will it pan out? Time will tell,” which feels like Nichols resting his behind firmly on the fence–read him at his best here and here–I like the latter particularly).
–I skipped covering the last two Sens draft, but I’m not surprised that the conservative, grit-loving Trent Mann has continued his philosophy (cf; the hiring of Pierre McGuire, an anti-analytics guy, is yet another conservative move by the org). As I mentioned when reviewing prior drafts, it’s simply too soon to assess Mann’s work–maybe he’s a genius, but Occam’s Razor says he’ll do no better than his predecessors (what’s genuinely in question is how many stars he lands). I wanted to cover The Silver Seven‘s annual prospect ranking, but the caliber of writers from the site is so uneven I don’t think it’s feasible.
–There’s a great article from Scott Wheeler about how scouts assess players (there’s no real surprises, but he goes over the importance of context–ie things like how playing with Daniel Sprong inflated Filip Chlapik’s value). I’m gratified to see that my old idea of using third party rankings to create a scouting consensus for draft picks has become normalized and is widely available–it’s a simple idea and I have no idea why it took so long to proliferate–however much some may poopoo the idea, it’s the only tool fans have to access professional assessment.
–You can watch/listen to an interesting interview with Sens prospect Egor Sokolov.
–I think in my next post I’ll do a review of the Sens 2020 and 2021 drafts, as it will help me familiarize myself with the prospects. I’ve noticed the fan insanity over Jake Sanderson is almost at the same fever pitch as Brady Tkachuk and we’ll see if that falls as flat with me as it does with the later.
–For those interested in assessing the Sens at the draft, check out my review of the Sens 2008-14 draft record–there’s some fascinating things to be observed in the data (as well as the relative value derived from them). I think I should have included my old review of the Sens AHL tendencies which overlaps that period of time and shows the shifting philosophy from Tim Murray to Randy Lee.

Atlanta Gladiators

The Sens ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators, have been busy signing players in the off-season. A few of these players could see time in Belleville, so I thought I’d briefly take a look at them.

Defense
Tim Davison, 27-28, DL, ECHL 0.38 (ECHL 0.44)
The undrafted NCAA grad spent most of last season with Greenville; this will be his fourth pro season
Dalton Thrower, 27-28, DR, tier-3 Sweden 0.16 (ECHL 0.20)
A second-round pick by Montreal back in 2012, he hasn’t seen AHL ice since 2015-16, but as a gritty player he may have some appeal as a call-up
Greg Campbell, 26-27, DL, DNP (ECHL 0.14)
The undrafted NCAA grad took last season off and returns for his sophomore attempt as a pro.
Josh Thrower, 25-26, DR, SPHL 0.18 (ECHL 0.11)
The brother of Dalton, the former WHLer has established himself as a depth ECHL blueliner and wouldn’t be on the BSens radar
Malcolm Hayes, 26-27, DR, SPHL 0.08 (ECHL 0.11)
Another undrafted NCAA grad, he’s spent most of his short pro career in the SPHL (a feeder league into the ECHL)
Zach Yoder, 27, DR, SPHL 0.13 (ECHL 0.50)
The undrafted NCAAer spent his first (brief) pro season in the SPHL; he’s a local kid (to Georgia) and he’s big, for whatever that’s worth

Forwards
Derek Nesbitt, 39-40, LW/RW, DNP (ECHL 0.89)
An effective AHL producer (0.60) who has played in Atlanta five straight seasons prior to his year off; at 39 I’m not sure how much to expect from him, but I don’t think the BSens will call him up (he hasn’t had a call-up since his last full-time season in the AHL in 2013-14)
Cody Sylvester, 29-30, C/LW, ECHL 0.81 (ECHL 0.80)
Undrafted WHLer has spent most of his pro career in Germany (failing out of the DEL, so it’s mostly in tier-2); as a productive ECHL scorer there’s a small chance he could be called-up
Kamerin Nault, 26, LW, ECHL 0.15 (ECHL 0.77)
Canadian university grad is entering his fourth pro season; each year he’s received call-ups to the AHL, so that makes the odds of the same happening this season higher than most of the other players
Michael Pelech, 32, CL, ECHL 0.55 (ECHL 0.75)
Former 6th-round pick by LA, he’s had a very long and productive ECHL career; his last AHL call-up was in 2015-16
Luke Nogard, 27-28, CL, ECHL 0.39 (ECHL 0.56)
Undrafted NCAA grad his entering his fourth pro season; he’s never received an AHL call-up
Hugo Roy, 24, CR, ECHL 0.46 (ECHL 0.45)
Undrafted QMJHLer is entering his third full pro season; as a middling producer he’s not likely on the BSens list of call-ups
Matthew Wedman, 22, ECHL 0.24 (ECHL 0.24)
A 7th-round pick by Florida in 2019, last season was his first as a pro and he was unable to translate his WHL production to that level
Tommy Besinger, 27, CR, SPHL 0.68 (SPHL 0.69)
The undrafted NCAA grad his entering his third year as a pro and will be looking to avoid the SPHL

I’ll reiterate, it’s unlikely we see many if any of these players, but stranger things have happened (due to injuries or other circumstances), particularly with older, failed prospects (cf).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Pierre Dorion and the Draft

THE SENS AT 30 PART III: Ottawa Senators' general manager Pierre Dorion  says "it's time to perform" | Ottawa Sun

Pierre Dorion became the Sens GM in the 2016-17 season, but prior to that event he ran the drafts beginning in 2008 and I wanted to take a look at the older drafts which can be properly assessed to see what we can glean (those players in bold below played at least 200 NHL games). All of these drafts had Bryan Murray serving as the GM.

Top 5 Best and Worst Ottawa Senators First Round Draft Picks Of All Time

2008 (12 scouts; Sweden 3, WHL/BCHL 2, USHL 1, CJHL 1)
1-15 Erik Karlsson (D) Sweden-Frolunda 788-143-482-625 (San Jose)
Trade (2018): Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan DeMelo, Josh Norris, and the picks used for Tim Stuetzle and Zach Ostapchuk
2-42 Patrick Wiercioch (D) USHL-Omaha 268-16-58-74 (tier-2 Europe)
3-79 Zack Smith (C) WHL-Swift Current 662-98-106-204 (UFA)
Trade (2019): Artem Anisimov
4-109 Andre Petersson (F) Sweden-HV71 1-0-0-0 (successful KHL career)
4-119 Derek Grant (C) BCHL-Langley 310-37-48-85 (Anaheim)
5-139 Mark Borowiecki (D) CJHL-Smith Falls 397-15-37-52 (Nashville)
7-199 Emil Sandin (F) Sweden-Brynas DNP (tier-2 career in Sweden)

A very successful draft with five of seven players hitting the 200-game threshold. We can argue over the caliber of these players, as all save Karlsson merely provide depth, but Karlsson is a genuine star. Both of the misses in the draft were undersized skilled players from Sweden.

Cowen gets his Canadian wish | The Spokesman-Review

2009 (12 scouts; USHL/USHS 3, Sweden 2, WHL 1, QMJHL 1, OHL 1, NCAA 1)
1-9 Jared Cowen (D) WHL-Spokane 249-15-31-45 (retired due to injury)
Trade (2016): Dion Phaneuf, Cody Donaghey, Casey Bailey, Matt Frattin, and Ryan Rupert; Phaneuf was subsequently traded (2019) for Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore; Gaborik was then traded (2020) for Braydon Coburn, Cedric Paquette, and a 2nd-round pick in 2022; the 7th-round pick acquired for Shore was included in the Duclair trade
2-39 Jakob Silfverberg (F) Sweden-Brynas 605-146-161-307 (Anaheim)
Trade (2013): Bobby Ryan
2-46 Robin Lehner (G) Sweden-Frolunda .918 (Vegas)
Trade (2015): The pick that turned into Colin White
4-100 Chris Wideman (D) NCAA-Miami 181-16-29-45 (Montreal)
Trade (2018): Pick that turned into Cole Reinhardt
5-130 Mike Hoffman (C/W) QMJHL-Drummondville 545-189-206-395 (Montreal)
Trade (2018): Mikkel Boedker, Julius Bergman, and the pick that turned into Philippe Daoust; Bergman was included in the Abramov trade
5-146 Jeff Costello (F) USHL-Cedar Rapids DNP (retired after one ECHL season)
6-160 Corey Cowick (F) OHL-Ottawa DNP (short minor league career)
7-190 Brad Peltz (F) USHS-Avon DNP (retired after one ECHL season)
7-191 Michael Sdao (D) USHL-Lincoln DNP (ECHL career)

Another five players hit the threshold (I’m assuming Wideman will do that this season), so it’s another good draft. We see the beginnings of a Dorion tendency to roll the dice on gritty players which doesn’t work out in this sample–of the four players who never made it, three are in that category (Peltz is the exception). There’s no question that Cowen was a poor top-ten pick and that the Sens received little value for the other quality draftees before they were moved. We continue a tendency for the org to give-up on goaltenders early (Brian Elliott was drafted in ’03, but turned pro right when Dorion joined the org–I’m not saying that decision was his, simply that the impatience began during his tenure).

2015-16 UD UPPER DECK MARK STONE TOP DRAFT PICK DRAFT-10 Promo Senators |  eBay

2010 (11 scouts; Sweden 1, QMJHL 1, WHL 1, USHL 1)
3-76 Jakub Culek (F) QMJHL-Rimouski DNP (brief minor league career)
4-106 Marcus Sorensen (F) Sweden-Djurgardens 226-31-33-64 (UFA)
6-178 Mark Stone (F) WHL-Brandon 504-170-276-446 (Vegas)
Trade (2019): Oscar Lindberg, Erik Brannstrom, and the pick that turned into Egor Sokolov
7-196 Bryce Aneloski (D) USHL-Cedar DNP (brief minor league career)

The success ratio remains good, although the org gave up on Sorensen early and it was San Jose who made use of him. Stone is the obvious ‘win’, although the org benefited from just four full seasons with him before discarding him as part of the rebuild.

Sens draft pick Mika Zibanejad ready to roll up his sleeves - The Globe and  Mail

2011 (11 scouts; OHL 3, Sweden 2, WHL 2, USHL 2, QMJHL 1)
1-6 Mika Zibanejad (C/W) Sweden-Djurgardens 604-200-234-434 (NYR)
Trade (2016): Derick Brassard and the pick that turned into Luke Loheit; Brassard was traded (2018) for Filip Gustavsson, Ian Cole, a pick flipped to draft Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonathan Tychonick, and a pick flipped to draft Mads Sogaard
1-21 Stefan Noesen (C/W) OHL-Plymouth 205-31-23-54 (long minor league career)
Trade (2013): part of the Silfverberg/Ryan trade above
1-24 Matt Puempel (F) OHL-Peterborough 87-11-5-16 (long minor league career)
Waiver Claim (2016)
2-61 Shane Prince (C) OHL-Ottawa 128-12-26-38 (successful KHL career)
Trade (2016): for a pick that was flipped as part of a deal to draft Logan Brown
4-96 Jean-Gabriel Pageau (C) QMJHL-Gatineau 489-103-109-212 (NYI)
Trade (2020): pick used to draft Ridly Greig and another used in a trade that saw them draft Tyler Kleven
5-126 Fredrik Claesson (D) Sweden-Djurgardens 161-7-21-28 (lengthy minor league career)
6-156 Darren Kramer (F) WHL-Spokane DNP (long minor league career)
6-171 Max McCormick (F) USHL-Sioux City 83-8-5-13 (long minor league career)
Trade (2019): J. C. Beaudin
7-186 Jordan Fransoo (D) WHL-Brandon DNP (played Canadian university hockey)
7-204 Ryan Dzingel (F) USHL-Lincoln 372-82-98-180 (Arizona)
Trade (2019): Anthony Duclair, a second that was part of the Matt Murray deal, and another second used to acquire Derek Stepan; the org re-acquired him in 2021 for Alex Galchenyuk and Cedric Paquette

This draft was meant to be the start of a re-build and the org batted well above average in having four players hit the 200-game threshold, but it’s undeniable that they wasted Zibanejad as an asset and received a poor direct return; they also bombed out on their other two first-round picks.

Senators draft homegrown defenceman Ceci - Sportsnet.ca

2012 (12 scouts; OHL 2, USHL/USHS 2, WHL 1, QMJHL 1, Sweden 1)
1-15 Cody Ceci (D) OHL-Ottawa 549-37-106-143 (Edmonton)
Trade (2019): Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, and Michael Carcone
3-76 Chris Driedger (G) WHL-Calgary .929 (Sea)
3-82 Jarrod Maidens (F) OHL-Owen Sound (retired due to injury)
4-106 Timothy Boyle (D) USHS-Prep DNP (short minor league career)
5-136 Robbie Baillargeon (F) USHL-Indiana DNP (brief minor league career)
6-166 Francois Brassard (G) QMJHL-Quebec DNP (Canadian university to minor leagues)
7-196 Mikael Wikstrand (D) Sweden-Mora (refused to play)

While Driedger may eventually hit the threshold, this was an abysmal draft as Ceci was highly overvalued (as witnessed by the poor return when traded). Unlike in prior years, there was an attempt to target skill in the later rounds, but nothing worked out (although one could argue that Wikstand might have been an NHL player–we’ll simply never know).

Ottawa Senators 2013 draft review - Hockey's Future

2013 (12 scouts; Sweden 2, WHL 1, OHL 1, QMJHL 1, EJHL 1, NCAA 1)
1-17 Curtis Lazar (C) WHL-Edmonton 334-27-47-74 (Boston)
Trade (2017): Jyrki Jokipaaka and the pick used for Alex Formenton
3-78 Marcus Hogberg (G) Sweden-Linkoping .894 (back in Sweden)
4-102 Tobias Lindberg (F) Sweden-Djurgardens 6-0-2-2 (tier-2 Sweden)
Trade: part of the Cowen/Phaneuf trade above, then reacquired him in a minor league deal in 2018, then included in the Stone trade above
4-108 Ben Harpur (D) OHL-Guelph 137-1-13-14 (UFA)
Trade (2019): part of the Ceci trade above
5-138 Vincent Dunn (F) QMJHL-Rimouski DNP (short minor league career)
6-161 Chris LeBlanc (F) EJHL-South Shore DNP (minor league career)
7-168 Quentin Shore (F) NCAA-Denver DNP (short minor league career)

An equally horrendous draft, as Lazar is an even bigger miss than Ceci (someone who struggled at the AHL-level, but whose pedigree has allowed him to fumble around the NHL for years). The rest of the assets were a mix of grinders and skilled players, none of whom panned out.

Andreas Englund Stats and News | NHL.com

2014 (13 scouts; USHL/USHS 2, Sweden 1, QMJHL 1, CCHL 1)
2-40 Andreas England (D) Sweden-Djurgardens 33-0-3-3 (minor leaguer)
3-70 Miles Gendron (D) USHS-Prep DNP (minor leaguer)
4-100 Shane Eiserman (F) USHL-Dubuque DNP (brief minor league career)
7-189 Kelly Summers (D) CCHL-Carleton DNP (tier-2 Germany)
7-190 Francis Perron (C) QMJHL-Rouyn-Noranda DNP (tier-2 Sweden)

The worst draft in the sample size. It’s very rare for an NHL team to have no successes, but Ottawa managed it here. The picks were a mix of grinders and skill, but none are even quality AHL players. You’d expect consequences in the scouting ranks after such a result (not just for this, but the prior two drafts), but that’s not the case.

Senators Draft Thomas Chabot 18th Overall - Silver Seven

2015 (13 scouts; QMJHL 3, USHL/USHS/USNTDP 3, Sweden 2)
1-18 Thomas Chabot (D) QMJHL-Saint John 254-35-115-150
1-21 Colin White (C/W) USNTDP 200-33-55-88
2-36 Gabriel Gagne (F) QMJHL-Victoriaville DNP (minor leaguer)
2-48 Filip Chlapik (C/W) QMJHL-Charlottetown 57-5-6-11 (released)
4-107 Christian Wolanin (D) USHL-Muskegon 61-5-13-18 (LA)
Trade (2021): Michael Amadio
4-109 Filip Ahl (F) Sweden-HV71 DNP (tier-2 Europe)
5-139 Christian Jaros (D) Sweden-Lulea 83-1-13-14 (NJ)
Trade (2021): Jack Kopacka and a 7th-round pick in 2022
7-199 Joey Daccord (G) USHS-Prep .894 (Seattle)
Taken in the Expansion Draft

The analysis of this draft is still still up in the air, although there are two obvious successes. Wolanin, Jaros, and Daccord could potentially hit the threshold, although it’s unlikely all of them will. The mix of players echoes the previous two years, but the quality of the picks are better (despite a big miss on Gagne). We again see the common trend of the org not getting value back for prospects–none of the assets remain for trading the two blueliners, which means they were simply given away.

Let’s summarize excluding 2015’s results (since they are still in flux). Here are the hits to misses from 2008-14:
2008: 5-7 (74%)
2009: 5-9 (55%)
2010: 2-4 (50%)
2011: 4-10 (40%)
2012: 1-7 (14%)
2013: 1-7 (14%)
2014: 0-4 (0%

That’s a linear decline under Dorion to that point. We know 2015 was a better draft and there is an organization change between 2014-15: Tim Murray’s departure to Buffalo. Can we put this all at Tim’s feet? I think that’s too simplistic, but it is worth noting. Let’s take a look at success by region (highlighting the significant players):
US systems (3-14/21%): Wiercioch, Wideman, Dzingel
Sweden (5-12/41%): Karlsson, Silfverberg, Lehner, Sorensen, Zibanejad
WHL/BCHL 8 (5-8/62%): Smith, Grant, Cowen, Stone, Lazar
OHL/CCHL/CJHL (4-9/44%): Borowiecki, Noesen, Prince, Ceci
QMJHL (2-6/33%): Hoffman, Pageau

What’s fascinating is how heavily Ottawa invested in the American junior system despite no serious payoff. The org scored very highly in Sweden while completely ignoring the rest of Europe (no one drafted from any other European league). If you’re wondering, in terms of raw selection, here’s what’s happened from 2015-21 (the numbers represent the number of players from that system per draft):
US systems: 13 (2.0 > 2.1)
WHL/AJHL: 11 (1.1 > 1.8)
QMJHL: 9 (0.8 > 1.5)
Sweden: 6 (1.7 > 1.0)
OHL: 4 (1.3 > 0.6)
Finland: 3 (0 > 0.5)
Germany: 1 (0 > 0.1)

The American fetish continues unabated, while the primary change is a decrease in Swedish/OHL prospects matched by an increase in QMJHL and WHL contributions. I think the scattering of Finnish prospects is related to Mikko Ruutu becoming the director of European scouting (Stuetzle, as a top-five pick, is irrelevant in terms of the org’s normal scouting preferences). It remains an oddity that despite being in Ontario the team has only dipped its toe into the local pond over the last 13 drafts. It’s also strange how consistently the Sens devalue European scouting–on average they have only two scouts based in Europe, which is a deplorable amount to cover the various leagues (meaning they have to lean heavily on tournament performances, which is a questionable guide). I get the feeling that the main reason for ignoring Europe is cost.

Another way to look at success is by round and we get some interesting results:
First round (6-7): 2 of their best 6 picks are from this group (Karlsson and Zibanejad)
Second round (4-5): 2 of their best are from here (Silfverberg and Lehner)
Third round (1-6): extremely poor success rate with none of the best appearing
Fourth round (4-9): better averages (although that success is early) with Pageau being the standout
Fifth round (2-6): Hoffman is the standout (so again, early)
Sixth round (1-6): you expect things to be more difficult later; Stone is the standout
Seventh round (1-9): swinging for the fences is understandable

We have to take the results for first-rounders with grains of salt, since there’s pressure to play those players before giving up on them–I think this is illustrated by the number of best picks being even with the second-rounders. In theory the success ratios should be an inverted pyramid (reflecting the quality and consistency of the scouting group), but that’s not the case. It’s also worth keeping in mind that this period see’s the beginning of a rebuild (2011) that was rushed by a cash-strapped owner (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). Pressure by ownership forces trades for success now and clearly that’s part of the problem with asset retention (along with being a smaller market). That should not, however, impact the quality of picks.

Finally, let’s ride one of my favourite hobby horses: relative success between skilled and truculent players (we have to exclude goaltenders from this discussion, along with Maidens, as injury prevented him from performing):
Skilled (11-24, 45%) – This number includes all the best players
Truculent/defensive (6-19, 31%) – Features the team’s biggest busts/disappointments (Cowen, Ceci, Lazar)

My argument for skill has always been the same: it’s rare and thus much harder to acquire–prohibitively expensive for Ottawa most of the time. The NHL is full of grinders and defensive players, so drafting for that is a waste of time. Clearly the team does not share my opinion.

I’m not sure there’s a clear conclusion to draw here. It’s interesting that Tim Murray arrived with Pierre Dorion and success at the draft declined until Murray’s departure. I hesitate to say that’s the only reason for the change, although going through the many scouts who have appeared throughout this time period provides no meaningful insight. I wish there was better evidence for the drafts from 2015 onward, but it’s quite simply too early to judge (for instance, 2016 might turn out to be a complete bust, or Logan Brown could turn a corner and it’s suddenly not as terrible). Regardless, food for thought and opinions are welcome.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)