Ottawa has been very successful at the draft in the past and have had several high draft picks while still finding high quality players in later rounds. This season’s surprise success has Sens fans excited for the immediate future. With a bevy of quality prospects already within the organization will the Sens hit another home run at the draft, or will they make a move and acquire a player who can contribute immediately?
In The System:
Center: Mika Zibanejad, Stephane Da Costa
Wing: Jakob Silfverberg, Mark Stone, Stefan Noesen, Matt Puempel, Shane Prince
Defense: Mark Borowiecki, Patrick Wiercioch
Goal: Robin Lehner
Areas of Need:
The Sens will lose Captain Daniel Alfredsson to retirement either this season or next leaving a massive void both on and off the ice. Jason Spezza has stepped up in a leadership capacity and provides Ottawa with a franchise quality number one center. Beyond Spezza, the Senators are rich in quantity, but shallow in quality in terms of elite players. Ottawa may look to the trade market to package a few of their players to acquire an elite scorer to ride shot gun with Spezza.
GM Bryan Murray has already indicated he will not be resigning UFA Filip Kuba, and is openly shopping veteran Sergei Gonchar. Rugged defender Matt Carkner is also a UFA and may not be resigned. The big question is will Murray be able to resign Norris Trophy candidate Erik Karlsson, or will there be a stand off similar to what happened in LA with the Kings and Drew Doughty? Despite such uncertainty on the Ottawa blue line, it appears as if the Sens may need to add a NHL ready defender and will definitely need to add some defense depth via the draft.
Another position of strength for Ottawa is in goal. Craig Anderson has provided Ottawa with perhaps it’s most reliable goaltending since rejoining the league 20 years ago. Ben Bishop is an ideal back up who is also very dependable and with Robin Lehner fighting for the NHL starting job as well as the goalie of future this is definitely a position of strength. Ottawa may look to move either Lehner or Bishop at the draft if they feel they can fill that hole at the draft.
Ottawa’s 2012 Draft Picks:
OTT 1st (15th overall), OTT 3rd (76th), NAS 3rd (82nd), OTT 4th (106), OTT 5th (136), OTT 6th (166), OTT 7th (196)
According to ProSportsTransactions.com
Ottawa Senators Draft History
The Sens are beginning to develop a bit of a reputation for drafting players from Sweden with Erik Karlsson, Daniel Alfredsson, Mika Zibanejad, Robin Lehner, and Jakub Silfverberg being some of the more prominent players from Sweden with Ottawa. Ottawa is also well know for being very successful at the draft and has one of the best scouting staffs in the NHL.
Draft Strategies for the Ottawa Senators
It is a common and safe philosophy to “draft the best player available” and that is a theory Brian Murray recently stated in the Ottawa Citizen,
“It’s always been my theory that you pick the best player … at that time,” he said.
“And if you have to move him to get what you need later on, you probably can do that.”
The biggest need for Ottawa however is depth on defense. The prospect options are very strong in every other position. Should Murray select a defenseman with his 15th overall selection, he will have several players available who could potentially be “the best player available” such as Hampus Lindholm, Olli Maatta, and Cody Ceci.
Murray is confident the Sens can select a good player with the 15th overall selection, but may go in another direction; “But it may well happen that we would try to do something to either add a player or a higher pick. We’re very open minded.”
There are plenty of ways the Sens could go and have several off season decisions to make.
Going into the draft Ottawa has several options available.
1. Draft the best player available with the 15th overall pick
2. Trade the pick and a player (Bobby Butler, Stephane Da Coast) to move up in the draft.
3. Trade the pick away to acquire a player, or more draft picks in later rounds.
Players Ottawa Should Target:
1. Olli Maatta, D, London Knights
Maatta is a perfect match for Erik Karlsson as he brings a two-way game. Maatta has enough speed and offensive instincts to compliment Karlsson, while also being very reliable defensively. As a OHL rookie Maatta is still several years away but the fact that he led the high powered London Knights in scoring during this years OHL playoffs is a very encouraging sign
2. Sebastian Collberg, RW, Frolunda
Despite the fact that he is a scoring winger, an asset the Sens have an abundance of, Collberg may very well be the best player available when Murray steps on stage. He was one of Sweden’s top scorers during the World Juniors helping win the Gold Medal. Not a big player, but similar to Phil Kessel or Jeff Skinner as he is an elite scorer.
3. Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa 67’s
Ceci started the season low in first round or early in the second round, but saw his stock continue to soar as the season progressed. He saw a tonne of minutes for a strong 67’s squad and his size, thickness and big shot from the point made him a key player in Ottawa this past season. He can be a bit of a risk taker at times with ill-timed pinches and lackadaisical coverage in his own end, but a little coaching should iron out the kinks.
4. Hampus Lindholm, D, (SWE) Rogle
This is a player who seemingly came out of nowhere throughout the duration of the season to receive first round consideration. Lindholm is a big blue liner, who is a hard worker and nice two-way game, which saw his offensive contributions grow in the past year. He’s not a very physical guy, but still seems to cover a lot of area and not be out of position. This is a bit of a high risk, high reward pick. Lindholm looked good at the NHL combine, which could cause his stock to soar.
5. Malcolm Subban, G, Bellville Bulls
Robin Lehner is dubbed “the goalie of the future” and is NHL ready now. With Anderson holding the starting position the Sens may look to trade Lehner who may not be content in the AHL for another season or as a backup in the NHL. Ottawa could fetch a handsome return for Lehner, perhaps a top pairing defender, or another first round pick. Subban would provide Ottawa with it’s next “goalie of the future” and the timing for Subban to assume the starting role coincides well with Anderson.
6. Zemgus Girgensons, C, (LAT) Dubuque Fighting Saints
Girgensons brings a lot of the same elements to the draft as Anze Kopitar did a few years back. He comes from a non traditional hockey country in Latvia, yet still possesses some elite level talents. While he may not have the same scoring acumen of Kopitar, Girgensons bring a better well rounded game, which includes being strong on the face-off, killing penalties as well as still having a good offensive game. This could end up being a steal of a pick, especially if he ends up taking his skills further to become Ryan Kesler 2.0.
7. Teuvo Teravainen, LW (FIN) Jokerit
Teravainen is this year’s international man of mystery in the draft having skyrocketed up the rankings late in the season after previously not being ranked as a first round choice. He’s a bit skinny right now, but is very skilled and it’s hard to argue with the fact he played the season with Jokerit in the highest Finnish league. He is a very creative player and seems to find a way to score. For all the knocks about his size, his natural offensive skill seems to outweigh it and keep him in the mix as a potential steal in this draft.
8. Radek Faksa, LW/C (CZE) Kitchener Rangers
Faksa erupted this past season, since joining the Kitchener Rangers. The team seemed to rally around the OHL rookie and embrace him the same way they embraced Gabriel Landeskog the previous year. He is a big kid, who has some skill and solid skating, but needs to fill out a bit more to take his game to the next level. A concussion in the OHL playoffs kind of slowed his progression at the end of the season, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be ready to pick up where he left off last season.
9. Oscar Dansk, G, (SWE) Brynas
This kid is a big game goaltender. When he’s under the pressure and bright lights of the big stage Dansk shows up and takes his team on his shoulders. He’s a big and mobile kid, who has some of the same elements to his game as Henrik Lundqvist. In addition, he is also a former player at Shattuck St. Mary prep meaning he’s more familiar with the North American game and leaving no language barriers. He could be something special.
10. Pontus Aberg, LW, Djurgarden Swe
Missing the chance to play in the world junior’s and win the gold medal due to injury was a tough blow to Aberg and may have cost him in the draft rankings. Aberg is a bit of a wild card as an 18 year old he played in the elite league in Sweden against men, but failed to have an elite impact. Too good for junior, not great in the pro’s, what are you getting in Aberg remains to be seen.
Special Thanks to Brendan Ross and David Dickenson for their contributions to this article.
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