In the salary cap era, finding late round gems in the draft is more important than ever. Gone are the days when teams can spend their way out of mistakes. As a team that doesn’t spend to the upper limits of the cap, the Senators rely on homegrown and developed talent. There are a limited number of can’t miss prospects in any given draft, so the later rounds are where teams can really separate themselves. Though not all of them were actually drafted by the Senators, here are the four best draft day steals in the Ottawa organization.
The current Senators poster boy for late round steals, Stone had 64 points last season in 80 games, following a half season of over a point per game production in the American Hockey League. Stone was a top scorer in junior, leading the Western Hockey League in points in 2011-12, but scouts saw his skating ability as a hindrance to becoming an impact player in the NHL. For a sixth round pick, Stone has already surpassed his pick’s value.
His junior numbers weren’t on a Mark Stone level, but Pageau had 79 points in 67 games in his draft year. He lasted to the fourth round where the Senators snatched him. His 5’9” and 175 pound frame almost certainly contributed to his slide, but he went back to junior and had 65 points in 46 games. Pageau continued to progress at the AHL level, and he was almost a point per game player in 2013-14. It looks like he will be a good NHL player in the next couple years and has impressed fans and management with his hard work and faceoff proficiency.
Paul is in a different situation than both Stone and Pageau because he hasn’t played a second in the National Hockey League yet. Though he wasn’t one of the stars on the team, Paul made Team Canada at the World Juniors in Toronto and Montreal. He scored three goals including one in the gold medal game, and bounced between the second and third lines, earning time with fellow Senators prospect Curtis Lazar and future first overall pick Connor McDavid. Paul threw his weight around with some big hits and didn’t look out of place with the players of higher pedigree. A strong skater, especially for a player of his size (6’3”, 221 pounds), Paul wasn’t drafted by Ottawa, but acquired from Dallas in the Jason Spezza deal.
The Senators struck gold again when they landed Hoffman in the fifth round (130th overall) of the 2009 draft. He has the 31st most points and 21st most goals of anyone in that draft, so at this point Hoffman has produced first round value in the fifth round. Hoffman has a deadly shot and will be looking to slide into the Senators’ top six this season. Another scorer in junior, Hoffman spent a few years developing in the AHL, and had 30 goals and 67 points in 51 games in the 2013-14 season, paving the way for his impressive first full NHL season in 2014-15.