Fresh off a successful draft weekend, the Ottawa Senators open their annual development camp today. The team invited 35 of their top prospects to the annual week-long event that will include a 5-on-5 scrimmage and a 3-on-3 half-ice tournament.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) June 29, 2015
The Senators have had an excellent draft record for much of their history (except for the dark John Muckler era). They have been especially excellent since Bryan Murray took over the general manager duties in 2007 and selected Erik Karlsson in 2008.
In the four drafts from 2008 to 2011, the Senators selected 16 players that have played at least one NHL game, despite not having a first or second round pick in 2010. Eleven of those players were picked after the first round, which is a credit to the development process led by assistant general manager Randy Lee.
Picking players with potential is just the first step. The Senators have an excellent development program that begins with this week’s event. Later round picks like Jean-Gabriel Pageau (4th round), Mark Stone (6th round), Mike Hoffman (5th round), Patrick Wiercioch (2nd round) and Mark Borowiecki (5th round) will be among the team’s leaders this year. They are all graduates of this program.
Departing Senator Eric Gryba (traded to Edmonton on Saturday) gave much credit for his success to Lee and the player development team. When Lee phoned Gryba (3rd round pick in 2006) to give him the trade news, Gryba was so appreciative of the team’s investment in him. According to Lee, he said “I want to thank you, you invested in me, you were patient with me, you believed in me.”
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) June 30, 2015
Players to Watch at This Year’s Camp
So now the next crop of talent comes to town. The prospect cupboard is well stocked. Even with an NHL roster that has many young players under 25 years old, the next wave of talent is also impressive.
Nick Paul, North Bay Battalion, 101st overall in 2013
Center, 6’-3” 225 lbs
44 goals, 81 points in 73 games (regular season and playoffs)
Acquired from Dallas in the Jason Spezza trade, Paul won gold for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, scoring three goals in seven games. The versatile center played many roles for Canada, including time on the top line with Curtis Lazar and Connor McDavid in the gold medal game. Paul will turn pro and start the year in Binghamton, while perhaps getting a few NHL games throughout the year.
Matt O’Connor, Boston University, undrafted
Goaltender, 6’-5” 204 lbs
25 wins, 2.18 GAA, .927 SV% in 35 games
A much coveted unrestricted free agent coming out of college, O’Connor chose Ottawa because of its reputation for developing players. He avoided the temptation to sign with an organization willing to give him an NHL roster spot, instead taking a long-term view. He will be the number one netminder in Binghamton next year.
Thomas Chabot, Saint John Sea Dogs, 18th overall in 2015
Left Shot Defenseman, 6’-2” 181 lbs
12 goals, 41 points in 66 games
From the way management and scouts describe Chabot, the Senators seem to have drafted another Cody Ceci. A great skater and puck mover, Chabot might be a candidate to play for Team Canada at next year’s WJHC.
Colin White, U.S. National Development Program, 21st overall in 2015
Center, 6’-0” 183 lbs
4 goals, 17 points in 20 games
White is described as an aggressive two-way player that does all the little things right. He is not expected to be a prolific scorer but may develop into a solid second or third line center. His style of play is compared to Patrice Bergeron, but a more realistic comparable may be Mike Fisher.
Tobias Lindberg, Oshawa Generals, 102nd overall in 2013
Right Winger, 6’-2” 212 lbs
39 goals, 97 points in 88 games (regular season and playoffs)
Fresh off a Memorial Cup Championship, Lindberg is ready to turn pro in Binghamton next year. Lindberg has the potential to be a power forward that can protect the puck in the offensive zone and set up a good cycle game.
Hockey Writer, Hockey Parent, Hockey Player, Hockey Referee and a little bit of coaching as well. Kelly is a business professional with a passion for all things hockey. He is a contributor to The Hockey Writers, covering the Ottawa Senators and the NHL.