Senators Have 7 Solid First-Round Draft Options

With the second round of the 2019 NHL Playoffs over and the Columbus Blue Jackets out, we now know where the Ottawa Senators will be picking in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft: 19.

Despite finishing last in the league, the Senators are without their own first-round pick from the original Matt Duchene trade with the Colorado Avalanche. Just 15 months after that trade, Duchene was on the move again, this time to the Blue Jackets in a trade that gave the Senators a 2019 first-round pick in return. So, in a very complicated way, general manager Pierre Dorion will draft 19th in June.

Related: NHL Draft Guide | 2019 Edition

While it won’t be the fourth-overall pick that was sent to the Avalanche, there are still a lot of quality players available in the top-20. It’s a lock that Jack Hughes and Kappo Kakko will be going first and second, but after that, it does open up a lot and it wouldn’t be surprising to see some of the other top-10 ranking prospects slide and some ranked lower go higher than their projection.

To see what prospects are ranked to be within the Senators range, here some rankings to show the range of players that the team may get the chance to draft:

RankingSportsnetThe Hockey WritersISS
16Thomas Harley, DPhilip Broberg, DMatthew Robertson, D
17Arthur Kaliyev, RWArthur Kaliyev, RWPhilip Broberg, D
18Spencer Knight, GRyan Suzuki, CThomas Harley, D
19Ville Heinola, DSamuel Poulin, RW Tomasino, Philip, C
20Raphael Lavoie, C/LWMatthew Robertson, DRyan Suzuki, C
21Ryan Suzuki, CThomas Harley, DBobby Brink, C

As you can see, there’s a lot of variation in this range depending on where you look. There’s also a lot of different positions available with the 19th pick. However, the Senators shouldn’t be basing their pick off of position. The best thing for the rebuild is to take the best player available.

Here are seven options for the Senators to draft at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

Arthur Kaliyev, RW

Arthur Kaliyev might be one of the most prolific scorers in this year’s draft. He’s got 150 points through 135 games with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, including 51 goals and 102 points in 67 games in 2018-19. He’s added 13 points in 25 playoff games. He also won an OHL Championship in his rookie year, so he knows how to win.

From The Hockey Writers prospect profile on Kaliyev, “He has some work to do on the defensive end of the game, but with a little development in his own end, Kaliyev should be able to find himself in a top-six role at some point early on his career. He has the offensive ability to be there, it’ll come down to how well he develops the rest of his game.”

Arthur Kaliyev Hamilton Bulldogs
Arthur Kaliyev of the Hamilton Bulldogs. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Most of the Senators’ higher-end forward prospects and young players are either left wingers (Drake Batherson, Alex Formenton, Brady Tkachuk) or centres (Josh Norris, Logan Brown, Colin White), so the right wing could help a positional need for the future (right wingers include Rudolfs Balcers, Jack Rodewald and Max Veronneau as the best available). Outside of position though, Kaliyev would likely be the best forward available to the Senators if he’s still available.

Samuel Poulin, RW

Samuel Poulin fully encompasses the term “power forward.” He’s 6-foot-2, 206 pounds, and dominates physically. Yet he can still handle the puck, shoot and set up plays. He’s just under a point-per-game through two seasons in the QMJHL with the Sherbrooke Phoenix, including a 76-point campaign this season.

What makes Poulin most attractive, if not his pro-ready size, is his leadership. In just his second season with the Phoenix, the Laval, Quebec native donned the “A” and led the team to not only a surprise playoff spot, but a 4-1 series win before losing in the second round 4-1 themselves. Poulin led the team with eight goals and 14 points in 10 games.

Just like Kaliyev, Poulin would make sense positionally. But as mentioned, they need to take the best player available. Poulin could be that for the Senators. Having feisty Tkachuk on the first line with Poulin on the second could begin to form a rebirth of those “Pesky Sens” from years past.

Ryan Suzuki, C

Ryan Suzuki is a very interesting prospect, and the rankings show it. He’s been as high as 12th and as low as 29th depending on the rankings. Of the players listed here, Suzuki is the playmaker of the bunch. He’s been described as “borderline elite” and is proved by his 80 assists and 119 points in 129 games of his two-season OHL career.

Ryan Suzuki Barrie Colts
Ryan Suzuki of the Barrie Colts (Terry Wilson OHL Images)

Like Poulin, Suzuki was an alternate captain in just his second year with the Barrie Colts. The Senators should be attracted to players who display leadership and that’s been Suzuki through and through.

While the Senators do have Norris, White and Brown all in the system, centres are hard to come by and are held in high regard in the NHL. Drafting another centre would just be ensuring that the team has depth at the position in the future and there’s always the option to flip someone to the wing. If Suzuki is available, he could be a great addition to a young core that can set up guys like Batherson and Tkachuk to put the puck in the net.

Raphaël Lavoie, C/LW

The final forward on the list is Raphaël Lavoie, who plays in the QMJHL with the Halifax Mooseheads. In his second season with the team, he showed up in a big way, putting up 32 goals and 73 points in 62 games and showing up when it really matters with 19 goals and 30 points in 21 playoff games (as of May 10).

Raphael Lavoie
Halifax Mooseheads’ Raphael Lavoie (Courtesy of David Chan, Halifax Mooseheads)

Lavoie is a very similar player to Poulin and even two inches taller. What might give him an edge though is he matches his power forward abilities with great skating. He’s a mature player for his age, with great balance, puck control and his stats show that he can produce as well.

What team wouldn’t want a centre of Lavoie’s size in their lineup? He’s has the potential to be a top-nine, even top-six centreman, or could shift to the wing. Some are concerned that he didn’t progress enough from his rookie season, going from 0.93 points per game to 1.18, but his playoff run with the Mooseheads should silence his doubters.

Philip Broberg, D

It seems very unlikely that Philip Broberg would be available at 19 for the Senators, but some rankings still have him available near the pick. Some, like the Sportsnet rankings that are referenced above, have Broberg at 11. No matter where he goes, the Swedish defender will be a solid defender in the NHL.

Related: Philip Broberg – 2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Broberg has been described as “the most complete defenceman in his draft class.” He’s an elite skater, a great passer and plays big minutes despite playing against men in the Swedish Allsvenskan League.

Philip Broberg
Philip Broberg #25 of Sweden versus Finland at the IIHF World Junior Championships at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on December 26, 2018 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)

Broberg will likely grow into a top-two defender and would be a strong candidate to play beside Senators star Thomas Chabot. Broberg plays a smart game and could allow Chabot to take risks offensively while making big plays of his own. A defense that includes Chabot, Broberg and fellow Swede Erik Brannstrom would be a dangerous unit, especially adding in Maxime Lajoie, Christian Jaros and Jacob Bernard-Docker.

Matthew Robertson, D

Matthew Robertson has become the top defender for the Edmonton Oil Kings. He’s a strong, mobile two-way defender who has proven that he can big minutes. He’s nearly impossible to beat one-on-one and the long reach with his stick makes sure of that. He’s shown great passing and can surprise teams with coast-to-coast plays.

He likely won’t be an elite offensive defenseman, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be an elite all-around defender. Through two seasons with the Oil Kings, Robertson has 14 goals and 58 points through 126 games. He also has four goals and eight points in 16 playoff games.

Robertson would provide a great balance with the offensive defenders already in the Senators system. Playing alongside Chabot or Brannstrom, Robertson would allow his partner to take risks, while at the same time remaining a threat himself.

Thomas Harley, D

Playing with the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads, Thomas Harley’s production nearly quadrupled in his sophomore season, going from just one goal and 15 points in his rookie year to 11 goals and 58 points this season. That comes in a season where he was handed the reins after Nic Hague and Vili Saarijarvi left for professional hockey. He took over the number-one role and ran with it.

Just like Broberg, Harley’s skating is his best asset. already being referred to as an elite skater. Mixed with his puck movement, Harley’s ceiling is high and has even been referred to as the next Chabot. Another Chabot on the Senators would be a welcome addition.

Thomas Harley Mississauga Steelheads
Thomas Harley of the Mississauga Steelheads. (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

If the Senators can stock up on puck moving defenseman, with Chabot, Brannstrom and Wolanin plus one of Broberg or Harley, they could have one of the best defences in the league in the not-too-distant future.

Who Should the Senators Take?

Now for the most important question, who should the Senators take? Based on the prospects on this list here’s my ranking of these seven players, in order of who I think the Senators should take:

  1. Arthur Kaliyev
  2. Philip Broberg
  3. Samuel Poulin
  4. Thomas Harley
  5. Ryan Suzuki
  6. Raphaël Lavoie
  7. Matthew Robertson

That being said, there’s a chance a player could drop who would be better suited for the Senators. Having someone like Alex Newhook dropping to 19th? It’s not likely, but it’s possible and would be a home run for the team. There’s also a chance that Dorion could pull off a draft-day trade, just like he did at the 2018 Draft in the first round, trading down from 22 to 26 (and collecting the 48th) from the New York Rangers.

Could Dorion trade down again? It might even be the most likely outcome. In the midst of their rebuild, more picks is exactly what the Senators need. One thing is certain though, the Senators need a win out of this NHL Entry Draft.