Prospects News & Rumors: Senators, Wroblewski & Berard

If you are looking for a big trade involving the first overall pick at the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, it won’t originate from Canada’s capital. Also, another coach from USA Hockey is making the jump to the professional ranks.

Senators Not Trading for Top Pick

The Ottawa Senators have a lot to look forward to when it comes to the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Sure, they did not win the Draft Lottery and earn the right to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere, but they still have a plethora of picks in a very deep draft.

Rimouski Oceanic Alexis Lafreniere
Lafreniere will not be a Senator.
(Photo by Vincent Ethier/CHL)

Due to having so many extra picks, there have been rumors that the Senators could be looking to package the third and fifth overall picks in order to tempt the New York Rangers to trade out of the top spot. The buzz on social media picked up over the weekend that the Senators were looking to make such a move but owner Eugene Melnyk was quick to put the kibosh on those rumors.

“The idea of trading our 3rd and 5th picks for the No. 1 pick is nonsensical,” Melnyk said in an email to Postmedia on Monday. “We’re very excited to welcome our many new Ottawa Senators that will come to us via the upcoming draft.”

From “The Ottawa Senators won’t be moving their No. 3 and No. 5 selections” Bruch Garrioch – Ottawa Sun, 8/18/20

In addition to the third and fifth overall picks, the Senators also have the New York Islanders’ first-round pick from the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade made at the deadline. They have a total of nine picks in the first three rounds of the draft, so they have plenty of trading chips if they want to move up, but there is no need to give up a ton for that top pick.

Pierre Dorion Ottawa Senators
Senators GM Pierre Dorion will be a busy man at the upcoming draft.
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Senators will land either Quinton Byfield out of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) or Germany’s Tim Stutzle with the third pick. They will have plenty of options to land another potential cornerstone player just two picks later. They could draft one of the top two defensemen or possibly go with Marco Rossi, who has starred with the Ottawa 67s the last two seasons.

Reign Name New Coach

For the second time in the last three days, a former United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) head coach lands a job in the American Hockey League (AHL). On Monday, the Ontario Reign, the AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, named John Wroblewski their new head coach.

Wroblewski, 39, has spent the last for seasons with the USNTDP. He was the coach of the Under-17 team in 2017-18 and 2019-20 and the Under-18 team in 2016-17 and 2018-19. In addition to his time with the USNTDP, he has also been and head coach in the ECHL and was an assistant coach in the AHL with the Rochester Americans between 2013 and 2015.

“John has a proven background in working with young players and helping them develop their game,” said Kings vice president and general manager Rob Blake. “He’s a strong leader who communicates well and he’ll play an important role for our organization.”

This move came just a couple of days after the Americans reportedly named Seth Appert, another former USNTDP head coach, their new bench boss.

Prospect of the Day – Brett Berard

We will stay with the USNTDP and take a look at Berard, a 5-foot-9, 152-pound left wing. He is ranked 45th among all North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. THW’s Josh Bell has him at number 82 in his final draft rankings.

Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide

Berard’s father, David, was a goaltender for Providence College and is now the head coach at Holy Cross University. He scored 16 goals and 34 points in 41 games with the USNTDP during the 2019-20 season. He also played in 13 United States Hockey League (USHL) games, scoring seven goals and 18 points.

Despite his smaller size, Berard does not shy away from bigger players and physical challenges. He will mix it up on the ice and it does not take away from his offensive production. He has shown that he can not only excel in a big man’s game, but he can survive the pounding. At least at the junior level.

USNTDP Brett Berard
Brett Berard of the USNTDP (Rena Laverty)

Berard is one of the youngest players in this year’s draft class and they may cause him to slide down a bit. He is likely to be selected somewhere in the latter half of the third round. Our own Lance Del Plato says he will have a tough road ahead if he is going to suit up in the NHL one day.

When you’re 6-foot-4, the team will make room for you. When you’re short you have to make room for yourself. Being smaller than most, the maturity of Berard’s game will be critical if he intends to force his way onto a roster. Fortunately, he has his father-coach to help keep him focused. Berard also has a lot of physical development ahead before getting a sniff at the limelight.

Assuming he gets his weight and strength up, his style of play is suited for a middle-six role, but physicality in the minors will be essential to “making it.” I like Brian Gionta and his brother Stephen Gionta as even better models for his potential. He may very well be a boom-or-bust player, but all eyes will be on him as he continues to raise eyebrows.

Berard is a long-term project, but he is in the right place to develop. He will play another season with the USNTDP team before heading to Providence in 2021. He is at least three to four years away from even considering turning pro. He has the foundation of good skating and quick hands already laid down. Now he needs to work on adding some size and strength to go with his feistiness and he may have shot to make the NHL one day.