With the fifth selection of the 2020 NHL Draft, the Senators have selected Jake Sanderson from United States National Team Development Program.
There weren’t many rankings at the beginning of 2019-20 that had Jake Sanderson near the top, but by the end of the season, there wasn’t any without him in the conversation. He put his play on display all season, getting wide recognition at the 2020 BioSteel All-American Game.
He spent the season captaining the United States National Team Development Program (USNDTP), collecting seven goals, 22 assists, and 29 points in 47 games. In USHL action, he added another two goals, 12 assists, and 14 points in 19 games. The defender is headed to the NCAA’s University of North Dakota in 2020-21, whenever (or if) that season kicks off.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“Let’s start with the fact that Jake Sanderson has the NHL pedigree. Son of former NHLer Geoff Sanderson, it’s no wonder that the younger of the two has the skill and size to catapult himself into an NHL career. That said, pull him from the shadows of his father and Sanderson is an incredible player that has everything and more to make the jump to the next level.
“He’s projected to be the top American selected in the upcoming NHL Draft – whenever it happens – and is the second-highest ranked defenceman behind Erie Otters’ star Jamie Drysdale, though it is arguable that Sanderson’s all-around game could be further developed than Drysdale’s game.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
“Sanderson’s stock rose following January’s All-American Game and he’s remained one of the top prospects for the upcoming draft. He has the skating ability that can control the pace of play and plays both sides of the puck with determination.
“He sees the game at a different level and finds seems to make the transition from defensive zone play to offensive attack seem effortless. Still, he has room to grow and a ceiling much higher than most of the defensive options in this draft.
“As for his numbers from the 2019-20 season, as the captain of the U18 U.S. National Team, he finished with seven goals and 29 points in 47 games. While he’s currently committed to the University of North Dakota, things could still change depending on where he goes and what development that team believes he needs to get to that next level.”
How This Affects the Senators Plans
After landing German sensation Tim Stützle with the third-overall pick, the Senators turn their attention to the back end and land one of the top defenders in this class. Ottawa has built one of the best prospect pools in the entire league, and jumping on Sanderson here could very well be adding a top-two defender to play with Thomas Chabot, Jacob Bernard-Docker, and Lassi Thomson in the top four down the line.
Sanderson could be one of the more NHL-ready players in this draft, so it might not to too far down the line before we see him in Ottawa. With Stützle leading the forwards and Sanderson on the back end, the Senators are advancing their rebuild in a big way tonight.
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Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.