Senators Prospect Pool Deep, But Lacking Impact Players
The Ottawa Senators were a tough nut to crack heading into the 2015-16 season and they’re no easier to figure out now.
That’s what happens after a young team with promise finishes just outside the playoff picture. The Senators posted a 38-35-9 record, missing the playoffs by eight points and finishing fifth in the tough Atlantic Division. The season could have gone a little differently if the team wasn’t quite so bad away from home, finishing 17-21-3 record away from the friendly confines of home.
On paper, the Senators have talent at every position, but their only star is defenseman Erik Karlsson. He led the NHL in assists, posting 82 points this season. He is a game-breaker in terms of offensive ability and the kind of impact player that teams can only dream of. Others like Kyle Turris, Bobby Ryan and Mika Zibanejad are quality players, but none of them feel like the top-end player that Karlsson is.
The system is very much the same. There are a plethora of quality prospects at every position in the system, but there are no standout star-caliber players. There should be quite a few NHLers in the prospect pool, but the Senators need the kind of impact player that can ascend to a key role and produce the way Karlsson has. Okay, Karlsson is doing things a defenseman hasn’t done in decades, but you get the idea.
So who should the Senatorss take with the 12th overall pick? Here’s a look.
Logan Brown, C/W: Brown is one of the bigger prospects available, towering over the opposition at 6-5. The son of former NHLer Jeff Brown, Logan uses his size and reach very well when he has the puck, though his stick-handling could stand to improve. He can be a force down low thanks to his size and strength, winning battles in the tough areas. His shot could stand to improve and he actually needs to use it quite a bit more, getting himself more involved offensively.
Brown is still something of a project, but projects as a power scoring forward at the next level and has the tools to be an impact player if he can tie up the loose ends in his game. His stock has risen substantially over the last few weeks and for good reason. He needs work, but Brown has the type of size and skill that could make him a dominant force in the NHL. Right now, he looks like he could come off the board towards the end of the top ten.
Mikhail Sergachev, D: Speaking of prospects on the rise, Sergachev has been moving up the charts of late. That’s what happens when you’re a defenseman with good size who is an excellent skater possessing good passing abilities, but most importantly, he is physical and does not shy away from smearing an opposing forward into the boards. There are some who feel he could be better than Jacob Chychrun, considered by many to be the best defenseman in this draft. The Sens have NHL-caliber prospects on defense, but Sergachev could wind up being the finest of the group.
Still a little rough around the edges in terms of his offensive game, good mobility and a mean streak are two things teams can’t get enough of in their defensemen and the Senators could benefit from a big, mean bastard patrolling their blue line and watching the backs of their skill players, like Barrie.
Jake Bean, D: Though Bean doesn’t have the size of some of his counterparts at the top of the draft, he might be one of the best puck-movers and could be the smartest defender in the class. Bean has shown a burgeoning physical game, but plays with incredible smarts and makes a fantastic breakout pass. Shows the ability to quarterback a power play, but impresses with his hockey IQ and decision-making. Looks like the type of two-way defenseman that could play in any and all situations.
Bean is tough to project. Some predict he could fall into the mid-teens, perfect for the Senators at #12 overall. Others suggest he could be off the board at pick nine or ten. He is the type of no-frills defenseman that logs a ton of ice time and anchors a defense even if he doesn’t blow you away with his game. He could be there, but don’t be surprised if a team reaches a bit to nab him in the top ten.
Tyson Jost, C: Jost is looking more and more like one of the impact players of the 2016 NHL Draft. He’s got okay size at 6-0, 195 but his game is predicated on skill and he brings it in bunches. A tremendous stickhandler with super shifty skating ability, Jost looks like he can be an equally adept finisher and playmaker. He is coming off a fantastic World under-18 Championships, where he just broke Connor McDavid’s Canadian record for points.
Jost has seen his stock rise substantially of late and could be off the board as a surprise pick in the top 10, though he is more likely to fall to the early teens. As of now, he is projected to go either 12th overall to the Senators or just one pick ahead. Jost has the same feeling as Dylan Larkin — a guy in the teens who could make an instant impact as a teenager.
Dillon Dube, C: Though there is talent at the center position, the Senators should take advantage of the second-round run on defensemen by selecting the undersized pivot. Dube does it all, killing penalties, winning faceoffs, playing a quality two-way game and displaying offensive ability that could make him an all-around standout at the NHL level. He still needs some work on his overall game and developing consistency, but he could be one of those standout second/third-line centers that NHL teams love.