Monday, June 29, 2015

Room To Grow For The Sens

Ben is a hockey nut and a recent university graduate. Like most post-uni grads he's unemployed and wants to make himself feel better by writing about something he loves. As always feel free to comment on his work or chirp him @BennyGallant
In what very well could have been Bryan Murray’s last draft as general manager of the Ottawa Senators it seemed like the change of guard was starting. The Senators media presence was primarily done by assistant general manager Pierre Dorion who did interviews and was seen doing trade talk on the floor. The Senators made a three trades over the weekend to go along with eight selections including doubling up selections in rounds one, two and four while making no selections in round three or six.
While the Senators didn’t deal Colin Greening like they had hoped to they were able to clear the clutter in the crease by moving Robin Lehner as well as move out two additional contracts in David Legwand and Eric Gryba. With these two deals they were able to add a pair of picks, 21st overall and 107th overall. The Senators didn’t hold a 3rd round pick because of the Ales Hemsky deal and traded their 2015 6th for a 2014 7th used to draft local boy Kelly Summers.

First Round

A huge riser and quick learner on the Saint John Sea Dogs, Thomas Chabot, played next to 13th overall selection Jakub Zboril on the blue line this past QMJHL season. Scouts debated on which one has the better upside almost all year and it was as close to a dead heat until the draft. Chabot brings a good hockey sense and extremely high work ethic, which is needed as he’ll likely need to add 20 pounds of muscle at the gym. He is an exceptional puck mover and good skater which has led him to be compared to Keith Yandle of the New York Rangers; if that’s the case he’d look great next to Erik Karlsson on the top PP unit and Cody Ceci on the second D pairing.

The Sens were back up to the podium fast selecting Colin White with the 21st overall pick acquired in the Robin Lehner trade. White was described by Bob Lowe, the team’s head of amateur scouting, as a potential, perennial Selke candidate. In fact, not only does White model his game after Mr. Selke Patrice Bergeron, but he plays with him in a rec league. White battled through mononucleosis this past year which caused him to lose twenty pounds, as well as a wrist injury which led scouts to believe his offensive numbers were down during the regular season. Well he recovered and at the U18's White exploded with six goals and three assists in seven games.

Rounds Two and Three

The Sens started day two by trading up with New Jersey giving them pick 42 and the Sens 3rd round pick in 2016. The used the 36th overall pick from the Devils to grab Gabriel Gagne who at 6’5” is a monster but quite lanky at 178 pounds. Just like Chabot, Gagne is a hard worker on and off the ice and has all the tools you ask for out of a 6’5”, 225lbs power forward, however he’s just 50 pounds short of that mark. Gagne said his goals for the next few years were going to the gym to put on the weight, working on his stride, and improve his defensive game. If Gagne is able to get the weight and one of the other two figured out he has the abilities to be a solid goal scoring threat. In fact he was 13th in the QMJHL in shots - whatever that is.

A full scouting report of Filip Chlapik done by me can be seen at Dobber Hockey.

The rest (rounds four through seven)

The Senators acquired this 107th pick to select Christian Wolanin as well as AHL face-puncher and Curtis Lazar’s old line mate, Travis Ewanyk, for Eric Gryba. Wolanin, who twice went undrafted after being a high pick in the USHL draft found his way after a mid-season trade to the Muskegon Lumberjacks last season. While many are skeptical of taking a 20-year-old who couldn’t put all his tools together until last year in the fourth round, Wolanin will go to the University of North Dakota with 2014 4th round pick, Shane Eiserman. Wolanin has all the tools you want out of a defenceman and this past year he ate big minutes - something the Senators look for when drafting defenceman - so it’s not hard to see him being a potential top four guy, but a bottom pairing seems more reasonable.

The second Filip the Sens drafted this year and again they went for size at 6’4” with Filip Ahl. Ahl’s a good skater who uses his frame - which is more filled-in already at 215 pounds - to protect the puck. His offensive game is really good which got him a bump up to the SHL this past year for 15 games where it became obvious that he had to work on his defensive play. Against players his own age, Ahl still gets many penalties just for being the bigger guy and throwing some pretty violent checks so he’ll have to find the line and learn to cross it less often, but has the tools to be a good middle-six power forward.

The Senators went back to Sweden to grab Slovakian-born, Christian Jaros, who again has some size but needs to fill into his frame at 6’3” and just a hair over 200 pounds. Jaros is a physically dominating defenceman that showed some upside at the lower levels of play, but wasn’t able to show the same prowess at the SHL level with a single assist in 25 games. He really likes to be involved physically and could be the next coming of the A-Train in Ottawa - something I as a Sens fan have wanted on our blue line.

Finally, to potentially confuse the goaltending situation more, the Senators selected Joey Daccord. I cannot personally recall the Senators (or any NHL team actually) selecting a goalie out of the high school ranks, but the Senators did so here grabbing Daccord. Daccord has played at Cushing Hockey Academy for the past three years and has been in the starters role the past two years. While not facing many shots a night with career highs in saves at 31, Daccord’s father is a goalie coach and he is extremely technically gifted. He’ll surely face a lot more pucks when he goes to Arizona State as they start their program in the 2016-2017 season and he’s actually the first ASU draft pick in the NHL

Overall grade: B+

The Senators did well in drafting a lot of potentially high upside guys with just one or two issues to fix, primarily skating and strength, leaving a lot of trust in the hands of current assistant GM Randy Lee who used to be the strength and conditioning trainer. Even in many of the picks with high upside there is a safety net. For example, if Gagne is unable to add the weight he could still be a nice addition to a bottom six given his good defensive game. In terms of trades being able to shed three roster spaces and two contracts, it helps the organization move forward giving ice time to young players who earned the spot including Chris Wideman who on June 29th signed a one year extension with the club.

Feel free to post any questions in the comment section or get to me on twitter @BennyGallant.


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