(this is Part 1 of 2 on the 2010 draft for Ottawa)
Making a draft pick is a lot like setting up two people on a blind date. Your hope is that you’re going to get a long-term commitment with a real quality person, but with the future being so uncertain, you can only hope that the choice you make is enduring, adaptable and loyal. Everyone comes to the table with their ideals, their expectations, their laundry list of things that they’re looking for and then there’s that elusive quality called chemistry which nobody can define but everyone just ‘knows.’
Of course, in the draft, you’re matching up a person with a professional sports team and not only is there that commitment, there’s also possibly millions of dollars at stake. That’s only part of what makes this match up critical.
There’s the question of what you’re looking for and then there’s the question of what you need. For the Ottawa Senators, they’re sitting around the middle of the pack, not part of the worst performing teams this season and not part of the best. This is a pretty good spot to end up in. It means that this is not a down and out team that desperately needs a hot prospect to help them climb out of the gutter, putting enormous pressure and expectations on both the rookie and the team. It means that Ottawa can take its time, be strategic and really think through who they want in their future and identify the gap that is most crucial to fill.
Of course, this is not going to all happen through one person. Off season trades will also impact the way that this team looks in the fall, with rumours swirling around Spezza and Volchenkov almost certain to leave. It’s also expected that some key players will be re-signed, like Peter Regin. And Mike Brodeur has signed on, a good sign that something’s being done about our always precarious goaltender situation.
Recent posts have indicated that Jeffrey Skinner and Emerson Etem are two to look out for when the Sens make their first pick. Other sources have indicated Austin Watson, Mikael Granlund and Nick Bjugstad. But let’s just say that this was a dream draft and that Ottawa could pick just about anyone, with the obvious exception of the top 5 and the Tyler-Taylor debate. Considering how deep this draft is, there’s no real lack of good choices.
Between the Pipes
This has always been a tricky area for Ottawa. For some reason, this team has been victim of big contractitus. It’s a rare condition in which Ottawa will pay a very handsome sum for a long-term goaltender and then, by some strange misfortune, they fall ill or injure themselves or decide that they prefer the high life to actually doing their job. The end result is generally not good.
If Ottawa was a little higher on the list, their number one for this should be Jack Campbell. We all saw this guy in the World Junior Championships for the USA in a heartbreaking loss for Canada and we know that he can perform in a clutch situation. He’s being touted as a franchise goaltender, and who can argue against his mental toughness when he came off the bench to lead his team and country to gold?
But Campbell is likely to have a dance partner pretty quickly in this lineup, and Ottawa is probably going to miss its chance to pick him up. So the next down the list of top prospects between the pipes is Calvin Pickard. A brother to another goaltender drafted by the Nashville Predators, Pickard is a solid goaltender who likes to challenge. His compete level is high and his size is good. Ottawa would do well to draft a goaltender and avoid big contractitus this time around.
Moving forward, I’ll bite on this argument that Daniel Alfredsson will not be around forever even though the thought of losing our franchise player does give me that cold icy feeling down my back. If we have to look forward, the dream pick would be a Swiss sensation, Il Nino Neiderreiter. A standout player in the World Juniors Championship, Neiderretier may be the best thing to come out of Switzerland since cheese for North America and he’s going to rock the NHL. He’s strong, he’s smart and he’s resilient. And he can put away opponents in big games.
Like Campbell, though, I’m pretty sure that Il Nino’s dance card is full. So here’s another two options further down the draft list that have some potential: Riley Dont-get-much-more-Irish-than-this Sheahan and the unfortunately named Tyler Pitlick.
Riley Sheahan is a defensive offenseman, and this is something that Ottawa sorely needs. He may not rack up big points, but he’s probably good for serious ice time and penalty kills. And at 6-2 and 202 pounds, he would make a great addition to the bench and a good physical presence on the ice.
Tyler Pitlick is written up as a two way forward, and Ottawa desperately needs a player who can play both ends of the ice and switch up their game quickly. With more experience under his belt, some confidence and mentoring from veteran players, this guy can be a serious asset to a team.
(part 2 covers the D and other choices)
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.