(this is part 2 of another draft post)
On the Defensive
While the focus has been mainly on the fact of replacing Alfredsson and investing in the future of Ottawa through its forwards, defense has also been a shaky aspect of Ottawa’s game, and it’s about to get shakier with the loss of the A-train.
If Ottawa doesn’t hold onto Mount Sutton, they should seriously consider Derek Forbort. A 6-5 defenseman who has been compared to Tyler Myers, this up and coming player will only get better with more experience and good mentorship. He’s a good skater, handles the puck well and how can you ignore a man that size? That will give the team some respect it needs.
For those poor Sens fans who still have a bitter taste in their mouths from the Chara-Redden debacle that saw Chara anointed Captain of the Boston Bruins shortly thereafter, there may be a new hope in Martin Marincin. A 6-4 defenseman from Slovakia, Marincin has been written up as a project defenseman, meaning that he’s not ready for the big time yet, but once he is, he will be one to look out for. Whether or not Ottawa is willing to invest in that sort of long term project has yet to be seen, but for those who miss Chara to this day, this may be a chance at redemption for the one who got away.
The pick of others
Now that the dream date is over, time to look at who the other guys picked. With all respect to them and to the prospects, here’s a breakdown along with some potential roadblocks:
Nick Bjugstad- a highly skilled player with consistency issues who hasn’t performed against weak teams. He may be able to show off for the crowds, but if he isn’t willing to work against weaker teams, he may have some attitude adjustments to make. Much like a certain Senator with trade rumours swirling around him presently, also a victim of big contractitus. I sense another Spezza with this guy.
Mikael Granlund- On the positive side, this guy has been compared to Saku Koivu and has hockey sense and a high compete level. On the negative side, this guy’s a little size challenged and not the fastest on the ice. All things considered, he could be a bit of a coin toss and if the Senators opt to keep their big defensemen, he may be a gamble worth taking.
Austin Watson- written up as a good player in all three zones, though far from an offensive powerhouse, Watson may be an asset to a team already dotted with star goal scorers. He may be a good choice on a big line, but that big line has to be well established first.
Emerson Etem- he’s great on skates, but his puck handling is not as swift as this year’s top draft picks. Still, this guy’s been trained in all of the right places coming out of the same school that formed Sidney Crosby, so he shows some pretty good potential. He may be a diamond in the rough if he can become a more complete player. Another project player, if Ottawa can afford to invest in one. The real question, though, is: can it?
Jeffrey Skinner- described as one scout as the steal of the draft, Skinner is a former nationally ranked figure skater. A 50 goal scorer in the OHL, it might not take much for this to translate into the NHL. His numbers speak volumes, but the criticism around him makes him an enigma. Some critics even knock his skating ability. Maybe nobody likes to see lutzes in the NHL? Either way, this could be one to watch.
With all of the talent laid out, it’s ultimately going to come down to a question of future priorities for this team. Hopefully, Ottawa will have learned from mistakes in the past and not get hurt again by choosing the same type of player that has burned them in the past, often saying yes please to staying the night and then disappearing the morning after.
This year’s draft pick will have to be smart and it will have to be selfish. Yes, we will invest time and money in a player, taking them under the wings of the organization, and help them grow and develop. But there will have to be an investment in this return and hopefully, it will go the distance.
Our big contractitus shows that Ottawa is not afraid of a long-term commitment. Now all we need is a partner who feels the same.
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.