The Ottawa Senators find themselves roughly in the middle of the pack for this year’s NHL Draft selection process- for now. Rumours abound that the Sens will do something unexpected this year, including trading picks for available players or going with a goaltender in the first round, a move considered risky for many, considering their often long development process.
So what will it be next week? Will the Senators pick an NHL ready player now and trade their pick to help out their roster next year? Will they go Swedish, choosing Hampus Lindholm, as projected by the Hockey News mock draft? Or will they go local, choosing Ottawa’s Cody Ceci, an offensive defenseman with good size? Or will they look to build long-term in goal with a prospect like Malcolm Subban?
There are good considerations for all, and it’s hard to determine what will be the deciding factor. This 2012 draft is not particularly deep and other than the consensus number one pick of Nail Yakupov, this top 10 lists varies from scout to scout.
Edmonton may opt to select Yakupov based on his star status in the rankings, but even though this will mark the third consecutive time that Edmonton selects THE top prospect, their team has not improved. Edmonton is stock piling the league’s elite talent in Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, and Hall like it’s readying itself for the hockey apocalypse. Trouble is, being locked in the standings basement is not helping their development. Edmonton would be wise to trade their top pick for a solid player who can help them now.
Luckily, Ottawa is not in such a desperate situation as Edmonton. They will have the luxury of making a careful choice and having both a plan A and a plan B. Some of the picks will also be determined by on-going contract negotiations with current players. Erik Karlsson remains priority one for the Sens to re-sign, while other younger players still have a question mark over their heads. The return of Nick Foligno and Erik Condra are still in question, as well as team Captain Alfredsson, who has not yet committed to one more year.
Here are some of my would-be picks for the team and why I think they fit in with this Senators club in the future:
1- Cody Ceci. He has decent size, he gets points and he’s an offensive defenseman. While he may be a little high risk at times, he brings the kind of energy to the back end that Ottawa could use. Karlsson will continue to make a solid tandem with a more veteran defenseman like Gonchar if he remains, while Ceci can deliver an offensive threat on the second Dman pairing. Ceci still needs work on playing defensively, so it may yet be a season or two before he joins the club.
2- Brendan Gaunce. Described as a power forward and a finisher, Gaunce could bring some stability to a third line in the absence of a Foligno. Has also had good performances with Team Canada in tournaments, which could translate into clutch plays.
3- Sebastien Collberg. Swedish winger who puts up serious points. While he’s not a very big player, he has a killer release and comes through in shoot outs. An asset to any team and considering the very Swedish nature of Ottawa’s locker room, he may feel right at home.
4- Matthew Finn. The intangibles of Finn are his biggest assets. A character guy with a solid two way game, high defensive awareness and leadership skills, good on the power play. This is a player who brings more than numbers to the table and Ottawa should give this Canadian a second look.
5- Tomas Hertl. This play-making Czech Centre may be able to make an impact sooner in Ottawa than other prospects because he’s a skill player with ice awareness. His play at the WJC was largely overshadowed by the brilliant and often hilarious Petr Mrazek in goal, but he quietly led the team in scoring along the way.
Other prospects that could be on an alternate list based on the projected top 50 prospects list: Jordan Schmaltz, Colton Sissons, Adam Pelech, Scott Laughton and Boo Nieves.
Lots of decisions to make ahead of this draft. Thankfully, Ottawa has had enough of a solid core, good season and great coaching to make this draft year an opportunity rather than a crisis. Ottawa doesn’t need solutions to their lineup in this draft, but rather, options for a future rainy day.
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.