2020 Draft Primer: Ottawa Senators
With the 2020 NHL Draft looming, TSN Hockey provides a draft primer for each of the seven Canadian NHL clubs. Today, we continue with the Ottawa Senators.
No. 19 overall pick Lassi Thomson’s seven goals ranked first among U-20 defenceman in the Finnish Liiga in 2019-20. Centre/winger Shane Pinto (No. 32) had a superb freshman season with North Dakota (28 points in 33 games) and was named one of USA’s three best players at the World Junior Championship. Denmark’s Mads Sogaard (No. 37) was the third goalie chosen in 2019. His stats declined from a stellar WHL rookie season, but he finished with a .946 save percentage in his final eight games (6-2-0).
GRADING THE LAST 5 DRAFTS
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button awards Ottawa an A for its 2015, 2017 and 2018 draft classes, with established pillar players Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk, plus potential pillar player Drake Batherson (a lower case Mark Stone, says Button) emerging from those years. The Sens traded 2017 draftee Shane Bowers to Colorado, but eventually replaced him with Erik Brannstrom and Josh Norris from the 2017 draft class via trades.
The Senators’ future in goal is far from certain despite investing a 2019 second-round pick on Mads Sogaard (No. 37) and boasting Quebec League first all-star Kevin Mandolese (2018, No. 157). At best, they are several seasons away. Ottawa has chosen goalies in five of the past seven drafts – but only two of them (Sogaard and Marcus Hogberg) were selected before the sixth round. Four of the five goalies chosen are 6-foot-4 or taller – including 6-foot-8 Sogaard, the tallest player in the 2019 draft. With three first round picks and four seconds this year, will they acquire another goalie via trade or in the draft?
TOP 10 OTTAWA PROSPECTS: GRADE A
The Sens’ top seven prospects are all can’t-miss NHLers according to Button, who awards Ottawa’s prospect list an A, best among the Canadian teams. Brannstrom, Batherson, Norris and Alex Formenton all played for the Baby Sens, who appeared poised for a long AHL playoff run before the pandemic pause. Norris was named a first all-star centre and rookie of the year. Batherson was a second all-star right winger.
With picks three and five, Ottawa will be the first team since the New York Islanders in 2000 (Nos. 1 and 5) to make two selections in the top five. Ottawa also has the Islanders’ first-round pick, 28th overall. If Ottawa makes all seven of its picks in the first and second rounds, it would match Colorado (1998, four firsts, three seconds) and Montreal (1974, five firsts, two seconds) for the most selections in the first two rounds. How Ottawa manages these assets is one of the biggest stories of the 2020 draft and may well be franchise defining. A reminder that GM Pierre Dorion has made two trades in the first round since taking over as GM, moving up one spot to No. 11 in 2016 (to get Logan Brown) and moving down four places to No. 26 in 2018.
DRAFT POLL RESULTS
Button identifies Ottawa’s primary needs as centres and goalies. We asked: If you were selecting No. 5 for Ottawa, which of the following four forwards projected to be available would you pick: Alexander Holtz, Cole Perfetti, Lucas Raymond or Marco Rossi? The clear choice of tsn.ca votes is Rossi who, as an Ottawa 67, became the first European scoring leader in OHL history. The Austrian received 40 per cent of the vote. Perfetti was a narrow second choice (27 per cent) over Raymond (25 per cent).
Who should the Senators select with the No. 5 pick in the 2020 draft?
Rossi because he’s an elite playmaking centre. In a perfect world, the Senators would emerge from the 2020 draft with a long-term picture at centre of Stutzle, Rossi, Norris and Colin White.
TSN Hockey's NHL Draft Primers
Monday, Sept. 14 – Montreal Canadiens
Tuesday, Sept. 15 - Ottawa Senators