Talking Draft Strategy For The Ottawa Senators


The NHL draft is always very complicated because there are literally hundreds of players to choose from, and more often than not there will be some stars that were picked in the later rounds. Some teams draft for certain needs, or they target players with high ceilings but low floors, or they target high risk high potential players. Each team looks at each draft differently, and Ottawa has to head into the 2015 draft with a certain strategy.

This is quite the draft class, as it looks to be very deep. I doubt it will end up being as the 2003 class, but it may be good for 2nd best in the 21st century. Coming into the draft, the Ottawa Senators have six picks in seven rounds. They have a 1st, two 2nd’s, a 4th, 5th, and a 7th. So they will have to strategize according to what they think they can get.

It’ll also be interesting to see what position each draftee is, especially in the first two rounds. It looks like a forward is more like with the 18th overall pick, but things may change. Let’s look at the first two rounds of the draft and see what might happen:

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First Round

In the first round, there are plenty of options. Like I said, I think Ottawa will end up taking a forward here. I might not agree with it depending on who it is and who is left on the board, but the good news is that there are plenty of good options. The thing is, there are lots of different types of forwards. They may opt for wingers or a centreman, but I’m really not sure which way they will lean.

Some wingers potentially available include Evgeny Svechnikov, Timo Meier, Paul Bittner, Denis Gurianov, and Jake DeBrusk. Out of those five, it looks like Svechnikov, Gurianov, and Meier have the highest ceilings. However, they also carry some risk because most of the time with highly skilled players you strike gold or you get nothing.

With Bittner and DeBrusk, even if they don’t end up being top line power forwards, they still may be decent third line players. That has value, and maybe Ottawa will elect to go the safer route like they did in 2013 with Curtis Lazar. I remember at the time scouts had said that Lazar was one of the most likely players in the draft to at least make the NHL, but they never said he would be a superstar. His first season kind of proved that, and in the end I don’t think he’ll be a first line player but he will still be a good selection.

Mar 28, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators center Curtis Lazar (27) shoots the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Senators 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

If the Senators want a centre, there are also plenty of options there. Some of them might not be on the board, nevertheless there could be guys like Travis Konecny, Nick Merkley, Kyle Connor, and Joel Eriksson Ek on the board. There’s a good chance that only Eriksson Ek is available when Ottawa picks, which is why they might have to go for a winger instead.

Even Konecny is listed as a centre/winger, so if the Senators take him, he may never play a game in the NHL as a centreman. Eriksson Ek may be on the Senators radar, simply because they like to take Swedes and sometimes they go a bit off the board. I’d be curious to see where he ranks on their big list.

Out of the centres, you can’t really go wrong there. Merkley seems like the best choice personally, but getting Konecny would please the local fans a lot I’m sure.

For defenseman, once again there are some good players. I would be looking at Jeremy Roy, Thomas Chabot, Jakub Zboril, and Oliver Kylington. I’ve praised each player before, and since I see the need for defense on the team I would not complain with any of these selections.

I see so many good things in all four players, and personally it’s hard to pick which one I would actually select. Kylington is interesting because his stock fell so much since the beginning of the season, but I really do not know why. He’s been compared to Erik Karlsson, and I think the Senators would be interested in him. They have good scouts in Sweden like Vaclav Burda that have found players before, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was an Ottawa selection.

I would still love to take [Bracco] considering the success of so many smaller players like Tyler Johnson and Johnny Gaudreau

No matter what, it honestly looks like the Senators will get a very good player at #18. Out of the 13 players I listed, they all seem like good options. Now let’s look at the second round:

Second Round

Ottawa has two picks here, at #42 and #48. That’s very good news for them, because even in the second round there will be some very good players left. In fact, the player predicted to go #42 at right now is Anthony Beauvillier, who scored 94 points in the QMJHL this year. Why he is ranked so low is beyond me, but there will definitely be some quality players there.

Some other interesting names include Daniel Sprong (RW), Filip Chlapik (C), Rasmus Andersson (D), Mitch Vande Sompel (D), Jeremy Bracco (RW) Vince Dunn (D), and Nicolas Meloche (D) among many others. All of these players have high ceilings, but it seems that there may be some risk in taking them so their rankings aren’t as high as they could be. But Sprong and Chlapik scored 88 and 75 points in the QMJHL respectively, and Bracco scored 32 in 24 games in the USHL.

Those point totals from the forwards look like first round draft picks in other years, but for various reasons these players may be risky. Bracco is only 5’10” (generously), but I would still love to take him considering the success of so many smaller players like Tyler Johnson and Johnny Gaudreau.

Apr 25, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) skates with the puck against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Then there are the defensemen who all put up impressive point totals as well. Andersson scored 64 points in 67 games, Meloche scored 34 in 44, Vande Sompel scored 63 in 58, and Dunn scored 56 in 68. These players may not turn out to be amazingly offensive defensemen, but it’s a good sign that they are producing at the junior level.

So clearly there are lots of good options in the second round as well. The thing is, I hope that if Ottawa takes a safe player in the first round, they take a high-risk high-reward player in the second round because they have two picks within six spots of each other. I’d love to see them take a chance on someone like Bracco despite his size. The Senators need to take more risks, because that’s how good teams get top talent.

You can’t just have a team full of 2nd/3rd liners, you need those high-end skilled players that can ultimately finish. That 2nd round pick they acquired from Dallas looks pretty valuable right now, because they can afford to take a risk now, and perhaps they can get at least one quality player with their first three selections.

This it looking like a very important draft, and Ottawa can take advantage of it. They just need the right strategy that is all.

Next: Should Ottawa Bring Back Alex Chiasson?