Why select a defenceman?
As the phrase is often said “Defence wins championships”, the NHL embodies that, especially in the postseason. If Ottawa wants to build a winner, the defence will play a large part in that, while I think there is more value in the forwards at pick five, if Ottawa selects a Drysdale no fans should be aggravated.
The Ottawa Senators has their number one defenceman in Chabot and has one of the top defensive prospects in the game with Erik Brannstrom so there isn’t a pressing need.
Despite being a left shot, Brannstrom has shown the ability to play the right side and prefers being on that side. If the young Swedish defenceman can play his best there he could occupy a top-four spot on the right side.
Making the addition of a right shot with their second pick less of a glaring need.
There is one defenceman who stands out from the rest, then one that Ottawa could take a flyer on if they think it’s worth it at number five:
1) Jamie Drysdale (RHD)
The dynamic, smooth-skating defenceman who represented Canada at the world juniors as a 17-year old, is regarded as the best defenceman in the draft and it isn’t particularly close.
With Bernard-Docker and Thomson as the two best prospects on the right side, Drysdale would immediately unseat them as the cream of the crop.
Drysdale thinks the game at a very high pace and is an exceptional skater, potentially being a future partner on the first pairing with Chabot.
Despite being just 5’11” and 170 pounds, Drysdale can play both ends of the ice, and is rarely a liability on the defensive side due to his great positioning. In the clip below Drysdale is much smaller than the Russian player but takes away his time and space with great positioning, showing off his defensive flair for an undersized defenceman.
He is wise beyond his years, hence the coaches at the world juniors giving him an increased role throughout the tournament.
He would add a right-handed shot inside Ottawa’s top four for the future.
Jake Sanderson (LHD)
This is just incase Ottawa takes a leap of faith on the big defenceman from the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP).
His late rise has led to Sanderson being ranked in the top 5 by two of the main scouting services.
This seems like a more realistic pick the more the days go on and the fit is there, since Brannstrom likes to play on the right-side. If Brannstrom sticks to his weak side, that leaves Ottawa with the incumbent Chabot and depth defenceman like Christian Wolanin, Mike Reilly and Andreas Englund which isn’t pretty.
Ottawa is missing that physical presence on the blue line, they have Mark Borowiecki who is 30 years old and not someone you want touching your top four.
Heres a clip of Sanderson lighting up fellow prospect Brendan Brisson:
Sanderson also isn’t a slouch in the offensive zone either, he uses his large frame to shield defenders and is effective at holding the puck in the zone.
He also is efficient at breaking out of his own zone and making that great first pass:
If Ottawa were to take a defenceman at fifth overall, Sanderson may make more sense than Drysdale.