Ottawa Senators Prospects: Shane Pinto Shines With North Dakota

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 22: Shane Pinto poses after being selected 32nd overall by the Ottawa Senators during the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 22: Shane Pinto poses after being selected 32nd overall by the Ottawa Senators during the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

A 2nd round selection in 2019 for the Ottawa Senators, Shane Pinto starred as a freshman with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks

With many fans of the Ottawa Senators frustrated when Shane Pinto was selected with the first selection of the second-round over some highly-touted prospects, such as Arthur Kaliyev.

Pinto made many fans eat their words this season when he put up big numbers in college as just a freshman, and was also a star for the U.S.A. at the World Juniors. All of a sudden the soon-to-be sophomore at North Dakota is one of the Senators top prospects.

The big-framed centerman clocking in at 6’3″ and 194 pounds, has ideal size to play center at the next level and is sure to have Senators staff excitedly waiting for the day he turns pro. While Pinto has gained a good amount of recognition for his excellent play this season, he is still underrated in many circles, especially among Senators fans.

2019-2020 Recap

Performing exceptionally well with both of the teams he played for during this season, with the University of North Dakota and the U.S.A. World Junior team, Pinto showed why he was selected when he was.

With not many expectations going into his freshman season, the rangy forward was thrust into the spotlight in his first game of the season vs Canisius College where he would score the first goal of the season for North Dakota:

Pinto’s first goal was a preview of what was to come for the rest of the season, he showed an ability to corral pucks around the front of the net for easy goals, always tending to be at the right place at the right time.

Ottawa Senators
Ottawa Senators /

Ottawa Senators

Finishing the season with 16 goals and 28 points in 33 games for the Fighting Hawks, Pinto was very productive for one of the top teams in the whole country. Amazingly as a freshman finishing 1st on the team in goals and 3rd on the team in points, one of the better players on North Dakota, Pinto should be even better next year as a sophomore.

Prior to the season, many pundits wouldn’t of gave the Senators second-round selection a chance at cracking the World Juniors for team U.S.A., let alone dominating like he did.

Going up against Senators and college teammate Jacob Bernard-Docker in game 1 of the tournament Pinto would shine. Despite losing to the Canadians by a score of 6-4, Pinto would score two goals and add an assist in an epic performance. Positioned on the first power play unit for the Americans, the Senators prospect would make his presence felt early in the game:

Scoring nearly three minutes into the game, Pinto used his great hand-eye coordination to re-direct the puck into the net for the opening goal. The University of North Dakota star has the innate ability to tip pucks on net, and was used primarily for that on the Americans power play.

Despite bowing out in the quarter-finals to Finland, Pinto was named a top-three player for the Americans, while finishing with 4 goals and 7 points in only 5 games.

Placed in the company of two high first round draft picks in 2019, with Trevor Zegras and Spencer Knight, shows the talent Pinto possesses.

Going onto win the NCAA NCHC (National Collegiate Hockey Conference) Rookie of the Year was just the cherry on top of what was an exceptional season for the Senators top prospect.

What to Expect in the Future?

Pinto announced in April that he was rejoining North Dakota for his sophomore season, even with the pandemic and the unknown college hockey season, don’t expect the young forward to be lining up for the Senators next season.

With Ottawa housing a lot of depth at the center position in their prospect pool, Pinto may be making some of the players in front of him expendable. Josh Norris, Logan Brown and once October rolls around, one of Tim Stützle or Quinton Byfield will be added the mix and potentially more through the draft. The talented centerman will be amongst plenty of competition in the organization.

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It is a likely scenario that as the upcoming Senators season comes to an end Pinto could potentially sign an Entry-Level contract with Ottawa, officially declaring as a pro. He would be capable of playing games down the stretch for either Ottawa or Belleville while he grooms himself for a potential NHL spot in 2021-22. If he opts to complete his junior season in college after the 2021 season, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise since Jacob Bernard-Docker has opted to do the same for the upcoming campaign.

A great talent in front of the net, Pinto consistently found ways to tip pucks before they reached the goaltender:

A potential duo with Brady Tkachuk could prove lethal as opposing teams will have to deal with two imposing bodies around the crease. With the great ability Pinto has shown, he projects as a middle-six player for Ottawa in the future, as he won’t be great as a top line center but is plenty capable to produce in a second or third-line role.