Ottawa Senators: A Look At The New Prospects

Ottawa Senators

At the trade deadline, the Ottawa Senators acquired a few solid prospects and now have one of the best farm systems in the NHL.

The rebuild took another huge step forward with the departures of fan favorites Ryan Dzingel, Matt Duchene and most notably Mark Stone. While it is going to take a while for fans to get over these latest transactions, we must remember that Pierre Dorion received a huge haul of assets for the three pending UFA’s. Dorion was able to acquire an abundance of draft picks, including multiple 1st and 2nd round picks, as well as a crop of young promising prospects including the highly coveted offensive defenseman Erik Brannstrom.

In this piece, I’ll be giving you an analysis on the prospects that were acquired at the deadline as well as their possible ceilings at the NHL level.

Erik Brannstrom

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The cream of the crop, Brannstrom is an A+ prospect in the NHL. He is a silky smooth skater who finds his teammates with ease. He can breakout of his own zone effortlessly with his quick acceleration as well as enter the oppositions zone with his fantastic skating and edges. Brannstrom is a power play specialist and has been able to quarterback it in every level he’s played so far, including the AHL. He has a heavy slap shot but can also beat goaltenders with his quick and accurate wrist shot. Brannstrom is a bit undersized. He stands at 5’10 and 175 lbs, but he makes up for it with smart positioning and great agility. In addition, a lot of analysts compare him to former Ottawa Senator Erik Karlsson (yes i know…).

Brannstrom was named captain of his Swedish team at this years world junior tournament where he registered 4 goals in 5 games. He has also been a force for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL where he has put up 7 goals and 21 assists in 41 games. For a 19-year-old, those numbers are pretty amazing and very rare. Brannstrom projects as a top line defenseman in the NHL who can quarterback a power play.

In a few years, the Senators will have both Thomas Chabot and Brannstrom at the NHL level. With those two powerhouse defensemen, the Senators are going to be excellent on the blue-line.

Vitali Abramov

Abramov is the first Russian to join the organization in Pierre Dorion’s tenure as general manager of the team.

He is undersized at 5’9 and 171 lbs, but makes up for it with his agility and edges. Abramov isn’t the fastest skater but he is extremely agile with or without the puck, which helps him create space to display his quick and accurate release. He loves to be on his off wing where he shows off his quick one timer release.

Abramov has had some trouble adjusting to the pro game. He has only registered 22 points in 53 games in the AHL this season after dominating the QMJHL for the last three years, where he put up 301 points across 185 games. Abramov still projects to be a top 6 forward at the NHL even though he has struggled in his first pro season.

Jonathan Davidsson

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Davidsson has the lowest ceiling of the three prospects acquired at the trade deadline, but he could still make a name for himself once he comes to North America.

Once again, Davidsson is undersized at 5’11 and 185 lbs, but is nonetheless a very effective player. Since being selected in the 6th round in 2017, Davidsson has put up some great numbers in the SHL playing for Djurgardens. Like Abramov, Davidsson is a right-winger, which is great because the Sens RW cupboard was looking pretty dry with the exception of Drake Batherson.

In addition, scouts love what they’ve seen so far from Davidsson. Below is a quote from HockeyProspect.com (found on EliteProspects.com). In the quote, HockeyProspect.com explains a bit more about Davidsson’s skill-set.

He processes the game quickly and makes decisions quickly. He has good vision when passing the puck and leads teammates up ice on the rush” 

In addition, Davidsson has registered 21 points in 36 games in the SHL this season after putting up 31 in 52 games last season. He should be playing in Belleville next season where the Sens are hopeful he can become a useful top 9 forward down the road.

What’s next for the Senators?

Pierre Dorion stockpiled his amount of early draft picks in the next 3 years. The Sens have a lot of options come the off-season given all their cap space and the amount of picks they own. I could see Dorion trading some of those picks to either acquire an NHL player or move up in the 2019 NHL draft, since Dorion traded the Senators own 1st rounder.

Dorion could also be looking to add bad contracts to his team in exchange for more young prospects and/or draft picks. The Senators have an estimated $44 million cap hit for next season. With Gary Bettman stating the salary cap upper limit in the 2019-20 season could reach the $83 million mark, the cap floor should be in the $61 million range. This means that the Sens need to spend an estimated $17 million just to reach the cap floor.

The off-season is wide open for Dorion and his staff, but it remains to be seen what he can do with all that cap space.

stats from eliteprospects.com and hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

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Author: Daniel Gagnon