The Senators have been playing better hockey since the departures of arguably the teams best forwards ahead of the February 25th trade deadline. Many of the remaining roster players see it as a bit of a tryout for next season, as a wave of young prospects should make their way onto the big club next year.
With this in mind, Ottawa Senators management will have to make room for the likes of Drake Batherson, Logan Brown and Erik Brannstrom among others. One name who has been an under the radar player since the trade deadline has been 21 year old Rudolfs Balcers.
Since Matt Duchene, Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel were shipped out of Ottawa, Balcers has registered 7 points in 14 games. He has quietly established himself as a solid middle 6 forward and should be in Ottawa full time next season, barring any injuries. Through 34 games this season, he has put up a respectable 13 points while playing up and down the lineup in various roles for the Ottawa Senators.
Balcers Excels in the Details
The first thing that stands out about Balcers is his ability to find the puck. He always seems to be in the right areas and loves to be in front of the net. He’s also strong on the puck despite his smaller frame. He can definitely skate, although that isn’t what separates him from the opposition. His play down low and his stickhandling are what will make him a full time NHLer, he has a quick and accurate release too.
Realistically, Balcers projects to be a 3rd line scoring winger who can play up and down the lineup if injuries occur. If you need a comparison for Balcers, look no further than recently traded Ryan Dzingel. They both share similar speed and both have accurate shots that can beat goaltenders in the NHL. Balcers is also a great player in tight areas, something Dzingel was known for in his time with Ottawa aswell. I am by no means saying Rudolfs Balcers will become as good as Ryan Dzingel, but Balcers has a similar ceiling in my opinion.
Outlook Beyond this Season
It’ll take a few years until Balcers really hits his stride at the NHL level, but his late season surge with the Ottawa Senators is quite refreshing to see for many fans. However, he will have to compete against other left wingers in the Senators organization to cement his spot. That list includes Brady Tkachuk, Alex Formenton, Anthony Duclair, Vitaly Abramov and Nick Paul among others.
Balcers becomes a restricted free agent after the 2019-20 season. At that point, management should have a better idea of which direction the team is heading towards. It remains to be seen what Rudolfs Balcers will become as a player in the NHL, but it seems the Ottawa Senators have another promising young player on their hands.
Featured Image courtesy of Nikos Michals