Even though the Ottawa Senators found themselves at the bottom of the 2018-19 National Hockey League standings, the prospect depth is quite pleasing.
Especially for the young Ottawa Senators center prospects or roster players. It’s easy to point out the weak center depth this past season but Ottawa still boasts a wealth of young talent up the middle. It’s well known that successful Stanley Cup contending teams must possess quality centers.
Where exactly do the Senators stand in this? While the Senators don’t yet possess a true number one center, they do own a bevy of young centers with true top-six upside. That list includes Logan Brown, Colin White, Josh Norris and to a lesser extent Filip Chlapik. White has already established himself as a capable top-six center. However, it’s hard to see him ever becoming a true number one center who can carry such a workload.
On the flip side, Chlapik lost a lot of hype this past season. After playing 20 games with the Sens during the 2017-18 season and collecting four points, he was limited to just five games this past season, scoring just one goal. He also had competition in Belleville as Brown outplayed the young Czech forward to earn the number one center spot.
The point being that Chlapik did not meet expectations in his second pro season, and it seems as though fans and management have given up on the idea that he could ever become a solid second-line center. I included him in the list because I still feel as though he’s a quality prospect, but he’s going to have to step it up big time next year if he ever wants to reach that ceiling.
Another fact to remember is the Senators currently own two fantastic third-line centers in Chris Tierney and J.G Pageau. My guess is, if the Senators center prospects do make it to the big club in the next two seasons, that one of Tierney or Pageau will be dealt to make room for the youngsters. Barring any trades, the Sens could have a center core consisting of Brown, White, Tierney and Norris/Pageau in the near future.
The possibility also exists that general manager Pierre Dorion could trade for a center with the multitude of draft picks he was able to acquire this past season. However, if he decides to follow this path, he should only trade for a center who can slot inside the top-six.
Acquiring A Potential #1 Center In The Draft
Let’s also take into consideration the fact that the Sens could own as many as 17 draft picks in the first three rounds from 2019 through 2021. Dorion has a chance to acquire multiple new center prospects with high upside. They may also be able to find their coveted number one center of the future with the possibility of drafting Quinton Byfield in the 2020 NHL draft.
The Senators also have a chance to draft a top-end center in the upcoming 2019 draft. With intriguing names such as Ryan Suzuki, Connor McMichael and Alex Newhook who could all still be available at the number 19 draft position. It’s safe to say, the Sens should continue to stockpile on center depth as they continue their rebuild.
Like many others, I believe that a rebuild needs to start on the back end and make its way to the center position. The Sens already boast an established top pairing defenseman in Thomas Chabot as well as an up and coming star in Erik Brannstrom. These two defensemen are no doubt the most important pieces in this rebuild, considering that it took Mark Stone to land the slick swedish defenseman Brannstrom.
Nonetheless, fans should be optimistic with the young defensemen in the Senators system as they also own a nice supporting cast as well. Christian Wolanin, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Christian Jaros and Max Lajoie all seem to be trending in the right direction.
Who Could The Senators Select With The 19th Overall Selection?
The possibilities are endless for Dorion and company, and it all begins this June at the NHL entry draft. There are a few players I would like management to target. The first player being Newhook.
He is a dangerous centerman who can set up plays as well as finish them. He fits the speed movement the Senators are trending towards perfectly. He also seems like a guy the Sens would target as they’ve shown a tendency to draft players out of the British Columbia Hockey League in the past.
The next player management should target is bulking right winger Arthur Kaliyev, who played with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Ontario Hockey League. His finishing capabilities are some of the best in his draft class. He put up 51 goals and 102 points in his sophomore season in Hamilton. If he improves his defensive game, he’s going to be a dynamic forward for years to come.
To keep the forward trend going, Dorion and co should also be taking a good look at Barrie center Suzuki. It’s tough to get a good read on Suzuki’s ceiling as many scouts have varying opinions on the young forward. I believe he’s worth the risk. The young playmaker could be a staple in the Senators top-six and help set up players like Drake Batherson and Brady Tkachuk for years to come. I would like management to target these particular players if they’re available at position 19 in the draft. Of course, the possibility exists that they are all nabbed before that selection however.
The Senators also own the 32nd overall selection this coming draft. A few key players I would like them to target with that pick are Bobby Brink, Spencer Knight and Lassi Thomson. If they are still available, of course.
The next two drafts are crucial for Dorion and the Senators. They need to select a few gems in order to build a contender. As I’ve touched on before, Dorion and the scouting staff need to find a number one center in the next two drafts. It should also be of interest to look at highly touted goalie prospect Knight, who could very well become an elite goaltender in the NHL.
All we can hope for as sens fans is for Dorion to draft the best player available with the 19th overall selection.
Statistics provided by hockey-reference
Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals