It’s Friday, So It’s Time For A Draft!


It’s not hard to predict this seasons draft moves on the part of the Ottawa Senators.
It’s time to wing it.

Although the Jason Spezza issue remains a hot topic, I for one am going to assume he either remains, or, if traded, will garner a legit #1 centre in return.

What this team needs, desperately, is offence from the wing, coupled with a physical edge. I continue to lament Fisher at centre, and not on the wing, and should Regin develop as a solid centreman this team will be centre rich, winger poor.

Here is my prioritized wish-list, availability TBD;

1. LW – NINO NIEDERREITER – A swiss born offensively gifted scorer with a big frame to match his physical edge…can you say BINGO! Add to this experience playing vs. men in the W.C. and you may have a young player capable of making a quick impact in the NHL.

2. FW – EMERSON ETEM – This kid is another archetypical winger, but where Niederreiter is a winger with scoring and jam, Etem is a scoring winger with scoring and speed, lots and lots of speed. This isn’t to say Etem is a shrinking violet, and at 6′, 190 lbs he’s sure to have NHL size, but he’s more of a deke than drive kind of scorer.

3. RW – BRETT CONNOLLY – Unlikely to still be available at No. 16, Brett represents a very solid pick, possibly cloaked in a shadow of injury concerns. Many believe he represents the whole package from the wing position, but others fear a recent history with hip issues, and associate poor performances, will make him a player many will pass on in favour of more sure bets. Will the Sens get anoter chance to scoop a skilled player dampened by injury concerns a la Jared Cowan?

4. RW – AUSTIN WATSON – Here’s another “full package” kid, but lacking the stats to move him into the upper echelon of this years draft ranking. Is he a bottom six in the making, or a sleeper top 6 waiting for a chance?
Wild Cards?

5. LW – MIKAEL GRANLUND – A big kid with experience versus men, but a playmaker, not a scorer…another Mike Fisher?

6. RW – VLADIMIR TARASENKO – Possibly the best player in the draft…but he’s Russian. What to do, what to do?  No doubt the Capitals are hoping the Russian factor slips him to 30th over-all, but will it? Already in the KHL, the risk of never playing a single game in the NHL is a very real threat. The CBA makes competing financially with the KHL an impossibility.  No doubt the risk/reward around this kid will generate a lot of discussion around the draft tables.

My guess?

It’ll be the home state hero, Emerson Etem, pulling on the Sens sweater at 16th over-all.

In other news, winger Benoit Pouliot ( local boy from Alfred Ontario), was not qualified by the Canadiens organization, who acquired the wingers rights in a “trouble for trouble” trade with the Wild at the deadline.  Pouliot (4th over-all/2005)  remains a chimeric player, gifted with size, skill and, unfortunately, expectation, an expectation he has consistently failed to meet as an NHL’er.  This isn’t to say he’s been borderline NHL capable, just not a the consistent top 6 forward he was expected, and paid, to be.

Might Murray be interested in another local reclamation project?  No doubt his french Canadian stature is desired among a bilingual fan base.

At the right price, and term, I say do it, maybe Spezza is the centre that can make this LW’er blossom. 

GN

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18 Responses to “It’s Friday, So It’s Time For A Draft!”

  1. How is Connolly behind Etem on your wish list? Is that a joke?

    And how are we center rich? Take out Spezza and we’ve got Fisher, Kelly, Winchester, Smith, Regin, and a bunch of players that would be lucky to crack the top 6 at any point in the future:

    The jury is out on Silfverberg and it’s more likely he ends up as a Kelly-esque center/winger hybrid. He has top-6 potential, but he’s hardly a slam-dunk.

    Then there’s Hoffman, Greening, and Cap but there’s hardly a guarantee that any of them will play in the NHL as major contributors.

    After that, the cupboard is bare. Not to mention the fact that Regin has seen his greatest success as a winger, and not one of the other 4 current NHLers is a realistic top-6 forward. Fisher is pushing the barrier of a 3rd line center, but still has yet to demonstrate the consistency necessary to be considered a legit 2nd line center.

    Then on wing, in terms of prospects, there’s Petersson, Sandin, Daugavins, and Wick, and then nobody with top-6 potential. Sandin and the Daug are longshots to play a regular shift, while there’s still no official confirmation on Wick.

    On the current roster, however, we’re winger-rich and center-adequate.

    The reality is actually that we’re still just starting to see what it’s like to have a decent crop of prospects and not one position is sufficiently filled. This draft clearly remains status quo for the Murray era: BPA all day, both days.

  2. Foligno, Winchester, Shannon, Fisher, Spezza, Regin, Kelly and Smith. All natural centres. That’s 8 of 13, this leaves you thinking centre is a key position to be filled in the future? Of that list, one is signed for 5 more years, another for 3, and another for 2. As for elite depth, well, apart from defense (maybe), every position is lacking, but most acutely at wing.
    Alfredsson, Michalek, Neil, Ruutu, Kovalev, natural wingers. 5 of 13. Of that list, one is signed for 4 yrs, and 2 at 3 yrs., none of them are elite LW’ers
    Seems pretty obvious to me, huh?
    As for why Etem is ahead of Connolly…the same reason he’s ahead of Hall, availability. I suspect Connolly will be gone ahead of Etem…as will Hall, in case your wondering.
    GN

  3. so why even include him? He’s supposed to go 5-7 and won’t drop out of the top 10… why bother mentioning a player who isn’t even an option?

    As for your list of players and positions, it’s a) not accurate, and b) not exactly compelling.

    First of all, Foligno, Shannon, Winchester, and Smith are not going to be in your top-6 by choice. The first two have been on the wing for the majority of their professional careers, while the latter two are in the grinding mold.

    Kelly is a 3rd liner and Regin is very likely to move to the wing on a consistent basis. Meanwhile, Fisher has to put up points more consistently to do that 2 spot justice.

    Either way, the point of drafting is for the future. Many NHL forwards were natural centers prior to the start of their professional careers. Let’s look purely at youth and prospects to determine our needs:

    (Players 25 or younger with a realistic possibility of being an everyday NHLer)
    Center: Winchester, Smith, Foligno, Hoffman,
    Winger: Michalek, Petersson, Wick
    Undefined forward: Regin, Silfverberg, Greening, Caporusso

    Defense: Campoli, Karlsson, Cowen, Wiercioch, Gryba, Lee

    Goalie: Elliott, Lehner

    You seem to be overlooking the fact that I mentioned above: pre-NHL natural centers often end up playing on the wing as professionals.

    When I look at those groupings, I see a much weaker center crop than I do wingers… The odds of Regin playing consistently at center are rather slim, given the way the season ended. Meanwhile, Silf, Greening, and Cap are going to have to battle with lifers to get a center spot. The fact remains that all positions (yes, include D) need more prospects, and center is the most important position in to have depth at. If Spezza and Fisher go down for an extended period of time, that means Kelly is your 1st line center, Smith and Winchester are your 2nd and 3rd line centers and who knows who handles the 4th line duty.

    We don’t have the depth to handle injuries at center or the top-6 in general. And that is a big problem. That’s what needs to be addressed. Focusing solely on pre-pro wingers is a bad strategy…

  4. Now that I look at that, Foligno shouldn’t even be listed in the center grouping, which makes it that much worse. He’s a winger in the NHL.

  5. Foligno plays wing, along with others (Regin, Shannon), because there are so many centres. By your logic, Ottawa would dress 3 fewer players a game, because they’re natural centres, not wingers. In fact, you entirely proved my point, in that Ottawa, because of their excess of centres, are being forced to play people out of their natural positions.
    As for listing Connolly, if you took a moment to consider my post, rather than look for flaws, you would have noticed I listed him because of the possibility his injury would place him out of ranking, as happened with Cowen.
    Every team needs more at every position, that’s the nature of the NHL, certainly not unique to Ottawa.
    If Spezza and Fisher go down to injury, Regin is likely the next centre in the pecking order, but, seriously, remove the top 2 centres off of any team and you have chaos…so, apart from wacky hypotheticals, what is your point, that the Sens need 3 top 6 centres? Yeah, cause that’s the norm!
    EVERY blog, sports writer and even the GM’s themselves are targeting forwards, with an eye to the wing, so I feel comfortable in my view.

    GN

  6. You know what else isn’t unique to Ottawa? Players playing out of their natural position. You might want to try watching other teams to see just how many “natural centers” are wingers in the NHL.

    It’s not about having 3 top-6 centres, it’s about having potential top-6 centers in the prospect pool. We don’t have all that many, nor do we have all that many top-6 forwards at all in our prospect pool.

    If Spezza gets traded and no first line centre comes back, we have nothing in our youth to fill that whole. Same can be said if Fisher gets traded after his NMC turns limited. Regin helps, but as I’ve said multiple times, he has seen his greatest success on the wing.

    As for Cowen, he never would have fallen to us, without the emergence of OEL and Toronto’s unbelievable stupidity. The idea that Connolly falls to 15 is, quite frankly, moronic. I’m not saying you are moronic, I’m saying that theory is bunk.

    I’m a Sens fan who knows more about this team than pretty much every blogger and sports writer in the city, so w/e if you don’t want to listen to my logic. I know what I’m talking about…

    • Huh,
      Thanks for your opinion, and it has some merit, but I disagree, the Sens need to select the best player available, as always, but with an eye towards a winger.
      Will Connolly make it to 16th? unlikely, which is what I said all along, but when it comes to draft day, and injuries, anything can happen.
      BTW, Ottawa drafts 16th.
      GN
      PS Thinking you know more than everyone else is always a bad starting point to any enjoyable conversation.

      • Fair enough…I was just getting defensive.
        And yeah I know we draft 16th, typo.

        You’re right: anything can happen on draft day, but Connolly dropping anywhere near us is not happening.

        • Likely, hells no, possible…as I’m sure you’ve seen, when it comes to injuries, and #1 picks…it doesn’t take much for a GM to get cold feet. Without knowing the results of his medicals, I have no idea what the opinion will be on his injury, but we both know Cowen going so far out of the top 5 was a farce, and proof positive GM’s fear making a blunder with an early pick.
          GN

          • True story, but Connolly was top-5 going into the year, so falling outside top-12 is real unlikely.

            Anythings possible, I guess, but I would bet significant money on him going in the top-10, injury or not.

          • Agreed.
            GN

  7. One of you says we are center-rich because we have alot of centers, the other says we have alot of guys who play center, but who aren’t top two lines calibre (Spez excepted). Everyone agrees that our need is a skilled forward capable of playing on the top-two lines, not another “two-way player with some offensive capability.” If we get someone who can play with Spez on the side, great; if we get someone to lead our number two line and plays like a #1 center, great. If we draft another f’n defenceman (who else wishes we drafted MPS and not Cowan!!!!) I’m going to lose it!

    • Agreed Ryan. If it’s another centre, so be it, but all things being equal, management will be looking to the wing, and looking for offense, not 2 way ability.
      As for the defenseman, yes, but the fact we now have such depth at that position allows for the team to be more specific in their approach to this draft. In fact, don’t be surprised if the Sens trade the 16th pick away for a lower 1st and 2nd.
      All indications from management are that Regin is being projected as the next top 6 centre, making this role less critical. He’s on wing, because we have so mnay centres, not because he’s a better winger than centreman. The reason so many centres play out of position is because, generally speaking, elite forwards get placed at centre at a young age, and develop as such, creating an over-abundance of this position. But, wing and centre are different positions, especially in a top 6 capacity, and not all players can make the transition. Generally speaking, when a player develops as a winger, and has elite success, they progress better into that role going forward than a centre turned winger. Clearly this is not a blanket rule, just a generality. If the Sens select a centre, great, I suspect they will have done so with discussions around their ability to convert to the wing…assuming the plan is to retain Spezza, or land another #1 in exchange. I maintain trading Spezza, and worrying about next season, are mutually exclusive, barring a lopsided trade in our favour.
      GN

  8. Agreed Ryan, but believe me when I tell you that Cowen was the right pick. It wasn’t even a toss-up. He was top-3 going into his draft year and only fell because of that knee, which also hindered his play at the WJC and throughout the season. He very well might be our best prospect (and yes that includes Karlsson). It was not a bad pick. That being said, yeah we need to draft a forward.

  9. Just heard a rumour that Columbus GM Howson commented on Connoly’s hips by saying he had the body of a 40 year old man. Maybe he’s not out of reach, but do we want him, if Howson is right?

  10. Great analysis in your article! I’m always stoked for the NHL draft and excited to see what these young up and comers will do in the future. Could you check out my blog as well because I really wanna hear your opinion on my thoughts. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/toronto-maple-laughs/

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