Two years ago the Senators moved up in the draft to pick Erik Karlsson at #15. What will they do this year? (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
It's that time of year again -- the time where you've spent far too much time reading the names of 17 and 18 year old boys in order to determine where they might rent a condo in the future. Tonight at 7pm EST teams will make the first 30 picks of the NHL Entry Draft (which you can watch on TSN). The Ottawa Senators have five picks in the draft, but the only one in the first 75 is their first round pick, which sits at number 16. Though nobody can accurately predict what GM Bryan Murray will do tonight, there are a few questions we can answer to help decipher this mystery.
Does their passport matter?
Remember how we picked Alexander Burmistrov in the SBNation mock draft? Well, that seems far less likely now. In a media scrum yesterday, Director of Player Personnel Pierre Dorion suggested that the odds of the Senators picking a Russian are very, very slim. Dorion said "For us to take a Russian, he'd have to be a very special player. I'm not sure there's one of them in the draft this year." Ouch. Ottawa's fear is understandable considering the trouble the franchise has had with prospects like Ilya Zubov, Ruslan Bashkirov, Kirill Lyamin, Igor Mirnov, Alexei Kaigorodov...
Forward or defenseman?
A hot topic of debate is whether the Senators should take a forward or a defenseman in the first round of the draft. Though conventional wisdom states that you should simply go with best player available, the Senators are much deeper at the blueline than they are up front when it comes to prospects thanks to recent picks like Jared Cowen, Patrick Wiercioch, and Erik Karlsson. Pierre Dorion's media scrum seemed to suggest that though Best Player Available is still the rule of thumb, he also hinted that if there is a player of each position available at 16 who are of equal quality, they'll give the edge to the forward.
Move up, down, or stay pat?
Two years ago, the Senators moved up from 18th to 15th overall in the NHL Entry Draft so that they could acquire Erik Karlsson, a move that looks better with each passing day. Will the Senators move up this year to get that player they really want, or will they do the opposite and move down in the draft order? Both are being considered, says Bryan Murray, and rightfully so. The Senators are lacking a second round pick and only have five picks in the entire draft, meaning the team likely lacks the assets to move up in the draft. However, moving down a few spots in order to get a couple more picks might be a wise idea in order to help fill up the prospect pool, particularly seeing as there is such a lack of consensus in the bottom 15 of the first round.
Will there be any moves made by Bryan Murray?
Yes, yes, a million times yes. Murray always tends to make some sort of move on draft day, even if it's just swapping prospects or announcing that a player has been signed. Though I have no insider knowledge, I have to expect some sort of small move to happen -- maybe a prospect or fringe player like Ryan Shannon or Jesse Winchester is moved, or the team swaps a future pick to get another one this year. Something is bound to happen.
Who did the experts pick?
Bob McKenzie (TSN) -Vladimir Tarasenko (RW - Novosibirsk, KHL)
Russian forward Vladimir Tarasenko is a gifted goal-scorer and elite offensive talent and showed up to the NHL combine with one of the most physically mature and impressive physiques, a Russian tank of sorts (think Vladimir Krutov in really, really good shape), but he is a draft wild card because of the Russian Factor. Top 10 ability, where he ends up is anybody’s guess.
Craig Button (TSN) - Jaden Schwartz (C - Tri-City, USHL)
He's a real competitor. As a 17 year old, he lead the USHL in scoring and that's a hard league to play in. He excelled in it. The Senators could use his skill and competitiveness
The Hockey News - Johan Larsson (LW - Brynas IF Jr., Sweden J20)
The Senators apparently like the Swedish winger a lot. Larsson isn't rated in the first round, though, so expect the Sens to trade down, add picks and get the man they want later in the round.
Sportsnet - Alexander Burmistrov (C - Barrie, OHL)
No one can deny this playmaker's skill, as this Russian has the potential to be top two-line NHL forward. His vision and hockey sense are at an elite level and he has the ability to process information quickly. A darting skater who uses his agility and quickness to create time and space for himself. He has a tendency to pass first and shoot second, but when Burmistrov does shoot it is quick and accurate. It is hard not like his competiveness and willingness to play responsible defence. Once this skinny kid matures physically he could be a dynamic offensive player. The lure of money in the KHL remains for the NHL team that drafts him.
ProHockeyTalk - Jack Campbell (G - USA U18, USDP)
Could go higher, but he's falling on many draft boards because of concerns over his attitude. Yet he's the best goaltender prospect to come out of the US in years and has the combination of athleticism, size and confidence in net every team hopes to have in their goaltender.
Be sure to check back with us during the weekend for analysis of each of Ottawa's picks (as well as any trades that may happen). Enjoy the draft!