I knew who I expected the Senators to draft last night: Travis Konecny. I also knew who I was hoping for: Jérémy Roy, Nick Merkley, even Oliver Kylington, though I still have hope the Sens could get him in the second round. Instead, they took nobody I'd expected. I did a little digging, and here's a bit more information on each.
Thomas Chabot - 18th Overall
Defence, Saint John (QMJHL) - 6'2", 180 lbs
Regular season: 12 G, 29 A in 66 GP
Playoffs: 0 G, 1 A in 5 GP
The more I read about Chabot, the more I'm impressed with the pick. Initially, I thought he was a "safe defenceman" pick: likely to make the NHL, unlikely to push for a top-three role. Bob McKenzie had him 25th in his final draft rankings, so he's not a completely off-the-radar pick. However, lots of people seem more enamoured with him than that. Craig Button said he was just barely not in the top three defencemen in this draft. In a draft featuring Hanifin, Provorov, and Werenski, that's fairly high praise. Today's Slapshot described him as a top talent who was suprisingly still under the radar. Elite Prospects said he could very easily become a minute-munching defenceman in all situations.
The descriptions of Chabot are promising. He is described as intelligent and agile. He is observed to be strong both with and without the puck. He's reliable in his own end, and effective at transitioning to offence. His passing is a huge strength.
One other big point with Thomas Chabot is his year-to-year improvement. He improved from 0.4 points per game last season to 0.62 this year. This included an improvement from one goal to 12. He's still a few years out from being an NHL defenceman, but if he continues on this improvement track, he could become very good.
For comparables, Button picked Alex Edler, while Today's Slapshot picked Jake Muzzin. However, TS added that it's possible he could turn more into Ryan Suter, which would make this an absolute steal of a pick. It seems like the Sens did their homework, and took advantage of the fact that teams seem less confident in drafting defencemen.
Centre, USA NTDP - 6'0", 183 lbs
16 G, 26 A in 45 GP
While Thomas Chabot was unknown to me, Colin White disappointed me when I first heard his name called, but I'm becoming cautiously optimistic about him too. After all, Bob McKenzie had him 16th overall in his rankings, and he can't be completely wrong, right? However, NHL Central Scouting had him 29th among North American skaters.
What worried me was reading Button's scouting report: strong compete level, finds ways to contribute, not flashy, solid second-to-third line centre. Not the kind of profile that screams "first-round pick". However, others seem a lot higher on him. Elite Prospects describes him as a scoring threat who's responsible in his own end. His hockey IQ, his skating, and his puck possession were all reported as strengths. Dave Gregory of NHL Central Scouting describes him as having high-end skill.
One more important thing to remember about White is that he battled both mononucleosis and a wrist injury over the past year. Not only did he miss five games to mono, he also lost 30 pounds that he had to put back on during the playing season. Being the sixth-best scorer in U18 USA NTDP with these setbacks was no small feat.
Another big concern for me was that Button listed his closest comparable as Brandon Sutter. As a fan, I don't like seeing first-round picks used on players with ceilings as an oft-forgotten third-liner. Today's Slapshot has much higher praise, saying he could be a steal in this draft, with the potential to top out near Patrice Bergeron. As much as I doubt White will be that kind of contributor for Ottawa, that seems a lot more promising.
Besides, if the only thing he ever does for the organization is this, it was still worth it: