Four years after Fredrik Claesson was drafted in the 4th round by the Ottawa Senators, he has an opportunity to take his game to the next level. He ranks 14th on the list this year after ranking 13th in 2014 and 21st in 2013. That doesn't mean that his game has stalled though, it just simply means that there is a bit more talent than last year. 14th doesn't seem too high on the list, but he could be an important part of the Senators defense as quickly as this season.
Here are his career stats to date, which don't exactly paint him as a very offensive-minded defenseman.
While he hasn't produced many points over the course of his career, he is a steady defensive defenseman who could be severely needed on Ottawa's third pairing. Claesson is almost 23 years old and has played three seasons in the AHL, so we shouldn't be wondering about if he is ready or not. Either he's ready to play now or he might never be.
Here is what Hockey's Future had to say about him in his scouting report:
Claesson is almost exclusively a stay-at-home defenseman. While not overly physical, he plays a sound positional game and is very good at preventing scoring opportunities and blocking shots and passes. Claesson is not an impressive stick handler at this point in his career but those skills should improve as he continues to develop.
He is never going to be an amazing player for the Senators, but that is mainly because of his offensive limitations. He will only be able to do so much for the team, but that is fine. Right now all Ottawa needs is some competence on the third pairing and that will be a big help.
The duo of Mark Borowiecki and Eric Gryba weren't exactly successful down the stretch for the team, and I would much rather see someone like Claesson (along with Chris Wideman) get a shot playing consistent minutes.
The Senators have been quite jumpy in their own zone the last few seasons, and they could use a calming presence back there. I'd be quite confident putting Claesson out on the ice late in the game, as he's much more likely to shut others down instead of Borowiecki, Cowen, or even Ceci.
The top four on defense looks fine right now, as Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, and Patrick Wiercioch have established themselves as quality players, while Cody Ceci still has untapped potential. Beyond that, it doesn't look too good. Jared Cowen has tremendously under-performed, Chris Phillips is no longer an NHL caliber player, and Mark Borowiecki gets a bit too much praise sometimes.
That's why Claesson has a shot to make a name for himself this season. The thing is, it will be tough because Ottawa has seven defenseman already plus Wideman who should be in the NHL. But if he is playing well enough and the team needs help, he will get his chance. He has yet to play his first career NHL game, but it's only a matter of time before he's being relied upon on the third pairing.
I truly believe that the team is big on Claesson, and that he would've had his shot by now if it wasn't for other defenseman still being on the team. With a career high of 29 points in the AHL, it's clear he won't be a star on Ottawa. But the team needs depth players, and that's how other teams win Stanley Cups.
Despite the abundance of players on the team, I think Claesson will end the season in the NHL. What do you think?