While the Stanley Cup Finals are still going on, most Senators fans have been eagerly awaiting the off-season to see what new GM Pierre Dorion will do. The first thing on tap will be the NHL draft, which is less than a month away now. There will probably be a bit more hype coming into the draft compared to last year since they have the 12th overall pick, and Ottawa could certainly end up with a quality player at that spot.
One thing people ask a lot though is, "who should they take/what position should they take?" A lot of times you can see what a team needs and it may benefit them to take a certain player even if his value may be slightly lower than a player of a different position. The Oilers for example, desperately need a defenseman, but they may have to stretch a bit to take Olli Juolevi over Matthew Tkachuk or Pierre-Luc Dubois.
The Senators are in a different spot though. While defense is a clear need in the short and long term, there is a case to be made for drafting a forward. Their three centres right now are Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau which is solid enough, but they may still need that front line centre that can compete with the Sidney Crosby's, Anze Kopitar's, Patrice Bergeron's, etc. I fully believe Turris is a first line centre, but within that distinction he isn't in the same class as the cream of the crop.
Perhaps Colin White can be that guy, but it doesn't hurt to draft another top line centre, especially if White doesn't pan out. It's not as if there are no options at centre when the Senators pick at 12 either. Centres like Clayton Keller, Tyson Jost, Logan Brown, Michael McLeod, and Kieffer Bellows could all be available, and you'd think at least two of them will be there at minimum. You can never have too many high end centres, and there are a solid amount of them between picks 10-20.
There are definitely more centres at the top of the draft compared to wingers, but if there is a winger at the top of Ottawa's list when they are ready to draft, they need to take him. Getting a high end centre is more of a luxury at this point, but getting another winger is a need. If Clarke MacArthur's long term health is in question, then Ottawa's left wingers look extremely shallow.
They have Mike Hoffman, I guess newly-minted left winger Zack Smith, and that's about it. There are young players like Ryan Dzingel, Matt Puempel,
Mark Borowiecki, Nick Paul, and Max McCormick, but none of them should be in the top six next year (or most likely in the future). Even With MacArthur in the mix, the organizational depth on that side isn't anything amazing.
The problem for left wingers is that there aren't as many in the first round. Alex Nylander looks just as good as his brother, but he'll be gone before Ottawa picks. Max Jones is a natural left winger, but he's taken some incredibly dumb penalties this year and had only 52 points in 63 games. McLeod and Bellows are listed as both centres and left wingers, so perhaps they could immediately be moved to the wing once they come to the NHL/AHL.
As for right wingers, their need is slightly less compared to the left side, but it's still a need. The Senators have Mark Stone, Bobby Ryan, Curtis Lazar, and Chris Neil, which is a group that could use some reinforcements since the prospects aren't too impressive either. Julien Gauthier is the only right winger listed around the 12th spot, and I don't think he'll be the best player available at 12. However, it certainly would not be a wrong move to pick a right winger at any spot in the draft because it's not as if they are set for years to come.
Now, defense is the most obvious need for the team. Luckily for the Senators, there are lots of options (along with centres). Mikhail Sergachev, Jacob Chychrun, Dante Fabbro, Jake Bean, and Charles McAvoy are potential candidates, although in reality only one or two may be available. I would love to have any one of these players, because even with the addition of Thomas Chabot, Ottawa's defense isn't up to snuff just yet.
They gave up the most shots against in the league last year, and unless Dorion adds somebody new, it will be a pretty similar defense corps for next season.
The point here is that in reality, Ottawa has needs everywhere. Their defense is a huge need, and it would be great to add another stud prospect. However, imagine how good their centres could be if they draft someone like Clayton Keller who was historically good in the USA Development Program? The best player available model (or BPA) needs to be used this draft, and I'm sure that's what the team will do.
Ottawa has their needs, but they don't have to go out of their way to draft a certain position. Whatever falls to them is great, and I'm going to be happy because either way the Senators should be getting a great prospect that fills a need for the team in the future. I can't wait for June 24th.