No. 14: Shane Bowers (Reader rank: 14, last year: N/A)
With the Senators farm system being about average, it’s quite jarring to see their first round pick ranked so low in the Top 25 Under 25. Logan Brown was of course drafted 17 spots higher than Bowers, but he debuted at 6th on this list last year, indicating that the writers and readers are much more optimistic about Brown than Bowers.
Colin White also debuted low at #16 back in 2015, but that was more due to players like Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad, Patrick Wiercioch, Curtis Lazar, Shane Prince, etc. still being eligible. I don’t think this ranking is too low for Bowers at all either, because he hasn’t proven as much as other prospects in the system, plus his ceiling appears to be somewhat limited.
Writers and readers (including myself) must be hesitant on the type of player he can become, because he ended up being ranked lower than players like Andreas Englund, Nick Paul, Ben Harpur, and Christian Jaros. I understand that he was a late first round pick so it is different than in previous seasons, but there doesn’t seem to be very much fanfare surrounding Bowers.
The 6’1” centre from Halifax was described as more of a “safe” pick, and Ottawa’s Chief Amateur Scout Trent Mann essentially said that their picks were intended to be players of that ilk because they only had four this draft.
While playing for the Waterloo Black Hawks, Bowers finished 10th in scoring in the USHL with 51 points in 60 games. For comparison, 30th overall pick Eeli Tolvanen had 54 points in 52 games, and Colin White had 17 points in 20 games in his draft season.
By looking at Ryan Biech’s fantastic player comparables chart, he has Bowers essentially at a 20.7% chance of becoming a regular. For a late first round pick, that’s actually not that bad:
Furthermore, Ryan did a fantastic deep dive on Bowers* and found that his 5 on 5 production was one of the best in the USHL with 74.5% of his points coming from even strength, plus 88% of his points were goals or primary assists. Those two marks were much higher than other players in the USHL with higher point totals.
*(I recommend reading Biech’s article linked above, there is a ton of helpful insight on him)
He also finished 3rd in shots per game amongst USHL draft eligible forwards, which, combined with the 5 on 5 and primary points totals, indicates that Bowers could be due for a bit of positive regression in terms of raw point totals.
Here is what Corey Pronman had to say on the Bowers pick:
OTT selects Bowers. A former very highly touted prospect who dipped a bit in draft year. He has great speed, not sure on skill.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) June 24, 2017
Despite the low ranking on this list and questions about his ceiling, it’s hard to not be excited about a first round pick. Much like for Alex Formenton, he at least has speed and a solid two-way game. Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino described him as a player that does not “dazzle” in any category, but he’s “really good in all of those areas.”
So if he develops into a 3rd line centre, then it’s still a good draft selection. It may just be a bit underwhelming to see your first round selection be compared to Taylor Pyatt (true story), when there are others around him with more potential. It doesn’t mean Bowers was a bad pick, but there will most likely be a few players picked in the second round that turn into much better players.
Clearly the Senators like their defensively responsible players, and maybe they intend to become a team like the St. Louis Blues who have four solid lines but not a ton of star power up front.
Bowers will be playing at Boston University next season, and I’m hoping he can surprise us in his freshman season much like Colin White did. I’ll never completely judge a draft selection until he’s played another season or two, so I’m intrigued to see what kind of offensive numbers he can put up at BU.
He is a first round pick, but at this moment I wouldn’t expect him to reach the same prospect level as White and Thomas Chabot.