No. 22: Cody Donaghey (Reader Rank: 22, Last Year: 24)
Cody Donaghey is rare among this year’s under 25 listing: He wasn’t drafted by the Ottawa Senators. He is one of three players on this list not drafted by Ottawa, alongside Macoy Erkamps (number 25 on the list) and a player whose name I won’t reveal, but is still to come.
Donaghey was signed as a free agent by the blue team three years back, and he joined the Senators’ organization in the massive Dion Phaneuf trade. Although at the time his inclusion seemed to have more to do with contract numbers than anything else, he was and remains a decent prospect who may yet provide some value to Ottawa’s system.
Last season, Donaghey played his fourth QMJHL season, spitting time between the Charlottetown Islanders and the Sherbrooke Phoenix. (I assure you that those are real QMJHL teams, although I’m as surprised as you are.) After putting up 40P (11G, 29A) in 52GP last year, Donaghey’s career production in the Q finished with 137P (38G, 99A) in 235GP—decent, if unspectacular numbers. His 2016-17 scoring rate of 0.77, good for a tie for 10th place among defecemen in the QMJHL. (Thomas Chabot led the league with a 1.32 P/GP.)
Not much recent video is out there of Donaghey, but here’s a clip of him scoring an overtime winner in October 2015, when he played for the Halifax Mooseheads. A couple of things stand out as impressive, but his offensive instincts—in shooting and then hunting down the rebound—are clear.
This year, Donaghey will finally turn pro—likely a long time coming for him, after the up-and-down career he’s had so far: Donaghey went undrafted after expecting to get selected, played for six junior teams, and has had his pro rights traded once. Plus there have been a couple of knee injuries, including the tear of both his ACL and MCL that cost him most of the 2014-15 season. But he’s got a good opportunity in Ottawa, given the team’s relatively shallow prospect pool; he’ll have a chance to seize a place among the top six defenders on the inaugural Belleville Senators team. But at this point, with a number of more experienced blueliners ahead of him on the depth chart, it seems entirely possible that Donaghey will have to put in at least a bit of time at the ECHL level before graduating to the AHL.
His route to the pros has been circuitous, but Donaghey is there. He’s an offensive-minded defender who plays the right side, which is a skill set that would fit nicely into #TheSystem at whatever level he ends up playing. He remains a project player at this point, but this year offers a great opportunity for him to take a step forward in his development.
Donaghey has two years remaining on his entry-level deal.