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Ottawa Senators Prospect Update - February 20th to March 5th

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Why is Christian Wolanin so good? Who is Filip Gustavsson? Will Aaron Luchuk ever stop scoring? All in this week’s update.

Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s been two weeks since the last prospect update, and a handful of players have been on fire in that span. All five of their CHL prospects have been playing well, with some select others from the NCAA and AHL also standing out.

The Belleville Senators, who have been at the bottom of the AHL for a while, can’t buy themselves a win. They’ve only come ahead in one of their last eight games, defeating Utica 1-0 in the first of their three-in-three weekend. It’s been a rough time.

Stats Sheet

(Click to enlarge)

Biggest Standouts

Aaron Luchuk

The hottest player in the Ontario Hockey League, Luchuk extended his point streak to 20 games, with 42 points in that frame. He’s tied with Jordan Kyrou for first in league scoring (105 points), and is on pace to have the most goals as well.

Players who have won both titles in the same season: Alex DeBrincat, Tyler Toffoli, John Tavares, Rob Schremp, Corey Perry, Corey Locke, Andrew Brunette, Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau and Ray Sheppard. Quite the impressive company.

Manning the first line centre with Russians Dmitri Sokolov and Andrei Svechnikov, the trio have turned the Barrie Colts into a top threat. They sit atop their division with a record of 38-21-3, good for fifth in the OHL. With only two weeks left in the regular season, they’re poised to make a run at the championship.

Alex Formenton

The speedy forward has been on a scoring binge for the last while, picking up five goals in his last six games, including a first star selection scoring twice against the Ottawa 67’s on February 23rd. He scored against Ottawa again in his most recent game, netting what could contend as the OHL’s goal of the year.

Still only 18 years old, Formenton has already been able to make significant strides in his biggest area of weakness heading into the season: puck control. He’s undoubtedly quick, but it seems he’s now also able to think the game at the same speed. He’ll likely spend another season in the OHL, as he’s subject to the NHL-CHL transfer agreement that restricts him from playing in the AHL.

Christian Wolanin

Wolanin’s become a bit of a staple in this series, and for good reason. He’s a swift skater with fantastic offensive abilities, adding another six points to his total in four games over the last two weeks. He also clinched the University of North Dakota’s award for most three-star selections, becoming the first defenceman to win the honours (Brock Boeser won it last season).

UND has also clinched home ice for the first round of the playoffs (a streak they’ve held for 15 seasons), which starts this Friday against the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Wolanin was also recently featured in the Sens’ farm report.

“At Development Camp, they tell you that if you can’t play in every zone on the ice, you aren’t going to play. You might be able to make it for a few games but you won’t last. That’s something that I’ve always been focused on and I want to prove that I can be responsible and reliable defensively. That’s been my mentality going into each game, the offence will come but I want to be consistent on the back end.”

Nick Paul

Another prospect with a hot stick, Paul scored five goals in Belleville’s last seven games — over a third of Belleville’s total goals in that span. It included a hat trick against Montreal’s affiliate Laval, potting all of the Senators’ goals in a 4-3 loss. This comes after a slow start to the beginning of the season, where he didn’t find the back of the net until December.

With the likes of Jim O’Brien and Max McCormick getting ample opportunity to play games for Ottawa, Paul seems like the most logical player to call up next or even to play in one of their places.

Parker Kelly

Rounding out the large group of standouts, Parker Kelly had seven points in as many games over the last two weeks, as well as his shootout tally shown below. He was named one of the three stars of the game three consecutive times, including the first star against the Swift Current Broncos. Since February 10th he’s only had two games without getting on the scoresheet, scoring three goals and seven assists in that ten game span.

The Prince Albert Raiders are in an uphill battle to make the WHL playoffs, sitting four points out of the division’s fourth seed with seven games to go. They beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team they’re trying to catch, by a score of 6-2 a week ago today. They’ve become hot at the right time, currently on a six game win streak.

New Prospects!

With the NHL trade deadline come and gone (the AHL trade deadline also passed yesterday), the Sens found themselves with a couple changes in the prospect pipeline. Vincent Dunn is now a member of Pittsburgh Penguins via the Brassard trade, and Ottawa was also able to acquire goaltender Filip Gustavsson in that same trade. Forward Nick Moutrey was also acquired from Columbus with a pick for Ian Cole.

Filip Gustavsson

Gustavsson, originally drafted 55th overall in 2016, has been spending the season in Sweden playing for the Luleå organization (formerly the team of Christian Jaros). He started playing for their U20 team, although proved to be above their level posting an impressive .925 save percentage in seven games. Now he’s up playing for the big club in the SHL, splitting time with 25-year-old Joel Lassinantti. Gustavsson has a save percentage of .918 in his 20 contests so far this season, and at 19 years of age, is the only goalie under 20 to play more than a single game.

He took some time away from Luleå to play at the World Junior Championships for his second year in a row, going home with the silver medal and the honours as the WJC’s best goalkeeper. Although the list of previous winners isn’t eye-popping, it’s an impressive feat nevertheless. He’s also the third consecutive Swede to win the award.

Some quotes on Gustavsson:

“Positionally strong, he keep movement to a minimum letting things come to him. Good going side to side, squares up on shooters, and is an athletic battler in the opposition gets to the net. Can over-commit, and still needs to build his game. As is the case with many Euro goalies, he plays a bit to deep in the net.”

Bill Placzek, DraftSite

“Gustavsson mainly relies on his size and sound positioning in the crease to stop the puck. The big Swede mainly does his work within the paint, and succeeds due to how big he can make himself as he can cover most of the net. That is not to say that he does not come out to aggressively cut down on the shooting angles, but just that he only leaves his crease when the play is coming into the zone off the rush. This makes his side-to-side movement fast, and makes is easier for him to block shots that require him to go post-to-post.”

Future Considerations

Per Bruce Garrioch, Gustavsson could be coming to North America as soon as this season to play with Belleville, and will join them full-time next season. The SHL playoffs go as far as late April, with Luleå currently in 7th place. The top ten teams make the playoffs — ranks 1-6 get a bye while 7-10 have to play a best-of-three series to choose the final two teams.

Nick Moutrey

There’s a lot less hype surrounding Moutrey compared to Gustavsson, as he’ll likely serve as a depth forward in Belleville’s bottom six. Drafted in the 4th round by Columbus in 2013, Moutrey won the AHL championship as a rookie with the Lake Erie Monsters in 2016, although he only suited up for two playoff games.

After increasing his points-per-game from 0.21 to 0.28 last season, he’s fallen off a bit having battled an injury early this season (current P/GP of 0.23). He once showed promise in the OHL, scoring 62 points in 62 games split between the Saginaw Spirit and North Bay Battalion (playing on the latter team with Nick Paul). However, at 22 years of age and now in his third mediocre AHL season, his chance of making the NHL have dwindled.

Silver Linings

  • Ho hum, just another six points in six games for Drake Batherson. For the bilingual readers, TVA Sports ran a great ran a great feature on him yesterday. He picked up a sweet assist, too.
  • Yesterday was Logan Brown’s 20th birthday. He’s cooled down a bit from his torrid start in Kitchener, although five points in five games is still fantastic. He was benched two games ago for being late to a practice, and didn’t play Kitchener’s last game for ‘rest’.
  • Andreas Englund finally picked up his first goal of the season, on a slick backhand from a rare burst of offence against the Toronto Marlies.
  • Colin White is on an 11-game goal drought in the AHL, with four assists in that span.
  • The Brampton Beast named Cody Donaghey their player of the week in the final week of February, with two goals and an assist. He’s been firing everything at the net, with a dozen shots on goal in his last three games.
  • College senior Kelly Summers finished the regular season with Clarkson University, picking up three points in his final two games. They face off against Colgate University in the playoffs, starting on March 9th.
  • Meanwhile, Shane Eiserman, Todd Burgess and Joel Daccord are all done for the season, as none of their schools qualified for the NCAA playoffs. Eiserman is a senior, and could potentially play a couple games with Belleville later in the year.