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Ottawa Senators Draft Profiles: Pick #22 Forwards

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The Sens have two first round picks this year! Who are some potential forwards to select with pick #22?

Oshawa Generals v Niagara IceDogs
Niagara IceDogs forward Akil Thomas is projected to be a mid-to-late first round pick.
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Earlier this week, we looked at potential forwards and defencemen that the Ottawa Senators could potentially select with the 4th overall pick. This year’s draft is a big one for Ottawa not only because they have that pick, but they’ll also be picking twice in the first round.

As part of the trade sending Derick Brassard to the Pittsburgh Penguins, they acquired their 1st round pick for this season. With the Penguins losing to the eventual champion Washington Capitals in the second round, the pick ended up being slotted at 22nd overall. Considering Ottawa’s highest pick last year was 28th overall, they now have a prime chance to add two more great prospects to their already fantastic prospect pool.

This post will look at four forwards likely to be taken around this pick, and we’ll shift to defencemen tomorrow. We’re assuming players like Joel Farabee, Joseph Veleno and Vitali Kravtsov will be taken by the time Ottawa’s second pick comes around. All are players who should be an easy pick if they end up falling that far.

Akil Thomas (C/RW)

Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos McKenzie Button Cosentino McKeen's HockeyProspect ISS Future Considerations NHL Central Scouting
Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos McKenzie Button Cosentino McKeen's HockeyProspect ISS Future Considerations NHL Central Scouting
Akil Thomas 32 18 12 25 15 19 NR (16) 17 27 26 NR (31) 27 17 15 (NA)

Akil Thomas’ season started off strong back in August, where he scored six points in four games at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, bringing team Canada to a gold medal. His scoring didn’t stop there, as in an increased role for the Niagara IceDogs, Thomas put up 81 points in 68 games, a rate that led all OHL U18 skaters except for Andrei Svechnikov, and bested fellow draftees such as Ryan McLeod and Allan McShane.

Consistency is what you’ll get with Thomas, as there was no time in this past season where he went more than two games without finding the scoresheet. At 6’0” and 170 lbs, he still has room to grow. Skating isn’t an issue for Thomas, although it’s not a standout trait of his either. He comes with the whole package, and considering the results he was able to produce, his ceiling could be even higher than anticipated. Many scouts have talked about him having another gear to his game, and I can see it as well. The IceDogs have one the OHL’s youngest rosters, so the potential is definitely there for him to reach that gear next season with a better surrounding.

Wearing the ‘A’ for the IceDogs, Thomas was a leader for Niagara on and off the ice, bringing what expected to be a middling team to the second round of the playoffs. He has a powerful shot, although he doesn’t use if often, as his style is much more of a playmaker. His zone transitions are done thoroughly and effectively. He’s also a versatile player, as although he played centre this season, this was only his first season being played there full-time, and could easily transition back to the right side for an NHL team.

Highlights

Dominik Bokk (RW)

Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos McKenzie Button Cosentino McKeen's HockeyProspect ISS Future Considerations NHL Central Scouting
Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos McKenzie Button Cosentino McKeen's HockeyProspect ISS Future Considerations NHL Central Scouting
Dominik Bokk 8 28 29 17 21 26 NR (16) 30 28 18 13 28 NR (31) 12 (Euro)

Ranked anywhere from in the top-10 to the end of the first round, German-born Dominik Bokk is an electrifying player with top-end skill, and a fair amount to work on.

After dominating the German leagues (DNL) back in 2016-17, Bokk was recruited by the Växjö Lakers — one of the best SHL squads and this year’s league champions. Bokk, a February birthday, started at the J18 level but was quickly promoted after two games to the SuperElit, where his 41 points in 35 games led Växjö in scoring and ranked him third league-wide among U18 players after Berggren and Leksands forward, Marcus Karlberg. Bokk didn’t suit up for Växjö during their playoff run, but played in 15 regular season games near the end of the year — putting up two points in 9:48 of ice-time as the Lakers’ youngest forward. The German junior league to the SHL is a big jump in one year, and speaks wonders of Bokk’s skillset.

At 6-foot-1 and 179 pounds, Bokk recently hit a growth spurt and still has work to do in filling out his frame. He’s a shifty skater, and generally relies on his feet and his puck skills to dominate offensively.

Here are two contrasting scouting reports from The Athletic colleagues, Pronman (8) and Wheeler (28) with emphasis added by me in bold:

Bokk is one of the most interesting players for me in this draft class. I watched him about as much as any prospect, going though about half his games this season. Every game I saw of him, there were 1 or 2 instances that left you marveled. He shows you glimpses of elite talent and someone who can be an impact winger. Bokk’s pure puck skill is up there with the very best in the draft class. He dances with the puck on his stick and can make flashy dekes seem routine. His hands also translate to making him one of the best pick pockets (of pucks) I’ve seen at his age. He’s a good playmaker who looks to makes plays to his teammates and has the patience and skill to hold the puck and let an option develop. He can finish chances, too, and when he’s played internationally, the German team has looked to him as a trigger man. His skating is fine, not explosive, but average. The main criticism of him is off the puck. He’s not a very intense physical player nor is he great defensively. His production hasn’t been amazing this season in Sweden’s junior circuit, but he didn’t play much high-level hockey until 17, so his game needs some maturing. I rank him this high despite low production because of his immense talent, no character flags, and I could see his development spiking as he continues to play high-level hockey. — Corey Pronman

Bokk is a big kid with room still to grow. He is so deceptive that he plays like he’s smaller than he is. He’s extremely poised with the puck and one of the better skaters in the class, which made him an offensive forced in SuperElit. Still, while he’s an explosive threat, the rest of his game lacks: He nearly never engages physically without the puck and tends to reach with his stick instead; he coasts back in transition; he doesn’t fully pursue loose pucks; and he’s easily frustrated with his teammates. If he can sort those things out, he’s got second-line NHL upside. We’ll see. There’s no question he’s a first-round talent. — Scott Wheeler

Colin and I have ranked Bokk high because of his ceiling. Almost all reports on him, and the accompanying video, showcases a player with immense talent, but still raw. His rise is meteoric, and being from Germany — the land of Leon Draisaitl, Marco Sturm, and Tobias Rieder — Bokk’s likely used to being head and shoulders above most players in his age class. He was recently extended by Växjö, and growing up in a top-class environment can only do wonders for developing defensive maturity and a two-way game. It’s interesting that despite his defensive shortcomings, he has no “character” issues to speak of and has won over coaches enough to get promoted from the J18 to the SHL level this year. I think he’s a gamble worth taking.

Highlights

Serron Noel (RW)

Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos McKenzie Button Cosentino McKeen's HockeyProspect ISS Future Considerations NHL Central Scouting
Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos McKenzie Button Cosentino McKeen's HockeyProspect ISS Future Considerations NHL Central Scouting
Serron Noel 34 40 23 27 26 31 NR (16) 14 15 22 21 14 29 10 (NA)

Noel has been frequently tagged as a player with a high chance of being taken by the Sens, and at first glance, it’s not hard to see why. First, he’s 6’5” and 209 lbs, making him one of the tallest forwards in the draft. Secondly, his local connections run deep, having grown up in Ottawa playing for the Ottawa Senators Bantam and Midget teams, and his dad having used to play CFL football for the Ottawa Rough Riders. For an organization that has shown to be skewed towards tall players (Logan Brown, Gabriel Gagné, Markus Nurmi) and having an affinity for localism (Kelly Summers, Cody Ceci, Logan Brown again), Serron Noel is the perfect recipe to suit Pierre Dorion’s prospect pipeline.

That said, there’s much more to Noel’s game than just height and localism, which has placed him as a potential first round pick. When it comes to getting into the game’s most dangerous areas, Noel is the guy to choose. He filled that role on the power play for the Oshawa Generals as their net-front presence, and being one of the draft’s most athletically gifted players, he definitely has the brute force to get there. Similarly to Logan Brown, he’s not overtly physical for a big player, and although his skating is good for a big guy, it could still use some improvement.

To me, an interesting part about Serron Noel is his statistics. He shot a whopping 26.7% in all situations last season, the highest in the OHL with at least ten games played. That should immediately raise a ton of red flags, although there’s a second side to look at. Thanks to the wonderful Prospect-Stats.com, and their brand new expected goals model, we can calculate what a player’s expected shooting percentage would be, based on aspects like shot location, angle, and time since the last shot. Here are the results for Noel:

Serron Noel Shooting Percentage

(Stats at 5v5) Shooting Percentage Percentile (OHL forwards, minimum 100 mins) Rank
(Stats at 5v5) Shooting Percentage Percentile (OHL forwards, minimum 100 mins) Rank
Real 26.51% 99.6 2nd
Expected 18.57% 100 1st

Using that same sample size of 286 players, the correlation between real and expected shooting percentage gives us an r-squared value of 0.229. Even for someone with such an extremely high shooting percentage, his expected numbers still placed well above what you’d expect based on the correlation. Looking at his shot locations heat map, it becomes all the more understandable why his numbers are so high.

If you watch the video below, Noel scores the exact type of goals you‘d expect from this map. Lots of deflections, battles in front, one-timers a foot out from the goalie, and a handful of tap-ins to boot. The next step for Noel is to improve his overall shot volume, as although scored at a top six level, his shots on goal ranked more like a third liner. He’s one of the draft’s youngest players (born August 8th 2000), so an adjustment should be made when considering his lower production to guys like Ryan McLeod and Martin Kaut. Although Noel might be a bit of an eye-roll pick for Ottawa as well as a bit of a reach on the draft board, there’s plenty reason to like him as a prospect.

Highlights

Jonatan Berggren (C/RW)

Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos McKenzie Button Cosentino McKeen's HockeyProspect ISS Future Considerations NHL Central Scouting
Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos McKenzie Button Cosentino McKeen's HockeyProspect ISS Future Considerations NHL Central Scouting
Jonatan Berggren 24 20 27 21 25 46 NR (16) 32 NR (31) 28 27 30 NR (31) 30 (Euro)

You’ve heard about Berggren before when we decided to select him as our pick in SB Nation’s 2018 NHL Mock Draft, but I’ll go more into detail here about what we like so much.

Berggren’s 57 points in 38 games (1.50 PPG) in the SuperElit this season places him in historic company. Tied for the 10th highest mark ever, and fourth among U18 players, Berggren’s in the company of names like [2017 7th overall pick] Lias Andersson, Devils’ forward Jesper Boqvist, Lars Eller, William Karlsson, and Mikkel Boedker.

As one of the youngest players in the draft, he may be ranked lower because of scouts’ preferences of the CHL and USHL over the Swedish junior circuit, and being undersized — with Berggren listed at 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11 depending on the source. Ranked as a centre, Berggren may find it easier to play his elusive, attacking game as a winger in the NHL, and unlike other young forwards, he’s got the lower body strength and a shifty skating sense that allows him to protect the puck well. There are worries that he may not be as effective with less open ice, and despite scoring 27 goals this season across his domestic and international performances, Berggren’s shot isn’t decidedly above average. Described by others as a “wrecking ball”, Berggren’s sleeper status may help him be around late into the first-round for a team looking for a home run.

He recently signed an extension with Skellefteå, putting a damper on any rumours that would’ve seen Berggren apply for the CHL Import Draft, but could use a couple of SHL seasons to develop before exercising his NHL out-clause. You can read more about Berggren, including some clips of him dominating at the U18s, here.

Highlights (in playlist form curated by Ben Kerr)


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Pick #22 Defencemen
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