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Ottawa Senators Draft Profiles: Other Interesting Forwards

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Some potential gems the Sens could snag with their later round picks.

CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game
Jack Drury of the USHL could be a late round gem.
Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

The Sens possess two picks in the draft’s top 31 picks, although looking past the first day, there will still be six more rounds to go. As things currently stand, the Sens don’t possess a pick in either the second or third round. Pick #33 was dealt to the Rangers back in July 2016 as part of the Zibanejad-Brassard trade (and later flipped to the Red Wings), while the 64th pick was sent to the Penguins along with Brassard for Filip Gustavsson and the 22nd pick this year.

Our goal for these next two posts is to look at some players who could become a steal of a pick in these later rounds. Although it’s very unlikely all these players will be available by time the Sens pick next at #95, we feel that these are players that have the potential to be a home run of a pick down the road.

And you never know... maybe the Sens will acquire other picks, with the trade rumours and all.

Niklas Nordgren (RW)

Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos Button McKeen's NHL Central Scouting
Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos Button McKeen's NHL Central Scouting
Niklas Nordgren 30 51 36 38 51 74 59 49 21 (Euro)

When evaluating Niklas Nordgren, the first thing you have to talk about is his stats. Because he scores... a lot.

Playing in the Jr. A SM-liiga, Finland’s top junior league, Nordgren scored 42 points in 28 games, the highest rate amongst players with 20+ games, and the fourth highest rate amongst U18 players in the league’s history (only bested by Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund and Hannu Virta). He also received a 15-game stint in the Liiga playing against men, and although his three assists may seem underwhelming, it was the 4th highest total amongst U18 players last season. Another good indicator is his on-ice goals for percentage of 70%, which is in the league’s top percentile.

Nordgren was also a star playing for Finland at the U18 World Juniors, leading the tournament with eight goals en route to a gold medal, despite being labeled more as a playmaker. His exposure there is what’s seen him rise in the draft rankings.

Looking at players projected to go in the later rounds, there’s always a flaw or two, and Nordgren is no exception. At 5’9” and 170 lbs, Nordgren is one of the draft’s smaller players, and doesn’t have the same ability to compensate like poster small guys Johnny Gaudreau and Alex DeBrincat did at the same age. Instead, there’s plenty of room for Nordgren to improve his skating, which at the moment is heavy and inefficient. He does a great job of creating space with his soft hands, although that will only be able to get him so far in his career. His ceiling is high, although he’ll only be able to obtain it if he can significantly improve in this area.

Aside from the biggest concern of skating, Nordgren is a dynamic player who can also be used on the power play. He projects as a late-second to mid-third round pick, although has the potential to fall lower due to his size. He’ll be a project of a pick, but has the potential to be a key contributor in an NHL top six position.

Highlights

Jack Drury (C)

Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos Button McKeen's NHL Central Scouting
Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos Button McKeen's NHL Central Scouting
Jack Drury NR (74) 35 62 71 56 100 37 66 27 (NA)

One of the USHL’s best draft eligible forwards this season not playing for the U.S. Development Program, Drury is a skilled, hard-working centre capable of scoring and playing a two-way game. Drury’s got a lot to like from both a traditional lens, and those looking at underlying metrics.

The nephew of former NHLer Chris Drury and the son of ex-Sens player, Ted Drury, Jack has followed in his family’s footsteps by committing to Harvard University and has played well internationally for the United States. Despite just turning 18 in February, he captained his USHL squad in Waterloo despite the team being full of 19 and 20 year olds. Drury reportedly interviewed with 20 teams at the NHL combine, and teams are high on his character.

Drury’s stats also back up his two-way play. After starting the summer as one of Team USA’s standouts at the Ivan Hlinka, putting up 5 points in 4 games to lead the team in scoring, Drury put up 65 points in 56 USHL contests — a mark good enough for 11th in the league. Ottawa’s first round pick last season, Shane Bowers, had 51 points in 60 games for the same team in his draft year — albeit Bowers was five months younger than Drury relatively speaking. Drury’s 1.16 points per game this season ranked sixth among U18 players, and he was the only non USDP player in the top-10. Drury’s primary points per game had him ranked 18th among all players, and his 2.7 shots per game was a respectable 39th.

Where Drury starts to take a hit, and therefore not rank higher on most people’s lists, is his 5-on-5 production. Only 24 of Drury’s points were at 5-on-5, and his primary points per game has him drop all the way down to 155. Scouts see a player who can potentially generate as a middle-six forward, but may not reach top-six potential. To be fair: Drury was the league’s most productive forward on the powerplay (30 points, 20 of them primary) and penalty kill (6 points — all primary), which says something about his skill on special teams.

All in all, Drury’s an all-situations forward who battles hard on the forecheck, tries to win every puck battle, and attempts to cause scrums in front of the net. He’s intelligent, as showcased by his ability to thrive in a variety of roles, and is an adept playmaker. Drury’s point streak of 22 straight games set a USHL record this season. Drury needs to work on his skating, specifically his explosiveness and agility, so that he’ll be able to deceive defenders at the next level.

Highlights

Linus Nyman (LW/RW)

Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos Button McKeen's NHL Central Scouting
Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos Button McKeen's NHL Central Scouting
Linus Nyman NR (74) 65 63 NR (115) NR* NR* NR (100) 142 89 (NA)

*Indicates list does not include overage players.

There’s a strong group of overage talent this year, that includes players like Adam Mascherin, Logan Hutsko and Jerry Turkulainen. My preferred player, however, is the Kingston Frontenacs winger, Linus Nyman.

Born July 11th 1999, Nyman is only two months older than the draft’s older prospects like Brady Tkachuk and Ryan McLeod. Hailing from Finland, Nyman made the jump to North America in 2016-17, with a fair amount of success leading all rookies in goals. Yet despite being ranked in the 4th/5th round by numerous scouting services, Nyman slipped by undrafted.

This past season is where he picked up the pace, scoring 39 goals and 85 points in 67 games. Although it’s worth noting he was playing on a strong top line with Gabriel Vilardi and Jason Robertson, his teammates saw improved results when playing with Nyman, and his on-ice goal totals this season were some of the OHL’s best. The chart below shows on-ice goals for vs. on-ice goals against per 60 minutes, for OHL forwards under 19.

Find more CHL charts here.

And the next chart shows time on ice per game vs. primary points (i.e. goals and first assists) per 60 minutes.

Nyman’s a leader on both of these charts, which only paints good indications for his future. As a go-to guy for the Frontenacs in nearly every situation, Nyman has used his strong skating and fantastic playmaking ability to regain some attention on the draft floor this year. He was invited to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ rookie camp and later released, so teams have definitely been keeping an eye on him. He’ll be heading back to Finland next season to play against older competition, signing a two-year contract with Lukko. Projected as a 3rd-5th round pick, he’ll be one of the more likely players to be available at pick #95 on this list.

Highlights

Cameron Hillis (C)

Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos Button McKeen's NHL Central Scouting
Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos Button McKeen's NHL Central Scouting
Cameron Hillis 59 38 46 43 NR (100) 82 46 73 67 (NA)

A likely second round pick, Guelph’s Cameron Hillis could be a nice target for the Senators if they acquire a pick through trading down or a player trade. Born in late June, Hillis’ was one of the OHL’s best rookies this season — being named to the first rookie team after leading his peers with 39 assists.

An undersized (5-foot-11, 168 pounds) centre like Jack Drury, Hillis was initially committed to the USHL and collegiate route before joining Guelph this season. Most rookies with a close-to-PPG performance in the OHL are often pegged as first-rounders, but Hillis’ poor performances for Canada internationally has stuck in the eyes of many scouts. He suited up for 5 games at the U17s, only to put up 0 points, and was given a big role at the U18s only to flounder again.

The fact that Hillis has managed to succeed in such a tough league despite being a) undersized and b) lacking lower body strength says a lot about his puck skills. In my mind, both skating and lower body strength is something that can be gained with a proper training plan and I think because of this, he’s a project worth taking for an NHL team. 45 of Hillis’ 59 points were primary points, ranking 53rd in the league and near the top among rookies, and over 50% of his points were at 5-on-5 — a respectable rate. Hillis could stand to shoot more (1.95 shots per game at all-situations), but that’ll come as he’s able to create more space for himself.

All-in-all, Hillis’ vision, puck skills, and energetic style of play would give the Senators good insurance in a few years time to their centre depth of Chlapik, White, Brown, and Luchuk — especially with many of them likely making the NHL as wingers.

Highlights

Marcus Westfalt (C/LW)

Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos Button McKeen's NHL Central Scouting
Player Pronman Wheeler Scouch Robinson Davis Kournianos Button McKeen's NHL Central Scouting
Marcus Westfalt NR (74) 46 56 75 67 150 NR (100) 162 37 (Euro)

The final forward prospect we’ll be profiling is Swedish forward Marcus Westfalt, who was one of only a small handful of U18 forwards to play more games in the SHL than in the younger SuperElit league. Belonging to Brynäs IF, Westfalt started off in the younger league, scoring 27 points in 26 games before making the jump to the Swedish big leagues. His point totals weren’t as stunning there, scoring only a single goal and three assists in 31 games. His time on ice was much more limited, however, playing under eight minutes per game.

While Westfalt may have a lower ceiling and isn’t all that flashy offensively, he doesn’t have any especially weak traits either, with good skating, puck skills and vision. He’ll often opt for the simpler play, which although sometimes gets him trapped, makes his rate of turning over the puck lower than most. He can comfortably play either centre or wing, playing roughly an equal amount of both this past season.

From Canucks Army’s profile of Westfalt, this is where his percentiles ranked amongst his SuperElit peers, using a variety of statistical measures (which can be read about here):

Canucks Army

This is what had originally grabbed my attention for Westfalt, as he ranks really close to the top in almost every category, along the lines of Jonatan Berggren, who we profiled for the 22nd pick. With his role in the SHL likely increasing next year, hopefully he can start transferring his SuperElit dominance into the pros. At 6’3” and 203 lbs, he certainly has the frame and toolkit to do it.

Westfalt projects to be taken anywhere from the late 2nd round to 5th round. He was rated highly by NHL Central Scouting, which could be a decent indicator that a team might jump on him a bit earlier.

Highlights


MORE DRAFT COVERAGE

Top Forwards
Top Defencemen
Pick #22 Forwards
Pick #22 Defencemen
Other Intersting Defencemen
Goalies