We’re back! It’s a brand new season of in-depth Ottawa Senators prospect coverage, which you can expect weekly on Silver Seven. I’m super excited to be working with Ary on this series again, especially in a season where the prospects may be the Sens’ only bright spot. The main roster is bleak, but the prospect pipeline is fully stocked.
Here are some stats for players that have already begun their season. This excludes pro leagues (NHL, AHL, ECHL) that don’t start until later this week, and the NCAA which starts this weekend.
Canadian Hockey League
|Johnny Gruden||LW||19||London Knights||OHL||4||2||3||5||0||11||18.2||4||2||3||5||0||11||18.2|
|Maxence Guénette||RD||18||Val-d'Or Foreurs||QMJHL||4||0||0||1||6||12||0.0||4||0||0||1||6||12||0.0|
|Mark Kastelic||C||20||Calgary Hitmen||WHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
- Johnny Gruden with five points in his first four games, shooting at 18.2%.
- Maxence Guénette with twelve shots in four games.
- Mark Kastelic was recently cut from the AHL training camp, hence no games played.
|Viktor Lodin||C/LW||20||Örebro HK||SHL||4||0||0||0||0||2||0.0||4||0||0||0||0||2||0.0|
|Olle Alsing||LD||23||Djurgårdens IF||SHL||5||0||4||4||4||6||0.0||5||0||4||4||4||6||0.0|
- Lassi Thomson with his first two Liiga goals, and 31 shots on goal.
- Viktor Lodin scoreless so far.
- Olle Alsing with four assists in his first five games.
|Filip Gustavsson||21||Belleville Senators||AHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Marcus Högberg||24||Belleville Senators||AHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Joey Daccord||23||Brampton Beast||ECHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Kevin Mandolese||19||Cape Breton Eagles||QMJHL||2||1||0||0||0||39||5||87.2%||2||1||0||0||0||39||5||87.2%|
|Mads Søgaard||18||Medicine Hat Tigers||WHL||4||2||2||0||0||117||7||94.0%||4||2||2||0||0||117||7||94.0%|
- Mads Søgaard split his games 2-2, but posted a save percentage of 94.0%.
- The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles were rebranded to the Cap Breton Eagles, to the satisfaction of our formatting.
- Joey Daccord was sent to the ECHL.
This past off-season was an interesting one for Johnny Gruden, who signed an entry-level contract just to get out of the University of Miami, and onto the highly-regarded London Knights. The decision already seems to be paying off in spades, as the young winger has been given ample opportunity with his new team.
His linemates? 2019 1st round pick Connor McMichael, and 2020 draft-eligible phenom Antonio Stranges. McMichael currently leads the entire OHL with seven goals, while Stranges might be the best skating prospect since Connor McDavid. The trio is also the Knights’ top power play unit.
If that wasn’t enough, London also recently traded for the supremely skilled defenceman Ryan Merkley. The Knights are loaded with talent, which means some hard adjustments need to made when evaluating Gruden’s point totals, as he’s certainly receiving help from his surroundings.
This is already evident from the first few games of the season. Here’s Gruden’s second goal from a game against the Hamilton Bulldogs. His first was a tip-in off a point shot by Merkley.
Almost immediately afterwards, Jonathan Gruden gets his 2nd of the knight for London.— Caitlin Berry (@caitlinsports) September 29, 2019
Some great passing between him, Connor McMichael and Antonio Stranges to set it up. 6-3. @GoLondonKnights #OHL #knights pic.twitter.com/lqCh76WwqB
It’s a nice read and finish by Gruden. His teammates enabled the play, but he was right there with them. If he can hold down this spot on the top line, expect some massive scoring totals. It’s already a massive step forward from his 15 points in 38 games in the NCAA last season.
There are two things you need to know about the recently-drafted goalie:
- He’s massive.
- He stops pucks.
Standing at a monstrous 6’7”, Søgaard can’t be beat in the WHL, where he’s already posted a 94.0% save percentage in four games. His season opener was a 4-3 overtime win where he stopped 34 of 37 shots against, followed by 3-1 loss where he allowed two goals on 25 shots against. He then posted his first shutout of the season by stopping all 25 shots versus Swift Current, then stopping 28 of 30 as his team was blanked 2-0 against Calgary.
In short, he’s been very good. His size advantage is obviously a huge factor, but he still has decent lateral movement, as showcased in the above clip.
The Sens took a big chance by trading up to draft Søgaard in the second round. If the rest of the season goes like this, they’ll certainly be pleased with their bet.
The Liiga season has already been underway for a couple weeks, and Lassi Thomson seems to be smoothly adjusting to Euro pro hockey. He already has his first two goals under his belt, scored in the same game! Here’s the second one, where he utilizes his powerful shot:
Not everything has been positive, however, as Ilves is currently in last place in the 15-team Liiga, with a record of 1-6-0. Their forwards have had trouble scoring and their goalies haven’t been stopping pucks, while Thomson has been playing in the top four with Sabres prospect Oskari Laaksonen.
It’s not an ideal situation, especially since the team he left, the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, are poised to be a top team this year with a guarantee to play in the Memorial Cup as tournament hosts. The tradeoff is that he’s now playing pro hockey against men, which should hopefully help him grow as a prospect.
It was also Thomson’s 19th birthday last week, being one of the oldest first-time-eligible players to come out of the 2019 draft.
- The regular season is just around the corner, and the Belleville Senators also had their pre-season this past week, going a perfect 2-0 against Laval. Some highlights: Alex Formenton scored twice, Marcus Högberg made 40 of 41 saves, Mark Kastelic scored a goal and got in a fight, and Josh Norris played on the first line and scored a goal.
- Joey Daccord received the short end of the stick to begin the season, being sent to the ECHL’s Brampton Beast. That means Filip Gustavsson will have the backup job in the AHL to start the season behind Högberg.
- This was a huge week for Drake Batherson, Erik Brännström and Filip Chlapik, who all made the main roster out of training camp. Rudolfs Balcers will likely be added when he returns from his short-term injury. Christian Jaros, Logan Brown and Vitaly Abramov were all close, and will likely be the first call-ups when players inevitably get injured. Jaros may have been the biggest surprise, but he’ll be playing lots on Belleville’s top pairing with Max Lajoie.
- Viktor Lodin has been playing fourth line minutes for Örebro, entering his second full-time SHL season. He missed the first couple games with an injury.
- Olle Alsing has had a much better start in Sweden, with four assists in his first five games. He also had a very strong showing in the Champions Hockey League tournament, leading Djurgårdens with two goals and three assists in four games. He’s on the older side for a prospect at 23, but for a defenceman those are fantastic offensive numbers.
- SB Nation College Hockey recently ranked their top 100 NCAA prospects. Jacob Bernard-Docker was ranked 8th, Shane Pinto 23rd, Jonny Tychonick 38th, and Angus Crookshank 93rd.
Data in this article is from Elite Prospects, OHL, QMJHL, WHL, Liiga and SHL.