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Ottawa Senators Prospect Update: Brady Tkachuk’s shooting for the stars

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Formenton and Tkachuk stand out yet again, while Colin White gets some well-earned praise in this week’s prospect update.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

All eyes are on the Sens prospects playing in the CHL and in Belleville as they either fight to have a long playoff run, or are currently battling with all their might to enter the playoff picture.

With Erik Brannstrom and Cody Goloubef out in Belleville for at least the next week, the Sens have sent Christian Wolanin back down to Belleville (calling up Andreas Englund in his stead). We’ll give you a thorough update on everything that’s going on in this week’s Sens prospect update!

Stats Sheet

(Click to enlarge)

Biggest Standouts

Alex Formenton

Colin gave him a shoutout last week, but I think it’s fair to double-dip on Formenton, especially given the fact that he’s currently leading all OHL players in playoff scoring at this moment with 11 points in 4 games.

This is the second straight year where Formenton’s improved his point production in the playoffs — he had 5 goals and 7 points last year and was the only player able to consistently generate any offence as London got swept in the first round. With talented players like Liam Foudy, Evan Bouchard, and Adam Boqvist on his team this year, Formenton is surrounded with a strong supporting cast and the Knights are looking to ride all four for a deep playoff run. I’d be surprised if any are back with the team next season.

Brady Tkachuk

Another repeat, but he’s earned it, especially after a 12 (!!!!!!) shot game earlier this week. With his 21st goal of the season against Tampa Bay, Tkachuk sits alone as the team’s franchise leader for goals by a teenager in Sens history, surpassing Alexandre Daigle’s 20 in 1993-94 and Martin Havlat’s 19 in 2000-01. He likely won’t catch the players below, but Tkachuk’s in-your-face, high octane game has been a treat to watch all season:

Colin White

The young centreman’s battled a variety of injuries this season, but it hasn’t stopped him from establishing himself as a staple in the team’s top-six. White had three points and six shots in four games this week, bringing his season total up to 39.

Mike Morreale had a good piece on White for NHL.com this week, where White noted the following:

“Before, I just threw the puck around and didn’t hold onto it. I’ve learned how some of the top guys in the NHL create space to set the defender off by a half-second just by picking up an opponent’s stick ... a lot of that stuff goes underrated but it’s helped improve my game.”
...
“He brings everything,” Senators rookie left wing Brady Tkachuk said. “There’s no weakness in his game. He seems to be going every shift and every second of every game, so to play with a guy like that has been a huge opportunity for myself and it’s been great. He’s been great for us all year.”

Nicholas said gaining the trust of the Senators coaching staff was important to White’s development and overall game. “[The Senators] believe in Colin and now Colin believes in himself,” Nicholas said. “Colin has poise with the puck because he has confidence with the puck. When the coach rewards you for hard work, that’s big. Last year, he was up and down (to the AHL), so every time he was up, he was gripping the stick a little tighter because he wants to stay up. It’s tough to gain confidence that way.

I hope the lessons learned from White’s development this year — giving him the opportunity and leeway to find himself at the NHL level — is something that’s afforded to rookies next year as the Sens continue to build. White’s had bonafide talent from his days with the USDP and Boston College, but without the ability to learn the pro game in an empowering environment, he might have continued to doubt himself at the highest level and become unable to try things like this:

Silver Linings

  • Three of the team’s four CHLers have advanced to the second round of the playoffs: Parker Kelly’s Prince Albert Raiders, Alex Formenton’s London Knights, and Kevin Mandolese’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. Cape Breton came back from a 2-0 series deficit to win the final four games, and was given a shoutout by goalie coach Pierre Groulx as a key member of the organization’s goaltending depth now that Joey Daccord is officially signed.
  • The last player, goaltender Jordan Hollett, didn’t play in any of Medicine Hat’s playoff games, as Danish netminder Mads Sogaard featured in all six decisions as the team lost in the first round. I don’t expect Hollett to get an entry-level deal with the Senators, and although it’s hard to bank on any sixth round pick developing into a pro, the amount of good prospects that were picked after him makes the decision look poor in hindsight.
  • The names? On the goaltending side, Vegas’ Dylan Ferguson had better draft year numbers and continued to perform significantly better in every metric while suiting up for the Kamloops Blazers. Montreal’s Cayden Primeau had numbers better than Daccord’s in the NCAA this year, and was on the U.S. World Junior team. In terms of skaters, two of San Jose’s top prospects, Sasha Chmelevski and Ivan Chekhovich, were taken in the 7th round. Scouting is hard.
  • In positive news, The Hockey News listed Alex Formenton (+43) and Drake Batherson (+26) as two of their biggest risers over the past year.
  • The Sens will have a decision to make on Markus Nurmi, who saw his season with TPS come to an end with a surprising 4-1 series loss in the first round of the Liiga playoffs. Nurmi saw his ice-time increase, but his point totals decrease, which is never a good sign. Known as a defensively responsible forward with value on the PK and decent skill, Nurmi’s style of play is suited to the North American game, but his performance this year may make the Sens wary to use a three-year entry-level contract spot on him.