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Ottawa Senators Draft Profiles: Other Interesting Forwards

We kick off draft week with a look at some forwards that may be available for the Sens in the later rounds.

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NHL: Ottawa Senators at Detroit Red Wings
Could the Sens maybe find the next Drake Batherson?
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With four picks from rounds three to seven, and potentially more to come, following the Ottawa Senators draft strategy after their top picks will be interesting. This is a group that we’ve usually praised for their finds in the later rounds, not just hitting on their top picks, and it’s usually a couple of players who will be drafted in these slots over the next three drafts that will be tasked with both ensuring the team has organizational depth throughout Ottawa and Belleville, but also potentially turn into a gem that pushes the team over the edge.

On that note, we’ve selected four players with a mix of skills that are realistic targets for the Sens to look at. The scouting group, under Pierre Dorion, Bob Lowes, and now Trent Mann, have favoured drafting players out of Sweden and the USHL or U.S. high school circuit in recent years, so we’ve focused our picks on players who plied their trade in these locations this past season.

Karl Henriksson (C)

Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Frölunda HC J20 SuperElit 5'9" 176 lbs 47 - 80 23 (Euro)

Karl Henriksson may be short in stature, but plays a brave game — often taking contact while drawing more defenders to set up his teammates, or driving to the net to pot rebounds. Henriksson led all draft-eligibles in scoring in Sweden’s J20 league, and if you just counted his 36 assists, he still would’ve been T50 in scoring.

Henriksson’s playmaking ability is what sets him apart from other prospects, and it helps him mesh well with other top players. At the U18s, Henriksson’s 6 assists and 9 points led Team Sweden, and he primarily played with 2020 super prospects Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond. Raymond’s also Henriksson’s teammate in Frölunda, and while there may be some concern that the projected T3 pick may have driven Henriksson’s game, the video that I watched and his play at the U18s cemented the fact that Henriksson’s a solid prospect in his own right. Holtz had this to say about his linemate after the U18s:

“He’s sick. As good as it gets, really. He’s incredibly skilled and reads the game very well. It’s a privilege to play alongside him. Our line likes to be creative in the offensive zone and he is a big part of our offensive success.”

Many scouts and analysts alike had Henriksson shooting up their rankings after the U18s, some elevating him to a second round pick. It’s important to note that the young Swede isn’t just a flashy offensive talent. He tracks back defensively, is smart with his positioning, and is happy to make plays in the neutral zone, often buying time with the puck until his teammates get into position. He lacks a high-end gear skating-wise, which is always a bit of a concern with a smaller player than one who’s a bit larger, but we like his hockey sense enough to potentially draft him in the 3rd or 4th round.

Highlights

Marcus Kallionkieli (LW)

Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Sioux City Musketeers USHL 6'2" 195 lbs Late round 47 (NA)

Dipping back into the USHL for this pick, Kallionkieli is a Finnish/Brazilian (!) forward who crossed the pond to Sioux City this past season. It was a good choice, as his line with Bobby Brink and Martin Pospisil was the best non-USDP line in the USHL. With 53 points in 58 games, Kallionkieli brought up the rear on that line in terms of production, but while Brink is rated in the first-round and Pospisil was drafted last year (CGY), a team may be able to get the left-winger with a later-round pick.

Kallionkieli has good hockey sense and is engaged all over the ice. He’s got strong positioning in the offensive zone, finding soft areas to pot goals — he had 29 this season — or using his frame to make plays in tight areas to set up his linemates. He’s got a wide skating stride, making full use of his 6-foot-1, 192 pound frame, and continuing to work on that aspect of his game may help him as he jumps to the pro game. He’s not overly physical, but can still create space for his linemates.

Now, the concerns. Playing with a top talent like Brink, many wonder whether anyone would’ve scored in his role this past season. Kallionkieli doesn’t have a history of being a top scorer when he was a junior in Finland, and hasn’t represented the country at any large international tournaments. While his shot and offensive zone play are his biggest strengths, many question whether it’s enough to translate into more than a depth role at the NHL level. From Asko Huuki over at Finnish Prospects:

He clearly has a nose for goals and one should never underestimate players, who knows how to score. However often players of this kind are not too useful if they aren’t able to shoot and score.

As a European-born forward, Kallionkieli could play in the AHL next season, or could look to return to Finland and play pro in the Mestis or Liiga. If he’s drafted with a later-round pick, it’d be up to the development staff to outline the best strategy for his continued improvement, as he looks to complete his game to maximize his chances of becoming an NHLer.

Highlights

Alex Beaucage (RW/LW)

Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies QMJHL 6'2" 192 lbs Late round 64 (NA)

There’s a lot going for Alex Beaucage, and a lot going against him. The 6’2” winger from the QMJHL has some very high upside, but also some major flaws that could prevent him from going higher.

Starting with the good, Beaucage scored 79 points in 68 games in his draft year for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, then added another 16 in 16 playoff games. He has an incredibly versatile shot, is crafty with the puck, and has displayed good vision despite being more of a shooter rather than a playmaker. He’s also one of the younger players entering this draft, with a July 25th birthday.

The first concern is his surroundings — the Huskies had the best regular season record in the QMJHL last season, and Beaucage was a part of that. But also a part of that were Peter Abbandonato and Joël Teasdale, two older players who scored at even higher rates than Beaucage. It could be easily interpreted that he was just a product of his linemates, and while that may be true to an extent, his on-ice results barely changed while playing away from them.

The biggest concern with Beaucage is his skating. It’s something he really needs to improve if he has any plans of making the NHL, because at this point it’s inefficient. The traits of a shooter who can’t skate are reminiscent of that of many career AHLers, so until he puts in the work, it will be something that holds him back.

What’s promising about Beaucage is that he had a fantastic season despite the skating issue. 39% of statistically similar prospects went on to have careers in the NHL, which for a draft-eligible player is pretty impressive. The late rounds in the NHL draft are the perfect time to be taking risks, and Beaucage is certainly one player that has the potential to greatly pay off.

Highlights

Rhett Pitlick (LW)

Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Team League Height Weight Expected Range NHL Rank
Chaska High USHS-MN 5'9" 175 lbs Late round 98 (NA)

Rhett Pitlick is the lowest ranked forward prospect we’ll be covering in this series, given that he’s coming out of a high school prep program. He’s part of a hockey family — his father Lance played for Ottawa from 1994 to 1999, his older brother Rem is a top prospect for the Nashville Predators, and his cousin Tyler is a depth player on the Dallas stars. Rhett is the shortest in the family, standing at 5’9”, but his skillset is one that we think could translate to the pros. He could possibly be one of the draft’s biggest steals, much like his dad who was taken in the 9th round in 1986.

There’s a lot to like about Pitlick. He’s a tremendous skater, which is his greatest asset. He’s constantly flying around the ice, never waiting, always doing. He plays with a lot of energy, similar to Rem, who just had a monster season for the University of Minnesota. Rhett will be following in his footsteps, committed to play for Minnesota starting in 2020.

As for his most recent season, Pitlick burst out for 28 goals and 61 points in 25 games on the high school scene for Chaska High, then had 31 points in 21 games in the Upper Midwest junior hockey league. Neither league is particularly difficult to score in, although Pitlick ranked 8th and 2nd respectively in points-per-game among U18 players. His teammate Mike Koster also put up massive numbers on the same team as a defenceman, as he’s also expected to be taken in the 2019 draft.

Pitlick finished the season with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers, with five points in seven games. He’ll be expected to take on a big role with the Lancers next season, who haven’t found much success in recent years.

Overall, it’s still Pitlick’s raw skills that makes him exciting as a top-end skater in this draft class. His vision and hands aren’t underwhelming either, and are still improving. The Sens have shown they aren’t afraid to target high school players late in the draft, such Luke Loheit and Joey Daccord, and they could add another in Pitlick.

Highlights (Goal @ 0:33)


MORE DRAFT COVERAGE

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Pick #19 Defencemen
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Pick #32 Defencemen
Other Interesting Defencemen
Goalies