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NHL Entry Draft Roundtable

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The staff talks draft

2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

With the NHL Entry Draft now just one day away, the Silver Seven Sens staff checks in with their thoughts on some of the most pressing issues leading up to the big day.

Assuming the Los Angeles Kings select Quinton Byfield with the 2nd pick, which two players are you most hoping Ottawa ends up with at 3rd and 5th overall?

Brandon: For me, it’s pretty unequivocally Tim Stützle and Lucas Raymond. While I like Byfield as the #2, I think him and Stützle are really close in terms of current ability, and the German would bring some much-needed high-end skill to Ottawa’s lineup.

As for Raymond, the Senators are paper thin on the right wing — and that’s including their prospect pool. Not only is Raymond a hell of a complete hockey player, but he also would fill a major positional need. I think that’s about as good of a scenario as Ottawa can hope for.

Spencer: Assuming Byfield is a King, I would most want to see Raymond and Stützle toss on a 2D hat on Zoom. Stützle looks like a dynamic, skilled player of a level the Sens currently do not have while Raymond has been touted as a well rounded player who’s off to an explosive offensive start with an expanded role into the SHL.

Colin: Just going off of my draft list, I’d be most excited for Lucas Raymond and Marco Rossi, who just so happen to be who we selected in the mock draft! Tim Stützle is the more likely pick, and I’d be nearly as ecstatic if he ends up in a Sens jersey. Heck, there’s a handful of others I could understand at 5th overall given the amount of unique high-end skillsets available this year. All that I pray for is that they don’t go completely off the board on either of their franchise-altering picks.

Ary: Like others have said, Lucas Raymond and Tim Stützle. As long as the team doesn’t go too off the board, I think there are plenty of options at 5th overall that could make me happy. Given the need for dynamic skill and a right-hand shot, I’d be a bit sad if the team passed up on Raymond if he was available, though.

Owen: Lucas Raymond is the obvious one for me. I’ll probably regret getting so invested in seeing the Sens select Raymond but then again I do this every year and I haven’t learned my lesson yet. If by some miracle the Sens have intel. that Raymond will be available at five and they snag Stützle at three then I can’t imagine anyone complaining. Personally after Raymond, any of Stützle, Rossi, Perfetti, Drysdale, Lundell, or even Holtz and I’m perfectly happy. Like I said in a recent Five Thoughts, GMPD will have to go out of his way to screw this up [grips rosary with fervor].

N_Dew: A few weeks ago I would have said Stützle and Rossi but recently I have come to appreciate Lucas Raymond a whole lot more so that would be my two ideal choices.

BT: Stützle and Raymond.

Shaan: I’d be thrilled with two of Stützle, Raymond, and Rossi, but my preference would be Stützle and Rossi. Both are phenomenal playmakers that would gel with many of our current forward prospects. They could form a godly one-two punch at the centre position, or you could move Stützle to the wing, either way you’ve got two elite forwards in your top-six for years to come.

Ross: Raymond and Stützle, in that order of priority.

nkb: Not to re-hash the SB Nation Mock Draft, but I’m very high on Lucas Raymond so Raymond plus any other of Stützle, Rossi, or Perfetti would make me happiest. Honestly, any combination of forwards in that group would be A-OK.

Pierre Dorion has talked about valuing players that are NHL-ready. Do you put any stock in that?

Brandon: Definitely. You’re certainly eyeing potential this early in the draft, but at some point, you need guys that can slot into your NHL roster and play. The Sens will surely use free agency and trades to address this need more than the draft, but it’s always nice to have a safe floor in a prospect. I can’t speak for Pierre Dorion, but I certainly think the team is well aware of how bare their lineup is right now, so nabbing some young guns that can play consistent NHL minutes right out of the gate would be huge.

Spencer: I put next to no stock in getting players who are NHL ready. The development curve of an 18 year varies wildly from one player to the next. I hope Dorion focuses his efforts on drafting players who will be the best players at their peak, rather than someone who can step in tomorrow.

Colin: A little, but not enough to really influence things this high in the draft; especially for the Sens, who should be planning more for five years down the road than for next season. Lafrenière will be ready, Lundell and Rossi could be too, and then there’s a handful of others who could probably be effective in the NHL next season, but I question whether it’d be best for their development. Let’s hope they don’t try to shoehorn players into the lineup early just for the sake of it.

Ary: From a practical sense, every indication from the Senators has been that they’re going to be moving some of their pick surplus for NHL players. Drafting a player who might be NHL-ready sooner would raise question marks for me though, especially given that the majority of the players the organization currently have in the system are close to the NHL, whereas I’m hoping that this year’s draft class will help put the team over the edge in 2023 or so.

Owen: I don’t and I can’t imagine ownership does either. I apologize in advance for having Senators-cynicism but it just feels like fast-tracking to losing a player in unrestricted free agency, until proven otherwise. The Sens have really sold me on the concept of developing players as a group (a la University of North Dakota and Team USA). Plus, the staff in Belleville have done such a good job the past couple of seasons. I hope Brady Tkachuk remains the exception and not the rule. I feel like publicly stating the intent to draft NHL-ready players is a way to placate the impatient factions of the fanbase.

N_Dew: Not really. I can see a lot of the players who have been developing down in Belleville getting more chances over any brand new comers. I probably see the #3 pick to be as close to a full time NHLer as possible, but otherwise I don’t think that’s a realistic goal.

BT: I guess with the earlier picks, but if they are a year out I’d be fine with that. No stock in that later in the draft.

Shaan: Whether or not our drafted players are ready to step into the NHL, they won’t be able to get the Senators to the playoffs alone, they won’t be competitive until a large amount of their other prospects break out. Given the uncertainty surrounding the development of some of our current prospects, Dorion should opt for the best players available based on their ceilings.

Ross: I put minimal stock in this. The Sens aren't competing for the Cup this year or next, give me the player who's going to be the best in the NHL in 2-3 years.

nkb: Whoever the Sens take with their third overall pick will get a real chance to make the team out of training camp, but after that the Sens should really not be focused on what the team will look like in 2020-21. I get that it’s been 3 years of pretty miserable hockey, but if the Sens want to be good and not just decent, they still need more high-end talent; that might mean taking some players with higher ceilings who are a couple of years away.

Do you think the Sens will follow their recent history of focusing their efforts on North American skaters, or at least players who most recently played in North America?

Brandon: It’s funny you bring this up, because I actually tried to talk to some of the Sens scouting staff about the lack of European draft picks over the past few years. It didn’t end up happening, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more European players taken this year. This is the draft that this staff has been looking toward since the very beginning of this rebuild, so I’d be surprised if there weren’t at least a few players that they’ve had circled for a good amount of time. I think with the amount of preparation that’s gone into this draft, it’d be surprising if they didn’t.

Spencer: With the number of selections Ottawa could possibly make, you have to think they’ll expand their geographic reach a bit? It feels relatively likely we will see a European player go in the top 5 (Stützle, or Raymond, or *gulp* Askarov) but after that I expect the team to stick to North America fairly heavily, per usual.

Colin: Unfortunately I’m expecting another draft made up of at least 75% North American players. It’s a pretty big reason why I’m less bullish on their scouting staff than many seem to be — in recent years they’ve been missing out on entire regions that have been blossoming with talent, so it’s tough to expect them to make ideal selections when they’re working on limited information. It’d be extremely on brand for the Senators to be underprepared for one of the biggest days in franchise history, but skeptically that seems like where they’re at.

Ary: I think they will, given their draft patterns under Pierre Dorion, Bob Lowes, and now Trent Mann. I am hoping that what Brandon hinted at is true, though, especially given the plethora of high-end options potentially available out of Europe in that second- and third-round range.

If the team passes up on adding a high-end defenceman with the 5th overall pick, Colin and I struggled to narrow down the list of European defencemen that interested us. Selecting one or two of them would go a long way to bolstering their depth in that area and to their credit, the Sens have tended to draft defencemen out of Sweden especially.

Owen: If there was ever a draft year in which the organization had no excuse to overlook the European talent-pool, this is it. The scouts should have even gotten extra looks at the prospects playing in Europe who have had extra reps while the NCAA and other North American leagues are suspended indefinitely. I also think Brandon nailed it when he said that this is THE draft that management has been looking forward to since the rebuild began. Ottawa should have years worth of reports on the top European prospects in this draft by now.

N_Dew: There is too much talent in this draft for them to overlook anyone. Also in the short term, European prospects who will get a chance to compete in Europe may be a better development tactic than NA players who may not get as much ice time in the upcoming season. Either way, I think the Sens know what kind of pressure there is on them to get this draft done perfectly right and I do feel their strategy is skill/value over geography.

BT: Feels like a safe bet they’ll be back to focusing on North American skaters after the first round when the known quantities are off the board.

Shaan: The team has obviously done their due diligence on the top end of this draft. They’re not known to draft out of Germany but they’re taking Tim Stützle if he’s available. From the second round and onwards, I expect the organization to stick to what they know best, drafting out of North America and Sweden. I’d love to see a more diverse approach, but their current strategy has seen enough success for me to not complain about it. Any guesses as to who’s going to be this year’s Shane Pinto?

Ross: With so few scouts in the organization, is there any way the Sens will draft Europeans after Round 2?

nkb: While I share some of Colin’s skepticism, I’m hopeful that with this much extra time to prepare that the Sens will have all of their bases covered. I don’t think that the Sens have focused so heavily on North America because of any particular bias, but because they run a threadbare operation.

Would you be opposed to the Sens trading their 28th overall selection?

Brandon: Not at all. In fact, I’d even go a step further and say that they should trade it. I’m a broken record here, but there are more than a couple glaring holes on the NHL roster, and even if you make all 12 picks in this draft, you’re not going to have space for all of these prospects to play. #28 is pretty much a second-rounder, and the Senators already have four of those. Use that pick to get a defenceman, or even a centre.

Spencer: This is a classic “it depends” question. For example, trading it to move up or down? Not opposed. Trading it for a stop gap NHL player? No thanks.

Colin: Yes, just make the pick! Of course it’d depend on the return, but trading up is rarely worth it, and all the rumours I’ve seen where the pick is involved have all been super underwhelming — especially if it’s for a goalie.

Ary: The answer is always: it depends. Based on the rumblings we’ve heard, I’m leaning “yes” because I don’t think the team should be trading a first-round pick for a stop-gap goaltender or top-six centre. If 28th overall is part of a package for a young-ish right-shot defender or a U24 player who is in need of a change of scenery (Puljujarvi, etc.) or because of a cap crunch, I’m for trading it and other pieces (prospects, other picks).

There’s not a lot that would disappoint me about this draft, but the team not walking away as a de facto winner on every metric (quality, quantity, etc.) is a loss for the team and a slap in the face, especially if these assets were used on questionable trades.

Owen: Could this be the year that GMPD finally trades down at the draft instead of consolidating? I absolutely won’t hold my breath. At the very least I hope Dorion uses the 28th overall and would certainly oppose trading the pick for an NHL commodity when 2020 is, once again, the draft that will shape the next decade of the NHL. For a guy who loves to talk about his inner-scout so often, Dorion will often consolidate his draft capital and/or use it to acquire NHL players instead of, yanno, drafting and developing. Much like drafting NHL-ready players, I think planting the seed of trading picks instead of using them serves to pacify those growing impatient with the rebuild process.

N_Dew: I wouldn’t be enraged by it if the return was justified or beneficial. I don’t like the idea of trading a first round pick for someone like Matt Murray, though. If there is one thing Dorion needs to do is amass as many as picks as possible in the first 3 rounds so unless it’s a clear win for the Sens, I say keep the pick.

BT: Nope.

Shaan: I definitely am. The team traded Jean-Gabriel Pageau to get this pick, so they’d better use it on a player that can be just as good several years down the road. I’m struggling to think of a player who the Senators could realistically acquire that could make them a contender next season, and I don’t think a player like that would be on the team for very long, considering the team’s history of shying away from signing pending UFAs.

Ross: I'm not opposed in theory, but I'm skeptical of the trade. I don't want to see them make a trade for an RFA goalie or someone on the downswing of their career like Tyler Johnson, but I'm not sure pro scouting and trading are GMPD's strengths.

nkb: I return to one of my earlier answers here in that I don’t oppose trading the pick if it’s for a prospect, or to acquire more picks. If Dorion is looking to trade to improve the team strictly for 2020-21, that would be a mistake. Among other things, as others have mentioned, there’s already a tonne of young players chomping at the bit to get into the line-up. Giving them the opportunity to do so should be priority one, and that might even have the added benefit of improving the team’s performance from last year.

On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you for the big re-branding reveal?

Brandon: 10. I’m a sucker for jerseys, and it’s been so long since the Senators have had a uniform set worth being excited about. Optics are a huge part of a rebuild, and having the team look like a legit NHL squad, rather than a peewee team, will go farther than people think. I’m really excited.

Spencer: I’m about a 4 on the excitement scale. They were forced to reveal the logo because it had been leaked so many times - and did so with a booooooring press release (Craig would *never*). They’ve drawn out the anticipation so long that I care a lot less now than I did before. The only reason it’s a 4 (and not lower) is because I like the logo and the jersey leaks we’ve seen!

Colin: 2/10. I’m much less of a jersey geek or logo nerd like many others out there, but even then, the completely bland lead-up from the Senators plus the leaks from months ago have pretty much smothered any kind of excitement. It feels like a big just get it over with moment, even though I’ll almost certainly end up liking the new jerseys more than the old ones.

Ary: 7. I grew up with the 2D era Sens and am really excited for the new jersey. I think the fans have done a great job at modelling the excitement we wish we saw from the team’s official channels. It would’ve been amazing to see Byfield/Stützle put on one jersey when they’re selected at third overall, and have whoever was chosen at 5th overall put on the other jersey, but alas, that’s something that’s out of everyone’s control.

Owen: I thought for years I would say 10 and now that it’s here, I’m stuck on 6-7. I think I just built it up in my head too long or, like Spencer said, the organization just really bungled the big logo reveal and it kind of took the wind out of the sails. Once I see the actual jerseys on the team at a live game, I’m confident I’ll find myself back at 10. In the meantime, the failure to capitalize on what should have been such a big announcement has only made me more worried that the bits of string holding the organization together continue to wear thinner as the pandemic rolls on and the team can’t generate revenue.

N_Dew: I never felt as strongly about the jerseys as many others but I am hoping some re-branding breathes some new life ( and luck!) into this team so I’d give it a 7.

BT: 3, maybe? Happy for the change, but we’ve known it has been coming for months now, and know about what we’re going to get. That cuts down the excitement level.

Shaan: I didn’t get into watching the Senators religiously until the 2007-08 season, and I don’t own a 2-D jersey, so it’s going to be exciting to finally be able to cheer for the team while they’re wearing it. Probably going to get one of my own, as well. 8/10.

Ross: 6? I wanted a nicer jersey, but I find it hard to get excited at what feels like window dressing in the face of the team's bigger problems. My big hope here is we can stop complaining about the jerseys, eliminating a big source of contention in this comment section and all over the internet for at least five years now.

nkb: The roll-out being somewhat botched and the jerseys leaked is a bit a of a bummer, so I can’t quite get to a 10 — I’ll land on an 8. I really do like the 2D look, though, and I think having new jerseys for an exciting new team is pretty cool.