This past week, we finished Ary and Colin’s second annual prospect awards. Drake Batherson took home the award for most valuable prospect for the second year running, after dominating the AHL even more than last year. It’s safe to say that he won’t for the third year in a row in 2020-21, because he should make the NHL squad, and if he doesn’t, it’ll be a big enough disappointment for him not to be considered most valuable. The question then becomes, who will take his place?
The obvious place to start is likely with goalies. Goalies after all are the most noticeable position in hockey, and the Sens have two young ones poised to have very good AHL seasons. Joey Daccord is the odds-on favourite, who will likely go into the season as Troy Mann’s 1A option. But Filip Gustavsson is still just 21 (turning 22 next month), and put together a good enough January to be the AHL’s goalie of the month. If either is among the AHL’s best, and even earns a couple callups, they could easily lead the conversation for most valuable prospect.
Looking at the forwards in the AHL, it’s doubtful that both Josh Norris and Logan Brown will be full-time NHLers next season. I’d say L. Brown is in the same category as Batherson, in that he won’t be considered valuable if he can’t make the NHL squad, but Norris could obliterate the AHL if he stays down for even half of another season. Guys like Alex Formenton or Vitaly Abramov could also take big steps forward and push themselves into the most valuable prospect category.
On defence, the frontrunner here is likely Lassi Thomson, who will travel to North America and may begin in the AHL. If he looks good though, he could take over our rankings. And depending on how Erik Brannstrom’s season goes, spending a large portion of the season in the AHL would probably lead to him putting up incredible numbers. And don’t sleep on Jacob Bernard-Docker, who could put up a dominant junior season in the NCAA, lead North Dakota to the national championship, and push himself way up our prospect rankings.
The other dark horse here is one of the (likely) top-five picks the Sens will make this year. I imagine that Alexis Lafreniere will move straight into the NHL, but each year typically only two or three prospects make the NHL right after being drafted. That means that someone like Quinton Byfield, Tim Stutzle, Lucas Raymond, or Marco Rossi could play 2020-21 in the CHL or AHL and cement themselves as the most valuable prospect in the system.
So who will it be? Will it be someone mentioned above? Or will a guy like Olle Alsing or Kevin Mandolese steal the spotlight and make us all very excited for the future? Make sure to let us know in the comments!
Who will be the 2020-21 Sens most valuable prospect?
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2020 top-five pick