For the first time in a very long time, it feels like the actual Ottawa Senators had a more exciting week than the prospects in their system. Due to COVID-19, we didn’t see any action this week in the AHL, QMJHL, or WHL, and that means a significant number of Senators prospects didn’t take to the ice. The silver lining? A handful of prospects participated in a pair of NHL contests over the weekend and will get right back to it tonight against the Jets.
Given the excitement of Tim Stützle’s debut coupled with the first Senators games in about ten months (against their most despised rival no less), I’ll forgive you if you didn’t keep tabs on some of the up-and-comers in the NCAA and European leagues this week. Plus, we’ve got you covered anyway with all the info you need right here in this convenient article. Let’s start with our Senators Prospect team of the week:
You didn’t really think we’d start with anyone else, did you? Celebrating his 19th birthday and his NHL debut in Ottawa, Tim had a weekend to remember and wrapped it up with a beauty of a first NHL goal. I don’t have too much to add about Jim’s performance that we haven’t already covered in the recaps of games one and two. Like most fans, I thought Tim looked solid over the weekend and seeing him score that first goal I had to ask myself, “when was the last time the Sens had a player who could do that intentionally?”
I also enjoyed Stützle’s first taken penalty, as weird as that sounds. Before the ref threw his arm up and blew the whistle, watching the game in real time, I thought, “damn, Tim just folded that man like cardboard.” Little did I know, he has just bowled over veteran defender and known human garbage bag, Jake Muzzin. That made it even more impressive. Stützle looked really confident last weekend and his play should act as more than enough incentive for you to watch all 56 games this season.
For a 21-year-old playing in just his four and fifth NHL games, Norris looked quietly confident. To look at the numbers, he struggled at times but at no point did I find him making any egregious mistakes. He operated most effectively at the offensive end of the ice without looking like a defensive liability. Naturally, Norris stood out most on the powerplay and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the Senators’ powerplay has looked stagnant for years. As I mentioned last week, Norris’ ascent of the centre depth chart speaks more about his talent than the shortcomings of his peers. He has composure beyond his years and brings the type of skill this team has sorely missed.
If Josh Norris announced his presence quietly over the first two games of the season, then Batherson came out of the gates sounding like Motörhead. We have known for years about Drake’s skill as it was on full display in the QMJHL and AHL but I was always bullish because I needed to see him have at least a couple of games in the NHL where he kept his head above water. Drake kept his head above water and more last weekend. He looks bigger, stronger, and more determined than we’ve ever seen. He had as many hits as Brady! He carried the puck so confidently and got the primary assist on Ottawa’s first goal of the season.
Thomas Chabot scored the @Senators’ first goal of the 2020-21 season and the 30th of his career. He is one shy of matching Steve Duchesne (31) for the sixth-most by a defenseman in franchise history. #NHLStats #NHLFaceOff https://t.co/cDPTNqv35T pic.twitter.com/daPvuQi2er— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 16, 2021
Don’t look now but Kleven has caught up with Jake Sanderson in scoring in the still young NCAA campaign and both defenders have their sights on Jacob Bernard-Docker’s place in the lead. Kleven added to his totals with the lone UND goal in their 4-1 loss to Denver on Sunday. The second-round pick that we all (myself included) doubted continues to impress.
UND was tossed aside by Denver to the tune of 4-1, but Tyler Kleven scored his 3rd goal of the season. Nothing fancy here, takes advantage of extra space, and moves in for the wrister. #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/lZQws8RM30— Shaan Malik (@shaan_fp4L) January 18, 2021
Speak of the devil! While the younger Sanderson and Kleven have slowly encroached on JBD’s point-production, Jacob remains UND’s number-one defender and a major part of the Fighting Hawks’ success so fat this season. I could watch JBD skate all day.
The clandestine netminder from Finland continued to establish himself in a deep pool of goaltending prospects for the Senators with another shutout. Leevi now finds himself second in save percentage in his league (number one is a twenty-year-old on a better team). Keep and eye on Kärpät to see if Meriläinen stays with the U20 squad or gets his promotion to the big league. It bears noting that the U20 Flies started their other goaltender in their last game and only won by a score of 3-1. Leevi would never.
I don't want to alarm you but Leevi Merilainen now has 3 straight shutouts to start 2021— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) January 16, 2021
Merilainen stopped 22/22 shots on Saturday in yet another 6-0 win for Karpat – all 3 shutouts have had the same score #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/LlE4cPQLbh
- Look, I know that Nick Paul is 25 years old now and has been in the Senators’ system since Chester A. Arthur was in office but it would be criminal to overlook just how well he played over the weekend. Nick has always had the size and in Belleville he gained the confidence. Now it looks like his legs have finally caught up and I am so grateful that he and the team never gave up on each other.
- Folks around these parts may have sweat a little after Roby Järventie failed to light it up for the Finnish squad at the world juniors. And while I can appreciate the significance of thriving at a best-against-best tournament, I also think we should take some solace in Roby’s strong play in a professional league as an 18-year-old. With another point this week, Järventie is in a nice groove of 0.75 points-per-game so don’t lose hope just yet.
- While points this season remain hard to come by for Angus Crookshank, the young winger continues to rack up plenty of shots and with any luck, his shooting percentage should regress to the norm at some point this year. A 20-goal season seems like a longshot for Crookshank based on his current pace but you should still keep an eye on him as the season progresses because he’ll break out of his funk sooner rather than later.
- Even at age-21 in a tier-two league, it’s inspiring to see Viktor Lodin having his best season since the Senators drafted him. Count me among those who never gave Lodin a real shot as a Senators prospect. While he still seems like a very unlikely candidate to ever play in Ottawa, at least the organization still has something of a footprint in Sweden, and we can still enjoy whatever small successes Sens prospects have even if it won’t translate long-term for the NHL team. You could certainly do worse than Lodin for forward depth in Belleville.
|Jakov Novak||LW/C||22||Bentley Univ.||-||-||-||-||-||-||-%|||||5||3||1||4||17||13||23%|
|Todd Burgess||C/RW||24||Minnesota State Univ.||2||0||0||0||2||7||0%|||||9||2||3||5||4||17||12%|
|Luke Loheit||RW||20||Univ. of Minnesota-Duluth||-||-||-||-||-||-||-%|||||13||2||1||3||23||13||15%|
|Angus Crookshank||LW||21||Univ. of New Hampshire||2||0||0||0||4||5||0%|||||10||3||1||4||4||37||8%|
|Shane Pinto||C||20||Univ. of North Dakota||1||0||0||0||0||2||0%|||||13||5||10||15||2||34||15%|
|Jacob Bernard-Docker||RD||20||Univ. of North Dakota||1||0||1||1||2||4||0%|||||13||1||5||6||12||22||5%|
|Jake Sanderson||LD||18||Univ. of North Dakota||1||0||0||0||0||0||-%|||||6||1||2||3||2||9||11%|
|Tyler Kleven||LD||19||Univ. of North Dakota||1||0||0||0||0||2||0%|||||6||2||0||2||4||9||22%|
|Jonny Tychonick||LD||20||Univ. of Omaha||-||-||-||-||-||-||-%|||||10||1||1||2||4||11||9%|
|Viktor Lodin||C/LW||21||Timrå IK||Allsvenskan||4||0||1||1||2||5||0%|||||29||5||12||17||14||37||14%|
|Filip Gustavsson||22||Belleville Senators||AHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-%|||||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-%|
|Kevin Mandolese||20||Belleville Senators||AHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-%|||||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-%|
|Mads Søgaard||20||Esbjerg||Metal Ligaen||2||-||-||-||-||-||-||91.7%|||||9||-||-||-||-||-||-||92.9%|
|Joey Daccord||24||Ottawa Senators||NHL||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-%|||||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-%|
|Leevi Meriläinen||18||Kärpät U20||U20 SM-sarja||1||-||-||-||-||-||-||100.0%|||||17||-||-||-||-||-||-||92.8%|