And just like that we find ourselves down to our last couple of prospect awards for 2021 here at S7S. So far we’ve had a couple of barn burners (Most Improved Prospect and Best Defender) and a couple of real runaways (Biggest Disappointment and Best Goaltender). I think you can guess what kind of result we’ll see today. As we’ve discussed ad nauseum, the Senators had a franchise-defining draft in 2020 and it bodes well for the future of the team that eight players from that draft class got votes in this poll and that one of their first-rounders didn’t crack the top-three among vote-getters.
Before we get to the nominees I do want to acknowledge said first-rounder who missed the cut, as Ridly Greig had a monster season in the WHL with ten goals and 22 assists in 21 games. Greig also had three points in seven games in the AHL as an 18-year-old to make his season even more remarkable. Philippe Daoust and Leevi Meriläinen deserve credit as later-round picks who got votes. And again, when second-rounders like Roby Järventie and Tyler Kleven don’t even crack the final three, you know you have quite the crop on your hands. So who made it to our list of nominees?
- Jake Sanderson who suited up in seven games for team USA at the World Juniors and 22 games for the University of North Dakota where he became a primary cog in their defensive machine with 15 points in 22 games.
- Egor Sokolov who, and I can’t emphasize this enough, leapfrogged three players drafted ahead of him on this ballot. The loveable right winger had a memorable rookie season in the AHL with 15 goals in 35 games and almost immediately became a foundational piece of the Belleville Senators.
- Tim Stützle who as you may have heard about, put a German national team missing half its roster on his back scoring ten points in five games at the World Juniors before taking on the NHL at age-19 scoring 12 goals and 17 assists in 53 games.
And the winner is (as if you didn’t already know)—
Tim Stützle! While the advanced stats never painted an especially pretty picture of Tim’s performance in Ottawa this season, I think the vast majority of fans will agree that on several nights, Stützle looked like Ottawa’s most dynamic forward and on more than one occasion he stole the show with his unique skillset.
Head coach DJ Smith did shuffle his lines pretty regularly throughout the season and Timmy saw his fair share of linemates. He also stayed on the left wing so fans will have to wait at least until next season to see when he’ll get some reps at centre (as we’d all hoped). And while playing outside of his comfort zone may have hurt those advanced stats a bit, again we saw his raw talent on display when Stützle took the ice for powerplays and in the shootout and it should have reassured fans enough via the eye-test to mitigate those concerns from the numbers. From his first NHL goal against Toronto to his first NHL hat trick against Winnipeg, I think a lot of fans will agree that it feels so refreshing to have another player in Ottawa with legitimate all-star potential in the near future.
How did the readers vote? Tim Stützle 83%, Egor Sokolov 11%, Jake Sanderson 3%, Ridly Greig 2%, Philippe Daoust, Roby Järventie, Tyler Kleven, and Leevi Meriläinen < 1%
Stay tuned because next week we get to the really, really good stuff!