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Silver Seven Sens Mailbag, Part 2: Focusing on Specific Players

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Part 2/3 of the mailbag features questions that ask about specific players

2020 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

In case you missed it, part 1 of the Silver Seven Sens mailbag went up on Wednesday! That section featured questions about what the team could do in the off-season, and today the questions are mainly centred around specific players.

Once again, apologies if your question did not get answered, but we always have to cut down on them in the end. Thank you for submitting all of them though!

How realistic of a chance does Ridly Greig have of making the NHL roster this season? Of course another year of developing could be helpful but he already looked dominant at the AHL level—Jack

I’m a huge fan of Ridly Greig, I see him as being a nastier version of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, which is a bit of a double-edged sword but as long as NHL officiating continues to be a joke, it should play in our favour. Anyway, I expect Greig to spend another year in Junior mostly because there just isn’t room in our forward corps for him right now, but there’s reason to believe he could step into an NHL role if given the opportunity. There’s obviously some top-six potential there, but his style of play can serve him well in any role, regardless of offensive ability. —Shaan Malik

What's your pitch to Seattle that makes Ottawa better, or at least mitigates the pain?—Salty

I should start by saying that personally I don’t think the Sens should make a deal with Seattle. Lose one player and live with your choices. I would argue that just about every team who brokered a deal with Vegas ended up worse off than if they had just accepted whatever singular loss they had coming in the expansion draft. I also don’t know how Ottawa can come out of the expansion draft better than they went in (other than possibly shedding some salary *cough* Matt Murray *cough*).

That being said, it’s still fun to project, and most Sens fans do seem bummed at the idea of potentially losing a young netminder. Obviously, Ottawa has an extra second-rounder in each of the next two drafts and an extra third in 2022, and you could argue that a goalie prospect has more value to Ottawa than any of those picks. If the rumours hold any water and Seattle has any interest in Evgenii Dadonov, Chris Tierney, Matt Murray, or Anton Forsberg then you expose them and start the proverbial car.

If Seattle really wants to play hardball then you have to ask yourself how much you really value Filip Gustavsson or Joey Daccord long-term knowing you’ll have to cull your crop of young goaltenders eventually anyway. Could Ottawa dangle the rights to someone like Victor Mete, who they got for free after all, and who would have immense value to a stats-savvy team like Seattle who needs players who can step in immediately, knowing Ottawa has ample left-side defenders? Logan Brown remains the million-dollar man here as a lot of fans have started to question his long-term role in Ottawa and who you could argue has less value organizationally than one of the Senators’ young netminders despite the hefty cost Ottawa paid in acquiring him. —Owen

It’s safe to say Dadonov had a disappointing season compared to expectations, and a bounce-back season would really help next year. Do we know where he is spending the offseason, and what areas the coaches have instructed him to work on?—Dbalkwill

Dadonov has been very quiet on social media lately, and as far as I know, he hasn’t spoken to the media about his off-season plans. Is he in Canada? Russia? I don’t know. However, my insider information tells me that Dadonov has been instructed to simply spend as much time as possible in the general vicinity of his countryman Artem Zub, so that he might be able to absorb some of Zub’s powers simply by being near him. Sounds like a foolproof plan to me. —Beata

With the offensive tools that Jake Sanderson has been showing with the UND Fighting Sens, how does he impact our projected power play units? Do we try and fit all of Chabot, Brännström, and Sanderson onto the power play?—Anonymous

With Sanderson and even Lassi Thomson potentially looking to get powerplay time for a future edition of your Ottawa Senators, the way the coaching staff chooses to utilize their defencemen is going to be fascinating to follow. Historically and in the present, Chabot and Brännström have always been the more offensively inclined players, and if you’re only having one defender in a 1-3-1 set-up, it’s hard to see a situation where either of them should be swapped out of first or second unit duties for Sanderson. The Sens have been clear that they value the UND blueliner as a matchups defender — one who can take some of the difficult defensive minutes away from Thomas Chabot, star on the penalty kill, and provide value in transition at 5-on-5.

What impressed me as I watched Sanderson this season is the growth in his in-zone offensive toolkit, whether it’s being soft on his edges to buy the unit extra time and space, or showing off better hands than expected to try and surprise defenders. Sanderson’s been given free rein to roam on the powerplay at UND, which is different than how Ottawa utilizes Chabot and Brännström firmly at the top of the umbrella to take advantage of their vision, so it’ll require a tactical shift on the coaching side, too. All in all, we should be happy with Sanderson’s continued improvement offensively. It’ll be a great situation to have three defenders who can provide value with the extra player and I’d love for him to force the issue. —Ary M

Who do you think the sens will draft at 10?—Cord

For as long as I can remember, the public mantra from the scouting staff has always been: take the best player available. In reading Trent Mann’s comments after it was confirmed that the team was picking 10th, I get the sense that they see a group of nine to 11 players in that top grouping of upper-echelon talent. Mann acknowledged that this isn’t going to be your prototypical top-10 pick and that he’s expecting any player selected in 2021 (and likely 2022) to be a bit behind on their development relative to previous years given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At that slot, the quality of a potential forward will likely be higher than the quality of defenceman available unless Luke Hughes, Brandt Clarke, or Simon Edvinsson drops. You’ll see this reflected in my draft coverage in July, but names like Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger, Chaz Lucius, and Mason McTavish are ones you should be getting familiar with, alongside potential wingers like Matthew Coronato, Oskar Olausson, and Fabian Lysell. —Ary M

By the eye test, was Brännström doing any better at breaking up the cycle at the end of the season?—Bext

Maybe a bit? I’m one of Brännström’s biggest defenders, and even I would admit that he sometimes struggles to control bigger players on the cycle. He was certainly more aggressive about engaging as the season went on; if you watched him, it was clear that he’d been told to close the gap and get physical as much as possible. He’s still young, so there’s still some hope that he’ll get better but I also don’t think he needs to be that greatly improved in order to be an effective defenseman in the NHL. He does a lot of other things very well and with even moderate improvement down low in his own end his other strengths should outweigh that particular weakness. —nkb

Who do you think the Sens should protect in the expansion draft?—Matt

I think it’s pretty clear who the locks are:

Forward: Tkachuk, Batherson, C. Brown, Paul

Defense: Chabot

After that, there are essentially five forwards fighting for three spots: Colin White, Evgenii Dadonov, Logan Brown, Austin Watson, and Chris Tierney. Victor Mete should be as close to a lock as possible as well, leaving Nikita Zaitsev and Josh Brown for the final spot. Then in goal, it’s essentially down to either Joey Daccord or Filip Gustavsson. Starting in net, I’d go with Gustavsson over Daccord mainly because of how solid he looked in his 9 NHL games but also because he’s two years younger than Daccord (and I’m not sure Seattle would view Joey OK that highly).

On defense, I don’t love either option, but I’d take Brown simply because of Zaitsev’s contract that pays him $4.5M for the next 3 years—if Seattle takes him, that’s a blessing. Then on forward, things are more complicated. Watson and Tierney provide some value, but they can be found pretty easily on the market. Watson has been a fan favourite and I understand why, but whoever replaces him will only cost a mid-round pick or a free agent contract. That leaves Dadonov, White, and Brown to be protected, who all have their warts, but I simply like their upside over Watson and Tierney.

You can easily recover from losing Watson or Tierney, but there exists a scenario where one of Dadonov, White, or Brown bounce back and turn into a solid player for Seattle. Furthermore, I’m not even saying Brown will be good anymore, but he could at least be trade bait after the draft. Let’s not galaxy brain this: just protect the players who have the most potential. —Trevor Shackles

Stay tuned for part 3 of the mailbag coming out on Monday!