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2021 Entry Draft Roundtable

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The Staff Tackle Some Pressing Questions

USA-Blue v Finland Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

With the entry draft firmly behind us, we gathered the staff around our metaphorical table to give their impressions on the weekend that was, and answer a few questions.

There were already rumours swirling that the Sens might select a goalie in the entry draft before the Seattle Kraken claimed Joey Daccord, yet the team walked away without using a single one of their picks on a netminder. This was the first time in the last five drafts that they didn’t choose at least one goalie. Were the rumours just that, or do you think the Sens had a change of heart?

Ross: It’s always conjecture, right? The Sens likely had a list of goalies they wanted, but didn’t like the prices to move up to get any of them. I think in the end they weren’t going to pass on a player they preferred or trade up simply for the sake of getting a goalie.

Spencer: For me, they were educated guesses masquerading as rumours. At the end of the day, I think the Sens are a few pieces away from being special and one of those pieces is goaltending. That’s not a knock on the prospects in the system, but the goaltenders who went in the first round this year were top quality. It would’ve been a smart move to grab one at 10, in my opinion.

Nada: I personally never understood the basis of the rumours other than thinking Dorion might panic move after the Daccord loss. The Sense were probably not happy Daccord was taken but they must have known it was always a possibility. That being said, there is some depth in goal — and that’s including Matt Murray who could still rebound from last year’s performance. I don’t think the Sens see goaltending as an immediate concern or they’re just being really stubborn about what Matt Murray can do. I can also imagine how the timeline on developing a goalie might not have made sense in the context of the current rebuild.

Brandon: I think there was some truth to the goalie speculation. The Senators have never shied away from picking a player whose position they were already deep in (hello Jake Sanderson), and with the quality of goaltenders available, I have no doubt it was a serious possibility. That said, with Dylan Guenther off the board, and Boucher apparently going soon after, I think they made the right call by picking the winger. Aside from Egor Sokolov, the prospect situation was thin on the right side.

Shaan: It would seem that Ottawa was intent on selecting Tyler Boucher with their first pick from the start. I’m sure they considered Jesper Wallstedt or Sebastien Cossa, but I never fully bought into the idea that they were targeting a goalie. Losing Daccord hurts the team’s goaltending depth, but it’s still a rather strong position with Filip Gustavsson, Mads Sogaard, Kevin Mandolese and Leevi Merilainen.

Trevor: I’m sure they were very interested in both Wallstedt and Cossa, but it wouldn’t have made much sense to make such a reactionary move at the top of the draft. I’m somewhat surprised they didn’t pick a goalie later on, but they only had 6 picks so it was not as easy to necessarily get the guy they wanted (whoever that was).

Beata: I think they were probably just rumours; management certainly sounded pretty confident about the picks they made. Ottawa is full of young goaltending talent, and goalies take a long time to develop. Even without Daccord, the Sens have lots of promising goaltending prospects in the pipeline. It sounds like they’re at least going to give it another year before looking around for more goaltending prospects, which makes sense to me.

Owen: As unconventional as the Senators’ draft strategy seems sometimes, I still don’t envision them doing something as aggressive as taking a goalie in the first round so I never saw Cossa or Wallstedt as a real possibility — even after losing Daccord. I find it somewhat surprising that they didn’t take a goalie late in the draft, but again I think that has less to do with Seattle and more to do with this unusual year for scouting.

nkb: As we got close to draft day, there was a lot of speculation that the Sens would keep their 10th overall selection but look to move one of their second round picks. As Shaan said, I think it’s clear in the aftermath that Ottawa was laser-focused on Boucher at 10 so maybe they envisioned trying to move up to get a crack at one of the elite goalies but obviously nothing came to fruition on that front.

Obviously Tyler Boucher is the big name from this year’s group, but who do you see as having the next best chance to be an impact player for the Sens down the line?

Ross: I think Ostapchuk is the best answer here, but I’m going to pick Johansson because I like Swedes on the Sens, and because being among the youngest in the draft class, he has potential to take big strides this year.

Spencer: I’m going to be honest, I was not on my game on the prospect level this year. From what I’ve learned about each prospect thus far, I’m going to go with Carson Latimer on this one. He was the rookie of the year for his division and I see him being one of those late bloomers who keeps getting better. Although I’m also rooting for Ostapchuk. Can’t have too many ‘chuks.

Nada: Can’t say I know much about the other picks as the Sens decided to completely go wild this year so I’ll match their wildcard theme and say Chandler Romeo will blow everyone’s mind in the not-too-distant future.

Brandon: Spencer’s point about Latimer is a good one. He scored 16 points in 22 games in what was his first extended WHL look, and Latimer was also regarded by many as one of the best skaters in the draft. I really like Zack Ostapchuk; his combination of size, skill, and versatility could see him lock down a second line role with Ottawa in the not-too-distant future, provided he can stay healthy.

Shaan: Zach Ostapchuk could turn into a valuable player for Ottawa. He seems to have deceptively good speed and hands, and size will always be an asset if it’s not the only thing you have going for you. A bigger role in the WHL should see his production drastically increase.

Trevor: Oliver Johansson is intriguing to me, I feel like he could have a Roby Järventie-type draft+1 season playing with Timra IK in the SHL. He only played in 15 games (with 5 coming in the Allsvenskan), so there’s a chance he really breaks out this coming season. He certainly has enough skill to turn some heads and I can’t wait to see what he can do.

Beata: Uhhhhh *throws dart at board* Oliver Johansson! Seriously, though, I can’t figure out what the Sens are doing now, and if I’ve learned anything about their drafting skills, it’s that the most surprising picks are the most likely to make it. I think Johansson is a really interesting pick that we don’t know much about, and I’m biased toward European players, so I’m going with that one.

Owen: We don’t have a tonne of tape on the late picks but I like what I’ve seen from Ostapchuk and Latimer. They fit the profile Ottawa has going of big forwards who don’t look intimidated carrying the puck through the middle of ice. Johansson seems like the best low floor high ceiling sleeper pick.

nkb: I would also be lying if I said I had particularly strong feelings about this draft class right now, but based on what I’ve seen and read Ostapchuk seems like the best bet to surprise. Can’t teach those hands.

Were you at all surprised that the Sens didn’t try to package one of their picks for some immediate help at the NHL level?

Ross: Yes. I actually thought 10th overall was in play, and was kind of surprised they kept it. Dorion loves adding veteran help, whether it be pushing for Phaneuf, getting Brassard, trading picks for Gudbranson and Watson last year. Maybe he was a little hesitant after all his acquisitions, with the possible exception of Watson, were letdowns last year.

Spencer: Quite, actually. Ottawa isn’t exactly an attractive free agent market at the moment. You could argue they’re either just leaving the rebuild or perhaps in its final stage. For the big names, that’s not super exciting. While it would cost draft capital and more, the Sens are more likely to get a true impact player in a trade as I just don’t see any of the cream of the crop signing in Ottawa this offseason.

Nada: Not at all, the Sens have been playing it really safe lately and with the upcoming extensions they’re probably very careful on what external money they want to add. It also seems that the trade market is quite expensive this year and with the way the kids played last season, I can understand Dorion wanting to play it out for now. Plus why trade your 10th overall pick when you can just sign Dougie Hamilton a few days later?

Brandon: I’m sure they did try, but it just didn’t pan out. It’s been reported that they were a finalist for Ryan Graves, ultimately losing out to the New Jersey Devils. A lot of teams are likely placing more value on 2022 selections, and outside of Jack Eichel, there was nothing on the market worth moving 10th overall for. Trades are definitely coming, though.

Shaan: With the team having legitimate playoff aspirations for the upcoming season, I was expecting them to look at options to improve their NHL roster through the trading of draft picks, but it’s not surprising to me that they started and finished the draft with six picks. They’ve still got options via trade or free agency in the next few weeks to seek external help.

Trevor: I was somewhat surprised because I expected at least a trade involving the acquisition of an NHLer or the trading away of Logan Brown and/or Chris Tierney. I still think they will be adding a centre and a right-shot defenseman at some point this summer, but they’ll have to be a bit more creative with their offers. The good news is they have two 2nd rounder and two 3rd rounders in 2022.

Beata: Was I surprised? No. Do I think they should have done it? Yeah. This is a weird draft year, and the Sens need immediate help at the NHL level, so I think it would have been really smart of them to try to package some picks for an established player. That said, we know the Sens love their draft picks, so I didn’t really expect them to trade any away.

Owen: Pleasantly surprised because the staff publicly stated they have more interest in the 2022 class. With that said you always love to see that they stood firm instead of making a trade for the sake of it.

nkb: I was fairly surprised, since anyone taken on the weekend is unlikely to contribute for at least a couple of years to a team that management (and ownership) is expecting to take a big step towards being competitive next year. Since there was no deal at the draft, I would be shocked if there isn’t some sort of attempt to help shore up the centre position before the season starts; right now the Sens project to start the year with Josh Norris, Shane Pinto, and Colin White down the middle and based on Dorion’s track record I just don’t see that happening.