The dog days of August may be the time when NHL hockey is furthest from most people’s minds, but here at Silver Seven they mark the beginning of one of our site’s most beloved features: the Ottawa Senators Top 25, Under 25. For those unfamiliar with the series, the staff (and the readers) rank all of the players in the Sens’ organization under the age of 25. For a franchise in the midst of a youth-oriented rebuild, that can mean some difficult, but fun, choices.
Before diving into this year’s edition, refresh your memory with last year’s full rankings here.
25. Maxence Guenette (Reader Rank: N/A, Last Year: N/A)
Guenette makes his debut in our rankings after a season in which he posted 22 pts in 36 games for the Val D’Or Foreurs. He started the season on a torrid pace, with 15 pts in his first 14 games, but cooled considerably after that and his season-ending scoring rate finished right in line with his production in 2019-20. Nonetheless, Sens’ management clearly felt that they had seen enough promise from the rearguard as Guenette was signed to a 3 year, entry-level contract in April of this year. Now that he’s turned 20, I would expect Guenette to suit up for the Belleville Senators next season.
Guenette profiles as a solid all-around defender who does a lot of things well, but who won’t necessarily blow you away with his skill or his physical attributes. Here’s how Pierre Dorion described Guenette when the prospect signed his entry level deal:
Maxence is a strong puck moving defenceman who absorbs a lot of ice-time for his team in Val-d’Or, the QMJHL’s top ranked team this season. He maintains good vision, hockey sense and puck skills. We’re especially pleased to already see some significant strides he’s made since being drafted
As Dorion mentions, Val D’Or was much improved this past season to the tune of a 29-3-2-2 record after languishing below .500 for each of Guenette’s first three seasons. It may come as a bit of a surprise, but he was actually the 5th overall pick in the 2017 QMJHL draft. His relative struggles on those weaker Val D’Or teams likely contributed to Guenette falling all the way to 187th when the Sens drafted him in 2019. Since any 7th round pick is something of a gamble, Ottawa perhaps felt that Guenette’s pedigree might give him a better chance at success than your typical late-round draftee.
Unfortunately there aren’t much by the way of highlights to share, but here’s a reel of highlights from Guenette’s draft year:
And here’s Guenette working the power play this past season for Val D’Or:
Maxence Guénette scored twice on Friday night in a 6-1 win for Val-d'Or.— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) November 28, 2020
Guénette, a RHD, was named 2nd star of the game and now has 6 points during his 3-game point streak. Did you know he was the 5th overall pick in the 2017 QMJHL Draft? pic.twitter.com/37vLS7uZbd
You might notice a recurring theme from the above clips: Guenette is adept at getting to the middle of the ice where he’s able to unleash his accurate wrister. That his highlight reel is mostly made up of wrist shots from the slot reinforces what I wrote earlier: there’s nothing overwhelming about Guenette, but he’s doing lots of little things right.
At this stage in his pro career, he’s somewhat exceeded expectations to get a pro-level contract at all considering he was a 7th round pick. He’ll almost certainly get a chance to prove himself in the AHL next season, and at that point we will have a much better idea of where Guenette fits into the Sens’ organization depth chart.