As the Colorado Avalanche officially put an end to the NHL season, we get to officially turn our attention to the offseason - which feels like it’s already been going on for months as a Sens fan.
Today, I’m going to take a crack at making all eleven selections for Ottawa in the upcoming draft, using the mock draft tool from the wonderful folks at FC Hockey. Of course, this is simulated and, just like in real life, once you get beyond the top ten, literally anything can happen. We’re not going for accuracy here, we’re just playing the game. If I get more than one of these players right, I might buy a lottery ticket.
For ease of the exercise, I’ll be making all of the selections and not creating trade scenarios - even though the Sens have so many picks that the likelihood they move around the draft order is pretty good.
With the seventh overall pick, let’s get started.
Round One, Pick Seven: Joakim Kemell, RW
This site once again took part in the SB Nation Mock Draft this year and we also took this player. In the simulation through FC Hockey, for those who are curious, all of Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky, Logan Cooley, David Jiricek, Simon Nemec and Matthew Savoie were off the board so it came down to Joakim Kemell and Cutter Gauthier for me.
From watching clips and devouring scouting reports over the past few weeks, I have Kemell and Gauthier in a very similar tier. The big difference is what each player brings to the table. For me, I think of what Kemell’s goalscoring and speed would do on a line with Tim Stützle and that’s enough for me to pull the trigger on this selection.
Round Two, Pick 39: Jimmy Snuggerud, RW
With their first selection in the second round, the Sens go back to the right winger well and grab USNDTP forward Jimmy Snuggerud - and not just for his excellent name. The 6’2” winger posted 63 points in 59 games between the development program and USHL this past season. Many rankings have Snuggerud listed in the late first round, being able to pick him up in the second would be great news for Ottawa. Snuggerud has both the ability to drive play offensively while being responsible away from the puck. Committed to the University of Minnesota, this college bound prospect out of the USNDTP is right up the Sens alley and, if there’s one player I’d be sure about Ottawa taking (if available at this spot), it’s Snuggerud.
Round Two, Pick 64: Noah Warren, RHD
Back in 2020, the Sens made a rare move in helping another team out with their cap situation in exchange for Brayden Coburn, Cédric Paquette and this second round pick. As the simulation rolled through and I saw Noah Warren’s name available at 64, it was the easiest Sens pick I could comprehend. For those fans who like to poke fun at a Sens draft bingo card, get a load of this.
Warren is a 6’5” (check) right shot defender (check) out of the QMJHL who grew up just two hours from Ottawa in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. There are a few rankings, including Bob McKenzie and Craig Button, that have Warren going far earlier than this. His combination of size and compete, plus the added bonus of his handedness, makes him a tantalizing selection. I’d be shocked if he were around at 64 and, honestly, I could see Ottawa taking him 39th, too.
Round Three, Pick 72: Christian Kyrou, RHD
Younger brother of Jordan, Christian Kyrou falls into Ottawa’s lap early in the third round. The right shot defender would be Ottawa’s second RHD of the draft and would give them four right shot players, in total, in their first four picks. This feels unlikely but, similar to Warren, seeing Kyrou’s name available here made for an easy selection on my part.
Kyrou had 60 points in 68 games for the Erie Otters this year - which puts him in a point per game range similar to that of Alex Pietrangelo, Rasum Sandin and Michael Del Zotto from their time as 18 year olds in the OHL. Although he’s on the smaller end standing at 5’10”, he’d be a great option in the third round.
Round Three, Pick 87: Tyler Brennan, G
I don’t know if this is a league wide strategy or Senators specific, but Ottawa loves drafting a goalie somewhere around this point in the draft. In the last five drafts, the Sens have selected a goaltender in four of them - with 2021 being the first time since 2016 where the draft clock timed out and Ottawa didn’t have a goaltender on their card.
This year, it’ll be Tyler Brennan with the 87th overall pick. The 6’4” Winnipeg product is a member of the Prince George Cougars and is the NHL Central Scouting’s top ranked North American goaltender. Brennan’s Cougars weren’t the cream of the crop in the WHL this year, so his stats don’t particularly jump off the page but one interesting thing is that the Cougars lost in the first round, with Brennan going 0-3-0 between the pipes in that series. Despite this, he posted a 0.954 SV% and 1.86 GAA in those three losses. You can’t say he didn’t bring his A game and I’d bet the Sens would love to bet on his ability to continue developing.
Round Four, Pick 104: Liam Arnsby, C
We’ve entered the stage of the draft where things couldn’t be more unpredictable. We’re so far down each team’s draft board that there are probably players on each who weren’t even on the radar for others. For this pick, Ottawa selects Liam Arnsby. The centreman currently suits up for the North Bay Battalion of the OHL. His offensive numbers don’t stand out, but that’s not surprising for a player still available at 104. What stood out for me, and what I think would be an important factor for the Sens, is that Arnsby was North Bay’s captain at 18 years old this past season. We all know the Sens love a high character guy.
Round Five, Pick 136: Tucker Robertson, C
It’s that time of the draft where the Sens pick their patented overager. Like Philippe Daoust, Mark Kastelic and Viktor Lodin before him, Tucker Robertson is the newest member of the overager class. Robertson is a right shot centre out of Toronto who’s been suiting up for the Peterborough Petes for the past few season. Robertson, like many other OHL players, didn’t play a game last season and went undrafted. This year, he came out and put 41 goals and 40 assists on the board in 68 games. Craig Button has him all the way at 67th but most publications have him somewhere between 120 and 160, which is the perfect spot for Ottawa to take a flier on him.
Round Five, Pick 143: Michael La Starza, LW
Michael La Starza is one of those rare players born and raised in Canada but who opted to move to the USHL so he could take the NCAA route to a hopeful NHL career. Just shy of 6’, the left shot forward got moved from Waterloo to Sioux Falls during this past season. Committed to Boston University, La Starza is added to the long list of college bound prospects the Sens have been bringing into the fold over the past five years. If La Starza were committed to North Dakota, he’d probably be a Senator earlier than 143rd.
Round Five, Pick 151: Tyson Zimmer, RW
Yes, I know, another right winger but hear me out. Tyson Zimmer is one of the younger players in this draft, as he doesn’t turn 18 until September. The 6’0” native of Russell, Manitoba, also happened to play for the Brandon Wheat Kings this year. While he wasn’t a regular linemate of Ridly Grieg, you can bet the Sens brass have seen plenty of game tape where Zimmer is on the ice. Given his age, potential for future physical maturity and position, the Sens could do much worse than Zimmer 151st overall.
Round Six, Pick 168: Kasper Lundell, RW
Younger brother of Florida Panther Anton, Kasper Lundell comes to the Sens at 168. Unranked by a number of publications, Lundell is a 5’11” forward who suited up for HIFK U20 in the Finnish junior circuit this past season, posting 26 points in 31 games. During his time in the U18 and U16 leagues, he wore a “C” and an “A” at varying points. Lundell comes from a hockey family, with his former first round pick of a brother and long time Finnish professional goaltender for a father. The Sens love players with hockey in their blood, Lundell fits the bill for a sixth round pick.
Round Seven, Pick 206: Jere Lassila, C
This feels unlikely but I’m thinking if the Sens spent time looking at Joakim Kemell and also drafted Kasper Lundell, it would mean they spent a decent amount of time scouting Finnish players in Europe so we’re going to keep that ball rolling with Jere Lassila off the JYP U20 team in the same league as Lundell. The Finnish centre was technically eligible to play for the U18 club due to his age but spent the majority of the season with the older unit, posting 15 points in 17 games in the process. He was also Finland’s captain at the U18 tournament that saw him put up eight points in just six games.
The Full Haul
Through eleven picks, the Sens have taken eight forwards, focusing a lot of attention at restocking the cupboards which have become barren with the graduations of Drake Batherson, Josh Norris, Alex Formenton and, likely soon, Ridly Grieg.
In this exercise, I tried to put my Sens hat on, focusing a lot of attention on North American players, particularly ones with ties to others, going the NCAA route or, in two cases, with other pro hockey players in their families.
If this is how the draft works out, I’d be most excited about Kemell, of course, but getting Snuggerud and Warren on day two would be an even bigger win, in my opinion. It’s entirely likely that Snuggerud is high on the boards of many clubs and that he won’t be around at 39 and I think the same could be said for Warren, given his combination of size and skill.
The Sens walk away from this draft with goalscoring in the form of Joakim Kemell, size in the form of Noah Warren, an overager and multiple players who wear letters for their respective clubs. Add that to their patented early-mid round goaltender selection and you’re looking at some restocked cupboards.