Welcome, friends, to day three of Silver Seven’s Top 25 Ottawa Senators Under 25. Today we feature one of my favourite under-the-radar blueline prospects in Maxence Guenette. While he might not have much of a reputation outside of the Sensphere and the most hardcore of NHL prospect-heads, he checks off a lot of proverbial boxes and currently provides some crucial defensive depth in Ottawa’s farm system. Let’s break it down.
23. Maxence Guenette (Reader Rank: 24, Last Year: 25)
At 21 years of age, the right-shooting defender enters this season in the second year of his entry-level contract. Back in 2019, the Ottawa Senators drafted Guentette in the seventh round (187th overall). This bears mentioning particularly because, of late, the Sens have earned a reputation for “reaching” at the entry draft while this seventh-round selection received widespread praise as a possible steal. Keep in mind, simply getting an NHLer in the seventh round would represent a major victory. Back in 2017, the Val d’Or Foreurs drafted Guenette in the first round (fifth overall) in the QMJHL entry draft, and their struggles as a team likely turned out to be Ottawa’s gain as Guenette fell way down the NHL draft board.
In the QMJHL, Guenette established a reputation as a reliable, consistent defender, with a little offensive output for good measure. In terms of durability (something defenders in Ottawa have historically struggled with) Guenette had a Cal Ripken-esque streak of 129 consecutive regular season games played in the Q. In the weekly prospect update, I tend to rave about Guenette’s discipline and for good reason (no bias whatsoever!) Guenette holds Val d’Or’s franchise record for consecutive post-season games without a penalty at 18 (and I reiterate that he plays defence!). In 227 regular season QMJHL games, he had just 84 PIM. He also had 25 goals, 81 assists, and 395 shots in his junior career.
Guenette joined a rather mediocre Foreurs squad and contributed to their eventual turnaround. As an alternate captain, he helped the team reach the league finals in the 2021 post-season. In the spring of 2021, over the span of 15 post-season games, Guenette had three goals, four assists, 43 shots, and just four PIM. Among U20 defenders, Guenette ranked in the top-ten in points in the QMJHL post-season in 2021, having just missed the top-ten during the 2020-21 regular season.
Last year, in his rookie professional season in Belleville, Guenette couldn’t always crack the lineup behind some established veterans on the blueline, but still managed to play 48 games for the BSens racking up six goals, 13 assists, 57 shots, and again just four PIM. I can’t emphasize enough the remarkable nature of Guenette’s discipline as a defender in his first professional season in one of the toughest hockey leagues anywhere. In terms of offensive output, Guenette ranked in the top ten among U21 AHL defenders in points-per-game, fourth in goals, and tenth in assists. For all his efforts, Spencer gave Guenette a “B-” in the annual Belleville report cards.
As I noted, Guenette didn’t always have a tonne of minutes in his rookie season in Belleville and with no clear path for the likes of Jacob Bernard-Docker and Lassi Thomson to crack Ottawa’s roster out of camp, Guenette will almost certainly have to carve out a role as a depth defender. While he’ll likely need to spend at least two more seasons in Belleville rounding out his game and developing physically, Guenette certainly has the potential to become a useful NHL defender. He won’t in all likelihood suddenly become an offensive threat off the blueline, but like Bernard-Docker, Guenette could become a very handy partner for Ottawa’s more offensively inclined defenders like Thomas Chabot or Erik Brännström. Similarly to Bernard-Docker, or even Artem Zub, if you don’t notice Guenette then it probably means he has done his job — quietly, and efficiently.
Stayed tuned for number-22 tomorrow!