Everything we know about the Ottawa Senators 2022 Draft Class
Meet the nine new additions to the team’s prospect pool!
It’s an annual tradition here at Silver Seven to wrap up our draft coverage with a compilation of all the information we can find about the newest Senators prospects.
What follows is ~6,500 words on the nine players selected on Thursday and Friday, so grab a snack, a drink, and get comfortable. I’ll end the piece with some brief analysis of the class as a whole and what I think it means for the Senators organization moving forward.
Filip Nordberg, LD
2nd round: 64th overall
Statistics (via EliteProspects):
- 6-foot-4, 207 pounds, born on 03/05/2004
- J20 Nationell: 42GP: 6G, 21A, 27P
- Allsvenskan: 9GP: 0P/
Filip Nordberg is a bet on physical tools for the Senators scouting staff. It’s rare to acquire a player with Nordberg’s range and puck skills, facets of the game that can be utilized in all three zones to make an impact for his team.
It’s all about speaking in future tense with Nordberg, as while his raw point totals look similar to the top Swedish defencemen in this class like Calle Odelius and Elias Salomonsson, Nordberg’s contribution to primary points at even-strength were only ahead of Adam Engstrom among drafted players from the J20 Nationell this season.
Here’s what Chief European Scout Mikko Ruutu had to say:
“He’s a big guy and he’s a physical player. He’s a young kid and he needs time, but his frame is so good. He has skill and he can shoot the puck also, so there’s a lot of things to like about him.”
Andrew LeBlanc, DraftPro
Ranked as a sixth-round selection, 47th among European skaters by the Draftin Europe crew, their free guide had this to say about Nordberg:
Filip Nordberg is a big, aggressive defenseman that likes to play with authority. He wants to put pressure on his opponents and force the play. He brings a physical presence in the corners and along the boards, showing good urgency on the penalty kill. He can however be at fault for being over-aggressive and gets burned, as his agility and footwork are not good enough to keep up when he takes a bad angle on a quicker forward. Nordberg also struggles to defend the rush. His lateral mobility is suspect and he often takes penalties to nullify chances created from being beaten wide or by agile forwards along the boards. He is occasionally dangled or turned inside-out by more skilled forwards, as he was by Kaskimäki at the Five Nations in Monthey. He doesn’t look comfortable when he needs to transition quickly from skating backwards to forward, often losing a step on the opposition. In terms of defensive responsibility, Nordberg seems slightly unsure at times. He fails to get his stick into the correct lanes on the penalty kill. He needs to become more aware in the defensive zone and survey more effectively. He reacts to plays more than reading them, hopefully as a result of a lack of experience rather than low Hockey IQ. Nordberg transferred from a small club to play with Linkoping last year, but only ended up playing 8 games because of the pandemic, so this with Sodertalje is his first full season playing at the top tier junior level. That probably plays a factor in how raw his game is. He needs to get coached and trained out of his issues. What makes him a potentially worthwhile investment is the ability he demonstrates to make plays with the puck. He shows some flair moving forward with it, can make nice simple and crisp passes in transition and effective short range outlet passes. More surprisingly, he displays quick hands and the stickhandling ability needed to beat opponents one-on-one. When he suddenly activates from the offensive blueline, beating the forward in front to then drive the middle and release his threatening shot, he can look really impressive. Those moments are evidence of his upside, and his intriguing numbers back up that feeling. At the same, he doesn’t play a reliable game during possession either, as he has a tendency to nonchalantly release risky passes in the D-zone that can result in dangerous turnovers. To say Nordberg is a work in progress would be an understatement, but he certainly is an intriguing prospect.
Here’s what independent scout Mikael Holm had to say:
Nordberg is a big defenseman with soft hands and some solid skating. He is really fun with the puck on his stick and can, with his large frame and nice hands, protect the puck and handle any tough situation. His passing is mostly fine but I find that he handles pressure better by stick handling or skating his way out of it. Defensively he can be somewhat physical and use his body to win the puck but I would like to see him use it more, just to knock the opponent off the puck more often. I’ve noticed that he tends to get stuck with his feet on the ice when someone attacks him 1v1, he doesn’t move his feet well enough and if the opponent is skilled enough Nordberg’s reach won’t help him as he will get walked. If he learns to move his feet more and be more proactive than reactive I think his defense will come along nicely.
In short, there’s potential here. He’s closer on the defensive end, having strong in-zone skills along the boards and in front of the net, with passing ability that can help him on exits. The big question mark will be whether he can change his skating stride to add more fluidity, which will both help him defend the rush to stomp out plays as they develop, and to activate offensively.
Trent Mann spoke about talking through next year’s options with Nordberg, as he was drafted by Youngstown in the USHL and could play college hockey. Repetitions will be big for him, already having lost a year of development by only playing 8 games in his pre-draft season. He’s certainly got the strength and edge to succeed on a smaller ice surface, and it would allow the Senators development staff, especially Shelley Kettles and Wade Redden, to be more hands-on with him.
Filip Nordberg - Drafted 64th overall by the Ottawa Senators is a 6'4 207 lb defenseman who possesses great offensive instincts, a powerful and accurate wrist shot, and strong skating paired with surprisingly great agility and edgework while he's walking the line. pic.twitter.com/ssYHJGMWyj— Brennan Jerry (@brennanjerrry) July 8, 2022
Oskar Pettersson, RW
3rd round: 87th overall
Statistics (via EliteProspects):
- 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, born on 02/04/2004
- J18 Region: 4GP: 3G, 2A, 5P
- J20 Nationell: 46GP: 25G, 11A, 36P
- U18s: 6GP: 1G, 4A, 5P/
A right-handed power forward, Oskar Pettersson possesses a dangerous shot and strong determination that the Senators staff are betting on.
Pettersson started this year with a brief stint at the U18 level before quickly moving his way up to the J20 Nationell, where he played for much of the season. He played top powerplay minutes, often set-up for the one-timer at the left circle, and played the role of a neutral zone puck carrier or positioned himself right in front of the net with physicality. Pettersson played a support role for Team Sweden at the U18s, showcasing reliable north-south hockey, closing spaces on opponents on the forecheck, and displaying consistent engagement from shift-to-shift.
Ranked as a potential late-round pick by NHL Central Scouting, McKeen’s, Future Considerations, and EliteProspects, here’s what Trent Mann had to say about the Rögle man:
“He has size and he’s a kid whose skating has improved immensely. He shoots the puck really hard, and he goes to all areas that you want for somebody to score goals. He’s a quality kid. I really think you’re getting the whole package with this kid. We can get some goal scoring, some size and some net-front presence. He has the ability to win and he’ll play hard in all three zones.”
Oskar Pettersson is a 6'2 198 lb RW who will make his living infront of the net. The large forward is strong in puck battles, however also possesses a heavy, NHL calibre shot which he uses to beat goalies clean. Also has underrated hands and skating ability. pic.twitter.com/laYDCuKSzS— Brennan Jerry (@brennanjerrry) July 8, 2022
Ranked 52nd by Draftin Europe, here’s Pettersson’s report:
Oskar Pettersson is a strong kid who plays on the edge. He’s capable of making vicious open ice hits, stapling players against the boards, and he is often involved in altercations after the whistle. Pettersson agitates opponents and hits to hurt. His knee on knee hit on Matteo Reinard late in the game in Monthey brought the home crowd out of their seats. Pettersson followed it up by roughing up the Swiss players who came to Reinhard’s aid. Oskar plays with a good complete level, finishes his checks, goes to the net and opens up space for his linemates through his physical play. He has a solid, accurate wrister which he gets off quickly. He is a force when powering down the wing at full flight. Pettersson is hard on the forecheck, putting pressure on defensemen retrieving pucks. Pettersson featured mostly as a top six winger for Sweden this year, but struggled at times to keep up with his linemates. His top end speed is good, but his pace of play in general is still developing. He makes effective slips and outlet passes and can score on the rush, but he lacks the necessary skill and playmaking ability to make plays on a regular basis in a top-six role. For a player of his stature, Pettersson is too easily beaten off the wall. Most concerningly, Pettersson was undisciplined at bad times this year. Late in the gold medal game against the United States, for example, he took an unnecessary boarding penalty (a hit from behind) which could have allowed the Americans to get back into the game.
From independent scout Mikael Holm:
Pettersson is a forward with a nice shot and some really good stick handling, especially in close quarters where he can keep the puck on his stick and feed a pass to a teammate under intense pressure. He moves quite well without the puck, always trying to be an option for his teammates and in the offensive zone he positions himself by the net and is effective in those areas. I would like him to improve his skating even though it isn’t necessarily bad right now. It’s actually good for the J20 level but he needs to improve his first few steps so he can take that next step towards pro level. Pettersson’s tool set is intriguing but I feel like it’s more of a tool set for a top-6 type of player and I don’t think he will reach that on the NHL level. So he would need to improve his game defensively and his forechecking to become more of a well rounded player that can play a bottom-6 role at the NHL level while also being somewhat of a threat offensively.
Pettersson’s frame and the way he plays looks set for what the Senators would be looking for from him at the NHL level. To get there, he’ll have to develop the complimentary skills of a modern power forward by improving his acceleration to assist with puck retrievals, working on his board play to extend possession for his linemates, and continuing to play his game in-tight traffic. Pettersson is a player I would’ve loved to see in North American hockey next season, but he looks set to return to Rögle for another season at the U20 level.
Tomas Hamara, LD
3rd round: 87th overall
Statistics (via EliteProspects):
- 6-foot-0, 185 pounds, born on 03/09/2004
- U20 SM-sarja: 32GP: 6G, 19A, 25P
- Liiga: 24GP: 2A, 2P
- Mestis (loan): 2GP: 2A, 2P
- U18s: 6GP: 8A, 8P/
A player who I thought would’ve been selected in the second-round so I didn’t profile him initially, Tomas Hamara profiles as a calm, puck-moving defender who’s had a fascinating development trajectory — a rare Czech international that moved on early from his home country’s top system in Sparta Praha in search of tougher competition, which he found in Finland’s Tappara.
Hamara came into his draft season well-regarded, putting up a 0.51 points-per-game in the Finland’s top U20 league last season and a standout in international play as a U17 — making the 2021 U18 world championship team. He suffered an injury in his second game of that tournament, impacting his offseason and likely contributed to a rough start to his draft year. He eventually got back in line with expectations, recording 25 points in 32 games at the U20 level while ranking favourably compared to his peers when defending the rush and driving primary offence for his squad. In 2022, he played 24 games for Tappara’s Liiga squad, where he averaged 10:46 per match. Hamara wasn’t sheltered, starting 57% of his shifts in the defensive zone and still helping his team record a 55.2% CF% when he was on the ice — close to Tappara’s 56% rate as a team. It’s a big deal that Hamara earned a promotion to Tappara’s squad and played more than pity minutes; the squad won the league championship this year and has finished among the top three in each of the last 10 seasons. They’re Liiga’s model franchise.
as Team Czechia’s X-Factor coming into the tournamenttwiceEliteProspects’ J.D. Burke on Hamara’s standout performance at the 2022 U18s
As you can read in the pull quote, Hamara was one of the tournament stars at the most recent U18s in May, an ode to Thomas Chabot’s 2017 World Juniors performance perhaps.
Here’s what Trent Mann had to say about the pick:
“Hamara is a mobile puck-moving guy. He’s very calm and very efficient in his game. He plays the game hard as well and he can defend. He’s a 6-foot guy and he’s smart enough to understand that he’s not there to pound bodies. He’s there to move pucks, and he does it extremely well.”
Ranked as a likely third-round selection by Draftin Europe, here’s what their team listed as Hamara’s strengths:
Hamara is a defenseman that can recognize the available time and space to handle the puck. That, paired with decent puck skills and good puck protection allow him to remain poised under pressure and to be reliable when he has to deal with forecheckers. In fact, despite not being the quickest skater, Hamara is able to generate controlled zone exits for his team on nearly regular basis. Using deceptive moves and body fakes, he can take advantage of the split second the opponent gets confused in. When skating the puck himself is not a viable option, Hamara offers a precise passing ability, which combined with his vision allows him to make sound breakout passes. In fact, he reacts quickly to the situation and if a chance arises, he doesn’t hesitate to send an eye-seeing pass through the whole ice. He is an overall smart player, when he isn’t faster than the opponent he doesn’t force the play and curls back instead, looking for a better play. Hamara plays a competent game at both ends of the ice. He can contribute during puck possession beyond his own zone as well. While not a dynamic presence on the powerplay, he uses some deception to be effective at moving the puck to teammates that are more threatening shooters than he is. Be it in the defensive zone or offensive zone, he doesn’t force fancy stuff and when he needs to, is content with making the simplest of plays, as long as it’s the right one.
Tomáš Hamara will likely be the second Czech defenseman off the board in the #2022NHLDraft.— Czech Prospects (@CZprospects) July 2, 2022
Two-way defenseman with puck moving ability, good skating stride and high hockey IQ, quarterbacks the power-play very well. Member of U18 Worlds All-Star team (8 pts in 6 GP). pic.twitter.com/ko5ecfVnQY
Here’s what they listed as Hamara’s weaknesses:
Hamara doesn’t have the size nor mean streak to be a physically intimidating defenseman, and frankly with his style of play he doesn’t even need that to make an impact. He could however be more aggressive, especially when along the boards. He doesn’t go full force and battle, which doesn’t need to be a negative as long as he does his job defensively, but for a defenseman the ability of wearing down his opponents is always handy and Hamara lacks in that regard. Despite his skill and deceptive moves, we question whether Tomas has enough speed in his game to be as effective going forward, when moving to tougher leagues. His impact this past season was not nearly as big as it was two seasons ago, usually not being able to outskate the opponent and having to curl back and make a simple play rather than skating the puck out himself. It’s like his competition has caught up to him and he doesn’t have an edge in skating anymore. His sound puck handling skills haven’t improved further either, and while he is still a decent stickhandler, he no longer seems able to make a difference through that, although that may be a side-effect of his lack of separation speed. Tomas has shown solid ability to quarterback a power play, however in order to be even more dangerous from the point and to be a legitimate option for that position in the future, he needs to improve his shot. The power behind it in particular. Also needs to develop a better one-timer ability, which goes a long way on the man advantage.
There are further reports from the Future Considerations crew that you can read here, but the themes are clear: Hamara is a calm decision-maker with well-rounded physical tools that he utilizes effectively. He has strong four-way mobility, which he can utilize fluidly in the offensive zone to take the middle of the ice or pivot away from opponents to create space and to defend the rush by quickly closing down space with his feet and passing lanes with his stick.
Hamara was selected 26th overall by the Kitchener Rangers in the CHL Import Draft and it appears that he might report given how actively the Rangers have been promoting him on Twitter. Regardless, between Tappara and Kitchener, Hamara’s in a great spot to develop his game further and potentially join the team’s AHL squad, like Lassi Thomson did, sooner rather than later.
Stephen Halliday, centre
4th round: 104th overall
Statistics (via EliteProspects):
- 6-foot-4, 214 pounds, born on 07/02/2002
- USHL: 62GP: 35G, 60A, 95P
- USHL Playoffs: 2GP, 5A, 5P/
A former first overall pick in the USHL Entry Draft, Stephen Halliday had to wait for his final year of eligibility to hear his name called in the NHL. He earned it based on his record-breaking season with Dubuque, becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in points and recording the best season by an overager in terms of points-per-game (1.52) in the last 27 years. When it was all said and done, Halliday finished second in league scoring and first in primary points-per-game among non-NTDP players.
Here’s what Trent Mann had to say:
“An older kid that’s coming out of the USHL going to Ohio State next year. Offensive numbers are big. Kept an eye on him over the past few years and liked where he is now. Going to play a large role right off the bat.”
McKeens’ Brock Otten
Halliday’s always had his 6-foot-4 frame and tracked well among his peers in his rookie USHL season, utilizing his strong hockey sense to create for his teammates. The reason he likely went undrafted is due his tendency to slow down the game and not play with pace, a trait he seems to have really improved this year after adding explosiveness to his first few steps to buy him time as he processed his next move.
Here’s a snapshot of what was written about Halliday in EliteProspects’ draft guide ($), where tracking data from Mitch Brown highlighted Halliday as one of the best passers and a zone entry machine among 2022-eligibles:
“By USHL standards, Halliday’s a hockey genius. He’s mastered the slow game, cutting back where most sprint and delaying momentarily to draw the extra defender. Combining body positioning and an albatross-like wingspan, he easily shields possession and pokes pucks away form defenders. He’s also a master of deception, faking fakes on pass receptions, faking passes, and even faking cutbacks or turns. Those skills primarily serve Halliday’s playmaking. He slips pucks through defenders, reaches out to pass around them, and sauces pucks over their sticks. The most projectable sequences see him compile three or four touches in quick possession, making a one-touch play to start a give-and-go, then making a quick play back to the inside for a scoring chance. [...] Leaning heavier on the give-and-go, quick-possession plays will be integral to Halliday’s success going forward. His skating might prove too much of a barrier to overcome, but he should become one of the NCAA’s most fun players in short order.”
Halliday looks set to be a leader on Ohio State from his freshman year, where he aims to help the team build off of a playoff birth this past season to get back to the NCAA Championship.
- Interview with Guy Flaming on The Pipeline Show
- Interview on the Pagcast, where Halliday tells a great story of betting against his dad (a noted Leafs fan) in Game 7s against the Bruins
- Max and Ben Talk Hockey: Interview with Stephen Halliday/
Jorian Donovan, LD
5th round: 136th overall
Statistics (via EliteProspects):
- 6-foot-2, 183 pounds, born on 04/05/2004
- OHL: 64GP: 3G, 19A, 22P
- OHL Playoffs: 13GP, 1G, 2A, 3P
- Memorial Cup: 5GP, 0P/
The Richmond, Ontario boy is coming home, and it sounds like his father, Shean, is up to the task of polishing his son’s game in hopes of turning Jorian into the next big success of the team’s development program.
Named both the “Top Defenceman” and “Top Prospect” through Hockey Eastern Ontario’s U18 leagues, Donovan was selected 6th overall in the 2020 OHL Draft but lost his pre-draft season due to COVID-19 cancellations. He skated in 64 games with the Bulldogs this year, recording 3 goals and 19 assists for 22 points, and adding another three when skating in 13 of Hamilton’s 19 playoff games en route to their second-ever OHL Championship. The Hockey Writers’ Matthew Zator noted in his profile on Donovan that during the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, he placed third in a combine test measuring reaction ability with the puck; an interesting note given that he missed out on the 2020 NHL Draft combine due to participating in the Memorial Cup.
Donovan’s calling cards are his skating and puck-moving ability, which was enough to have him ranked as a second- or third-round pick — a ‘B’ prospect from NHL’s Central Scouting — and part of the next tier of OHL defenders selected after Pavel Mintyukov, Christian Kyrou, and Ty Nelson. Writing about Donovan before he was selected in the OHL Draft, Steven Ellis of The Hockey News noted that an Ottawa area scout described Donovan as “an untapped talent ready for a huge bloom” if he can utilize his puck-moving ability consistently from shift-to-shift, and that remains an accurate description of Donovan’s game.
Here’s Trent Mann:
“We would’ve considered taking him a little earlier just based off the skating and the puck skills, not because of who is dad is, but because of the kid and his upside. I fear for the kid a little bit because I don’t want him to ever feel like he’s picked because of his dad. He was on our list legitimately and was in our ballpark for that area.”
Mann noted that ice-time was hard to come by this year given Hamilton winning the OHL Championship, and this was echoed by Senators OHL scout Don Boyd when commenting about Donovan to Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch:
“He’s got size, he’s got the ability to skate and he’s got a pedigree. He can move the puck, he’s got offence in his game and he’d prefer to play that game. At this point in time, he’s proven that he’s got an ability to lead the play and go up the ice with the puck. He needs experience and he needs repetitions. That’s what we hope he’s going to be able to get over the next two years in junior.”
Here’s a longer description from McKeens’ Brock Otten:
“Donovan has slowly been trending up on my list based on his improved play since the start of the season. The physical tools are near elite. He is Shean Donovan’s son after all and he has inherited his dad’s quick feet and speed. There aren’t many defenders Jorian’s size (6’2) who can move as well as he does. He’s also a pretty skilled player who can lead the charge in transition and dominate puck touches. However, his overall effectiveness has been a real work in progress. He struggled with reads early on and was committing a ton of neutral zone turnovers that were killing his team. He also looked lost defensively, unsure of how aggressive to be and how to best utilize his mobility to mind gaps and take away space. However, with each viewing this year he has looked better. He has upped his physical intensity in the defensive end and is learning that he can be aggressive with his length and ability to recover quickly. He is also picking his spots better offensively, keeping things simple when they need to be. He’s far from perfect, but the progression has been sound. How much further the decision making can improve remains to be seen. One thing I would really love for him to do is incorporate shoulder checks into his puck retrieval routines. Too often he retrieves blindly and this limits his overall effectiveness to find lanes and start the breakout quickly. I will be keeping a very close eye on him in the second half because as I said, the physical tools are first round rated.”
Finally, from independent scout Dominic Tiano:
Donovan is a very good skater with some explosiveness and speed in his strides. Offensively, he uses those abilities to create space, quarterback the powerplay and create lanes. Defensively, he uses the abilities to get back and defend. Donovan is very patient and understands that his first priority is to defend his own zone. He recognizes when his opportunities arise to jump up into the play and how to be the late man coming in the attack. He retrieves pucks in his own zone quickly and is even quicker to transition to offense with a good first pass or to skate it on his own- something he is more than capable of doing. Donovan is an excellent puck handler and once he reaches top speed is difficult to contain and separate the puck and is excellent at using his body to protect the puck. While he can create space for himself, he has the vision, hockey sense and passing abilities to recognize where the next play is and usually makes the right decision. He has an excellent shot from the point that almost always finds the target and he shoots with a purpose – not always trying to beat the goaltender. Defensively, his skating helps him with keeping gaps tight and forcing players to the outside. However, there are times you question whether he has made the right decision. That’s not a knock-on Donovan, because you can say that about any defenceman at this level. When you possess the hockey sense and the skating Donovan does, I believe everything else is coachable. Donovan projects to be a solid two-way, second pairing defenceman at the next level if he reaches his potential.
The themes? Donovan has numerous physical tools, namely his skating, puck-handling, and puck protection ability that allows him to play aggressively in the neutral zone and be an impact player in transition. He’ll bloom if he learns to activate and play off his teammates in the offensive zone with greater regularity, and if he improves his scanning habits and anticipation defensively — in defending the rush and in-zone.
With the Bulldogs losing captain Colton Kamerrer, assistant captain Nathan Staios and Montréal prospect Arber Xhekaj off their blueline, expect Donovan to play top-four minutes next season, likely on the second-pair behind Dallas second-rounder Artyom Grushnikov and Dallas fourth-rounder Gavin White.
- TSN1200 post-draft interview
- An interview through the OHL’s “Futures Watch” program
- An interview from October 2020 when he was drafted into the Bulldogs organization
- Max and Ben Talk Hockey: Interview with Jorian Donovan
- Print interview on the CHL’s site: Bulldogs’ Donovan credits skating ability and competitive edge to hockey upbringing/
Cameron O’Neill, RW
5th round: 143rd overall
Statistics (via EliteProspects):
- 6-foot-1, 194 pounds, born on 01/24/2004
- U.S. High School (18U AAA): 62GP: 57G, 76A, 133P
- USHL: 4GP: 1G, 1A, 2P/
said Tri-City Storm President of Hockey Operations and Head Coach Anthony Noreen
Ranked as Central Scouting’s 77th ranked North American skater, Cameron O’Neill decimated his high school level opponents this season at Mount St. Charles Academy, a prep school quickly becoming a must-see destination for scouts in the New England area after producing Owen McLaughlin, Nate Benoit, and Joaquim Lemay as NHL draft picks in 2020 and 2021.
The Senators are banking on his hockey sense unlocking his potential offensive upside, which, combined with his work-ethic, will make him a favourite of former assistant coach Greg Carvel at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the fall of 2023.
Here’s a portion of O’Neill’s profile in the EliteProspects draft guide ($), where he was an unranked skater on their 100-player board but listed due to his NHL upside:
With Mount St. Charles, O’Neill was the play-driver, if his rather absurd stat-line didn’t already make that clear. He powered past defenders and dangled through what he couldn’t outrace. His shooting game did most of the damage, but he also showed passing skill: one-touch plays, slip passes, backhand plays under pressure, and a bit of deception to prolong lanes. In the USHL, O’Neill’s off-puck game stole the show. He popped into space at the perfect moments, finished his off-puck routes to create offence, and supported the play. Pre-scanned on retrievals to identify threats and options before touching the puck, then made quick passes to limit time cycling. He combined pressure, positioning, and awareness to get stops on the defensive end, and showed the beginnings of a projectable physical game. As expected for a prospect playing at a low level of competition compared to most, O’Neill’s an inefficient player. Despite his passing skill, he forces passes that aren’t there or throws pucks into spaces his teammates can’t access. He’s not a manipulator or best play creator, either. But that he doesn’t rely on untranslatable foot and hand speed advantages like so many of his peers bodes well for his adjustment to the USHL and NCAA.
Next season, I’ll be keeping an eye on whether O’Neill’s goal scoring ability shows up for the Tri-City Storm, who will be losing five of their top six forwards this year to college and the AHL. That he potted his first two USHL points in four games at the end of the year and suited up for two games in their first-round playoff series are good signs that he’s well-regarded. Together with top 2023 talents in Tanner Adams — who also played at the Mount — and Gavin Brindley, O’Neill will be vying for a top-six scoring role.
Kevin Reidler, left-catching goaltender
5th round: 151st overall
Statistics (via EliteProspects):
- 6-foot-6, 201 pounds, born on 09/02/2004
- J18 Region: 11G, 0.930 save-percentage
- J18 Nationell: 11G, 0.910 save-percentage
- J20 Nationell: 3G, 0.847 save-percentage/
Selected with the pick the Senators acquired from Boston in the Josh Brown trade, Kevin Reidler fits the organization’s bill in terms of goalies drafted in the Trent Mann era: big, young, athletic, and out of Europe.
Trent Mann started his comments on Reidler noting that we weren’t going to find a lot of information on him because he’s been playing under-18 hockey in Sweden, and he’s 100-percent right. In lieu of further analysis, here are Mann’s comments transcribed:
“He’s a big kid with a lot of ability in the net. Our scouts like him. Both Zac Bierk and Justin Peters have a lot of time for his game. There’s no rush on his game. He’s scheduled to play U20 [with AIK] next year and some Allsvenskan-league level so we’re just going to be slow and steady with this kid and based on our circumstances in net right now, we can afford to wait. We’re excited about what the package brings. When we had the meetings with Bierk and Peters, this is one of the guys they identified as someone they really like as well. With multiple picks in the fifth round, it made sense to take a goalie with upside.”
In Bruce Garrioch’s post-draft report, there was an additional quote from chief European scout Mikko Ruutu:
“He’s been playing under-18 hockey, but he’s a bigger guy and he’s a really big, athletic kid. With those tools, he has a chance to be something someday in the NHL. With goalies you have to give them time, but, with this guy, he has tools and character, so it will be nice to see where he goes.”
Reidler’s competition for minutes within AIK look completely up in the air at the moment. At the men’s Allsvenskan level, 2021-22 starter Pavel Khomchenko has departed for the KHL while 31-year-old veteran Alexander Sahlin had a up-and-down season and might not return. 29-year-old Niklas Lundström will likely start with 20-year-old William Gramme moving up from the J20 league to be his backup. That’ll leave Riedler competing with Alec Rajalin-Scharp, who had a 0.897 save-percentage in 26 games, for the starting role — healthy competition. If AIK can’t earn a promotion to the SHL, it’ll be interesting to see if Reidler takes a similar route as Leevi Meriläinen and apply to be a CHL import next year.
🇸🇪 Not a lot of footage out there on 6'6 goalie Kevin Reidler, but here's a nice shootout save— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) July 8, 2022
Reidler's grandfather, Håkan Wickberg, played over 350 pro games in Sweden and represented them twice in the Olympicspic.twitter.com/9rdJK8NiXO
Theo Wallberg, LD
6th round: 168th overall
Statistics (via EliteProspects):
- 6-foot-4, 187 pounds, born on 12/04/2003
- J20 Nationell: 46GP: 2G, 21A, 23P/
Originally coming out of the Västerås system, Wallberg joined Skellefteå U20 squad prior to last season and rewarded them with a strong season. Wallberg’s 0.26 primary points-per-game at even-strength ranked seventh among all first-time draft-eligible defencemen in the J20 Nationell; when he was on the ice, Skellefteå recorded 55% of the goals at even-strength. When he was on the bench? The team recorded just under 45% — a bigger relative impact than the other eight defenders who were drafted out of the league ahead of him.
The Senators have drafted many bigger defencemen who can skate over the past three drafts in Tyler Kleven, Ben Roger, and Chandler Romeo. What’s nice to see with Wallberg is evidence of him utilizing his superior lower-body strength in attack and defence. From Trent Mann:
“He’s a bigger kid that skates really well. As far as defencemen in this draft, he’s probably one of the stronger skaters. He has a lot of puck skills. He’s probably just a little bit inconsistent. If he hits on the offence, and, based on his skating, I think we’re going to see a ton of potential there.”
From independent scout Mikael Holm:
“Wallberg is a 6’4 defenseman whose most prolific trait is his skating. He wins foot races consistently and in a straight line he can get up to a high speed instantly. He has really good turns and he can shift past opponents, although he doesn’t show that off often. He is a bit hit and miss with his passing but there’s some really nice potential there. He is a bit weak in puck battles, especially when trying to win the puck off his opponents. With his size and speed he could become a threat if he adds more weight and muscle and works on his play on the puck. Defensively I would like to see him utilize his reach a bit more and force his opponents to the outside more. An intriguing player that could be solid late round value for a team.”
From the Draftin Europe crew, who had Wallberg as a fifth-round player on their board:
“With his head up, Wallberg can carry the puck up the ice pretty impressively for such a big defenseman. He is surprisingly quick maneuvering the puck on his stick and he has mobile feet. He has a powerful stride, good acceleration, and he uses forward and backward crossovers well. He makes confident zone entries, dishes, and gets low into the offensive zone to create space and support the play. Theo makes decent reads under pressure, properly relying on short passing to his supporting teammate when he doesn’t have the time and space to skate with the puck. He makes clean overs behind the net and can calmly skate the puck out, waiting for a passing option to emerge. He has soft enough hands to distribute backhand flip passes on the breakout. Something encouraging off the puck is that Wallberg shows the willingness and strength to pin opponents along the boards and break up the cycle. He uses his size and reach effectively, and is imposing. He throws around a nice hip check. Wallberg’s use of his stick in defensive situations could be better or at least more consistent given his reach. His positioning needs work, both in support when his team has control of the puck or in coverage when the opponents have the puck. Sometimes, he seems unsure of where to position himself in defensive coverage. He needs to react more quickly in defensive situations. For example, sometimes he looks hesitant in net front and slot coverage. He is working on his ability to defend the outside on the rush and stay ahead of the play. With the puck. his long range passing execution needs some refinement. In offensive possession, he is sometimes guilty of unnecessarily throwing the puck away. At this stage he has a tendency to creep forward in all three zones and can get caught.”
The themes? Potential due to his size and speed, especially if he can add more consistency with his passing and his stick detail when defending the rush. While I’m sometimes worried with players branded with the “physical” label because I wonder about what else, Fredrik Haak of Future Considerations’ comments on Wallberg’s smart physicality and its intersection with his confidence helps put me at ease.
Wallberg is committed to playing with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints next season after being selected with the 27th overall pick in that league’s entry draft. He’ll then join Stephen Halliday at The Ohio State University the following season.
Tyson Dyck, centre
7th round: 206th overall
Statistics (via EliteProspects):
- 6-foot-0, 170 pounds, born on 02/06/2004
- BCHL: 54GP: 34G, 41A, 75P
- BCHL Playoffs: 6GP: 4G, 1A, 5P/
The Cranbrook Bucks are the BCHL’s newest franchise, sitting at just under 1,000 days old. Tyson Dyck has the honour of being their first NHL draft pick.
Selected with the pick the Senators received from the Braydon Coburn trade, the BCHL first-team all-star was his team’s offensive heartbeat, ranking seventh in the league in points-per-game and first among all draft-eligible players. In fact, only Dyck (1.39 PPG) and undrafted Josh Nadeau (1.33 PPG) were above the point-per-game mark. His strengths lie in his puck-handling and stick work, which he blends with a strong anticipation of play in the offensive zone to find space and wire the puck. Post-draft, Trent Mann noted that his “skating will have to come a little bit [...] but he’s the type of kid who’s working on it.” It’ll be a necessity to ensure his role as a puck carrier on zone entries can translate and to allow him to track better in the defensive zone, especially if he stays as a centre.
“I think my biggest asset is my hockey IQ. I use that to allow me to maneuver in and out of areas and find pucks in scoring positions. I love to compete. There’s no one on the ice that out competes me. When you put those two together, I’m really excited for the future because they’re not physical attribute, they’re attributes that are hard to teach.”Tyson Dyck
Dyck is the second Senators draft pick to commit to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and it’s fair to say that the role of former Senators assistant coach Greg Carvel helped Dyck have his name called late Friday afternoon. The two other collegiate programs he was looking at, Merrimack and Minnesota State, aren’t ones the team is as familiar with, although it’s promising that both UMass and Minnesota State have been to the Frozen Four within the last three seasons.
Expect Dyck to play next season with the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms, where he joins a team with championship aspirations, before suiting up for UMass in the fall of 2023.
- NHL Draft Profile Q&A from the BCHL’s official website
- You can watch Dyck’s handiwork on display as he was a part of many of Cranbook’s top goals this season/
Overall, this is a fascinating draft class for the Senators. Coming into the draft with only 10 prospects not scheduled to play in the NHL or AHL next season, the team almost doubled that total. It was interesting to see how many Europeans were selected given how the team usually opted for players out of the WHL and QMJHL in the past. There are many who will be future teammates (or opponents) sooner rather than later:
- The team’s first and last picks, Filip Nordberg and Tyson Dyck, might play together on a stacked Youngstown Phantoms squad in the USHL next season
- Dyck will then join Cameron O’Neill at UMass-Amherst in the fall of 2023
- Dyck, O’Neill, and Theo Wallberg will see a lot of each other in the USHL
- Wallberg will be suiting up for Stephen Halliday’s Dubuque Fighting Saints squad, before joining him at The Ohio State University in 2023/
Trent Mann spoke about how they didn’t plan to draft as many defenders, but that’s how the draft ended up relative to their list. Fundamentally, all of these players will need more time than Sens fans have been accustomed to as compared to the 2018 to 2020 draft classes, and it makes sense given the organization expects to contend for the playoffs with regularity in short order. In fact, only Jorian Donovan will have to be signed over the next two seasons — the Sens will have the rights of eight of the nine players drafted until 2026 (six of eight) or 2027 (O’Neill, Dyck).
Who’s your favourite pick of the 2022 class?