Ottawa Senators Draft Preview: Overagers

Six potential overagers the Sens could take in the 2017 draft

Overagers are always an intriguing part of the draft. Because they’re already a year or two ahead of other draft eligibles, scouts and general managers have to balance how they match up against the others. Often they have evident skill, as the six we are about to profile, and will likely be ready to play professionally before the rest. However, because they’ve already spent more time developing, is it worth taking a chance on someone younger that could turn out to be better?

The Ottawa Senators haven’t been hesitant in the past to select overagers, with some recognizable names such as Mike Hoffman and Zack Smith leading to become significant contributors on the roster. Most recently, the Sens used their fourth round pick in 2016 on Todd Burgess, who missed his first NCAA season due to injury.

Unlike most overagers, who have been passed over once or twice in the draft, the first two profiles will be players re-entering the draft, i.e. players who were already drafted, but for one reason or another didn’t sign a contract with their club by June 1st. The rest are your typical overager: the player passed over in one or two drafts, but has risen to the top to regain consideration.

Giorgio Estephan, Lethbridge Hurricanes: F

2010-11SSAC Lions Bantam AAAAMBHL332737644
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SSAC Bulldogs Minor Midget AAAAMMHL23030
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2012-13Team AlbertaWCCC-16-----
2014-15Team RedU18-Dev30000
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NHL Central ScoutingISSMcKeen’sFuture Considerations


Beginning with our first of two draft re-entries, Giorgio Estephan was originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres 152nd overall in 2015. After not inking an entry-level contract, Estephan has the potential to become part of a new franchise. The centreman is known to be a very versatile player. He plays a two-way style, although his passing and shooting have been able to frequently put him onto scoresheets. He stepped into the WHL as a 16-year-old, a rare feat, and has stuck with the Lethbridge Hurricanes ever since. In 2015-16, he was invited on an amateur try-out to join the Rochester Americans (Buffalo’s AHL affiliate) for the end of the season. He played six games, registering one goal.

This Season:

2016-17 found Estephan reach new heights in his scoring ability, attaining new career highs in both goals (35) and assists (54). His Lethbridge Hurricanes made it to the WHL semifinal for the first time since 1997, while Estephan led the team in playoff scoring. However, it wasn’t enough to impress the Sabres, who passed on signing him to an entry-level deal. Like any overager, it’s worth being skeptical since they’ve been in the league so long. He’s not like most other prospects who are 17-18 years old (Estephan’s already 20), so he’s already ahead in the aging curve.

Fit with the Sens:

It’s worth noting that with players re-entering the draft, that they need to be signed right away to an entry-level contract should the team not want to lose them to free agency. Estephan could step into the organization right away, and assist a Belleville Senators team that will need all the help it can get. He won’t necessarily fill an organizational need as a centreman, although he’ll be able to contribute a lot quicker than other projected late rounders.

Nikita Korostelev, Peterborough Petes: F

2011-12The Hill Academy VarsityCAHS-----
Vaughan Kings Bantam AAAGTBHL-----
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2012-13Toronto Jr. Canadi. Mn Mdgt AAAGTMMHL13121426-
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2013-14Sarnia StingOHL6017213823-35
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Peterborough PetesOHL24121729121Playoffs12471142
2011-12Vaughan Kings Minor Midget AAAOHL Cup52020
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2012-13Toronto Jr. Canadi. Mn Mdgt AAAOHL Cup52242
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NHL Central ScoutingISSMcKeen’sFuture Considerations


Like Estephan, Nikita Korostelev will be re-entering the draft after the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t sign him to a contract. Chosen 185th overall in 2015, Korostelev, although with Russian nationality, has spent his entire playing career in North America. He shoots right, although has played both sides of the wing for the Sarnia Sting in the OHL. His strength is definitely his shot, which has garnered him trusted time on the powerplay. What holds him back, however, is definitely his skating, which although has improved, is still below average in terms of his acceleration and top speed. He isn’t afraid to get a bit physical either.

This Season:

On pace for blanketing his previous career high scoring totals, and the Sarnia Sting not having a competitive year, Korostelev was traded to the contending Peterborough Petes for a slew of draft picks. He continued to score there, and although he was set back by a brief injury, he hung in with the Petes until they were swept in the semifinals.

Fit with the Sens:

Much of the same applies to Korostelev that applied to Estephan. He’s already 20 years old, and will be able to contribute to the inaugural Belleville Senators in what will presumably be a young lineup. His skating is still cause for concern, although when paired with the right player, Korostelev has the potential to be an excellent scoring threat. Plus, how fun would it be to see him sniping against his former draft team, the Leafs?

Denis Smirnov, Penn State University: F

2011-12Wilkes-Barre Knights Bantam MajAYBHL253937766
2012-13WB/Scranton Knights 16UAYHL 16U2123214424
2013-14Indiana IceUSHL471526412220Playoffs1232521
2014-15Fargo ForceUSHL5318224028-4
2015-16Fargo ForceUSHL60293261377
2016-17Penn State Univ.NCAA391928471824
NHL Central ScoutingISSMcKeen’sFuture Considerations
167 (NA)Outside top 31Outside top 31Outside top 100


Unlike the last two prospects profiled, the next four are completely undrafted, and have been passed over at least once. Denis Smirnov is two years removed from his first year of draft eligibility, and will be turning 20 in August. Much like Korostelev, Smirnov has played his entire career in North America despite being Russian-born. Previously playing for Fargo Force in the USHL, his 0.75 points per game didn’t cut it for the draft. His 1.02 points per game the year after didn’t cut it either despite also having smooth hands and a great pass, as the small winger was deemed too risky for someone who’d already been passed over once.

This Season:

What is it then that’s garnering him so much attention now that this will be his third eligible draft? Moving up to the NCAA with Penn. State, Smirnov defied all expectations, leading his team in scoring and being named to the NCAA’s all-rookie team. His skills are finally being recognized, which is why he’s been moving up the draft rankings so quickly. He’s still a small forward at 5’10”, although his skill is evident.

Fit with the Sens:

As an NCAA player, Smirnov won’t be tasked with having to join a professional team immediately, as he can stay for up to another three years at Penn. State. He’ll be playing against top college competition in the Big Ten division, which should help his development path. It may be a couple years before we see Smirnov making an impact, although it could potentially have a high payoff.

Tim Soderlund, Skellefteå AIK: F

2011-12Skellefteå AIK U16U16 SM30000-1
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Sweden U17 (all)International-Jr801140
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Skellefteå AIKSHL80002-2
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2017-18Skellefteå AIKSHL-----
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NHL Central ScoutingISSMcKeen’sFuture Considerations
66 (EU)Outside top 31Outside top 31Outside top 100


A bit undersized at 5’9 and 175lbs, if Tim Soderlund is drafted, it’ll be for his smarts and his speed. Soderlund’s acceleration is listed as his best tool, and has earned him SHL ice-time playing against men compared to playing in the top U20 league during his draft eligible year. Starring for Sweden in the World Juniors, Soderlund played important defensive minutes -- including protecting a lead late and PK 1 -- to get himself noticed.

This Season:

After putting up 39 points in 42 games for his U20 team last year — a mark good enough for fourth on the team -- Soderlund took his game to another level this year. He outscored his former (drafted) teammates (Lindstrom + Berglund) in the SHL in his 9:55/gm, and worked to make a strong Swedish roster for the WJC.

Fit with the Sens:

Soderlund’s scored everywhere he’s been, and the fact that he could get ice-time as a junior on a good SHL squad means something. Many thought he’d be drafted last year, but his size scared teams off and his defensive game wasn’t as solid as it is now. If he is drafted this year, expect Soderlund to be pushed to come over to North America so that teams can get an up-close look at how he can handle the more physical style of play. He definitely fits Guy Boucher’s need for speed, and like Pageau/Dzingel, can intercept forecheckers in Ottawa’s offensive system if he makes it this far.

Matt Timms, Peterborough Petes: LD

2012-13Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs BantamSCTAB-----
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Team OMHA BlackOGC-16503310
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NHL Central ScoutingISSMcKeen’sFuture Considerations
Outside top 217 (NA)Outside top 31Outside top 31Outside top 100


When a defenceman leads an OHL team in scoring, people take notice. That’s exactly the case for Matt Timms this year as he tries to get drafted for the second year in a row. A late bloomer, Timms has seen his point totals go from 7 in his rookie year, to 21 in his draft year, to 63 this year. What’s the 411 on Timms? From OHL blogger Brock Otten:

There are definitely some things working against him as an NHL prospect. First is his size at 5'10 (in fact, he hasn't really grown since being drafted to the OHL two years ago). The second is that he lacks dynamic skating ability. Those two combined can often be the kiss of death for a defense prospect and NHL attention. But, I feel that Timms has so many other things going for him that he deserves a look and a place on this list. His vision is top notch and it makes him one of the league's elite powerplay QB's. He moves the puck so well and rarely makes a mistake. He's also come a long way defensively, increasing his intensity in the corners and in front of the net. In a lot of ways, Timms compares pretty well to a guy like Darren Raddysh who should most definitely be signed by an NHL team this year.

This Season:

Timms’ 63 points were good for 7th among OHL D, and importantly, over 50% of his points were either goals or primary assists. If we just look at points garnered during 5-on-5, Timms is 4th in OHL D scoring, ahead of the highly regarded Raddysh, Sergachev (TB), and Hronek (DET). Timms doesn’t shoot all that much (1.9 shots/game in all situations), but as Otten mentioned above, it’s his passing ability that’s his primary skill. He played #1D minutes for the Petes all season long and finished with a 53% GF% at 5-on-5.

Fit with the Sens:

A skilled LD, Timms would join the depth chart that currently has Harpur, Englund, Chabot, and Lajoie. With only Chabot having an offensive game worthy of attention, Timms would add a useful dimension to Belleville and could potentially play minutes for the Sens in 2-3 years.

Linus Weissbach, Tri-City Storm: F

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2017-18Univ. of WisconsinNCAA-----
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NHL Central ScoutingISSMcKeen’sFuture Considerations
139 (NA)Outside top 31Outside top 31Outside top 100


There’s no doubt in my mind that Linus Weissbach has the skill to be an NHLer. He’s got speed to burn, great hands (see highlight video), and has put up points everywhere he’s been. In fact, he led the U20 SuperElit in scoring last year (his draft eligible year) but it wasn’t enough to have teams take a gamble on him. He has a tendency to overpass sometimes, and often uses his speed to burn defenders wide — something that’s harder to do on NHL ice. Teams want Weissbach to grow — being ~165lbs he’s a bit like Erik Karlsson when he was drafted — but with NHL training and conditioning coaches, he should be able to bulk up enough to be a decent pro at the AHL or NHL level.

This Season:

Realizing that teams don’t think he could translate his game to the NHL level, Weissbach flew across the pond and suited up for the Tri-City Storm in the USHL in order to try and prove his doubters wrong. Here, he put up 47 points in 49 games to lead his team en-route to Third All-Star Team honours.

Fit with the Sens:

When drafting an overager, you’re always looking for a diamond in the rough. Despite his limitations, Weissbach has the scoring history to show that he has the talent, and proved his character by moving from Sweden to the U.S. in order to adapt his body to the pro game. He’ll be going to a strong collegiate program in Wisconsin next year in order to maximize his training time while developing slowly in the NCAA.


Should the Senators choose an overager/re-entry, which one would you like them to choose most?

Giorgio Estephan9
Nikita Korostelev8
Denis Smirnov10
Tim Soderlund16
Matt Timms17
Linus Weissbach44
Other (comment below!)5

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