Ottawa Senators Hire Chris Kelly and Three More Scouts

The staff gets a much-needed boost ahead of the training camp.

With development camp opening in a matter of weeks, and the rookie tournament starting tomorrow (!), the Ottawa Senators have announced four new additions to their staff over the past two days.

Chris Kelly — Development Coach
Kyle Flanagan — Amateur Scout (Ontario, Quebec, NCAA)
Petr Havluj — Amateur Scout (Europe)
Christian De Blois — Amateur Scout (Quebec)

The first to be announced was Chris Kelly, who will be working closely beside Shean Donovan in player development. A former Senator of 545 games, the transition seemed to be a natural fit for Kelly. Last season seemed like the appropriate time for him to retire — he already has his Stanley Cup ring with Boston, and he captained Team Canada to a bronze medal at the Olympics. He was notably present at the Sens’ development camp earlier this summer, interacting with the young players and assisting with on-ice drills. At 37 years old, and with over 800 games of NHL experience under his belt, the hire was meant to be.

The second announcement today was the addition of three new amateur scouts, something that has been widely called for from the fan base. Although the team added two full-time and two part-time scouts last off-season, it has also been met with departures to Justin Murray (great-nephew of the late Brian Murray) and Jimmy Blixt (who pursued another opportunity as an agent). Each of the three hires comes with some interesting connections.

The first is Kyle Flanagan, a former player who has been on the Sens’ AHL team for the last three seasons on an AHL contract. At 29 years old, Flanagan announced his retirement from hockey two weeks ago due to an injury that limited him to only 17 games last season. A native of Canton, New York (just over a hour drive from Ottawa), Flanagan will take on a diverse role watching and analyzing prospects from Ontario, Quebec and the NCAA.

Petr Havluj may not have the same organizational connection, but like Flanagan, he’s a former player making the transition to a front office. At only 22 years old, he easily becomes the Sens’ youngest scout, after having spent last season playing forward in the third tier Czech league. The last few drafts have exposed the Sens’ lack of European scouting, having chosen zero players outside North America in the last two classes. With Havluj becoming the third person in their staff to cover as much of Europe as possible, the addition should be extremely helpful.

The final addition is Christian De Blois, who although is not as young as Flanagan or Havluj, comes with more experience. Hired by the Saint John Sea Dogs as a Quebec scout in 2012, he was part of the group that drafted Thomas Chabot in 2013. Interestingly enough, some other picks from the Sea Dogs that year included Jack Eichel and Joel Daccord (another Sens prospect), although both instead opted for the college route. The same goes for Shane Bowers (another former Sens pick) in 2016. De Blois was also part of the team that selected Quebec star Joe Veleno first overall in 2015. His past two years have been spent with the Shawinigan Cataractes, most recently working as their director of hockey administration.

The Sens’ QMJHL drafting has been one of their strong suits in recent years, with picks such as Chabot, Drake Batherson, Gabriel Gagné, Filip Chlapik and Francis Perron all putting up impactful numbers. Hopefully the addition of De Blois can continue to build on that success.

This still leaves one key position remaining: assistant general manager. Following the resignation of Randy Lee, the Sens are likely in the middle of a hiring process, and will probably want someone settled in before the start of training camp. Could Chris Kelly’s role give way to a Shean Donovan promotion? Could Trent Mann step in now that the scouting staff has been replenished? Could it be someone else from outside the organization (there seems to be rumours for Shawn Simpson)? Only time will tell. But for now, the Sens have expanded their front office, which after a disastrous season, is a step in the right direction.

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