#11: Alex Formenton (Reader Rank: 10, Last Year: 10)
Alex Formenton drops one spot to 11th in this year’s list - but it’s genuinely just because of pipeline depth, not because Formenton has become a worse prospect.
The speedster spent this past season splitting time between Belleville and Ottawa - spending 13 games in the AHL and 20 in the show. As an NHLer, Formenton cemented a role by the end of the season as an energy player in the bottom six who specializes in the penalty kill. The rookie spent the fifth most time of any Ottawa forward on the penalty kill, only trailing veteran PK specialists Nick Paul, Connor Brown, Chris Tierney and Austin Watson. With Watson missing a considerable amount of time due to injury, Formenton became a mainstay on the PK. He also has that Michael Grabner speed that makes him a threat when the Sens are down a player.
Yesterday, Corey Pronman wrapped up his NHL Pipeline rankings, awarding a silver medal to the Senators. In this piece, Pronman ranked Formenton as Ottawa’s sixth best player under the age of 23, right behind Jake Sanderson (4th) and Shane Pinto (5th). In his write-up, Pronman obviously mentions Formenton’s skating and work ethic but what’s more important is Pronman’s evaluation that this is a second line winger, thanks to his two-way capability. With just 30 NHL games under his belt, to have someone like Pronman project Formenton as a second line winger is only more reassurance that this quick-footed skater is going to be a big part of this team moving forward. In a world where Tim Stützle does move to the middle of the ice, there would be almost too much speed to handle if Formenton were on his wing.
At the NHL level, however, Formenton has yet to establish himself as a non-specialist in the lineup. At even strength, his ability to create chances while limiting chances against was poor. Of the 16 forwards who played a minimum of 100 minutes at even strength last year, Formenton ranks dead last in both CF% and FF%. The good news is multifaceted, though. He’s only 21 and is just, really, beginning his NHL career. He’s also already established himself as a specialist on the PK, which means he will get plenty of NHL games this upcoming season to work on his even strength play. Couple that with the likelihood that he plays with better and better players as the Sens grow as a team and it becomes more likely that he breaks out as a solid middle six winger who contributes on the scoresheet.
At the end of the day, when you have the speed and tenacity that Formenton exudes every shift, you’re going to be an NHL player. The Senators are certainly proud of this second round selection, who’s going to be a big part of this young core in 2021-22.