You can always count on Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray to throw a curve ball on draft day. Although the Sens only went into the draft with five picks, Murray still kept fans on their toes by trading away the Senators first-round draft pick (16th overall) to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for defence prospect David Rundblad. As the draft went into its second day, the Senators also drafted LW Jakub Culek, RW Markus Sorensen, RW Mark Stone, and D Bryce Aneloski.
More on those four later, though; let's start with the acquisition of Rundblad. Although there is certainly initial disappointment at the lack of a first-round pick (for the first time in franchise history), the acquisition of Rundblad is almost like drafting an overager; the Swedish defenceman was drafted by the Blues in the first round (17 overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, so is a year closer to the NHL than anyone the Senators could have drafted would have been.
Looking superficially at his career numbers, Rundblad's statistics are less than impressive for Skellefteå AIK of the Swedish Elite League, it's almost to be expected for younger players; keep in mind that Erik Karlsson, who's played with Rundblad in past World Junior Championships, had significantly better per-game production as a rookie in the NHL than he ever did in the SEL. Still, outgoing Senators scout Anders Forsberg had nothing but good things to say about Rundblad, wondering why St. Louis would trade such a promising prospect and calling him a powerplay force who reminds him of Karlsson--but bigger.
(More on Rundblad and the Senators' draft picks after the jump... )
For the upcoming season, Rundblad is going to stay in Sweden and play for Skellefteå again, where he'll be under the watchful eye of none other than the aforementioned Anders Forsberg. After that, though, Murray expects Rundblad will compete for a spot on the Senators' NHL roster in 2011-12 (sorry, Brian Lee).
Now, onto the actual draft picks. Before thinking about them, I highly recommend you take a look at Ryan Classic's statistical look at the Ottawa Senators drafting history. He looked at goaltenders, centres, wingers, and defencemen the Sens have drafted, in their history. Amazing posts, although they were written before the following players were drafted:
- Third round (76 overall): LW Jakub Culek
At 6'4" and 195lbs, Culek is probably ready physically to jump to the pros right now. Still, another year of development with the Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL will probably be good for him, especially since scouting reports suggest that he's still getting the hang of using his size to make room for himself in the offensive end. But if he can build on his tremendous QMJHL rookie season--Culek finished with 47P (13G, 34A) in 63GP for the Oceanic last season, ranking third among rookies for assists and tied for sixth in overall points--Culek will certainly do himself favours in terms of fast-tracking his path to the NHL.
- Fourth round (106 overall): RW Markus Sorensen
The selection of Sorensen, by all indications, was a little off the map for the Senators, but their history with Swedish players leads me to believe they had good reason to draft him. Looking at the stats, there it's probably for his scoring: In only 15 games in Sweden's U18 junior league, Sorensen put up 42 points (15G, 27A), before stepping up to the U20 SuperElit and notching 17P (7G, 10A) in 27GP. He also scored three goals in three games for Sweden's U18 national team, so he should be fun to watch at the WJCs, should he make the team. At 5'11" and 161lbs, he's about the same size as Karlsson was when he was drafted, and will probably have to put down some Weight Gain 4000 before coming over to North America. There is no denying his skill, however.
- Sixth round (178 overall): RW Mark Stone
Ranked 119th among North American skaters by Central Scouting, Stone might have gone higher had he not missed much of last season with various injuries (a thumb injury had him sidelined from Oct. 20-Dec. 8 and a concussion sustained during a fight with Colton Teubert kept him out from Feb. 19-March 9). Still, he still managed to put up 28P (11G, 17A) in 39GP with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL last season. At 6'2" and 182lbs, the kid's a good size, and folks who've seen him play are billing him as a pesty power-forward.
- Seventh round (196 overall): D Bryce Aneloski
Aneloski's an overager who was looked over in his first two entry drafts, but scored 54P (15G, 39A) with the USHL's Cedar Rapids RoughRiders to get himself back onto the radar of NHL scouts--or at least Senators scouts, who have shown little hesitancy in drafting players from the USHL. He's a big defenceman at 6'2" and 205lbs, but judging by his numbers last year, can move the puck well enough, too. It's never going to be easy for a seventh-round pick to make it very far in the NHL, but Aneloski's certainly got himself moving in the right direction to get into the pro ranks at some level.
So, five new prospects, four drafted and one otherwise acquired. Looking back on it, what are your thoughts on the draft?