Right off the top I need to make something clear: I have very little that is negative to say about Troy Trent Mann and the Ottawa Senators’ amateur scouting crew. This isn’t meant to be a criticism of them, more a comment that they definitely have a style, in making reaches at the draft. We’ve seen Shane Pinto blossom more than anyone could’ve predicted when he was picked ahead of Arthur Kaliyev, and guys like Leevi Meriläinen and Tyler Kleven were picked much higher than anyone expected, and have turned out to be much better than projected. They also followed all that up by going way off board last year, taking Tyler Boucher about 40 spots ahead of the consensus, a move on which the jury is still out. So, consider this exercise as part pastiche, part ode, but 100% light-hearted, in trying to determine who would be the most Sens pick of the 2022 NHL draft.
(A note that for the rankings of each player, I listed the highest ranking they received from any publicly-available publication.)
You Can’t Teach Big
One way to see who the Sens might pick was to simply sort players by height. Actually, the best way might be to find out if he’s a low-character guy:
Nobody:— Trevor Shackles (@ShackTS) June 18, 2019
Seriously, absolutely nobody:
Pierre Dorion: pic.twitter.com/9oWhABLI0g
Unfortunately, character is hard to quantify, so instead I just searched by height. After all, the Sens didn’t pick a player under 6’ tall in the 2021 draft, and the year before they only took Ridly Greig. The tallest draft-eligible players, standing (literally) above the rest, are Jack Sparkes (RD, OJHL, #127 in NA skaters by NHL Central Scouting) and Samuel Sundin (G, SweJ20 Div.1, not ranked), who are each 6’8”. This may sound like silly reasoning, but Sparkes is actually name-dropped in the Sens’ behind the scenes scouting video, so there could be a pick here. And if Sundin can pretend he’s related to Mats Sundin, that may get someone’s attention. It may be more realistic though to look to a guy like Noah Warren (RD, QMJHL), who is 6’5”, plays for Gatineau, and has reached as high as #32 in pre-draft rankings. He’d be a reach at 7, but would he be too much of a reach for the Sens...? There’s also the possibility of Karl Persman (LD, Allsvenskan) who is Swedish and 6’7”, and as the #122 EU skater (NHL Central Scouting), could be a late-round target.
Comes from a hockey family
The Sens have also made a point of drafting players with so-called hockey pedigree, taking the sons of former NHL players, such as Tyler Boucher (Brian Boucher) and, obviously, Brady Tkachuk (Keith Tkachuk). The Sens have the chance to do such a thing this year, with guys like Zam Plante (LW, USHL, #96 by McKeen’s, son of Derek Plante), Cole Knuble (RW, USDP, #52 by Smaht, son of Mike Knuble), Marek Hejduk (RW, USDP, #78 by Bob McKenzie, son of Milan Hejduk), Joshua Niedermayer (LD, BCHL, not ranked, son of Scott Niedermayer), and Jakub Kopecky (LW, Slovakia2, #135 EU skater by NHL Central Scouting, son of Tomas Kopecky). I do think the funniest pick here — and the most likely for their top-ten pick — would be the Sens taking Jack Hughes (C, USDP, #20 by Sportsnet), partially because no, he’s not that Jack Hughes, but mostly because he’s the son of Kent Hughes, the recently-hired GM of the Montreal Canadiens. Imagine the trolliness of Hughes Sr. having the opportunity to draft his son in his first-ever draft as a GM, and having the rival team down the highway draft him instead.
Oldies but Goodies
The Sens like to spend some of their draft capital on overagers, and in some cases (Drake Batherson, Zack Smith), it really seems to work. So who could the Sens go after this time? The obvious answer to me is Kyle Jackson (C/LW, OHL, draft+1, #77 by Craig Button). He missed the entirety of last season, hurting his chances at being drafted, only to score 62 points in 45 games in the regular season, and followed it up with 14 points in 12 playoff games. Oh yeah, and he was born in Ottawa, and played for the Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL) before joining the North Bay Battalion. Considering the Sens have two 2nd-round and two 3rd-round picks, I’d be shocked if they don’t spend at least one of these picks on an overager. The other player to keep an eye on here, in my opinion, is David Gucciardi (LD, NCAA, draft+1, #178 by McKeen’s), who looks to get a bigger role next year at Michigan State. It’s no North Dakota, but the Sens do like their college players.
The Sens do love to make the picks that make all the pundits go, “Who?” When they took Tyler Boucher, people were scrambling down their draft boards to find where he was. Leevi Meriläinen is maybe the biggest example of this, who was not listed by a single scouting service prior to the draft. Considering how widespread the internet makes information, that’s pretty amazing. My suggestion for a late pick for the Sens is Venni Tolppola, a C/RW who plays in the U20 Finnish league, who crept up to be #140 among EU skaters in the final rankings from NHL Central Scouting, after not having been ranked anywhere earlier in the year. There’s no scouting report, but maybe he’s got somebody’s attention. For a truly off-the-board pick, I bring you Filip Terner, maybe the most obscure draft-eligible prospect I could find on Elite Prospects. He played 12 games in Sweden’s Division 4, amassing no points and 2 PIMs. We know he’s a defenceman, but we don’t know his height, weight, or handedness. If the Sens truly want to outdo themselves, this is the guy to take.
So, if the Sens were to make a truly Senators pick at #7, who would you see them taking?
Most “Sens” pick at #7
|Jack Hughes (but not that Jack Hughes)||89|