The 2023 Draft Can Still Be Valuable for Ottawa

With a lack of draft capital, we look at how the Ottawa Senators can still find value in the NHL Draft this week.

The 2023 Draft Can Still Be Valuable for Ottawa

It's a bit depressing looking at the top of the Ottawa Senators CapFriendly page. No picks in the first three rounds of the 2023 draft, plus no 6th rounder. Just one in the 4th, one in the 5th, and three in the 7th. Plus also no 3rd rounder in 2024. We know why it's like that: it's because of trades for Alex DeBrincat and Jakob Chychrun, moves that were made to make the team better right now. We can debate the merit of those moves, but the fact is that the Senators don't have many picks in this draft.

With an incredibly poor performance in the 2021 draft, and some intriguing names but no studs in the 2022 class, there is a lot of pressure in the next year or two to add some significant names to the prospect pool. That becomes a difficult task when they have so few picks though. Having said that, the 2023 draft can still be valuable for the Senators, and they have even proven it themselves.

First of all, let's break down what rounds NHLers are drafted in. There has been a ton of work done in terms of draft pick analysis, and we can talk about so many different kinds. Curtis Isacke at Sound of Hockey looked at GSVA (Game Score Value Added) on average for all draft picks and saw that there is a massive drop-off after the first few picks, and more of a drop-off after the first round as well. However, things somewhat stabilize in the later rounds:

Furthermore, back in 2020, Jokke Nevelainen analyzed draft data from the 2000-2009 drafts and found that this was the breakdown of NHLers who played at least 100 games in the NHL:

There is no perfect way to measure a successful NHLer, but getting to the 100 GP mark signifies that they were at least given a shot and played a depth role for a brief period. Plus many of those that got to 100 played well over that mark as well. What's interesting about this graph is that the first round obviously takes up the biggest chunk at 37.3%, but there isn't that much of a drop-off amongst the other rounds. In fact, the 6th round had more success than the 5th.

Another way of looking at it is this other graph provided by Jokke: the percentages of a player from each round making the 100 GP threshold:

Anywhere between 11-22% certainly isn't great, but that's not impossible to find someone, either. If you want to find the best talent in the draft, you almost always need to have incredibly high picks, and the data is there to back that up. However, there are still gems to be found later on. The good news for the Senators is that they don't really need to find another Tim Stützle or Brady Tkachuk, they just need to keep adding supplementary players to the core.

I took a look at the ten drafts from 2008-2017 to see which legitimate NHLers were selected in rounds four to seven. I had a higher bar than 100 GP to clear, and it was mostly subjective. I chose 2017 as the cutoff because most players drafted from 2018 onwards are still 23 and under, and theoretically still have a shot at turning into NHL contributors. So here are the results:


4th: Braden Holtby, Dale Weise, TJ Brodie, Derek Grant, Gustav Nyquist

5th: Matt Calvert, Greg Pateryn, Mark Borowiecki, Matt Martin

6th: Mark Barberio, Jared Spurgeon, Cam Atkinson, Tommy Wingels, Zac Rinaldo

7th: Jason Demers

There are a lot of role players here, but you have a Norris candidate in Spurgeon, a Vezina runner-up in Holtby, top-six wingers in Atkinson and Nyquist, and a top-4 defenseman in Brodie. Not bad.


4th: Casey Cizikas, David Savard, Craig Smith, Chris Wideman, Mattias Ekholm, Marcus Foligno, Sami Vatanen, Ben Chiarot

5th: Mike Hoffman, Gabriel Bourque, Marcus Kruger, Nick Jensen

6th: Anders Lee, Darcy Kuemper

7th: Erik Haula, Jordan Nolan, Nic Dowd

That's a pretty stacked 4th round considering how late they were taken. Some quality players taken later with Hoffman, Jensen, Lee, Kuemper, and Haula as well.


4th: Joonas Donskoi, Jani Hakanpaa, Marcus Sorensen, Tom Kuhnhackl, Philipp Grubauer

5th: Chris Wagner, Zach Hyman, John Klingberg, Micheal Ferland, Louis Domingue, Petr Mrazek, Brendan Gallagher

6th: Dalton Prout, Jesper Fast, Mark Stone

7th: Frederik Andersen

Another solid few late rounds with Grubauer, Hyman, Klingberg, Mrazek, Gallagher, Stone, and Andersen bringing lots of value.


4th: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mike Reilly, Johnny Gaudreau, Tobias Rieder

5th: Fredrik Claesson, Nick Seeler, Sean Kuraly, Andrew Shaw, Nikita Nesterov

6th: Lukas Sedlak, Josh Manson, Laurent Brossoit, Josh Archibald, Travis Boyd, Dylan DeMelo

7th: Anton Forsberg, Colin Blackwell, Ryan Dzingel, Ondrej Palat, Scott Wilson

Palat is one of the most successful 7th rounders, especially considering his playoff pedigree. Johnny Hockey sticks out as well, and there are six players on here who played on the Senators at some point.


4th: Erik Gustafsson, Josh Anderson, Cedric Paquette, Brett Kulak, Andreas Athanasiou, Jaccob Slavin

5th: Connor Hellebuyck, Connor Carrick, Ben Hutton, Alex Kerfoot, Colin Miller

6th: Connor Brown, Linus Ullmark, Vinny Hinostroza, Matt Benning

7th: Nikita Gusev, Christian Djoos, Jaycob Megna

The 2012 draft was horrendous overall, so it's no surprise that this list doesn't stand out too much. Then again, two of the best goalies from this past season (including the Vezina winner) are here.


4th: Juuse Saros, Miles Wood, Nick Paul, Andrew Copp, Ryan Graves, Tyler Motte, Hudson Fasching

5th: Will Butcher, Tucker Poolman, Cal Petersen, Connor Clifton, Carson Soucy

6th: Josh Brown

7th: Dominik Kubalik, Andreas Johnsson, Mackenzie Weegar

2013 also wasn't spectacular, but again: Weegar is a top pairing defenseman found in the 7th round. Saros is yet another elite goalie taken in the 4th round.


4th: Lucas Wallmark, Devon Toews, Viktor Arvidsson, Sam Lafferty, Danton Heinen, Michael Bunting, Igor Shesterkin

5th: Gustav Forsling, Dakota Joshua, Oskar Lindblom, Anders Bjork, Dysin Mayo

6th: Kevin Labanc, Sammy Blais

7th: Viktor Olofsson, Pierre Engvall, Ondrej Kase, Jake Evans, Jacob Middleton

Oh look, more elite talent! Toews, Shesterkin, and Forsling were all fantastic this past season. Many others play key roles here as well.


4th: Will Borgen, Nicolas Roy, Austin Wagner, Denis Malgin, Alexandre Carrier, Caleb Jones, Mathieu Joseph

5th: Conor Garland, Ethan Bear, Niko Mikkola, Kirill Kaprizov, Dominik Simon, Karel Vejmelka, Troy Terry, Adam Gaudette

6th: John Marino, Vladislav Gavrikov, Andrew Mangiapane, Mason Appleton

7th: Steven Lorentz, Makus Nutivaara, Matt Roy

Mostly role players here, but there are some exciting names with Kaprizov, Terry, and Garland.


4th: Victor Mete, Brandon Duhaime, Noah Gregor, Riley Stillman, Ross Colton

5th: Mikey Eyssimont

6th: Brandon Hagel, Michael Pezzetta, Jesper Bratt

7th: none

A very week 4th-7th round class, although finding Bratt in the 6th round is a steal.


4th: Jacob Bryson, Mikey Anderson, Adam Ruzicka, Jeremy Swayman, Emil Bemstrom, Drake Batherson

5th: Noah Cates, Sebastian Aho (NYI)

6th: Nick Perbix, Morgan Barron

7th: Cayden Primeau

After looking at the list of names for each year, you can see that there are plenty of fantastic players taken in the 4th-7th rounds. Not just above average, but elite. That shouldn't be the expectation because there might just be one or two of those per draft, but there were at least a few names for most rounds, and as I mentioned earlier, the Senators only need supporting players anway.

In the history of the Ottawa Senators, they have done quite well for themselves in these rounds. Pavol Demitra, Daniel Alfredsson, Sami Salo, Andreas Dackell, Karel Rachunek, Magnus Arvedson, Chris Neil, Greg Zanon, Brooks Laich, Christoph Schubert, Ray Emery, Brian Elliott, Colin Greening, Erik Condra, Mark Borowiecki, Derek Grant, Mike Hoffman, Chris Wideman, Mark Stone, Marcus Sorensen, Ryan Dzingel, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Fredrik Claesson, and Drake Batherson, and Mark Kastelic have all been drafted in rounds 4-7, with other prospects like Angus Crookshank, Kevin Mandolese, Max Guenette, Jorian Donovan, and Stephen Halliday having a chance as well. Not all of those players are phenomenal, but they have quite the mix between role players, good supporting help, and elite talent.

I'm prepared to not get too invested in this draft, but it's not impossible for the Senators to end up with a solid NHL player or two in 2023.

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