Top 25 Under 25, no. 14: Shane Prince
A steady riser on draft rankings leading up to the real thing in the Twin Cities thanks to some solid offensive output, it seemed there was a chance Shane Prince might be selected in the first round. For someone living in Ottawa, the Brian Kilrea acquisition was no stranger- he had been putting up outstanding numbers with the 67's. However, for Sens fans, he was a little removed from the immediate focus of the 2011 NHL Draft. After all, the Senators had the sixth overall pick and for months had been eyeing the elite stock that made up top few players who were going to be up for grabs at the Xcel Energy Centre. The fanbase was familiar with the ins and outs of where players fell on different rankings- who had Strome slipping to Ottawa, if management would take Sean Couturier, and so forth. Tim Murray made it clear in a pre-draft interview that the Senators were unlikely to take home a dozen new players with the dozen picks they had.
However, Prince seemed to sit somewhere in the middle ground. Although a stretch to go in the first, would he fall much further? Ottawa was slated to pick again six selections into the second. If anyone was hoping to see the 67s to Senators transition, they would have been disappointed when Ottawa flipped the 35th and 48th overall picks for Detroit's 24th.
But Shane Prince did not go where he and others expected to, and the Senators snatched him up one spot shy of the third round. His explosive offensive season, exponentially more than his only other season in the league- putting him 13th in league scoring on a top-line role with Tyler Toffoli- was not enough to convince a team to pick him up as he fell down the board. Central Scouting had him favorably situated at the 26th spot in their ranking of North American skaters, two places ahead of fellow Sens prospect Matt Puempel. So, rest of the league, what gives? Stature seems to be the only answer. Although coming in at under six feet, Prince has plenty of time to round out his frame. Also, while he has a set of pretty fancy moves, Prince scores plenty of his goals standing upright in the slot and knocking in rebounds-- not just the kinds of goals that work in Junior, but will leave a guy on his back in the NHL (looking up at a new HD screen).
Prince spent the first part of his OHL career, 102 games, playing for the Kitchener rangers. But it was after Brian Kilrea swapped two second round picks to Kitchener did he come to Ottawa and really come into his own. Gelling on a line with Toffoli in his first full season in Ottawa, Prince has been near the top of OHL scoring ever since. While Prince-Toffoli-Monahan has been stellar, the Sens prospect was not playing with those two all season. If there was some amount of concern over whether he was benefiting from the strong play of the Kings' prospect, it was misplaced. Shane Prince has shown over the last two seasons that he is a playmaker in his own right, but brings with it a strong shot and a knack for hitting the back of the net.
Prince did not make the cut for Team USA this year and was none too pleased about it. Prince's opinion of the process is that they were biased against Americans who play in the CHL. Controversy aside, whatever the cause for his being cut, it just adds a little more fuel to Prince's fire. Is there anything Sens fans should worry about, what with Team USA passing on the prospect and his falling all the way to 61st in the first place? Is there a more concerning element about his game? If there is, anyone who watches him on a frequent basis has yet to see it.
Prince is a fun player to watch. He is very skilled offensively and although his defensive play could use a bit rounding out, his playmaking and shooting is almost good enough to make up for that. Somewhere between 5'10 and 5'11, depending on who you want to believe, Prince has a frame that can be rounded out. With good strength and conditioning work over the summer, Sens fans should look forward to Shane hitting the ice in rookie development and training camp.
The 2011 second-round pick, property of Ottawa courtesy of the Chris Kelly trade, should turn professional during the coming season. He will have to fight for a spot with Binghamton and will have an opportunity to transition his game at the pro level so that he can begin proving wrong those who passed over him. There is a lot to look forward to for Shane Prince. The upside is almost exciting enough to make up for the barrage of shoddy headlines and infuriating puns the media will pour down on us for this 'princely' prospect.