First and foremost, I like to think that most folks who read this blog feel some sense of excitement for the upcoming NHL entry draft. If you read our posts then you have a pretty serious level of interest in the Ottawa Senators and the draft ranks among the most interesting non-hockey game events on the NHL calendar. With that in mind, I think certain circumstances around the team may affect our level of excitement for this draft in particular.
I’ll just get it over with here and address the elephant in the room, the 2021 draft seriously bummed me out and I haven’t come to terms with it almost a year later. And, yes, this definitely affects my stoke level for this draft. Yes, I know Tyler Boucher still has time to turn it around. We’ve gone over that. But that feeling of deflation sticks with a fan, and any general manager willing to swing at one pitch outside the strike zone will just as likely swing at another. Please, Pierre, prove me wrong and do something normal this year.
I’ll naturally and justly take some criticism for dwelling on such overwrought discussion points and to focus on the positive—Zack Ostapchuk, Oliver Johansson, and Carson Latimer have really redeemed last year’s draft for me and as we all know, the maturation of the Brady Tkachuk, Shane Pinto, and Jake Sanderson picks have bought Pierre Dorion endless patience with the fanbase.
I should probably also address the fact that none of us really foresaw, even in our most cynical moments, Ottawa finishing in the bottom-ten in the league standings for a fifth consecutive year. We all had some hope that the team could have at least moved into that middle-of-the-pack, playoff fringe territory. How does that affect the individual fan’s excitement level for this draft when considering, as we know, Ottawa could get a pretty decent player at seventh overall?
Of course we can’t overlook the ways in which the pandemic affected Ottawa’s draft last year and both as a logistical issue in terms of scouting players and as an excuse to deviate from convention, Dorion’s strategy seemed circumstance-influenced. Dorion also hinted in the past that his scouts had more targets in the 2022 class and for that reason they sought picks for this summer when they acquired Tampa Bay and Boston’s second- and third-round picks respectively. And, as we know the Sens also added a couple of extra fifths this season that they could use to draft up.
Look, at the end of the day, I’ll follow this draft eagerly just like most of you will, and I’ll get over my trivial grudge based on one questionable pick that hasn’t yet aged as well as Tkachuk or even Sanderson. And I can’t deny my curiosity to find out if Dorion’s team of scouts does have some tricks up their sleeves for this class, proving that last summer they simply took the opportunity to deviate because of unusual circumstances. I think we can all agree however, that after a fifth year glued to the entry draft, we can only pray we get to focus on the playoffs and not the lottery this time next year.
So considering the unique circumstances and the fact that we seem to follow the same trajectory every summer (hope then disappointment then argument) how do you feel about the Ottawa Senators and their place in the 2022 NHL entry draft? Do you feel as optimistic as you did when they held the fourth overall pick in 2018 or have the years since jaded you? Let us know in the comments below!