Although the NHL team always comes first, I’ve always been a big fan of following Ottawa Senators prospects throughout each season as well. It’s fun seeing who is trending upwards and who can potentially make the big club in the near future. Whether it’s the AHL, CHL, NCAA, SHL, or many other leagues, there are always plenty of different places to follow Senators prospects.
What I’m wondering about for this “Weekly Question” is: which prospect are you most excited to follow in the 2022-23 season?
Now, I feel like if we go by the strict definition of a “prospect” (e.g. still rookie eligible), almost all of the answers will be Jake Sanderson, with a healthy dose of Ridly Greig as well. Those are their two best prospects by a mile, and that would be a bit of a dull poll. So I’m going to be a bit different and say that this poll excludes any player who is expected to play a significant portion of time in Ottawa this season. That means Sanderson, Greig, Jacob Bernard-Docker, and Lassi Thomson will not be included. I’d love to focus on prospects who aren’t quite as heralded and are further away from the NHL level.
With that being said, who are you most excited to follow?
Ostapchuk had the strangest season because he had just 43 points in 60 games, but he had an absurd 23 points in 12 playoff games. He even got to represent Team Canada at the World Juniors where he put up 3 points in 7 games. He still has one year left in the WHL and seems poised for a big year.
The Senators recent 3rd round pick has probably been getting the most hype out of their recent draft class, as he signed an ELC in order to play with the Kitchener Rangers, plus he was turning heads in the OHL preseason. He could be a fast riser in the farm system rankings.
It’s easy to forget, but Järventie is only 20 years old and has already played 76 AHL games. His 33 points in 70 games this past season doesn’t jump off the page, but it’s still impressive given his age. He has already proven he can play against men in Finland and could take another step in the AHL next season.
The 10th overall pick in the 2021 draft had about as rough of a Draft+1 season as you can have. He’ll get a chance to have a big role with the Ottawa 67s in order to boost his value, and hopefully he can show that he’s a legitimate prospect.
After Marcus Hogberg, Joey Daccord, and Filip Gustavsson weren’t the answer for the Senators, Søgaard might be their next best hope. He had a .908 SV% in 35 games for Belleville and will get most of the starts in the AHL this year, giving him a prime opportunity to be an NHLer in 2023-24.
It remains to be seen if Sokolov can make the jump to the NHL, but he’s been showing promise in the AHL. 50 points in 64 games is nothing to scoff at, and if he can continue to improve his skating, he could potentially be a solid player in Ottawa.
It seems like a lot of people have forgotten about Crookshank, but he was creating a lot of buzz last season before his season-ending injury. He’s already almost 23 so he’s not very young for a prospect, but his 16 points in 19 AHL games in 2020-21 had people excited. He’ll have to earn his way to Ottawa perhaps at the end of the season for a few games, but it’ll be a tough path. This season might be make-or-break.
Kleven is one of the most polarizing prospects because fans of his love his physicality, shot, and competitiveness, while others have doubts about his upside. I think everyone can agree he can be a highlight factory with his hits and shots, and he has a chance to be one of the best players at UND this season. Hopefully he will head to the AHL by spring time.
Lodin is such a wildcard because he oozes skill but he came out of nowhere last season in the SHL with 27 points in 44 games. He continued that success with 8 points in 10 AHL games and even made his NHL debut. Like Crookshank, he’s already 23 so he needs to prove himself right away. Watching him should be fun though and he could be important to Belleville’s top-six.
Daoust doesn’t get talked about often, but he had a magnificent 47 points in 38 games for the Saint John Sea Dogs last season. He had 5 assists in his first 15-game trial for Belleville, and he should be getting a larger role in his first full season. He might be another late bloomer that the Senators seem to be experts at, and I’m intrigued by his potential.
After shining in 2020-21 in Finland, Meriläinen struggled to the tune of an .891 SV% in 53 OHL games for the Kingston Frontenacs. He’s only 20 and has lots of time to figure it out, so the hope is he can gain more confidence playing for Karpat in the SM Liiga again. His upside still seems quite high.
Despite having 11 names on this list, there are still others I haven’t mentioned and easily could have! Feel free to voice your opinion about a potentially unheralded prospect you are fascinated by.
Which Senators prospect are you most excited to follow?