GARRIOCH: No matter where they select, the Ottawa Senators will do well in the NHL Entry Draft


The Ottawa Senators, like everyone else, are waiting to see what the next step will be for the NHL.

They don’t know if they’ll have a chance to finish the last 11 games of the season or when – and if – the league will resume, it will go straight to a modified playoff system that will allow it to claim the Stanley Cup. , even if it’s August or September depending on when the threat of the new coronavirus around the world has subsided enough to allow life to return to normal.

One thing the Senators have for certain is that they will have many choices in the NHL Entry Draft each time it takes place. While scheduled for June 26-27 at the Bell Center in Montreal, it has already been postponed and the draw to be held last Thursday in New Jersey has also been postponed.

Yes, the Detroit Red Wings have the best chance of obtaining the first choice of the lottery at 18.5%, but the Senators are strong with 13.5% while Ottawa also holds the first round choice of the Sharks of San Jose which has a rating of 11.5%. This gives the Senators a 25% chance of getting the best selection in what has been considered one of the best crops of choice in years.

Last Wednesday, the Central Scouting Bureau released its list of the best North American and European skaters for the annual crapshoot. To no one’s surprise, forward Alexis Lafrenière of Rimouski was ranked No. 1 while Quinton Byfield of Sudbury was No. 2. and Erie defender Jamie Drysdale was No. 3. Winger Tim Stutzle , who plays for Mannheim in the German league, was the best European skater.

“With these two players (Lafrieniere and Stuetzle), their ability to perform under pressure, especially on the world stage in most situations, really stands out,” said Dan Marr, director of central NHL screening, when a conference call last week when the standings were announced. “It is their consistency of playing and competing at a high level and constantly producing results.

“I always keep in mind that these two players were the youngest of most of their teams to come here and they played major roles. “

The first prize is Lafreniere because we think he can make a difference right away. He finished with 35 goals and 112 points in 51 games with the Océanic before deciding to cancel the rest of the season and the playoffs.

“Growing up is a dream for every player (to be drafted),” said Lafreniere. “To see how close we are, it’s pretty exciting and it’s really fun. We are all delighted with the project. The team that will pick me up, I will be very happy to join them and try to be as successful as possible. ”

Canada’s Alexis Lafrenière celebrates his first goal during the U20 Ice Hockey World Cup match between Canada and the United States in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Thursday, December 26, 2019.

Central scout J.F. Damphousse, regional scout for Quebec and the Maritimes, said Lafreniere is special.

“Alexis is quite the player when you look at all aspects of his game and I think you can consider every aspect of the elite,” said Damphousse. “When you look at his skating and his puck skills, he is above average and he has been excellent during his three years with Rimouski.

“One of his best assets is his vision, his playing skills and every game I’ve seen, he makes games that you don’t even think are possible and he always does. What separates him from the peloton is his level of competition, he is ready to play physically, he fights in every game and every time the game is on the line you want him on the ice. He plays big games and responds under pressure. “

Since the NHL reunion in Buffalo on June 1 has already been canceled, teams are allowed to video interview prospects and it is a route the Senators have also taken so that the scouts have a good idea of ​​the character . Under normal circumstances this would be done in June, but nothing is normal right now and this is the best bet for the teams involved.

The players provide a medical history questionnaire to the league and ice tests were conducted on the top 75 players in prospect matches.

“NHL clubs are allowed to interview players throughout the season and at the moment they have just been transferred to online format by whatever technical means they have. With all the social distancing at the moment, no face-to-face interview is allowed, “said Marr.

Without the benefit of the playoffs to see what level players can raise their game to, Ottawa chief scout Trent Mann and his staff watch video daily to assess and make sure they get a second look on the prospects they’ve already seen. General manager Pierre Dorion had planned to do a lot of scouting in the second half and also carried out a video analysis.

“Unfortunately, no one has had the advantage of spotting the playoffs, the Memorial Cup and the world under-18 championships,” said Marr. “For central screening, our list always comes out around this time, during the first round of the NHL playoffs and before the draw. We missed about 10 days (of screening).

“Most of our ranking is based on regular season play, as it gives us a balanced assessment. Our meetings have been moved to an online format and we were able to use a business approach as usual, we were just less the personal interaction you get when you have breaks and dinners. We have certainly made the most of this situation and we have compiled this list. “

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Twitter: @sungarrioch


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