April 20, 2024

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2023-24 NHL PROSPECT POOL

4 min read

The Ottawa Senators have their sights set on clinching a playoff spot, aiming to break their playoff drought since 2017. While a roster brimming with promising young talents bolsters their chances, a noticeable absence of established star power could pose a challenge, as highlighted by Tony Ferrari.

As the NHL off-season progresses, Tony Ferrari diligently assesses the prospect pool of each team, and in this round, he delves into the Ottawa Senators’ prospects.

Throughout this series, Ferrari scrutinizes the strengths and vulnerabilities of each team, evaluates their recent draft class, examines the state of their positional depth chart, and identifies potential candidates poised to make their NHL debut. Notably, players who no longer qualify as NHL rookies are considered to have graduated and are exempt from this prospect analysis, unless stated otherwise.

Ah, the Sens. A team fueled by one of the most fervent and passionate fan bases in the NHL, bolstered by a roster teeming with young talents that kindle hope for the future. Ottawa’s lineup features youthful players occupying crucial roles. The team’s captain, Brady Tkachuk, is set to turn 24 this season, while Tim Stutzle, affectionately known as ‘Timmy Superstar,’ will enter the season at a youthful 21. Jake Sanderson enjoyed an impressive rookie season and now embarks on his sophomore year, eyeing the role of the premier defenseman. The team’s challenge lies in securing a contract for Shane Pinto, the rookie who notched an impressive 20 goals, necessitating cap adjustments.

Over the past years, despite being entrenched in a full-fledged rebuild, the Senators’ pipeline has encountered setbacks, attributed to players advancing to the NHL and missed opportunities in the draft. The crown jewel of their prospect system is center Ridly Greig, who participated in 20 NHL games last season, tallying nine points. Greig exudes speed and relentless energy, persistently pestering opponents while contributing offensively. His offensive potential might not rival that of a top-line center, but with Stutzle and Josh Norris likely anchoring the top two center positions, and Shane Pinto fitting seamlessly into the third line, Greig could seamlessly transition to the left wing in the upcoming season.

Zack Ostapchuk enjoyed a stellar season in the WHL, earning him a spot with the Belleville Sens this year for his professional debut. An integral member of Team Canada’s world junior team, Ostapchuk embodies a tenacious, high-energy style that disrupts opponents. His performance soared after joining the powerhouse Winnipeg Ice in the WHL. Ostapchuk is poised for a bottom-six role in the NHL and would benefit from seasoning in the AHL before ascending, showcasing the qualities that resonate with hockey aficionados.

Egor Sokolov has endeared himself to fans with his endearing personality and a formidable shot. Although he might sometimes get overshadowed at the NHL level due to his imposing stature, he has excelled in the AHL. Refining his quickness and passing finesse could greatly shape his NHL trajectory.

The spotlight has relentlessly followed the 10th overall pick of the 2021 NHL draft, Tyler Boucher. Initially bound for NCAA’s Boston University, he shifted to the OHL after a lackluster performance, amassing merely three points in 17 games. Boucher’s two partial OHL seasons, marred by injuries and suspensions, lead him to kickstart his professional journey with Belleville in the upcoming season. Patience is key with Boucher’s development, despite his high draft status, as rushing him could compromise unlocking his full potential.

2023-24 NHL PROSPECT POOL

The winger brings an abundance of physicality and isn’t shy about shifting the game’s momentum with colossal hits. His physical dominance occasionally led to issues in the OHL, but the pro level affords more room for such play, given the style and officiating. Boucher boasts a potent shot and harnesses his strength for powerful shots. His offensive approach is straightforward, prioritizing a north-south approach and driving to the net. While flashiness might be minimal, the Senators’ fan base admires his perseverance. Carving an NHL niche in the middle six would amplify his prospect status into a revered impact player.

On the defensive front, the Senators are poised to integrate two prospects, Tyler Kleven and Jacob Bernard-Docker, into the lineup during the upcoming year. Both gained NHL exposure last season, showcasing promise in limited appearances. Kleven holds a clearer path to a roster slot for the next season, rapidly winning over Ottawa fans with his unique blend of skating and size. An aggressive force, Kleven relentlessly seeks opportunities to deliver crushing hits. While his puck-handling skills remain a work in progress, glimpses of finesse emerged during his tenure with the University of North Dakota.

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