With five forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie, the Senators did well to fill up the cupboards in multiple areas. They managed to snag a nice mix of higher-end prospects in the early rounds along with some players that have some real sleeper potential later on.
1st Round, 4th overall – Brady Tkachuk
They’ll be plenty of scrutiny tied to this pick given that, in selecting Tkachuk, the Senators were forced to surrender their 2019 first round pick to Colorado and a shot at Jack Hughes. While he may not be at the level of Jack Hughes, Tkachuk is still very much a legit high-end prospect. The American put together a successful freshman campaign with the Boston University Terriers finishing fourth on the team in scoring with 31 points on the back of eight goals and a team-high 23 assists and tied for seventh in the NCAA in freshman scoring. Tkachuk helped lead his squad to a Hockey East conference championship and was also named to the conference All-Rookie Team. On the international stage, he was a key cog in the USA contingent at the 2018 WJHC in Buffalo where his three goals and nine points helped the host country capture a bronze medal. While there is rampant speculation that he returns to college for 2018-19, I fully expect the Senators to put on a full court press to get him signed and into their lineup for opening night.
1st Round, 26th overall – Jacob Bernard-Docker
With their second pick in the first round, the Senators raised a few eyebrows by selecting defenseman Jacob Bernard Docker. Bernard-Docker competed for the Okotoks Oilers of the Albert Junior Hockey League and was inarguably the best blueliner in the league winning the AJHL’s Most Outstanding Defenseman award. He ranked fourth in the league among defensemen in scoring with 41 points in 49 regular season contests and his point per game average of 0.84 was also fourth best. He was tops in the goal-scoring department as his 20 led all AJHL defenders, six more than his next closest competition. Come playoff time he turned it up a notch by producing seven goals and seven assists in 15 playoff games as Okotoks marched to the final but ultimately lost to the Spruce Grove Saints. He finished fourth in playoff scoring, first among d-men, and was tied for third in goals. He’s headed to the University of North Dakota in the fall where he’ll play with fellow Ottawa pic, Jonny Tychonick.
2nd Round, 48th overall – Jonny Tychonick
In round two Ottawa selected future North Dakota teammate (and possible defensive partner?) of Jacob Bernard-Docker, Jonny Tychonick. The Calgary native completed his second year with the Penticton Vees in the BCHL which saw him double his offensive numbers from the previous season. In 48 games, Tychonick scored nine times and added 38 assists to finish second on the team in scoring, third in BCHL scoring among defensemen, and second in defenseman points per game. He was an animal for the Vees in the playoffs as he led them in scoring with 17 points in 11 contests and was second in defensive scoring league-wide. His game is all about offense, something that he might need to reign in a bit if he wants to tighten up his defensive game. With four years of development time at his disposal and headed to a strong program, this could turn into a home run pick.
4th Round, 95th overall – Johnny Gruden
Without a pick in round three, Ottawa had to wait for 47 picks to make another selection when they snagged Johnny Gruden from the United States Development Program. Playing with the under-18 squad, Gruden played primarily on the second line and put up some pretty impressive numbers. With 60 points in 61 games, he finished fourth in scoring behind a pair of first-round picks, Oliver Wahlstrom and Joel Farabee, and the presumptive first overall pick for the 2019 draft, Jack Hughes. No doubt there are some who believe he is more of a passenger than someone who drives the play himself which could help explain his draft slot. But don’t sleep on this kid. His father, Coach Jon Gruden, just led the Hamilton Bulldogs to an OHL crown and like any coaches son, Gruden is a hard working two-way player. He’s committed to Miami University in the fall and for what it’s worth his CHL rights are owned by the London Knights.
5th Round, 126th overall – Angus Crookshank
Their second selection out of the BCHL, Crookshank competed for the Langley Rivermen where he tied for the team lead in goals with 22, third in assists with 23 and was second in points with 45 during the regular season. In the playoffs, Crookshank tied for the team lead in scoring with seven points in a first-round defeat. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s by no means small either at 5-11, 181 pounds.
In the little bit that I’ve seen Crookshank one comparison keeps coming to mind, Zach Parise. I’m not saying he has nearly the same kind of upside, but he’s got that same combination of skill and determination. He’ll suit up for the University of New Hampshire this fall.
6th Round, 157th overall – Kevin Mandolese
Ottawa selected their first goaltender since the 2015 draft by taking Kevin Mandolese from the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. 2017-18 saw him locked in a crease timeshare with Kyle Jessiman. Mandolese suited up for 37 games while Jessiman played in 41, but Mandolese had better numbers across the board. Having said that they were by no means spectacular. His 0.884 save percentage placed him 32nd in the ‘Q’ among goalies and his goals against average of 3.46 was good for 30th. It’s not hard to see why the Senators picked him. He’s HUGE, coming in a 6-04 but a fairly slight 176 pounds. He’s got a lot of work to do so he won’t be seen for a while. With Jessiman departing to Baie-Comeau, Mandolese will be the lead dog for Cape Breton this season.
7th Round , 188th overall – Jakov Novak
No, he’s not Czech. Despite the name Novak was born in Ontario. Novak exploded in his second year competing with the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League. He led the league in goals (32) & points (73) and was tenth in penalty minutes (131). Novak was named to the All-NAHL team and took home the top individual prize as he was named league MVP. Ottawa’s clearly not gun shy about going back to the NAHL since this is the second time in three drafts they’ve picked the MVP, even if their previous selection, Todd Burgess, hasn’t panned out. At this point in the draft, you’re just throwing darts, hoping one hits the bullseye so Novak’s as good a gamble as any. He’s heading to Bentley University in the fall which, for the record, has never produced an NHL player.
7th Round, 194th overall, Luke Loheit
With their final pick in the draft, the Senators selected Luke Loheit from the Minnesota High School circuit. Serving as captain of Minnetonka High, Loheit scored 12 goals and 30 points while helping to lead them to a 22-2-3 record and a state championship. Hard to accurately get a read on a guy playing high school hockey so the next couple of years will help provide a more accurate assessment of the type of player Loheit can be. He is slated to suit up for the Penticton Vees in the BCHL in the fall before heading to the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 2019-20
The annual development camp was held from June 29th to July 5th. All of the recent draftees were in attendance as were the rest of the big names like Logan Brown, Colin White, Drake Batherson and others. The full list of attendees can be found here. Among the standouts:
Brady Tkachuk came as advertised with his speed and puck skills on full display.
Parker Kelly had a second straight stellar camp. He came last year as an undrafted free agent and left with an entry-level deal in his pocket.
Another thing both these players have in common is that they were named co-winners of the Jonathan Pitre award as the hardest working player in camp.
The co-winners of the Jonathan Pitre Hardest Worker trophy at #SensDevCamp this year are Parker Kelly and Brady Tkachuk. Thanks to @BoileauTina for being on hand to present this week’s most prestigious award. pic.twitter.com/e1Z9ZIRW9V— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) July 2, 2018
As far as Tkachuk is concerned, isn’t resting on his laurels though. He’s spending the summer working out with his brother Matthew and fitness guru Gary Roberts.
Perhaps the biggest eye opener at camp was Angus Crookshank. He was a standout for Team White during the scrimmage, scoring one goal and an assist in a 6-3 victory. He could be a sleeper to watch going forward
Here’s a nice highlight package from the scrimmage
or if you’ve got two hours to spare you can view the whole things below.
The always popular 3-on-3 tournament wrapped up the camp with the teams broken down as follows;
Not much has happened in the way of offseason moves in the nation’s capital. The only moves have been some depth signings in the form of Paul Carey and goaltender Mike McKenna, both agreeing to one-year, two-way deals. They’ve also re-upped with Nick Paul on a one-year deal. Everyone is waiting for the Erik Karlsson shoe to drop which is taking longer than most people had anticipated. They also have a decision to make on Craig Anderson who has expressed his desire to play elsewhere.
- Prospect Ramblings: All-Rookie Team, Tampa’s SHP Threats & Jokiharju
- Prospect Ramblings: The Curious Case of Anttoni Honka
- Prospect Ramblings: Streaking Draft-Eligible Players
- Prospect Ramblings: Projecting Team Finland for the U18 Worlds
- AHL Report - All-Star Edition (January 2019)
- DPR Episode 47: World Junior Review with Steven Ellis
- DPR Episode 48: Fantasy Hockey Strategy, NCAA Free Agents and AHL All-Star Game Prospects
- Liiga Report (January 2019)