August 31-in-31: Ottawa Senators

by Tony Ferrari on August 21, 2019

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Welcome to the August 2019 edition of the DobberProspects 31-in-31 Series! This month, we will be diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers and top 20 prospects. 

The Ottawa Senators are in a state of turmoil. The team is going to be among the least skilled in the NHL yet again. With a plethora of talent in the pipeline, the Ottawa Senators are primed to begin inserting more and more youth into the lineup. With prospects such as Erik Branstromm and Logan Brown possibly making a difference with the big club, this should be a season that is looked at for the growth of the youth not the points in the standings. By seasons end, barring a mistake in the trade market, the Ottawa Senators are likely to be adding a significant prospect to this group on June 26, 2020. 

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Graduating Players

With a team that is going through as much roster turnover as the rebuilding Senators have, they have numerous players that are graduating from one level to another. The Ottawa Senators were fortunate to have a number of young players make an impact on the NHL roster last season. That leads to more opportunities for players advancing to the lower levels of the pipeline as well. They have players graduating from junior hockey to pro hockey in a number of leagues. 

Graduated to the NHL

Thomas Chabot, LHD: The Senators de facto number one defenseman did his best to make up for the loss of Erik Karlsson last season. Chabot did an admirable job as he put up 55 points in 70 games with heavy minutes. He was relied upon as the main powerplay quarterback and one of the only real offensive catalysts on the roster. Chabot’s defensive game still needs work but the young Senator should produce offensively. He grew into a leadership role as the season progressed and will likely continue to be one of the young leaders on the roster. Chabot is officially a full-time NHL player who no longer holds “Prospect Status”. 

 

Brady Tkachuk, LW: Last year’s fourth overall pick stepped into the lineup on day one and became an instant contributor. By season’s end, he was one of the Senators only forwards who pushed the play and drove the offense when he was on the ice. He is a valuable player who affects the game in all facets. He scores goals, elevates his teammates and gets in the face of his opponents. With 22 goals and 23 assists to go along with 75 PIMs, he is a versatile budding star. He has high-end offensive upside while also being a high-end pest. Brady does the Tkachuk name proud. With no signs of regression coming, Tkachuk has become a full-time NHLer already. 

 

Rudolfs Balcers, LW: Called up to the big club in early January, Balcers was an adequate fill-in on a stripped-down lineup. He had a fairly productive AHL season in Belleville (31 points in 43 games) and then made some strides as an NHL player with the Senators. He may not get a full season with the Senators because of some of the summer additions but should injuries strike or poor performance from one of the veterans, Balcers should be among the first call ups. He will likely get similar playing time to last year. Expect to see him around Christmas. 

 

Colin White, C: The current top-line center for the Senators should see an uptick in production after a solid 41-point rookie season. With a lack of center depth, the opportunity to face sheltered minutes isn’t there so White will be getting prime minutes in offensive situations. He should begin the season on a line with Tkachuk which should help increase his productivity. 

 

Max Veronneau, RW: With a spot on the Senators a likelihood, Veronneau should be a fixture in Ottawa’s bottom-six. He may face some challenges to produce offensively due to the lack of dynamic talent around him and his own inability to drive the offense himself.  It is possible that he doesn’t spend the entire year in the NHL but he will be making the jump to start the year in all likelihood. 

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Graduating from Junior/College to Pro

Lassi Thomson, RHD: Despite being eligible to continue his WHL career in Kelowna, the host of the 2020 Memorial Cup, he is making the jump to the Liiga with Ilves. If Thomson (below) gets adequate playing time, he should have a good year of development in a pro league.  

 

Alex Formenton, LW: After a short stint in the NHL where he displayed “McDavid-type speed“, the left-winger was sent back to junior after his nine-game limit came to an end. He produced at over a point-per-game pace and excelled further in the playoffs with 18 points in 11 games for the London Knights. He could be a player that gets time in the AHL with short stints in the NHL. 

 

Josh Norris, C: Norris will provide some added offensive punch to the Belleville Senators lineup. He won’t challenge for an NHL roster spot in the fall but one of the biggest pieces in the Erik Karlsson deal shouldn’t be waiting too long to make an impact in Ottawa. 

 

Joey Daccord, G: After getting into game action in one game against the Buffalo Sabres last season, the former Arizona State University netminder looks to begin his pro career. He will likely be in a battle for a spot on Belleville but his likely landing spot is in Brampton in the ECHL. This will allow him to get a lot of playing time and continue his development.  

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Risers

 

Erik Brännström, LHD:  The prize of the Mark Stone trade, Brännström will likely step into the Senators lineup and attempt to make an impact right away. The smooth-skating defenseman has been one of the most tantalizing prospects over the last two years. The hype around him has risen with each month that passes by and the young Swede will look to make good on that potential come October.

 

Alex Formenton, LW: A surprise addition to the roster last season, Formenton, unfortunately, couldn’t last the entire season in Ottawa. When he went back to London in the OHL he excelled. A dangerous forward with speed to burn, Formenton will probably start the year in the AHL and could see time in Ottawa at some point this season. 

 

Drake Batherson, C: He had over a point-per-game over the course of his rookie season in the AHL. He had nine points in 20 games with the Senators and will almost assuredly find a spot in the NHL top-six to start this upcoming season. His production last season far exceeded expectations and he’s risen up the prospect rankings because of it. 

Fallers

Jonny Tychonick, LHD: After an impressive year in Junior A, with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL, Tychonick had a tough year in his freshman season in the NCAA. He struggled to produce at a high rate as he has done in the past. While it was just a minor setback, he is a player to keep an eye on as a former second-round pick.  

 

Filip Chlapik, C: It is do or die time for the highly skilled Chlapik. Going into his age-22 season, the young center has seemed to stagnate in his development. His production rates seemed to be stalled out. This upcoming season he will need to get back on track and go back to using his skill on the ice. Bringing the entire package together from his skating to his hands to his mental game, the luster on his potential is slowly beginning to wear off. 

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Prospect Depth Chart

The depth chart below shows the prospects based on their projected league and organized based on how close they are to making the NHL. On the right, there is a legend that indicates where the player is projected to play. This is not based on their potential upside, rather the player’s NHL readiness. For a look at their depth chart based on fantasy upside, go to the Ottawa Senators team page on Dobber Prospects.

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Top 20 Fantasy Rankings

This section is intended to paint a picture of the Ottawa Senators’ prospects whose current trajectory projects them as making the most positive fantasy impact at the time that they reach the NHL. Arrival date and NHL certainty have been taken into consideration however, the potential upside is the most important factor in determining this list.

  1. Erik Brannstrom, LHD (8.7)
  2. Brady Tkachuk, LW (8.5)
  3. Filip Gustavsson, G (8.5)
  4. Vitali Abramov, LW (8.5)
  5. Logan Brown, C (8.0)
  6. Drake Batherson, C (7.5)
  7. Mads Sogaard, G (7.5)
  8. Lassi Thomson, RHD (7.0)
  9. Colin White, C (7.0)
  10. Alex Formenton, LW (7.0)
  11. Josh Norris, C (7.0)
  12. Filip Chlapik, C (7.0)
  13. Shane Pinto, C (7.0)
  14. Jonathan Davidsson, RW (6.8)
  15. Jacob Bernard-Docker, RHD (6.5)
  16. Rudolfs Balcers, LW (6.5)
  17. Joey Daccord, G (6.5)
  18. Christian Wolanin, LHD (6.5)
  19. Jonny Tychonik, LHD (6.0)
  20. Max Veronneau, RW (6.0)

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The Senators’ prospect pool has improved by leaps and bounds over the last couple of seasons. Whether it is from drafting at high positions or acquiring prospects and picks in trades, Ottawa has been stockpiling assets. The teardown and rebuild will likely continue this season as the big club is expected to struggle yet again. Adding one of the elite talents in the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft could be the final piece to the puzzle as they would look to be on the upswing after this upcoming season. 

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Thanks for joining me for the Ottawa Senators entry in the Dobber Prospects August 31-in-31 series. Be sure to check out the rest of the 31-in-31 articles on the rest of the prospect pools. I’m excited to be covering the Ottawa Senators prospects for the 2019-20 season after covering the Minnesota Wild for the majority of last season. The quality of prospects I cover has increased and I hope to increase the quality of my coverage with it! Leave comments below and you can always reach out to me personally on Twitter at @TheTonyFerrari!

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Be sure to check out the Dobber’s Fantasy Hockey Prospect Report for 2019! It’s the best guide for fantasy prospects around and makes sure that while you’re there you check out the rest of the fantasy hockey guides.