Prior to the NHL Draft, Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray possessed distinct, possibly incompatible priorities: trade Jason Spezza, and replace the 2014 first round pick which he dealt last summer in exchange for Bobby Ryan. The former happened days later in a deal that sent Spezza to the Dallas Stars, but the latter move never materialized.
The Senators added three defensemen and two forwards to their system at the draft. Their 40th overall selection was used to draft Andreas Englund, a Swedish defenseman with a defense-first mentality. Two other blueliners, the athletically-gifted Miles Gendron and homegrown talent Kelly Summers, are more dynamic with the puck but need time to improve their defensive play.
They selected a physical specimen in Shane Eiserman at 100th overall, a power forward with skill, which the Senators desperately could use. Francis Perron was taken with their last pick, likely the most skilled of the bunch, but lacking in size. Overall there was nothing surprising about the Senators selections, especially with a Swede chosen as their first pick.
Andreas Englund, D, Djurgardens (SuperElit)
2nd round, 40th overall
Height: 6-3 Weight: 190 lbs
As the Senators’ highest draft selection in 2014, Andreas Englund represents what Ottawa lacked in their 2013-14 campaign: hard, do-what-it-takes defensive play. He is a prototypical shutdown defenseman, strong, physical, and hard to play against. He plays the body, blocks shots, positions himself well, and takes no risks with the puck. Although he entered the draft ranked 30th among European skaters, he projects to be a capable second pairing defenseman.
Englund’s style is not attractive to the eye, nor is it conducive to creating offense, but he understands the game well enough to play a strong defensive role. Intelligence, work ethic, and attitude were some of the intangibles listed as strengths in Englund’s game by Ottawa’s scouting staff. After a 2013-14 Senators season plagued by sordid net protection and a lack of defensive zone discipline, drafting Englund is one way of helping to fix that.
Englund will return to Djurgardens in Sweden for the 2014-15 season. He played 35 games with the under-20 side in 2013-14, where he collected five goals and five assists. He played 19 games with the Djurgarden pro team in the Allsvenskan league, likely to see increased time with the big club going forward.
Englund met with the media following his selection by the Senators, with some of his comments captured in this HF video.
Miles Gendron, D, The Rivers School (Massachusetts prep)
3rd round, 70th overall
Height: 6-2 Weight: 170 lbs
The Senators selected an athletically gifted defenseman in Miles Gendron who, before arriving to The Rivers School, played as a forward his whole life. A smooth, fast skater, Gendron showed scouts he can move the puck up ice with ease. Conversely, Gendron’s defensive play is a work in progress. Senators 2013 draft pick Ben Harpur made the same transition from forward to defenseman, and is still learning the game. Helped by less size yet more speed than Harpur, Gendron will undergo a similar path of development.
Gendron complements his skill with impressive athleticism. He impressed at the NHL combine, with top 10 finishes in four categories – including mean power output, leg leak power, vertical jump, and four jump mat.
To reach his potential as an NHL player, Gendron will need to cultivate his defensive duties: positioning, timing, and decision-making. He could benefit by adding pounds to his 6’1 frame and increasing strength, and will have ample time to do so.
Starting next season with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL, Gendron will play tougher opponents and adjust his game accordingly. After Penticton, Gendron is set to enroll at the University of Connecticut in 2015-16 and play in the Hockey East.
Gendron took part in 2014 NHL Combine where he spoke with HF and Neate Sager of Yahoo Sports for this HF video.
Shane Eiserman, RW, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
4th round, 100th overall
Height: 6-2 Weight: 200 lbs
Shane Eiserman is a strong, physically developed forward with skill. He finished second among all prospects in the bench press drill at the NHL combine. Gifted with a solid frame, Eiserman plays an aggressive, gritty game and wins puck battles in each zone. He works hard to retrieve puck possession, and when given the opportunity, he can threaten offensively. He is a strong skater, makes good passes, and possesses a hard shot.
Eiserman projects to be a third line winger with skill. In 2012-13 he played that role with the US National Development Under-17 team, notching 10 goals and 11 assists through 56 games. He improved to 16 goals, 24 assists in nearly as many games for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL in 2013-14. Eiserman also notched 71 penalty minutes, enough to show he is not afraid to mix things up.
This upcoming season, Eiserman is set to play with the University of New Hampshire. As he develops, the Senators are hoping he becomes the power forward they have been searching for. Ottawa boasts several smaller forwards with skill in their system, making Eiserman’s blend of size and skill more attractive to the organization.
Kelly Summers, D, Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL)
7th round, 189th overall
Height: 6-2 Weight: 190 lbs
The Carleton Place Canadians played home games twenty minutes from the Ottawa Senators’ home rink, giving Senators brass an up-close look at Kelly Summers. When Summers went undrafted through to the seventh round, the Senators dealt for the Winnipeg Jets‘ 189th overall pick to select him. He played a key role in helping Carleton Place finish second at the RBC Cup, the CJHL national tournament. Summers entered the draft ranked 73rd among North American skaters, just ahead of fellow Senators draftee Gendron.
What was clear throughout the 2013-14 CCHL campaign was Summers’ decision-making and overall poise with the puck. He makes strong plays under pressure, able to make the right pass and avoid danger. In the offensive zone he displays creativity and boasts a strong shot, having earned 17 goals, 60 points through 56 games last season. His ability and confidence with the puck are rare for a late-round defenseman, and offer an exciting foundation to work with. He will be a freshman at Clarkson University next season, and will need to focus on skating and strength in particular.
Francis Perron, LW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
7th round, 190th overall
Height: 6-0 Weight: 165 lbs
In a draft where the Senators largely neglected elite goal production, they used their final pick of 2014 to address that. Francis Perron is skilled and undersized; a player who tripled his point production in 2013-14 from his rookie QMJHL season the year before. Ranked 70th among North American skaters by Central Scouting, Perron notched 16 goals and 39 assists through 68 games, playing top six minutes and excelling on the power play. His vision and stick-handling are strong, and last season he showed a willingness to battle for pucks despite his size disadvantage.
His size, skill and point production are comparable to that of Senators prospect Jean-Gabriel Pageau who played with the Gatineau Olympiques during his draft year in 2011. Pageau has impressed so far in the AHL, and even a few NHL stints. If Perron can get bigger, faster, and progress his two-way game, he surely has the skill to compete at the pro level.