Ottawa Senators have solid group of depth prospects at junior level

By Chris Roberts
Nick Paul - Ottawa Senators

Photo: Forward Nick Paul has been solid in his third season with the North Bay Battalion, posting 16 goals and 10 assists through 21 games. (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

 

Prized Ottawa Senators prospect Curtis Lazar cemented his role on the NHL team with an excellent training camp and has progressed daily. The 19-year-old was eligible to play one more year with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL, where he would have been expected to score at a rapid pace. Yet, even with his absence in Edmonton, the Senators have a handful of quality prospects worth following in junior hockey.

The team may lack prospects playing in the WHL this year, but they have two in the QMJHL, three in the OHL, and one playing junior-A hockey in the BCHL.

QMJHL

Francis Perron, LW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Acquired: 7th round (190th overall), 2014

Francis Perron does not come with the pedigree of someone like Lazar, or even some of the prospects below, but the Blainville, Quebec native has the statistics to back up his scoring ability.

Through 23 games with Rouyn-Noranda this season – his third with the team – Perron is leading the team in points with 34. He is an integral part of the team’s offense and should continue to lead offensively for the next season-and-a-half. His skill is unquestionable and his versatility makes him a desirable asset – he can and has played point on the power-play and, as a 16-year-old, killed penalties.

At 6’0 and 165 pounds he does not carry the largest frame, but he has time to develop in that regard.

Vincent Dunn, C, Rimouski Oceanic
Acquired: 5th round (138th overall), 2013

Playing for his third QMJHL team in three seasons, Vincent Dunn is now providing secondary scoring punch and sandpaper for the Rimouski Oceanic.

Behind league-leading scorer Alexis Loiseau, Dunn has largely been playing second- and third-line minutes, but still sits seventh in team scoring with 14 points through 22 games; his 81 penalty minutes, meanwhile, is far and away enough for the team lead. While the physical side of his game is what may lead him one day to the NHL, his ability to get to the net and cash in on rebounds and in-tight chances, combined with a decent wrist shot, will certainly aide in his effort to get there; last year, Dunn scored 31 goals for the Gatineau Olympique. He has nine goals so far this year, as well as five fighting majors.

OHL

Nicholas Paul, LW, North Bay Battalion
Acquired: Trade with Dallas Stars July, 2014

Coming over in the Jason Spezza trade with Dallas, winger Nicholas Paul certainly has the size and goal scoring ability to one day make an impact in the Senators’ lineup. His measurements and stat line this season are definitely intriguing; he is listed at 6’3 and 221 pounds and, through 21 games this season with North Bay, has 16 goals. Paul has 26 points and currently leads the Battalion in scoring.

Paul already has two hat-tricks this season, but he does not just score in bunches. He has scored in 10 of 21 games and has only been held pointless on five occasions this season.

Tobias Lindberg, RW, Oshawa Generals
Acquired: 4th round (102nd overall), 2013

Like Paul, Lindberg is a big-bodied winger with a 6’3 frame and listed at over 200 pounds. The 19-year-old Swede was an alternate captain with Djurgården J20 last season, but was selected by Oshawa with the 46th pick in this summer’s CHL Import Draft.

Lindberg scored his first OHL goal in his first game of the season and has been a consistent point producer since. Through 22 games, he has 27 points. Three of his 10 goals this season have been game-winners, while two were on the power-play and another on the penalty kill.

Ben Harpur, D, Guelph Storm
Acquired: 4th round (108th overall), 2013

The Ottawa Senators only needed to see seven games from Ben Harpur this season to know that he can contribute to the organization. The team signed the 6’6 defender at the beginning of the month, while he was recovering from an injury. He has since returned to action for Guelph and even played for Team OHL in the Subway Super Series.

It may be true that his size made him attractive to the Senators when the team drafted him in 2013, but his skill development on both sides of the puck over the past year has been most impressive. Harpur has utilized his impressive shot from the point this season, scoring four goals in just 12 games – last year, Harpur scored three goals all season.

BCHL

Miles Gendron, D, Penticton Vees
Acquired: 3rd round (70th overall), 2014

A raw defenseman who played high school hockey in the United States last season, Miles Gendron is playing for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL this season, where he has seven points in 26 games.

The Senators selected Gendron thanks in part to a relationship with former player Shawn McEachern, who was the defenseman’s coach at The Rivers School, where he played last season. A former forward who only moved to the blue line last year, Gendron is adjusting to life on defense with Penticton. His playmaking abilities make him an attractive offensive defender, but, having only played 26 games of junior-A hockey thus far, he has a long way to go before finding his comfort zone against older and more mature players in the NCAA.

Gendron is committed to the University of Connecticut for the 2015-16 season.

Ottawa Senators Top Performing Non-Junior Prospects: October

Though he has yet to record his first NHL goal, Lazar’s six assists puts him 10th on the Senators in scoring. Lazar is one-third of a formidable line along with rookies Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone. Stone, for his sake, has five goals and five assists this season, and seems to be cementing a spot in the Senators lineup.

In Binghamton, the team’s offense has largely taken a scoring-by-committee approach – at least, up front. In fact, the team’s leading scorer is defenseman Chris Wideman whose offensive game came to the forefront last season when, in his second year in the AHL, the former Miami of Ohio grad put up 51 points in 71 games. This year, Wideman has 21 points in 17 games and his 10 goals has already surpassed last year’s mark of nine.

Forwards Shane Prince, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Matt Puempel are all off to decent starts with Binghamton. Puempel and Prince are both awaiting their first call to Ottawa, while Pageau is attempting to get back to the team he spent 28 games with last season.

A lot of the Senators prospects playing in the NCAA are off to mediocre starts, but some can be forgiven for their relative inexperience, such as 2014 seventh round pick Kelly Summers, who has just one point through 11 games for Clarkson University. Quentin Shore, a 2013 sixth round selection, has been a solid top-six forward for the University of Denver as a junior. He has 11 points through 10 games.

A pair of Swedish defensemen still playing in their homeland are also having productive seasons. The Senators top selection in the 2014 Draft, Andreas Englund is playing valuable minutes for Djurgården of the SHL and is a virtual lock for the country’s World Junior team. Mikael Wikstrand, a 2012 seventh round selection, is having his most productive season to date in Sweden’s top league – through 18 games with Frölunda, Wikstrand has three goals and four assists.

Ottawa Senators Prospect of the Month: October

Binghamton Senators defenseman Wideman has been one of most impressive Senators prospects throughout the first month-and-a-half of the 2014-15 season.

Chris Wideman - Ottawa Senators Prospect of the Month, October, 2014What Lazar has been doing with Ottawa is impressive, but he came to camp with an outside shot at making the team and the fact that he has been able to sustain success is not a huge surprise to most. Widemean, two years ago, was starting his season with Elmira of the ECHL. This year, the 5’10, 170 pound blueliner leads the Senators farm team in scoring and has certainly opened eyes in Ottawa, despite not being called upon to play his first NHL game yet – that should change this year.

Wideman was also named the AHL’s Player of the Month for October and Player of the Week for the week of October 27th – November 2nd.