Despite a lack of quantity, the Ottawa Senators are hoping they found some quality in the 2010 NHL draft.
The team avoided excess baggage fees on the flight back from Los Angeles, taking home the smallest haul in the league with just four players. It’s Ottawa’s leanest draft crop since 2007, when they also selected just four.
Rundblad could once again take the Scotiabank Place ice with budding Sens defenseman Erik Karlsson, his countryman and fellow 2009 world junior silver medalist. The Sens see him as a smart puck-mover, who could make the jump after one more year in Sweden and develop into a top-four guy within two years. Sens Swedish scout Anders Forsberg, who will coach Rundblad next season, describes the 6’2, 189-pound Rundblad as a bigger version of Karlsson. He had a goal and 12 assists in 47 games for Skelleftea.
Ottawa tried to trade for a second-rounder, but the right deal wasn’t on the table. By the time the Sens actually made a draft pick, the Florida Panthers had already made seven, while the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks had plucked five picks each. The Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks were the only teams to make their first pick later than Ottawa.
Without a first-rounder to get excited about, Czech forward Jakub Culek was Ottawa’s top prize on the draft board. Culek was part of a dynamic duo in Rimouski, along with countryman Petr Straka (CLB). The Czechs were a big reason Rimouski remained a competitive team a year after losing the bulk of its Memorial Cup host squad. Although not as highly touted as former Oceanic stars Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards, the pair certainly made the winter trip to the Gaspé Peninsula worthwhile for scouts. Culek’s numbers were a little less impressive than Straka’s, as he tallied 13 goals and 34 assists in 63 games, to go along with 54 penalty minutes. He was more of a playmaker in his first season in North America, finishing third among QMJHL rookies in assists. He scored just twice in his last 21 regular-season games, but added six goals and nine points in 12 playoff games. The Sens love his size, determination, hockey sense and two-way game. They’ll be looking for him to get quicker in his second junior season.
The Senators can’t help themselves on draft day lately: they just love Swedes. After trading their first-round selection for Rundblad, Ottawa followed up by plucking Sorensen in the fourth round. He is the sixth Swede the Sens have selected in the past three drafts. Ottawa scout Anders Forsberg called Sorensen "a long-term project” and “just a boy,” so don’t expect to see him in a Senators jersey anytime soon. The 5’11, 161-pound forward could develop in Sweden for another year or two before working his way up through the minor leagues.
The Sens certainly like his speed and skill. He racked up 15 goals and 42 points in 15 games at the Swedish under-18 level in 2009-10, and added seven goals and 17 points in 27 under-20 games. Ottawa hopes to see the offensive forward develop while growing stronger and continuing to go to the traffic areas as he moves up the ranks.
Thumb and head injuries limited Stone to just 39 games in 2009-10, but the Senators took a chance on him with their sixth-round pick. Despite the name, Stone has hands, scoring 11 goals and 28 points after notching 17 goals and 39 points in 56 games as a rookie. However, Stone was held pointless in five games at the Memorial Cup for the host Brandon Wheat Kings. At 6’3, 190 pounds, his combination of skill, size and hockey sense was enough for Ottawa to want to watch him continue to develop in junior.
The Senators would like to see Stone improve his quickness if he’s to have a chance to work his way to the NHL.
For the fifth time in six years, the Senators used their last pick on a player they can stash in college and follow, hoping for a hidden gem. The 20-year-old Aneloski led USHL defensemen with 54 points in 60 games with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, where fellow Sens prospect Jeff Costello was a teammate. Ottawa has plenty of defensive prospects on the horizon, so they didn’t have an immediate need at the position and can be patient with his development at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
The 6’1, 197-pound rearguard, who models himself after Ray Bourque, has the kind of offensive skills that usually aren’t available so late. That was enough for the Sens to ignore the stigma that comes with an older player who’s been passed over in previous drafts. Aneloski, who hails from Pekin, Ill., was one of the record 59 Americans taken in the 2010 draft.