During Ottawa’s rollercoaster 2009-10 season, GM Brian Murray made a number of trades, starting with the blockbuster deal that sent miscreant Dany Heatley to the San Jose Sharks. As a result, the team entered the 2010 NHL Entry Draft with just five selections. Despite that, the Senators left Los Angeles with a late-round gem who would eventually break the team’s rookie scoring record.
Just before the Senators’ turn to pick in the first round came up, Bettman instead announced that the team had traded their 1st round pick to the St. Louis Blues for David Rundblad, a highly-skilled puck moving defenseman whom the Blues had selected 17th overall in 2009. While the Blues used the pick to take Vladimir Tarasenko 16th overall, the Senators would eventually trade Rundblad to the Arizona Coyotes for Kyle Turris in December, 2011.
The Senators also sat out the 2nd round. The team had originally held two picks (one as a result of the Heatley trade), but both were shipped off in advance of the 2010 trade deadline. In the process, they acquired centre Matt Cullen from the Hurricanes and bruising defenseman Andy Sutton from the Islanders.
Jakub Culek, LW, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL), 3rd round, 76th overall
NHL Games: 0
After scoring 47 points in 63 games and contributing six goals through two rounds of hockey in 2010, Culek was a solid 3rd round choice. The Senators hoped the big, skilled prospect would become an effective two-way player, given the right atmosphere to develop.
Unfortunately, a lacklustre performance in 2010-11 followed. Through 55 games, he managed just 22 points—a far cry from the potential he had shown just a year before. Still, his plus-2 rating was second-best on his suddenly mediocre Rimouski team, and he played well enough to be selected to the Czech Republic’s World Junior Championships roster.
His 40 points in 2011-12 were an improvement, and as a second-liner he helped the Oceanic advance to the President’s Cup Finals—though they were swept by the Saint John Sea Dogs. He was also invited back to the World Junior Championships, where he had success on a line with Tomas Hertl, scoring five points in seven games.
Despite getting into three games with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators in 2012-13, the year was a wash due to Culek missing the majority of it to an upper body injury. It was not until 2013-14 when Culek finally got the chance to show his stuff at the pro level. Though he spent most his time doing so with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals, he had a decent rookie season—scoring 30 points in 49 games.
Due to another poor start in 2014-15, Culek was put on unconditional waivers by the Senators in January, which he would clear. He then returned to the Czech Republic to join HC Plzen in the Czech Extraliga. Before long, they demoted him on loan to HC Klatovy in the Czech3 league. It is unlikely that Culek will ever play in North America again.
Marcus Sorensen, RW, Sodertalje SK (J20 SuperElit), 4th round, 106th overall
NHL Games: 0
Marcus Sorensen showed tremendous promise when he racked up 42 points in 15 games with J18 Elit’s Sodertalje, who quickly moved him up to the SuperElit. There, he got into an additional 27 games—adding 17 points and earning the gaze of North American scouts.
The Senators have a history of mining solid Swedish-born prospects from the late rounds of the draft. Sorensen’s quick feet and puck skills fit the mold of what they usually look for, so the Senators took him 106th overall in the hopes that he would become another late-round gem.
Sorensen continued to develop during the 2010-11 season, scoring 36 points in 31 games with the SuperElit’s Djurgarden. In the playoffs, he contributed three goals in four games, helping his team secure the league’s bronze medal. At the end of the year, he signed a two-year contract with Skelleftea.
In 2011-12, it became clear that while Sorensen was too good for U20, he was not quite ready for the SHL—so he was loaned to Boras HC in the second-tier Allsvenskan. There, he had a decent 17 points in 29 games. He also had 55 penalty minutes, demonstrating that he could get nasty if need be.
When June 1st, 2012 came around, the Senators opted not to sign Sorensen. Although he has developed into a solid forward in the SHL, he has fallen off the radar as an NHL prospect.
Mark Stone, RW, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL), 6th round, 178th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games: 103
In 2010, the consensus on Mark Stone was unanimous—he was too slow. However, he was also cerebral, and had a pair of hands that most hockey players would slay for. So when the Senators got their turn to pick in the 6th round of the draft, they took a chance on a ‘slow’ player who had nevertheless turned in promising offensive numbers during his first two years of WHL action (67 points through 95 games).
The following season, he blew up the WHL, scoring 37 goals and 106 points, and later adding 10 points in six playoff games. Although Brandon is over 2,300 kilometres away from the city where Stone was drafted, Ottawa was abuzz with talk of the new high-scoring Senators prospect.
Stone’s 2011-12 season was even better, as he improved to 41 goals and 123 points. But the highlight of his season was when the entire country got a look at him on the national stage, as a member of Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championships. He lit up the tournament, tucking home seven pucks in six games en route to a bronze-medal finish. He would later join the Ottawa Senators in their seven-game playoff series with the New York Rangers, assisting on an important Jason Spezza goal in his only outing.
Over the next few seasons, Stone split his time between Binghamton and Ottawa, improving drastically in 2013-14. In Binghamton, he got experience playing with future teammates like Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Cody Ceci. After Stone finished with eight points in 19 games during his second recall to the big club, it was clear that he was ready to contribute.
This season, Stone became the bonafide NHL star that most believed he was too slow to ever become. His 64 points broke Daniel Alfredsson’s team record for a rookie, he led the league in takeaways, and he helped the Senators make the playoffs down the stretch with a pair of clutch two-goal efforts. He was rewarded for his stellar season when the NHL named him as a finalist for the Calder Trophy.
Bryce Aneloski, D, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL), 7th round, 196th overall
NHL Games: 0
In 2010, Bryce Aneloski was a good-sized, mobile, offensive defenseman who was fresh off a career year in the USHL. As a member of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, he had racked up 15 goals and 54 points—earning a scholarship to the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the process. Although he was already twenty years old at the time, the Senators took a chance on selecting him in the 7th round.
As a freshman the following season, Aneloski managed to dress for every game while contributing 19 points. He also had a terrific plus-15 rating. In 2011-12, Aneloski had more confidence with the puck, and scored a few more goals. Despite his improvement, the Mavericks were unable to gain any traction in the playoffs.
The Senators chose not to offer Aneloski a contract following the 2012 season. He has gone on to become a very solid defenseman in the ECHL as an alternate captain with the Orlando Solar Bears, who have loaned him on occasion to several AHL teams. At 25 he still has time to develop, but it is unlikely that he will ever play in the NHL.
Notable Playoff Performances
The Binghamton Senators and the Evansville Icemen finished out of playoff contention, so just a few of the team’s junior prospects have been active in the last month. And with the Oshawa Generals playing in the Memorial Cup, Tobias Lindberg was the last Senators prospect to suit up this year.
The Generals went on to win the Memorial Cup, and Lindberg was a big reason why. A 4th round pick in 2013 (102nd overall), he has surprised many with how versatile a prospect he has proven to be in his first year of North American play. His 14 points in 16 hard-fought playoff matches were crucial to his team’s success. Lindberg’s numbers may have been even higher had the Generals not faced one of the CHL’s best defensive teams in the 3rd Round, the North Bay Battalion.
The Battalion featured another Senators prospect who has made quite a name for himself this season—Nick Paul. Paul followed up his strong performance at the World Junior Championships by posting 15 points in 15 playoff games. His Battalion remain the only team to defeat the Generals twice in this playoff.
Back in April, big Ben Harpur rewarded the Colts for acquiring him at the trade deadline by posting the best numbers of his career, with 6 points in 9 playoff games—and a plus-6 rating. Harpur will now move on to the pros, most likely in Binghamton.
Player of the Month: Tobias Lindberg, RW, Oshawa Generals
Who else? Playing in the Memorial Cup, Lindberg had the attention of the entire nation. Lindberg was part of a scary, two-way forward unit that could rub its opponents out with snarl—at both ends of the rink. After leading the Generals in scoring with five points in four games, he can rest assured that he will have a job in Binghamton next season.
The Generals won four straight one-goal games, and Lindberg had a crucial role in each of them. His goal against the Kelowna Rockets in the team’s third game was a highlight reel toe-drag move that stood up as the game-winner, securing a berth in the finals. He then assisted on Anthony Cirelli’s game-winning overtime goal in the final (also against the Rockets), sending the Generals home with the win—and Lindberg to the next level of hockey on a high note.
Follow Kristopher Bras on Twitter via @KristopherBras