Ottawa Senators European prospects big on size and skill

By John Henkelman
Photo: Along with numerous talented European prospects, the Senators boast several talented collegiate defensemen, including the large and physical Ben Blood. (Photo courtesy of Holly Gunning/HF)

The SEL and NCAA pipelines are at work for the Senators as they continue to rebuild their organization through their young talent. David Runblad should be in the Ottawa opening day lineup next season while Derek Grant and Mark Borowiecki have recently turned pro and are currently playing in the AHL with Binghamton. The remaining European and college prospects are at varying stages of readiness with the organization looking to integrate them over the next three seasons.

Europe

Andre Petersson, LW, 20
Acquired: 4th round, 109th overall, 2008


A human highlight reel, this 5’9 169-pound dynamic winger put his high-speed offensive skills on display this season with HV 71 in the SEL. He was able to contribute eight goals and four assists playing on a veteran-laden team before having his season shut down by an injury in January. While he has the natural ability to create offense, he needs to work on using his teammates and his overall positional play in order to fulfill his potential as a top six scoring winger. The right-handed shooting Swede is committed to play with HV71 for next season and could be a candidate to move to North America the following season to further his development.

David Rundblad, D, 20
Acquired: Trade with the St. Louis Blues, June 25th, 2010

This has been a breakthrough season for this much heralded defensemen who is earmarked to join the Senators blue line next season. After putting up an 11 goal and 39 assists in the regular season, which placed him first among rearguards and third overall in SEL scoring, he’s added two goals and five assists in 10 playoff games with Skellefteå HC. The 6’2 189-pound Rundblad is already signed to a three-year entry-level contract and provides offense both off the rush with his vision and skating skills as well as from the point with his accurate shot and pin-point passes. This 20-year old must continue to work on the defensive aspects of his game and get stronger to contain NHL forwards. Ottawa will give this 2009 first round pick of the Blues every opportunity to be the offensive role of their second or third defensive pairing for their 2011-12 campaign.

Emil Sandin, LW, 23
Acquired: 7th round, 199th overall, 2008

Originally selected for his high hockey IQ and playmaking skills, this 5’10 178-pound winger appears to have stalled in his development after his solid initial full campaign in the SEL with Brynäs IF. The hard-working forward is currently out with an injury after scoring two goals and eight assists in 16 games with Mora IK of HockeyAllsvenskan who received him on loan basis. While with Brynäs, he struggled with only three assists in 26 league games this season. The organization will need to make a decision on this tough, skilled, physical player this off-season or lose their rights to him.

Jakob Silfverberg, LW, 20
Acquired: 2nd round, 39th overall, 2009

Another Senators prospect who made a substantial improvement in the SEL this season is this talented two-way winger who exceeded scoring expectation with 18 goals and 16 assists. The right-handed shot also chipped in four assists in five playoff games before Brynäs IF was eliminated from the playoffs. His defensive awareness and responsibility in all zones is mature for a player his age while his contributions on the offensive end are rewarding those in the organization who targeted him for a top six forward role when they drafted him. At this point he could focus on the physical element of his game for further improvement. Ottawa will push to get him signed this off-season but still may end up agreeing to one more season in Brynäs and then have him come across to North America after.

Markus Sorensen, RW, 18
Acquired: 4th round, 106th overall, 2010

Sörensen continues to build on his resume of raw skills and character with Djurgårdens IF in the Swedish junior league scoring 12 goals and adding 21 assists in 25 games. This Swedish winger’s smooth skating stride, high intensity and quick hands were auditioned in the SEL where he played seven games with Djurgårdens potting his first goal on the senior circuit. Unfortunately he hasn’t played since January due to a back injury which has cut short his J20 SuperElit Top 8 season. He’s considered a long-term prospect with the organization looking at a three or four-year development plan for him.

NCAA

Bryce Aneloski, D, 20
Acquired: 7th round, 196th overall, 2010

The third time was the charm for this Pekin, IL native who was finally drafted in 2010 after leading the USHL defensemen in scoring and being passed over the previous two drafts. The 6’2 207-pound two-way defenseman has good puck-moving skills and has totaled two goals and 17 assists in this his first season with the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the WCHA. Originally he’d chosen Providence College but left the school after his first semester when he realized the fit was not there for him. The Senators will have him continue his development in the collegiate ranks where he can showcase his accurate passing and offensive instincts while working to improve his skating and strength.

Ben Blood, D, 22
Acquired: 4th round, 120th overall, 2007

Blood measures in at 6’3 212-pounds and is a big, punishing defensive-defenseman now in his third season at North Dakota with a two goals, 10 assist statline. The Plymouth, MN leads the nation in plus-minus with a plus-32 and will continue his season in the Frozen Four. After a period of adjustment to the college game he’s improved his play and moves the puck very well. Solid in his defensive zone coverage, he will need to work on his foot speed to make a positive impression at the next level. He is expected to return to UND for his senior season before making the transition to professional hockey in the Senators organization.

Mark Borowiecki, D, 21
Acquired: 5h round, 139th overall, 2008

After completing his junior season at Clarkson University, this 6’1 198-pound defenseman signed a two-year entry-level contract with Ottawa on March 11th and has suited up for four games with Binghamton. Prior to enrolling at Clarkson, the Kanata, ON native, who grew up in the Ottawa area, was voted the Best Defenseman in the CJHL with the Smiths Falls Bears. He is also the first local draft pick by the Senators. Noted as a physical player, he captained his team and led them with 67 penalty minutes along with his three goals and eight assists this season just completed. Borowiecki projects as a potential third-pairing defenseman who can provide leadership, energy and hold his own in the defensive zone.

Louie Caporusso, C, 21
Acquired: 3rd round, 90th overall, 2007

Currently playing in the Frozen Four with Michigan, Caporusso is a natural scorer with great skating ability experiencing a less than impressive season. The alternate captain and former Hobey Baker nominee (after his fantastic sophomore season) was expected to excel but has contributed only 11 goals, his lowest career total with the Wolverines, and 19 assists after two 40-plus points seasons. The 5’10 188-pound senior survived a recent scare from a knee on knee collision which was originally thought to finish his season but ended up only keeping him out of the lineup for three games. The Senators have him projected as a potential second line scoring center but will need to get him under contract this summer so he can continue his development in Binghamton next season.

Jeff Costello, LW, 20
Acquired: 5th round, 146th overall, 2009

A solid two-way player, Costello is continuing his freshman season at Notre Dame, where he’s earned 11 goals and six assists this season so far, at the Northeast Regional Finals. He is a hard-worker who uses his 6' 210-pound frame to his physical advantage, particularly in net-front situations. The organization will likely want this Milwaukee native to progress his game along further at the collegiate level. Although a long-term project, Costello brings much-needed size and aggressiveness to their prospect forward ranks.

Derek Grant, C, 20
Acquired: 4th round, 119th overall, 2008

Just signed to a three-year entry level contact on March 10th, this rangy, well-rounded 6’3” 190-pound centre has contributed 4 assists in 10 games with Binghamton to date. He’d just completed his second season in the CCHA where he led Michigan State scoring with 8 goals and 25 helpers. He has size which he uses effectively to gain position, offers deceptive speed, great hands and the potential to be a second or third line power forward in time with Ottawa. The Senators are looking to jump start his development process to match their rebuild strategy and after calling up some of their top forward prospects from Binghamton some positions opened up and Grant was able to fill a needed role. We should expect see him and his solid work ethic next season again in the AHL.

Brad Peltz, LW, 21
Acquired: 7th round, 190th overall, 2009

This season has been one of patience for the 6’ 182-pound forward that practiced with the powerhouse squad at Yale but was not dressed for a NCAA game. A hard-working player with good offensive skills, he scored Yale's winning goal in a Dec. 29 exhibition win over the Russian Red Stars in his only game action. With five senior forwards graduating this Mount Kisco native will be given every opportunity to contribute next season and put his good speed and puck skills on display. As with most young players he’ll need to improve his strength and spending this season getting acclimated may pay off in the long run. In an interesting twist, his father is billionaire Nelson Peltz, the CEO of the Wendy’s-Arby Group and former owner of Snapple, who was very interested in purchasing the Senators from the previous ownership group to Eugene Melnyk.

Chris Wideman, D, 21
Acquired: 4th round, 100th overall, 2009

Wideman, a 5’10 170-pound skilled junior defenseman, led the Miami RedHawks in scoring among their back-liners with three goals and 20 assists. Beyond his offensively abilities, Wideman plays with a great deal of composure and is considered one of the leaders of the team. While he obviously will need to get stronger in order to handle physical forwards at the next level, he does have an underrated defensive game and could develop into an effective two-way presence on the blue line. We should expect him to return Miami for his senior year barring anything unforeseen and the organization will look to sign him after his collegiate career is completed.

Michael Sdao, D, 21
Acquired: 7th round, 191st overall, 2009

While he is not without skills with the puck, it’s his size 6’4 220-pounds and physicality without the puck that led to this Niwot, CO native being selected by the Senators with their last pick in the 2009 draft. This imposing 21-year old defensive defenseman has just completed his second season at Princeton and put up 65 penalty minutes to go along with his three goals and seven assists. A hard worker, he has good mobility considering his size and positions himself well in all zones. Sdao will look to continue punishing opposition ECAC forwards for the next two seasons before turning his eyes to professional hockey.