Ottawa Senators boast deep system in NCAA and Europe

By Kristopher Bras
Colin White - Ottawa Senators

Photo: Boston College center and Ottawa Senators prospect Colin White had a stellar season as a sophomore, finishing second on his team in scoring with 43 points in 37 games. (courtesy Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

 

 

The Ottawa Senators may not have any big names playing in the limelight of the OHL, but that doesn’t mean their system is in any trouble. Don’t let the team’s lack of Ontario-based prospects or AHL success fool you – much of the next big wave of talent will come from the NCAA and Sweden.

Of course, the team is no stranger to drafting overseas – a great deal of the modern team’s success can be attributed to scouting overseas. This year’s crop is no different, and once again the Senators boast a glut of Swedish prospects who have become larger assets than their middling draft positions indicate.

That said, the team’s NCAA prospects are perhaps a more compelling story. Three of them advanced to the Frozen Four Tournament this season, where Christian Wolanin was a part of the championship-winning University of North Dakota team. Unfortunately, those successes aren’t the complete picture. Many of them have failed to improve throughout their college careers.

NCAA

Colin White, C, Boston College (Hockey East)
Drafted: 21st overall, 1st round, 2015

Colin White suffered disappointments at the World Junior Championships and the Frozen Four, but the sum of his season’s parts add up. White was an alternate captain at the World Juniors, where a loaded Team USA had to settle for bronze. Later, Boston College was defeated by Quinnipiac in the Frozen Four semifinals. White’s 43 points in 37 games were huge for BC, and he was rewarded with an appointment to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team. Although it was rumored that he could turn pro in the spring, he has yet to sign an entry-level contract with Ottawa.

Christian Wolanin, D, University of North Dakota (NCHC)
Drafted: 107th overall, 4th round, 2015

Wolanin was surrounded with talent at the University of North Dakota, which was both a curse and a blessing. He finished with a thrilling stat line for a freshman rearguard (15 points, plus-16 rating), but was unable to get into every game, especially down the stretch and into the Frozen Four. The team’s defensive core will be back in 2016-17, but expect Wolanin to become a regular anyway. At 107th overall, he could be a steal.

Kelly Summers, D, Clarkson University (ECAC)
Drafted: 189th overall, 7th round, 2014

Perhaps one of the most underrated prospects in Ottawa’s system, Summers has done what he was asked to do during his time at Clarkson – get stronger. He’s shown more toughness this season, and his 20 penalty minutes are his largest totals since he played AAA minor midget with the Ottawa Valley Titans. He was also more comfortable distributing the puck, and finished with 11 assists (14 points).

Miles Gendron, D, University of Connecticut (Hockey East)
Drafted: 70th overall, 3rd round, 2014

This high-risk defenceman with speed to burn has a long road ahead of him, especially for a third round draft pick (70th overall). He brought speed to the University of Connecticut lineup, but after a great start (five points in 12 games), he was held to just six points. The Senators will have a lot of work to do with him at development camp this summer.

Quentin Shore, C, University of Denver (NCHC)
Drafted: 168th overall, 6th round, 2013

Quentin Shore was a consistent performer for the University of Denver throughout his four-year residence, and he helped lead the team to a Frozen Four appearance in his final go-round. In April, it was reported that he would not be signing with the Ottawa Senators, although details are few.

Robbie Baillargeon, C, Boston University (Hockey East)
Drafted: 136th overall, 5th round, 2012

It was another disappointing season for Baillargeon. Boston University took a back seat to Boston College, losing the Beanpot and failing to advance to the Frozen Four. Meanwhile, Baillargeon’s production slipped to 12 points (he had 27 points as a freshman). Barring a miracle in his upcoming senior season, it’s unlikely that the Senators will offer him a contract.

Shane Eiserman, LW/C, University of New Hampshire (Hockey East)
Drafted: 100th overall, 4th round, 2014

The Senators had high hopes for Eiserman when they burned a fourth round pick on him back in 2014, but he has failed to justify the selection during his time with the University of New Hampshire. He still has a hard shot, but he has only found the back of the net seven times during two seasons. He could still develop into a bottom-line role player, but the Senators will need to see more from him in the next few seasons in order to extend him an offer.

Chris LeBlanc, RW, Merrimack College (Hockey East)
Drafted: 168th overall, 6th round, 2013

Like Eiserman and Baillargeon, LeBlanc has failed to develop into an NHL prospect. With just 12 points and a minus-6 rating, the junior’s numbers were better when he was a freshman. He will finish his degree, and likely sign with an ECHL team.

Europe

Andreas Englund, D, Djurgardens IF (SHL)
Drafted: 40th overall, 2nd round, 2014

Andreas Englund is the best defensive prospect in Ottawa’s system. The stalwart’s leadership, work ethic, and defensive prowess was on display when he captained Sweden at the 2016 World Junior Championships. He has yet to play on North American soil, but when he does, Senators fans will quickly realize that Thomas Chabot isn’t the only defenseman of note in the team’s system. The shot-blocking shutdown defender could finally provide the team with a replacement for Anton Volchenkov, who left Ottawa in 2010.

Marcus Hogberg, G, Linkoping HC (SHL)
Drafted: 78th overall, 3rd round, 2013

Hogberg is arguably the best NHL prospect in the SHL right now, but it’s unclear if he will get the opportunity to show it in Ottawa or Binghamton anytime soon. Ottawa’s goaltending situation will likely remain unchanged this October (Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond in Ottawa, Matt O’Connor and Chris Driedger in Bingo), so Hogberg will return to Linkoping for another season. He posted good numbers this season, but rode the pine during the team’s first-round playoff exit. He should get more minutes in 2016-17.

Mikael Wikstrand, D, Farjestad BK (SHL)
Drafted: 196th overall, 7th round, 2012

Wikstrand is on this list as a technicality. The Senators retain his NHL rights, but he has signed a four-year contract extension with Farjestad BK of the SHL. When Wikstrand left Ottawa during training camp last season, he cited personal reasons (since revealed to be an ailing brother), but it has never been a secret that he isn’t keen on playing in Binghamton.

While it isn’t uncommon for Swedish players to prefer to develop in the SHL rather than the AHL, it is believed that Wikstrand’s two-way play would fit in well here. Say what you will about the player or the club’s treatment of him, but the bottom line is that the Senators have probably lost a valuable asset.

Filip Ahl, LW, HV71 (SHL)
Drafted: 109th overall, 4th round, 2015

Filip Ahl is a big, dominating forward who can score with abundance – he had 18 goals in 18 games (31 points) with HV71’s junior team this season. He didn’t do much in the SHL, where he averaged just under three minutes per game, but he was better in the second-tier Allsvenskan. In total, he played for eight different teams this season (including international U19 and U20), and he would likely benefit from the stability of the CHL, as Tobias Lindberg did a year ago.

Christian Jaros, D, Lulea HF (SHL)
Drafted: 139th overall, 5th round, 2015

Christian Jaros was dynamite this season, and he is developing more like a second rounder. He adjusted to the SHL uncannily well, and later captained the Slovaks at the World Junior Championships. He hasn’t produced much offense, but the potential is there and his plus-six rating in men’s league play was impressive. He looked good in 10 playoff games as well. He’ll probably develop in Sweden until he’s at least 20 (like Englund), but the Senators know they have a quality defenseman on the way.

Prospect of the Month

Francis Perron - Ottawa SenatorsIt has been an incredible year for Francis Perron, and all he did last month was lead the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to the Memorial Cup Championship game. Although the team lost to the star-studded London Knights, the Huskies gave the team a harder fight than most expected any team could, with Perron scoring a goal in the 3-2 loss. He tied Matthew Tkachuk and Timo Meier for third in tournament points, with eight in five games.