The Ottawa Senators came into the 2012 NHL Draft looking to add a puck-moving defensemen and some additional long-term talent between the pipes. Ottawa has to be pleased with their haul, coming away with three offensive-minded defensemen, two CHL goaltenders with considerable upside, and a couple of skilled forwards.
As typical under the Bryan Murray regime there was considerable weight placed on character when making their choices with an underlying emphasis on skill. Local flavor was added with their top pick Cody Ceci, who was born and raised in the National Capital Region and plays for the Ottawa 67's. Additionally the second goaltender they selected hails from Gatineau, just across the Ottawa River in Quebec. In all four players were chosen from the CHL, one from Sweden, which has been a traditional Senators prospect goldmine, and two who will continue their development path through the NCAA route.
The Senators were pinching themselves that defenseman Cody Ceci was available when it came their turn to pick. With the trade of puck-moving defenseman David Rundblad to Phoenix last season, adding a puck-moving defenseman was a top priority.
The native of Orléans, a suburb of Ottawa, grew up cheering for the Senators and welcomed the opportunity to play for his hometown team along with fellow teammate Shane Prince.
"I think I'd have an advantage just because if I didn't play (in the NHL) next year I'd be going back to Ottawa and its right down the street from where we're playing," Ceci said prior to being selected. "So I think I'd have a good advantage there."
The best attributes Ceci has are his ability to carry and pass the puck out of his own end, his control of the blue line from the point, and the naturally high tempo of his transition game. The size and skating ability are there as is his willingness to commit to improving. The '93 born Ceci has progressed in each of this three OHL seasons to date posting 60 points including 17 goals in the most recent season while being named to the OHL Second All Star team.
The Senators will have a long look at him in their camp where he'll likely be returned to the 67's for one more season and target a spot on the Canadian entry at this year's WJC. The 67's have graduated a few of their top skill players so there will be a bigger expectation on Ceci to be a team leader both on the ice and on the score sheet.
Eventually the Senators had to attend to picking a goaltender in one of their drafts and this was the one. They reached into the WHL to select Chris Driedger who just completed his second WHL season with a 24-12-3 record, a 2.80 goals against average and a .896 save percentage. A native of Winnipeg, Driedger possesses a good work ethic and attitude and handles the puck well. According to Senators director of player personnel Pierre Dorion, the Senators are "confident that this goalie will turn out to be a good goalie down the road."
He's quiet in his movements and has a calm demeanor which gained him attention at the CHL/NHL top prospects game where he stopped all 14 shots directed his way starting for Team Orr. The Hitmen traded away their other goaltender so Driedger will be expected to carry the bulk of the workload this coming season.
Jarrod Maidens, C/LW – Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
3rd round, 82nd overall
Height: 6'1 Weight: 178 lbs
The Senators dipped back into the OHL pool for their third pick choosing forward Jarrod Maidens from the Owen Sound Attack. Projected to be a first round pick earlier in the season, a mid-November concussion derailed his progress and shut down his promising campaign where he had totaled 23 points including 12 goals in the 28 league games he played. When healthy he contributes with a solid two-way game along with a nice blend of skill and toughness. An excellent worker along the boards, he has good skating ability, can score effectively with his shot and can hold the puck to make a play. There is an amount of risk to this pick as 'Iron' Maidens' as he's nicknamed has still not been cleared from his injury but the long-term potential is likely worthwhile.
Timothy Boyle, D – Noble & Greenough High School (Mass HS.)
4th round, 106th overall
Height: 6'1 Weight: 185 lbs
Committed to playing at Union College in the ECAC, the younger brother of Senators' nemesis Brian Boyle has displayed exceptional puck-moving ability, particularly along the blue line. Boyle produced a six goals and 12 assists in 26 games last season in a not so stellar senior H.S. campaign and is expected to be a longer-term project as he fills out and learns the finer aspects of the game in the NCAA.
The organization sees plenty of upside with him as his projected size and skating skill bode well for this intriguing player. Besides Boyle, who was ranked number 208 by Central Scouting for North American skaters, the Senators have only drafted Brad Peltz and Colin Greening from the high school ranks in the past ten drafts.
More skill up front was added to the Senators prospect pipeline in the form of Baillargeon who will play a second season with Indiana before heading off to Boston University for 2013. A slick playmaker and good skater with great hockey sense, his ability to create offense either through finesse or power is his top attribute.
In the playoffs he had an outstanding performance and demonstrated some of the high-end scoring ability he's capable of, scoring four goals in six games. He'll absolutely need to increase his strength and bulk and will have the luxury of time as the Senators are looking at a three to five year development timetable for him before he'll be expected to be ready for pro hockey.
Francois Brassard, G – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
6th round, 166th overall
Height: 6'1 Weight: 154 lbs
A tall, lanky goalie with the potential to develop over time, the organization selected Brassard who produced a 20-10-3 record, a 2.80 goals against average, and .905 save percentage in 37 QMJHL games last season. The backup in Quebec, he'll target the starting position this season with the likely graduation of Louis Domingue (PHX), and is armed with a competitive nature and good butterfly technique. His potential upside is not as high at Driedger's at this point but a couple of more seasons under the guidance of the Senators and Remparts coach Patrick Roy could enhance his development considerably. The composed Brassard will need to mature some physically and work on his glove hand along with maintaining his focus to stay upright longer when challenging shooters.
Mikael Wikstrand, D – Mora (Allsvenskan)
7th round, 196th overall
Height: 6'1 Weight: 183 lbs
With a good track record of finding NHL players in the seventh round, the Senators chose Mikael Wikstrand, a two way defenseman who managed a three points in 47 games last year. Wikstrand plays a smart, steady game with good skating ability and decent puck skills, although his upside may be limited. Playing in a men's league the past two seasons he's shown good defensive technique and a calm demeanor.
The Senators will monitor his progress and look for added physical play and an enhanced offensive game. Wikstrand should make a case for a spot on the Swedish WJC squad this year where he can be measured versus the top players his age.