Senators Update – Part 3 (Forwards)

By Nathan Estabrooks

Forwards

The Ottawa Senators’ forward prospects fall into two main categories. Fast,offensively gifted forwards of European nationality and two-way North Americans.
Obviously there are some exceptions to this rule. Martin Havlat, last years 26th pick over all appears to have some defensive awareness. Although Havlat turns heads with his offence there is a well-rounded game underneath the flash. Occasionally Havlat appears to
lose focus and it is the back of his game that most suffers then. At 6’1″, 178 lbs. he’s got good size which should make defensive play easier, but to make the jump to the North American game Havlat must get used to the physical grind. Second behind Havlat on the
depth chart is Russian winger Petr Schastlivy. Many people got their first glimpse of Schastlivy at the ’98 World Junior Championships in Winnipeg. He is graced with good natural speed, balance and the sort of scoring touch you can’t teach. Mid season play with
Grand Rapids had fans calling for his promotion to the big league team. During the all-star break Ottawa coach Jacques Martin traveled to the mid west to scout. It was only a week later Schastlivy was playing in the NHL. One thing that most strikes people about him is the creativity he shows in front of the net. He can score from the slot, from the bullion and even from behind the net. The lack of size is a concern though. Schastlivy was not able to make Ottawa a permanent home in part because of timidness. It didn’t take long before opposing teams noticed he wouldn’t plant himself around the net if punished. Though it seemed during
last sortie in Ottawa Schastlivy had learnt his lesson only time will tell if he can fully adapt to a smaller ice surface and a more physical game. The experience of the Turner Cup finals should do wonders in this regard.

A big surprise was the play of Mike Fisher. The former captain of the Sudbury Wolves was to get some playing time, but nobody expected him to become an integral part of the third line. His youth and exuberance were valuable additions to a team that seemed at times as if they’d rather be playing shuffleboard. Fisher would remain in Ottawa and would
not join the National team. He proved relatively responsible in his own zone and seemed eager to learn from the coaching staff. Unfortunately Fisher went down with a leg injury mid way through the season, but not before making himself a permanent home with the Sens.

Chris Bala is a player who doesn’t fit into the two-way North American mold. As a left winger he’s shown good vision, and always seems to keeps his options open. A broken wrist has slowed the progression towards the NHL, but with a little more attention to
defense Bala is ready to star in the IHL.

Senators prospect Josh Langfeld may be a diamond in a rough. By all accounts he is a remarkably average player yet the hope is Langfeld will develop into a power forward. If this is to happen some big meals are in order to fill out his frame. It is always difficult to predict what a player like this will do. One thing that is for certain is that Langfeld requires more tempering. If he plays well with Grand Rapids a handful of games with Ottawa late in the season is not out of the question. For now Langfeld must learn how to dominate at the IHL level before he can make the step to the next. His lack of speed will always be a hinderance.

Mike Fisher will start with the Senators in the fall. Unless there is a complete undoing in his game he will finish the season with them. The next best chance to start with the big club belongs to Petr Schastlivy. He has a handful of game and an outstanding IHL playoff to draw experience from. It’s unlikely Havlat will start out in Ottawa. He’ll be sent to Grand Rapids to