After a perplexing first three rounds the Sens plotted their way through the last six. The Senators selected 6 players and traded a pick for another. The two day total is seven defenseman, three centers and one goaltender. Many weaknesses were addressed.
In the fourth round the Senators took defenseman Derrick Byfurglien of the Fargo-Moorhead IceSharks with the 122nd pick. Byfurglien is 6’1″ 185lbs and has received a scholarship with the University of Nebraska-Omaha. By all accounts he is a player with the ability to head-man the puck out of the zone and at the same time posses a great shot. In 50 USHL games last season, Derrick collected 16 points (5G,11A) and 106 PIM. This was a compensatory pick for the loss of group III free agent Lance Pitlick.
The Sens’ anticipation for the fifth round must have been great as they held three picks in succession (156,157 and 158). With the 156th slot the Sens selected blueliner Greg Zanon of the University of Nebraska-Omaha. At 5’11″ 200lbs Zanon might be hurt by conditionin, though it’s still too early to tell. Last year 50 PIM, 3 goals and 22 assists were accumulated in 35 games.
The 157th pick was used to take Grant Potulney of the USHL’s Lincoln Stars. Grant has received a scholarship from the University of Minnesota. At 6’2″ 190lbs this pivot appears to have great upside as he was voted the Stars most improved player in ’98. With 56 games played Potulney potted 25 and aided 30 others.
After trade speculation all week long the Ottawa Senators took a conservative stance and decided to wait for their first round pick; 21st overall. Anton Volchenkov, the 6′ 210lbs defenseman from the Central Red Army farm is an imposing physical specimen and was ranked as the second best defenseman available in Europe by CSB and was 6th our own hockeysfuture.com list. There are major weaknesses on the Senators blueline that Volchenkov will help to alleviate a year or two from now. At first 6′ appears too small for a NHL defenseman but rest assured that Volchenkov makes up for this with a thick 210 frame; think Kasparaitis of Pittsburgh. A note of interest is that hockey runs in Anton’s blood, as his father was a regular with Red Army in the seventies. Senators GM Marshal Johnstone said he was very pleased Volchenkov was still available so late in the first round, and so it appears the Senators’ draft luck continues.
Now that the protected list is finalized we can posit the Senator’s draft method. It’s plain and simple. Defense. The Sens once had more blueliners then they did positions; Lance Pitlick takes the money in Florida, Patrick Traverse is traded to Anaheim, Grant Ledyard retires this summer and Igor Kravchuk will be traded if not selected in the expansion draft. Now as a result of these moves Jason York is the only defenseman with more then three years of NHL experience. Players like Rachunek and Salo will play full seasons next year, thus the minor league prospects need to be restocked. The Sens have made a start in this direction with Julien Vauclair and Gavin McLeod. Unless 4 or 5 players are taken there will be a defense famine in a few years.
The Senators released their expansion draft protection list this past week. The two goalies Lalime and Hurme were protected and therefore, three defensemen and seven forwards where also hidden. Notables that will be available for the Wild and the Blue Jackets to select include Igor Kravchuk, Joe Juneau and Rob Zamuner.
Joe Juneau was brought in as a rent a player when Alexei Yashin went missing this fall. Juneau potted some rubber but forgot about back checking. Although not a grave disappointment Juneau for the most part floated around the Corel Centre ice with his pairs figure skating partner Rob Zamuner. For his part Zamuner’s game has fallen apart since the Nagano Olympics. This is true when referring to talent and physical aspects. More of a concern then the drop in production and play are the injuries that have been a big problem for the affable Zamuner. Johnstone has implicitly admitted mistakes by these moves. Zamuner was the return postage from Tampa after Rick Dudley fled. Juneau was a player Johnstone was very high on and the indication is that he still is; or so he seems by saying the team would use the option on the contract to retain Juneau next year.
The expansion draft is approaching quickly and it is yet to be determined what the Senators will do. Yesterday a roster freeze fell into place and teams won’t be permitted to make any further moves until later in the week. Players with fewer than two years of
experience are exempt. If two goalies are protected the team can protect three defensemen, and seven forwards. Otherwise the more common formula is one goalie, five defensemen and nine forwards. What makes this draft very important, is that with both Columbus and Minnesota entering the league, all teams will lose two players instead of just one. The Senators have recently made two moves that effect this ratio. Rich Parent was
acquired from Tampa for a 7th round pick and today Patrick Traverse was sent to Anaheim for Joel Kwiatkowski. The Traverse move lends more heed to the possibility the Sens will protect two goalies. Johnstone loves Lalime and he will be protected. Hurme’s late season play in the IHL playoffs will buy himself a few more years to prove himself as well. Each expansion team is allowed to pick 6 goalies each; three is probably the practical limit.
Traverse is a big loss. The lanky rear guard cultivated a reputation for being very reliable both defensively and offensively. The hole left on the blueline is a big one and Kwiatkowski won’t be the answer. An 8th rounder in the ’96 draft, he was originally taken by Dallas. For the past two years Kwiatkowski had been playing for Cincinnati in the Read more»