Senators 2008 draft review

By Vic Alvira

The Ottawa Senators selected seven players in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. They selected three Swedes and four Canadians.  Of the seven picks, three were defensemen and four were forwards. 

While not making any major splashes on draft day, the Senators did partake in one deal that enabled them to move up three spots to take Erik Karlsson 15th overall. Ottawa added to their wealth of offensive minded defensemen, with the selections of Karlsson and Patrick Wiercioch. Zach Smith and Derek Grant on the other hand are physical, smart offensive forwards.

Erik Karlsson, D — (Swe-Jr Frolunda)

15th overall
May 31, 1990, 5’11, 165

The Senators moved up three spots by trading their first-round pick (18th overall) and a third-round pick in 2009 to grab Karlsson. Excitement was in the air as Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson made the selection at the podium. 

Karlsson is a terrific skater, when he skates it almost seems effortless. He plays the game with an abundance of confidence and is very level-headed. He is a pure offensive defenseman, showing his skills by leading the Swedish Junior League in assists for a defenseman with 24 and an impressive 37 points. Karlsson maintains his play at an elite level in big-time situations. He contributed seven assists at the 2008 Under-18 IIHF World Championships and a team-leading plus eight, where he was named the tournament’s best defenseman.

Karlsson is a power-play guru. He has shown the ability to be extremely effective in firing shots on net. Also, he consistently finds the open man while running the power-play unit with crisp passes and displays exceptional vision. 

His only concern at this point in his career is his strength. Karlsson likes to play physical, even though he is 165 pounds. Being able to add some muscle would improve his game greatly, especially when it’s time for his shot in the NHL. Standing at only 5’11 may seem worrisome, but more and more offensive-minded defensemen have succeeded at this size in the NHL.  Karlsson will be suiting up for Frolunda in the Elite League over in Sweden for the 2008-09 season.

When asked about Karlsson, Ottawa’s chief European scout Vaclav Burda said, “He’s going to run the power play in the near future and he can move the puck.” He also said, “I can clearly say if you put him on the ice today he wouldn’t hurt the team, he just needs some time and needs to put some muscles on his skinny body. He’s smart enough to play in the NHL now, but he’s not physically ready.”

Patrick Wiercioch, D — (USHL, Omaha)

42nd overall
Sept 12, 1990, 6’2, 178

The Senators selected another offensive defenseman with their second pick. Wiercioch is an excellent power-play quarterback and steps up his game in pressure situations. This was demonstrated with his 11 points in 14 playoff games last season for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. Wiercioch is a big guy standing at 6’2, and at only age 17 has plenty of time to bulk up a bit from his current weight of 178.  Surprisingly, at his size he can handle the puck very well on the move. Besides his weight, Wiercioch needs to work on his skating to really take his game to the next level.

Zach Smith, C — (WHL, Swift Current)

79th overall
Apr 5, 1988, 6’2, 202

Smith, the captain of Swift Current last season, brings a lot of poise and determination to the ice. After being passed on in previous drafts, Smith turned his game around offensively last season. The now 20-year-old posted a team-leading 70 points, up from only 31 from the season prior. With his success last season, he was offered an amateur tryout contract to play in the AHL for the Manitoba Moose. With the Moose he accumulated one assist in six playoff games.

Smith is a physical forward who is also not afraid to throw down the gloves. He is smart at both ends of the ice and sees a good amount of time on the penalty kill. He does the little things and is a big inspiration to his team.

Andre Petersson, W — (Swe-Jr, HV 71)

109th overall
Sept 11, 1990, 5’9, 169

Petersson is an electrifying skater and had an impressive season with HV 71 in the Swedish Junior League with 38 points. He gives defensemen nightmares with his creativity with the puck. He also has a wicked shot that finds the back of the net on most occasions. A concern with Petersson is his lack of backcheck and commitment to his defensive responsibilities. 

His work ethic could be improved. When he is having a good game he seems motivated and an unstoppable force on the ice, but when struggling he seems to play with a lackluster attitude. Petersson is a real “boom or bust” type of player that the Senators have on their hands. He will play in the OHL in the 2008-09 season for the St. Mike’s Majors.

Derek Grant, C — (BCHL, Langley)

119th overall
Apr 20, 1990, 6’3, 190

Grant is a big forward standing at 6’3. He had for 63 points last year with the Chiefs, of which 24 were goals. This was quite a feat for Grant, as he started the season with the Chiefs on the fourth line and worked his way up to line one with his keen eye for the net. Grant possesses strong skating skills for his size, and has a nose for crashing the net. He has committed to Michigan State.

Mark Borowiecki, D — (CJHL, Smith Falls)

139th overall
Jul 12, 1989, 6’1, 185

Borowiecki went from not expecting to be drafted, to going to his favorite NHL club. The local Kanata product said after racing to the arena, “I was just sitting at home kind of pressing the refresh button on the NHL web site looking for my name and couldn’t believe it when it came up for Ottawa.” 

He plays the game with a very physical edge and has a never say die attitude. Borowiecki also makes smart decisions when handling the puck. Borowiecki calls himself a two-way defenseman.  He also describes his play as “pretty physical” and he likes to take the body. Borowiecki also said, “I can move the puck up out of my own end and even jump into the play every once in awhile.”

He is still a raw talent and has a long way to go in development.  Borowiecki is going to Clarkson College in the fall.

Emil Sandin, LW — (Swe-Jr, Brynas)

199th overall
Feb 28, 1988, 5’10, 178

Sandin could turn out to be an interesting pick for the Senators. His size at 5’10 may be of concern, but he is an above average skater and has strong playmaking skills. This is shown by his 25 assists in only 28 games played for Brynas in the Swedish Junior League last season.
Sandin will play in the Elite League for the start of the 2008-09 season.