Ottawa Senators need help from top 20 prospects sooner than expected

By Kristopher Bras

Photo: Fredrik Claesson was paired with Erik Karlsson during his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, December 30th, 2015. (Courtesy of Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)

Photo: Fredrik Claesson was paired with Erik Karlsson during his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, December 30th, 2015. (Courtesy of Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)


10. (11) Fredrik Claesson, D, 7.0 C
Drafted 5th round (126th overall), 2015

Fredrik Claesson finally got the chance to play for Ottawa this season, but due to necessity rather than reward. He has struggled to lead the Binghamton defense corps in Chris Wideman’s absence, and has looked awfully ordinary in an Ottawa uniform. He may have more time to adjust to the NHL next season, but generally, there are too many defencemen in the system with more potential for him to last with the team for very long. Claesson would benefit most from a fresh start with another hockey club.

9. (12) Christian Jaros, D, 7.0 C
Drafted 5th round (139th overall), 2015

Christian Jaros was a far more effective defenseman for Lulea this season, and there aren’t many young defencemen who have adjusted to men’s league play as well as he has. He captained Slovakia at the World Junior Championships, where he was clearly his country’s best player. He had 6 assists for Lulea this season, and finished with a plus-6 rating.

8. (14) Gabriel Gagne, RW, 7.5 C
Drafted 2nd round (36th overall), 2015

Gagne has had mixed results this season, and failed to net even half of the 35 goals he scored in 2014-15. That’s largely due to an unexpected injury at the beginning of the season, and also a diminished role in Shawinigan, where he is just one of many terrific goal scorers. Although he might not get as many powerplay minutes with the Cataractes, playing for a Memorial Cup contender will be better for him in the long run.

7. (6) Andreas Englund, D, 7.5 C
Drafted 2nd round (40th overall), 2014

Andreas Englund is having another dominant season with Djurgardens, where he is now an alternate captain. He also served as captain for Sweden at the World Junior Championships. Englund has developed steadily overseas, but with the Senators consistently outshot in both the NHL and AHL, it is time for Englund to join the organization that drafted him. He could become the defensive stalwart that the team so desperately needs, sooner than Ottawa fans probably expect.

6. (19) Ryan Dzingel, C, 7.0 B
Drafted 7th round (204th overall), 2011

In the space of half a season, Ryan Dzingel has moved from Binghamton’s middle-six forwards to Ottawa’s third line. There, he has demonstrated the creativity and speed that made him a steal at 204th overall in the 2011 draft. Although less talented forwards (like McCormick) got called up to Ottawa ahead of him earlier in the season, Dzingel finally began using his speed to play a more effective north-south style, and coaches noticed. He has 7 points in 23 games with the parent Senators.

5. (6) Filip Chlapik, C, 7.0 B
Drafted 2nd round (48th overall), 2015

Without any other elite forwards to play with in Charlottetown, Filip Chlapik struggled to produce consistent offense in the first half. Although Chlapik’s game has picked up since linemate Daniel Sprong returned from Pittsburgh, it hasn’t been a great year for his development, and he failed to have much of an impact for the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championships. Despite this, he remains one of the team’s better forward prospects.

4. (4) Matt Puempel, LW, 7.0 B
Drafted 1st round (24th overall), 2011

Matt Puempel’s game hasn’t exactly taken a leap forward this season. After failing to impress in Ottawa, he was returned to Binghamton for a large portion of the season. In call-ups, he has spent just as much time in the stands as he has in a uniform, and he hasn’t improved on last season’s production. With Prince traded to the Islanders, Puempel should get more opportunities to prove himself next season.

3. (3) Nick Paul, LW, 7.0 B
Trade with the Dallas Stars, July 1st, 2014

Nick Paul had trouble adjusting to the professional game not because he lacked the skill, but because he was tasked with transitioning from a goal-scoring left winger into a power centre that can wreak havoc in front of the net. The work paid off. When his play picked up for the better after Christmas, the Senators were quick to call him up to the big club—where he has since been one of the club’s more physical forwards. He has three points in 17 NHL games.

2. (1) Thomas Chabot, D, 8.0 C
Drafted 1st round (18th overall), 2015

Thomas Chabot has grown into a top NHL prospect this year, and when there are trade talks in Ottawa, he is the player most often asked for by interested clubs. That’s because he is one of the top young defencemen in the country, which was highlighted when he made Team Canada’s top pairing at the World Junior Championships this summer. Now, Chabot and the Saint John Sea Dogs will make a run for the QMJHL Championship. Chabot had 45 points this season, despite missing 21 games to NHL camp and the U20s.

1. (2) Colin White, C, 8.0 C
Drafted 1st round (21st overall), 2015

Colin White and Chabot are incomparable—different positions, different strengths. However, White gets the nod here because he handled himself a bit better against elite peers at the World Junior Championships, and because he is dominating at a slightly higher level of hockey than Chabot. He will join Boston College at the Frozen Four, and his accolades already include the Hockey East Rookie of the Year award, as well as a no-brainer selection to the All-Rookie Team.

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