Senators Top 20 prospects

By Sean Keogh

1.Ray Emery, G

Emery is the Ottawa Senators’ top prospect now and has been since Jason Spezza graduated to the NHL. Even though Emery had a sub-par second half in the AHL this past season, he still played in his second AHL All-Star game in his second season in the league. Big, incredibly athletic and still quite raw, Emery may be ready for the NHL next year. He should get a fair few starts considering the Senators two current goalies: Dominik Hasek and Martin Prusek, who both have a history of groin trouble. Around 10 games is around what can be expected from Emery in Ottawa next year, and anything but another all-star season in the AHL will be a disappointment for the club’s goaltender of the future.

2.Andrej Meszaros, D

Although Patrick Eaves was the club’s first rounder in the much deeper 2003 draft, and had a good follow-up season to boot, Meszaros could have been a top 10 pick this year. A mature, well-rounded defenseman who skates well, moves the puck with ease and is not all finesse either, Meszaros will ply his trade with the Vancouver Giants next year. Considering that team will also boast likely 2005 top 5 selection Gilbert Brule and St. Louis goaltender of the future Marek Schwarz, Meszaros could be tested at another high profile tournament, the Memorial Cup.

3.Patrick Eaves, C

Eaves was drafted a center, has played plenty of right wing in college, yet was primarily a left wing at the World Junior Hockey Championships this past winter. At that tournament, Eaves shone not only as the club’s second leading scorer, but as a valuable penalty killer and amazing shot blocker. He should be Boston College’s leader on and off the ice next year with his brother Ben having graduated.

4.Igor Mirnov, LW

After the first three prospects, there is a bit of a drop-off to the second tier. Mirnov punches in at No. 4 in these rankings. There are few who doubt Mirnov is a good offensive talent. With great speed, a laser shot, good hands and a nose for the net, Mirnov can score goals in bunches. The rest of his game is a bit suspect. Not only that, but Mirnov has a history of knee problems. He is expected to play one more year with Dynamo Moscow, but like many Russian prospects, he would do well to come over to North America and work on his conditioning.

5.Alexei Kaigorodov, C

Right now Kaigorodov is probably the closest Senators top prospect to the NHL, Emery aside. Kaigorodov will be 21 in a couple of weeks, and as of now has yet to sign a contract to come over next season. It’s certainly possible he has opted to play another year in Russia rather than playing a year in the AHL with little chance of playing in the NHL considering not only his age but the NHL’s looming lockout. There are fewer real concerns with Kaigorodov compared to Mirnov, his conditioning is fine and his injury history is pretty clean, but he had a setback this year and needs more ice time to continue to progress.

6.Kirill Lyamin, D

Similar to Mirnov last year, Lyamin dropped for no apparent reason on draft day in 2004. Expected to be a first round pick, Lyamin fell well into the second round, where the Senators grabbed their second top defense prospect of the draft. Compared to Rangers prospect Fedor Tjutin because of his good size, solid instincts and fantastic defensive zone coverage, Lyamin is already a regular in the Super League, and should continue to develop in Russia for another couple of seasons.

7.Brandon Bochenski, LW

The hope is that Bochenski can become the left wing power forward the Senators have needed for so long. A gifted goal scorer who has a fantastic shot and some great moves in close, Bochenski, like Eaves, will start next season as the best player on one of the NCAA’s true powerhouses. On a roster that just lost Devils top prospect Zach Parise, but will also boast Sabers top pick Drew Stafford and Devils top pick Travis Zajac, Bochenski should once again score around 30 goals and 60 points with North Dakota in his final college season.

8.Jan Platil, D

Platil is the best of the rest. Unlike the first seven prospects, Platil is not a top prospect, but checks in at No. 7 in spite of his play with Binghamton last year, not because of it. Very raw, the Barrie Colts graduate is a mean and vicious player known for going head-hunting at times. Platil also possesses a wildly powerful shot. There is a lot to like about Platil, but he will take a fair bit of work and time.

9.Billy Thompson, G

The best of the Senators three supporting goaltending prospects, Thompson was at times very good for a weak Binghamton squad, although Ray Emery as the starter limited his playing time. Similar to Emery, Thompson is very athletic and flexible for his size, although he is neither as refined nor as spectacular as his goaltending cohort. Ideally he’d benefit from starting in the AHL next year but that does not look to be the case unless something happens and Emery spends more time than expected in Ottawa.

10.Chris Kelly, C

Kelly gets a high rating again because he is coming off a great AHL season and his first foray into NHL action. This is Kelly’s last season as an eligible prospect and if he does not have a good training camp, he will most likely be exposed in the waiver draft as well. A well-rounded player who is known for his leadership and penalty killing ability, Kelly could easily land a job with the Senators as a fourth line player next year.

11.Kelly Guard, G

Guard is coming off two unbelievable seasons in the WHL where he put up numbers that had never been seen before in that league. Like Emery and Thompson, Guard is big. The difference is he lacks athleticism. A great technical goalie who plays the angles well, Guard needs to see more rubber to prove he is not simply a product of a stingy defensive system in Kelowna.

12.Philippe Seydoux, D

Where many Swiss players fail, Seydoux thrives. A very physical blueliner, Seydoux was the club’s third round pick in 2003, and the club likes the fact he is both nasty and defensively solid. His upside is pretty solid but as is the case with many Swiss prospects, he will have to show his stuff in North America before getting more respect as a good defense prospect. He had a strong showing at the World Juniors this past Christmas.

13.Shawn Weller, LW

A physical winger who likes to crash and bang and will head to Clarkson next year, Weller is going to a decent program. Coming from the unheralded Eastern Junior Hockey League, Weller needs better competition, but don’t be surprised if he sneaks onto the American World Junior Hockey Championship roster in one of the next two years.

14.Neil Komadoski, D

Komadoski had a solid but unspectacular four-year college career with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. After finishing up at college, he played briefly with Binghamton but struggled, as many rookies do. Komadoski is yet another third pairing type, who needs to work on his foot work and overall quickness, but has good smarts and will use his size and strength effectively.

15.Sergei Gimayev, D

Another solid defense prospect, Gimayev is from a slightly different mold from many others. Gimayev lacks size, but he tries his hardest not to hold him back. Very physical and energetic on the ice, he had a solid season in the Super League this past year, and known for his good attitude and solid work ethic. There is not much offensive upside there, but he moves the puck effectively nonetheless.

16.Christoph Schubert, D

Schubert’s stock fell all season. He is quite similar to Platil not only in his overall game, but in that he struggled in his first AHL season. Yet while Platil still could have a great sophomore season, Schubert failed to improve in his second season in Binghamton. He shows flashes of brilliance, but because of a plethora of solid defense prospects in the organization, he falls well down in this post-draft ranking.

17.Peter Regin, C

Highly-skilled but also highly-untested, Regin now appears to be content to stay in Europe for another season. Some felt Regin had first round talent but because of where he plays, he falls. The Senators have a large number of similar types of prospects, many from countries like Switzerland and Germany, who need better competition to accurately gauge their long-term potential. He will probably have to move to the wing at some point.

18.Grant Potulny, C

Potulny is the opposite of many of the Senators other forward prospects. You know what you get with Potulny. He’s a born leader who has a major knack for scoring clutch goals, and possesses the size to be a checker at the NHL level. He was the captain of his college team, and led them to a national championship even scoring the clinching goal. A good productive rookie season in Binghamton will jettison him into the mid teens by the end of next year.

19.Jeff Glass, G

Glass is the fourth ranked goaltender (and the third WHL product alone) among Senators prospects, although he may have higher potential than both Thompson and Guard. The same description fits Glass as Thompson in that he is big but also quite athletic. Glass is still learning the technical aspects of the position, but the organization is very high on him.

20.Alexander Nikulin, C

Already a year older than many of his fellow 2004 draftees, Nikulin has plenty of skill, but played at a fairly low level in Russia last year and, once again, needs to be tested at a higher level. If he can catch on with a Super League team, he could prove to be a steal because the skill set is definitely there. His developmental curve and playing style compare favorably to former Senator Petr Schastlivy.

Honorable Mention

Roman Wick – The third pure skill player taken in the middle rounds of the 2004 draft by the Senators (Regin and Nikulin being the others), Wick is extremely slick but also extremely soft. He played sparingly in the Swiss Elite League last year, but looks primed to come to the CHL next year. Wick is a complete boom or bust type of pick.

Charlie Stephens – He is a former No. 1 overall selection in the OHL, and at times has been a dominant player in the AHL. Yet after re-entering the draft, he was then dealt from the prospect-desperate Avalanche organization for virtually nothing.

Matthias Karlsson – Karlsson had a poor season, failing to stick in the Swedish Elite League and unable to crack the Swedish World Junior squad. There is still a fair bit to like, as he has both a good frame and solid mobility, but his stock has dropped since being drafted.

Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without written permission of the editorial staff.