Senators Early Round Picks

By Nathan Estabrooks
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 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.

Later the Ottawa club pulled off one of the strangest draft moves of all time. Using a compensatory 45th pick they had received when Mathieu Chouinard re-entered the draft the Senators… Yep you guess it picked Mathieu Chouinard. What makes this even more mind boggling is the ill will the team and player apparently felt for each other. Johnstone protected two goalies in the expansion draft and seemed quite happy to be done with Chouinard. Chouinard plays for Shawinigan of the QMJHL and was voted the best defensive player in the league after the ’99 campaign. Many scouts have said his development has slowed if not regressed. Very odd.

With their 55th pick late in the second round the Senators selected Antoine Vermette of the Victoriaville Tigers. An even 6′ and 165lbs Vermette is a center whose best assets are Intelligence and speed. It is also said Vermette is a superb stickhandler with a gift for creativity. Unfortunately at 165lbs soaking wet it will be many years before Vermette will be playing in the NHL, but there are ways of filling out a 6′ body. The good news is that it appears the young center understands the sacrifices it will take to wear the Red, White and Black

In the third round the Senators took Jan Bohac a large European Center with their 87th pick. Bohac is 6’2″ 185lbs and plays for Slavia Praha in the Czech league. At the World under-18 championship Bohac collected 3 points in 6 games and is thought by most to be a well-rounded talent with good feet. The only knock against him is a dislike for the rough stuff.

It was a great success for the club to be able to get Volchenkov so late in the first round but in the same breath it must be said the second and third rounds appeared to mimic a circus side-show. The Senators took a malcontent goaltender they had already drafted once and selected two finesse pivots to go along with an already soft core of European players.