Less than a year and a half since reaching the Eastern Conference Final and coming within one goal of a Stanley Cup Final-berth, the Ottawa Senators will enter the 2018-19 season with shockingly minuscule expectations.
Having traded long-time captain Erik Karlsson this offseason, optimism surrounding the Senators has hit a new low. Expected to be amongst the least successful teams in the NHL this coming campaign, a disastrous season in Ottawa could very well be complimented by the loss of the first overall selection in the 2019 NHL Draft.
While the Colorado Avalanche could welcome Jack Hughes to their organization next June, Ottawa has still managed to piece together a relatively promising pool of prospects. Led by Brady Tkachuk, the Senators own a farm system defined by its positional versatility as well as a wide-range of unique skill sets.
Stanley Cups: None
2017-18 Record: 28-43-11; 67 Points
2017-18 Top Scorer: Mark Stone; 20G, 42A, 62Pts
Farm System Grade: B
Top 10 Prospects:
- Brady Tkachuk
- Alex Formenton
- Josh Norris
- Jacob Bernard-Docker
- Filip Chlapik
- Logan Brown
- Jonny Tychonik
- Rudolfs Balcers
- Colin White
- Drake Batherson
The State of the Senators’ Farm System
The state of the Ottawa Senators’ farm system is improving, and was substantially strengthened by the acquisitions of both Josh Norris and Rudolfs Balcers in the trade which sent Karlsson to San Jose.
In Norris, the Senators nabbed a strong two-way centre who was a first round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. A former teammate and good friend of Brady Tkachuk, Norris is a hard-nosed and competitive forward who can be relied upon to drive his team’s offensive attack. Moreover, in Balcers, Ottawa secured a dynamic offensive player who enjoyed a tremendous rookie season in the AHL this past year — a 48-point campaign led to his inclusion in the AHL All-Star Game.
Outside of these two new faces, the Senators are fortunate to boast a fair amount of depth within their farm system.
Led by Tkachuk, the Senators also feature the likes of Alex Formenton, Jacob Bernard-Docker, and Logan Brown. Of differing physiques and playing styles, the combined speed, skill, and strength of these three prospects affords Ottawa a unique and intimidating foundation for their future. Further, mix in prospects such as Filip Chlapik, Jonny Tychonik, and Drake Batherson, and the Senators suddenly boast a wealth of promising young assets.
Although a number of particular prospects mentioned above stand closer to the NHL-level than others, the combined efforts of Ottawa’s top-10 prospects provides the sputtering franchise with considerable optimism for the future.
Now, if only the Senators had held onto their natural first round choice in the 2019 NHL Draft…
One Senators Prospect to Watch
Although Tkachuk will surely draw the attention of Senators fans given his fourth-overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft, it is none other than Formenton who Ottawa’s faithful fans must keep an eye on during the 2018-19 campaign.
Despite being chosen by the Senators 47th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, Formenton stands as one of Ottawa’s best young prospects. Although he has never truly been an elite offensive player per se, Formenton is a stellar skater who plays and thinks the game at an NHL-pace. Strong on his skates owing to a 6-foot-2 frame and difficult to dispossess given his strength on the puck, Formenton is a potent player who can generate offence from thin-air.
Although eligible to return to the OHL’s London Knights this season, it appears as though the best step in Formenton’s personal development would be to gain experience at the NHL-level with the Senators. With one NHL game already under his belt in addition to two AHL contests last season, Formenton is clearly ready for a much greater challenge.