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The final 5 prospect rankings are here...
5th: Colin White, C, Ottawa/Belleville, 21
Just like Filip Chlapik, Colin White has had quite the roller coaster ride since being drafted. When he was first taken by the Senators, I was a bit disappointed because he seemed like a safer pick. However, his freshman season at Boston College was phenomenal and he had me excited. In 2016-17 he took a bit of a step back, and although he only played in 2 regular season NHL games and one playoff game, I still think he could’ve provided better value than Chris Kelly did.
His first full professional season was a bit underwhelming, as his 27 points in 47 games in Belleville wasn’t great. Then again as with all of these AHL prospects, it’s important to point out that those 27 points were somehow 3rd on the team in points per game. His NHL stint could’ve been better as well, as he notched 6 points in 21 games. He’s still young at just 21 years old, but it doesn’t seem like he has the offensive ceiling that we thought he might when he had a fantastic 43 points in 37 games with Boston College.
His possession numbers at the NHL level left something to be desired, although it was only 21 games so we can’t conclude a whole lot with that just yet. Considering his previous success with being an excellent two-way forward, I’m not willing to completely write him off as an impact NHLer. However, I’m envisioning him more as a third line centre as opposed to a Patrice Bergeron lite like some were proclaiming a couple years ago. That’s still a good prospect considering he is NHL ready, but I don’t expect him to be a 50 point player anymore.
4th: Christian Wolanin, D, Ottawa, 23
Wolanin has shot up the rankings over the past few seasons, and now I’m extremely excited to watch him play every single night in Ottawa. He was an off-the-board selection in 2015 considering he was already 20 years old, but his play at UND solidified him as a legitimate prospect.
It’s not often that we see College prospects play well right off the bat once they get to the NHL, but Wolanin immediately looked like he belonged with the Senators. His sample of 10 games is obviously very small, but he appears to be an electric offensive defenseman that has a chance to be solid on the second pairing. He certainly needs to clean up a few things in the defensive zone, but I’m glad to see that he can make things happen offensively.
For what it’s worth, his +6.29% relative corsi lead the team, and his 56.08% xGF was also second. It’d be foolish to conclude that this is his true talent level, but it’s an encouraging sign nonetheless. Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself with Wolanin, but I seriously think that him and Thomas Chabot can be the top two left-handed defensemen on this team for years to come.
3rd: Filip Gustavsson, G, Belleville, 20
I don’t think Gustavsson is quite in the same tier as other goaltending prospects like Carter Hart, Thatcher Demko, Ilya Sorokin, or Ilya Samsonov, but he’s right behind them in the next group. In the Derick Brassard trade, I was hoping that the Senators would be able to steal Tristan Jarry away, but Gustavsson was still a great consolation prize.
He just turned 20 in June, but he proved that he was a capable goalie in the SHL by posting a .918 SV% in 22 games with Lulea HF, which was tied for 4th in the entire league. The previous year as an 18 year old he was not quite as good with a .912 SV% in 15 games, but the fact that he was even playing in a men’s league at that age is impressive. For comparison, Henrik Lundqvist did not have his first successful season in the SHL until his age 20 season, so Gustavsson is in good company.
It looks like he’ll be Mike McKenna’s backup in Belleville, although I really hope that it can be more of an even split, especially if Gustavsson shows that he is the more capable goalie. He had a good introduction last season by posting a .912 SV% in 7 games, which definitely isn’t amazing, but it is quite good considering how bad Belleville was defensively. Furthermore, Gustavsson won the top goaltender at the WJC last year, so he already has some international fame to his name.
He’s easily the closest prospect they have to becoming an NHL starting goalie, and they have a lot riding on him.
2nd: Logan Brown, C, Ottawa/Belleville, 20
Brown is someone that Senators fans should be eager to watch, as there’s a decent chance that he’ll be on the opening night roster. If anything, he’ll at least get some
time in the NHL. I’m not going to call him a future first line centre, but he definitely has the ability to become that good. At 6’6” and 220 lbs, he has the build to be a dominant player, although he isn’t exactly a bruiser on the ice.
Despite his frame, he actually has a ton of skill, and the only things that have held him back are injuries and inconsistency. Brown played only 32 games in the OHL this past season, and 35 the year before that, which is a bit worrisome although it shouldn’t be an issue in the long run. Even with some inconsistencies, he’s been a solid point producer when he’s in the lineup. In 2017-18 he was tied for 8th in the OHL in points per game, just behind two very good prospects in Robert Thomas and Nick Suzuki. His 2016-17 season wasn’t quite as good with 40 points in 35 games, but in his draft year he was tied for 2nd in points amongst draft eligible players in the OHL.
He’s been billed as one of the best playmakers in his age group, and it’s hard not to get excited when people throw around comparisons like Joe Thornton. I think that’s definitely a stretch, but that doesn’t mean Brown can’t become a 60 point player in the league. If there’s one thing he has to clean up though, it’d be lackadaisical plays like these:
Brown will probably have some growing pains in the NHL, but I’d love to see him up in Ottawa for most of the year. He’ll instantly become one of the most talented players on the team, and at the age of 20, it’s not like the team would be rushing him. That second line centre spot is right there for the taking, and hopefully he seizes this opportunity.
1st: Brady Tkachuk, LW , Ottawa/Belleville/London, 19
The player that most fans didn’t even want. I (and many others) were begging for Filip Zadina to be taken at 4th overall. It was okay to be incredibly frustrated with the pick at the time, and I still believe that Zadina will have more of an impact in the NHL in the long run. However, that shouldn’t take away from Tkachuk’s accomplishments, because he is still a very good prospect who appears to be NHL-ready.
I’m glad that he signed his ELC, and even if he isn’t with the team for the entire season, we will hopefully catch a glimpse of what he is like in 9 games or fewer. He scored 31 points in 40 games at Boston University last season, and that is still very good for a freshman. His possession numbers in the NCAA and the WJC were also very good, so he could be someone that doesn’t necessarily excel at one thing but is just solid across the board.
I’m fairly confident that he can at least be a top-six forward who is responsible defensively, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be a true game-changer. The fact that he is one of the most likely players in the 2018 draft to be an NHLer makes him a highly ranked prospect, but it’s important to note that it’s not like Ottawa selected a grinder at 4th overall. He has a fantastic shot, as seen here:
Tkachuk should be a mainstay with Ottawa in their top-six and he’s easily their best prospect they have had in at least five years.
So here are the final rankings!
1. Brady Tkachuk
2. Logan Brown
3. Filip Gustavsson
4. Christian Wolanin
5. Colin White
6. Jonny Tychonick
7. Filip Chlapik
8. Drake Batherson
9. Alex Formenton
10. Jacob Bernard-Docker
11. Christian Jaros
12. Marcus Hogberg
13. Max Lajoie
14. Jonathan Gruden
15. Aaron Luchuk
16. Nick Paul
17. Gabriel Gagne
18. Julius Bergman
19. Andreas Englund
20. Francis Perron
21. Kevin Mandolese
22. Markus Nurmi
23. Andrew Sturtz
24. Jack Rodewald
25. Parker Kelly