Senators Prospect Rankings
Writer: Ken Hawkins (a.k.a. khawk)
Who doesn’t love a good prospect ranking, especially as we head into the final stretch before training camp? The format I’ve chosen here is a basic top-10 list, based on players in the Senators system who have <40GP in the NHL. The ranking is based on my subjective interpretation of their relative value to the team, as opposed to just trying to identify which are objectively the best players. This means considering how they might fit into a team that’s primarily constructed around the young core of Tkachuk, Stutzle, Norris, Batherson, Pinto, Chabot, and Sanderson.
1. Ridley Greig C (1st Round Pick, 2020)
Mid-season call-up opportunities can be revealing in terms of how prepared an AHL player is to make the jump to the NHL. In the case of Ridley Greig, he showed everything you’d want to see from a young AHL player last year, including production, defensive awareness, physical play, and maturity. For a team that’s still looking to upgrade the quality of their 3rd line, it will be very hard to keep Greig out of the lineup for much longer.
2. Mads Sogaard G (2nd Round Pick, 2019)
Last season provided an opportunity for Sogaard to show both flashes of his potential, and the reality of his remaining development curve. His physical size and talent are clearly evident, but he still needs to work on his efficiency of movement and overall consistency. The long-term signing of Korpisalo was a statement that the team wanted an NHL-ready tandem in place for 2023/24, but Sogaard will get his chances this year, as injuries accumulate.
3. Tyler Kleven D (2nd Round Pick, 2020)
If there’s one thing missing from the Senators’ roster of good young d-men, it’s a player that can intimidate the other team in terms of delivering a well-timed punishing hit. Kleven is every bit that player, but in his NHL debut last season it was clear that he’s also a capable defender in terms of smart positioning and puck-movement. Expect some AHL time to work on a more disciplined physical game, but he’ll be an NHL fixture before long.
4. Leevi Merilainen G (3rd Round Pick, 2020)
Despite not liking this pick at the time, I’ve certainly been impressed with how well Merilainen has developed. His impressive OHL/WJC season from 2021/22 was followed up by an even more impressive SM-Liiga/AHL performance last season. There’s obviously a need for him to get regular AHL ice time, but the raw talent is there in abundance, and there is legitimate reason for optimism around the future goaltending of the team.
5. Zack Ostapchuk C (2nd Round Pick, 2021)
This might get some eyebrow raises, but one of the basic principles I have in putting these lists together is whether I would trade this player straight-up for someone further down the list. In this regard, Ostapchuk rose up to 5th because of the skill set, physical tools, and relative value he brings to the table. The closest thing in the prospect pool to a clone of Nick Paul, he’s just one of those versatile 3rd line players that does everything you need to win big games.
6. Jacob Bernard-Docker D (1st Round Pick, 2018)
Despite being the only player on this list with a one-way contract, JBD sits at #6 because of his relatively low ceiling. An effective defender who has shown the ability to compliment even high-end D-men for short periods of time, it’s doubtful that JBD will ever be more than a 3rd pairing D-man. However, skating and quality defending will always be in demand, and being a natural RH shot only further adds to his value.
7. Roby Jarventie W (2nd Round Pick, 2020)
Jarventie may be the best skater and most natural goal-scorer of any Senators prospect, but it’s unclear whether he will be able to effectively translate his game to the NHL level. Playing in the AHL as the #1 scoring winger will go a long way to determining his full potential, especially if he can earn an NHL call-up to showcase his ability. But if his development stalls, it’s not hard to envision him playing back in Finland in 2-3 years’ time.
8. Lassi Thomson D (1st Round Pick, 2019)
Few prospects have been as mercurial as Thomson, which has most definitely held him back in terms of development and opportunity. The real frustration is that the skill and upside are self-evident, but so too are the limitations. His future with the team may also be dependent on whether Brannstrom is kept long-term, or if another NHL team decides to take a chance on him with a waiver claim. The coming season will go a long way to deciding his future.
9. Egor Sokolov W (2nd Round Pick, 2020)
Sokolov will most likely get a chance to make a more substantial NHL impact this year, however it remains to be seen for how long. While size and offensive instincts may not be an issue, his skating and defensive awareness may limit his impact. Given the team’s depth at forward, he’ll likely see only 4th line ice time, and in order to stay in the NHL will have to prove that he can eventually provide two-way support on a scoring line.
10. Tyler Boucher W (1st Round Pick, 2021)
Draft controversy, NCAA retreat, and injury problems aside, there’s still reason to believe that Tyler Boucher could manifest into an effective bottom-6 forward in the NHL. However, it may not be any time soon, as it’s hard to quantify the amount of development time lost in the USNTDP, NCAA, and OHL since his draft year. However, his upside has always been his intensity and physical play, for which the NHL will always have a demand.
HM Oskar Pettersson W (3rd Round Pick, 2022)
It’s difficult to objectively evaluate Pettersson, given that he’s yet to play a single game in the AHL. However, he’s had an impressive development trajectory in Sweden, and his performance at the WJC drew some well-deserved attention. More importantly, from what I’ve seen and read in scouting reports, he may be the Senators’ forward prospect with the most natural skill set to effectively complement a scoring line.
Which picks do you agree or disagree with? Did I forget your favorite prospect? Would your list be substantially different? Feel free to comment below, and as always thanks for reading!