The Ottawa Senators are a team that has been in a rebuilding phase for several seasons now. The team began tearing it down when they traded away Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, J-G Pageau for draft picks and prospects. Being several years into the rebuild, the team has had one of the better prospect pools in the NHL.
The Sens are starting to turn the corner now as several prospects have graduated to the main roster. Tim Stutzle, Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot, Josh Norris, and Drake Batherson are all under 25-years-old and playing key roles with Ottawa. The Sens are a very young team with a team age average of 25.31 and still have some promising prospects in the system to look forward to.
2021-22 Top 10 Ottawa Senators Prospects
- Jake Sanderson, D – University of North Dakota (NCAA)
Drafted: 2020 round one, fifth overall by Ottawa Senators
Jake Sanderson had a big draft season and rose up the draft rankings all season long. He eventually surpass top-ranked prospect Jamie Drysdale, who was the consensus top defenseman for the bulk of the season.
Sanderson committed to the U. of North Dakota where he made an immediate impact as a freshman scoring 15 points in 22 games, helping the Fighting Hawks capture an NCHC Regular Season Championship. Sanderson was a key member of the USA WJC roster as well helping the USA win the Gold. Sanderson could have turned pro and joined the Senators in the NHL as a 19-year-old but returned for his sophomore season. He was named Captain for USA at the WJC and has been named to the 2022 USA Olympic Team.
Sanderson projects as a top-pairing defenseman that is an excellent skater. He impacts the game offensively and defensively, plays a strong physical game, and has leadership qualities to boot. Chabot and Sanderson are set to anchor the Senators blueline for the foreseeable future.
- Shane Pinto, C – Ottawa Senators (NHL)
Drafted: 2019 round two, 32nd overall by Ottawa Senators
Ottawa’s second-round pick in 2019 has been a rising star ever since. His NCAA resume is stellar, 60 points in 61 career games, Rookie of the Year, Best Defensive Forward, Forward of the Year, Player of the Year, NCHC Championship, and Hobey Baker Finalist to name a few of his accolades.
Pinto turned pro following his sophomore season and looked very good for Ottawa with seven points in the final 12 regular-season games. All signs were pointing to Pinto playing a second-line center role in Ottawa and was considered to be a potential Calder Trophy candidate early in the season. Were it not for a shoulder injury that cut short his season after only five games, Pinto would have been considered a graduated prospect as well.
Pinto brings size, strong skating and a motor in his game. Perhaps his greatest asset is how he thinks and sees the game. His positioning is sound as he is always in support of the play and on the right side of the puck. His puck skills are not elite, only NHL average but his upward trajectory sees Pinto as a solid future second-line center, that can win draws, shutdown opposition, and provide offensive contributions as well.
- Ridly Greig, LW – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Drafted: 2020 round one, 28th overall by Ottawa Senators
Ottawa’s third first-round selection in the 2020 draft after Tim Stutzle and Jake Sanderson, Greig is often overlooked. When Greig arrives in Ottawa, however, look for him to become a fan favorite quickly.
The Lethbridge native is a tenacious forechecker and back checker. His motor is relentless, and he is a wrecking ball physically despite his average size. In addition to his shift-disturbing contributions, Greig is a skilled offensive player as he was second overall in WHL scoring with 32 points in 21 games last year and second in PIM as well with 39. In his final season in the WHL he is the Captain of the Wheat Kings and has 36 points through 24 games with 48 PIM and was named to the Team Canada for the WJC.
Grieg should see a short tour of duty in Belleville next year before he starts endearing himself to Ottawa fans and getting under the skin of NHL opposition.
- Tyler Boucher, LW – Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Drafted: 2021 round one, 10th overall by Ottawa Senators
At the time of his draft, Boucher was a highly criticized selection as there were several other players with higher-ranked skill level and offensive upside such as Cole Sillinger, Brennan Othmann or Chaz Lucius, and top goalie prospects Sebastian Cossa or Jesper Wallstedt.
What Boucher does bring is a versatile game style and a strong physical presence. His offensive game showed up in his draft year with the US National U18 team where he posted 11 points in 12 games. Committed to the Boston Terriers in the NCAA his D+1 year has been a train wreck. His production in the NCAA was limited to only three points in 17 games with 34 PIM.
After the Christmas break, Ottawa chose to sign him to his ELC and so he moved to Ottawa, where the Ottawa 67’s owned his CHL rights. His debut was delayed due to a lingering injury and some COVID complications. His season went from bad to worse as he suffered a shoulder injury in his first game in the OHL.
Despite Ottawa reaching on him with the 10th overall pick and his seemingly injury-prone tendencies, Boucher remains a highly projectable and serviceable NHL prospect. His offensive ceiling may be limited to a middle-six power winger, his floor is a bottom-six physical player with offensive upside.
- Roby Jarventie, LW – Belleville Senators (AHL)
Drafted: 2020 round two, 33rd overall by Ottawa Senators
The big Finnish winger played his D+1 season as a rookie in the Liiga playing pro as an 18-year-old, leading the league in rookie scoring with 14 goals. Following the season, he was brought to North America and played in four AHL games scoring three points.
In his first full season in North America, he has been an impactful player with 16 points through 30 games and was named to the Finnish WJC roster for the second time. His first tour at the WJC was disappointing and the tournament being canceled after one game prevented him from atoning for his showing as an 18-year-old.
Looking at his entire body of work, the poor WJC showing is the exception and his league play in the Liiga and AHL speak volumes.
- Jacob Bernard-Docker, D – Belleville Senators (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round one, 26th overall by Ottawa Senators
Drafted out of the AJHL where he was a near point-per-game player, JBD was committed to the University of North Dakota where he played three seasons. With the Fighting Hawks, JBD won the NCHC Best Defensive Defenseman Award helping win the NCHC Championship in 2021.
The Canmore native has played for Canada winning Gold at the WJC and WC adding to his trophy cabinet. In his first pro season, the offense has not come instantly, but he has played well and earned an NHL recall for eight games.
Bernard-Docker plays a two-way game, his offense is driven by his hard shot but lacks elite creativity or vision. Defensively he is physical, hits, blocks and makes good quick decisions.
Bernard-Docker should spend more time in the AHL adjusting to the pro game and looking for his offense. If it never translates to pro hockey, he still can be an impactful layer in a bottom-six role. The right-shot defender would be an ideal complement to a left-shot partner such as Thomas Chabot or Erik Brannstrom.
- Lassi Thomson, D – Belleville Senators (AHL)
Drafted: 2019 round one, 19th overall by Ottawa Senators
The smooth-skating defender was drafted out of the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL. In his draft year, he produced well in his first season in North America with 17 goals and 41 points in 63 games. Following the draft, Thomson was loaned back to Ilves where he made his pro debut in the Liiga and was named to the WJC roster with Finland.
With North America slow to start due to the pandemic, he was loaned back to Ilves before being recalled once North America resumed play. Thomson played in 35 games in Belleville and was solid defensively while producing 13 points. Thomson has split his season between the NHL and AHL and has looked confident in both leagues.
His skating is far and away his best asset. His passing and playmaking is a strength as well. His defensive game has improved significantly since his high offensive time in the WHL and he projects as a middle to bottom pairing defenseman that can support in transition.
- Yegor Sokolov, LW/RW – Belleville Senators (AHL)
Drafted: 2020 round two, 61st overall by Ottawa Senators
The big Russian winger was overlooked for the NHL Draft due to legitimate concerns about his skating and conditioning. After a breakout final season in the QMJHL in Cape Breton with 46 goals and 92 points in 52 games, he solved his conditioning and skating concerns enough to satisfy the Senators into spending a second-round selection to secure him.
In the short 2020-21 season as a rookie, he adjusted well to the pro level in the AHL with 15 goals and 25 points. Size has obviously served him well playing pro. His skating is still less than elite, but he compensates well with good timing and anticipation. His shot is very heavy, and his hands are quicker than his feet as he has good puck control.
Sokolov was recalled for his NHL debut and is still searching for his first career point. With his size and hand-eye coordination, he is an effective net front presence on the power play and an effective power winger that could carve out a middle-six NHL career.
- Tyler Kleven, D – University of North Dakota (NCAA)
Drafted: 2020 round two, 44th overall by Ottawa Senators
Another player coming to Ottawa via the University of North Dakota. Kleven is a big, mobile defensive defenseman. Big, physical defenseman is a bit of a thing of the past these days, but Kleven is such a mobile player he has good NHL potential.
Projecting as a bottom-six, shutdown and penalty killing specialist, Kleven combines his mobility, long reach and physical play to defend. His best offensive weapon is a cannon of a point shot but seldom shoots and his shot takes time to load up.
Kleven is in a good situation in the NCAA developing and will likely require a year or two of pro adjustment in the AHL before he is ready for NHL shutdown duty.
- Vitali Abramov, LW/RW – CSKA Moskva (KHL)
Drafted: 2016 round three, 65th overall by Columbus Blue Jackets
The skilled Russian winger made an immediate impact in the QMJHL in Gatineau with 93 points in 63 games, leading the league in rookie scoring. He followed that up by leading the league in scoring the following season with 104 points.
After 52 games in Cleveland, he was acquired by Ottawa as a key part of the Matt Duchene trade. Abramov played his way u in the Ottawa system for two seasons and played in five total NHL games. With 93 points in 148 career AHL games, Abramov was on the cusp of cracking the NHL roster and was no longer waiver exempt.
Surprisingly he signed a two-year KHL contract and is in the first year of that deal. After 41 games with Traktor, he had 17 points and has been traded to CSKA where in four games he has no points.
Abramov is a highly-skilled offensive winger. He has a quick and accurate shot and can score at range or in close with his quick hands. He drives pucks to the net with confidence and authority. He has good speed and an explosive first step. He has good mobility and can dance around defenders and into open ice.
It remains to be seen if he intends to return to North America, but the Senators retain his rights if he does. Abramov has top-six upside and can be a game-breaking offensive player.