The Ottawa Senators draft this year was highly anticipated. The Sens were the talk of the NHL on Friday evening. With superstar defender Erik Karlsson possibly being on the move, all eyes were on general manager Pierre Dorion. When the time came for selections, the Sens did just that. With seven picks heading into the draft, Pierre Dorion and his scouts were looking to find magic in their selections. With not having the change to be drafting top five since selecting Jason Spezza, Pierre Dorion was excited for this opportunity. Here is the Ottawa Senators 2018 NHL Draft review.
To Keep Or Not To Keep: The Debacle on the First Round Pick
After months of speculation whether Dorion would keep this year’s top ten pick, he decided to indeed do that. With doing this, the Senators now do not own a 2019 first round pick. As it has gone to the Colorado Avalanche. Dorion and his scouts liked what they saw on the board at number four, and decided to roll their dice.
LW Brady Tkachuk – Fourth Overall
With the consensus Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov going one and two, there were no surprises with the first two picks at the draft. When the Montreal Canadiens took the stage, there was questioning who they would go for. With Filip Zadina being the number three consensus pick for most of the season, the Canadiens took another path. Drafting third overall, the Canadiens took centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Now came the fun, it was said even up until the Sens were about to go up, Dorion was thinking about giving the pick to the Avalanche. When the clock struck zero, he decided to keep it. Many Senators fans were calling for the team to draft right winger Filip Zadina from the Halifax Mooseheads. A pure sniper from the QMJHL. Instead, Dorion and his scouts picked the player fans enthusiastic about the least, left winger Brady Tkachuk from Boston University.
Tkachuk is a skilled player, but many fans argue that the team left skill on the table. With winger Filip Zadina still left on the board at number four, many think he was the better choice. Ottawa’s Director of Amateur Scouting Trent Mann had other plans in mind. With the selection, Tkachuk automatically becomes one of the Senators best prospects. He might not be the goal scorer Zadina will be, but he brings a heavier level of play to his game. Many agree that while Tkachuk is good, he’s not great and Zadina has a higher ceiling. For a more in-depth read on Brady Tkachuk, check out his scouting report written by our own Ben Kerr at LWOH.
Whether the Sens made the right choice or not, only time will tell that. For now, Tkachuk will most likely go back to BU and touch up on his game. An estimated time of arrival on Tkachuk’s presence may be in the 2019-20 season. The Ottawa Senators draft might have started out by picking a good player, rather than a great player.
D Jacob Bernard-Docker – 26th Overall
After trading their 22nd pick to the New York Rangers for picks 26 and 48, the Sens were up again. When the Sens got up again to select their player with their second first rounder, they made a polarizing choice. With the 26th selection, the Ottawa Senators picked defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker.
Bernard-Docker, 17, played in the AJHL for the Okotoks Oilers this past season. He managed to score 20 goals and 21 assists for 41 points in 42 games. In the playoffs, he scored seven goals, seven assists for 14 points in 15 games. While Bernard-Docker has potential, given the lower level of competition in the AJHL, this pitch may have been a reach.
With the likes of centre Joe Veleno available at 26, the Sens might have been better off to explore that instead. This isn’t to say Bernard-Docker isn’t a skilled player, it’s the team leaving skill out on the table again. While he could someday be an NHL defender, the Senators organization decided to make a safe pick instead of taking a risk. The pick was a little off the board also. TSN’s Bob McKenzie had Bernard-Docker ranked at 46, LWOH had Bernard-Docker ranked at 50. Bernard-Docker could have upside, but more sophisticated selection could have been made here. For a more in-depth read on Jacob Bernard-Docker, check out his scouting report written by our own Ben Kerr at LWOH. Jacob Bernard-Docker will play for the University of North Dakota in the 2018-19 season.
Day 2: Round 2
D Jonathan Tychonick – 48th Overall
With their newly acquired second-round pick, the Ottawa Senators draft seemed to hit a high note compared to round one. Tychonick, 18, spent last season in the BCHL playing for the Penticton Vees where he was also an alternate captain. He scored nine goals and 38 assists for 47 points in 48 games. In the postseason, he scored three goals and 14 assists for 17 points in just 11 games. Tychonick was second on team scoring for the Penticton Vees. For an 18-year-old defender, that’s not something to shy away from in their draft year.
Although Tychonick had an impressive season, he still has a way to go and develop before hitting the pros. The youngster will join Bernard-Docker at the University of North Dakota. Docker and Tychonick have played together in the past and might be a pairing in University.
With all the talks of the Sens trading Erik Karlsson, drafting defensemen fills an organizational need. This is not to say expect Tychonick to be a Karlsson, but thinking about the future is wise of the Ottawa Senators draft strategy. The Sens made a smart pick here, addressing an organizational need, while also picking skill at the same time. Tychonick looks to have a fair amount of upside, now he’ll continue to tune his game in hopes of makes the big leagues one day. For a more indepth read on Jonathan Tychonick, feel free to check out his scouting report written by Ben Kerr at LWOH. Tychonick was 39th on his board.
LW Jonathan Gruden – 96th Overall
After making a solid selection in the second round, the Ottawa Senators draft took a hit in the third round. With no third-round pick, the team had to wait their turn until the second pick in the fourth round. The Ottawa Senators picked forward Jonathan Gruden with this selection. Gruden, 18, spent last year playing with the USNTDP Juniors in the USHL, before joining the U.S. National Team U18 Team in the USDP. For the USNTDP Juniors, he scored 28 goals and 32 assists for 60 points in 61 games this season. On the U18 team, Gruden finished the year off with four assists in seven games and helped the American team win a silver medal.
When looking at Jonathan Gruden, his offensive numbers speak volumes, but it’s his determination defence that might stick out to most NHL scouts. He is a decent skater but not necessarily the fastest, and uses that to the best of his ability in his own zone.
While Gruden may never light up an NHL scorers sheet, he could be an effective shut down winger with an upside in moderate offensive numbers as well. Although Gruden doesn’t show huge amount of upside overall, he might be able to play in the NHL, which is a big get from a fourth-round pick. The Ottawa Senators made a pick they hope one day turns out to be a middle-six forward. Gruden will play for Miami (Ohio) University in the 2018-19 season. For a more in depth read on Jonathan Gruden, feel free to check out his scouting report written by our own at LWOH Ben Kerr. He was 73rd in Ben’s rankings.
C Angus Crookshank – 126th Overall
With their fifth round pick, the Ottawa Senators draft took another wave of turbulence. The Senators drafted centre Angus Crookshank. Before we continue, what a name this guy has. Crookshank, 18, played for the Langley Rivermen in the BCHL this past season. He notched 22 goals and 23 assists in 42 games played. In the post-season, he scored three goals and four assists for seven points in six games.
Crookshank will spend his 2018-19 season playing for the University of New Hampshire, where he’ll look to take a key role. Crookshank will look to take his game to the next level, playing against higher quality of competition. Its unclear if his BCHL numbers will translate at the faster pace of college hockey.
G Kevin Mandolese – 157th Overall
In the sixth round, the Ottawa Senators draft strategy took a turn towards the positive side of the spectrum. With their sixth round pick, the Senators selected goalie Kevin Mandolese. Mandolese, 17, played for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL this past season. In 37 games played, Kevin posted a 3.48 goals against average and a save percentage of .875.
While those numbers are certainly not appealing, keep in mind that he is still only 17 years of age and played on a poor Cape Breton team. Having to play that many games at that age could be a challenge for youngsters. With time and experience, Mandolese could get a hold of the ropes in net. Kevin Mandolese was ranked as the second best North American goalie available at this year’s draft by NHL Central Scouting. With so many question marks around the Senators net for their future plans, the Ottawa Senators selecting a goalie is a smart move to make.
Even after acquiring highly touted goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Derick Brassard deal, there is no estimate on when he may be ready. Granted he is older than Mandolese and will likely be ready before Mandolese even makes his first impression, it’s another move by the Senators that shows they’re thinking ahead. Mandolese will play for Cape Breton again in the 2018-19 season, looking to make a name for himself.
LW/C Jakov Novak – 188th Overall
As the Ottawa Senators draft continued to wind down, the Sens had two seventh-round picks to try and make the most out of. With their first selection the Sens picked up forward Jakov Novak. Novak, 19, was an overager coming into this years NHL Draft. Novak spent last season playing for the Janesville Jets of the NAHL. In 56 games he scored 32 goals and 41 assists for 73 points. In the playoffs, he scored four goals and six assists for 10 points in eight games. Novak also had a total of 131 penalty minutes.
Novak, much like most seventh round picks will probably not turn into much or anything for that matter. A 6’3″ 200 pound forward who at best might be a depth AHL guy. If not, someone scouring the FA market and playing for colleges and universities. This is not to say he has little skill, but a lot of seventh rounders don’t turn into much, let’s be honest here. Jakov Novak will play for Bentley University in the 2018-19 season. As far as selections go, Novak has put up a lot of points, although as an overager in a weaker junior league. It is a decent enough gamble to take and see how he improves over the next four years. The Ottawa Senators draft wasn’t hit or improved upon this pick, leaving them with one more to go in the 2018 NHL Draft.
RW Luke Loheit – 194th Overall
With the Ottawa Senators draft wrapping up, the team had one more pick to go before the chaotic weekend was over. Loheit, 17, was drafted out of high school from the Sens. This past season while playing for Minnetonka High, he scored 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points in 24 games. In three playoff games, he scored two goals for a total of two points. Loheit is another extremely raw prospect, but there could be some potential. Only 17 years of age, and Loheit is 6’0″. A big boy for his age group.
Like many of the Sens picks, he still has a long way to go before making the NHL and showing that brings value to an organization. Coming out of high school, Luke will look to continually improve his level of play on the ice while also focusing on academics. Loheit will play for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL next year, while he’s already committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for the 2019-20 campaign.
Grade for the Round: C
Final Thoughts on the Ottawa Senators Draft
While the Ottawa Senators were able to pick some skillful players from this draft, they still left a lot out to dry. Besides Brady Tkachuk, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonathan Tychonick looking like they have a shot at the NHL squad someday, the rest of the picks have a bunch of question marks around them. The Senators came into this draft looking to fill their organizational needs, and while they did that they also managed to pick a few off-the-board names hoping they turn into magic beans.
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