TSP: Ottawa Senators Prospects

Erik Brannstrom Ottawa Senators Prospects
CALGARY, AB - MARCH 21: Ottawa Senators Defenceman Erik Brannstrom (26) warms up before an NHL game where the Calgary Flames hosted the Ottawa Senators on March 21, 2019, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB. (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Welcome to the 2019 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2019 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here.  Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2019 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today we look at the Ottawa Senators Prospects.

What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2019-20 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.

Ottawa Senators Prospects

The Senators 2018-19 season was a disaster, there is no other way to look at it. The team saw their assistant general manager arrested at the 2018 Draft Combine and things went downhill from there. Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson would become embroiled in a controversy that started with Hoffman’s fiancee and Karlsson’s wife. They would both be traded in the off-season. With Karlsson gone, one of the most popular players in franchise history left the team.

After the season began, there was the uber-ride controversy. The team then moved two-thirds of their top line at the NHL Trade Deadline, including long-time Senator Mark Stone, the player who took over as the fan favourite following the Karlsson trade. The Senators would finish dead last, 31st overall, and didn’t even own their first-round pick. It was enough that a provincial MPP would verbally accost Eugene Melnyk at a Rolling Stones concert.

The Senators are in need of a serious rebuild and will look to their prospects for hope. Even their moves this off-season, adding Ron Hainsey, Tyler Ennis, and Artem Anisimov are being made with an eye towards trading these players for picks and prospects at the 2020 Trade Deadline. Overall, this could be another painful year for the Senators, but at least they have their first-round pick this time.

2019 Draft Picks (Grade B-): Lassi ThomsonShane PintoMads SogaardViktor LodinMark KastelicMaxence Guenette,
Graduations: Brady Tkachuk, Colin White, Christian Jaros, Maxime Lajoie,

 

Top Prospect: Drake Batherson

Right Wing/Centre — shoots Right
Born April 27th, 1998 — Fort Wayne, Indiana
Height 6’1″ — Weight 188 lbs [185 cm / 85 kg]
Drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 4th round, #121 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft

Batherson continues to impress. He put up 22 goals and 62 points in 59 games as an AHL rookie in Belleville. Batherson earned a spot on the AHL’s All-Rookie Team. He also played 20 games for the Ottawa Senators putting up three goals and nine points.

Skating

Batherson is a good skater. He has a very good first step and quick acceleration and can surprise defenders with his changes in speed. Batherson is more quick than fast. He is also exceptionally shifty, with excellent edgework and agility. Batherson can weave in and out of traffic both with and without the puck. He has added lower-body strength, improving the power in his stride and becoming harder to knock off the puck. While he can be even stronger and this will help him in the corners and in front of the net, he is already holding his own in those areas.

Offensive Game

Batherson is a pure sniper. He has a very heavy wrist shot and quick release. Batherson also has the quick hands to beat a goaltender in tight and the good hand-eye co-ordination to get tip-ins, pounce on rebounds, and bang in one-timers in close. From further out, he has a good one-timer as well. Able to score in a number of ways, Batherson also has a good backhand. Added size and strength have helped Batherson become better at battling in front of the net and in the corners. While he can still fill out his frame more, he’s already made some big strides over the last few years.

Batherson is also a talented stick-handler who makes plays with the puck. He can control the puck on an offensive zone entry, speeding up or slowing down the game while he waits for his linemates to get open. Once they do, he has the vision and passing skills to set up a scoring chance. He anticipates the movements of his teammates well and can pass through tight areas. Batherson is good in the cycle game, controlling the puck long enough for those teammates to get open.

Defensive Game

Batherson works well in his own zone. He supports the defence on the backcheck, pressuring opposing forwards and creating turnovers. Once there is a turnover, he transitions quickly to offence. Batherson has good hockey sense. He reads the play well and is in the right position to cut down passing and shooting lanes.

Outlook

Batherson should make the Senators on a full-time basis this year. After last year’s departures, the team needs an injection of skill amongst the forwards. Batherson is their best bet to get that skill added to the lineup. His success in the AHL last year proves that Batherson is ready to take the next step in his career.

 

#2 Prospect: Erik Brannstrom

Defence — shoots Left
Born September 2nd, 1999 — Eksjö, Sweden
Height 5’10” — Weight 181 lbs [178 cm / 82 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 1st round, #15 overall at the 2017 Draft
Traded to the Ottawa Senators at the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline

Brannstrom was acquired in the Mark Stone trade. Splitting his AHL season between the Chicago Wolves and Belleville Senators, he put up seven goals and 32 points in 50 games. He also made his NHL debut, playing two games for the Senators. He also played for Sweden at the World Juniors, scoring four goals in five games. Brannstrom was named to the tournament All-Star team and was also named a Top 3 player on the Swedish team.

Skating

In order to succeed in the NHL as an undersized defenceman, one must be an excellent skater. Brannstrom certainly checks that box. He has outstanding speed in both directions and gets up to top speed quickly, with great acceleration. Brannstrom has an excellent stride, and his strong lower body gives him a lot of power. He is able to fight through checks and is tough to knock off the puck. He also has very good edgework and agility. Brannstrom can use subtle moves and shifts to get past forecheckers and start the transition game.

Offensive Game

Brannstrom is also an excellent playmaker. He has outstanding puck handling ability and the poise to control the puck and make plays in all situations. He can use his skating and stickhandling to break the puck out of his own zone and get the transition game started. Brannstrom can create offence both through leading the rush and as a trailer. He also is able to walk the line at the blue line, making smart plays when quarterbacking things from the point. His passing skill and vision are also high-end and gives the impression that he can be a power-play quarterback at the next level. He is smart with the puck, making smart plays with it on his stick.

Brannstrom increased the power on his wrist and slap shots this past season. He is noticeably stronger and this will help him in the NHL. His slap shot and one-timer are also accurate. He keeps his shots low and on the net. He also has a knack of getting them on the net, even with traffic. Brannstrom also has a very good release and excellent accuracy on his wrist shot. He uses it to effectively get shots on net when under pressure. Brannstrom can also sneak down to the face-off circle to let go that wrist shot closer to the net.

Defensive Game

Brannstrom’s best asset in the defensive zone is his ability to retrieve loose pucks and start the transition quickly. The best defence is a good offence, and he shows that by quickly moving the puck up the ice. When he does get pinned in his own zone, he can be overpowered by bigger and stronger forwards. He also could stand to work on his positioning and defensive reads. Brannstrom spent the year adjusting to playing on the smaller ice surface, so there is a good reason to believe that this improves in his second season in North America

Outlook

With the Senators rebuilding their blueline, there will be a spot available for Brannstrom to claim in training camp. A solid pre-season would see Brannstrom up with the Senators this season and it is expected that he will win the job. Even if Brannstrom struggles in camp and is sent back to the AHL, expect to see him called back up when injuries hit. His development is extremely important for Ottawa. Brannstrom can provide the team with an effective one-two punch on the left side with Thomas Chabot.

 

#3 Prospect: Logan Brown

Centre — shoots Left
Born March 5th, 1998 — Raleigh, North Carolina
Height 6’6″ — Weight 220 lbs [198 cm / 100 kg]
Drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 1st round, #11 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft

Brown also had a solid rookie season in the AHL. He put up 14 goals and 42 points in 56 games. He got in two games with the Ottawa Senators as well.

Skating

Brown is a good skater for his size. He shows good speed and acceleration for a player his size. Brown is not a speedster by any means, but he skates better than most players 6-foot-6 tall. He also has better edgework and agility than you would expect. He can maneuver his way through traffic and get open for a pass. Brown has a powerful stride and can fight through checks and get to the front of the net on the rush. He has good lower body strength and balance. This also helps him to win battles on the boards, as well as to fight for position in the slot, without the puck.

Offensive Game

Big and strong, Brown can be a dominant player below the hash-marks. He has a powerful stride, protects the puck and takes it to the front of the net. Brown has the soft hands to finish plays in close to the net, and also has a powerful shot from further out. He does not seem to use that shot enough though, preferring to play the role of playmaker. Brown needs to continue to shoot in order to keep defenders off-balance. He is still mainly a playmaker though. Brown uses his size and strength to protect the puck in the cycle game, extending plays and waiting for teammates to get open. His long reach is a real asset in protecting the puck and keeping possession.

Brown has the ability to put the puck on the tape and make saucer passes to get it through traffic in order to set up teammates. He uses his size to be physical on the forecheck, as well as to win battles for pucks down low, and establish his position in front of the net. When we talk about Brown’s physicality, he is not throwing huge highlight reel checks, but he is more than willing to get involved in battles and does not shy away from contact. The scary thing is that Brown can be even stronger, as there is still room to add muscle to his frame.

Defensive Game

Brown is effective in his own end of the rink. He is very good in the face-off circle. He also battles well down low, showing the same tenacity to win puck battles in his own end of the rink, as he does in the other teams end. Brown is strong positionally and uses his big frame and long reach in order to cut down on passing and shooting lanes.

Outlook

Brown will look to make the Sens in training camp. The recent trade for Anisimov improved the Senators depth down the middle. He joins Colin WhiteJean-Gabriel Pageau and Chris Tierney as the Senators projected depth chart at centre heading into camp. Even after the trade, that is probably the worst group of centres in the NHL. Brown will be given every opportunity to steal one of those spots with a strong training camp. He will need to make the top nine though. It is unlikely that the team would keep him up to play fourth-line minutes. If that is the case, he could be better off playing bigger ice time in the AHL. The safe bet is that Brown starts the season in the AHL, but is part of the big club after the NHL trade deadline when some of their veteran centre depth is moved to NHL contenders.

 

#4 Prospect: Lassi Thomson

The Senators drafted Thomson with the 19th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Thomson. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.

 

#5 Prospect: Jacob Bernard-Docker

Defence — shoots Right
Born June 30th, 2000 — Canmore, Alberta
Height 6’1″ — Weight 187 lbs [185 cm/85 kg]
Drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 1st round, #26 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft.

Bernard-Docker had a solid freshman season at the University of North Dakota. He put up five goals and 17 points in 36 games. He cracked a good UND squad and played regular minutes as a top-four defenceman, an impressive accomplishment for any 18-year-old defenceman.

Skating

Bernard-Docker is an outstanding skater. He has very good speed in both directions. His first step and his acceleration are outstanding as he reaches that top speed in just a few strides. The stride itself is extremely smooth. He can appear to be gliding above the ice. Bernard-Docker also generates the power to fight through checks and be strong on the pucks. His agility and edgework are strong. He changes directions quickly and does this both going forward and backward. Bernard-Docker makes sharp, smooth pivots. He transitions quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. The strong-skating ability is the key to every part of Bernard-Docker’s game. It is this foundation that allows him to be an excellent two-way defenceman.

Offensive Game

Bernard-Docker has an absolute cannon of a slap shot, as well as an outstanding one-timer. His shot was feared throughout the AJHL and despite the fact that teams would often shade his way to take it away, he was still very effective on the power play. It has also become a weapon at the NCAA level, as he is a key part of the UND power play. He uses his excellent agility to walk the line and make sure he can get it on the net. He also understands when to keep it low to give his teammates an opportunity to get tip-ins and rebounds. Bernard-Docker has a very good wrist shot and a quick release. He can sneak down from the point and let that shot go from the top of the face-off circle. He also lets it go when other teams cover him hard at the point.

Bernard-Docker is more of a trigger-man than a true power-play quarterback. He does not have the puck on his stick for long at the point, preferring to move it quickly, passing if no shot is available. He is smart with his passes and finds the open man to keep things moving. However, Bernard-Docker is not the type of defenceman who makes dangerous passes through seams, or through tight areas to set up a teammate. Instead, he simply finds the open man on the perimeter.

Bernard-Docker is willing to join the rush or pinch at the blueline. At the AJHL level, his superb skating allows him to do this and still recover defensively. However, as he moves up to the NCAA and eventually the pro ranks, he will need to pick his spots better.

Defensive Game

Bernard-Docker is strong against the rush. His skating allows him to maintain excellent gap control. He is very tough to beat in one-on-one situations and uses an excellent stick to poke check opponents. Bernard-Docker could be more physical, especially in battles on the boards and in front of the net. If he can get stronger, this may be an area that improves as a result. He also needs to be better at maintaining his position and staying with his man when he is away from the puck. He has a tendency to puck-watch a little bit at times. Bernard-Docker did this less often as the season went on though, so there are already improvements showing in his game.

Outlook

Bernard-Docker returns to the University of North Dakota. He will look to continue his rise up the team’s depth chart and take on even bigger minutes and responsibilities. With another solid season, he could find himself signing a contract after the season and joining the Senators.

 

#6 Prospect: Alex Formenton

Left Wing — shoots Left
Born September 13th, 1999 — Barrie, Ontario
Height 6’2″ — Weight 185 lbs [188 cm / 84 kg]
Drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 2nd round, #47 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft

For the second straight year, Formenton made the Senators out of training camp. This time he got a nine-game tryout before being sent back to London of the OHL. Once there he put up 13 goals and 34 points in 31 games. He also added 18 points in 11 playoff games. Formenton was likely to make Team Canada for the World Juniors, but a leg injury suffered in the squad’s pre-tournament camp kept him out of the tournament and cost him some games with London as well.

Skating

Formenton is an outstanding skater. He has an excellent first step, very good acceleration, and his top-end speed is close to elite. He can absolutely fly out there. Formenton also has very good edge work. He can change directions quickly and turns on a dime. Formenton has gotten stronger over the last two years. This has helped him to be stronger on the puck, to fight through checks, and to win more battles along the boards and in front of the net. Formenton is better on the cycle game now, working hard down low to create offensive opportunities.

Offensive Game

Formenton uses his skating as his key offensive weapon. He gets in quickly on the forecheck, pressuring defenders and creating turnovers. Formenton can also get behind the defence on a breakout and can take the long pass to create a breakaway. When he has the puck on a rush, he can take the puck to the outside on a defender and cut to the net. If the defence back off to respect his speed, he can use the defender as a screen and fire a shot on net. Formenton has a very good release on his wrist shot and good accuracy. He could stand to add more power though. His one-timer is also decent but can still be improved.

Formenton has spent the last two years improving his ability to create his own shot. It has improved but still has a ways to go. If set up by a teammate, he can score goals. In terms of his ability to be a playmaker, Formenton plays a very simple and straightforward game. He makes the safe pass, keeping possession, and the play moving. However, he does not really try to make passes through tight spaces or to try and create something when it would be more of a difficult play. Formenton will need to play with a creative playmaker if he is to reach his full potential. He has become more effective in high traffic areas with his added upper-body strength. Formenton is willing to play a gritty and physical game but the real test will come this season when he is playing against men.

Defensive Game

Formenton is a willing back checker, who fights for loose pucks, and can be very annoying to opposing players. He is tenacious with his support and back-pressure and tries to be physical against his opponents. This is another area where the added muscle has helped.

Outlook

Formenton will look to make the Senators out of camp for the third straight year. His blazing speed can be a real asset to the team, especially one this young that will want to play that up-tempo game in order to have any chance of success this season. Expect Formenton to get a long look at training camp. Even if he doesn’t make the team, there is a good chance that Formenton is in Ottawa before the end of the season.

 

#7 Prospect: Josh Norris

Centre — shoots Left
Born May 5th, 1999 — Oxford, Michigan
Height 6’1″ — Weight 192 lbs [185 cm / 87 kg]
Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 1st round, #19 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft
Traded to the Ottawa Senators in September 2018.

Traded in the Karlsson deal, Norris was well on his way to a breakout sophomore campaign when he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in January. He still put up 10 goals and 19 points in 17 games for the Wolverines. Norris also played for Team USA at the World Juniors with three goals and six points in seven tournament games. He helped the American team to a silver medal.

Skating

Norris is a very good skater. He is exceptionally quick, with a tremendous first step and outstanding acceleration. He can win short races to pucks and uses his changes in speeds to overwhelm defenders when taking them on, one-on-one. Norris’ overall top-end speed is very good, but he is still more “quick” than “fast” when it comes right down to it. His edgework and agility are also good, allowing Norris to make quick cuts, and giving him good lateral movement. He has a strong and sturdy frame, allowing Norris to show good balance and battle for loose pucks in the corners and in front of the net. He could add more muscle to that frame in preparation for a move to professional hockey.

Offensive Game

Josh Norris is a very good playmaker. His speed, changes of direction, and lateral agility allow him to open up passing lanes and get the puck through to his linemates. He has very good vision and hockey IQ, seeing plays develop and making smart plays. Norris has the strength and balance to work the cycle game. He uses his body to protect the puck, extending plays for his teammates to get open. Norris is physical in the corners, able to win battles for loose pucks, as well as pressuring defencemen on the forecheck.

Norris could stand to work on his upper body strength, which would give him a more powerful wrist shot and slap shot. He could also stand to use his shot more often, as he seems to defer to passing the puck. His shot is accurate, and his release is quick, which allows him to score at this level. Norris is also able to score goals in tight to the net, making use of his hand-eye coordination to get rebounds and tip-ins.

Defensive Game

Norris is also very good in his own end of the ice. With good positioning and an active stick, he is trusted to play on the penalty kill. He is also good in the face-off circle. Norris is not afraid to put his body on the line to block shots. He continues to show his gritty side and the ability to fight along the boards in all three zones.

Outlook

Norris leaves Michigan after signing an entry-level contract with the Senators. He is expected to be fully healthy when training camp rolls around. Expect Norris to battle for the open centre spot but coming off his injury it is more likely that some continued development in the AHL is needed. Norris likely needs a year or two to round out his frame and continue to add muscle mass and strength before he is ready for the NHL.

 

#8 Prospect: Rudolfs Balcers

Left Wing — shoots Left
Born April 8th, 1997 — Liepaja, Latvia
Height 5’11” — Weight 173 lbs [180 cm/78 kg]
Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 5th round, #142 overall, at the 2015 NHL Draft
Traded to the Ottawa Senators in September 2018.

Traded to the Senators as part of the Karlsson deal, Balcers bounced between Binghamton and Ottawa. He put up 17 goals and 31 points in 43 games for Binghamton. Things weren’t quite as successful in Ottawa as he scored five goals and 14 points 36 games. He also played for Latvia at the World Championships, scoring nine points in seven games.

Skating

Balcers is a very good skater. His top-end speed is outstanding and he reaches it in just a few strides thanks to good acceleration powered by textbook skating technique. He has very good agility and edgework. Balcers is able to manoeuvre in and out of traffic and around defenders. He has improved his lower body strength in recent years which has helped his balance and his ability to win board battles. However, there is more work to do in this area.

Offensive Game

When Balcers is on his game, he can be a dynamic offensive player. He can stickhandle in a phone booth and makes these plays while moving at close to his top speed. This makes him very dangerous off the rush. He can beat defenders wide and create chances this way, though he doesn’t seem to charge to the net with the ferocity needed. If a defender backs off, he can slow down the play and take advantage of the passing and shooting lanes that are created. Balcers has an excellent wrist shot and a very good release. He also sees the ice well and can make tape-to-tape passes through tight lanes.

The issues come from Balcers’ intensity level. He doesn’t always maintain his highest effort level and can be found floating at times. There is a lack of consistency game-to-game and sometimes even shift to shift. Balcers can dominate or he can disappear. Balcers also needs to work harder to get to the dirty areas of the ice and play less on the perimeter.

Defensive Game

Balcers wavering intensity level also appears in the defensive end of the ice. There are times he backchecks well, providing support down low and there are times he seems to get caught puck watching and flat-footed. These issues will need to be ironed out or they will drive professional coaches crazy.

Outlook

Balcers will likely start the season in the AHL. If he can work on maintaining consistent intensity, he could be a top-six scorer at the NHL level. There is a ton of potential here. However, he needs further development and maturity. It would not be a surprise if Balcers is given some NHL games if the Senators need callups due to injuries this season.

 

#9 Prospect: Filip Gustavsson

Goalie — Shoots Left — Catches Left
Born June 7th, 1998 — Skelleftea, Sweden
Height 6’2″ — Weight 183 lbs [188 cm / 82 kg]
Drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2nd round, #55 overall at the 2016 NHL Draft
Traded to the Senators in February 2018

Gustavsson struggled in his first full AHL season. He put up a 3.38 goals-against-average and .887 save percentage in 31 appearances for Belleville. He also played a couple of games for the Brampton Beast in the ECHL and the numbers were even worse, that said, with just two appearances, it is an extremely small sample size. It is important to remember that it was his first full season on North American ice, adjusting to the different angles that the smaller ice surface creates. He is also young and goalies take a little longer to develop.

Talent Analysis

Gustavsson has strong reflexes and plays a solid butterfly technique. He stays square to the shooter and gets in and out of his stance quickly and efficiently. Quick legs take away the bottom of the net. He has a very good glove and blocker as well. For such a young goaltender, Gustavsson’s rebound control is very good. That is not to say he does not need continued work, just that he is ahead of where most goaltenders are at 21-years-old. Gustavsson has powerful legs and gets side-to-side in his net extremely quickly. He tracks the puck well, though he does occasionally over-commit when moving from post-to-post. This is an area that should be fixable though.

Coming in at 6’2″ tall, Filip Gustavsson is a decent size, but at the lower end in terms of the goaltenders we see drafted highly in the NHL right now. What makes this a little bit more problematic though is that Gustavsson plays very deep in his crease. He prefers to stay back to defend against cross-ice passes and dekes, but this means that shooters do see a bit more of the net coming down on him. He could also stand to fill out his frame, as he’s a bit skinny right now.

Mental Makeup

Gustavsson shows poise and leadership in the face of adversity. He remains calm in the face of an onslaught of shots, something that regularly happened during the Under 17, and the Hlinka tournaments earlier in his career. The other quality teams in those tournaments were regularly outshooting the Swedes, but Gustavsson remained calm, and his teammates fed off of it as the tournaments went on. While every goalie will allow the occasional bad goal, he doesn’t let getting scored on bother him and bounces back quickly to his normal high level of play.

Outlook

Gustavsson will continue in the AHL with the Belleville Senators this season. He will need time to take a big step forward and put together a better season though. The Senators have plenty of goalies in the pipeline and while Gustavsson is currently their top goaltending prospect, he will need to maintain that position in the face of some stiff competition.

 

#10 Prospect: Vitaly Abramov

Right Wing — shoots Left
Born May 8th, 1998 — Chelyabinsk, Russia
Height 5’9″ — Weight 172 lbs [175 cm / 78 kg]
Drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 3rd round, #65 overall, at the 2016 Draft
Traded to the Ottawa Senators in February 2019

Abramov struggled a bit in his first AHL season, split between Cleveland and Belleville. Overall he put up 16 goals and 29 points in 70 games. He also made his NHL debut for the Senators. It was not the first pro season that some had envisioned after highly successful junior career.

Skating

Abramov may be undersized, but there are more and more undersized players succeeding in the NHL today. One thing that Abramov has in common with the most successful of these undersized players is that he is an outstanding skater. He has great speed and tremendous acceleration, allowing him to blow past opponents on the rush. He also has great agility, allowing him to make quick cuts and beat defenders one-on-one. Add in a strong lower body, as well as a low centre of gravity and Abramov has the balance and power to be strong on the puck and to fight through checks. For a smaller player, he is surprisingly good in one-on-one battles along the boards.

Offensive Game

Abramov marries his skating ability with soft hands and good stickhandling ability. This makes him very tough to defend one-on-one, whether it be off the rush or working the puck down low. He can stickhandle in a phone booth, making Abramov a nightmare for defenders even when they try to take away his time and space. If he gets that space, look out.

Abramov is a pure goal scorer. He has an excellent wrist shot along with a quick release. Abramov also has a very good snapshot, slap shot and one-timer. He can also play the role of playmaker with good vision and passing skills. While Abramov has good lower body strength, he must continue to get stronger in his upper body to take the physical pounding he could face at the next level.

Defensive Game

Abramov works hard defensively, as he is conscientious on the backcheck, and tries to help out the defence down low. Unfortunately, this is the biggest area where his lack of size is exposed, as he can be outmuscled by bigger, stronger opponents. He must add upper body strength in order to improve his defensive game.

Outlook

Abramov will likely start the season back in Belleville. He has shown flashes of his junior scoring touch in the AHL level but needs to be more consistent there. Adjusting to the faster game and stronger opponents he now sees at the pro level has been a challenge. However, Abramov is still very young and could take steps forward this season.

 

Sleeper Prospect: Jonathan Davidsson

Right Wing — shoots Right
Born March 12th, 1997 — Tyreso, Sweden
Height 5’11” — Weight 185 lbs [180 cm / 84 kg]
Drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 6th round, #170 overall, at the 2017 Draft
Traded to the Senators in February 2019

A sixth-round pick in 2017, Davidsson continued to put up good numbers in the SHL, scoring 10 goals and 21 points in 37 games for Djurgardens. He signed an ELC with Columbus one year ago but was loaned back to his Swedish club. After being included in the Duchene trade it is expected that Davidsson will play in North America this season.

Skating

Davidsson is another strong skater. He has a quick first step and very good acceleration. His top-end speed is also very good. Davidsson is very dangerous off the rush, and defenders must back off to respect his speed. He also has good agility and edgework, allowing him to weave through traffic both with and without the puck. He can get stronger, especially in his lower body to improve his balance and be stronger on the boards.

Offensive Game

Davidsson is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. He is a strong stick-handler and can make plays while moving at top speed. He combines this with his skating ability to create offence. Davidsson can change speeds or make a quick feint, allowing him to open up a passing lane for a teammate.

Davidsson has a decent shot and release but lacks power. He could stand to shoot more often though in order to get defenders to respect that option and open up more space. Davidsson sometimes defers to passing a bit too much. He could also get stronger on the puck in order to be better in the cycle game. This would help him to score more at even strength. Right now, he gets most of his points off the rush or on the power play.

Defensive Game

Davidsson needs work on his defensive game. He has a tendency to get caught watching the puck and stop moving his feet which leads to missed assignments. He also needs to work on his intensity and physicality in his own end. Davidsson’s quickness can help him to break up plays but there is work to do on his positioning and instincts.

Outlook

Davidsson is likely headed to Belleville. It will be his first season in North America and he will need to adjust to the smaller ice and more physical game. He could see time in Ottawa as an injury call-up, but Davidsson is likely a couple of years away from challenging for a full-time roster spot in Ottawa.

 

System Outlook

The Senators system has very good depth. The goaltending is strong with Soogard, Joey Daccord, Kevin Mandolese, and Marcus Hogberg all in the system. The defence could use a few more players, but the team also has Jonny Tychonick, Olle Alsing, Andreas Englund, and Nick Ebert in the system. The depth is strongest amongst the forwards though, as Filip Chlapik, Shane PintoNick PaulMax Veronneau, Jon Gruden, Jack Rodewald, and Parker Kelly remain players worth keeping an eye on. The biggest issue is the lack of true blue-chippers in the system. With Tkachuk and Chabot no longer considered prospects, the Senators lack a prospect in that elite tier.

 

Ottawa Senators Prospects Main Photo

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