In betting circles, the number seven is associated with good luck.
Truth be told, the Ottawa Senators would have preferred a lucky No. 1 or No. 2 in Tuesday’s NHL Draft Lottery. As is played out, the Sens are picking exactly where they were slotted, at seventh overall.
The Senators had just a 6.5 per cent chance of getting the first-overall pick, which ultimately went to Ottawa’s Atlantic Divisional rival — the last-place Montreal Canadiens.
Ottawa has never drafted at No. 7 and it will be interesting to see if they do in 2022, given that Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has said he is open to trading his first-round pick to improve his team now. The Senators do have two picks in both the second and third rounds.
The NHL Draft takes place July 7-8 in Montreal.
In a statement to Ottawa media, Dorion was gracious about having the seventh pick.
“We’re happy to add another top 10 talent to our already strong pool of prospects,” Dorion said. “Trent Mann (chief scout) and his scouts have been hard at work all year evaluating what we feel is a deep draft and we look forward to adding an important piece to our organization in July.”
If the Sens do hang onto that No. 7 pick, they aren’t likely to get a shot at the consensus top three prospects — Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs, Slovak forward Juraj Slafkovsky or the USA’s Logan Cooley. But after that, the talent levels off a bit and they could get an opportunity to select from among these other potential top ten candidates.
Savoie is considered among the top three centres of the upcoming draft, generally ranked just behind Wright and Cooley. Savoie just might be the most dynamic of the three, a whirligig who reminds some scouts of Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Like Point, Savoie is an explosive skater, with great hands and an ability to get to the scoring areas despite his small stature. Chances are, Savoie will be gone by the time the Senators pick. But if he’s not, he is the kind of dynamic player that would be hard to pass up.
The Senators have depth at centre with Josh Norris, Tim Stützle and Shane Pinto but Savoie could also slot in on the right side. With 34 points when playing with the extra man, Savoie is a fabulous power play addition to any team.
Cutter Gauthier is big, strong, has a tremendous shot and could be a good fit for the robust and dynamic lineup the Senators are trying to build.
The Sens love hockey bloodlines and Gauthier has that covered. His father, Sean, was a longtime professional and had a cup of coffee in the NHL with San Jose.
A strong skater, Gauthier probably projects as a left winger in the NHL, where he could skate up and down the wing and use his strong shot. He has some work to do on his defensive game and decision-making, but could project to be a solid forward in the NHL, once he has spent a year or two in college. Gauthier is committed to Boston College for the fall.
Another player with hockey family roots. The big centre is the kid brother of Seattle Kraken forward Morgan Geekie.
Conor Geekie is rated highly for his hockey smarts and offensive creativity, and not as high for his skating ability, which helps explain the wide range of rankings for this player, anywhere from fourth among North American skaters (NHL Central Scouting) to a spot in the 20-range.
With his size, reach and offensive output, Geekie has had a lot of people watching him. He does get criticized for trying to do too much at times, and for questionable defensive play. He will need work on his skating, but that was also said of a winger Ottawa once drafted by the name of Mark Stone. Some scouts consider the ceiling high on Geekie.
Even though the Senators have prospect depth on the right side of the blue line with Lassi Thomson and Jacob Bernard-Docker, Nemec might be too good a prospect to pass up if the club opts to make its top pick a defenceman.
Nemec is a two-way force, and part of the Slovak surge to a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. He was named MVP of the Hlinka tournament.
Unlike some of the typical power-play quarterbacks that come out of junior, Nemec is just as strong defensively, and takes pride in being a shut down player against top offensive players. Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino has Nemec slotted 5th overall.
NHL Central Scouting has him third among European skaters.
If the Senators are in the market for a really sound defenceman that is not named Nemec, then Jiricek is their guy.
Rated just behind Nemec among Central Scouting’s European skaters at No. 4, Jiricek takes great pride in his defensive game and is excellent in transition — a must in today’s NHL. Add in a heavy shot and Jiricek has the potential to be a top pair defenceman once he fills out and adapts to the North American game.