Before the trade deadline, it felt entirely possible that an Ottawa Senators sell off would create an enormous influx of prospects and draft picks.
And while the organization does have at least one new gem (it hopes) in the system thanks to the swap that sent centre Derick Brassard to Pittsburgh via Vegas, it’s fair to say things were a little quieter in the nation’s capital than we anticipated.
Who knows: Maybe guys like Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman will still be traded in the off-season. And if that is the case, expect the Sens pipeline to bulge.
For now, all we can do is evaluate what did actually happen around the deadline.
Filip Gustavsson: Meet the future of the crease. OK, predicting where a young goalie’s career will go is a perilous exercise, but forgive the Sens if they’re extremely excited about this six-foot-two Swede. Gustavsson shone a couple months ago at the world junior championship, where he posted a 1.81 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in six outings.
Drafted 55th overall by the Penguins in 2016, the 19-year-old is far and away the best goalie prospect for a team that is presently one of only three in the league to be getting sub .900 goaltending. He might not be able to help that situation next season, but at some point relatively soon we’re going to find out what this hyped kid can do.
Ville Pokka: We’re stretching the definition of “prospect” to include the Finnish defenceman who was acquired from Chicago for 29-year-old forward Chris DiDomenico a couple weeks before the deadline. Pokka, who turns 24 on Tuesday and has never played an NHL game, has two assists in eight AHL contests with the Belleville Senators.
Remember when we stretched the definition to include Pokka? We’re taking it a step further with Vincent Dunn, who was part of the Brassard deal. Dunn, a 22-year-old forward and fifth-round pick in 2013, has played more ECHL than AHL games this year.
Draft Pick Situation
2018: Round 1 (conditional), Round 1 (from Pittsburgh), Round 4, Round 5, Round 6, Round 7, Round 7 (from NYR)
2019: Round 1 (conditional), Round 2, Round 3 (from Pittsburgh), Round 4, Round 5, Round 6, Round 7, Round 7 (from Calgary)
Draft Pick Outlook
Assuming Ottawa uses its own first-round pick this year to make a top-10 selection, the team’s 2019 first-rounder will go to the Colorado Avalanche as part of the Matt Duchene trade. And if Ottawa is about to embark on a rebuild, that could be one tasty pick 16 months from now.
Then again, any turning of the soil by the Sens will presumably land no insignificant amount of picks coming back. Ottawa actually only made four selections in 2017 and one of those players, first-rounder Shane Bowers, was also sent to Colorado in the Duchene deal. Certainly, the club would like to re-stock the shelves.
Reason for Optimism
Gustavsson would certainly fit the bill for this category, but since we covered off the rosiness there, let’s go in another direction. Aaron Luchuk, who was passed over in three NHL drafts before being signed by the Sens two months ago, is tied for second in Ontario Hockey League scoring with 105 points in 62 games as an over-ager. It may still be a long path to the NHL, but give the young man credit for persevering and earning a pro contract.
Like Luchuk, both Logan Brown and Drake Batherson are major junior prospects who were dealt this season and the latter two are also excelling in their new homes. Brown has 22 points in 14 outings since joining the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers, while Batherson has 31 points in 22 contests with his new QMJHL club, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.