For a team that cared nothing about aesthetic during a surprising post-season run, Shane Bowers might be the perfect fit.
By virtue of advancing to the NHL’s final four this past spring, the Ottawa Senators were picking 28th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. With that selection, GM Pierre Dorion and his staff chose Bowers, a two-way centre who doesn’t really do any one thing that jumps off the page.
“He’s what you would call a safe pick,” said Sportsnet prospect guru Sam Cosentino on the broadcast.
Hey, on a night when home runs are falsely predicted all over the place, there’s nothing wrong choking up and aiming for a standing double.
After netting 22 goals and 51 points with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League, Bowers—a Halifax native who’s part of Sidney Crosby’s summer training crew—will join Boston University next fall. Realistically, he figures to spent at least a couple seasons in college building strength and filling out his six-foot-one frame.
While it’s difficult to project Bowers’ exact timeline, Dorion sounded like a man who knew he’d just purchased solid stock.
“It’s someone we know is going to be in our lineup within a few years,” he told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman right after making the selection. “Lots of skill, lots of hockey sense, two things we like.”
Based on that description, you wonder if the Sens perhaps feel they just drafted the light version of another centre in their system who just finished his NCAA career in Boston, Colin White. Snagged 21st overall in 2015, White—who left Boston College this past spring to join the pro ranks—likely possesses more high-end skill than Bowers, but both know their way around all 200 feet of the rink.
Sens coach Guy Boucher is known for meticulous attention to defensive detail, an approach that carried his gum-it-up club to overtime of Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. Assuming Boucher is in Ottawa for the long haul, he will someday have another pliable player in his midst with Bower.
Given Ottawa only has three picks in rounds two through seven, grabbing Bowers might make that much more sense. Taking a gamble on a boom-or-bust prospect is one thing when you have, say, eight or nine sections at your disposal. But with less than a handful of schedule trips to the podium, there’s nothing wrong with a conservative approach.