Draft day a huge one for Sens
The upcoming draft in Minnesota may be the most exciting in Ottawa's history. Not only are the Senators loaded with a total of 12 draft picks, but many of these selections are in the first 66 picks. In fact, Ottawa possesses the 6th, 21st, 35th, 48th, 61st, and 66th overall picks. This is a massive step-up from last year, when the Sens had only five picks, inlcuding just one first-rounder (which was dealt for David Runblad during the Draft).
If last year's draft was any indication, predicting draft picks past the first round (or even arguably in the first round itself) will be just slightly more effective than using a crystal ball. That being said, the first-round draft picks will be discussed, but the later rounds are anybody's guess.
The 6th overall pick is an important one. It is a high selection, and the top 10 boasts several potential gems. There are a few different names that have been slated to go 6th overall, depending on which analysis one reads. The most likely names in that slot are Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Strome, Nathan Beaulieu, or Sean Couturier. I have had the chance to witness each of these players live this year, with the exception of Couturier, who I got to see in the World Juniors at least.
In my opinion, the best player of the four is Dougie Hamilton. I had the chance to witness Hamilton play live for the Niagara IceDogs twice in the regular season, and once in the playoffs (against Mississauga), and for Team Canada in the super-series once. I had a chance to talk with Hamilton after the game, and he was calm, composed, and intelligent. I have heard some comparisons to Chris Pronger being made in terms of his physical play and defensive game, but I assure you Hamilton has a much calmer head on his shoulders. Although the Senators have a deep cupboard of blueliners (Runblad, Cowen, and Wiercioch to name a few), I would welcome Hamilton to the team with open arms. Ottawa obviously could use more forward depth, but Hamilton is too good of a player to pass up. Considering their needs, I would not be surprised to hear them select Couturier or Strome, who are both high-calibre prospects as well. Beaulieu is an intelligent, two-way defender, who would also be a solid pick-up with the sixth spot.
The 21st pick is harder to predict than the sixth. Some teams tend to gamble with their later first-round picks, especially if they have multiple first-rounders like Ottawa. Among the names being tossed around are Matt Puempel, Niklas Jensen and of course, Tomas Jurco. I had the pleasure of seeing each of these players play, and they would all be a great selection for this slot. In my opinion, Jurco has the highest upside of any of them, and should be selected if he is available (which I sincerely doubt). His hands are on another level. Watching him play against the Kootenay Ice at the Memorial Cup was a masterclass performance. He scored two goals in the game (granted, one was off his face, which aside from being a novelty goal, shows he is not afraid to stand in front of the net), including a stunning goal where he made the Ice look like a bunch of boys learning how to skate for the first time. Jurco may not be a top shut-down forward, but he is definitely not a fish out of water defensively either. Also, he is not afraid to sacrifice the body for his team when he feels it is required. Any of the above-mentioned players would be a valuable asset to the Senators, but I hope they select Jurco.
It will be interesting to see what happens come draft day, but rest assured I'll be on the liveblog to discuss the Draft, and I hope you will be too.