The Ottawa Senators are possibly the most volatile team both on and off the ice. In a year when everything went well, the Sens were a goal away from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. A year later and everything went the opposite direction, and now the team is out of the playoff race and in the draft lottery.
The team has made some poor decisions such as trading Jonathan Dahlen for Alex Burrows and paid a heavy price to acquire Matt Duchene, and there were serious rumors about trading franchise player and superstar Erik Karlsson by the trade deadline.
It is difficult to say what exactly the Senators are and with trading away a first-round pick in the Duchene trade and the Erik Karlsson contract decisions looming the future is unclear.
What is clear is the prospects currently in the system, and there is plenty of potential to work with and look forward to.
2017-18 Ottawa Senators Top Ten Prospects
1. Thomas Chabot, D – Belleville (AHL)
Drafted: 18th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Ottawa
Drafted: 18th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Ottawa
After dominating the QMJHL with the Saint John Sea Dogs, Chabot is making his way in his rookie year in pro hockey and has played the majority of the year in the NHL with the Sens. His 22 points in 58 games may not be Calder worthy, but is top five among NHL rookie defensemen. Chabot has all the tools to become a future Norris Trophy contender, giving the Sens two Norris caliber defensemen. Imagine if they win the draft lottery and add Rasmus Dahlin to the fold!
2. Logan Brown, C – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Drafted: 11th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Ottawa
Brown surprisingly started the season in the NHL with Ottawa, playing in four games before being reassigned to Windsor where he won the Memorial Cup the previous season. After 15 games with the Spitfires, he was traded to Kitchener where he hopes to have another long playoff run and play in some meaningful games again. Brown represented USA at the World Junior and has plenty of big game experience on his resume already as a 20-year-old. Brown has great size already but needs to play a more physical game. His strength and conditioning improved las summer and his skill and smarts are already an asset. Brown will make the transition to pro hockey next year and may not need much time in the AHL before he is playing in a top-six role in Ottawa.
3. Colin White, C/RW – Belleville (AHL)
Drafted: 21st overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Ottawa
The first full pro season for White has been a little underwhelming after coming from Boston College and finishing last year playing in two NHL games and thee AHL games. White felt he belonged in the NHL immediately once he signed his contract and the hope was that the small sample of pro hockey would prepare him and put him in a good position to play in the Sens roster all year. In 16 games with Ottawa, he has only three points. White has played the majority of the year in Belleville on a struggling AHL team, and his production there is better, 27 points in 47 games. White may not have a high offensive ceiling in his NHL projection, but his floor is reliable, and he could be a quality middle-six player. It is critical to have quality depth to win in today’s NHL, and that is what Ottawa has in White. This should be his last year outside of the NHL.
4. Drake Batherson, C – Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL)
Drafted: 121st overall in the fourth round of the 2017 draft by Ottawa
The Sens found a gem in drafting Batherson in the fourth round in his second year of draft eligibility. Batherson is a late bloomer to be sure, but he is also one of the fastest rising prospects in hockey. After a breakout season in the QMJHL last year in Cape Breton posting 58 points in 61 games as a QMJHL rookie, the Sens scouts were sold he was the real deal. Batherson had his real breakout performance after he was a surprise inclusion on the Canadian World Junior roster where he scored seven goals in seven games helping Canada to Gold. After the World Junior, his junior rights were traded to the Armada where he continues to post well over a point per game production. Looking forward, this will be his final year of junior hockey, and he should see a year or two of AHL development. Given his current development curve, that could be a much shorter route to the NHL.
5. Filip Gustavsson, G – Belleville (AHL)
Drafted: 55th overall in the second round of the 2016 draft by Pittsburgh
Acquired in a confusing three-way trade with Vegas and Pittsburgh, Ottawa acquired their future starting goalie and a first round pick in exchange for Derick Brassard. Gustavsson has made the move to North America recently after a stellar SHL career. Gustavsson backstopped Sweden to a World Junior Silver Medal recently and was named the tournament best goalie. Still only 19-years-old, the Sens will allow him to adjust to North America and the smaller ice in the AHL next year. With two years remaining on Craig Anderson’s contract, there is no rush to throw Gustavsson into the fire. And with countryman Marcus Hogberg in the system, as well as his potential backup in Belleville next year, he is in a very good situation with an ideal opportunity and path to the NHL.
6. Alex Formenton, LW – London (OHL)
Drafted: 47th overall in the second round of the 2017 draft by Ottawa
Another great value pick by Ottawa was Alex Formenton, who as a second-round pick started the year in the NHL playing in his first career NHL game with Ottawa. The speedy winger was then returned to London in the OHL and in a season where the Knights traded away several star players to rebuild, they retained Formenton in hopes they will be a contender again next year with Formenton playing a key role. In his sophomore junior year, he has reached a point per game production and was an important player for Canada at the World Junior posting two goals and four points in seven games helping take Canada back to a Gold Medal. Formenton will play another year in the OHL at least and has another year of eligibility beyond that. The Speedster is on the fast track to the NHL to be sure, but will he be there in one-two-or three years remains to be seen.
7. Filip Chlapik, C – Belleville (AHL)
Drafted: 48th overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Ottawa
The Belleville leading scorer has had a smooth transition to pro hockey after adjusting to North America in the QMJHL for the three previous seasons where he dominated offensively. Chlapik made his NHL debut and has played in a total of 16 NHL games in his first pro season with his first career NHL goal and three points. Perhaps another year of pro-development to round out his game is needed before he challenges for a full-time top-six offensive spot on the Ottawa roster.
8. Christian Jaros, D – Belleville (AHL)
Drafted: 139th overall in the fifth round of the 2015 draft by Ottawa
Jaros has been a force on the Belleville blueline in his first season in North America as he adjusts to the smaller ice and culture. Jaros has size, strength, and a heavy shot and is the player the Sens will put on the ice in the last minutes of a period regardless of the score. Jaros is a strong skater and plays a physical game. There is a place on the Sens roster for a player of Jaros caliber, and he will make a push to seize a roster spot next year.
9. Gabriel Gagne, RW – Belleville (AHL)
Drafted: 36th overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Ottawa
After a disappointing rookie season in the AHL last year with only six points in 41 games, Gagne has rebounded strongly in his sophomore year with 18 goals in 60 games. His lowly five assist total is a concern, as is his minus -15, but it is a nice rebound year and has him trending back in the right direction. Gagne needs an off-season of strength development and another follow-up AHL season to get his shot in the NHL.
10. Nick Paul, LW/C – Belleville (AHL)
Drafted: 101st overall in the fourth round by Dallas Stars
Paul played in 24 NHL games in the 2015-16 season and looked poised to play a regular bottom-six role for Ottawa. Paul has good size and strength, is a solid two-way player that plays a power game, and has offensive upside. Now in his third season of pro hockey, Paul is in jeopardy of being labeled as a career AHL player. He has the tools to play in the NHL, but his compete and consistency is holding him back.