The Ottawa Senators have emerged as one of the big winners of the 2022 NHL off-season. Grabbing three all-stars in Cam Talbot, Claude Giroux, and Alex Debrincat should have severely diluted their prospects and draft picks, but instead, they only lost Filip Gustavsson and three selections. Even with most of their top prospects graduating and becoming full-time NHLers such as Josh Norris and Tim Stutzle, the Senators continue to have an excellent prospect pool.
The term prospect is not generally agreed upon within the hockey community. For the sake of consistency, players on this list are considered prospects due to being under the age of 23 and playing fewer than 30 games in the NHL.
1. Jake Sanderson – With the 5th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Ottawa Senators took a shot on a shut-down defenseman from the University of North Dakota. Many Sens fans were upset with this pick, wishing that either Marco Rossi or Jamie Drysdale would put on the uniform, but just two years later, it’s safe to say that Sens-Nation is very happy with the selection. In the 2021-22 season, Sanderson, who is known for his defensive abilities, put up 8 goals, 26 points in 23 games in the NCAA, while only posting 6 PIM. He was also named captain of Team USA for the 2022 World Junior Championship before the tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19. There’s a good chance Sanderson will be a top-pairing two-way defenseman for years to come, and is a calder-favourite to kickstart his NHL career.
Player comparable: Victor Hedman
2. Shane Pinto – When current Senators Assistant General Manager Trent Mann held the title of Director of Amateur Scouting, he pushed very hard for Shane Pinto at #32 in 2019. GM Pierre Dorion listened and this pick has aged like fine wine. He was USA’s best player in the 2020 World Junior Championship posting 4 goals, 7 points in 5 games. In the NCAA year following his draft, Pinto augmented his point total in less games, scoring 32 points in 28 games, which won him the NCHC’s scoring title. He also only took two minor penalties the entire season, and had a league-leading 62% for face-offs. On top of all this, Pinto won the NCHC’s Player of the Year honours by a unanimous vote, becoming the first player to do so, as well as winning NCHC Defensive Forward of the Year. Pinto joined the Senators at the end of his 2021 NCAA campaign for the remainder of the season and posted 7 points in 12 games as the third line centre. He then was point per game through the pre-season and incredible defensively. His season was unfortunately cut short after suffering a shoulder injury against the San Jose Sharks, which sidelined him for the season. Pinto should be on many people’s Calder Trophy list for this season. In the future, it’s entirely possible for Pinto to take over either the #1 or #2 centre position in Ottawa (currently being held by Josh Norris and Tim Stutzle).
Player comparable: Patrice Bergeron
3. Ridly Greig – The third of three 1st round picks in 2020 for the Senators happened to be Ridly Greig. At pick #28, the Sens chose the 5’11 centre out of Brandon of the WHL. In his draft year he had 60 points in 56 games. Last season, Greig was named captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings and lit up the score sheet in many ways potting 26 goals, 63 points in 39 games while also getting 92 penalty minutes. Greig is a gritty but very skilled player; he was suspended more than anyone else in the WHL last season, and is currently serving a 2-game suspension in the NHL for a cross-check to Pierre-Luc Dubois last pre-season. Recently, Greig represented Canada at the 2022 Summer World Junior Championship. He was arguably Canada’s best player before he got injured in the quarter-final match and was done for the tournament. Prior to then, he posted 3 goals and 3 assists in his 5 games. He set the tone with many hits and was blocking shots left and right on the penalty kill. Greig has the potential to be a top six forward either on the wing or in the middle.
Player comparable: Brad Marchand
4. Lassi Thomson – Thomson was drafted 19th overall by Ottawa back in 2019; a pick acquired from Columbus in the Matt Duchene deal. The right-handed defenseman has looked like a very solid so far. He was drafted for his offensive ability, as he put up 41 points in 63 WHL games in his draft year, and he’s been decent offensively but also very reliable in his own end. Over the last two seasons he’s managed to get 39 points in 79 AHL games, and 5 points in 16 NHL games. In those NHL games, Thomson looked very comfortable and he should be stepping into a full-time NHL role as soon as Nikita Zaitsev is dealt. Last season, Thomson was named Belleville’s defenseman of the year. He has the potential to be a great 2nd pairing defenseman, who can step into the first pair when needed and take some minutes off the top guys.
Player comparable: Miro Heiskanen
5. Zack Ostapchuk – When Ottawa traded their captain and superstar defenseman in Erik Karlsson, it had seemed they lost the deal badly. But when Josh Norris and Tim Stutzle started to turn into first line players, the trade started looking better and better. The Senators also acquired two 2nd round picks in the deal; one of which turned into Zack Ostapchuk, who they took at pick #39 in 2021. The big-bodied power forward had 16 points in 22 games in his draft year on a struggling Vancouver Giants team. The following season, Ostapchuk was named captain of the Giants, and posted 43 points in 60 games during the regular season. The team barely squeezed into the playoffs but managed to get the 16th spot. Ostapchuk was unstoppable in the postseason where he scored at almost a 2 points per game pace, putting up 7 goals, 23 points in 12 playoff games. He played a limited 4th line role for Team Canada at the 2022 summer World Junior Championship, but managed to put up 3 points in 7 games on route to helping the team win gold. The 19-year-old plays centre and both wings, so he will be an easy fit onto any line. Ostapchuk should be a reliable 2nd line player in the future.
Player comparable: Andre Burakovsky
6. Jacob Bernard-Docker– There have only been four defensemen in NHL history drafted in the first round out of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Jacob Bernard-Docker was taken 26th overall in the 2018 Draft out of the AJHL, only 22 spots after Cale Makar was taken out of the same league the year before. JBD was drafted as an offensive defenseman as he managed to score 20 goals and 41 points in 49 games in his draft year. He then joined the University of North Dakota to play with other Sens prospects Shane Pinto and Jake Sanderson. In his sophomore season, his offensive display was showcased when he 25 points in 32 NCAA games, but the following season he changed direction. He played the 2020-21 season on a paring with Jake Sanderson, who had started to emerge offensively, so JBD took on more of a defensive-oriented game. However, he still managed to post 18 points in 27 games. Last season, the 22-year-old played in the AHL and continued to work on his two way game. He only had 9 points in 58 games, but was very steady in his own end, having the 2nd highest +/- rating on the entire team with a +11. It’s expected that Bernard-Docker will continue to play for Belleville next year, but will probably jump from third to the first pair. In the future, JBD will be a solid top four two way defenseman. Player comparable: Cam Fowler
7. Roby Jarventie – Jarventie is a player that has recently been climbing the prospect rankings. The left-handed winger was taken 33rd overall in 2020, after attaining 23 goals and 38 points in 36 games in Mestis; the Finnish 2nd division league. In 2021, he put up 25 points in 48 games in the LIGGA as an 18-year-old against men. This season was enough for the Senators to pull him up and play him in the American Hockey League where he played this last season. He only scored 33 points in 70 games as he was playing in a limited 3rd line role. He was selected to represent Finland for the 2022 summer World Junior Championship where he was given top six and first powerplay minutes. This proved to be successful as he scored 4 goals, 5 assists and finished the tournament above a point per game through his 7 games played before losing to Canada in the championship game. Jarventie should be playing on the B-Sens first line next season if he doesn’t make the NHL squad out of training camp. When he reaches his peak, Jarventie should be a scoring middle-six forward who will definitely be on the powerplay.
Player comparable: Jordan Eberle
8. Tyler Boucher – The Ottawa Senators held the 10th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and took Tyler Boucher out of the USNDP. He was point per game through his COVID-shortened draft-year season. The following year, Boucher suffered many injuries and could not get back to his old self. He struggled at Boston University, being held to usually less than 10 minutes of ice time per game, and only putting up 3 points in 17 games. Wanting a fresh start, Boucher left the States and joined the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL for the remainder of the season. He was still dealing with an injury for a bit, but once he became healthy he found some great chemistry with Vinzenz Rohrer (MTL) and Luca Pinelli (2023). Boucher was the big body for the 67’s. Every shift was electric with huge hits and making his presence known, including breaking the glass on a hit in a game against the Peterborough Petes. He put up 14 points in 24 games in Ottawa. It is expected that next year, Boucher will continue to play for the 67’s, hopefully with a big bounce back in the point column. If he can shake his injuries and get back to form, Boucher should be a steady power forward in the middle-six in the NHL.
Player comparable: Tom Wilson
9. Egor Sokolov – Sokolov was drafted by the Senators 61st overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft; a draft pick acquired by Vegas in the Mark Stone trade. In his draft year, he posted 46 goals (first in the QMJHL), and 46 assists for 92 points in 52 games. He was also selected for Russia’s World Junior Championship team in 2020 where he accumulated 4 points in 7 games with 16 PIM. Since then, he’s scored 75 points in 99 AHL games for the Belleville Senators. The 6’4 winger uses his big frame to his advantage, shrugging off opponents that attempt to hit him while in stride. His shot is easily his best asset, while his skating could be worked on to establish himself as NHL ready. Sokolov has the potential to be a solid scoring middle-six winger.
Player comparable: Patrik Laine
10. Philippe Daoust – Daoust is the 5th and final prospect on this list who came from the 2020 draft. Drafted in the 6th round at pick #158, the left handed defenseman was joining a prospect pool with a huge backlog of defenders, and he’s made his name known. Since being drafted, Daoust has chalked up 75 points in 59 QMJHL games. This puts him 2nd in the league for points per game in that time frame among defenders behind Lukas Cormier (VGK). Daoust helped Saint John take home the Memorial Cup, then joined the Belleville Senators for 15 games where he recorded 5 points in 15 games. It’s possible for Daoust to jump into the first pair with Jacob Bernard-Docker in the AHL next season where he could help the team tons. He has the potential to be a reliable 2nd pairing defenseman, who would be a fantastic power play quarterback.