New-Look HP! Unfiltered Articles Stats Glossary Contact Us
Hockey Prospectus home

New Look Hockey Prospectus is available with new Premium Content!
Limited time offer: $9.99 for an entire year!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Blue Line (08/10)
<< Previous Column
Top 10 Prospects (08/09)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Top 10 Prospects (08/12)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Top 10 Prospects (08/12)

August 11, 2011
Top 10 Prospects
Ottawa Senators

by Corey Pronman

Printer-
friendly
Contact
Author

Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Ottawa Senators Top 10 Prospects

1. David Rundblad, Defense
2. Mika Zibanejad, Left Wing
3. Nikita Filatov, Right Wing
4. Stephane Da Costa, Center
5. Jared Cowen, Defense
6. Jakob Silfverberg, Right Wing
7. Patrick Wiercioch, Defense
8. Derek Grant, Left Wing
9. Matt Puempel, Left Wing
10. Robin Lehner, Goaltender

Organizational Ranking: 4th

System Overview: A couple of high draft picks, some solid late round picks, signing Stephane Da Costa and trades for David Rundblad and Nikita Filatov have helped build one of the strongest systems in the NHL. There is a ton of talent at all positions in the Senators system and several of their top players are close if not ready to make the jump to the NHL immediately. Considering the fact that players like Filatov and Patrick Wiercioch didn't have the greatest seasons, there is potential for this system to obtain an even higher level.

There is a good amount of star talent/risky projection along with safer top prospects scattered amongst both skater positions, so the system shouldn't flame out over the next few years from this core.

---

1. David Rundblad, Defense
Date of birth: 10/08/1990
Age: 20
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 190
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 55 GP, 11 G, 50 P, 22:49 ATOI (Skelleftea-SEL)
Acquired: Trade from St. Louis; drafted first round, 17th overall in 2009 by St. Louis

The Good: Rundblad is an elite puck-moving defenseman who is as dangerous as they come with the puck from the backend. He makes top-end distributions seem absolutely effortless, with a technique that is very smooth and refined. Rundblad is a plus handler who can bring the puck up very effectively and is extremely hard to check in open ice. Combine that with his great offensive awareness and he's a true weapon any time he touches the puck in the offensive half of the ice due to his vision, creativity, sense and patience to hold onto the puck for lengthy periods at a time. He moves at a solid level, although he's not an above-average blazer but he does have fine all-around mobility.

The Bad: Physically, Rundblad still needs to bulk up a bit; he tends to avoid the physical game more than he should in his own end. Defensively, he has shown notable improvement, but still has a fair amount of work to do on his defensive reads. I'm not that confident he's going to ever get beyond average defensively at the highest level if he even gets to that.

Projection: An average first pairing defender with tremendous offensive numbers and some coaching protection who safely projects as a below-average first to above-average second pairing defender.

---

2. Mika Zibanejad, Left Wing
Date of birth: 04/18/1993
Age: 18
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 191
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 26 GP, 5 G, 9 P, 12:02 ATOI (Djurgarden-SEL)
Acquired: First round, sixth overall in 2011 by Ottawa

The Good: Mika Zibanejad is a player who is just fun to watch. His combination of skill and work ethic make him a pest and a scoring threat on every shift that he's out on the ice for. He's a solid skater, with a smooth extension on every stride. Zibanejad consistently keeps his feet moving and is well-conditioned which lets him jet up and down the ice for extended periods of time. Zibanejad has above-average puck skills and will on occasion flash plus. He can make noticeable moves with the puck when standing still and moving in full stride. He's a sneaky good passer as well and more than once I've seen Zibanejad thread a seeing eye bullet pass through traffic that caught the defense completely off guard. His shot is solid to above-average, with a noticeably hard wrist shot and mechanics that let him get shots off from non-ideal stances. He also has been used as a trigger man on the power play. Zibanejad projects as an above-average physical player, and is a tremendous forechecker who causes many a turnover with how he physically pressures the opponents. He's very smart with his stick, getting it in lanes and causing disruption. When you top it off with the fact that he runs into any opponent who has the puck with his relentless motor in both ends, he has high-end upside as a defensive forward and penalty killer. He can play center and the wing.

The Bad: Zibanejad needs to bulk up a fair amount. He can get a little too cute at times trying to go for the big play. There's not a lot to put here, as he's a very complete prospect.

Projection: An average first line forward who safely projects as a below-average first to above-average second line forward.

---

3. Nikita Filatov, Right Wing
Date of birth: 05/25/1990
Age: 21
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 196
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 36 GP, 9 G, 20 P (Springfield-AHL)
Acquired: Trade from Columbus; drafted first round, sixth overall in 2008 by Columbus

The Good: Filatov is one of the most skilled players in the entire world, with elite upside and the ability to do whatever he wants to in this game. He has plus-plus puck skills and can make top-end dekes and passes look effortless. He's very creative with the puck and has plus vision as a distributor. Filatov's a plus skater who accelerates well, is very agile and can hit a dangerous top speed. He has the ability to be an above-average scorer but has a pass-first mentality. Filatov has shown commitment to trying to improve his physical deficiency and has put on a decent amount of muscle over the last year or so.

The Bad: Filatov has quite a few holes that are holding back his ultimate upside. He doesn't really attack the front of the net as much as he should and isn't that effective along the walls. He still has a poor defensive game and I'm not sure if that aspect is ever really going to come. Filatov is a plus skater but doesn't cover as much ground as he should as he glides more than explodes. He can be a victim of trying to do too much at times with the puck as well. He didn't really dominate in the AHL this year as expected due to inconsistent play, but a poor team and poor power play was also a factor.

Projection: His ceiling is that of an All-Star winger who finds himself amongst the scoring leaders for a couple of seasons but will have to be protected usage-wise. However that projection is highly unlikely and his current projection is more of an above-average second line scorer with coaching protection, and that projection has a fair amount of variance to it.

---

4. Stephane Da Costa, Center
Date of birth: 07/11/1989
Age: 22
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 180
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 33 GP, 14 G, 45 P (Merrimack College-ECAC)
Acquired: College free agent

The Good: Da Costa sees the ice very well and his anticipation is very good. He moves at a calculating pace and is around the puck a lot. He's creative with the puck and has solid deking ability. He's a plus passer who can make very impressive distributions, be it threading a mid-distance feed through a small window or making incredible one-touch dishes to players out of his field of vision. He's a great option to man the point for the power play because of his playmaking ability and because he has a hard one-timer that winds up quickly. He's a solid skater who doesn't have an above-average top speed, but is excellent on his edges and is very agile.

The Bad: The major deterrent to his skill set is his physical game, which is fringe at best, as he's a small player who isn't overly physical. He will go to the high percentage areas when the play calls for it, but isn't particularly strong or dangerous in that aspect.

Projection: An above-average to average second line forward who safely projects to be a top six player.

---

5. Jared Cowen, Defense
Date of birth: 01/25/1991
Age: 20
Height: 6'5''
Weight: 227
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 58 GP, 18 G, 48 P (Spokane-WHL)
Acquired: First round, ninth overall in 2009 by Ottawa

The Good: Cowen is a mammoth of a man who projects to have a beyond plus physical game. He easily erases players off the puck and wins a large majority of the battles he engages in. He has a huge wingspan that allows him to stick-check rushers very effectively. Cowen has solid defensive awareness and makes fine reads in his own end. His mobility looked more like where it was pre-draft where it drove a fair amount of his top ten pick value. He can push the pace very well for a big defender and has decent lateral agility.

The Bad: Cowen can show decent offensive skills at times in regards to handling and passing, but overall I'd say he's below-average in that regard and can look awkward at times too. He still needs to work on his pivots and backwards skating as faster forwards continue to give him trouble.

Projection: He's got above-average second pairing defender upside but safely projects onto a top four.

---

6. Jacob Silfverberg, Right Wing
Date of birth: 10/13/1990
Age: 20
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 190
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 53 GP, 18 G, 34 P, 18:02 ATOI (Brynas-SEL)
Acquired: Second round, 39th overall in 2009 by Ottawa

The Good: Silfverberg skates at a fine level and while he's not a blazer, he does hustle up and down the ice fine and is well-conditioned. His puck abilities are his best tool, and they are solid to above-average. Silfverberg uses a long stick relative to his size, and he likes to use it to protect the puck and keep it away from defender's reach. When he gets out of tight spaces, he has the ability to be a solid distributer on top of his above-average open-ice ability. His hockey sense and defensive game look like it will translate to the NHL nicely and he is quite advanced defensively. He works pretty hard too, and his defensive value comes from his reads as much as his penchant to come back and support his defensemen.

The Bad: His frame is decent and he has grown into it moderately well, but he's still outmuscled a little too easily on some occasions, although his work ethic during battles is notable.

Projection: An average second line forward who easily projects as a below-average second to above-average third line forward.

---

7. Patrick Wiercioch, Defense
Date of birth: 09/12/1990
Age: 20
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 185
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 67 GP, 4 G, 18 P (Binghamton-AHL)
Acquired: Second round, 42nd overall in 2008 by Ottawa

The Good: Wiercioch is an above-average puck-mover from the backend with a very nice panic threshold and tremendous technique with the puck for a bigger defender. He likes to get involved offensively in regards to rushing the puck up, and quickly moving the puck out of the zone. He also controls the puck well on the power play. Wiercioch has above-average offensive instincts, with good vision and quick decision-making with the puck. His skating is decent and above-average for a big guy. He has a good first step and straight line speed.

The Bad: Wiercioch struggled defensively in his first pro season. His reads in his own end need a fair amount of work and he looked overmatched at times. He has above-average size, but his frame needs a lot of muscle and he isn't the most physical. Wiercioch needs to work on some finer mobility aspects as he gets beat on his pivots and has trouble staying with faster forwards when skating backwards.

Projection: His ceiling might be that of an average second pairing defender, but his projection varies down to that of an above-average third pairing defender.

---

8. Derek Grant, Left Wing
Date of birth: 04/20/1990
Age: 21
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 185
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 38 GP, 8 G, 33 P (Michigan State University-CCHA)
Acquired: Fourth round, 119th overall in 2008 by Ottawa

The Good: Grant is a decent skater who doesn't really show a dangerous top speed, but moves pretty well in a straight line for a 6'3" forward. He's a solid distributor who can move the puck around at a fair level and is quite coordinated. He's not a flashy handler or distributor, but he just consistently makes the right, smart plays and rarely turns the puck over. Grant projects as an above-average to plus physical player as he's quite effective along the walls and in front of the net. He wins a good portion of his battles and he has the frame to be a force in front of the net on the power play. Grant plays a notable defensive game and his reads in that regard are impressive.

The Bad: Grant's first few steps could use some work, as he can look a little slow out of the gate. He's not a great offensive player and there's no true standout tool to him. He needs to continue to work on his strength and conditioning.

Projection: A below-average second to above-average third line forward who safely projects onto a top nine.

---

9. Matt Puempel, Left Wing
Date of birth: 01/24/1993
Age: 18
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 196
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 55 GP, 34 G, 69 P (Peterborough-OHL)
Acquired: First round, 24th overall in 2011 by Ottawa

The Good: Matt Puempel has terrific mechanics and accuracy on a shot that is above-average and flashes plus potential. The word "quick release" is sometimes overused in scouting circles, but with Puempel, his release is something that separates him from other goal-scorers and his ability to get quality shots off in motion and without having to set his feet is a very desirable trait. He anticipates the play well coming out of his own zone and finds gaps in the offensive zone to slide into scoring position. His puck skills are solid with the ability to handle the puck well in tight and he displays solid passing ability.

The Bad: Puempel's skating tool grades as below-average with average speed when he gets going in a straight line. While he does show decent balance and grit on the puck, he has to put on a fair amount of strength to continue playing his style of game at the next level. He has the hockey sense to play a decent defensive game, but like most young players, that aspect of his game isn't as consistent as one would like it to be.

Projection: At best, an average second line forward with heavy power play minutes and some even strength coaching protection who safely projects onto a top nine if the defensive game comes along.

---

10. Robin Lehner, Goaltender
Date of birth: 07/24/1991
Age: 20
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 225
Catches: Left
Statistics: 22 GP, .912 SV% (Binghamton-AHL)
Acquired: Second round, 46th overall in 2009 by Ottawa

The Good: Lehner has tremendous athletic tools for a goaltender of his significant stature. He moves around quite freely in the crease, covers up a huge portion of the net and has the ability to stretch and fill up a portion left unattended. When he's on his knees, he can cover nearly the entire lower part of the net and he has the footwork to change positions from the butterfly well. Lehner is an aggressive netminder who doesn't mind coming out to challenge shooters or to make an unorthodox save.

The Bad: Lehner needs to work on the finer aspects of his positioning play, as like most young goalies his play-reading needs some attention. He has a few kinks to adjust to still in the North American game, like reading the play behind his net better and avoiding falling too far back into his crease.

Projection: An average NHL starter at best who safely projects as a below-average starter to an above-average backup.

---

The Sleeper: 2008 fourth round pick Andre Pettersson is a forward with tremendous puck skills, and with him coming over for his first full North American professional season, he has the ability to have a huge breakout campaign.

Extra Notes: Louie Caporusso is a solid skater with above-average puck and finishing skills. However, I'm not sure his skill set and possession abilities are at a high enough level to overcome his smallish stature and keep him from becoming a career AHLer.

Jim O'Brien fell right off the top ten. He's a fine skater, with a good body and he uses it well. He's not a good puck skills type of player, but not exactly fringe either and can create some offense here and there. He likely projects as a hard-working defensive type of player who chips in some offense on a third line.

Mark Stone had a tremendous breakout campaign, scoring over 100 points in the WHL a year after his first draft eligible season. He's an above-average puck-handler who can flash plus distribution ability and plays a fine physical game in front of the net and along the walls. If his skating wasn't so bad he would easily be in the Sens top 10 and could be there as soon as next season. There are a lot of tools to Stone, and while he's still a bit of a project, he's certainly someone to watch.

My report on Stefan Noesen can be found here.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article The Blue Line (08/10)
<< Previous Column
Top 10 Prospects (08/09)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Top 10 Prospects (08/12)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Top 10 Prospects (08/12)

RECENTLY AT HOCKEY PROSPECTUS
Annoucements: Where Are The New Articles?
Zamboni Tracks: Who's That Guy? Special Edmo...
Hall Of Fame: My 2014 HHOF Inductees
On The Horizon: Four Nations And Junior "A" ...
A Closer Look: MacArthur-Turris-Ryan Keeping...


MORE BY COREY PRONMAN
2011-08-15 - From Daigle To Datsyuk: 2011 Ivan Hlinka Mem...
2011-08-13 - Top 10 Prospects: Philadelphia Flyers
2011-08-12 - Premium Article Top 10 Prospects: Phoenix Coyotes
2011-08-11 - Top 10 Prospects: Ottawa Senators
2011-08-09 - Top 10 Prospects: New York Rangers
2011-08-05 - Top 10 Prospects: New Jersey Devils
2011-08-03 - Top 10 Prospects: New York Islanders
More...

MORE TOP 10 PROSPECTS
2011-08-16 - Premium Article Top 10 Prospects: St. Louis Blues
2011-08-13 - Top 10 Prospects: Philadelphia Flyers
2011-08-12 - Premium Article Top 10 Prospects: Phoenix Coyotes
2011-08-11 - Top 10 Prospects: Ottawa Senators
2011-08-09 - Top 10 Prospects: New York Rangers
2011-08-05 - Top 10 Prospects: New Jersey Devils
2011-08-03 - Top 10 Prospects: New York Islanders
More...