The Canadian Capital is next! Here is the Ottawa Senators' review.
Matt Puempel - Kitchener Rangers
I thought many of Kitchener's forwards had down years this season and struggled through consistency issues. Puempel was not one of them. I thought he was Kitchener's most consistently dangerous forward in 2013/2014. He looked way more confident with the puck this year and was more apt at creating his own scoring chances. Previously, I've always found Puempel to be the type that lays in the weeds, waiting for the opportunity to pounce. This year he was aggressive in trying to make things happen, rather than letting them come to him. I thought his skating looked more explosive and it helped him coming down the wing, especially when trying to beat defenders outside, or give himself space to shoot. He also looked stronger away from the puck and was the most active in the corners and in front of the net that I've seen him in his OHL career. I guess the one main concern moving forward is the ability to stay healthy. He hasn't played close to a full season since his 16 year old year. Durability has to be on the minds of Senators brass. All that being said, I think he'll have a solid first pro year with Binghamton. There's some talk of him possibly making the Sens roster, but I don't think he's quite ready yet. I think he needs to show he can survive a full year of pro action first. But again, I think his goal scoring ability will translate well to the AHL level and I could see him potting 25 this year, which would be a solid rookie year.
Cody Ceci - Owen Sound Attack
I thought Ceci had a pretty decent year. Playing in Ottawa this year wasn't an ideal situation and it was hard for him to stand out, but he pulled through it until the deal to Owen Sound. With the Attack, he helped solidify their powerplay and made them a more dangerous offensive team in transition. I thought his defensive game made some strides this year, as he looked stronger and more confident in tying up forwards in front of the net and winning battles in the corners. All that being said, I will admit that I'm not the world's biggest fan of his NHL potential. Defensively, he's still not aggressive enough in his own end and doesn't use his size the way he should. And I don't think he has the defensive aptitude to excel as a stick-checker/positioning guy ala a Nik Lidstrom. Offensively, while he runs the point on the powerplay very well, I don't think his game translates well 5 on 5. I think he lacks the explosiveness and dynamic puck carrying ability to be a terrific offensive defenseman in the NHL. He makes a great first pass out of the zone and he makes good decisions on when to pinch and how to elude a forecheck though. If his offensive game doesn't translate as well, will his defensive game ever get to the level that it needs to, to keep him in the NHL? But I'm probably in the minority here. He'll be in Binghamton this year and we'll get a chance to see just how well his game adapts to the pro level (aka being able to prove me wrong).
Jarrod Maidens - Owen Sound Attack
It has to be tough on a player to be sidelined for over a year and half. Maidens is an incredibly talented player with definite NHL potential. But his post concussion syndrome (as a result of an accidental knee to the head) lingers and continues to keep him out of the line-up. The good news is that he's skating again. He participated (wearing a non-contact jersey) in Ottawa's development camp. And all signs would suggest that he'll be able to come back at SOME point this year. Whether that's right in September or later is unclear. How he will perform is also unclear. Will he be able to be the same type of hard nosed player who excels in close to the net? I guess we shall see. If he comes back strong, there's no question that a top 6 spot in Owen Sound will be open for him to fill.
Ben Harpur - Guelph Storm
Certainly an interesting selection by the Senators. Harpur is a hulking defenseman who has the potential to develop into a very serviceable player. But patience will be key because he's a work in progress. He's huge, but he's still learning to use his size in his own end. He's gaining confidence in playing more physical and is learning how to use his reach to defend off the rush. His skating will need work, but that's to be expected given his size. And offensively, he'll need to work on his breakout pass, as well as his confidence with the puck in his own end. But...all of these things improved over the course of the season which suggests they could improve even more in the future. Next year in Guelph he'll get the opportunity to play a lot of minutes, and will see time on both the powerplay (likely) and the penalty kill. I think a modest point increase close to the 25 point range and more consistency with his defensive play are great and realistic goals for 2013/2014.