Wednesday, July 22, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Ottawa Senators

Time for the Canadian Capital.

1. Nick Paul - North Bay Battalion
What a fantastic season for Paul, as he emerged as one of the top prospect's playing in the OHL. His game has grown so much since he was drafted, credit has to go to both Paul and coach Stan Butler. Offensively, he controls the pace of play with his great puck possession ability. He controls the wall, but is also great off the rush. He just flat out knows how to use his size to maintain possession. Paul also has great scoring instincts and hands in close, which profiles him as a goal scorer at the next level too. As a defensive player, he excels against the opposition's best. Despite being a physical player and someone who excels in all three zones, he had under 50 penalty minutes this year. This points to his intelligence away from the puck. Moving forward, the one criticism that I do have is that he'll need to simplify his approach with the puck at the AHL/NHL level. There were times this year that he was too patient and tried to hold on to the puck too long, looking for the perfect play. He won't have that time and space at the next level. But I do expect him to have a ton of success next year. With how highly Ottawa management thinks of him, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see Paul up with the big club for over half the season. Getting his feet wet at the AHL level wouldn't be a bad thing to start though. Let him build some confidence offensively.

2. Tobias Lindberg - Oshawa Generals
What a great find for the Senators, and for the Generals this year. Lindberg filled a critical scoring line role for Oshawa during their championship season. Lindberg is at his best off the rush, using his size and speed to drive the net. He's also got a terrific release and he's great at using opposing defenders as screens as he flies down the wing. While he's not an overtly physical player, and he's not yet a terrific player along the wall, he does involve himself in these aspects and he excels at being the guy who finds himself in the right spot for scoring chances. As a two way player, Lindberg is solid and he uses his size to effectively separate players from the puck on the back check. Like Paul, Lindberg will be turning pro this year and should take on a top 6 role at the AHL level. I expect him to have a good year, at the very least scoring 20 goals.

3. Ben Harpur - Barrie Colts
I thought Harpur had an OK year, split between Guelph and Barrie. After the trade to the Colts, his offensive responsibilities declined and thus his offensive output also decreased. In a way, I think this was a good thing because it allowed him to focus on his defensive responsibilities. I think being counted on to be a point producer in Guelph hindered his defensive game a bit. In Barrie, his role was to clear the front of the net and play big minutes in key defensive situations. I thought he was excellent in the playoffs, which was the sole reason the Colts brought him in. Moving forward to the pro level next year, I do think that Harpur might struggle initially. His footwork still needs some work and he's still learning how to use his size more effectively (as a positional defender or a physically imposing one). He'll need to learn to make quicker decisions with the puck in his own end too. He should be brought along slowly, in a 3rd pairing role, which is definitely possible considering Ottawa's depth at the position.

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