Tuesday, July 29, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Ottawa Senators

Time to visit the nation's capital (Canada that is)! Ottawa is next on the list.

Ben Harpur - Guelph Storm
It was a decent year for Harpur. He started off very well, playing with a ton of confidence at both ends of the ice. He had 12 points in his first 17 games and was taking some chances offensively (be it creative passes, partial rushes, jumping up in the play), on top of playing well in his own end. But after those first few months, his offensive play trailed off a bit. Whether it was something the coaching staff asked of him, or a personal decision, Harpur became way less involved offensively as the season went on. And after the acquisition of Nick Ebert, Harpur (and his partner Phil Baltisberger) had their ice time (5 on 5) reduced and they essentially became Guelph's 3rd pairing. Harpur still saw a lot of time shorthanded, where he's a great asset. But all things considered, I don't know if he made significant strides this year (that's not to say that he took a step back, but more so he wasn't put in a position to massively improve). As a defensive player, he's a very intelligent positional defender who uses his long reach exceptionally well to take away passing lanes (thus his value on the PK). He also does a good job blocking shots. But, I'd still like to see him use that 6'6 frame to be a bit meaner near the crease. Next year will be a big one for Harpur. The Storm are set to lose three of their top four defenders (perhaps even all four if Zac Leslie turns pro). That's going to open up the opportunity for Harpur to see significantly more ice time. He's also likely to get powerplay time, which will do wonders for his confidence offensively. I think he's going to have a good year and I actually expect him to be around the 30-35 point mark.

Nick Paul - North Bay Battalion
One of the pieces acquired in the Jason Spezza deal, Paul is a very interesting prospect. Later in the season, he saw a full shift to center, where he centered Barclay Goodrow and Ben Thomson on North Bay's top line. This was great for his development and the trio really dominated the OHL playoffs, allowing North Bay to be the surprising victors of the Eastern Conference. Paul excels in the possession game, using his size very effectively to move the puck along the boards. He's also got good vision and is a smart player who can make plays coming off the wall. Late in the year, his game really elevated to another level because he began to drive the net more, having as much success in the center of the ice as he was below the hashmarks. Paul is also a committed two-way player and is relied upon heavily by Stan Butler to help shut down the opposition's best. Next year, it will be Paul's show to run in North Bay and I really look forward to seeing how he builds off the momentum of last year's late season surge. An offseason dedicated to continued improvements in his first few steps would really make him a more dangerous player. I think he's in for a big year. A 60 point year would definitely be a success (considering the Battalion haven't had a 70+ point player since Cody Hodgson).

*Of note, Senators 2013 pick, Tobias Lindberg is set to suit up for the Oshawa Generals next year. The Gennies will be counting on him to provide secondary scoring, likely as a top 6 winger.

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