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Future Watch – Ottawa Senators: Cupboard is full

The Sens have been stripped to the bones, but with the pantry stocked with top prospects, the pain will pay off.
Jason Scourse

Jason Scourse

B+ / 6th overall

A step back to take a step forward. A year ago, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and GM Pierre Dorion decided a full rebuild was the best route to take to get this organization back to respectability. A year later, the road is tough, but they feel they’ve got the right pieces in place. “This cupboard is filled with a lot of NHL players,” Dorion said. “We feel these guys are going to be NHL players, and they’re going to fill different roles when they’re ready to do so…We’re excited we have these guys coming.” And there’s a plethora of draft picks in the pipeline as well, so the prospect pool is only going to get deeper.

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1. Erik Brannstrom (11th overall)
D, 19, 5-10, 173 – Belleville (AHL)
43–7–22–29–38
Trade (Veg), Feb. 25, 2019
The main return in the Mark Stone trade is a scintillating prospect. Brannstrom is a top-drawer skater with excellent vision. “With the puck, he is so good,” said Rocky Thompson, Brannstrom’s former coach with AHL Chicago. “It was without the puck, the ability to defend better and not give up odd-man rushes, that he had to work on, and he has developed. Even offensively without the puck, he has done well. He’s learned how to jump into plays and activate a lot more.”
FW18| 2 (Veg) – NHL | 2019-20

2. Drake Batherson (27th overall)
RW, 20, 6-3, 187 – Belleville (AHL)
43–19–32–51–18
2017 draft, 121st overall
The Sens have given their kids a chance this season, and Batherson was a bright light. While he suited up for 17 NHL games when the club ran into injury trouble, it was determined to let him develop in the AHL. He has a chance to be a winger on the club’s top two lines down the road, and they don’t want to rush him. “He’s come in and pretty much dominated as a first-year player,” Dorion said. “Being a front-line player as a rookie shows us he’s got all those tools.”
FW18| No. 3 – NHL | 2019-20

3. Alex Formenton (38th overall)
LW, 19, 6-2, 185 – London (OHL)
26–12–19–31–38
2017 draft, 47th overall
Formenton earned a spot coming out of camp, but the Sens decided to send him to junior because he was struggling offensively. They were hoping he’d get a chance to win a gold with Canada at the world juniors, but a knee injury at camp sidelined him, and he only returned in February. “He’s got top-end, elite, NHL speed,” Dorion said. “We just felt the best thing to do for his development was to handle the puck.” Formenton will push for an NHL spot in camp next season.
FW18| No. 4 – NHL | 2019-20

4. Josh Norris (52nd overall)
C, 19, 6-2, 195 – Michigan (Big Ten)
17–10–9–19–10
Trade (SJ), Sept. 13, 2018
Norris is the key return in the deal that sent Erik Karlsson to San Jose. Dorion got a first-hand look at Norris playing for Team USA at the WJC, but he won’t play the rest of this season because of shoulder surgery. Ottawa will try to bring him out of school this summer. “He has NHL speed, is physically mature, and works really hard,” Dorion said. “What impressed me at the world juniors is his ability to do things at high speed. Great, quick hands and great, quick feet.”
FW18| 1 (SJ) – NHL | 2020-21

5. Jacob Bernard-Docker (68th overall)
D, 18, 6-0, 180 – North Dakota (NCHC)
32–5–11–16–6
2018 draft, 26th overall
Bernard-Docker was invited to the WJC camp but was in tough to make Canada. The Sens aren’t going to rush him out of North Dakota, and he’s playing at a school that’s strong at developing defensemen. “He’s getting a chance to play a big role,” Dorion said. “He’s the modern-age defenseman: skates well, moves the puck well and has a big-time shot. He can provide offense. We don’t know when he’s going to play for us, but we know he’ll be a top-four defenseman.”
FW18| n/a – NHL | 2022-23

6. Logan Brown (69th overall)
C, 20, 6-6, 220 – Belleville (AHL)
41–12–23–35–18
2016 draft, 11th overall
Belleville’s top player since Christmas. Has size and skill to fill second-center role in NHL.

7. Vitaly Abramov
RW, 20, 5-9, 171 – Belleville (AHL)
55–13–11–24–28
Trade (Clb), Feb. 22, 2019
Potent junior scorer having slow adjustment to pro game with less time and space.

8. Filip Gustavsson
G, 20, 6-0, 197 – Belleville (AHL)
12–15–1, 3.42, .886
Trade (Pit), Feb. 23, 2018
Showed a lot of maturity by playing in the AHL to adjust to North American game.

9. Jonathan Davidsson
RW, 21, 5-11, 185 – Djurgarden (Swe.)
36–10–11–21–16
Trade (Clb), Feb. 22, 2019
Playmaker ready for North American test after three years in top Swedish league.

10. Rudolfs Balcers
LW, 21, 5-11, 175 – Belleville (AHL)
38–15–13–28–4
Trade (SJ), Sept. 13, 2018
Good offensive awareness and a strong shot. Can AHL production translate to NHL?

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