MONTREAL – After grabbing a shutdown defenceman in the first round of the NHL draft, the Ottawa Senators addressed their offence and goaltending Saturday.
Their Day 2 haul included a pair of Swedish prospects taken during the second round, winger Jakob Silfverberg and goalie Robin Lehner, following up on Friday’s first round selection of hulking blue-liner Jared Cowen.
“Our European guys love the two Swedish guys we got in the second round,” said assistant GM Tom Murray. “They thought they were first round talents.”
The picks were made as general manager Bryan Murray saw no progress on the Dany Heatley trade front. Murray wasn’t sure if the sniper’s trade demand would be met prior to a scheduled US$4 million bonus payment due Wednesday.
“I think there will be a little further discussion, I don’t know how much,” Murray said. “I guess we’ll attempt to accommodate him, if that’s the right word.”
Instead, the Senators worked to replenish their farm teams and Silfverberg, the 12th ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting, was taken with the 39th overall pick.
Senators scout Vaclav Burda described him as a high-end offensive talent who still needs to work on his defensive game. And even though he has decent size at six-foot-one, 187 pounds, he will need some time to adapt his game to the rigours of the NHL.
“He’s an offensive player with great hands who can beat players 1-on-1 and he’s very dangerous around the net,” Burda said. “He’ll need some time to adjust to physical hockey over here. But I don’t see it as an issue.”
Silfverberg is expected to play his first full season with Brynas of the Swedish Elite League after suiting up in 16 games this past season, and the Senators hope to bring him to North America for the 2010-11 season.
Lehner won’t have to wait that long as the big Swedish goaltender will be playing major junior hockey in Canada this year. The top-ranked European goalie on the NHL Central Scouting list, he was the second netminder taken in the draft.
Sens Swedish scout Anders Forsberg said he loves Lehner’s size at six-foot-three, 220 pounds and his competitiveness. Lehner’s goaltender coach in Sweden also produced Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist, and Forsberg said the similarities between the two are clear.
“He’s a very skilled goalie with great technique,” Frosberg said. “He looks like and acts like Henrik Lundqvist. His mental side is more Canadian than Swedish. He’s very competitive.”
Other players the Senators selected Saturday were: American defenceman Chris Wideman in the fourth round, forward Mike Hoffman from the Drummondville Voltigeurs and American winger Jeff Costello in the fifth round, Ottawa 67s winger Corey Coswick in round six and two Americans in high school winger Brad Peltz and defenceman Michael Sdao in the seventh.
Now the focus for the Senators turns toward the start of free agency July 1 and Bryan Murray hopes to be able to add a top-six forward between now and Canada Day, either through a trade or on the free agent market.
Murray also said he held a meeting with impending free agent Chris Neil’s agent Todd Reynolds in Montreal, and he hopes to speak with him again prior to Wednesday in the hopes of signing Neil to a new contract.