OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators started Saturday morning where they left off Friday night at the NHL draft – by selecting a slender defenceman.
After taking Erik Karlsson with the 15th overall pick, they chose Patrick Wiercioch in the second round with the 42nd pick. At six-foot-two and 178 pounds, Wiercioch is three inches taller than Karlsson and 13 pounds heavier, but the Maple Ridge, B.C., native will still need to grow into his role on the Senators blue-line.
“I’m an offensive defenceman that sees the ice well,” he said. “Much like the first rounder that they picked, I need to work on my strength and that aspect of the game, but I think Ottawa is a great fit and hopefully in the near future both of us can play well together.”
Wiercioch played in the United States Hockey League with Omaha and will play collegiate hockey this coming season. He recorded three goals and 21 points in 40 games last season.
“Ottawa is already memorable for more reasons than just coming here for the first time,” he said. “This makes it that much better. I was asked before by one of the ladies stamping tickets what team I wanted to go to and I said Ottawa.
“I want to have an impressive showing at camp and I’m committed to the University of Wisconsin where I’ll work on the things that are talked about and hopefully develop into a strong NHL player.”
With their third-round pick, the Senators selected six-foot-two, 202-pound centre Zack Smith from the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL.
Smith had 22 goals and 70 points in 72 games with the Broncos this past season while racking up 136 penalty minutes.
With their fourth-round pick at No. 109 overall, the Senators went back to Sweden for winger Andre Petersson, who had 16 goals and 38 points with his Swedish junior club. Like the first two picks of the draft for the Senators, Petersson is very slight, coming in at 5-9 and 169 pounds.
With the 119th and 139th picks the Senators chose players from Tier II hockey taking Derek Grant of the British Columbia Hockey League and Mark Borowieki of the Central Junior Hockey League respectively.
Grant is a six-foot-three centre who averaged better than a point a game with the Langley Chiefs last season, while Borowieki spent last season with the Smiths Falls Bears where the 6-1 defenceman had 26 points and 80 penalty minutes in 46 games.
Both players have committed to play U.S. College hockey season with Grant going to Michigan State and Boroweiki going to Clarkson.
With their final selection of the draft, the Senators again took a Swede, this time taking winger Emil Sandin, a native of Uppsala. Sandin spent last season with the Sweden Brynas.
While it was announced Friday, it was confirmed Saturday the Senators had come to terms with unrestricted free agent centre Chris Kelly by signing him to an US$8.5-million, four-year deal.
“It’s a great feeling and knowing I’m going to be here another four years is what I wanted,” Kelly said. “All I know is Ottawa and I love it here so it was nice to get it done.
“Being 27 and unrestricted won’t happen again, but when you’re happy somewhere and you like somewhere, most guys are going to stay in that spot and that’s how I feel here.”