Totally missed this from a few weeks ago, but in seeing Hockey Prospectus’ Corey Pronman update each NHL team’s top ten prospects, I looked back and noticed this organizational ranking for all 30 NHL teams had already been posted.
Whenever some third party evaluator grades and ranks the teams within the NHL, it creates a hotbed of discussion that usually culminates with a sect of each team’s fan base asking the question, “Why do you hate the (insert your favorite team name here)?”
So brace yourselves Ottawa because your beloved Senators and their much ballyhooed farm system has dropped from being the 5th ranked system at this time last year to the 18th best in the NHL.
The Senators lost Mika Zibanejad and Patrick Wiercioch to graduation, along with Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen to trade, but Ottawa still has good depth and a number of players to like. They have quality prospects at all positions, including an elite goalie prospect in Robin Lehner. Defenseman Mikael Wikstrand was a great riser this year, but first round pick Cody Ceci was up and down.
Looking back at Pronman’s assessment of Ottawa’s top ten prospects from August 2012, the loss or graduation of Zibanejad (1st), Silfverberg (3rd), Noesen (7th) and Wiercioch (8th) justifies a falling ranking, and that’s without even mentioning that once highly regarded prospects like Stephane Da Costa (6th) or Andre Petersson (10th) have been surpassed in the organizational depth charts and no longer look like candidates to crack the Senators’ lineup anytime soon.
As one of the youngest teams in the league, being ranked in the lower half isn’t as big of a deal as it otherwise could be. And yes, there’s something to be said for Ottawa’s penchant for drafting and developing mid and late round talents who now help management avoid having to sign past their prime talents (Kovalev) or injury-prone players (Latendresse). There’s value to be had in developing inexpensive average to slightly above-average players, even if said players don’t necessarily have the highest of ceilings.
And sure, one evaluator’s opinions are subjective and should never be taken as the be-all and end-all of analysis. Nevertheless, the fact that Ottawa has a young team with a clouded financial picture which, fairly or unfairly, raises questions about the organization’s ability to retain its best players, and the notion that the Senators have a middling system certainly makes me less optimistic about the future than I was at this time last year. But, the continued growth of players like Zibanejad, Cowen, Lehner, Pageau, Puempel, Stone Conacher and Wiercioch as well as rebound seasons from Ceci and Jarrod Maidens could help curb matters.
More Pronman? More Pronman!
Corey also evaluated Ottawa’s 2013 draft a few weeks ago.
First round: Lazar is a high-speed, high-energy player can who pressure you with physical play or put up points. He is a great skater who has good skill and a top-end shot. His offensive ceiling isn't tremendous, more average second line quality, but he is a very good two-way player. Lazar is one of the safest bets in this draft class to be a solid NHLer.
And on the Sens draft class a whole:
Summary: Ottawa brought a lot of good athletes and character players into their organization. Lazar, Hogberg, Harpur, and Shore fit that mold, and Lazar has the potential to be an interesting NHL player. They took skill in Dunn, and if I had more notes on Lindberg, my impression on their skill acquisition could change, as I have heard from a scout who likes his upside.
It looks like his Ottawa Senators Top Ten Prospects should be published sometime next week so keep an eye out for that.