Prospecting with Pronman: Senators have 23rd Best Prospects in NHL

Following up on the heels of Monday’s release of the top 100 drafted NHL prospects, ESPN Insider’s (note: paywall) Corey Pronman has revealed his organizational rankings to reveal which teams have the best pipelines of prospects.

The results are not flattering to the Ottawa Senators who slotted 23rd out of the NHL’s 30 teams.

As I expanded upon in my coverage of Pronman’s review of the top 100 drafted NHL prospects (note: paywall) that only contained two Senators prospects — Curtis Lazar (14th) and Mark Stone (48th) — it was easy to anticipate this ranking on the basis that the Senators either: a) lacked projectable high-upside prospects within its farm system; and b) recently traded or graduated a number of young assets from its system.

On the latter point, the loss of this year’s first round draft pick and Stefan Noesen in the Bobby Ryan certainly did not help; although it is worth mentioning that Noesen failed to crack Pronman’s top 100 prospects list. Mind you, Noesen missed the entire American Hockey League regular season recovering from surgery to repair his ACL and MCL, so that certainly did not help his cause. Anaheim used Ottawa’s tenth overall draft selection to select Nick Ritchie – who ranked as Pronman’s 68th best prospect.

As one of the league’s youngest teams, it’s easier to downplay the significance of the rating based on the simple fact that players like Cody Ceci, Robin Lehner, Mika Zibanejad, Mark Stone, Patrick Wiercioch and Mike Hoffman should be poised to play big parts in Ottawa this season. It’s even easier if you have confidence in these players augmenting a young center like Kyle Turris or a phenom like Erik Karlsson. There’s also the possibility that Jared Cowen could bounce back and show that he’s mentally and physically past the ill effects that everyone is hoping stemmed from his hip surgery.

The problem for the Senators lies in the simple fact that they have one of the league’s lowest payrolls and simply are not interested or unable to spend money to fill gaps in their roster or significantly improve their talent. As such, it puts an incredible amount of pressure on their player development and scouting, not to mention the players themselves, to ensure that the young players Ottawa drafts can grow and produce at a level necessary to push Ottawa past its playoff bubble status into that of a Stanley Cup contender.

If these young players cannot fulfil or eclipse their projected potential, it’s a what we see is what we have sort of team that seems destined to flirt with the NHL’s middle of the pack teams or even drop in the standings given the loss of first line center Jason Spezza. Should the Senators’ best prospects in Stone and Lazar crack the camp, the danger is that fans should not reasonably expect anyone within Ottawa’s system to make the leap any time soon.

From Pronman:

“A system that was toward the top of the board a few years ago has fallen after graduations and trades of top prospects and picks. Curtis Lazar is a bright light in this organization, with Mark Stone being impressive, as well. But after those two, there are notable questions of either risk or upside on most of the players in Ottawa’s top 10.”

That’s not to say that no one within Ottawa’s system could exceed expectations and develop into a better prospect than they’ve otherwise been given credit for, but in the aftermath of the Spezza trade that saw the Senators receive two prospects (Nick Paul and Alex Guptill) from the Stars, it’s certainly disappointing to learn that neither player is considered a projectable, high-upside prospect. Now with that being said, I don’t want to imagine where Ottawa’s system would be ranked without either player.

Sens Summer Fan Fest:

Just a reminder that this Sunday is the Sens Summer Fan Fest (#senssummerfanfest) that was created by Senators fans for Senators fans. The event takes place at MacLaren’s on Elgin Street and takes place between 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. More information on the event can be found here, but here are the highlights:

  • NHL 14 tournament
  • Raffles for some pretty cool prizes
  • A presentation by the RSU — I’m quietly hoping that they reveal new chants like “Cost Per Point” or  “There’s only OOOOOOONE Alex Chiasson.”
  • Trivia
  • I’ll be moderating a panel and asking questions to TSN 1200‘s Ian Mendes, the Ottawa Citizen‘s James Gordon and Silver Seven Sens‘ Amelia and Travis Yost’s Faces of Ottawa ‘Best Blogger’ plaque.
  • I’m also hoping that Marc Methot will show up to dump a bucket of ice water on @sens_adnan.
  • Former Senator Todd White is also confirmed for the event.

Tickets for the event can be purchased here or at the door. They cost $25 each and each ticket includes food, pool table rental costs, a raffle ticket as well as a donation to the Sens Foundation.

It should be a fun way to get out, have a beer and meet some of the Senators’ online community, so make sure you come out. I’ll most likely be the only guy there sporting a navy blue “In Tim Murray I Trust” t-shirt, so don’t be shy.

Other News and Notes:

- What do you mean you haven’t bought your Cost Per Point t-shirt yet? It’s for a good cause. Get on it. Like. Now.

- Former Sportsnet colour commentator Dennis Potvin has returned to the Florida Panthers broadcasts where he will serve as their colour commentator.

- The Ottawa Senators are putting together their own Fan Fest on September, 27th at the Canadian Tire Centre in which fans can watch a practice, a Senators intrasquad game, a Binghamton Senators practice and then mingle with players at autograph sessions around the rink. There is also a used equipment sale It sounds pretty awesome and the only way it could be made better was if you wore your Cost Per Point t-shirt to the event.

- The Hockey News recently looked at what the Senators might do with their impending 2015 UFAs and even suggested moving Patrick Wiercioch to free up his salary and re-allocate that money towards locking up Marc Methot long-term. Not that I have anything against Methot, but moving a promising young player like Wiercioch do that seems counter-intuitive. At the very least, if this suggestion came to fruition, it is the kind of thing that would make fans rue the day that Chris Phillips was inexplicably gifted a two-year extension.

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