Like Burton Cummings' inability to contain his excitement over putting on a Winnipeg Jets jersey, it's been pretty easy to get jacked up about the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. With the sixth overall pick, the team has its highest draft position since Jason Spezza was selected second overall in 2001. There was no reason for worry, the team was going to get a good selection...
Well, at least that's the way I felt until Assistant General Manager Tim Murray dropped a turd in the punchbowl during an interview on the Team 1200 yesterday afternoon...
"I’m confident that at six that we’re going to get a player that we really like. I’m not going to sit here and say that if a certain group of five players went from one-from-five that we’d be really happy – there’s a scenario where we might not be quite as happy but that scenario to me, isn’t going to happen. We’ve gone through every scenario here – we’ve got a real good idea of who’s going to fall and who’s not going to fall. I don’t know if I should say this either but to be very honest, I guess there’s one scenario that I do not like personally. But I do not see that scenario happening. I’m very confident that one of the guys that we like will be there at six.” ~ Tim Murray, via The 6th Sens transcript
So the question remains: what is this doomsday scenario that Tim was alluding to?
Talking with pundits and scouts and looking across the variety of third party scouting rankings, although is some variety in the order in which the top prospects will be selected, there also appears to be some consensus as to which ones will be amongst the top six selections on draft day -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson, Gabriel Landeskog, Jonathan Huberdeau, Ryan Murphy and Sean Couturier.
Here's what we know:
- "We’ve gone through every scenario here – we’ve got a real good idea of who’s going to fall and who’s not going to fall." ~ Tim Murray
- From the consensus top six picks, Tim Murray personally doesn't think very highly of one of the players.
- According to the Team 1200's Steve Lloyd (@Steve_Lloyd), the Senators have scheduled visits to Ottawa for many of the consensus top 10 picks in this year's draft. Next Monday, Sean Couturier, Ryan Strome and Mika Zibanejad will visit the nation's capital while Dougie Hamilton, Jonathan Huberdeau and Gabriel Landeskog will be in town the next day. Amongst those not visiting are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson and Ryan Murphy.
- "Probably going to go for more speed and skill. That's one thing we don't have a lot of, offense yet. We're going to look at probably the same character and same traits but probably go with more speed and skill to offset the size we drafted last year. But it won't preclude us from drafting some big, strong guys this year." ~ Florida Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon via NHL.com
Based off this evidence -- barring the Senators trading up from the sixth spot -- we can assume:
- That Adam Larsson and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will not be available when they make their selection.
- Based off of Tallon's draft history (ie. Kyle Beach) and words, he values players with high ceilings over players who may be able to contribute right away. That makes me somewhat skeptical that the Panthers will select either of Landeskog or Couturier.
- With Ottawa's wealth of young defencemen coming through the system and the exclusion of Ryan Murphy's name from the list of players visiting Ottawa, the likelihood of Ottawa selecting the defenceman is small.
- If the fourth assumption is held to be true, then this has to mean that Tim Murray is not particularly high on one of Huberdeau, Couturier or Landeskog.
I suppose there's also the possibility that a player like Adam Larsson could slide and Ottawa could pass on that player but getting back to this last point, it's interesting to see that each of these three players is amongst the list of prospects who will make their visits to the nation's capital next week.
So what's going to happen? (Read: Open the discussion in the comments)
Well, hopefully Tim Murray is right and the unfortunate scenario that he brought up will never come to fruition. Keeping with this optimistic line of thought, doesn't it seem just a little bit peculiar that the Senators would be inviting a few other top 10-12 selections to town? (Note: Especially Hamilton.)
It's almost enough to lead you to believe that there's a very realistic possibility that the Senators could find themselves with two top 10 picks come draft day.
Senate Reform Teaser Video
Like many other Senators fans, I was emailed this video by the Senators organization...
Based off the resounding success and reviews of Oil Change - TSN's documentary-styled television program that was dedicated to providing behind-the-scenes coverage of the Edmonton Oilers - I'm not particularly surprised to see the Senators follow suit and produce a program that documents the build up to the 2011 Entry Draft. (Note: At least that's what I'm getting from the trailer.)
I think that it is a really hard draft to predict but Tallon's comments really do help me figure out what is going on. RNH will go first... Colorado will be the one to watch but I think they will take Landeskog myself personally. Florida WILL take Huberdeau if he is still available (assuming Colorado doesn't take him). New Jersey I think goes with Larsson. They'll be very pleased to get him that low... NYI will be a hard choice. I think that Dougie Hamilton could go to them or couturier. I was surprised to see you put Murphy in the top 6 because almost every list out there has hamilton around #5 and murphy at #8 ish. I think the Sens invited those prospects for the following two options: (1) Trade up- To try to get Landeskog or Huberdeau(2) Stay where they are and pick either Couturier, Strome, Zibanejad or Hamilton. If Couturier is gone to the Islanders at 5 the Sens will be choosing between Strome, Zibanejad and Hamilton. They will be trying to figure out in the interviews which of the 3 they would pick if their worst case scenario comes to fruition.
@rway019 I'm thinking that the Isles would draft Strome before Couturier. Gut instinct and possibly a cause for concern.
My guess is they didn't want to draft a defenceman not named Larsson. I thought they would be pretty happy with RNH, Landeskog, Huberdeau, and Couturier. While they would prefer to draft a forward, they still need to draft best person available. So I figure those 5 guys would be ideal for them, whereas any of the other d-men available might not fit into their ideal situation. The reason why this is a longshot is because a few teams above them are likely to draft d-men. As long as 2 d-men go in the first 5, Ottawa is happy.
From what I recall reading about Couturier's drop is that although he has been exceptional for so long, it's the fact that other top prospects have raised their level of play, as opposed to him who has still been very, very good but it didn't appear that he upped his game. Which could potentially lead you to think he has peaked.
You'd have to imagine the scenario that's they're not keen on is perhaps a player they had projected getting drafted a bit lower than 6 being taken before then. Look at last year's draft with how some players were drafted well outside their projections (Fowler is the only one that comes to mind right now, granted that was a drop). Maybe they think they have the next Matt Duchene and are hoping no one else think's he's as good a fit for them. Murray has often been a little off the board with his selections with this team. That's my half assed guess anyways...
@RyanH Possible but some of the players being interviewed may also be the plan if they are able to move up in the draft with their 21st pick.
@RyanH Hmmm Possible.
@RyanH Great suggestion and one that fits with the names that will be visiting the city. I've read some reports that they're high on Strome. Maybe he's a fit with the Isles at the pick before Ottawa?
I agree that having Larsson fall to us is not necessarily as bad as some would think. I do not view this rebuild as a one year effort and you can never have enough top 4 quality Dmen. They are assets that you may play or trade for other assets. The one asset that is next to impossible to get in a trade is a Top 3 or 6 center (especially #1 center). This you must draft and other than RNH and maybe Huberdeau there may not be one of those available this year. As I understand it there is very good quality projected for next year's draft. Maybe we get that forward next year. I do agree that I think they will try to move up into the top 15 or even 10 with their 21st pick to get two top 10 picks this year.
@SIMMAN Supposedly next year's draft is stockpiled with fantastic defencemen. If this is the case, I'd be less inclined to hold onto every defensive asset if they could be used to acquire a good (but young) offensive talent.
@Nichols6thSens Well there are a number of ways to approach this issue. I do understand that there is a very strong Dman crop next year but as always there are some very strong forwards as well. I suppose a lot depends on whether you see Ottawa as a lottery team next year. Without an unbelievable year from Anderson I think it is more likely than not that we will be a lottery team with an older and weaker Alfredsson, (pending a trade) no real scorer to play with Spezza on the top line, no second line center, and a defence core composed of older and slower players on the downside of their careers and inexperienced younger, albeit talented, defencemen forced to play top 4 minutes. If we are a loterry team then we will be in a good position next year as well and with more top quality assets to trade if required to get exactly the player we want ( a reverse Rundblad type tradeif you want). Proven defencemen 1 year closer to being a top 4 defenceman will ne very attractive to teams in a need for immediate help.
@SIMMAN Well, you would have to expect that Anderson's peripheral numbers will drop some but it's still too early into the offseason to predict how Ottawa will fare next season.
I do tend to agree with your point that the playoffs seem like an unreasonable expectation (especially in the event that Alfie isn't healthy enough to play). As such, I would love to see the organization exhaust every channel this season to see if it could move some of the veteran talent since the team isn't expected to compete. (ie. Gonchar, Kuba, Michalek, etc.)
I think you may be over-analyzing his comments. He did say that he thought his worst case scenario was a long shot of happening - that their draft wargaming left the Sens with a good pick. If that is the case, an unlikely scenario may be that no defencemen get drafted ahead of Ottawa's pick and we are forced to choose between another defenceman and the sixth best forward.
@SIMMAN I'd have to think that the Senators would be ecstatic at the possibility that Larsson could slide to them at the sixth spot.
Maybe the notion of drafting another defenceman would create a bit of a logistical headache but it's not necessarily a bad problem to have. Perhaps they could move Larsson or another defenceman to get a young center who is further along in his development and is ready to contribute at the NHL level.
I have to say, based on all the evidence that you have put in there, and on other information that we've heard over the last while that the proverbial "turd in the punchbowl" is probably going to be Sean Couturier. It wouldn't be Gabriel Landeskog, as he's exactly the kind of stand up, power winger with leadership capabilities that we could use in the organization. Plus, as an added bonus, the Senators are his favourite team and always have been. Jonathan Huberdeau has rocketed up the charts, but from everything we hear, (not the least of which from the team 1200) is that he's legit, and has crazy skills. Which leaves Couturier.
I don't know, i was never very high on his skill set to begin with, though i read a very good article on a NJ devils blog comparing Couturier to Huberdeau showing that Couturier performed better against tougher competition, but it just seems as if with his stock dropping as the year went on, maybe has soured him a bit? He definitely didn't like it up in the QMJHL playoffs the way a top 5 draft pick should have. (although that is a subjective observation).
But based on the comment by Tim Murray Re: speed and skill, would we say that Landeskog has the same skill set as the others in the top 5? Or does his stock rise more on the value of his "intangibles" like leadership and grit? If we're going to use the comparison to Mike Richards, well then that's a nice yearly point total to have, but do we think he has the "gamebreaker" type of skill set that arguably RNH and Huberdeau have?
I don't know, I'm not sold on Couturier, just based on the World Juniors and his play this year in the Q, I love Landeskog, and desperately want the sens to grab him, but i'm not sure if he has true top line potential or not. Is it a case of either or with this draft? Do the guys that are ready to jump into the NHL next year have lower overall ceilings than the guys that aren't?
Bah, Bring on the draft.
@tsnfan I'm inclined to agree with you that Couturier is the turd in the punchbowl.
Talking to a few pundits, the belief is that people have seen too much of Couturier over the past few seasons because unlike a few of the other prospects (ie. Strome, Huberdeau, etc.), he doesn't have one of those latter birthdays. In consequence, scouts have seen more of him and have had more time to pick through the faults in his game.
I personally wouldn't be ecstatic about couturier or landeskog. But I have to think they're talking about couturier. I've never been sold on landeskog, and don't really get the infatuation with him. He's strong. I get it. Big deal. He's an average skater, and his offensive upside doesn't compare well with the other prospects. Especially RNH, Huberdeau, and Strome (of the ones I`ve seen play). But I guess a plus with him is that everyone seems unanimous on him playing long-term in the NHL, starting next year. Enough rambling. He`s talking about couturier I`d guess.