Grant Sonier a former NHL front office employee/scout who writes for ESPN Insider has published his top 20 prospects (note: it’s behind a paywall) playing outside the NHL. Sonier, if you’ll recall, was somewhat bullish on Ottawa's pipeline.
To develop the criteria for who could be included on the list, the process was limited to players who have not started the clock on their entry-level contracts.
Preserving his consistency, Sonier omitted many of Ottawa’s better prospects from the list. Familiar names like Mark Stone, Jakob Silfverberg, Robin Lehner, Matt Puempel, Stefan Noesen and Cody Ceci do not make the cut. In fact, Mika Zibanejad is the only member of organization to crack the list – coming in at 16:
His size and speed will be hard for opposing defensemen to handle, and, with a solid work ethic, he eventually will make an impact. His biggest challenge will be to maintain his consistent level of intensity. Although he has never been a big point producer, there is potential for this forechecking forward to improve in this area, as well. One Eastern Conference scout said it best: "He is the type of player that you have to let mature, and when he does, you will be happy with whatever role he ends up in."
Instinctively, some fans will be quick to casually dismiss the evaluations entirely, but another of ESPN Insider’s hockey correspondents, Corey Pronman, has praised Ottawa’s depth; even though he noted that it probably lacks a true franchise talent that other top systems seemingly boast.
Noesen, a player who gets fewer accolades or attention that some of the more advanced Swedes or a local junior product like Ceci receives, was listed amongst Sonier’s honorable mentions.
Character comes naturally to this hard-nosed forward and makes me think he will do anything he can to affect a game at the NHL level.
Of course, none of these rankings really mean anything beyond: a) creating a topic of discussion to dissect and critique; b) offering assurance that some other respected member of the hockey community recognizes the abundance of talent that has been stockpiled at the AHL and junior levels; and c) offering a humbling reminder that not everyone is as enamoured with the Senators pipeline as you would to believe.
Greening To Sign With Denmark Club
I'm a bit late on this but according to the Fourth Period, Colin Greening has agreed to a contract with the Aalborg Pirates of the AL-Bank Ligaen. For internal bragging rights purposes, I'm not sure whether this league is more highly regarded than Erik Condra's Div III club in Germany, but I'm still holding out hope that one of their other teammates can find a more obscure place to play.
Schultz Impresses Early
What could have been right? Surely worse to be a Ducks fan right now, but it does sting a little after the Sens were the last team cut. Schultz came away with player of the week honours through the first 7 days: "The rookie defenceman tallied three goals and an assist in two games last week. He was also plus-6." Elliotte Friedman had his anecdote from OKC head coach Todd Nelson after a game in which Schultz was +10 in scoring chances: "We've never seen that before. ... You're always defending. A skilled forward creating scoring chances will be plus-4 or plus-5... Very high hockey IQ."