On the heels of a rookie tournament in London, Ontario in which the Senators ran the table with a 3-0 record, comes perhaps a sobering assessment.
Yesterday, Corey Pronman published his list of the top 100 prospects for ESPN Insider. (Note: it's behind a paywall.)
Of particular note, no Senators prospect cracked his top 50. Now, part of that has to do with how Pronman determines the qualifications for who's eligible to be a prospect. For him, "the cutoff for prospect eligibility is 25 NHL games played last season or 50 career NHL games, and they have to be age 26 or under as of Sept. 15." Had Mika Zibanejad for example, not surpassed the 25 game threshold, I suspect he would have featured highly, as he held the #15 spot last year. If you're familiar with Pronman's work you'll also know he seldom values a goalie highly, so keep that in mind.
Nevertheless, three Ottawa Senators prospects did make the list.
|Player||2012 Rank||2013 Rank|
Curtis Lazar was one of the ten prospects who Pronman identified as having "just missed" a spot in the top 100, and folk hero for all-time Jean-Gabriel Pageau's name was conspicuously absent altogether. Oh, and the recently traded Stefan Noesen came in at #73.
Is Ceci falling 22 spots surprising? Maybe a little, but critiques of his season, particularly the part spent with the 67's were almost universally negative. I mean days ago Pierre Dorion said least partly in jest that watching Ceci play last fall nearly had him in the "fetal position". In a better environment, under the tutelage of Luke Richardson, you'd expect his stock to rise a year from now. Pronman ranked twenty-two other defencemen above the "pride of Orleans".
As for Stone and Prince slipping, neither found offensive consistency until the latter half of the season. Naturally, as professional rookies it took both some time to adjust to the AHL. But Stone's last 20 games in particular were outstanding, he went point a game; 8G 12A. Similarly Prince seized the increased opportunity that came with the end of lockout and played his best hockey down the stretch. So despite both falling, I'm not really concerned with either player's game at the moment.
Lehner was only one of three goaltenders in the top 100, Andrei Vasilevski #79 and John Gibson #97 being the others. If there's anything to be taken here Pronman felt strongly enough about him as a goaltending prospect to be included at all. Hard to take any issue with Lehner's play in 2012/13, he was outstanding at both levels.
A good bulk of Ottawa's better young assets shed their 'prospect' label or were traded to Anaheim in the last year. Although the Senators system is deep and management has excelled in cultivating and developing a number of prospects who look to be capable of making the jump, realistically speaking, aside from maybe Ceci, it's not like any of the rest could be described as "blue chip". Ottawa has value in its depth that won't necessarily be recognized in this kind of list.
For what it's worth, seven organizations had more top 100 prospects than Ottawa and eight organizations had fewer than three -- with the Maple Leafs being the only organization who had fewer than two.