Ottawa Senators chief amateur scout and newly-minted assistant general manager Trent Mann and his staff had it easy Thursday evening after his club dealt for high-scoring winger Alex DeBrincat from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Mann joked after sitting through the three-hour opening round, “We haven’t been doing a lot of that in recent years as you’re aware. It was a little tough getting used to. But 41 goals that we acquired earlier in the day, made it feel a lot better.”
While there were expectations the Senators would move up from the 64th position after swapping picks 7 and 39 to Chicago, no moves materialized. In fact, general manager Pierre Dorion didn’t consummate any trades Friday.
Speculation had Matt Murray and Nikita Zaitsev leaving Ottawa, while Dorion was also pursuing a right-shot defenseman. The belief is these deals will eventually come to fruition as teams figure out their cap space closer to the opening of unrestricted free agency on July 13.
So, it was back to business with the Senators who selected nine players in rounds two through seven.
The 2022 NHL Entry Draft Senators version included four Swedes, four defensemen, and one large goalie.
64 – D Filip Nordberg – Sodertalje Sweden Jr – 6’4″ 207 lbs
Chief European scout Mikko Ruutu – “He’s a bigger guy too. He’s physically more mature. I think he’s closer that way. He’s still a young kid. They need time, but his frame his so big and he can shoot the puck also. There’s lots of things to like. He can play in all three zones. Right now he’s playing power play in junior. Time will show if he’s good enough to play in the NHL.”
The intention is for Nordberg to land in North America playing in the USHL next season, team to be determined.
72 – RW Oskar Pettersson – Rogle Sweden Jr – 6’2″ 198 lbs
Ruutu – “He’s a guy that improved through the season, especially with his skating. He’s a hard-working guy. I don’t know if I’ve met any Swedish guys with that character in my scouting years. I’m curious to see how far it takes him. This kid is willing to work and do whatever it takes. His style fits in pretty well to North America. He wants to play over here as well.”
Pettersson lead his team in goals (25) and finished sixth league-wide.
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87 – D Tomas Hamara – Tappara Finland Liiga – 6′ 185 lbs
Mann – “Hamara is a mobile puck-moving guy, very calm, very efficient in his game. He does play the game hard as well. He can defend, it’s just that he’s a six-foot guy so he’s smart enough to understand he’s not there to pound bodies. He’s there to move pucks, and he does that extremely well.”
Hamara said he models his game after current Senator Thomas Chabot. The Czechia native left his home at the age of 14 to pursue a hockey career in Finland.
104 – C Stephen Halliday – Dubuque USHL – 6’3″ 213 lbs
Mann – “His offensive numbers are big (35 goals, 60 assists in 62 games). He has high offensive abilities. He’s a bigger kid as well. He’s just the kind of a kid we’ve kind of kept an eye on. We like where he’s at right now. The offense is important, and going into college he’s going to play a larger role right off the hop here.”
An Ajax, ON resident, Halliday will attend Ohio State University in the fall.
136 – D Jorian Donovan – Hamilton OHL – 6’1″ 182 lbs
Mann – “We would have considered taking him a little earlier based on the skating and the puck skills, not because of who his dad is, but just based on the kid and his upside.” Jorian’s dad, Shean is the Senators director of player development.
“I fear for the kid a little bit because I don’t want him to feel he was picked because of his dad. He was on our list, legitimately. He was in the ballpark – in that area. He’s a kid that got tied up with a team that was pretty good. They won the Ontario Championship, so ice-time was a little hard to come by. He’ll get plenty of opportunity to show more what his strengths are. He get more ice-time in the upcoming season.”
143 – RW Cameron O’Neill – Mt. St.Charles H.S. – 6′ 182 lbs
Mann – “He was in prep school. He’ll play in the USHL, then go to college. He’s a kid with offensive upside and plays the game hard as well.”
O’Neill is committed to UMass in 2023-24.
151 – G Kevin Reidler – AIK Sweden Jr – 6’6″ 180 lbs
Ruutu – “He’s been playing only under-18 pretty much. Hard-working, he’s really athletic, big kid. Obviously, with those tools, he has a chance to be something someday in the NHL. With goalies, you have to give them time. So, we’ll see what happens. It’s nice to see where he goes.”
168 – D Theo Wallberg – Skelleftea Sweden Jr – 6’3″ 187 lbs
Mann – “He’s a bigger kid who skates extremely well. He’s probably as defensemen come in this Draft, he’s probably one of the fastest skaters in this Draft. Has a lot of puck skills. His game is just a little bit inconsistent, we’ll say, but he hits on the offense based on his skating, I think there’s a ton of potential there.”
Wallberg will shift to North America this fall to play for Dubuque in the USHL prior to joining Stephen Halliday at Ohio State the following season.
206 – C Tyson Dyck – Cranbrook BCHL – 5’11” 166 lbs
Mann – “He put up real good offensive numbers, (34 goals, 41 assists in 54 games). He’ll go to UMass, so we’re excited about that. We know he’s going to be well-coached and we know what kind of opportunity he’s going to get.”
Several of these draftees will attend next week’s development camp. Approximately 26 to 30 youngsters will be attending.
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