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Two weeks to the NHL draft and you can bet there will be no shortage of predictions of how the drama is going to unfold when the general managers finally step up to their microphones to make selections.
Across the hockey world, people will be inundated with mock drafts and glimpses at how the experts believe the first round of the draft will unfold after Alexis Lafreniere is selected No. 1 overall by the New York Rangers when the event is held virtually Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. from the NHL Network Studios in Secaucus, N.J.
As noted, it’s a guessing game at who the Ottawa Senators will get at No. 3 with their pick from the San Jose Sharks and even more so when it comes to trying to predict the No. 5 selection. Yes, general manager Pierre Dorion, chief scout Trent Mann and the organization will pick up some high-end talent with those selection so watching how this draft unfolds will carry intrigue.
The Los Angeles Kings have the No. 2 selection and are expected to take either Quinton Byfeld of Sudbury or Tim Stuetzle of Mannheim (Germany). The Senators should get whichever of those two they don’t take and then nobody is certain which way Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings is leaning at No. 4.
All this to say, to the Senators will have to keep their options open at No. 5 and they will be the first team since the New York Islanders in 2000 to have two picks in the top five.
Talk to the NHL scouts and many believe Yzerman will go in the direction of defenceman Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters with the fourth selection. That will leave the Senators with the option of selecting the likes of Saginaw centre Cole Perfetti, winger Lucas Raymond of Frolunda (Sweden), winger Alexander Holtz of Djurgardens IF (Sweden) and Ottawa 67’s forward Marco Rossi.
It’s also interesting to note that Grant McCagg, the publisher of Recrutes.ca (a strong guide for the draft available online), has defenceman Jake Sanderson of the U.S. National Development team ranked as high as No. 2.
Here’s a look at some of the prospects that may fit the bill at No. 5 with takes from Dan Marr, the NHL’s head of Central Scouting, and TSN’s director of scouting Craig Button on those players. By the way, Button will unveil his mock draft Friday, Oct. 2nd.
This list doesn’t mean Ottawa won’t take someone outside of this group but these names are as a good a place to start with any where this guessing game is concerned.
“The more we go around-and-around looking at these players there’s quite a few that really pop out,” Marr said. “I’ve sat at draft tables and teams will follow their lists.”
Here’s some talk about some of the prospects outside the top three:
Cole Perfetti, C, Saginaw (OHL), 5-foot-11, 177 lbs.
MARR ON PERFETTI: “Cole’s the type of player that I still view as a difference maker. He’s two played two years in the OHL and he’s still one of the younger players. He had a 100-point season. On Saginaw they had a good veteran mix there, but he was still a go-to guy. I always like to go back. Playing against his peers, the best in the world, at the (under-18) Hlinka (tournament), he was one of Canada’s most creative players. He did with his smarts and with his speed and quickness. He can make big plays on the fly, in the offensive zone and he can do it with the end-to-end rush. He’s a pretty complete skill package. Size is irrelevant when you have that talent. Yes, some big guy might be able to push him away, but when he’s go the puck on his stick, he’s not an easy guy to take out of the play. That goes to his competitiveness as well. This is a player that has at all.”
LUCAS RAYMOND, RW/LW, Frolunda HC (Sweden), 5-foot-10, 161 lbs.
BUTTON ON RAYMOND: “He has sublime and stealth skill set, but his two and three steps ahead of the play hockey sense, combined with his creativity, allows him to make so many different types of plays. There’s no play that isn’t possible when he has the puck. Because he’s so smart when it appears he may be trapped is actually when he may be most dangerous. He’s so in tune into the possibilities. I see him as a No. 1, play-making winger in the mould of Toronto Maple Leafs’ star Mitch Marner.
MARCO ROSSI, C, Ottawa (OHL), 5-foot-9, 187 lbs.
MARR ON ROSSI: “He’s a dynamic skill player and he’s game-breaker. He’s the guy you want on the ice when you need a goal or you want to win the game. He’s got the smarts to read the situation, understand what needs to be done and then he’s got the tools and wherewithal to go out there and make it happen. He’s kind of in an exceptional class all of his own. You’re getting one of the (Artemi) Panarin-type skill guys. You can depend on (Rossi) to generate skill for you.”
JAMIE DRYSDALE, D, Erie Otters (OHL), 5-foot-11, 180 lbs.
MARR ON DRYSDALE: “We slotted Jamie in North America as our top defenceman just because he plays that dynamic style of a game. He’s got that Morgan Reilly in him. In that, when the puck is on his stick, whether it’s his own zone or at the offensive blueline, he’s going to be able to make a play. He’s got the ability to take charge when he’s got the puck. He’s got exceptional speed and quickness which I think is going to be more important to him at the NHL level. I wouldn’t say he’s undersized at 5-foot-11, but he’s not big, however, he’s going to be one of those guys that’s in your top two defencemen on your team. He’s going to be able to control the play and he’s proven that always at levels above his age group He’s just a treat to watch in an OHL game. When they go to 3-on-3 in the OT, it’s worth the price of admission to watch this guy dancing out there with the puck. Saying all that on the offensive side, he’s very responsible without the puck.”
ALEXANDER HOLTZ, RW, Djurgardens IF (Sweden), 5-foot-11, 181 lbs.
BUTTON ON HOLTZ: “He’s a hungry and determined scorer who probes for those opportunities and when they arise he attacks. He’s always dangerous over a wide scoring area so he’s always difficult to defend. He’s got an accurate hard shot from distance, but he has the touch in and around the net to finish. This makes him very, very difficult to defend against. He’s going to be premiere scorer in the NHL and he reminds me of another Swede, Filip Forsberg.”
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