Despite the amazing, splendorous, multifarious talents of Erik Karlsson the newest Norris Trophy recipient, the Ottawa Senators flamed out in the first round of the playoffs. It might have something to do with being one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL last season, which is pretty hard to believe when you have a Norris Trophy recipient on the team. Alfredsson is not more than two or possibly three years from retirement. Spezza is no longer young. Their defense is rather well broken in too.
On the plus side Mika Zibanejad, and Jakob Silfverberg and Kyle Turris are eager to fill the net and grab all the ice time they can get. A defenseman who thinks defense first is almost certainly in order. Ludvig Bystrom could join Jared Cowen in being a useful defenseman below his own blueline. On the off chance of a major slide for USNTDP Jacob Trouba, it should stop right here. At forward Teuvo Teravainen is a possible if left on the board, but defense and goaltending are the major issues.
With new ownership and a team that just fell short of the playoffs (again), we could see some aggressive moves by the Dallas Stars. Or we could see a quiet draft and some possible free agency aggression. That’s one of the nice things about new owners, they have less predictable teams than the long time groups.
The Dallas organization has only taken two goalies since 2007. One is Jack Campbell who is the highly regarded USNDT product out of Port Huron, Michigan. The other is Ontario native Tyler Beskorowany who has spent the last two seasons in the AHL. One other minor league goaltender is on the books, and then in the NHL are Richard Bachman and Kari Lethonen. It wouldn’t surprise me if they picked a goaltender in the first round, but as they own two second round picks going for offensive talent with the 13th pick isn’t outside the question.
There’s a lot of noise about Grigorenko dropping out of the top five, if he does manage to slide this far, I wouldn’t expect it to go on any longer. With some famously questioned characters like Mike Ribeiro, Sheldon Souray, Steve Ott and Michael Ryder, all of them good Canadian boys, on the roster the staff has probably learned a thing or two about enigmatic players. The most entertaining wags are saying he might be a year or two older than is his official age, I suspect most of the teams are ignoring this stuff but it’s amusing none the less.
Brendan Gaunce is nicely in the zone, as is Thomas Hertl, that said Derrick Pouliot deserves some attention. He’s not getting much buzz, and with a blueline young enough for them to be able to let him develop for two or three more years in juniors and the AHL, he could be a very tempting option. This draft isn’t heralded for its forwards so don’t be shocked if they go with the best player available, a defenseman or goalie over one of the forwards on the board.