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Pierre Dorion: Speaks Again Before the Draft

With the NHL draft approximately 48 hours away, the Senators’ Director of Player Personnel, Pierre Dorion, appeared on the Team 1200’s Healthy Scratches to talk about it. To listen to the interview in its entirety, you can check out the Team 1200’s Facebook page or you can check out the transcript below. As always, my thoughts are in bold.

On what the staff has planned now that they’re in Pittsburgh for the Draft:

Well, we’re just going to sit down with the group again tomorrow. The group of scouts are going to sit down with Tim and Bryan and just go over our potential scenarios. I told both Bryan and Tim that we’re going to get one of four guys with our pick at fifteen.  We have a pretty good idea of who’s going to be gone by our pick and (we’ll) just rehash their strengths and weaknesses of these four or five guys that I think that we’re keen on. Possible scenarios, like if we really feel strongly about a guy that we think will be gone, maybe the possibilities of moving up or, I don’t think we’ll be moving down but just looking at that scenario and just going from there and seeing if it’s viable maybe to get a second round pick or what the cost would be to get a second round pick because we don’t have one.  Just rehash the scenarios; discuss with all the scouts what we found out about the players at the combine and we had a few players into Ottawa, just to give the whole group an idea of what we’ve been doing for the last month.

It’s interesting to think of how secretive this year’s draft prep has been in comparison to last year’s. Last year for example, we knew that players like Zibanejad, Strome, Couturier, Hamilton, Huberdeau and Landeskog were invited by the organization for personal workouts. This year, we’ve been limited to knowing that the Senators have had four goaltenders — Subban, Altschuller, Brassard, and an unnamed goalie — come into town. It’s like there’s a more concerted effort for the organization not to tip its hand — something that’s more understandable given where it picks in the first round. If anything, it makes me inclined to believe that they’re standing pat at fifteen.

On this draft lacking a ‘wow’ factor:

You’re right, there’s not the ‘wow’ factor this year but I still feel personally, and I know my group of scouts feel the same way, come Saturday night when we’ve made seven selections, I think we’ll be very happy with the product that we’ve come away with.

And there will be 1,531 Hfboards posters who will find something to dislike about the product that they came away with.

On finding a highly rated prospect from their list who may slide to them:

I don’t think we’ll get someone rated in the top ten but I think we’ll get someone from eleven to fourteen. The four names that I gave to Bryan and Tim earlier this week were our eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth names from our list. I feel confident we’ll get one of those guys. If a miracle happens and we get someone out of our top ten, I told the guys that I will do a backflip on our draft table.

If there’s no ‘wow’ factor in the draft, I’d settle for a Dorion backflip. Just watch your head Pierre, we wouldn’t want you to have an Alexandre Despatie incident.

On trade negotiations heating up:

I think the chatter has started from what I gather in talking to Bryan a bit yesterday. I don’t think it’s serious where we are. I think it is going to be more teams moving within the top ten. If I was a betting man, I’d probably tell our fans that we’ll be picking fifteenth on Friday.

On drafting a defenceman at fifteen:

I think there’s a good chance that it could be a defenceman but I don’t want to be saying that we’re going to take one specific position and then we end up taking another position. Out of the four or five guys that we seem to think is going to be our pick, there are forwards and defencemen in there, so we’re looking at either situation really.

Smart policy: especially if they wind up taking a forward or goaltender. It’d be an instant tip off to such a player that they weren’t the team’s initial choice – kind of like how management never really wanted to take credit for Jim O’Brien’s draft class because their people weren’t in place yet.

On biggest shocks on draft day on value for picks and guys sliding:

At draft time, we only think about the positives so I’ll give you more positives than negatives. I’ll say in my four years in Ottawa, obviously we were a bit surprised that Erik Karlsson was still available. But if you go value-for-pick, I’ll give you two names, and I’ll always mention our scout’s name who picked him at the time, one is Mark Stone. Bob (Lowes) kept talking to me from the fourth round on and I knew that (Stone) didn’t have that great of a year and he was injured, so we knew at that point in time. And probably someone that I know will make it is probably a guy like Mark Borowiecki. As far as surprises, just if we go recently in the last few years, for me, Cam Fowler falling down to twelve was a huge surprise for me.

Much of what Dorion said in the above paragraph was rehashed from his interview with the Fan 960 in Calgary.

On some of the local products who will be taken in this weekend’s draft:

I’ll start with Slater Koekkoek: he on our plane actually coming down here to Pittsburgh, so I talked to him for a few minutes. Obviously he was injured this year but he’s a player that we’ve seen for quite a few years. He’s what I would call a transition or more of an offensive defenceman that takes the puck and goes up the ice; very fluid skater; moves well in all directions. I think as a young kid, as a lot of defencemen, he’s got to improve his play defensively. Sometimes, he has got to learn what his limits are, but he’s a good kid. Well built. Pretty impressive when you get to meet him. Cody Ceci, he’s from Orleans, so obviously he’s a great kid. I think you’re looking at someone this year who really raised his game one or two notches. He’s another defenceman who is not afraid to take charge. He transitions the puck a lot with his skating and passing ability. I think you’re looking at a big, strong body. I think also, you’re looking at someone who has to improve his play in his own end. I think both of these guys should be first round picks and I think they both have local ties, so it’s good that we got to know both of them. I think they’re both going to be good NHL players down the road. As far as both goalies, we mentioned it when we met with the media last Thursday, but we had both Francois Brassard and Daniel Altshuller in. And one of the reasons why we brought them in is that, if the Ottawa Senators — we’ve made it clear that we would like to take one goalie in this draft – and if it’s a local kid… well, everyone, instead of being like a team like a Vancouver that would take him where they wouldn’t know everyone in Vancouver, well… pretty much everyone that they know will know that they’ve been drafted by Ottawa. So we wanted to know how they would handle that situation and we had them on the ice with Rick Wamsley. We wanted to see how they’d react in certain game situations. So they’re both good goalies. I would say Daniel is a bit bigger physically. Francois is skinnier. Daniel might be a bit better technically. Francois might be a bit quicker. But they’re both good guys and good goalies and will have a chance to have good NHL careers down the road.

On there being any concern in drafting a local guy and the pressures that go with it:

No, it’s not. We do a pretty good job of showing these prospects the good parts and the bad parts about being a future Ottawa Senator. I think Randy Lee does a tremendous job with our development camp when we try to show them how to work with the media and Brian Morris tries to teach them what to say or what not to say. Every prospect is going to go through growing pains, whether he lives in Ottawa or he lives somewhere else, especially being a first rounder. I can’t say that (living in Ottawa) would be a detraction for us at all.

And with the way that Mark Borowiecki has surprised with his development and seems poised to crack Ottawa’s roster next season, why would the organization be worried about picking players from its own backyard?

On having any face-to-face meetings with players:

No, I think that we’ve done everything that we’ve needed to do. We have done that in the past and I find sometimes that we tip our hand too much. Every time a kid comes in, it’s ‘So who have you talked to?’ and you get a good feel for what teams are going to meet certain players. So we’ve done that and if we are going to have some, it’ll be secretly.  I can tell you right now that we have nothing planned.

Secret meetings with prospects?