As the Senators’ road trip continues in Columbus tonight, here’s a little prospect porn to get you through the work day.
ESPN Insider’s Corey Pronman published his midseason rankings of the ‘Top 50 drafted NHL prospects’. (Note: Like everything else published on ESPN Insider, accessing the full rankings requires a paid subscription, but if you’re wavering on whether or not to get one, Craig Custance and Pronman are worth the cost alone.)
Three Senators prospects not only made the list, but also made significant leaps up the rankings.
Of course, part of the reasoning for these jumps is simply because Pronman’s midseason criteria precludes prospects who have played 25 NHL games in a single season, 50 career games, or who are currently playing in the NHL irrespective of how many games they have played. To put things in perspective, 20 of the top 40 prospects from Pronman’s summer pre-season list have graduated from the rankings.
That said, Thomas Chabot, Colin White and Logan Brown have all ascended up the rankings.
Not only was Chabot Pronman’s highest ranked defenceman ahead of Montreal’s Mikhail Sergachev, he also moved up 17 spots to crack Pronman’s top 10 prospects for the first time in his career.
“Chabot got the slimmest glimpse at the NHL this season — a handful of shifts for the Senators — before being sent back to major junior. Now people will remember him for his MVP performance at the World Juniors. His skating ability is ridiculous for a tall defenseman, but it isn’t all athleticism with Chabot. His vision is great, he can play an up-tempo game, and he is competent (albeit not elite) defensively while being a force whenever he’s near the puck. Chabot looks ready to step into the NHL permanently next season, once he adds some strength in the next few months.”
Although he did not play much at the beginning of the season, it’s hard not to wonder whether Chabot would have developed and performed a significant upgrade to the team’s third or hell, maybe even the second pairing. Considering the lack of flexibility and the unlikelihood that the Senators will make a move to improve their blue line, he could have been a cheap internal solution.
Despite those views, it’s hard to be too disappointed with how the season has gone for Chabot. His development was never going to be irreparably damaged by returning to junior for another season and thanks to his dominance at the World Juniors, one can only hope that the confidence he got from that short tournament will carry over through the remainder of his season and into the offseason.
Colin White didn’t experience quite as big of a jump as Chabot, but he still rose 15 spots from 28th in the rankings.
“One of the top forwards at the World Juniors this season, White has been very good in his season-and-a-half at Boston College. White doesn’t wow you on any given shift, but if you carefully track him, you can quickly add up the good plays he makes all over the ice. His hockey sense is top-end on both sides of the puck, he’s very competitive, and he has a decent skill set. Ottawa has already indicated an interest in seeing White in a Senators uniform before the season is over.”
What’s interesting is that Pronman’s hearing that the Senators are interested in bringing him onboard as soon as Boston College’s school’s season ends. The organization has hinted at this being a possibility earlier this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they promise to get him into games this season and potentially knock a year off an entry-level contract as enticements that could lure White out of school.
Thanks to some recent collegiate draftees staying in school for their full four years and electing to sign as unrestricted free agents, there have been some concerns that White could follow that path. Per the NHL’s CBA, NHL teams have the rights of a drafted NCAA player until 30 days after the player leaves the college. Considering White could still return to school for his junior and senior seasons, not only do the concerns seem unfounded, they’re something that really shouldn’t be too worrisome considering how far removed we are from this imposed deadline maybe becoming a thing.
While the inclusion of Chabot and White in the rankings was predictable given their strong performance this season and at the World Junior Championships, it was somewhat surprising to see Logan Brown be ranked at the 26th overall selection.
As Pronman notes in his write-up of Brown, “I have some mild concerns with how Brown’s season is going so far. He’s not really producing offense at the rate I expected coming into the season, with his early-season injury likely compounding that issue.”
The interesting thing for me regarding Brown is how much difficulty he has had producing at even strength for a player of his age, skillset and size.
Through 23 games, Brown has eight goals and 29 points, but four goals and 17 of those points have come with the man advantage. Granted, Brown is more renowned for his playmaking ability, but from a projecting perspective, it’d be more comfortable seeing Brown rack up more goals. It’d certainly give me more confidence about that element of his game.
Although Brown’s offensive numbers have left something to be desired, Pronman eventually played up his talent level.
“I’m still optimistic about his future. Huge centers who are dynamic playmakers are incredibly rare. While Brown has his warts — in that he’s not exactly a warrior in the corners, or a guy with fantastic defensive skills — he is a unique type of player who makes unique plays with a ton of upside.”
There are far worse things to be than what sounds like a lesser version of Joe Thornton, but hopefully his skills play up and his offensive numbers trend up moving forward. Should his disappointing season continue, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brown slide in the prospect rankings as recency bias and 2017 draft eligible players push him down a few pegs in this summer’s rankings.