With the second round pick that they acquired from the Calgary Flames for Curtis Lazar, the Senators selected Alex Formenton from the OHL’s London Knights with the 47th overall selection.
His point totals leave something to be desired. In 65 games, he tallied 16 goals and 34 points, but because of his late birthday (September 13,, 1999), Formenton’s one of the youngest players in the draft. Playing on a relatively strong London team, he played fewer minutes behind older and more talented players.
The 6’1” and 161 lb left winger was NHL Central Scouting’s 29th ranked North American skater, but most publications had him ranked anywhere between the early 30’s and late 60’s.
Formenton was Corey Pronman’s 49th ranked skater and the Recrutes.ca draft guide had him ranked at 42.
According to their write up:
“Formenton is one of those prospects that impresses scouts a lot more the first time he’s seen live than when they watch him on video or look at the stats sheet, predominantly because it soon becomes apparent just how fast he moves around the rink.
“He’s a great skater, he has got a great long stride,” noted one scout. “In a straight line there may not be any prospects faster…but he’s more of a straight-ahead skater than an agile one… he’s not going to dangle you too often. There will be some guys that leave London this year and he’ll step into a little bit better role. He has average creativity though, I wouldn’t expect him to become a big assists guy.”
He had scouts salivating at the start of the season due to his explosive skating skills and exciting rushes, but upon repeated viewings it became apparent that he had trouble finishing plays or paying the ultimate price to get to the scoring areas, perhaps because of his youth.
His skating skills and size combo alone will likely get him picked in the top 50, and perhaps even in the top 40.
“He has a good shot to go along with that speed, but he is likely a third line guy,” added another NHL talent evaluator. “There’s some development that has to happen, but you wonder about his role on that team as he often played on the fourth line, unlike Thomas. He’s good, got good upside, though…he just needs to physically mature.”
Red Line Report’s description of Formenton wasn’t that dissimilar. The publication ranked him a little less favorably, but they described him as a “speedy agitator who plays with grit and great pace.”
Their scouting report on Formenton read as follows:
“Extremely young and thin and gives up weight to the big boys, but he’s a world class skater with elite speed and a non-stop motor. He’s relentless on the forecheck and has a nose for the net. Gets in very quickly on defenders and his persistence causes loads of turnovers which he turns into chances – unfortunately he’s poor around the net and doesn’t finish the cchances he creates. Has added a level of toughness and grit to his game, and gets under opponents’ skin. He’s constantly hungry for the puck and has worked hard on making better plays. If he’s ever able to get his hands and brain to catch up with his feet, has the tools to be a fine two-way winger. He’s already a real pain in the ass to play against. We love his attitude and work ethic, and the production is starting to come. But he is thin as a rail and has no upper-body strength. Needs to bulk up intelligently without losing his speed.”
With their first two picks in the 2017 NHL Draft, the Senators obviously played things safely by selecting Shane Bowers and Alex Formenton. Barring any trades, the Senators only possess four picks in this year’s draft, so maybe they felt obligated to play it safe and bring players into the fold who they confidently believed would play games at the NHL level.
It’s an interesting strategy considering the lack of high-end offensive talent within the system, but having high-energy skaters who play a strong two-way game adds important depth to the system as well. Their presence should afford the organization the flexibility to walk away from bottom-six players who price themselves off this team and replace them internally with cheaper alternatives.
This depth doesn’t come without a cost however, finding bottom-six players isn’t that difficult and thanks to the NHL’s salary cap system, good and effective bottom-six players are available late each and every summer for relatively inexpensive prices.
In Ottawa’s case, both of their early round picks project to be low-ceiling/high-floor types who look like they should be players at the NHL level and there’s value in that – and in Formenton’s case, maybe his offensive game can spike with higher quality linemates and minutes – but if one or both of these players struggle to demonstrate that they’ll produce as pros, we may be cursing the organization for playing it conservatively and not rolling the dice on more offensively-inclined alternatives.