In the days leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft, Pierre Dorion emphasized how the organization would do their due diligence and explore every possibility. Although he discussed the possibility of trading up and trading down, the Senators elected to stand pat and draft Shane Bowers from the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL.
In 60 USHL games last season, the 6’1″ and 179 lbs centre tallied 22 goals and 51 points.
Bowers has committed to Boston University for the 2017-18 season.
The selection immediately raised a few eyebrows last night as Sportnet’s Sam Cosentino described Bowers as a high character player who’s also a safe pick.
The Senators organization prides itself on adding character players, but if there’s any room for concern, it’s that some scouts question how much skill Bowers has.
Unfortunately for Bowers, the Senators just traded away Curtis Lazar — a former prospect who shared these same qualities — so inevitably, there’s going to be negativity surrounding the pick simply because recency bias may spur some unfair Lazar comps without anyone having really seen the player before. It doesn’t help that the Senators’ system isn’t exactly brimming with dynamic offensive talent either.
Bowers is his own prospect however and we shouldn’t hold the past failings of others against him, but admittedly, whenever you hear or read about things about a first round pick whose skill is called into question, it leaves something to be desired.
Then again, not everyone is reportedly sold on the idea that Bowers isn’t skilled.
In Corey Pronman’s work leading up to the draft, he had Bowers as his 42nd highest-rated player, but in his last mock before the actual Draft, he had Bowers going 29th overall.
In his pick-by-pick analysis of last night’s action, Pronman offered these notes (note: ):
Scouting notes: Bowers has been a name to know for several years when he was coming up as a bantam in Halifax, and he had a very solid second USHL season. Bowers is a great skater, with an easy first few steps. He works hard to pressure defensemen, and can play on both sides of the ice. The ultimate question with Bowers is his offensive ceiling. Some scouts I talk to swear by him as a potential frontline NHL player; other scouts, including myself, question whether he’ll be able to score much as an NHLer. That’s not to say Bowers can’t make high-level offensive plays. He has good hands and vision, and was more consistent in that regard in the second half of the season. Bowers is committed to Boston University starting in the 2017-18 season.
Team fit: Bowers is a former highly touted player who dipped a little in his draft season. He brings great speed and two-way play, but there are questions about how dynamic his skill is. He complements Logan Brown in the Senators’ system as a very different type of center, who is still very effective.
The idea of adding a “frontline” NHL player with the 28th overall selection is certainly intriguing, but it sounds like he’s a safe floor player who has a chance at becoming more.
Grant McCagg’s Recrutes.ca guide ranks Bowers their 37th-ranked player. Recrutes also ranked Bowers as one of the best defensive and most competitive forwards in the draft class.
“He’s not a high-end talent but he’s a hard working, smart two-way guy. He’s got some size, goes to the net, pretty smart. Good energy. He could be a good third-line center because he’s an honest player. I like him.”
Another midwest US-based scout described him as a high-floor, low-ceiling player. “I don’t ever see him being a top two-line powerplayguy, I don’t see him scoring lots in the NHL. He has average puck skills in the scoring areas, but I also think he’s going to play.”
In Red Line Report‘s description of their 41st ranked skater, they wrote, “Above average in many facets, but doesn’t excite us.”
Here is Red Line Report‘s full write-up:
“A mature kid who plays a refined game with NHL habits. Understands where he needs to be in both the offensive and defensive zones, reads the play well and has fine vision and instincts. Skating is just average though, and he has trouble separating from and beating aggressive man-to-man defenders who deny him time and space to make plays. Does not cut and change direction sharply, and lacks a separation gear. He’s a good playmaker and deft passer who can drift through layers in defences and spot small openings. Good in the faceoff circle. Doesn’t always elevate his play when the pace picks up. Has the look of a solid third line, two-way NHL centre one day, but we just don’t see any one exceptional carrying tool that leads us to believe he’ll be a difference-maker.”
Already we can see a discrepancy between analysts like Pronman and a guide like Red Line Report. One sees an exceptional skater and the other labels him as an average skater.
Hopefully the Red Line Report is wrong in their belief that he won’t develop into a difference-maker.