After a disappointing, 5th straight year in which the rebuilding Sens have missed the post-season, It’s that time of year again for Sens fans. The 1st round of the 2022 NHL draft will take place on July 7th at the Bell center in Montreal. While it hasn’t been officially confirmed, I have some reason to believe the NHL’s draft lottery will be held on May 16th.

For the Sens, it remains unclear if the team will make their top selection this year or opt to improve their lineup immediately by trading the pick. It’s been no secret that Ottawa is interested in Minnesota Wild forward, Kevin Fiala. If the Sens are selecting outside the top 3, I think there is a good chance they look to move their top pick. For the sake of looking at a scenario in which the Sens make their 1st round selection, I’ll attempt to put myself inside the war-room and provide my thoughts as to who their top 10 targets could be this summer.

No. 1 Shane Wright

Fit for Ottawa:

There’s no real consensus outside of Shane Wright this year, so it comes without question that the Sens would select Wright with the #1 pick should they win the lottery. Although I believe Wright lacks the flash and dynamism that generally accompanies a #1 overall selection, Wright posses incredible awareness away from the puck. I’ve said multiple times now that although he may not be my personal top choice (I have him 2nd), you have to pick Wright if you’re making the 1st overall selection. It’s too risky otherwise.

Wright is a fit for the Sens in the same way that he’s a fit for every team. He’s the consensus #1 overall pick so even if, theoretically Ottawa doesn’t need a top 6 centre, you make it work. I do question his NHL-readiness so that’s something I’d be moderately concerned about if he elects to sign in the NHL immediately.

No. 2 Juraj Slafkovsky

Fit for Ottawa:

Slafkovsky would be the ultimate fit for Ottawa. They would likely have to get extremely lucky in May to have this dream scenario play out but there’s no question it would be fun to see. In this somewhat rare case, Slafkovsky is a player that I’m extremely high on personally and I have every reason to believe the Sens would be equally high on as well.

Slafkovsky’s without a question a philosophical fit for a team that typically likes to play, big, heavy hockey. He’d be one of the few players who could also contribute to the team as early as next season.

No. 3 Logan Cooley

Fit for Ottawa:

Cooley is a 200 ft centre with great top speed and acceleration. Again, he’s a natural pivot so I can understand why you’d be skeptical of my placement here considering the Sens don’t exactly need a natural centre on their roster. Much like Shane Wright, Cooley is simply a player who you’d consider taking “best player available” in a top 3 situation and let everything else sort itself out afterwards.

Although there are some minor flaws in his skating ability when it comes to ankle mobility and some of the finer details, Cooley gets around the ice better than almost anyone in this class. He’d be hard to pass up.

No. 4 Simon Nemec

Fit for Ottawa:

Simon Nemec is quickly projecting as one of the most gifted offensive defenseman in quite some time. He possesses all the necessary skills to be an effective offensive defenseman at the next level, coupled with great gap control and exceptional reads defensively. He does take some risks offensively but they often workout in his favour.

If Erik Brannstrom doesn’t pan out as a right side (left shot) defenseman in the top 4 (which is very likely). One could easily think the Senators would be really interested in bolstering their D core this summer. No better or quicker way to do so, than to add the masterful talent of Simon Nemec. Imagining him next to Sanderson or Chabot would be a dream scenario for Sens fans.

No. 5 David Jiricek

Fit for Ottawa:

Jiricek is a player I slightly hesitate on but at the same time really like. His floor is lava if that makes any sense. There’s some uncertainty with how he’ll pan out and part of that is because he loves to take risks offensively but they aren’t always the most calculated ones. There’s no debating his ceiling though, it remains very high if he’s able to make better decisions with and without the puck. He’s fast, big and physical but also adds a ton of offense from the blueline.

As with Nemec above, Jiricek is a right shot defenseman where the Senators have a glaring need. He’s not too far from the NHL although after suffering a fairly substantial injury, he could be set back one year.

No. 6 Conor Geekie

Fit for Ottawa:

Conor Geekie is the highest ranked player in which I have the most reservations about. Most of that comes from his skating abilities and some of that comes from being haunted by the player he resembles most, Logan Brown. I can’t help but draw the lines as Geekie is a big, rangy centre with great hands, excellent vision coupled with poor skating and a severe lack of physicality.

I could definitely see Ottawa selecting him though, size always matters for Ottawa. Even if he doesn’t necessarily play physical, he uses his size effectively in other ways, such as creating space for himself and protecting pucks. although listed as a centre, it’s not unrealistic to suggest Geekie could become a winger at the NHL level.

No. 7 Cutter Gauthier

Fit for Ottawa:

Cutter Gauthier has prototypical Sens draft pick written all over him. He’s big, physical and very projectable. You’re not going to miss if you select the power forward and the Sens have a habit of measuring safety ahead of high ceiling players.

I think most teams would start thinking about Gauthier just outside the top 10 and I can’t imagine he’d fall too far beyond that. He does have some exceptional finishing abilities. If Ottawa is looking at adding a durable winger with complementary goal scoring qualities, look no further. The Boston College commit is an unmistakable fit for Ottawa.

No. 8 Joakim Kemell

Fit for Ottawa:

Kemell is a pure goal scorer with excellent hands and good vision. He’s a very skilled player who has one of the higher ceilings in the draft but has a more unpredictable floor. At just 5’11, 175LBS, Kemell is not who I’d consider a typical Sens pick but could this be the year they opt for Skill as opposed to safety?

I have him on this list because I think they’ll really like his effort level despite the frequency of turnovers and lack of size. He doesn’t shy away from the physical game either which might make him more likely to get selected by Ottawa. He’s also a RW, sniper which is a position of immediate need. Still, you can colour me surprised (in a good way) if the Sens select Kemell with their top selection this year.

No. 9 Rutgar McGroarty

Fit for Ottawa:

Despite being a fun name to say, I think Sens fans would be throwing fits if Ottawa called out his name early on in the top round. That said, you didn’t think I would miss his Sensibility factor, did you?

He’s a power forward, complimentary player who puts up points by getting to the scoring areas. He’s not going to wow you with skill, although he does have some but he’s an effective winger for the USNTDP. He is also a very “high character guy,” so he fits the criteria. Seriously though, Rutgar McGroarty is fun to say.

No. 10 Jonathan Lekkerimaki

Fit for Ottawa:

Similar to Kemell, it would surprise me if the Senators called his name with their first round selection. He’s certainly not what I’d consider a prototypical Sens pick although I could also see why they could look his way.

Again, he’s a winger that fits a need with an unbelievable release. He’s very skilled and just barely made the cut off for eligibility, meaning he’s very young and could grow rapidly over the summer. With his shot and overall skill, I think Lekkerimaki could be one of those players we look back on and wonder why many teams missed on him.

That concludes my top 10, in terms of what I think the Senators list might look like heading into the draft. It’s always impossible to say who they’re feeling and if last year taught us anything it’s that we should never spend this much effort trying to analyze their thinking. Too late for me.

I will however, throw this out there. Myself and Chris Moore (Sens PR) have a friendly bet going on in regards to one draft eligible player who I believe the Sens will take a “reach” on. That player happens to be Jorian Donovan, the son of former Senator (and current head of player development) Shean Donovan.

What do you think?


By dlee075

Co-Host of the Future Sickos Podcast. Passionate about hockey and the Ottawa Senators.

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