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There have been countless storylines following the Ottawa Senators early this season. With the NHL squad looking to compete, there has been much less focus on the progression of the prospects in the system compared to past seasons. In this article, I will break down how the Ottawa Senators prospects have begun their seasons.
Ottawa Senators Prospects
Jorian Donovan has had another solid start to his season with the Brantford Bulldogs. So far, Donovan has 8 points through 9 games played on a weak Brantford team. Currently, Jorian Donovan holds the lead for the most points on the Bulldogs, ahead of drafted NHL talent, including Nick Lardis (Chi), Florian Xhekaj (MTL), and Cole Brown (NJD).
Jorian Donovan looks like he is taking his game up to another level this season. Don’t be surprised if you see him moved to a contender down the stretch of the OHL season. If he can keep up this offensive pace, Donovan will be a mainstay on the Belleville Sens blue line next season.
Moving on to one of the newest Ottawa Senators prospects, we have Matthew Andonovski, a 5th-round pick from the 2023 draft. Andonovski was never expected to contribute much on the offensive side of the puck. Instead, he was viewed as a shut-down defender who is an absolute nightmare to play against.
Well, this season, Matthew Andonovski has taken his overall game to another level. Last season, in 67 games with Kitchener, Andonovski finished the season with 0 goals and 16 assists. Through 10 games this season, Andonovski already has 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points. If he can continue to produce this level of offence, Andonovski may be a more valuable prospect than initially anticipated.
Not every Sens fan is familiar with Theo Wallberg, but the 2022 sixth-rounder is making a name for himself in the NCAA. Wallberg finished last season in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints, scoring 5 goals and 17 assists in 60 games. But this season with Ohio State of the NCAA, Wallberg has had a blazing start.
So far, in 5 games for the Buckeyes, Wallberg has 1 goal and 4 assists for 5 points. The 6’6 defenceman currently leads Ohio State in points, ahead of fellow Senators prospect Stephen Halliday. Wallberg has unlocked his offensive arsenal for a prospect who looked like he was a one-dimensional defensive defender. He is a player I will be keeping a close eye on this season.
Keeping up with the trend of Ohio State players, we have to discuss Stephen Halliday. Halliday is one of the most interesting Sens prospects to follow. He established himself as a legitimate prospect after his strong season in the NCAA last year and is picking right back up where he left off. So far, through 5 games, Halliday has 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 points.
This point total has him tied for second in team scoring, only behind the aforementioned Theo Wallberg. As Ohio State looks to have a competitive season, Stephen Halliday will be one of the players they rely on most. If he can put up another strong year, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get a shot with the Sens at the end of the season.
Zack Ostapchuk has had a strong start to his first professional hockey season. After being held off the scoresheet for his first games, Ostapchuk recorded a goal and an assist in the Belleville Senators home opener to give him 2 points through 3 games played. As Ostapchuk continues to acclimate to the AHL level, I only expect his numbers to climb over the season.
If the Belleville Senators are serious about being AHL contenders, Ostapchuk will be a crucial piece for their team. The former second-round pick has dominated in the WHL, and I don’t see any reason he can’t translate his game to Belleville/Ottawa.
Mads Søgaard has had a near-perfect start to his season in Belleville. So far in 3 games for the B-Sens, Mads Søgaard has a .953 SV% and a 1.53 GAA. He has been one of the best goaltenders in the entire AHL and is a significant reason the Belleville Senators have a winning record.
With Søgaard, I am just looking for overall consistency in his game. It’s unrealistic to expect that he will continue to put up these numbers, but a .910+ Sv% would be an excellent sign for his development.
Leevi Merilainen found himself as the odd man out in the Belleville Senators crease. After having an incredible camp with Ottawa, Merilainen was assigned to the Allen Americans of the ECHL. So far, Merilainen has only suited up for one game with the team, but he was dominant.
In his debut with the Americans, Merilainen faced 45 shots on goal. Luckily for the Allen Americans, he stopped 43 of these shots, giving him a .956 SV%. If the Senators run into more goaltending injury trouble this season, I am much more confident with the team’s depth.
Owen Beckner was one member of a trio of Senator’s seventh-round picks from this past draft. After playing last season in the BCHL, fans weren’t quite sure of what to expect from Beckner. But so far in the USHL, he has had a pretty productive campaign.
Through 10 games with Tri-City, Owen Beckner has scored 3 goals and added 7 assists for 10 points. This has him sitting second in points for the Storm. Beckner is set to play with Colorado in the NCAA next season, so hopefully, he can grow his game throughout the season before moving to college.
Cole Reinhardt has had a great start to the season with the Belleville Senators. He currently holds the team lead for points with 4 in 3 games. As Reinhardt continues to add some more offence into his game, he will throw his name into a hat as someone who could potentially be a bottom-six NHLer moving forward.
With the constant injuries to an NHL team over the course of a season, Reinhardt may become the first call-up. If he continues to lead the Belleville Senators in scoring as a player who is considered to be more of a forechecking defensive forward, he will certainly get a shot.
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