HM: Angus Crookshank, Maxence Guenette, Oskar Petterson, Tyler Boucher, Jorian Donovan
10. Leevi Merilainen G – Ottawa Senators/Belleville Senators/Karpat (Liiga)
Leevi Merilainen, a 20-year-old goaltender, had an impressive 2022/2023 season, showcasing his skills in multiple leagues. In 42 games with Karpat, he had a .918 SV% and 2.02 GAA, while posting a .933 SV% and 2.06 GAA in 4 games with Belleville. He also played 2 games with Ottawa, where he had a great start and a terrible start, resulting in a .878 SV% and a 4.23 GAA. Merilainen’s rise up the ranks this season has been notable, and while he is not quite NHL-ready, he provides healthy competition in the crease with fellow prospect, Mads Sogaard. While it can be difficult to project goaltenders, I believe Merilainen has the potential to be a 1B at the NHL level. Merilainen’s impressive performances in Finland and Belleville suggest that he has a bright future ahead of him.
9. Lassi Thomson RD – Belleville Senators/Ottawa Senators
Lassi Thomson had a somewhat disappointing 2022/2023 season with the Belleville Senators as a 22-year-old right defender. He scored 7 goals and 26 assists for 33 points in 56 games, but was scoreless in 2 games with Ottawa. Coming into the season, there were high hopes that Thomson would make a push for a spot on the NHL roster, but he fell short and is now reaching a “make it or break it” point with the Senators. While he is a puck-moving offensive defenseman with a great shot, he struggled with defending at the NHL level and has been passed up on the depth chart by others. It will be a difficult, near impossible challenge for Thomson to crack Ottawa’s top-4 with Chabot, Sanderson, Chychrun and Zub. Thomson projects to be a bottom-4 puck-moving defenseman at the NHL level. Despite the setbacks, there is still potential for Thomson to carve out a role in the NHL however I see it as unlikely to be with Ottawa.
8. Jacob Bernard-Docker RD – Belleville Senators/Ottawa Senators
Jacob Bernard Docker had a mixed season in 2022/2023. The 22-year-old right defender, played 41 games with the Belleville Senators, where he scored 2 goals and 4 assists for a total of 6 points. However, he struggled to make an impact in his 19 games with the Ottawa Senators, only registering one assist. With that being said, Bernard Docker is known for his defensive game and is not expected to score a lot of points. Despite a somewhat disappointing season in Belleville, he is expected to make the Ottawa Senators out of camp, according to GM Pierre Dorion. Bernard Docker is a shutdown defenseman who needs to bulk up for the NHL level, as he had some trouble defending with Ottawa. He is projected to be a complimentary pairing defender at the NHL level, similar to Zub, and could play anywhere in the lineup.
7. Tyler Kleven LD – North Dakota/Ottawa Senators
The 21 year old defenseman, had a strong 2022/2023 season. He scored eight goals and ten assists for a total of 18 points in 35 games with North Dakota. In addition, he made his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators, where he played in eight games and contributed two assists. Kleven is known for his defensive game and is not expected to score a lot of points, but he had a great college season in college both play and points wise and an even more impressive showing in the NHL. He is expected to make a push to make the Ottawa Senators out of camp this season. Kleven is a shutdown defenseman who has solid size, physicality, and skating, allowing him to transition the puck well. He projects as a great bottom pair defender on the Senators, but has the potential to play higher on another team. This next season will be critical for the future of Tyler Kleven.
6. Stephen Halliday C – Ohio State
Stephen Halliday is a 20-year-old centre who had a tremendous 2022/2023 season at Ohio State. He scored nine goals and 32 assists for a total of 41 points in just 40 games. Halliday is a pass-first centre, and his strong playmaking abilities were on full display during his college season. He rose greatly in my prospect rankings this season, and I would consider him to be Ottawa’s most underrated prospect. Halliday projects as a middle-six center, with his strong playmaking abilities. With his impressive college season, Halliday has demonstrated that he could potentially be a valuable addition to the Ottawa Senators’ forward group in the coming years.
5. Egor Sokolov RW – Belleville Senators/Ottawa Senators
Egor Sokolov, is a 22-year-old right winger who had yet another great year as in the 2022/2023 season with the Belleville Senators, he scored 21 goals and 38 assists for a total of 59 points in 70 games, earning him a spot as an AHL All-Star. Sokolov is a shoot-first winger, and his scoring abilities were on full display throughout the season. He also played well in his limited time with the Ottawa Senators, scoring 1 goal and 1 assist for 2 points in five games. Sokolov’s strong performance in both the AHL and NHL suggest that he is ready to make the jump to the NHL full-time this year, and he could potentially play on the team’s third line with Pinto and Joseph. He projects as a middle-six forward at the NHL level, with his goal scoring ability. Sokolov’s impressive season and promising NHL stint suggests that he could be a key player for the Senators in the coming years.
4. Zack Ostapchuk LW/C – Winnipeg Ice
Zack Ostapchuk had an impressive 2022/2023 season as a 19 year old center for both the Vancouver Giants and Winnipeg Ice in the WHL. He showcased his skills as a two-way power forward by tallying 31 goals and 36 assists for 67 points in 55 games while also playing a defensively responsible game with both Vancouver and Winnipeg. He also had a solid showing in this year’s world junior tournament with 2 goals and 1 assist for 3 points. Ostapchuk’s good season in the WHL has been complemented by his strong performance in the playoffs where he has 8 goals and 3 assists for 11 points. Ostapchuk is expected to play in Belleville this year and has the potential to be a dark horse for the NHL team, I am looking for him to dominate the AHL with the B-Sens. He projects to be a great third line forward at the NHL level.
3. Roby Jarventie LW/C – Belleville Senators
Roby Jarventie had a solid 2022/2023 season as a 20 year old left wing/center for the Belleville Senators in the AHL. He recorded 16 goals and 14 assists for 30 points in 40 games, but was limited by injuries throughout the year. Jarventie’s elite one-timer was on full display this season and was a very valuable asset on the powerplay. He also showed his versatility by playing much better when moved to center from the wing. Although he could compete for a spot in the NHL camp, he is expected to return to Belleville for next season. Jarventie projects as a fringe top-6 player at the NHL level. I am looking for Jarventie to dominate the AHL, similarly to Ostapchuk and make a real push at the NHL roster going into the 2024/2025 season.
2. Mads Sogaard G – Belleville Senators/Ottawa Senators
Mads Sogaard, had a roller coaster of a season during 2022/2023. The 22 year old split his time between the Belleville Senators in the AHL and the Ottawa Senators in the NHL, Sogaard showcased his potential but also faced some challenges. In 22 games with Belleville, he posted a lackluster .893 save percentage and a 3.47 goals against average (GAA), while in 19 games with Ottawa, he registered an .889 save percentage and a 3.32 GAA. It became evident that Sogaard was not quite ready to handle the rigors of playing a significant number of games at the NHL level, indicating the need for further development in the AHL. However, Sogaard is still highly regarded as the goaltender of the future for the Senators organization, including by captain Brady Tkachuk who referred to him as the goalie they would win a cup with. He demonstrated glimpses of his immense talent and potential during his time in Ottawa, but it is clear that he requires more seasoning before becoming NHL-ready. With continued growth and experience, Sogaard projects to evolve into a starter at the NHL level, as he hones his skills and refines his game.
1. Ridly Greig C/LW – Belleville Senators/Ottawa Senators
Ridly Greig had an eventful 2022/2023 season, playing for both the Belleville Senators in the AHL and the Ottawa Senators in the NHL. In 39 games with Belleville, Greig recorded 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points, while in 20 games with Ottawa, he notched 2 goals and 7 assists for 9 points. Unfortunately, the 20 year old struggled with injuries during the season, which limited his playing time. Greig plays the game with a unique combination of grit and skill, which makes him an exciting prospect for the Senators. Despite his injury setbacks, he had a solid season in the AHL and showed quite well when called up to play with Ottawa. While he needs to bulk up slightly to be the most effective version of himself, he is likely to compete and earn a spot in camp, after showing this season he is NHL-ready. He projects as a top-6 player at the NHL level, capable of playing at either left wing or center, although he is likely to play at left wing with Ottawa due to the team’s center depth. Overall, Greig is a player to watch closely in the coming seasons, as he has the potential to become a significant contributor to the Senators’ future success and was well-deserving of the #1 spot on this list.