In the first of a few segments, I'll be taking a look at some of the players the Senators could be looking at in the upcoming draft. Keeping in mind that we've got Cowen, Wiercioch, Karlsson, Gryba and Smith either already on the team or on the verge of making it, I'll assume that our first round pick will be used on a forward. Furthermore, based on our recent troubles with Russians, (Kaigorodov, Nikulin and Yashin to name a couple) I'll also assume that we'll be steering clear of guys like Kabanov, Burmistrov, Tarasenko and Kuznetsov. Lastly, I'll only be profiling the players Ottawa has any chance of drafting. If you're looking for a bio on Taylor Hall, then I'm sure there's hundreds of Bruins and Oilers blogs to assuage your desires.
Without further ado, on to our first prospect - from Blaine High School in Minnesota, Nick Bjugstad. He looks like Brian Lee and he comes from Minnesota, sure. But that's where the similarities end. Bjugstad, a big-bodied centre, is a good fit for the Sens, assuming he keeps up his current pace. According to The Hockey News, he is a "huge, talented player bound for the University of Minnesota", which is exactly the type of player we need. No, not necessarily "bound for the U of M", but someone who can play the second-line centre role behind Spezza. Bjugstad's 60 points in 25 games this season indicate to me that he could definitely slide into that role if needed, with a bit of training up. Of course, it's worth noting that those numbers were put up against high school opponents - definitely not the fiercest players. Scouts interviewed by THN seemed to think that Bjugstad suffers from consistency issues, and while this isn't exactly comforting news, it's not like he'd be the first player in Sens history to do so. He's also big enough, with a 6'4", 188 lbs. frame to throw around. He has said in interviews that he tries to model his game after Joe Thornton. Spezza is the unquestioned #1 centre on this team, that's nothing new. It would be nice to be able to ease the burden on his shoulders, though, and Bjugstad would probably be able to do so and allow Spezza to be the high-risk, high-reward player we know he can be.
The downsides are also easy enough to list. Firstly, the inconsistency issues brought up are worrying. The best case scenario would be an offensive dynamo like the aforementioned Thornton. Worst case scenario? Does Alex Daigle ring any bells? 137 points in the QMJHL didn't transfer to the NHL style of play, and Daigle was traded away to Philadelphia. The same thing could happen with Bjugstad. A lack of consistency coupled with weak opponents could result in a bigger draft bust that Lawton and Wickenheiser, or it could result in the greatest #9 overall pick since Dion Phaneuf. Only time will tell.
What do you think, Sens fans? Will Bjugstad fall to Ottawa at #16 overall?