Saturday, May 15, 2010

Draft Outlook : Part One (Bjugstad)

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?


  1. I think he could be a good fit in Ottawa, sounds like Murray's type. The Lee looks are a major turnoff :p. I'm hoping for a guy like Toffoli from the 67s though, he's really impressed me as I started following the 67s this post season

  2. Toffoli is definitely a legit option, too. I'll probably be profiling him sometime later this week, but I can't deny that I like Toffoli's game.

    Of course the Lee looks are a turnoff though. =P Dude looks like a high-schooler...which is what he is, I guess...

  3. It all depends how soon we want our first-round pick on the team. If Murray is ok waiting 4 years for Bjustad to finish college (and he should, Lee is a prime example of rushing a high school player into the show), and maybe ayear or two in the AHL, then yes, he's an option.

    And the team might be able to wait that long. The Senators have Spezza, Fisher and Michalek signed long-term and hopefully Regin will be a Sen for years to come. Foligno also still has top-6 potential, though that's fading fast, and Pedersson, Silfverberg, Wick and Butler are on the way.

    Then again, hopefully 2010-2011 will be Kovalev's last season with the Sens. And Alfredsson's days as a top-6 forward are surely numbered. In the next few years, Ottawa needs a lot of options for their top 6 forwards. Can they really afford to wait 4-6 years for 1st round pick?

    Also, Murray might benefit from drafting a winger as opposed to a centre. Or at least a pivot who can shift to the wing. With Spezza, Fisher and Kelly are locked up for the next few years, centre-ice is not an issue.

  4. So... he's a high schooler from Minnesota, has never played against high level opposition (just like Brian "Muckler Why Did You Do That?" Lee), looks just like my favourite all-time draft pick, Brian "Not Anze Kopitar" Lee, and the reason he'll be different is... he's a centre?

    And the reason to pick him is that we need a 2nd line centre behind Spezza? Does it not occur to you that maybe drafting an 18 year old out of high school in no way addresses what we need in the next four seasons since BEST CASE HE WON'T PLAY IN THE LEAGUE UNTIL HE'S 22 ANYWAY?

    If this dude is the best guy left at #16, fine. Failing that, take the best player available, period. Dollars to donuts it won't be him.

  5. @GelatinousMutantCoconut: I agree for the most part with what you've said - we definitely have enough talent down the centre, but the issue is on that's been beaten around far too often: we don't have a legitimate #2C. Fisher, great player though he is, isn't a point-scoring second-liner. He's best suited to the 3rd line as a grinder.

    As for Kelly, I'm not a fan of his game, but he plays a solid 4th line game. If we can re-sign Cullen, we'll have our 2nd line center until his contract expires. Not sure if we can wait four years before Bjugstad is ready, but it still remains an option.

    @Anon: The difference goes further than his being a centre. Firstly, if the Sens do grab him, it will be Murray's drafting, not Muckler's. Most Sens fans know that Murray's drafting skill is infinitely better than Muck's, so if we get Bjugstad then Murray has probably seen the talent that could be there, and not drafting based on need.

    Secondly, Lee was considered a huge reach. He was considered to be the 15th best North American skater according to the NHL Central Scouting Board, definitely not a 9 overall pick. Bjugstad is 13th, based on the CSB. Not a huge improvement, but definitely a more reasonable pick at #16 than Lee at #9.

    Thirdly, looks make no difference in playing style, and Bjugstad's playing style is altogether different from Lee's.

    Fourthly, of course I've considered age. There are very few players who go straight to the NHL from the draft, and we're sure as hell not gonna plug a hole in our roster immediately at #16, no matter who we pick. If management can afford to spare the patience they didn't have time for with Lee, I'm sure Bjugstad will turn out to be a good player.

  6. Picking HS players scare me the competition the play against is so bad compared to CHL ect