19th Overall: Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators were the laughing stock of the NHL in 2018-19. Bad decisions, poor asset management (some good asset management as well, but far more bad than good), and the worst record in the league, the Sens were not great. But, that doesn’t mean they’re lacking talent, it’s just that the talent they have isn’t necessarily ready to shine yet.
They have a strong core of forward and defensive prospects headlined by Brady Tkachuk and Erik Brännström respectively. The Sens have a lot of exciting pieces, one thing they do not have in their stable, however, is a top tier goaltender. The last time the Sens swung big on a goaltender was Robin Lehner in 2009 and that was the 46th overall pick. Craig Anderson is 38, Anders Nilsson and Mike Condon aren’t the answer long term, and I don’t think any of the goalies in their system are either.
Spencer Knight is a truly exciting goaltending prospect considered by many to be one of the most promising goalies to ever go through the US NTDP, which includes names like Jimmy Howard, Thatcher Demko, Jake Oettinger, and our very own John Gibson.
Goaltending prospects are difficult to predict, a lot of the ones drafted high struggle to live up to the hype (Jack Campbell, Malcolm Subban, Zachary Fucale) while some drafted later in the draft thrive (Henrik Lundqvist, Dominik Hasek, Ryan Miller) but if you get one of those top end goalies early it can truly change your franchise, John Gibson is a testament to that.
20th Overall: New York Rangers
The Rangers already picked once, and they got one of the best players in this draft, now they’ll look to double up and get another high-end player to help fortify their offense moving forward. I like the Rangers defensive prospects quite a bit and I think they’ll likely use one of their two-second rounders on a D-Man, but for the 20th overall, I think they’ll find it hard to pass up Suzuki.
Ryan’s brother Nick is currently a prospect for the Canadiens, and while Nick has a lot of talent, a lot of people think Ryan might end up the better player. Ryan is a smart two way player with great playmaking ability and some of the best vision in the draft. He has a lot of creativity and that will come in handy for the Rangers down the line.