Senators add goalies, size, leave draft satisfied with picks

PITTSBURGH – With six picks on Saturday to go with one in the first round, the Ottawa Senators left this year’s NHL draft with two goalies, three defenceman, and two centres.
And those picks featured significant local content, reinforcing the intention of general manager Bryan Murray to give players from the National Capital Region a long look.
After taking Ottawa 67 defenceman Cody Ceci in the first round on Friday night, the Senators took Gatineau native and Quebec Rampart goalie Francois Brassard in the sixth round on Saturday.
Brassard is the son of Le Droit sports editor Marc.
Last year, Ottawa’s local selections were Gatineau centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau and 67 left wing Shane Prince.
Earlier Saturday, the Senators filled in more goaltending depth when they took Calgary Hitmen goalie Chris Dreidger. He was the 13th ranked North American goalie, so it was going to be a longshot to be drafted.
But within minutes of getting drafted, he, wrote, via Twitter: “I don’t think I’ve been more excited in my life. Wow. Unbelievable feeling to be a Senator. #dreamcometrue.”
The team’s other selections were Owen Sound Attack centre Jared (Iron) Maidens; Noble & Greenough (Mass.) defenceman Tim Boyle, the brother of Ranger centre Brian Boyle; Indiana (USHL) centre Robert Baillargeon; and Swedish defenceman Mikael Wikstrand.
With the exception of Ceci, who has an outside chance, none of these players is expected to make the team next season.
But Murray left the draft pleased.
“We got a couple of big kids, a couple of quality kids, a couple of goaltenders,” he said.
“I think we filled out our depth chart pretty well. Going in we wanted to talk about goaltending. We wanted to get bigger in a couple of areas, and we think we’ve done that.”
One of the more interesting choices, considering the animosity directed at his brother Brian during the team’s playoff series against the Rangers, was Tim Boyle, who wasn’t at the draft. But director of player personnel Pierre Dorion talked to him and said he had no qualms about getting picked by the Senators.
“I talked to the kid, he was happy, and I said I hope now we’ve changed you to a Senators fan,” he said.
“I don’t want to misquote him, but he said something along the line of, ‘I know New York and Ottawa had a tough series, but if there was one team that was going to pick me, I’m all right with Ottawa.”
Another intriguing player was Jared Maidens, who might have been ranked higher than 35th, but he lost almost his entire 2011-12 season to a concussion he suffered in November when he was kneed in the head in a freak accident.
He still hasn’t been cleared to attend Ottawa’s development camp next week but the Senators believe he’s going to be fine.
“We had him checked out and everything came up fine,” said Senators amateur scout Greg Royce.
“We projected him as a top-end prospect, but with his injury problems and all the woes he had last year, I think he dropped a little bit. He’s going to be okay. We like his upside, his skill and his pro approach to the game.”
More than a good word was put in for Maidens by his former Owen Sound coach and present Ottawa assistant, Mark Reeds. Royce said over a few beers on Friday night Reeds offered his insight about Maidens.
Two years ago, with Reeds as his coach, Maidens scored the overtime goal in Game 7 to beat the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (then coached by another Ottawa assistant Dave Cameron) and earn Owen Sound a trip to the Memorial Cup.
“Mark loves his character,” said Royce.
“He loves his approach to the game. He thinks he’s going to be a player for sure. Mark really has high praise for him.”
Maidens himself was over the moon.
“I can’t wait to prove (myself) to people and I’m not going to let them down,” he said.
“I pride myself mostly on offensive play. I love to have the puck and I think I control it well. I see the ice very well and just my scoring ability and my ableness to make plays out there, that’s my strength.
“And my compete level out there, I always want to be the best at what I do.”
Other local players who were drafted on Saturday include Nepean’s Daniel Altshuller, who was taken by the Carolina Hurricanes.
A goalie with the Oshawa Generals, Altshuller, a former Nepean Raider, was taken in the third round (69th overall by Carolina).
In the fifth round, Nepean defenceman Ben Hutton, a Prescott native, went to the Vancouver Canucks, and Czech-born winger Tomas Hyka of the Gatineau Olympiques went in the sixth round to the Los Angeles Kings.
SENS GET NAMES ON THE SWEATERS
Director of player personnel Pierre Dorion works so hard at figuring out who the Senators might get that he can manage to have a sweater name plate for each player the team drafts.
It is not an exact science. This year, after going through a long scenario of who might go where to whom, Dorion had between 50 and 60 name plates made up.
His guesses were so good that he had one for all seven of the players the team picked, including Swedish defenceman Mikael Wikstrand, who was taken in the seventh round with the 196th pick. (The rest of the name plates get recycled.)
It might cost the team a little bit to take this extra step, but it brings a big return in the wow factor when the player gets a sweater with his name on the back.
“I was very proud about having my name on the jersey,” said Gatineau native Francois Brassard, who was taken in the sixth round.
“I was kind of shocked.”

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