Ottawa mines local talent at NHL draft

 

 
 
 
 
Robert Baillargeon, 136th overall pick by the Ottawa Senators, poses for a portrait during Day Two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
 
 

Robert Baillargeon, 136th overall pick by the Ottawa Senators, poses for a portrait during Day Two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Photograph by: Jamie Sabau, Getty Images

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PITTSBURGH — After six picks on Saturday to go with one in the first round on Friday, the Ottawa Senators left this year’s National Hockey League draft with two goalies, three defenceman and two centres.

Those picks featured significant local content, too, reinforcing the intention of general manager Bryan Murray to give players from the Ottawa area a long look.

After taking Ottawa 67’s defenceman Cody Ceci in the first round on Friday night, 15th overall, the Senators selected Gatineau, Que., native and Quebec Remparts goalie Francois Brassard in the sixth round on Saturday.

Last year, the Senators’ local selections included centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau, then with the Gatineau Olympiques, and 67’s left-winger Shane Prince.

Earlier Saturday, the Senators added more goaltending depth when they took Chris Driedger of the Calgary Hitmen. Driedger was ranked only 13th among North American goalies, so he was expected to be a longshot at being drafted.

Within minutes of getting selected, Driedger 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 Saturday selections included: Owen Sound Attack centre Jared “Iron” Maidens; Noble & Greenough (Massachusetts high school) defenceman Tim Boyle, the brother of New York Rangers 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 Senators’ NHL roster this fall.

Even so, 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.”

Tim Boyle, who wasn’t at the draft, was one of the more interesting choices considering the animosity directed at his brother, Brian, during the Senators’ 2012 playoff series against the Rangers, but director of player personnel Pierre Dorion talked to him and said the young defenceman had no qualms about getting picked by Ottawa.

“I talked to the kid,” Dorion said. “He was happy, and I said, ‘I hope now we’ve changed you to a Senators fan.’

“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 Maidens, who might have been ranked higher than 35th, but lost almost his entire 2011-12 season after receiving a concussion 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’ll be fine.

“We had him checked out and everything came up fine,” Senators amateur scout Greg Royce said.

“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 OK. We like his upside, his skill and his pro approach to the game.”

More than a good word was put in by Senators assistant coach Mark Reeds, a former head coach of the Attack. Royce said Reeds offered his insight about Maidens over a few beers on Friday night.

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 Senators assistant, Dave Cameron), earning Owen Sound a trip to the Memorial Cup.

“Mark loves his character,” Royce said. “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 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 (ability) 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.”

Ottawa’s Daniel Altshuller, a goalie with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round (69th overall).

Nepean Raiders defenceman Ben Hutton, from Prescott, Ont. — just south of Ottawa — went to the Vancouver Canucks in the fifth round, while Czech-born winger Tomas Hyka of the Gatineau Olympiques went in the sixth round to the Los Angeles Kings.

 
 
 
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Robert Baillargeon, 136th overall pick by the Ottawa Senators, poses for a portrait during Day Two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
 

Robert Baillargeon, 136th overall pick by the Ottawa Senators, poses for a portrait during Day Two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Photograph by: Jamie Sabau, Getty Images

 
Robert Baillargeon, 136th overall pick by the Ottawa Senators, poses for a portrait during Day Two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Cody Ceci, center, a defenseman, stands with Ottawa Senators officials after being chosen 15th overall in the first round of the NHL hockey draft on Friday, June 22, 2012, in Pittsburgh.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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