Senators aim to meet prospects at NHL combine

“It gives us a chance to see if they are ready for the next challenge.”

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Next up for the Ottawa Senators is the National Hockey League combine.

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After wrapping up their annual amateur scouting meetings Friday afternoon at the Canadian Tire Centre, general manager Pierre Dorion, head scout Trent Mann and several other hockey operations staff will travel to Buffalo on Sunday.

For the first time since the NHL paused for COVID-19 in March 2020, its 32 teams will gather at KeyBank Center for the annual combination that brings together many of the top prospects from the 2022 Draft for fitness testing and interviews.

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With the Senators having the first draft of their roster in place after five days of all-staff meetings in Ottawa, Dorion and Mann will be among those who will spend the next week sitting down face-to-face with prospects to get a better deal. grip on where they stand.

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Since these interviews were conducted virtually in preparation for the last two NHL Drafts, the Senators will be thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down with these players. The first round of this year’s NHL Draft is scheduled for July 7 in Montreal, and Ottawa has 11 picks in seven rounds.

The club’s strength and conditioning coaches will be on hand with Belleville Senators goaltending coach Justin Peters to talk to the goaltending prospects.

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“There’s just a lot of important information coming out of the draft combine,” Mann said in an interview Friday. “It helps us make a decision on what level of development remains and what level of progression remains for a player. That in itself is very important.

“It’s important to have face-to-face time with a child to understand what motivates them, what they look like and how they behave in certain environments. Likewise, they are pushed into some of these situations. It’s not just a conversation of niceties and, ‘How are you?’ We dig very quickly on the things we want to know. We see how they react and see what their plan is.

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“It gives us a chance to see if they are ready for the next challenge.”

Mann, who will be accompanied by five amateur scouts, said the Senators will likely meet 75 players this week. The club likes to be thorough and, even if a player is drafted by another team, there is a reference point available if the organization wants to make a trade.

“Historically that has been an important element for us and I think it will continue to be that. The combine is an element that we have sorely missed with the prospect games,” Mann said. tests carried out during the games of the hopes this year which will help us.

“There is just a lot of good information with these events. This streamlines things and makes it a bit fairer for everyone.

This week will play a big role in helping the Senators finalize their roster.

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“We’re armed with all the information from all of our scouts,” Mann said. “We have targeted players that we want to make sure we have interviews with and players are there, so it makes no sense not to interview a player face to face. Even if it is a child that interests us only marginally, it also helps us in our decision-making.

“Generally we do a lot more interviews than a lot of teams.”

As we noted in this space on Saturday, the Senators have had heated discussions this week about draft standings. Finding consensus on how this draft will play out at the top has been difficult because not everyone has Kingston Frontenacs center Shane Wright as their first pick.

Some teams may consider center Logan Cooley of the United States National Development Team or Juraj Slafkovsky, a Slovak winger who plays for TPS Turku in Finland. That’s why Mann welcomes debate around the draft executive order, and there will be more after the combine is over.

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The Senators won’t have their final roster until they complete their meetings in Montreal on draft day, and there’s no guarantee they’ll keep the seventh pick either.

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“We always start our meetings by simply remembering that we’re here to find the best players,” Mann said. “We want to make sure everyone knows that their opinions and ratings are very important. We need to have all the information we can on the table.

“Once we have all this information, we can make the best decision on who we need right now and identify what we need to find out and what we don’t. Maybe we need to dig into some things when we fight between three or four players. We have a good group and they behave very professionally.

“At the same time, we’re not really worried about hurting someone’s feelings because that doesn’t really come into play. It’s just about making sure we get the best player available and, in the end After all, we’re all on the same team.

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