Draft-day preparation off and running for Senators

No. 4 and No. 22.

Two digits that underline how critical the past week was, and the weeks approaching will be, for the Ottawa Senators.

It’s never too early to start preparing for an NHL entry draft that will see you – at this point – selecting fourth and 22nd overall.

This past week, Ottawa’s rather smallish scouting staff put together its final rankings list for the draft, slated for Dallas on June 22nd and 23rd.

Undoubtedly there was plenty of internal debate concerning who slots where, and when those ‘whos’ go, in that final lineup.

“At No. 4 we could get our No. 2 guy. It depends on what the teams in front of us decide to do. Do they draft based on their needs? . . . There’s a lot of factors that come into play,” chief amateur scout Trent Mann told Postmedia.

As envisioned in this space a few weeks ago, if Ottawa has a shot at winger Brady Tkachuk, I think they take him.

The 6-3, 200-lbs Tkachuk would give the Senators a healthy helping of strut and muscle. He can also play. At the most recent world junior tourney, the 18-year-old collected three goals and six assists in seven games for the United States.

If you watched any of the U.S. games, you certainly noticed the St. Louis native. Tkachuk is cocky and physical. If Ottawa wants personality and a strong skill-set, Tkachuk would be its guy.

His bloodlines are hockey-heavy. His dad, Keith, skated in 1,201 NHL games, picking up 538 goals and 2,219 penalty minutes. His brother, Matthew, also a first-round pick (6th overall, 2016), is not only chief irritant on the Calgary Flames, he also potted 24 goals this past season.

Brady’s relatives include NHL veteran Tom Fitzgerald and current NHLers Jimmy Hayes (NJ Devils) and Kevin Hayes (NY Rangers).

Scouting operatives also like Brady . . . a lot.

He’s rated in the Top 5 by NHL Central Scouting, McKeen’s Hockey, ISS scouting and HockeyProspect.com.

We are still weeks away from the draft but if things go according to most listing agencies, defenceman Rasmus Dahlin goes first to Buffalo, winger Andrei Svechnikov second to Carolina, winger Filip Zadina third to Montreal and Tkachuk to the Senators.

Interesting to keep an eye on defence (outside of Dahlin obviously) as well.

Sweden’s Adam Boqvist was hailed as “electric” by Eliteprospects.com, and “is a complete offensive defenceman that knows how to get the puck from point A to the back of the net and can make it happen all by himself.” He’s ranked No. 2 among European prospects by NHL Central Scouting and No. 4 overall by HockeyProspect.com.

Other blueliners getting attention as potential Top 10s include American Quinn Hughes (Michigan), Canadian Ty Smith (Spokane Chiefs) and Canadian OHLer Evan Bouchard (London Knights).

Playoff tip-ins: The department of coulda’-woulda’-shoulda’ is a well-frequented one at the NHL level and with the media that follows. Which brings us to this: watching the Winnipeg Jets this spring has generated a whole new gang of favourites, maybe none more so than Mark Scheifele. The former OHLer was playing for a terrible Barrie Colts team during his draft year of 2011 and his stock reflected that. Nearly seven years later, there are five (and maybe six) NHL organizations giving themselves a kick for passing over Scheifele – an absolute stud in these playoffs after a point-per-game regular season. Scheifele was taken by the Jets at No. 7 that draft. The player picked just before him? Mika Zibanejad by Ottawa. Certainly not a glaring error but Scheifele is a much more complete player, tougher and carries a higher upside. The only skater in that top six that is on Scheifele’s level? Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog. Here’s the complete list (and further reasoning as to why the Islanders are the Islanders) . . . Garnering universal and well-earned praise as a TV playoff analyst is Brian Burke. The former Flames’ president of hockey ops gives the straight goods consistently on Sportsnet. He’s damned accurate and engaging as well. Little known fact about Burke, he made the jaunt from Toronto – where he was working as Leafs’ president – to Ottawa in 2009 to attend Brian Kilrea’s final game behind the bench. There was no media release or fanfare associated with it. Burke just did it on his own volition. The Calgary Sun had this feature on Burke and the good/charitable work he consistently does, without pomp and circumstance . . . Burke pointed out one of the reasons why the Vegas Golden Knights fared so well in the expansion draft – Vegas was the only team taking part. When Ottawa broke in, the Senators had to go back-and-forth-picking with Tampa. In 2000, Columbus and Minnesota had to play sharesies. Florida and Anaheim did the same in 1993. In 1998, Nashville was by its lonesome, as was Atlanta in 1999, but the picking process was considerably more restrictive compared to Vegas . . . Alex Formenton, Drake Batherson and Logan Brown. Yes, good pro prospects all, but let’s wait until they play at the NHL level before canonizing the group . . . Love this: For the duration of the conference finals, Western and Eastern games will be played on alternating nights. That means hockey every night for the foreseeable future . . . Man-oh-man, did the Toronto Raptors ever take a beating at the hands of sports radio hosts across America last week. Man-oh-man, did they ever deserve the thumping . . . I watched a Blue Jays’ game last week. I think I was one of the 17 who did . . . (Back to draft stuff) In the best NHL’s best draft ever (2003), that top pick continues to flower. Marc-Andre Fleury has not only been Vegas’ top player in these playoffs, he’s the leading contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy . . . Tampa’s Braydon Coburn (picked No. 8 by Atlanta) is the only other first-rounder from ’03 still skating in the 2018 playoffs . . . How good was the ’03 draft? Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber, Corey Crawford, Jimmy Howard and David Backes were all picked in the SECOND round . . . With the second-to-last pick, Ottawa took Brian Elliott (291st overall) . . . Montreal also hit gold in the final round, nabbing Jaroslav Halak 271st overall.