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Formenton on fast track with Senators

Forward prospect has size, speed to soon be impact player

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

OTTAWA -- The word "speed" is pasted all over the dressing room of the Ottawa Senators. It appears multiple times around the top of the walls and just under the arched ceiling.

It's a component of the game, a mantra, that helped the Senators get to within one game of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

It's also the word that first pops up when people in the organization talk about Alex Formenton, the Senators' second-round selection (No. 47) in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Speed is the word Senators general manager Pierre Dorion and chief amateur scout Trent Mann use first when talking about Formenton, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound left wing with London of the Ontario Hockey League.

"This kid has great speed. He has NHL speed," Mann said. "I'm sure [Senators coach Guy Boucher] will be looking at him closely with the speed. He's a hard-working kid, he has some abilities around the net, he's a highly-competitive kid. We're happy with him on the wing.

"He's just a natural skater. Some kids have to work hard. With him, it's there, it's effortless. When he's in camp with us, you'll notice him right away. He'll stand out with the speed that he has."

Formenton, 17, wasn't selected until the 11th round (No. 216) of 2015 OHL Priority Draft because of his size; he was under 5-7 as a 15-year-old.

But he had 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 65 games, 10th among OHL rookies, with London last season and has seen his stock rise as he has grown.

"I'd say a versatile forward," said Formenton, who has compared his play to that of New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall. "I like to use my speed, but I'm not afraid to throw my body around while I'm doing that."

Formenton has had some good influences in his young career. He played for former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Wendel Clark, who coached the Toronto Nationals in the Toronto Greater Hockey League. Formenton and the Senators like the idea of him continuing to develop with London coach Dale Hunter.

"They've got a great coaching staff there that has developed me a lot on the ice and off the ice as player," Formenton said. "It's definitely something special for me. A lot of great NHL players have gone through the London program, so just to be a part of that and go through it is something crazy to me."

"Playing under Dale Hunter is something we always think is great for a player," Dorion said. "He's probably one of the best coaches in major junior hockey. He could coach in the NHL if he wanted to, so having him be part of Alex's development is something that we're really keen on."

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