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31 in 31

Top prospects for Ottawa Senators

Stuetzle, Brannstrom, Norris likely to make impact in NHL this season

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams from Nov. 16-Dec. 16. Today, the top five prospects for the Ottawa Senators, according to NHL.com.

 

[Senators 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Behind the Numbers | Fantasy breakdown]

 

1. Tim Stuetzle, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 3 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Mannheim (DEL): 41 GP, 7-27-34

Stuetzle (6-foot-1, 187 pounds) had arm surgery after training with Mannheim of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga on Oct. 15 and is skating again. He was one of 27 players named to Germany for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship and said he expects to be ready for the tournament, which was scheduled for Dec. 25-Jan. 5.

The 18-year-old likely will begin his NHL career at left wing but eventually could shift to center.

"Tim Stuetzle's an elite talent, he's a dynamic offensive talent, he's got great speed, great hockey IQ, great skills," Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said. "At the same time, he's someone who generates offense on a consistent basis shift after shift. We look forward to having him in our lineup as soon as [this season]."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: 31 in 31: Ottawa Senators 2020-21 season preview

 

2. Erik Brannstrom, D

How acquired: Trade from Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 25, 2019

2019-20 season: Ottawa: 31 GP, 0-4-4; Belleville (AHL): 27 GP, 3-20-23

Brannstrom (5-9, 181) has recovered from the wrist injury that ended his season with Belleville of the American Hockey League in February and is playing on loan for SCL of the Swiss National League. The 21-year-old struggled at times in the NHL last season, but the Senators were encouraged by the confidence he built after being sent to the AHL. He'll be given the opportunity to make the NHL roster this season but could again spend time developing in Belleville.

"He's close (to NHL-ready), but in my opinion, I think he needs to stay healthy and that he needs another chunk of games in the AHL," Belleville coach Troy Mann said. "There's nothing wrong with that because he's a young player and plays a tough position on defense."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

3. Josh Norris, F

How acquired: Trade from San Jose Sharks on Sept. 13, 2018

2019-20 season: Ottawa: 3 GP, 0-0-0; Belleville (AHL): 56 GP, 31-30-61

Norris (6-2, 192) could be ready to compete for an NHL roster spot after he progressed in Belleville last season. The 21-year-old center won the Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award as AHL Rookie of the Year and was named an AHL First Team All-Star and to the All-Rookie Team. The Senators were impressed by his improvement defensively and said he has the potential to be a top-six forward in the NHL. 

"I don't know if we could have asked anything more of Josh last year in his development," Mann said.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

4. Alex Formenton, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 47 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Belleville (AHL): 61 GP, 27-26-53

The Senators are interested to see what kind of push Formenton (6-2, 165) makes for a roster spot when training camp begins. The 21-year-old, whose trademark is his exceptional skating, is expected to battle with Stuetzle for a spot on left wing, although each could begin the season on the roster. Formenton was second in scoring among AHL rookies to Norris and was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. Mann said he is "on the cusp" of making the roster.

"His speed is certainly going to translate at the NHL level," Mann said.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

5. Jake Sanderson, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 5 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: USA U-18 (NTDP): 47 GP, 7-22-29

Sanderson (6-2, 185) is playing his freshman season at the University of North Dakota, where he is teammates with Senators defenseman prospects Jacob Bernard-Docker and Tyler Kleven, and forward Shane Pinto. Dorion said the 18-year-old was the best defenseman in the 2020 NHL Draft.

"He plays an all-around game, he's a high-compete player," Dorion said. "He's someone that defends well and takes the body. He's very underrated at what he brings to the table."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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