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Paul, Puempel among Senators' top five prospects

by Chris Stevenson /

OTTAWA -- Young forwards Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Curtis Lazar, and defensemen Cody Ceci and Mark Borowiecki were significant parts of the Ottawa Senators' success last season, which ended in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Despite having a large number of players graduate to the NHL, the Senators have a good core of prospects thanks to recent trades and some strong drafting.

Here is a look at the Senators' top five prospects, according to

1. Nicholas Paul, LW

How acquired: Trade with Dallas Stars, July 1, 2014

Last season: North Bay, OHL: 58 GP, 37-29-56

Paul, 20, was one of the keys to the trade that sent center Jason Spezza to Dallas in a deal that also brought forwards Alex Chiasson and Alexander Guptill to Ottawa.

Paul, a fourth-round pick (No. 101) by Dallas in the 2013 NHL Draft, has been on an impressive upward track over the past couple of seasons. A strong playoff with North Bay in 2014 (12 goals in 22 games) caught the attention of Hockey Canada, and Paul won a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Paul (6-foot-4, 225 pounds; two inches taller and 21 pounds heavier than when he was drafted) has a strong skating stride. His skill set should be a good complement to the Senators' growing group of young forwards.

North Bay coach Stan Butler is known for having his forwards play a strong two-way game; that should help speed Paul's transition.

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

2. Matt Puempel, LW

How acquired: 1st round (No. 24), 2011 NHL Draft

Last season: Senators: 13 GP, 2-1-3; Binghamton, AHL: 51 GP, 12-20-32

The 22-year-old was called up to the NHL in late February. He scored his first goal on March 10 against the Boston Bruins, but his chance for an expanded role ended when he sprained his ankle and was unable to play after March 21.

Puempel (6-1, 205 pounds) scored 30 goals in the American Hockey League in 2013-14. He's expected to challenge for playing time in the NHL this season and could find a role among Ottawa's top nine forwards.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

3. Mikael Wikstrand, D

How acquired: 7th round (No. 196), 2012 NHL Draft

Last season: Frolunda, Swedish Hockey League: 46 GP, 5-15-20

Wikstrand, 21, a final-round selection three years ago, has been playing in Sweden since he was drafted, but the Senators reportedly would like him to play for Binghamton this season.

He will have to make the transition to the North American game, but the smaller ice surface might be a benefit to him because Wikstrand (6-foot-1, 185) is regarded as an average skater. His strengths are his puck skills and his hockey intelligence.

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

4. Colin White, C

How acquired: 1st round (No. 21), 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, USHL: 20 GP, 4-13-17

White's blend of offense and defense has some scouts comparing him to Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, one of the NHL's best two-way players.

White (6-foot, 183) has a defensive game not commonly found in players so young. The 18-year-old can win board battles and knows about body positioning and playing angles. He also knows how to use his stick to make himself more of a defensive presence.

He also has offense skills, particularly vision and stickhandling. But it's the two-way combination that makes White an interesting prospect. Senators U.S. college scout Lewis Mongelluzzo said White could be a Selke Trophy contender.

White comes from a family of athletes. His father, Mark, is in the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame for football and track. His mother, Christine, played tennis at Florida State.

The native of Hanover, Mass., is committed to playing for Boston College this season.

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

5. Thomas Chabot, D

How acquired: 1st round (No. 18), 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Saint John, QMJHL: 66 GP, 12-29-41

The heat was put on Chabot early last season by the Sea Dogs coaching staff and management to become more of two-way defenseman; he did.

Chabot's ability to create offense is always going to be the strong part of his game, but he is developing into a better defender. That, and his impact on helping Saint John become a contender, made the 18-year-old a player whose stock was on the rise at the draft.

Chabot (6-2, 180 pounds) is a strong skater, a trait that powers his offense and defense. He's a good passer who uses his teammates well.

Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18

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