The Ottawa Senators have added an extra set of eyes to help develop the prospects already in their system – and the ones they’ll bring on board in the future.
Randy Lee, who’s just completed his 13th season with the organization, has been promoted to a new role as director of player development. New to the fold, in Lee’s former job as the team’s conditioning coach, is Adam Douglas.
Together, the duo aims to mine every ounce of talent out of as many Senators prospects as possible. Lee said that in today’s salary cap era in the National Hockey League – when free agency for players now comes five years sooner – getting that job done more efficiently and more quickly has never been so vital.
“The biggest thing you’ve got to do is ensure that you maximize the potential of the players in your system,” said Lee, who previously handled both jobs but is now being asked to focus on a more singular role by Senators general manager Bryan Murray.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re doing everything you can to develop them.”
Lee not only will keep a closer eye on Senators prospects playing with their American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., but also those at the U.S. college, major junior and European levels as well. He’ll evaluate what the Senators have and what they might need to acquire down the road.
“You’ve got to figure out what your needs are, what you’re developing and if you don’t have them in your system, then you’ve got to go outside to get them,” he said.
Douglas will play a central role in prospect development, taking over a successful strength and conditioning program developed by Lee over the years. He joins the Senators after spending the last three years at Ottawa’s Athletic Conditioning Centre, where he oversaw a variety of strength programs that focused on top-level performance.
“The one thing that I hope to bring is a lot of youthful energy,” said Douglas, a Mississauga native who had aspired to work with a Canadian NHL team. “The program that Randy has put in place over 13 years, it’s a great program. We share a lot of the same training ideas.
“I’m just going to take that mold and tweak it here and there. You don’t mess with what works and Ottawa is one of the best-conditioned teams in the league.”
Added Lee: “I think a fresh voice is going to be good. It’s going to complement everything we’ve done and that’s why I’m excited. We’ve continually evolved our program and I know (Douglas) can do that, to keep it going.
“We want to be regarded as a destination place to be in the NHL, where there are good facilities, good people and there’s knowledgeable training staff and support from assistant coaches. That’s important if you want free agents to sign here.”
Right now, though, the focus is on next week’s NHL entry draft at Scotiabank Place. Lee and Douglas have spent the past three days poring over results from the recent draft combine in Toronto and will pass along recommendations to the Senators’ scouting staff, with a focus on the team’s “target list” of players they’d like to draft.
“You’re looking at strengths, weaknesses and how to project where a player is going to be (in the future),” said Lee. “And if there are any real big red flags – injuries, concussions, size issues.
“Sometimes, we just look at effort at the combine. We can tell how well they apply (themselves) or take short cuts.”
Said Douglas: “From the priority list that we were given, we’re saying how hard did he push himself? Did he go 100 per cent or did he only go 80 per cent. As Randy says, you can’t fool an objective test.
“You can tell a lot from the (combine) results, even though they’re young kids.”