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Senators selection sweet music to 'Iron' Maidens

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Owen Sound attack forward Jarrod Maidens, who scored the winning goal in overtime for the Attack in the 2011 Ontario Hockey League final, was a third-round pick by the Senators at the 2012 NHL Draft (CHL Images).

"Iron" Maidens had plenty of reason to sing a joyful verse or two on Saturday morning.

Especially in the wake of the hurtin' tune that summed up his 2011-12 season with the Owen Sound Attack.

"I can’t stop saying it, but I’m so happy that it’s Ottawa that picked me and I’m looking forward to it so much," Jarrod Maidens said with a wide grin on his face after the Senators made the Attack centre a third-round pick (82nd overall) at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

While Maidens — and yes, "Iron" is his nickname — entered the season considered by some scouts to have first-round potential, things took a turn for the worse in November, when he suffered a concussion that turned out to be season ending. He only saw 28 games' worth of action, producing 12 goals and 23 points, and saw his ranking in the eyes of NHL Central Scouting slip to 35th among North American skaters by season's end.

But the 18-year-old from Grimsby, Ont., who did take part in the NHL Scouting Combine last month in Toronto, is a confident young man who's determined to reward the Senators for their faith in him.

"I can’t wait to prove (myself) to people and I’m not going to let them down," Maidens told Sens TV while wearing a Senators jersey and a smile. "I pride myself mostly on offensive play. I love to have the puck and I think I control it well. I see the ice very well and just my scoring ability and my ableness to make plays out there, that’s my strength. And my compete level out there ... I always want to be the best at what I do."

His selection with the Senators also reunites Maidens with Mark Reeds, his coach with the Attack two years ago, who's now an assistant to Ottawa bench boss Paul MacLean. The duo went to the Memorial Cup together in 2011, with Maidens' overtime goal in Game 7 allowing Owen Sound to vanquish the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors in the Ontario Hockey League final.

"(Reeds) loves his character," said Senators amateur scout Greg Royce. "He loves his approach to the game. He thinks he’s going to be a player for sure. Mark really has high praise for him."

The feeling is certainly mutual.

"He was an unbelievable coach. I learned so much from him," Maidens said of their year together in Owen Sound. "It’s nice to know he’s a guy there (in Ottawa) that you can talk to and you have a personal relationship with. He was a good guy and he taught me a lot of things, and Ottawa should be happy to have him as a coach."

Maidens sees a young Senators team that's on the rise and wants to be a part of it all.

"Definitely, it’s nice to get picked by a team that’s making a move upwards," said Maidens, a 6-0, 178-pound forward. "I’m happy to be a part of that and I can’t wait to make an impact when I get back playing. As a player, I think I’ve got a little bit more maturing to do and gain experience like all these young players out here do. But with my skills, I know I’ll be ready soon to make an impact and I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing."

While Maidens hasn't yet been cleared by doctors to take part in next week's Senators development camp, the team isn't concerned about the injury going forward.

"We had him checked out and everything came up fine," said Royce. "We projected him as a top-end prospect but with his injury problems and all the woes he had last year, I think he dropped a little bit. He’s going to be okay. We like his upside, his skill and his pro approach to the game."

Added Maidens: "I’m feeling better. I’m still not 100 per cent, but I’m getting closer. I’m looking forward to working out again and getting back on the ice and doing all the things I’m used to doing ... I’m optimistic and I’m confident that I’ll get back to who I am."

Maidens has family in nearby Hawkesbury, Ont., and that made hearing he was drafted by Ottawa extra special.

"It really did hold a special place in my heart and I was happy it was Ottawa," he said. ""I can’t even explain what I’m feeling inside. As a player, it’s such a big step to get drafted. But it’s just as stepping stone for us as players and there’s still so much to do in our careers."

The Senators had two picks in the third round and used the first one (76th overall) on goaltender Chris Driedger of the Western Hockey League's Calgary Hitmen. The 6-3, 190-pound native of Winnipeg, who posted a 24-12-3 record last season with a 2.80 goals-against average, feels an organizational need for more goaltending depth. And he's more than happy to do so.

"I don't think I've been more excited in my life," Driedger, the 13th-ranked North American goaltender by Central Scouting, said via Twitter. "Wow. Unbelievable feeling to be a Senator."

That depth in net got another boost in the sixth round (166th overall), when Ottawa scooped up Francois Brassard of the Quebec Remparts. The Gatineau native, son of Le Droit sports editor Marc Brassard, sported a 20-10-3 with a 2.80 GAA in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2011-12. The goaltender Senators scout Trent Mann describes as "a "battler" expressed relief when he finally heard his name called by Ottawa.

"It was the sixth round and that’s a long time (to wait)," said the 6-1, 154-pound stopper. "I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I started breathing again. It was quite exciting. I’m proud of having my name on this jersey."

Also Saturday, the Senators grabbed Nobles (Mass.) High School blueliner Timothy Boyle — the younger brother of New York Rangers forward Brian Boyle — in the fourth round (106th overall) and Boston University-bound centre Robert Baillargeon of the United States Hockey League's Indiana Ice in the fifth (136th). Rounding out Ottawa's draft in the seventh round (196th overall) was the selection of defenceman Mikael Wikstrand of Sweden's Mora.

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