Every draft preview I’ve read seems to imply that between pick #7 and as low as #16 or even #22, you’re going to get a similar calibre player. It also looks like it could be a fairly deep draft, especially if you’re looking for more complimentary pieces rather than true top-end talent.
In light of these, perhaps Ottawa’s best move for this year’s draft is to trade down, even a few slots, and try to get at least one more pick in the top three rounds.
For example, maybe Carolina, drafting at #13, has their heart set on Tyson Jost (I’m just making this up to make a point, so don’t take this as a bona fide rumour). What might it be worth to the Hurricanes to make sure, if he’s still around when Ottawa picks, to move up that one slot to make sure they get the player they want. They have a bunch of extra picks in this draft. A third round pick? A second rounder? Anything Ottawa can get in that situation is worth making the trade, even if it’s a seventh rounder (though, in that case, I’d question Dorion’s negotiating skills).
(And, by the way, I kind of have my heart set on Tyson Jost, so I’m actually hoping that this exact scenario isn’t the one that plays out.)
It doesn’t have to be just the first round in which Dorion leverages one pick for two or more. Ottawa has one pick in each of the first and second rounds and two in the third. It could take some clever negotiations, but there’s no reason those four picks couldn’t be turned into five or six within the top 100 selections. That would greatly enhance Ottawa’s prospect depth. They likely wouldn’t get much in the way of elite talent, but they won’t if they stand pat, either. Plus, this way, the team gets more lottery tickets in the sweepstakes that is drafting future NHL players.
The team will have a cluster of players in Binghamton (though most of them played in the NHL at some point this year) who likely top out as bottom six forwards or bottom pairing defensemen. The most likely future for at least a few of these players is one filled with AHL games broken up by the occasional call up to sub for injury.
The draft is an opportunity to dream even just a little bigger. Maybe, with a pick acquired through maneuvering outlined above, Ottawa finds another player like J.G. Pageau or maybe possession driving defenseman to eventually bump Borowiecki or Wideman from the lineup. An NHL team needs players in these positions as much as the top six or top pairing.