OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators have dealt the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NEFHL Entry Draft to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for the No. 4 overall pick as well as prospects John Beecher, Ilya Nikolayev and a third-round pick in 2023.
The trade will not become official until the league reopens transactions, but it was agreed in principle.
"It's the roll of a dice to a certain extent," said GM Mike McMahon. "We have four players we were considering with the No. 1 pick. Essentially, this takes the decision out of our hands. But, there's the possible more than one of those four players could still be sitting there at No. 4. Ultimately, we need to restock our shelves as much as possible.
"John Beecher had a rough year at Michigan, getting COVID and then requiring surgery. But he has the potential to be a dynamic power forward down the road given his combination of size and skating ability. We'd like to see him take on a larger role offensively, and it will be hard for that to happen at Michigan, but maybe he signs early and gets into a system and develops at the AHL level. At worst, his defensive awareness and combination of size and speed will make him a valuable center in the middle-six as a pro. At best, he develops more offensive tools and he becomes a dynamic two-way power forward.
"Nikolayev is boom or bust. He has potential but he's raw and young. I like his energy and pace, but his decision making needs improvement, especially against higher-end players. He's a guy who could find his way onto our main roster in the future, or he could be a guy who never signs with the organization and stays in Russia. It's too early to tell. But, adding Beecher and Nikolayev, as well as a future third, to only move down three spots - where we'll still get a guy we would have targeted with No. 1 - it seemed like a smart decision for the organization.
"There's obviously a lot of mystery around this year's draft due to a lack of viewings. At one point, when we first won the lottery, I had seven potential players in the No. 1 slot. Over the last few weeks I worked it down to four, but had a hard time narrowing it more than that. We're guaranteed one of those four players we've targeted, and added some depth to our prospect pool along with a solid prospect in Beecher."