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Beckett Sennecke analysis: should the Habs consider him at #5?
Credit: Photo by Dale Preston/Getty Images

I said in my last article on Brandsegg-Nygard that I’d get back to you on Beckett Sennecke, the Oshawa Generals prospect who’s making more and more noise in the run-up to the next draft.

If Brandsegg-Nygard is, in my opinion, the most underrated player in the top-20, Sennecke is, in the opinion of many, the biggest riser – or, if you prefer Molière, the one who’s had the best rise in recent months.

However, we shouldn’t forget Brandsegg-Nygard’s compatriot, Stian Stolberg, the mobile, talented and robust Norwegian defender who made many eyes glaze over at the current World Championship and who many now see as a first-round selection… We’d also like to spare a thought for little American winger Teddy Stiga, who was amazing at U18 level.

Sennecke’s absence from the OHL final against London (following an injury in Game 6 of the semi-final against North Bay) and the fact that his Generals got varloped in 4 short games by the Knights even helped boost his value.

The Generals lacked any “fruit punch” in the final. Calum Ritchie looked lonely on the ice without the great #45 by his side…

And no – before the fanfare started! – Sennecke may be a late riser, but he’s no Kotkaniemi 2.0!

We’ll come back to this pathological fear at the end of the article…

Let’s take a quick look at Sennecke for those who may be less familiar with him.

Skating: Fluid, elegant, agile, effortless, fairly good balance considering his recent dizzying growth spurt, knees always bent at the right angle, fairly wide base, excellent backwards. Good laterality. Between the ages of 2 and 4, the very young Sennecke learned the rudiments of gliding during his older sister’s figure skating classes, all on hockey skates! For balance, technique and agility, there’s no better way to learn, if you ask me! What’s more, her explosion, already not bad, will improve as she gains more muscle mass in her lower body.

Size and physical strength: At 6’2, 17, he’s showing pretty good physical strength considering he’s acclimatizing to his “new body”, having grown about 5 inches over the past 2 years. With an athletic 6’0 mother, a former national volleyball team player, and a 6’3 German father, Son could easily measure 6’4 and weigh over 210 lbs at full maturity. Very, very similar to Kirby Dach…

Puck handling: Sennecke has one of the best pairs of hands in the entire draft, along with Celebrini, Demidov and Stiga. But Sennecke’s exceptional reach brings a rather special element to what he can do with the puck, as he can maneuver both very far and very close to his body. That said, will all his breakthroughs and cookie-cutter lateral movements translate well to the NHL?

Defensive play: Sennecke has an excellent stick and, with his long reach, he picks up many pucks and cuts off many of the opponent’s plays. He could be a little more intense and play with a little more urgency when he doesn’t have the puck, but he’s also pretty cerebral and doesn’t skate around for nothing. So, with experience and coaching, we could see some pretty good defensive potential at NHL level. For the time being, his defensive hockey IQ is “correct”, without being exceptional.

Offensive play: With his agility on skates, his hands, his feints and his vision, Sennecke excels when he has the puck. When he doesn’t try to do too much, a little flaw he’s gradually correcting, and when he uses his vision as much as his hands, he manages to make brilliant passes (often with his backhand!). Even if he sometimes thinks a little too much, we can see that he often looks for the famous “best play”, a quality that often sets “decent” offensive players apart from offensive stars. His 5-on-5 qualities are even more evident when he plays at right-hand point on the power play. Note that Sennecke has produced 60 points in his last 44 OHL games, including the playoffs… In total, he has produced 90 points in 79 games this season… A bit like his defensive IQ, his offensive intelligence shows great development potential, but he’s really not the best in the draft at this level right now.

Throwing: Sennecke has a solid catch shot and a good wrist shot, often drawing the disc close to his skates in the style of Phil Kessel. But his wrist shots are often blocked, because he doesn’t necessarily draw at lightning speed like some of the other prospects in this draft (Eiserman and Iginla, for example). I’m convinced, however, that his shot can become a strength in the NHL with time and practice.

Attitude/character: There’s nothing really alarming about his attitude and character. Like many top players in recent years, he comes from a very well-to-do family in the Toronto area, with all the privileges that implies. His mother has even become something of a Canadian interior design star, as Anthony Martineau of TVAsports tells us in an excellent article on Sennecke

That said, his play on the ice shows a player who isn’t always as committed as we’d like him to be at times. So there’s still room for improvement, but his non-verbal language seems adequate.

I wouldn’t say, however, that Sennecke stands out for his attitude and character; it’s not a great strength, but he doesn’t seem to be a “problem case”. No dripping red flags a la Trevor Connolly here…

Where to rank Sennecke?

To all “Thomases” out there, Sennecke is a “darling” player for projection fans, not for those who need to see what a player can do in the NHL… before they’re drafted!

Sometimes, the projections materialize, as in the case of Slafkovsky, and sometimes, as in the case of Kotkaniemi, they’re just too much. That’s when you have to go back to the basics and the player’s famous character and environment to better assess his chances of success.

In hockey terms, Sennecke seems to have all the basic elements of a future top-6 winger. In fact, he has a natural advantage. Character-wise, I’d be a little less convinced.

That said, playing the projection game – there’s no choice with a guy who’s just beginning to tame his body – I’d confidently place Sennecke ahead of the Helenius, Eiserman and Connolly of this world to put him in the Iginla and Brandsegg-Nygard category and not so far from Lindstrom.

Grant McCagg and Rocca Zappia summed up the Lindstrom/Sennecke debate quite well on their podcast. We also see plenty of spectacular footage of Sennecke, a highlight machine! However, I’m less enthusiastic about him than McCagg…

Sennecke is less committed and intense than Lindstrom, Iginla and Brandsegg-Nygard and his game is a little less mature and “pro”, but he’s also the least physically mature of the three and the one who’s still furthest from his ceiling.

So he may well be the most talented or the one with the best offensive potential of these four players. The other three all appeal to me to varying degrees, as you know from my February articles.

Too big a risk for the Habs at No.5?
Would the Habs be making a terrible mistake by picking Sennecke5th, who not so long ago was rarely seen in the top-15?

The short answer: No. They’d be getting their hands on one of the most talented players in the draft, as well as potentially one of the most imposing forwards to come of age. It’s hard to be in the field with that!

Besides, all things considered, no forward or defenseman who would normally be available at No. 5 will be light years ahead of Sennecke.

We’re already hearing and reading the now classic fear of Kotkaniemi 2.0, already a worn-out record in 2022 with Slafkovsky and still evoked when I talk about Brandsegg-Nygard as a perfectly legitimate top-10 winger…

At 18, Sennecke is already a much better skater than Kotkaniemi will ever be. He just needs to put a little more meat on the bone.

His vision, instincts, hands, shooting and passing skills are all better too, even if there’s still room for improvement.

Eventually, if he gains a little strength and intensity, he could look like a cross between Mark Scheifele and Kirby Dach. But, as others have said, Jason Spezza is also a stylistically relevant comparable.

In short, Sennecke could start to look like an ” optimal option ” for a team openly seeking… a talented forward with an imposing frame!

But personally, without finding any major flaws in him, I have just a little too many doubts about his 200-foot hockey IQ, the adaptation of his style of play to the NHL, as well as his intensity and character. These last two elements are difficult to develop and demonstrate on a consistent basis when you don’t already have them… At times, according to Martin St-Louis, he perhaps looks a little too much like a “young man playing hockey” rather than a “hockey player”.

I would therefore rank him as the 6th best forward in the next draft, behind Celebrini, Demidov, Lindstrom, Brandsegg-Nygard and Iginla.

So he wouldn’t be my5th-round pick for the Habs, but I can understand why some might be tempted to bet on his long-term potential.

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