Examining Ottawa Senators Prospects at the 2023 World Junior Championships

The Senators fanbase will relish the opportunity to sit back over the holiday season and watch some Ottawa Senators prospects at the 2023 World Juniors. The 2022 calendar has been filled with ups and downs, including recently reaching the .500 mark on the year.

For the tournament, the Senators have some turnover from the earlier 2022 edition held in August. For that tournament they had six players, and of the six, only two, Zach Ostapchuk and Tomas Hamara are returning. Joining them will be Tyler Boucher and Oskar Pettersson for the 2023 World Junior Championships from joint hosts Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick. Let us highlight each of the four prospects.

Top Ottawa Senators Prospects at World Juniors

Team Canada

The host Team Canada has one Ottawa Senators prospect on this year’s 2023 roster. Zack Ostapchuk was a 2021 second-round pick of the Senators. He also made the 2022 world junior team and will look to build off that experience. Case in point, in an interview with TSN’s Mark Masters, Ostapchuk says the speed at the world juniors: “caught me off guard a bit how fast it was. It helps me with this year. I’ll be a little more comfortable.”

This is a big season for Ostapchuk, as he looks to leave his mark at the junior level. Furthermore, he would like to have an impactful role at the professional level heading into the 2023-24 training camp. He is looking to make the leap from simple power forward to a more complete player.

For instance, with his junior club, the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, he would like to work on his 200-foot game. Last season saw him score 26 goals, and 17 assists in 60 games played, as the captain of the Giants. This was enough to earn him a spot on the 2022 world junior team. Now, so far this season, he is trying to be a more consistent contributor, with 10 goals and 19 assists in 21 contests. If he continues this offence and shows to be reliable defensively, he may contend for a job in the bottom six at the NHL level in 2023.

Team USA

Tyler Boucher is a player looking to prove himself at this year’s world junior tournament. He wants to prove to everyone he can compete at the highest level in all facets of the game. There is no question about his physicality. As well, Sens fans are already picturing him banging and crashing alongside fellow Arizona-born, and University of Boston Terrier alum, Brady Tkachuk.

Boucher, again like Tkachuk, had a father who played in the NHL, a 13-year vet, and goaltender Brian Boucher. Having a father who understood the game, allowed Boucher to make an educated decision on leaving university to pursue his hockey career. As his father said in an interview with TSN 1200, “college can be frustrating, time is ticking on development, and you want to be proactive.” They wanted Tyler to be able to play more games to help grow his offensive game.

What this Means Going Forward

After being a late cut for the 2022 team USA, making the 2023 team is a huge accomplishment. Boucher wants to show he belongs, given the opportunity to contribute offensively. Since leaving university, Boucher has been playing with the Ottawa 67s, under head coach Dave Cameron, and general manager, James Boyd. Boyd also happens to be the GM of Team Canada at this year’s tourney.

Playing under Cameron, and also working closely with the Ottawa Senators development team, Boucher’s game is growing. Despite missing some games thus far, he is still ticking along near a point per game. A much improvement from the 3 points in 17 contests with Boston University last campaign. He is also grown more mature, as evidenced by his comments in an interview with Jon Morosi.

The 19-year-old Boucher wants to boost his stock in preparation for training camp in 2023. After all, he is the 10th overall pick from the 2021 NHL entry draft. We know what he can do well, play along the boards, and in front of the opposition’s net. If he does this well, power play time would do wonders for his growth. Even his dad mentioned in the interview, that he feels there is an untapped offensive side. Given the opportunity to play with top players, he is the type of player that could take advantage. Some timely play for Team USA at this year’s tourney is exactly what Tyler and the Senators are aspiring for from his game.

Team Czechia

The 18-year-old Tomas Hamara looks to support a potentially strong blueline for the 2023 Czechia team. Czechia lost to Sweden for bronze in the 2022 tourney and has plenty of returnees on D, namely, David Spacek, David Jirichek, and Stanislav Svozil. Moreover, Hamara had one assist in seven games during the 2022 tourney. His summer was busy. Along with the tournament, he had previously been drafted 87th overall by the Senators. Next, he then decided to make the leap to North America joining the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. Thus far, throughout the 2022-23 season, he has had two goals, and nine assists, for 11 points through 24 games.

The Senator’s organization is hoping they have a project with a top-four ceiling in Hamara. His skating and offensive abilities already have him on a good projection. Furthermore, last season he played 24 games in Finland’s top division, with Tampere of SM-Liiga. Combined with making the switch to North America, he will be able to work on his weaknesses.

He needs to bulk up to battle in front of the net. Additionally, he looks to get a few more miles per hour behind his point shots. This year’s tournament should elevate his game further and give him the confidence to continue to grow in Kitchener. Therefore, the Senators will be able to effectively implement a development strategy out of the 2023 NHL training camp.

Team Sweden

Oskar Pettersson was drafted in the third round, 72nd overall by the Senators in the 2022 draft. Currently, he is applying his craft for Rogle BK of the SHL. He has split time this season between the club’s junior program and the top team. However, it appears with 15 goals in 19 games at the junior level, he has outgrown that level. The tournament will allow him to play fast, competitive hockey, and play in high-pressure situations. Even still, team Sweden is deep, and Pettersson will have to battle for regular power play shifts.

Pettersson’s game is still growing. If he wants to succeed at the professional level, as witnessed by his play in the SHL this season, he does need to improve his skating. Conversely, there is a lot to look forward to for this third-round pickup of the Senators. He did put up one goal and four assists in six games of the 2022 under-18 world championships. He still has time, and a full season next year at the SHL level should help. Also, he would be eligible for the 2024 world junior squad, which again would grow his game in the fast-paced environment.

A Time to Reflect for the Senators Organization

This is a great time of year. The Senators’ organization should take time to reflect and enjoy the fruits of their labour. Watching the world juniors and enjoying the play of four Ottawa Senators prospects, Zack Ostapchuk, Tyler Boucher, Tomas Hamara, and Oskar Pettersson. Hopefully, this will spark the big club, and they can make a run over the next few months to wrap up 2022-23 on a high.

Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images