OTTAWA — Pierre Dorion remembers the nerves at his first NHL draft with the with the Ottawa Senators, when he convinced then general manager Bryan Murray to trade up in order to select defenceman Erik Karlsson 15th overall.
That was back in 2008, when he was still a scout. Eight years later, Dorion is heading into his first draft as Senators GM with an air confidence.
The Senators hold the 12th overall pick, and Dorion seems certain they will get a quality asset in the first round on Friday when the draft begins in Buffalo, N.Y.
"I'm really excited about (picking) 12th," Dorion said Monday. "There's probably 15-18 guys that I like in the first round, like really like and I know at 12 we're definitely going to get a quality player whether it's a top four defencemen or top six player.
"Someone that ... realistically might not play next year, but within a few years will play and contribute."
If the opportunity arose the Senators would like to move up, but Dorion doesn't anticipate that happening. While there has been chatter among GM's it’s likely things will heat up later in the week.
"Obviously, myself being a new general manager I've been fielding a lot of calls," said Dorion, who was named Senators GM on April 10 after Murray stepped down. "Guys are introducing themselves, but at the same time I’ve found compared to previous years there’s been lots of activity, talk.
"Over the course of the last few weeks I've pretty much touched base with at least 25 guys."
While top prospects always garner a lot of attention, Dorion is excited about the quality of players available throughout the first round.
"I think it's a great first round. I've been scouting for over 20 years and this is definitely one of the real good first rounds. I think there’s a drop in the draft at a certain point in the second round, but the depth at the first round I would say is almost outstanding."
Considering he was still scouting for much of the past year Dorion admits there is a bit of a challenge to change roles. The benefit is that he's has seen nearly every prospect projected to go in the first round.
"It's very difficult to take off the scouting hat because you;ve been doing it for such a long time and this is the two days of the year where all your work gets done." he said. "For all the scouts this is really the big day."
The Senators have plenty of other housekeeping to take care of as free agency approaches.
Dorion said talks are progressing with defenceman Cody Ceci and that a "cone of silence" remains on negotiations with forward Mike Hoffman. The team is also weighing options regarding forward Alex Chiasson, but it appears they will likely part ways with defenceman Patrick Wiercioch. He's set to become a restricted free agent July 1 and it appears the Senators are hesitant to make the US$2.7 million qualifying offer.
Dorion said he’s comfortable with the team's top six forwards and is more likely to look for a depth defenceman or bottom-six forward come July 1 when free agency opens.
"Are we going to be active? No. We're going to be smart," explained Dorion. "You look at what teams have done in the past around July 1 and sometimes you say, 'At the end of the day, was that worth it?'"
Notes: The Senators will give more attention to analytics this coming season with new assistant coach Rob Cookson and former video coach Tim Pattyson taking charge of the new division.