Coming off a 16-win regular season in 2012-13, the Ottawa 67's are no-doubt hoping that this weekend will help set the table for them to one day become a team that wins 16 games in the playoffs instead. It looks as though they're going to do that by building an unstoppable attack up front.
Despite allowing a league-worst 323 goals last season, Ottawa went on the offence, selecting Travis Konecny first overall and made several other draft choices to load up at forward.
Following the announcement of Konecny as the top pick on Friday, Head Coach and General Manager Chris Byrne said that position didn't matter; he was going for the best player available.
"There are a lot of good players on the board and we’re going to take the best player, especially in the earlier rounds,” said the bench boss. "We aren't focused on forwards or defencemen one way or the other."
In putting position aside to get the best player, Ottawa took Konecny, loading up down the middle where the Barberpoles already have captain Sean Monahan and last year's first round choice in Dante Salituro.
Konecny received a phone call from Monahan to congratulate him on being selected, and hopes he can play alongside the captain and learn from him.
“I’m really excited and looking forward to maybe getting some playing time with him next year,” said the top pick of Monahan. "He's a great player and a great guy to look up to."
Team owner Jeff Hunt believes that the first pick could quickly become the team's biggest selling point.
"Monahan is our marquee player right now, and likely will continue to be as long as he’s here, but I don’t think there’s any doubt Travis will be the face of our franchise for years to come. Our team should be hitting its stride when we go back to Landsdowne and that’s something to get excited about."
With their second round selection, essentially a second first-rounder at 20th overall, Ottawa adressed their biggest need on the blueline, selecting Troy Henley.
In Henley, the Barberpoles get a defencemen that some had going in the top ten. He joins Mark Petaccio and Taylor Davis as fellow New Jersey natives.
In Ottawa's next two picks, which Byrne was referring to when he mentioned "especially in the earlier rounds," Ottawa went local with a pair of Ottawa area forwards, Metcalfe's Dylan McDonald and Ottawa Jr. Senators' Ben Fanjoy.
Byrne started his tenure as 67’s coach almost forced to employ a run-and-gun system, with a need to benefit the likes of offence-minded Tyler Toffoli, Shane Prince and John McFarland to name a few.
It appears as though he’s setting the table to do the same during his time in Ottawa. Already with a surplus up front, Byrne didn’t let that stop him from drafting forwards high. In the meantime, he hopes his young defence can only improve with time.
“We have a lot of promising guys on defence and some depth. We had two ’96-born defencemen and a good core of young guys."
The 67's selected 12 times on Saturday. They selected eight forwards, three defencemen and two goaltenders, as well as four Ottawa-area players.
Quotes from Byrne
Head Coach and General Manager Chris Byrne commented on Ottawa's top four picks during the draft:
1 (1) Travis Konecny - "He's a highly skilled player that skates with the puck well. His combination of hockey sense, skill, character and dedication are reasons that we selected him."
"Our staff was united in deciding that Travis was the best player in this draft and that he was a very special player regardless of position. We did all our homework on this guy, each of our staff saw him at around five-to-eight times."
"We determined that he was the best player available in the draft. In Travis, we have a great kid on and off the ice."
(via press release) “Travis is a high-energy player with top-end skills and we’re looking forward to seeing him at our mini-camp next weekend."
2 (20) Troy Henley - (via press release) “Troy Henley is a solid two-way defenseman with good mobility."
4 (60) Dylan McDonald - (via press release) “Dylan McDonald is a big strong centre who plays with an edge."
5 (89) Ben Fanjoy - (via press release) “Ben Fanjoy is a hard-working two-way winger with good hockey sense."
Other 67's draft choices:
6 (100) D Matthew Mercer
7 (120) G Benjamin Blacker
7 (121) D Steven Ruggiero
7 (128) LW Brandon Zullo
10 (180) G Marcus Semiao
11 (200) C Donovan Ott
13 (247) C Branden Makara
14 (260) RW Ethan Wiseman
15 (280) C Isaak Iacobucci