At the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in Minneapolis, MN the Ottawa Senators were blessed enough to have three first round selections. There is no doubt the Sens walked away from the draft stacked up with some talent with the likes of Mika Zibanejad (6th overall), Stefan Noesen (21st overall), and Matt Puempel (24th overall). The brasses inside the Scotiabank Place are certainly high on these prospects taken in the top 30, and they should be.
Zibanejad possesses all the tools to be a top line center man in the NHL one day with his savvy Swedish skills, skating, intensity, and notable attitude. Noesen thrives on the physical side of the game, but also brings skill as a power forward. Puempel has high-end finishing gifts and outstanding vision which complement his natural talent for scoring. Ottawa also has hidden gem from that draft -- if he is still hidden any more, that is. Shane Prince has been taking the hockey world by storm over the last two seasons and his strong play does not seem to be letting up anytime soon.
Prince tallied 88 points during the 2010-11 campaign in the OHL with Ottawa 67s which was good for a top 10 tie in the OHL. This was a far more impressive offensive output than his previous two seasons combined in major juniors that started with the Kitchener Rangers and then transferred over to the 67s in a mid-season trade in 2010.
Of course many hockey gurus out there were convinced Prince would not be able to duplicate his performance in his first full season in Ottawa. Some scouts, coaches, and management believed that the only reason the smooth skating left winger posted 25 goals and 63 assists was the fact he played on a line with sniping right winger, Tyler Toffoli (2010 2nd Rd – LA Kings) and the oversized center, Ryan Martindale (2010 3rd Rd. - Edmonton Oilers). Yet all Prince did this past season was in fact prove wrong those who doubted his skill even more.
Again the Spencerport, NY native showed his slick speed and skating stride along with his exceptional vision, playmaking, and finishing touch. He notched career high 43 goals along with 47 assists to finish forth in regular season scoring with 90 points in 57 games played.
Prince’s kingly future looks bright in Canada’s capital. He unquestionably impressed the coaching staff last summer during prospects camp, leading all Sens in points and then continued his torrid pace and determination during training camp. Prince is not the most gifted in size as he stand only at 5”11” and 185lbs, although he is not afraid to play at both ends of the ice and he likes to battle in the corners.
The 67s were able to make a fairly successful OHL playoff run this year too, advancing to the league’s semi-finals where Prince added seven goals and nine assists.
Prince participated in the CHL Top Prospects game last January 2011 and was one of the better - if not the best - player on the ice at the ACC in Toronto that night. He has definitely vaulted up the prospect depth charts within the Senators’ organization.
There was no question that Prince performed well as a top-six forward and throughout the first half of this past season deserved to be named to the USA World Junior roster. He is a versatile player with excellent hockey sense and with great dedication to the game. But like his fellow Sens’ prospect Noesen they were both left off the USA roster.
Nonetheless, this was not to be the first time the hockey world had questioned Prince’s elite hockey proficiencies. Season after season and year after year, he continues in his quest to be a mainstay in the NHL. Though he may find himself down on the farm with Binghamton this upcoming season he will be back in the city of Ottawa doing what he does best -- setting up teammates and scoring goals. The Senators truly have a royal Prince on their hands.