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Meet Ottawa Senators’ Star of the Future Carter Yakemchuk

The Ottawa Senators hope their seventh overall selection at the 2024 NHL Draft in Las Vegas is a winning pick that will pay off big someday.

With owner Michael Andlauer and head amateur scout Don Boyd at his side, GM Steve Staios stepped up to the NHL Draft podium for the first time and chose Carter Yakemchuk, a towering right-shot defenseman from the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen.

In a draft rich with defensive talent, Yakemchuk was the second defenseman off the board and perhaps went a bit earlier than some of the experts anticipated. For instance, TSN’s Bob McKenzie had ranked him 13th overall and the sixth-best defenseman.

In the ongoing debate between drafting the best player available and addressing team needs, Yakemchuk comfortably fits into both categories. He fills a crucial gap as a right-handed defenseman with a booming shot, highlighted by his impressive 30 goals and 71 points. He’s only the third WHL defenceman in the past decade to hit 30 goals.

At 6-foot-3 and 202 pounds, he also brings a physical edge, evident from his 120 penalty minutes. That might make him closer to being NHL-ready than some of his NHL peers.

In a dream scenario for the franchise, Yakemchuk would step in seamlessly to Ottawa’s lineup this fall. He certainly has the size and skill to buck the odds but will probably need another year or two of development, as most defencemen generally do. Either way, he immediately vaults to the top of the Senators prospect list. 

During a Sportsnet interview, Yakemchuk described himself as a two-way defenseman capable of contributing offensively while playing a robust and dependable game. 

“I’m a defenseman that likes to produce offence, and I play a really heavy game in the defensive zone,” Yakemchuk told TSN 1200 radio. “I am not afraid to throw my body around on the ice, and I pride myself on the offensive side of the game.”

For Senators fans, the prospect of Yakemchuk paired with Jake Sanderson on the right side in the near future is tantalizing. “Yak” is Ottawa’s first first-round pick in three years, and Yakemchuk’s potential suggests the wait could be well worth it.

Here’s the complete list of Ottawa’s NHL Draft Class of 2024. If you’re not at least 6 foot 2, you’re not tall enough to take this ride:

1) Carter Yakemchuk 1st round RD Calgary Hitmen 6’3” 190 lbs

2) Gabriel Eliasson 2nd round LD Swedish Jr League 6’7” 206 lbs
3) Luke Ellinas 4th round LW Kitchener Rangers 6’2” 198 lbs
4) Javon Moore 4th round LW Minnetonka High School 6’3” 203 lbs
5) Blake Montgomery 4th round LW USHL 6’4” 180 lbs

6) Eerik Wallenius 5th round LD Finnish SM-Liiga 6’4” 211 lbs

Several of these players will be in Ottawa this week for the Senators’ Development Camp at Sensplex in Kanata.

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