Late Rising Beckett Sennecke Could Be Devils' Biggest Steal In NHL Draft

If the Devils do keep the 10th-overall pick in the NHL Draft, Beckett Sennecke could fit their needs.
Peterborough Petes v Oshawa Generals
Peterborough Petes v Oshawa Generals / Chris Tanouye/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils have a difficult choice to make in this year’s NHL Draft. Do they keep the 10th overall pick and draft someone who could help extend their Stanley Cup window? Or do they cash in their chips now and trade the pick for immediate help? The question comes down to whether they feel strongly that one of the players left at 10th overall is a future superstar. 

Of the players who are likely to be drafted in the range of the Devils pick, the most intriguing name is Oshawa Generals right wing Beckett Sennecke.

Sennecke is a classic draft archetype: the late bloomer who puts himself into the conversation at the top of the draft late in the process. Sennecke put up 68 points in 63 games during the OHL regular season for the Oshawa Generals. This 1.07 PPG rate is lower than your typical early first-round draft prospect. But his production in the OHL playoffs (10 goals, 12 assists, for 22 points in 16 games) displays that Sennecke has played his best hockey in the months leading up to this year’s draft.

On March 25th, The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler ranked him as the 23rd ranked prospect, and said “I’m not sold on him as a first-rounder but he has clear talent.” Less than two months later on May 10th, Pronman wrote,” [T]here’s no way Sennecke is available outside the top 20 anymore. Some teams are having top-10 conversations about him.”

It’s clear to see what NHL GMs find so intriguing about Sennecke. He’s grown four inches in the past year, and he’s now got great size, at 6’2” 181 pounds, and adds impressive speed and skill to the toolkit. 

Watching Sennecke’s highlights, it’s easy to project him as a future top 6 winger, who looks like a natural fit next to Nico Hischier or Jack Hughes on Devils top lines of the future. 

The ability to make highly skilled plays at full speed is what separates NHL players from other professional leagues. Watching the goal at the beginning of that clip, Sennecke clearly has that ability. He takes the puck on the zone entry against two defensemen, isolates the right defenseman by crossing the face of the defenseman and taking the puck to his backhand, absorbs a check, recovers his balance, and dekes around the goalie to tuck the puck in the back of the net.

While OHL goalies aren’t as talented as NHL ones, his shot also looks powerful enough to beat goalies at range, and his release seems to be quick and deceptive for goalies to pick up. Look at, for example, the one-timer off the power play at 4:30 of the above clip. That’s an NHL play— to find the soft ice in the zone and set up your body to receive the one-timer pass and get some heat on the shot to the net.

Unlike the Devils’ former top-10 pick and skilled scorer Alexander Holtz, who has at times struggled as a playmaker at the NHL level, Sennecke also seems to pair his skill as a finisher with the ability to set up his teammates. The touch pass on the goal that starts at about 5:20 in the video above shows Sennecke’s creativity and vision. And at 1:20, you see his ability to draw defenders to him and find the open man. 

If the Devils do keep their pick instead of trading it for immediate help, no one would blame them. They certainly didn’t anticipate having the opportunity to draft one of the 10 best prospects in this year’s draft. But if they do, hopefully, they will take a swing at someone with a high upside who could be a long-term fit in their lineup. 

Beckett Sennecke would fit that criteria, and Tom Fitzgerald and the Devils’ scouting staff are likely taking a close look at him as we approach the draft this June.