The Ottawa Senators whetted their appetite for offensive defencemen by taking Thomas Chabot of the Saint John Sea Dogs with their No. 18 overall selection at the NHL draft at Sunrise, Fla., on Friday.
The Sens, who have used first-round choices on Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson (2008) and Cody Ceci ('12) within the past decade, opted for the 6-foot-1, 180-pound rearguard who showed that he was a top-notch puck-mover this past season with the Saint John Sea Dogs. Chabot began the season ranked as a B-level prospect — meaning a possible second or third-round pick by NHL Central Scouting. By midseason, he was the 15th-ranked North American skater. Chabot ended up counting 12 goals and 41 points across 66 games while on a young Saint John team.
The Senators also used the No. 21 pick on Boston College commit Colin White from the U.S. under-18 team.
"it's finally here, it's the best feeling," Chabot, 18, told Sportsnet after being selected. "I think it was probably my offensive game, my skating abilities [that Ottawa prized]. I'm getting better year after year, which is probably what they want to like to me."
Chabot was the second QMJHL player selected after Halifax Mooseheads left wing Timo Meier, who went No. 9 overall to the San Jose Sharks.
Chabot was also pushed in Saint John by fellow top prospect Jakub Zboril, who was chosen No. 13 overall by the Boston Bruins. The two defencemen trained together throughout the season.
"His skill level just went up as the year went on," Senators GM Bryan Murray said of Chabot. "He was one of the most improved players that we talked about. He was one of the priorities because of his offensive ability. He gets back quick to get the puck. We have to work on the shot a little bit but it looks like he's a real complete player."
White is considered a two-way player who might be an ideal fit for defensive-mind Senators coach Dave Cameron's system. There are questions about his offensive upside, as he tallied 23 goals and 54 points in as many games with the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based U18 team. White did put up those numbers in spite of battling a wrist injury and mononucleosis throughout this season. He was a critical cog for Team USA when it won the world under-18 championship in April.
"The end of the season was great and I'm happy how it ended," the 6-foot, 185-pound White told Sportsnet. "I have a two-way game and I like to help the guys win."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @naitSAYger.