Welcome to our Top 10 Ottawa Senators Prospects series! Throughout the next month, we will be bringing you an in-depth analysis of what we believe to be the top 10 prospects in the Senators system.
To keep things simple, we will not be including players who have played over 25 NHL games. We will also not be ranking players who are over the age of 25. Players like Rudolfs Balcers and Christian Wolanin will be held out of this series.
#10 Shane Pinto
Many were surprised when the Senators selected Shane Pinto, 32nd overall at the 2019 NHL Draft, especially with bigger names like Arthur Kaliyev and Bobby Brink still on the board. After some time to digest the selection, one thing is evident when it comes to the Senators’ scouting staff: they like big forwards who can play a physical game. Pinto, a centre, checks that box. He also brings a willingness to learn and a blue-collar mentality to the organization’s prospect pool.
Management usually shies away from risky selections such as one-dimensional players, or players with attitude problems, which may be a reason why they passed on players such as Arthur Kaliyev and Bobby Brink at the draft. Even though Pinto is listed as a centre, he could be moved to the right-wing once he reaches the NHL level.
At 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds, Pinto already has a big frame and will use his time at the University of North Dakota (UND) to get bigger and stronger. The Senators already have Jacob Bernard-Docker and Jonny Tychonick playing for North Dakota, so it should be nice for Pinto to have a few familiar faces around the room. The Senators must appreciate how UND develops and treats their young players since they have time and again selected players who are committed to the program.
Pinto split this season with the Lincoln Stars and the Tri-City Storm of the USHL where he amassed 59 points through 56 games. He also added nine points (four goals and five assists) in six playoff games.
Pinto has a nose for the net and always seems to be in the right position to create scoring chances. The majority of his goals were scored below the hash marks. Much like Drake Batherson, another one of Ottawa’s top prospects, Pinto can get his stick in the right areas to deflect pucks into the net. He also loves to drive the net and create scoring chances off rebounds. He also uses his wide frame to shield the puck from the opposition and uses that time to find his teammates.
Pierre Dorion and his scouting staff have made it known that they are building their team around players who demonstrate high character and possess a strong work ethic.
“Yes, skill is part of the game, and it’s a big part of the game and we want that, but we do need those character players that can play hard night in and night out”
Chief scout Trent Mann, (from ‘Ottawa Senators focus on character and future at NHL draft’, Ottawa Sun, 06/23/18)
Pinto possesses both those qualities. He plays a simple game, he drives the net hard, isn’t afraid to get in those dirty areas and makes the simple plays instead of the fancy ones. He’s the type of player every team needs in their lineup.
Areas Of Improvement for Pinto
Like the majority of young prospects, Pinto needs to work on his defensive game. However, he does have the IQ and the potential to one day become a strong two-way player in the NHL. He should take advantage of his big body and long reach in the defensive zone.
Pinto is a great straight-line skater, he transitions the puck quickly and effectively. However, he needs to improve his lateral movement, which has become extremely valuable in today’s NHL. He should be able to round out his game at the college level against stiffer competition.
Projection And NHL Comparison
It was strategic of Dorion and his staff to select Pinto as he fills a positional need as a right-shot centre who can also play on the right wing. He also brings a hard-working mentality to the dressing room and loves to compete every night. He projects to be a middle-six forward who can chip in both offensively and defensively. As previously stated, there are some similarities between his and Batherson’s game, but a more accurate comparison would be to Connor Brown and Ryan Hartman; competitors who are capable of playing up and down the lineup and can still chip in offensively.
Pinto’s Expected NHL Debut
Pinto still has a lot of work to do before he gets his shot in the NHL. It all starts this upcoming season with the UND where he should make an immediate impact. I expect him to play two to three years at the collegiate level before turning pro. He should also see some time in the AHL before making the jump to the NHL.
NHL Ready: 2022-23