Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scouting report: Jesse Winchester

As you may or may not know, the Ottawa Senators announced yesterday that they signed free agent college prospect Jesse Winchester from the Colgate Raiders of the NCAA. The Sens have a story today on how excited Winchester is for the opportunity.

Colgate finished 8-9-2 in ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) play this past season, and Winchester was second on the team with 37 points in 40 games.

Now, being the proactive and interested Sens fan that I am, I e-mailed the editors at The Colgate Maroon-News, the prestigious student newspaper of Colgate University. Expecting a response within a week, I received one--and the promise of a second--within twelve hours. Incredible. So, thanks to Sports Editor Paul Kasabian at the Maroon-News, here is a scouting report on the newest Senator for your reading pleasure:
  1. What kind of game does he play? Is he a finesse player, or a power-forward?
    I'd say he's a power forward. Winchester is not afraid to get in the defensive zone and hit a guy. He's a gritty, hard-working player, someone Sens fans will fall in love with. In fact, he led the team in penalty minutes for almost all of the season until Brian Day eclipsed him in the last game of the season when he got a 10 minute penalty and got thrown out (Winchester finished 2nd with 51 PM). However, there are finesse aspects to Winchester's game. I'd love it every time he got the puck in the offensive zone because he is a great puckhandler, probably the best on the team. He's a good two-way player, I'd say.

  2. Does he see any special teams ice time?
    Yes he is on the primary power play unit and was 2nd on the team in PP goals with 3 and first in PP points with 13. He sees the ice when the team is shorthanded as well.

  3. How does the coach/how do his teammates speak about him?
    He was the team captain for a reason. From what I've heard, he's a great guy and a great teammate. Formed a great bond with the other seven seniors on the team, and the team chemistry from what I saw was excellent. Coach [Don] Vaughan speaks highly of him as well every time he speaks about him. Ruben [Leavitt, men's hockey beat writer at the Maroon-News] can give you more information about this since Jesse is his year and the two know each other.

  4. I've heard he might be NHL-ready already; what are your personal opinions on that statement?
    I don't think he's NHL-ready at this moment, but I definitely do think the Sens should keep around for longer than a year. He just needs to work on finding a way to put the puck in the net more often, as his shot percentage was 5.5%, below team average. With a season, maybe two, in the minors working on improving that shot percentage and getting some more goals, Jesse can definitely come out and help the Sens win a Stanley Cup. Although I don't think he's the next Jason Spezza, I think NHL teams need tough forwards like Jesse to win a Stanley Cup. You've got a good player on your hands.
Now, even though Kasabian has seen Winchester play at least 25 times, that's not enough for him; he's told me that the Maroon-News' men's hockey writer Leavitt is going to give us even more input on what we can expect from Winchester. So I owe a big thanks to both Kasabian and Leavitt, for their time and their input.
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