Sensational at the Draft

The Ottawa Senators have gone a significantly different route than their provincial rivals. It wasnt as much by choice as it was by necessity. Small Market franchises have had to live and die by the draft as it was the biggest channel to acquire talented players. It was impossible for a team, that neared bankruptcy to go out an spend spend spend. the team had to draft well, nurture it’s talent and build within. The Sens have done that the last 10 years or at least after Randy Sexton left. This year the team hopes to bask in the fruits of their labour by winning the Stanley Cup.Free Agents

The Sens have shied away from free agency but this season it brought the team 2 key ingredients towards their cup run. The Sens like other small markets have to spend wisely if they are going to dip into free agency as a team and market like theirs cannot afford to be saddled with any albatross contracts. They also need the funds to keep their own players signed.

Brian McGrattan – Unheralded free agent signing that has given the team the tough presence it has always lacked.

Dominik Hasek – Been one of the league’s top netminders. If he goes, so go the Sens. He was an absolute bargain signing at 1.5 million.

Trade:

The Sens have drafted well, but have done an excellent job acquiring young talent via trade. It has allowed them to incorporate these players into their nucleus that they hope to keep together for years. John Muckler has been a bit more agressive than his predacessors in his effort to find the right mix to overcome their complacent playoff performances.

Zdeno Chara – Big Chara was acquired in one of the biggest heists of a trade in the last few seasons. Yashin is a top talent but to get Chara AND Spezza for him was huge. Chara has proven to be one of the league’s top 5 blueliners combining physical defence with solid offence.

Wade Redden – There isnt really anything fancy to Redden’s game. He just puts the points on the board and plays solid defence. He is a steady consistent performer. It turned out to be a great trade to acquire a player who actually wanted to be there and get rid of one who didnt (Berard).

Dany Heatley – In terms of talent, the deal of Heatley for Hossa is relatively even. But Heatley has made a great impact in Ottawa. The deciding factor on who will win this deal in the end will come during the playoffs. Hossa was often invisible and simply put, Heatley has to deliver then. His great stats in the regular season mean nothing if he doesnt. Hossa gave Ottawa the same kind of scoring in the regular year. it’s the second season that counts for the Sens.

Peter Schaefer – You could say his acquisition for Sami Salo worked out for both teams as the Sens needed LW depth. Pretty solid two-way player who really needs to shoot the puck more.

Brian Smolinski – Hinesight is 20/20 but this was a bad deal for Ottawa. He was supposedly acquired to help them in the playoffs. But he was yet another soft player who disappeared when it mattered most. And he’s pretty consistent in that regard. To give up a top youngster like Tim Gleason was I think a bit much. They could have done better.

Vaclav Varada – you can look at Varada 2 ways. The Sens either gave away a top prospect for him, or he was acquired for someone who went to 3 teams before playing an NHL game.

Brian Pothier – originally acquired for MacEachern as a cost cutting move, Pothier has turned into a decent 3rd pair blueliner.

Draft:

The Sens are one of the best when it comes to the draft. Whether it be in the first round or the middle rounds they seem to find their guy. Sure, the team initially had the first pick 4 times in their first 5 years of existence but lately have found gems in the late first round and have stocked themselves plenty with solid prospects. It not only has allowed them to field a relatively young team as of late, but also has allowed them to use some of those assets in trades for late season help.

Daniel Alfredsson – how many superlatives can i use to describe Alfie. 133rd pick in ’94 was the ultimate steal. gone is the krusty the klown hair and the flapping gums and here is a man very serious on winning the cup. A very different player this year and it shows on the ice. sure the points are somewhat the same, but he seems to be having a bigger impact now than ever before.

Mike Fisher – finally healthy and productive this year. brings many elements to the team. good faceoff guy, fast, can score, hit, play smart defence.

Chris Phillips – only 1st overall pick left in Ottawa is a rock on D and a real warrior.

Jason Spezza – part 2 of the Yashin trade is already better than Alexei. He’ll win the Art Ross one day.

Chris Kelly – 94th pick in 1999 has turned into a solid role forward and PK guy.

Antoine Vermette – speedster who is being broken in slowly by Ottawa. scoring star in junior.

Andrei Mezsaros – huge surprise this season as he is still very young. getting better every shift. looking like another late 1st round steal for Ottawa.

Anton Volchenkov – hard hitting take no prisoners defenceman add plenty of jam to the Sens.

Ray Emery – up and down goalie who has shown glimpses of his talent in net, but also shown his inconsistency. not trustworthy yet to carry full load.

Martin Havlat – ultra speedy and talented. But often injured, undisciplined and invisible come playoff time. Was a steal at 26th overall and is currently missed as he was the Sens 2nd line.

Chris Neil – 4th line tough guy at first has improved his talents and become a reliable 3rd liner.

Christoph Schubert – mid round pick has turned into a very versatile player for Ottawa

Top Prospects

On the Farm:

Patrick Eaves – the human yo-yo been up and down from Ottawa several times. Provided the Sens with the speed and offence lost with the Havlat injury.

Phil Novak – Very good offensive dman who is averaging almost a point a game on the farm.

Kelly Guard – Won the starting job in Binghamton.

Brandon Bochenski – Hasnt looked out of place in the NHL. Going to have to play more consistent at both ends if he wants to stick.

Tomas Malec – decent skilled blueliner around for depth only.

Around the World

Brian Lee – One of the few on team USA who met expectations at the WJC. pretty solid for a freshman.

Kyrill Lyamin – was a leader and best blueliner on the silver medal Russian team at the WJC.

Alex Kaigorodov – productive player in the Russian League who may not bother to come overseas.

Ilya Zubov – displayed some sick skills at the WJC. could be eventually a 4th round steal.

Igor Mirnov – skilled forward who probably will stay in Europe.

A few years of hard work may finally pay off this spring with a Stanley Cup for the Sens. It will be a difficult road, but this squad this year seems to have most of the ingredients to get the job done. They can thank a very astute scouting staff and management for putting together a plan to ac*****ulate young assets and nurture them with an idea of getting something good out of the fruits of their labour. We are seeing that this year with a solid mix of young veterans and raw rookies. The Sens have been good at this for a while, however it is all for not if there is no Stanley Cup when it is all said and done. Though the team is still young, the window of opportunity may not be as large as some think. All teams need to have a sense of urgency when it comes to winning and that can really be felt this year in the nations capital. The management and the staff have done a great job to date. It is now up to the players to finally deliver.


39 Responses to Sensational at the Draft

  1. muckies says:

    Awesome job on the Sens.

    Your right, It is time for the players to deliver. Hasek may not be the guy that was in net in Buffallo, but he will get this team ready and smooth the road for them to the Stanley Cup this spring.

    The Sens can play any type of hockey, and they have the depth to rest there Olympic guys before the Playoffs begin. They shouldn’t worry about #1 overall, just get ready for April and be rested for a run.

    The first round against a team like Atlanta, New Jersey, Toronto, Montreal will be a tough series. This playoffs is going to be amazing with the open ice, right from game #1.

  2. cementhead says:

    Agreed. I would like to point out however that drafting is only the first step in having a great draft selection – the second (and maybe more important) is having a great development system in place to help this kids realize their potential.

    I don’t know much about Ottawa’s development system but its results look great. As I Coyotes fan, I can not overemphasize this point enough. I worry about our system – sometimes it seems to hurt talent more then help it. Our best rookies always come from college or someone elses system (ie. this years great rookies Ballard (college and Avs), Michalek (Wild)).

  3. nordiques100 says:

    I hate to say it but i think gretz hired too many of his friends to do that kind of work. (remember mcsorley was teh farm team coach despite never coaching before) if i am not mistaken, they just hired dave draper not too long ago who was one of the masterminds behind the Avs/Nords drafting prowess. He should help.

    then again…blake wheeler 5th overall? i dont even think he made the US junior team

  4. nordiques100 says:

    well they had many reasons for not winning. a sieve goalie, inexperience, too soft, outcoached, injuries but with this team now, none of those should come into effect this spring. it definitely is up to the players because the management has done as much as they can i think (changed the coach, added toughness, added winning goalie etc).

  5. cementhead says:

    Wheeler did make make the team and even notched a couple of goals. Although it seemed a very risky pick, the team still holds to having done the right thing and still think he is on track to becoming who they felt he would become. I hope so, but time will tell.

    Thanks for the update about Dave Draper – I had not realized that (and I try to keep up on these things.)

  6. dcz28 says:

    Great job on this Sens article!!

    Its cup or bust for the Sens and they seem to have the right mix of players to go far in the playoffs this year although a veteran 2nd line playmaker would be a welcome addition to their young lineup…Sens have a lot of good rookies playing this year we will have to wait and see how they fair in the post season

    Because of the salary cap injuries could play a bigger role in what teams make it to the finals since any team that loses their #1 goalie will need their backup to step up and catch fire if they want to go anywhere which seems unlikely but not impossible

    Being healthy down the stretch and into the playoffs should be the Sens main concern as first overall is over rated in my opinion as teams have less distractions on the road then at home which was proven by Sutter having the Flames players stay at a hotel in the playoff of their last run

    The playoffs will be interesting to say the least but as usual upsets will happen and the only question is who will surprise everyone since every year one team makes it to the finals when they were expected to be gone in the first round…a little off topic but who do you guys think will be this years version of Calgary, Anaheim, Carolina to make it to the finals if a team does catch everyone by surprise? Edmonton would be my pick athough a Sens vs Wings finals would be awsome

  7. Realistic says:

    Sens have done a great job with the draft and with trades (Spezza, Chara, Heatley) for sure, but let’s not forgot they had top 10 draft picks for (and don’t quote me on the precise number of years) a good 5-7 years, not to mention high picks in the 2nd & 3rd rounds which can make a huge difference. A team like the Leafs (my team) had late picks for many of those years which wasn’t much different from where the Sens picked in the 2nd round. All that said, the Sens deserve credit for sticking with their plan instead of pissing away their draftpicks like the Leafs have done for band-aids (read: Niedermeyer, Luongo and the list goes on)…I guess this was easier for the Sens to do though as a) the Sens sucked and were an expansion team and b) Toronto is the centre of the hockey Universe (not being *****y, it’s true) and has a helluva lot more pressure each year to produce a playoff team.

    Here are some of those picks and the spots where they were taken;

    1992: 2 YASHIN, Alexei C OTT Dynamo Moscow

    1993: 1 DAIGLE, Alexandre C OTT Victoriaville

    1994: 3 BONK, Radek C OTT Las Vegas

    1995: 1 BERARD, Bryan D OTT Detroit = Redden

    1996: 1 PHILLIPS, Chris D OTT Prince Albert

    1997: 12 HOSSA, Marian LW OTT Dukla Trencin

    1998: 15 CHOUINARD, Mathieu G OTT Shawinigan

    Over that period, Toronto had 2 top 10 picks (1992 & 1997 – Convery & Luongo).

    So, in closing, good job Sens, but Sens fans, don’t get too carried away with the chest thumping – most teams in the NHL did not have the access to such great picks in the 90’s.

  8. muckies says:

    I don’t know what you mean by Luongo being drafted by the Leaves, he was drafted by NYI.

    Who cares about Toronto and their shitty drafting from Berehowski on, and trading away their picks for veteran players.

    The Sens are the model franchise of the NHL because they drafted well in the late rounds, ie Alfie, Neil, Emery, Fisher, Kelly, Bochenski, Kaigorov, and not the early rounds.

    Guys like Meszaros, Havlat were picked late in the first round, and may be the best players, or at the top, in their draft years

    Most of their high draft picks were shit players, Yashin, Diagle, Bonk, Chouinrad…its the fact that they traded these guys for great players that made the difference in Ottawa.

  9. cementhead says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought that Luongo was drafted by NYI. And was traded along with Jokinen (sp) for Parrish and Kvasha. No?

  10. dcz28 says:

    The Wings always traded their 1st round picks every year and always finished among the top teams but still got top talent in late rounds so that is not a reason for the Leafs not to have drafted great kids…scouting, trading away prospects and not giving them a chance to prove themself is what has got the Leafs in a though position…Sens are the perfect example of how to build a team from scratch and the Pens should have stayed with that plan instead of spending like crazy

  11. Neely4Life says:

    yes and no about the pens. They didnt give away any youth, and thier AHL team is in first too, so, they really havnt ruined anything. The kids will get time to play, and they are devolping right now. So, they tried something for this year, and it didnt work. Lesson learned, thats all.

  12. navajo says:

    The actual draft pick itself was Toronto’s but they traded it the isles. The isles traded Wendel Clark, Mathieu Schneider and D.J. Smith to Toronto for Darby Hendrickson, Sean Haggerty, Kenny Jonsson and the 1st rounder, which turned out to be Luongo. So I guess in essence they did trade away Luongo.

  13. dcz28 says:

    I agree with that but the money the Pens are throwing away for being near the bottom is not helping them since they could have done that well without spending a lot of money and giving the kids more NHL experience by only adding one or two veterans leaders to mentor the kids

    They tried and failed and now have to pay for Gonchar and Leclair when their kids would be able to do the same but i guess if you dont take risks you wont get many rewards but like you said atleast they did not trade their promising youngsters in the process

  14. Realistic says:

    I meant we traded away picks that became Niedermeyer and Luongo.

    Leafs have decent late-round success as well — Kaberle, Wellwood, Kronwall — but it is early in the Leafs new era of actully drafting well, so I will keep my mouth shut for a few years.

  15. Realistic says:

    My point was not that the Leafs got shafted all those years – we didn’t, we made the playoffs!!

    I admit the Leafs had horrible draft success over that period, but my point was that the Sens had great positions for years in the draft. The Avalanche won because they had years of top picks and made a great trade (Roy). The Sens are looking great now as a result of strong drafts which (you can’t argue) was aided by having high picks. Watch the Pens and Caps become the Sens in 3-5 years.

  16. Neely4Life says:

    I still think GOnchar with the right partner can be productive. Hes all offense and they knew this when signing him. The fish they should have tried and hooked was Foote. He would have complimented Gonchar nicely i think. That being said, his plus/minus in Columbus isnt that hot either, could have been the same in Pitts. Or even signing Foote instead of Gonchar. I dunno, none of their pick ups made much sense.

  17. Neely4Life says:

    I can argue that, because the only top pick still left on the team is Phillups.

    Diagle, well, we realyl dont have to bring that up.

    Yashin hurt the team more than helped, but we stole spezza and Chara.

    Hossa, we picke dup heatley.

    Chionard went back into the draft, and then was draftedlate by Ottawa.

    Bonk, well, hes a joke.

    Then sens money picks came after the top 20 picks.

    Havlat

    Fisher

    Vermette

    Eaves

    Vulchankov

    Mezseros.

    Glass

    Kelly

    Emery

    Koridankov (who tore it up last year in Russia)

    Zubov (played for russia at the WJ)

    All these players could have been taken by the leafs and many other teams. The sens have the best scouts in the league arguably (them and detroit, and philly as well) and have made smart picks in the draft.

  18. Neely4Life says:

    If Zubov does pan out, its was a Robery, no one touched the Russians this year, and the sens took full advntage of that.

    Kaigorodov is a solid center, and if does play over here, he plays a lot like Ron Francis if people want to compare him.

    Nice Read Nords.

    Brian Lee, well the sens stole him because of the luck of the draw there. Wont complain.

    Dont forget we have Jeff Glass in our organization too. Hes a solid tender as well.

  19. dcz28 says:

    I watched Foote in the last Wings vs Jackets game and he didn’t do much to stop the Wings although he just came back from injury but i have always thought of Foote as overrated since he was playing with a great team with Roy behind him to mask defensive mistakes but my opinion of him might be a bit clouded from my hatred of the Avs since i’m a Wings fan

  20. dcz28 says:

    Colorado have drafted some good players in late rounds also and the Devils have done good too

  21. Neely4Life says:

    Yaaaaaa, but Colorado has traded alot of them away. NJ, well, ya ur right there.

  22. AntoinePortilick says:

    Model franchise?? Hahaha. Lets not forget the years of potential bankruptcy threats and whining about the Canadian dollar etc. It took a Toronto native, (Leaf fan) to turn around your once pathetic laughing stock of a franchise. Being a shitty team for so many years does nothing but give you the opportunity to draft high for so long.

    Cheers

  23. Aetherial says:

    Hate the Senators. The Sens fans here are as gutless and heartless as their team has been…. VERY few of them have been around here much after the last 72 times, or whatever it is, that the Leafs have beaten them in the playoffs.

    However… the Sens would/will crush the Leafs this year.

    … and this was a good article.

  24. Kraut182 says:

    Ottawa has been good in the draft, but I wouldn’t say that they’ve done significantly better than the Leafs (at least in semi-recent years).

    -Alfie was definitely a steal in the 6th Round, but so was Kaberle in the 8th.

    -Fisher is a good solid defensive player, but so is Steen, and they were taken in similar draft spots (Steen a little higher, but I think he could become a slightly better player than Fisher).

    -Phillips #1 a result of the tanking years, and Spezza #2 and a result of completing a trade with Milbury … lots of teams can take credit for that.

    -Meszaros is solid, but I’ll put him up against Carlo any day.

    -Havlat, as much as I dislike him, is probably the guy that gives the Sens the edge.

    -Emery, I’ll take Telly over him any day in a battle of midround goalie picks.

    -And Kelly, Neil, Volchenkov, etc. are okay players, but so are Stajan, Poni, Wellwood, etc.

    So I do give the edge to the Sens, but would argue that the Leafs aren’t as far behind them as many people would like to claim.

  25. Neely4Life says:

    MEszeros is 19 years old.

  26. Kraut182 says:

    While, he’s 20 now but its only been a few of months. Carlo is 21, and while that only lasts for about a week more, he’s still only about 20 months older than Meszaros and has had a some injury problems slightly stunt his growth … and so I repeat I would put Carlo up against Meszaros any day.

  27. Neely4Life says:

    Meszeros is a future stud. Came into the league with no NHL expierence, and is now leading the league in +/-. This guy made a team, far harder to make then the leafs on the blue line, and has been shinning. Carlo couldnt craxk the lineup at the begining of the year, and had to wait for injuries. Meszeros is thr 4th D on the best blue line in hockey. U can take Carlo if u want, i know who i would want.

  28. Kraut182 says:

    The +/- thing is crap really. The +/- among Ottawa’s D is a +15, they outscore and run up the score on anyone and everyone. It’s nice that Meszaros (with an “a” BTW) is leading the team, but Pothier has a better +/- than Chara … that doesn’t really make him a better Dman does it? He has 6 even strength points, its not like he’s really contributing much to the + aspect of the +/-.

    Carlo should have started the year with the Leafs, but every so often Pat Quinn is an absolute idiot. He dislikes young players, and will often leave them sit in the minors while bigger, older, less talented players (Belak and Berg) play. It is a reflection on the coach and not the player.

  29. Neely4Life says:

    All my point was is that MezsAros cracked a great blueline at 19, was a highly touted prospect to begin with, and the Sens stole this guy in the 2004 draft. Id still rather have a 20 year old thats devloping and learning from the best blueline in hockey, then carlo, who under quinn, and playin with that blue line, might struggle to realyl show his tallent off.

  30. muckies says:

    Yeah I agree the leaves have made the playoffs alot and lost, that doesn’t give them crap over the Sens.

    The Sens and Leaves have done crap, first team to win the Cup has all the bragging rights.

    Leaves fans don’t get into the stadium.

    Muckies

  31. dcz28 says:

    For some reason i think the Sens are gonna lose tomorrow to the Leafs (i hope they dont) but i just have a feeling that they will be too confident and not take the game seriously thinking that only showing up to the game will get them a win

    I do hope that if the Sens are set to play the Leafs in the first round again that Ottawa gets blown out in their last meeting so when the series start the Sens will come in ready to play hard for the win not just expect to win because they won all the games during the season

  32. BunchOfLies says:

    Under 30 :

    Chara

    Redden

    Phillips

    Schaefer

    Fisher

    Kelly

    Neil

    Under 25 :

    Heatley

    Spezza

    Meszaros

    Vermette

    Havlat

    Bochenski

    Eaves

    Volchenkov

    Besides Alfie & Hasek, most of the guys are below 30, better get used to see the Sens high in the standings I guess (considering they might be able to keep everyone if cap goes higher next year)…

  33. muckies says:

    If you think the Leaves have as good prospects as the Sens, then why aren’t they doing as well in the standings???

    Coli as good as meszaros, your a joke. meszaros has played 40 NHL game and is miles ahead of Coli in development. He plays almost 20 minutes a night and will be a ROY candidate.

    I’d say the only 2 that are comparable are Fisher and Steen. But you can keep your little swede in Toronto, i’d rather have a guy that can score, hit, win face-offs, kill penalty’s with the best in the league, beat you 1 on 1 with his speed, then a soft, perimeter player in Steen.

  34. Neely4Life says:

    whoa whoa, lol, i love mezsaros too, but not a chance for ROY. The rookie depth is way too deep this year in hte league.

  35. muckies says:

    Msezaros won’t win, but he’ll get some votes.

  36. nordiques100 says:

    mezzy is going to be a great dman….but he isnt even the best rookie dman. that’s phaneuf.

    and then they have svatos, prucha and a couple of relative unknowns……….

    ovechkin and crosby

    in any other year mezzy would get votes. but if someone votes him and not ovechkin or crosby or svatos or phaneuf, their credibility would be crap.

  37. Neely4Life says:

    thats pretty much bang on.

  38. Kraut182 says:

    “a guy that can score, hit, win face-offs, kill penalty’s with the best in the league, beat you 1 on 1 with his speed”

    You sure you aren’t talking about Steen here? Sounds like a pretty good description to me.

  39. cecilturtle says:

    Well, until they win their 1st cup… I would Shirley not sprain my hand patting the Sens organization on the back. I just dont see the Sens winning the cup this year or in the next few years. They just seem soft to me. Well, thats my opinion… But we all know talk is cheep. So I say, put up or shut up! Actually, why don’t you just put up then “start” talking!

    Cecil Turtle

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