Marian Hossa looking defeated after losing in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time.
It’s one of the NHL’s strangest curses: no player drafted by the Ottawa Senators has ever won the Stanley Cup.* Despite being in the NHL since 1992, participating in 18 drafts, and selecting 161 players, none of them have won the Cup.
The Senators came close in 2006-07 when they lost in the Finals to the Anaheim Ducks. Marian Hossa came closer, infamously falling short in back-to-back seasons with two different teams. Others never made it that far. But regardless of when they played and who they played for, the one thing that ties them all together is that because they were drafted by the Ottawa Senators, they’re cursed.
It’s now the 2010 playoffs and 11 teams have Senators draftees on their rosters. We know that the Senators themselves are the most cursed of all and won’t win the Cup, but what of the other 10 teams? Do any of them have a shot at breaking the curse once and for all?
Silver Seven investigates.
Missed playoffs because Ilya Kovalchuk won the team goal-scoring title by 7 goals despite being traded to New Jersey in early February.
It’s doubtful that Schubert will return after another poor season. Injuries, pathetic point production (he had more points in his rookie season), and an "I know I’m better as a forward, but don’t you dare make me play anything but defence" attitude will probably negate any incentive for the Thrashers to re-sign him. With a shot as hard as his, you would expect more than 2 goals in over 40 games. He holds the record for second-hardest shot in Ottawa Senators history, yet Atlanta didn’t see fit to put him on the power play for more more than 219 seconds all season. If by some miracle he re-signs, this becomes a D-. If he re-signs and Don Waddell is fired, this becomes a D.
Missed playoffs because Cam Ward’s 2-9-3 record by November 6 was worth exactly 7 points in the standings.
The Hurricanes are traditionally a flip-flopping team, alternating between amazing seasons with deep playoff runs and awful seasons where they don’t make the playoffs at all. Gleason’s a pretty good player - heck, he was an Olympic silver medalist - and the Hurricanes are primed for another run in the 2010-2011 playoffs. Their grade is weakened by the very real chance that the Hurricanes will play the way they look on paper, which isn’t very good.
Does anyone really expect Brian Boucher to be "just good enough" to pull this off?
Ray Emery is a UFA this summer, is coming off major surgery, and his career may very well be over. However, this is the Philadelphia Flyers and Ray Emery is a goalie. Expect the unexpected. If Emery is healthy and re-signs, this becomes a D+. Why so low? Because no team obeys Murphy’s Law like the Philadelphia Flyers.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Missed playoffs because Steven Stamkos only had points on 45% of the team’s goals.
New, less crazy ownership. Don’t underestimate how much a cleaning out of the old staff is going to improve this team. Unfortunately for them, they still have $4M of their cap dedicated to the talent erosion that is Andrej Meszaros. The presence of pre-season all-star Brandon Bochenski did little to bolster their offence, but he did produce the same number of points per game as Alex Tanguay. Neither will be missed. Stamkos and Hedman bump this grade up from a D+.
I’m not going to lie, they may be cursed but they’re one scary team. You don’t average over half a goal per game more than the next best team without threatening to do some serious damage. Alexandre Giroux has spent most of the season in the minors, but he finished second in AHL scoring with 103 points, and if the Hershey Bears get knocked out (unlikely, but possible), Giroux could potentially be a nice addition to the Capitals’ taxi squad.
Laich only has one more year left, but assuming he isn’t traded he will be a part of a likely even more potent offence next season. The Capitals are the best hope for breaking the curse.
Columbus Blue Jackets
#50 / Left Wing / Columbus Blue Jackets
Jul 20, 1982
Contract: 5 years (UFA)
Missed playoffs because of Steve Mason.
The Blue Jackets have a goalie who should be able to carry the team for years, unless he turns into the second coming of Andrew Raycroft. With another top five pick coming and a Nikita Filatov who really wants to play in the NHL, the Blue Jackets should be good for years to come. They also have leadership in spades. Specifically, they have six alternate captains. Also, did you know that (alternate captain) Antoine Vermette finished second in team scoring, only two points less than Rick Nash? Pretty good for a guy who was labeled "speedy with hands of stone" by Senators fans.
Detroit Red Wings
They're the Detroit Red Wings.
If they retain Eaves, this turns into a B. If not, they no longer qualify for the curse.
Missed playoffs because Guillaume Latendresse was acquired at the end of November instead of October.
Despite his newfound ability to stay healthy, presumably because he now coats his body in kevlar before each game, Martin Havlat just plain isn’t worth the money and the Wild don’t scare anyone in the Western Conference. Of course, that might be because the team is nicknamed the Minnesota Mild, but regardless of that it’s still Havlat’s fault. They don’t pose a threat for the foreseeable future.
Although they have a relatively healthy Sami Salo, usually a walking china doll, the rest of the Canucks’ defence is either already decimated by injury or very fragile. Roberto Luongo is also having a rough season, which isn’t helping matters at all. Pavol Demitra has been outclassed by an Austrian kid nicknamed Grabby that many figured wouldn’t even stick around the big club. They were also picked to be the Stanley Cup champions by many pundits at the start of the season, doubly cursing them. They’re still better off than most teams on this list, but they’ve got some heavy odds against them.
A healthier, possibly improved defence. Better goaltending. Some seriously good young talent at forward that should easily offset the "loss" of Demitra. Salo’s only on the books for one more year, but as long as nobody picks them to win it all, they just might pull it off.
*(Disclaimer: The Senators do have one draftee whose name is on the Stanley Cup: Stanislav Neckar, 2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning. Neckar was injured for the vast majority of 2003-04, playing six games all season. Then-GM Jay Feaster appealed to the NHL to have Neckar's name put on the Cup as a reward for prior years of service with the Lightning - even though he met none of the requirements and did absolutely nothing to help the Lightning win. He therefore earns an asterisk for breaking the curse on a technicality.)