FanPost

In defence of Brian Lee




Brian Lee is, without exaggeration, probably the most disappointing Senators draft pick since Brian Berard.  Picked 9th overall in the 2005 draft, before such notables as Anze Kopitar and Marc Staal.  Accordingly, Lee is invoked as a legacy of Muckler's poor drafting and general handling of prospects during his tenure as GM.  But how much of a failure is Brian Lee, really?  Do the players drafted after him muddle fans' opinions of him?

I decided to look at the players drafted in the #8-10 spots from 2000 to 2005, and see how their NHL careers played out with respect to Lee's.

2000

#8 Nikita Alexeev (F): 159 GP, 37 P

#9 Brent Krahn (G): 1 GP

#10 Mikhail Yakubov (F): 53 GP, 12 P

A pretty terrible crop.  Two eventually ended up in the KHL after unproductive NHL careers, and one's been a career AHL tender.

2001

#8 Pascal Leclaire (G): 173 GP

#9 Tuomo Ruutu (F): 460 GP, 265 P

#10 Dan Blackburn (G): 63 GP

Hey look!  Two familiar names!  Hard to believe that Leclaire's only played 173 games in the bigs since being drafted.  Ruutu is the first on this list to be an NHL regular, and a pretty solid pick at #9.  Blackburn was a back-up to Mike Richter for two seasons, and retired by 2005.

2002

#8 Pierre-Marc Bouchard (F):  485 GP, 305 P

#9 Petr Taticek (F): 3 GP, 0 P

#10 Eric Nystrom (F): 286 G, 51 P

Bouchard is a solid second liner, probably the best draftee so far.  Nystrom has blossomed into a 4th-line regular.  Taticek was a bust.  Decent crop.

2003

#8 Braydon Coburn (D): 379 GP, 111 P

#9 Dion Phaneuf (D): 470 GP, 268 P

#10 Andrei Kostitsyn (F): 326 GP, 186 P

In what was perhaps the deepest draft of all time, a correspondingly strong group.  Coburn's a solid D-man, Phaneuf has been up-and-down but still a top-pairing guy (and the best draftee yet), and Kostitsyn is a decent third liner.  Very good.

2004

#8 Alexandre Picard (F): 67 GP, 2 P

#9 Ladislav Smid (D): 331 GP, 44 P

#10 Boris Valabik (D): 80 GP, 7 P

A poor crop.  The best to show here is Smid, who's been a third-pairing defenceman on a terrible defensive team.

2005

#8 Devin Setoguchi (F): 267 GP, 159 P

#9 Brian Lee (D): 132 GP, 20 P

#10 Luc Bourdon (D): 36 GP, 2 P

Here we are.  Setoguchi has become an OK top 6 forward.  Lee, we know the story.  Bourdon died tragically, and will not be included in the rest of my analysis.

 

So, from all those draftees over the years (minus Bourdon and the goalies), the average amount of games played was 250.  Among defencemen, who typically take a little longer to break into the league, it was 278.  So, while Lee's clearly played less than the average, one needs to take into consideration that he is among the youngest of the draftees.  He's already had more NHL experience than 6 other draftees (7 including Bourdon), and will likely surpass Leclaire and Alexeev in the short term.

 

Furthermore, when ranking him amongst the other defenceman, Lee comes in the middle.  Phaneuf is the obvious gem, and while Coburn might be overpaid in Philadelphia he'd still be a solid #3/4 option on Ottawa.  Smid has played more games, but on a much weaker team.  I'm not sure he'd crack Ottawa's D-corps, even if Heatley had accepted the trade to Edmonton, so I rank him about even with Lee.  Valabik, despite his size, is more or less a career AHLer. 

 

In conclusion, Lee isn't really all that much of a bust when you compare him to the others taken around him each year in the draft.  It might be easy to look back in hindsight and curse Muckler for his obvious ineptitude, but it's not like we compare Cody Bass to Keith Yandle.  All in all, Lee's been about what one might expect from someone drafted in his position.  Provided he sees more ice time in the next few years, I'll expect he'll be just about average over his career.  So maybe we should stop being so hard on the kid, and hope that in the rebuild he can grow as a player.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Silver Seven community, and does not necessarily reflect the beliefs or opinions of the site managers, editors, or Sports Blogs Nation, Inc.

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