Since we're not going to hear any Senators related news for a while until Filip Kuba is traded to Severstal Cherevopets (it's a real team!) for a bag of pucks and a Russian cougar (the animal, not Anna Kournikova), I decided to spend my days off work (every Friday) on
hitting the bar and meeting up with some chickas reviewing draft trends of the Ottawa Senators under various Director of Player Personnels.
What does a Director of Player Personnel do, you say? Well, he is the main guy of scouting prospects, draft eligible players, and meeting all the scouts. In all, he is in charge of taking all the scouts' notes at the end of the hockey year and turning them into a pick, to be deliberated by the General Manager. The guy in the position right now is Pierre Dorion, who has done every draft since 2008 in ol' Scotiabank Place. I couldn't trace DPP'sbefore the 1996 Entry Draft, but with the help of members here on Silver Seven Sens (thank you!) and my own research I traced the ones during 96 and after. We'll rate the main men under their first-rounders andtheir value picks, notable picks after the first round who have made it to the big show and are NHL regulars. Whatthe objective of this post here is too find which DPP has the best track record, under which GM and to show when the Sens drafted good, bad, and pathetically horrible.
Ottawa's had 4 different DPP's since 1996. Here's how it all went down...
96-98: Marshall Johnston (GM: Pierre Gauthier 96-97, Rick Dudley 98)
Marshall Johnston is the first DPP under investigation here. He was promoted to become the DPP for the team after he spent a couple years as their Director of Amateur Scouting. In the three Drafts that he spent on this position, Johnston had a solid track record. In a weak draft class, Phillips was a good pick 1st overall, as the only other players from that class who have played more games in the NHL than him are Matt Cullen and Zdeno Chara, both former Senators. Marian Hossa was a shock pick at #12 at the time, but it turned to be a genius pick to get the future Stanley Cup champion. And the Chouinard pick was a gamble, and it didn't pay off, but that's one mistake in an array of good picks for Johnston in his tenure.
Where I see how good a DPP is how well he drafts in the later rounds, aka how many late draft gems he steals. Sami Salo is an underrated defenseman when healthy, and was integral in this past seasons's run by the Vancouver Canucks. Magnus Arvedson was key in the years Ottawa first made the playoffs, kindof like a past-day Chris Kelly with more offensive fire-power. Karel Rachunek was a serviceable d-man in his time, and Chris Neil continues to be a valuable plugger for Ottawa. Mike Fisher was a cornerstone of this team for many years, until this past years' trade to Smashville. It's not surprise that his best selection were under the Ghost, Pierre Gauthier, while Rick Dudley's only Draft was not one to remember, especially the Chouinard pick but void the Fisher and Neil pick-ups.
99-01: Jarmo Kekalainen (GM: Marshall Johnston)
Super scout Jarmo Kekalainen refined his work first with the Sens, as a European scouts, then upgraded to become the DPP after previous director Marshall Johnston was promoted to General Manager. It's obvious Jarmo was very successful in his time here. All four first-round picks he had in his three drafts were and continue to be solid NHL players. Martin Havlat and Jason Spezza are two premier point-getters, while both Volchenkov and Gleason are good if not great shot-blockers and responsible in their own end. The downside is that only Spezza plays with Ottawa currently, but that's nothing to do Jarmo, more of a General Manager thing. The value of these picks are also very good, as Havlat was taken 26th overall, Spezza 2nd, Volchie 21st and Gleason 23rd.
His late-round picks though are one-of-a-kind, Hakan Andersson-like. Chris Kelly was important cog to the Sens before he became an important cog to the Boston Bruins in their Stanley Cup win. Antoine Vermette is a solid third liner who has the tools to play in the second line, as shown in Ottawa and Columbus. Greg Zanon is a solid man in his own end who will never give up on the play, and always is the man back in his end. Ray Emery was a gem in Ottawa, leading them in 07 to the Stanley Cup Finals, before hitting into some troubles. His NHL career seems to have zoomed back, though. Chris Schubert was a quality member for Ottawa in the contending years, as his versatility was needed on the team. If Johnny Muckler hadn't traded him away, Ottawa would be reaping the rewards of Brooks Laich, and great second-line player who is heart, soul, hustle, and valuable skill. Jarmo was able to take these players late, and it's not coincidence Johnston was the GM before Jarmo left for greener pastures in St. Louis. The pair drafted players that were key members of many successful seasons in Canada's Capital, you know, without winning that big one.
02-07: Anders Hedberg (GM: John Muckler 02-06, Bryan Murray 07)
Marshall Johnston and Jarmo Kekalainen's huge work brought Ottawa to Stanley Cup contention. Anders Hedberg's work brought them to where they are today, a lottery team in the NHL. Hedberg worked a couple years in Toronto and New York (Rangers) as a head scout and assistant GM, and when Mucks took over the GM job in Ottawa, he brought in Hedberg from past experience to take the mantle. This is pretty much what he brought. Jakub Klepis was taken 16th, played 66 games in the NHL, none with Ottawa, and never got more than 10 points in a season. Bust. For where Patrick Eaves was taken, it was not good value at all. Eaves remains as a 4th-line workhorse for the Detroit Red Wings, Andrej Meszaros had a superb rookie year with the Sens, then stank up the ship after that before being dealt to Tampa, and horrendously overrated this past season in Philly. Brian Lee, do I need to say anything? As Ottawa got lucky in the 05 Draft, they completely blew it with Lee. Nick Foligno as a 28th pick was an still remains an okay selection. Although Furby has to start putting some pucks in the net more frequently, he did have a career-best in points last season. And the Jimmy O'Brien pick at 29th, after the sadness of losing in the Stanley Cup Final, shocked a lot of Sens fans including me. Players drafted in 2007 should start creeping into the regular lineup in the NHL, but O'Brien has a long way to go to do so.
Hedberg's value picks is where the broom lies down. He was able to bring Brian Elliott in the 9th Round, which despite Elliott's terrible play last season is still a pretty great pick for a guy that should at least be a solid back-up in the NHL. Peter Regin's selection is still to be doubted, as his sophomore slump this past season turned some fans off. And the two seventh-round picks who turned it up this season, Erik Condra and Colin Greening were also drafted under Anders. They really shouldn't even be there despite their newly-minted one-way contracts, however they still haven't proved anything in a full NHL season. So basically, those four guys are the only notable picks picks made my the Muckler/Hedberg regime (except for 07). What's astonishing is that Hedberg was the DPP for 6 (!) drafts. That is more than anyone so far and truly shows the poor decisions made my management in the Muckler era. In reality this era's drafting really sunk up the prospect pool for Ottawa, and Mucklers' constant trading of valuable draft picks/prospects (see Brooks Laich) for veterans and players on a one-year contract doomed this franchise for a long time.
08-Present: Pierre Dorion (GM: Bryan Murray)
*Note: I recently found out that Pierre Dorion was officially named Director of Player Personnel after the 2009 Draft. Ottawa did not have an official DPP for the 08 and 09 Drafts. However, Dorion worked as the chief amateur scout in those drafts, which is second in ranking behind the DPP for drafting and scouting. So we'll assume he was the high man in those Drafts.
So now we come to the present, where Pierre Dorion is dishing out the lists for Bryan and Tim Murray. It's hard to rate this regime's drafting since only two players so far are regulars in the NHL (Erik Karlsson and Zack Smith), however players drafted from 08-11 shouldn't be regulars in the NHL just yet, unless they were high picks. Therefore we can't rate the value picks made by Dorion as of now. His 1st rounders though, we can try. The Bryan moved up in 2008 at SBP to draft Erik Karlsson, after reportedly the Boston Bruins (who picked 16th) were huge on Karlsson. On the advice of Dorion and Anders Forsberg, Karlsson was chosen, and the picks has paid dividends so far. Jared Cowen fell in 09, not that much though the 9th-overall picking Sens, and we should see Cowen starting the year in Ottawa or Binghamton after that Calder Cup victory. For the first time ever, Ottawa didn't pick in the first round in 2010, likely because they thought they could get better value with David Rundblad than any other man left on the board. We shall see how Vlad Tarasenko works out for the Blues, however the Sens stole Rundblad right out of their paws. The 2011 Draft just passed, so I'm not going to rate that yet, as we'll have to wait a couple of more years to see how the three first-rounders work out.
Overall, Dorionhas done well in the few drafts he has been in charge of so far. This drafting era is increasing the prospect pool for Ottawa, where now they can say they have depth up front and on the back-end.
Grade: Umm, really subjective to grade here, but I guess a B (?)
So here's how the four DPP's work out in rankings
1. Jarmo Kekalainen
T2. Marshall Johnston
T2. Pierre Dorion
4. Anders Hedberg
So what have you learned from this post? Clearly Jarmo is the bomb, and Anders Hedberg can go suck it. For a final note, I do realize that it is possible that mistakes can happen, so if history is otherwise and one of these four men weren't Director of Player Personnels, or maybe the years of the drafts are wrong, please do let me know. Now get at it!