Who's your favourite?
Throughout the years, the Sens have picked some questionable players in the first round; so I've decided to dig through the archives and break these picks down year-by-year in an attempt to satisfy my sports blogging addiction.
1992: Alexei Yashin (2nd overall)
The Senators made their NHL debut in 1992 thanks to an expansion. They were rewarded with the second overall pick which they used to draft Alexei Yashin. Yashin's fallout with the club is well documented, and most Sens fans have heard the story already, so I'm not going to rehash it here.
Yashin played 504 games with Ottawa, and scored 491 points (218 goals and 273 assists). Despite his off-ice drama, Yashin was a productive player for the Senators, and he continues, to this day, to contribute to the Sens' on-ice success. How? Keep reading and you'll find out. (or don't, but here's a clue: 19)
I'm reluctant to admit it, but the Sens made the right choice with this pick. Hard to get a better player than Yashin at the time. But here are a few notable players from that draft:
*Sergei Gonchar (14th), Martin Straka (19th), Michael Peca (40th), Jere Lethonen (88th), Nicolai Khabibulin (204th).
1993: Alexandre Daigle (1st overall)
The league was forever changed after Daigle was drafted.
After finishing their first year in the league with an embarrassing 10 wins, the Senators were rewarded with the first overall pick in the 1993 entry draft. The league conducted a full investigation after Ottawa was accused of losing games purposely in order to secure the first overall pick. Subsequently, the draft lottery was implemented to prevent teams from doing so.
Daigle was labelled a "sure-thing", and was the subject of high-praise and speculation. After being drafted first overall, he signed the largest starting salary in league history: 12.25 million for five years, before even playing an NHL game. A few years later, thanks to contracts such as Daigle's, a rookie salary cap was introduced.
Daigle played 301 games, and scored 74 goals and 98 assists for 172 points during his short and disappointing tenure in Ottawa before being traded to the Flyers for superstar Vaclav Prospal and another first-round-pick-bust, Pat Falloon.
When drafted, Daigle was asked about being picked number one overall, to which he said: "I'm glad I got drafted first, because no one remembers number two." Well, Alex, we definitely remember you...but not for the right reasons. Oh, and number two that year? Just some guy who goes by the name of Chris Pronger.
*Notables: Paul Kariya (4th), Jason Arnott (7th), Saku Koivu (21st), Todd Bertuzzi (23rd), Miroslav Satan (111th), and Kimmo Timonen (250th).
1994: Radek Bonk (3rd overall)
Despite a slight improvement in the win category, the Senators again found themselves at the bottom of the standings in 1993-1994, and because of the new lottery system, they were given the third pick in the entry draft. (thanks again, Daigle!)
After hearing the names of Ed Jovanovski and Oleg Tverdovsky called as the number one and two picks respectively, the Ottawa Senators breathed a sigh of relief when they were able to draft the guy they would have picked first overall: Radek Bonk.
In his first year in the league, Bonk decided to take it easy on opposing goalies by scoring 3 goals in 42 games. Despite his slow start, Bonk came into his own with Jacques Martin at the helm, and he went on to score 152 goals and 247 assists for 399 points in 647 games with Ottawa.
Also, in addition to his incredible hockey talent, Bonk entered the league sporting the always fasionable mullet — not any mullet, of course, but the best looking mullet in franchise history.
(Which inspired the best Twitter handle in the Twittersphere, Twitterland, or whatever)
via Radek Bonk's Mullet (twitter: https://twitter.com/BonksMullet)
Also, if acquiring Bonk wasn't enough, the Sens also drafted Daniel Alfredsson, 133rd overall, that same year. In my mind, 1994 will go down as the greatest draft in franchise history.
*Notables: Ryan Smyth (6th), Mattias Ohlund (13th), Patrik Elias (51st), Sheldon Souray (71st), Chris Drury (72nd), Milan Hejduk (87th), Tim Thomas (217th), Evgeni Nabokov (219th), and Tomas Vokoun (226th).
1995: Bryan Berard (1st overall)
1994-1995 was a shortened season that saw the Senators finish last in the league, and as a result they were the first team at the podium for the 1995 entry draft (the early years were rough for Sens fans in Ottawa).
The Senators picked Bryan Berard first overall, and after refusing to play for them, Berard was traded to the New York Islanders for the second overall pick, Wade Redden.
A few interesting facts about Bryan Berard:
On March 11, 2000, while playing against the Senators in Ottawa, Berard was severely injured after he was unintenionally clipped in the eye by Marian Hossa's stick. How's that for irony?
After attempting a comeback from what was supposed to be a career-ending injury, Berard tested positive for steroids in 2006, making him the first player in NHL history to test positive for the drug.
*Notables include: Shane Doan (7th), Jerome Iginla (11th), Petr Sykora (18th), and Mikka Kiprusoff (116th).
1996: Chris Phillips (1st overall)
The Sens drafted Chris Phillips 1st overall after — you guessed it — another horrible regular season which saw them win 18 games.
With Alfredsson gone, Chris Phillips is the longest serving Senator on the active roster. He's been a work-horse for the Senators, and since 2006-2007, he has only missed three games. He's played 1,073 games, and despite being known for his defensive style — a style which is hard to quantify statistically — he's managed to tally 70 goals and 200 assists.
Seventeen years later, it's unbelievable for some to think that Phillips was a first overall pick — especially the younger fans who have started to watch only recently. But, to be honest, the 1996 draft class was rather weak, and outside of Zdeno Chara, Phillips was arguably the best defensemen available.
*Notables: Daniel Briere (24th), Zdeno Chara (56th), and Tomas Kaberle (204th).
1997: Marian Hossa (12th overall)
In 1996-97', the Senators' long-term plan started to come together. The emergence of young stars (Alfredsson, Yashin, etc.) combined with a new coach with a defence-first philosophy, saw the Senators finally squeak into the playoffs — they qualified by winning their last game of the season. They would eventually lose to the Buffalo Sabres in game seven of the first round (the beginning of several years of playoff disappointment). As a result of their successful season, the Sens drafted Marian Hossa with the 12th overall selection.
While in Ottawa, Hossa proved to be an offensive threat, scoring more than 30 goals four times, and even netting 45 in 2002-2003. He quickly became a fan favourite and helped the Senators become competitive and exciting to watch. His timely arrival made it easier for fans to forget about the franchise's struggles to be competitive. What was once a fresh wound henceforth became a scar, a distant memory in Sens fans' memories...You get the picture.
After several good seasons in Ottawa, Hossa was traded to the Atlanta Thrasers (Winnipeg Jets) in 2005-2006 for The One We Shall Not Name. In 413 games, Hossa registered 188 goals and 202 assists for 390 points.
*Notables: Brendan Morrow (25th), Maxim Afinogenov (69th), and Brian Campbell (156th).
1998: Mathieu Chouinard (15th overall)
My first reaction was: Who? Initially, I was disappointed and immediately began to question my Sens trivia knowledge. But, after a brief google search, I finally realized why I'd never heard of this guy before: He's never played a game for Ottawa. As a matter of fact, in 2004, while with the Kings, Chouinard was forced into action in relief of a demoralised Cristobal Huet who had just let in a sixth goal. He made two saves that night in what ended up being his only appearance in the NHL.
But don't let his disappointing career fool you, Chouinard does hold one record with the Senators: He's the only player to be drafted twice by the organization.
After being unable to agree on an entry-level contract, Chouinard decided to start over and reactivated himself two years later for the 2000 entry draft. With a fresh start in mind, he was drafted by the Senators in the second round. So much for that fresh start, huh? You just can't make this stuff up, folks.
*Notables: Simon Gagne (22nd), Mike Ribiero (45th), Brad Richards (64th), Shawn Horcoff (99th), Andrei Markov (162nd), and Pavel Dastyuk (171st).
1999: Martin Havlat (26th overall)
Ottawa's regular season success — a season that saw them finish first in their division — didn't continue on into the playoffs, and as a result they were swept out of the first round by the Buffalo Sabres (I almost forgot how much I hate the Sabres until I wrote this piece).
Despite a relatively weak first round that saw both Sedins go to Vancouver, Ottawa seemingly picked up a gem with its late pick in Martin Havlat. It's important to note that Havlat never played a full season in Ottawa and has been plagued with injuries throughout his career. But being softer than three-ply toilet paper hasn't stopped Havlat from being an offensive threat. He played in 298 games for Ottawa and recorded 105 goals along with 130 assists for a total of 235 points.
*Notables: Craig Anderson (77th), Ryan Miller (138th), Martin Erat (191st), and Henrik Zetterberg (210th).
2000: Anton Volchenkov (21st overall)
After another strong season (95 points), the Sens were once again slated to pick in the bottom of the draft. With their 21st overall pick, they selected Anton Volchenkov, or as he is better known by Sens fans: The A Train.
Volchenkov was never a huge threat offensively; he is a prototypical stay-at-home defencemen. Bone crushing hits, solid defensive awareness, and blocked shots are his bread and butter — and man can he ever block shots. In 2006-2007, Volchenkov blocked 276 shots, which was more "saves" than 20 other goalies in the league. In 428 games, Anton scored 16 goals (all of which seem to be packaged in the above highlight reel) and assisted on 78 goals for a total of 94 points as a Senator. In 2010, he signed with the New Jersey Devils and has seen limited action due to injury.
Ottawa did a good job with this pick, especially when you consider that the Islanders drafted Rick Dipietro with their first overall selection.
*Notables: Justin Williams (28), Ilya Bryzgalov (44), Stoll (46), Lubomir Visnovsky (118), and Henrik Lundqvist (205).
2001: Jason Spezza (2nd overall)
Remember earlier when I said Alexi Yashin still contributes to the Senators' on-ice success? Well, Spezza is his contribution. When Yashin was traded, the Senators received Zdeno Chara and "big-goal" Bill Muckalt in return, but they also received the 2nd overall pick which turned out to be Jason Spezza.
And I know you're saying: Second overall? who the hell went first? Well, the Atlanta Thrasers selected Ilya Kovalchuck with the first pick... and his early retirement makes this pick even sweeter. As a Sens fans, I'm pretty happy about this one. What do you think, Jason?
There's not much I can say about Spezza which hasn't already been said, so here's a video:
And here's another one:
Oh yeah, the Sens also drafted some dude named Tim Gleason with their 23rd pick, but who cares? #Amirite
*Notables: no one else mattered in the draft, we got Spezza.
After some research, and looking at some of the names the Sens have picked throughout the years, I've come to realize that drafting really is hit-or-miss. The early years were rough for the Senators, but thanks to this article, I've noticed a steady improvement over the years (with a flop here and there). Stay tuned for part two of this post — coming soon.
Don't forget to vote for your favourite first-round pick from the franchise's first decade in the league. I'm fairly confident I know who'll get the majority of the votes, but there's no shortage of interesting choices. (I'm expecting at least one vote for Bonk, though. RBM, I'm looking at you, buddy.)
Also, please leave a comment. It would be nice to know how you feel about the article and if it's worth it to follow through with part 2.