Who's Your Favourite?
So I'm back with part-two of: Senators by the decade. The concensus, according to part one, is that the Senators have done a decent job with their first-round draft picks. But will the trend continue in the franchise's second decade in the league? Also, despite a fair amount of votes for Marian Hossa, Jason Spezza remains S7S's favourite pick from the first decade.
Let's get to it.
2002: Jakub Klepis (16th)
After finishing the 2001-2002 season 7th in the Eastern Conference, the Senators qualified for the playoffs and upset the Philadelphia Flyers in the first-round. Unfortunately, their playoff run was cut short after losing in seven games to the Maple Leafs.
With their 16th pick, the Senators chose center Jakub Klepis. Before even playing a game in Ottawa, Klepis was traded to Buffalo in 2003 for forward Vaclav Varada. Klepis scored 4 goals and 10 assists in 66 games (all with Washington) before moving to Europe to continue his career where he has remained since 2007-2008.
Notables: Cam Ward (25th), Jarret Stoll (36th), Duncan Keith (54th), Valtteri Filppula (95th), and Dennis Wideman (241st).
2003: Patrick Eaves (29th)
After finishing first in the Eastern Conference, the Senators made a push in the playoffs by beating the Islanders in the first round, the Flyers in the second round, but eventually fell short to the Devils in game seven of the Conference Finals.
In hindsight, the 2003 entry draft is arguably the deepest in recent memory. It saw superstars such as M-A Fleury, Eric Staal, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry, among many others, drafted in the first round (all before the 29th pick).
The Senators decided to pick Patrick Eaves, a forward out of Boston College, with their first-round pick. Eaves played three seasons in Ottawa, and showed some offensive talent after recording 20 goals in his rookie campaign. His production declined to 14 in his second season, and fell to 4 in his third. After struggling to find success in Ottawa, Eaves was traded to Carolina in 2008 along with disgruntled (and recently re-acquired) defencemen, Joe Corvo for Corey Stillman and Mike Commodore. Eaves has never scored more than 13 goals since being traded out of Ottawa.
*Notables: Loui Eriksson (33rd), Patrice Bergeron (45), Seah Weber (49th), David Backes (62nd), Jimmy Howard (64th), Tobias Enstrom (239th), Dustin Byfuglien (245th), Matt Moulson (263rd), and Jaroslav Halak (271st)
2004: Andrej Meszaros (23rd)
The Senators once again qualified for a playoff spot after a successful season. Unfortunately, they were unable to move beyond the first round after losing 4-1 to Toronto in game 7 (game 7s have not been kind to Sens fans).
In the off-season, the Sens picked Andrej Meszaros with their 23rd pick in the first-round. Meszaros spent three seasons in Ottawa and collected 26 goals and 87 assists in 246 games. In 2008, Meszaros was traded to Tampa Bay for Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard and a 09' first-round pick.
*Notables: Corey Schneider (26th), Mike Green (29th), Alex Goligoski (61st), David Krejci (63rd), Alexander Edler (91st), Johan Franzen (97th), Ryan Callahan (127th), Pekka Rinne (258th), and Mark Streit (262nd)
2005: Brian Lee (9th)
The 2004-2005 season was cancelled, and as a result, the draft order was determined by lottery. The Senators were awarded with the 9th overall pick and
wasted used it on Brian Lee. As most of us know, Lee turned out to be a bust, and he spent most of his time bouncing up and down the Ottawa depth chart until finally being traded to Tampa Bay, in 2012, for Matt Gilroy.
Lee played 167 games with Ottawa, scoring 5 goals and 23 assists.
*Notables: Anze Kopitar (11th), Marc Staal (12th), Tukka Rask (21st), James Neal (33rd), Kristopher Letang (62nd), Jonathan Quick (72nd), and Keith Yandle (105th).
2006: Nick Foligno (28th)
In 2005-2006, the Ottawa Senators signed all-star goaltender, and future hall-of-famer, Dominik Hasek, to a one-year deal. The Senators quickly became favourites to win the Stanley Cup that year, and feelings of hope and optimism ensued. However, those feelings quickly faded when Hasek was injured while playing in the Olympics (a reason, I'm sure, Sens fans are happy to let their players sit and relax during the quadrennial winter festivities). Needles to say, the Senators did not win the Cup that year, and were easily beat by the Sabres in the second round of the playoffs.
With defeat still fresh on their minds, fans rejoiced when Ottawa signed Nick Foligno in the first-round of the draft — no they didn't. Although some hype surrounded Foligno, he never developped into anything more than a real-life Luis Mendoza, so he was traded to Columbus in 2012 for Marc Methot.
Foligno played 351 games for Ottawa, and scored 61 goals and 87 assists.
*Notables: Milan Lucic (50th), Brad Marchand (71st). Strong first round, but not much talent in the following rounds.
2007: Jim O'Brien (29th)
My admiration for the Senators reached its apex during the 2007 post-season when they convincingly defeated their Eastern Conference opponents to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, and in doing so, they created a memory which I will never forget:
The streets of Ottawa were alive and vibrant, filled with fans drunk on playoff success (and beer, lots and lots of beer). For the first time since I can remember, there was real optimism surrounding the team and their chance at bringing home the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, they were out-played and out-skilled by the opposing Anaheim Ducks, and the Sens lost in 5 games in what will be remembered as the most heart-breaking and anti-climactic event in franchise history.
(It would be interesting to see what fans consider more heart breaking: the Sens losing to Anaheim in 2007, or Alfredsson leaving in 2013. Just an idea.)
After a disappointing result to their season, the Sens decided to disappoint fans once more by drafting Jim O'Brien in the first round. The man commonly referred to as JOB, has spent his entire career in Ottawa's system but has struggled to become and every day player. It looks like JOB will be looking for one if he doesn't surprise management next year.
*Notables: P.K. Subban (43rd), Jamie Benn (129th)
2008: Erik Karlsson (15th)
In 2007-2008, the Sens barely made the playoffs after a subpar season. What made things worse was their performance in the playoffs: They were swept out of the first round by the Pittsburgh Penguins. A somewhat surprising fate for a team who made it to the Stanley Cup finals only one year prior.
One positive that year: They drafted Erik Karlsson 15th overall. What can I say about Karlsson? That he's the best defencemen in the league when healthy? That he's the only Swede, other than Nick Lidstrom, to win a Norris? That he won said Norris at the tender age of 23?
With Alfredsson gone — and even when he was here — Karlsson is the cornerstone on which the Senators must build their team. He has put Ottawa on the proverbial map, and can single-handedly change the outcome of a game. He's explosive, creative, and usually smart — a mix of qualities which make him one of the most exciting players to watch. I'm not going to write a book about Karlsson, as I'm sure Sens fans are already aware of his talent.
In 233 games played, he has scored 43 goals and 120 assists while with Ottawa.
*Notables: Best possible pick at 15.
2009: Jared Cowen (9th)
2008-2009 saw the Senators miss the playoffs for the first time since the 1995-1996 season. At the entry draft, the Sens drafted Jared Cowen with their 9th pick. Cowen, a big, strong, physical defencemen was drafted to give Ottawa some stability and size at the blue line. So far, the jury is still out on Cowen, and a tweet by S7S's own Peter Raaymakers (@silversevensens) highlights the enigma:
2010: No first-round draft-pick
During the 2009-2010 season, the Senators traded their first-overall pick to St. Louis for prospect David Rundblad. The following year, Rundblad was used as trade bait to acquire Kyle Turris from Phoenix.
2011: Mika Zibanejad (6th), Stefan Noesen (21st), Matt Puempel (24th)
In 2010-2011, the Senators finished last in their division, and 13th in the Eastern Conference. Management conceded and agreed it was time for a rebuild — one they predicted would only last three years. On February 10th, 2011, the rebuild officially began when they traded Mike Fisher to the Nashville Predators for a first-round pick. This would be the first move of many that saw the likes of Chris Kelly, Jarko Ruutu, Alexei Kovalev, Chris Campoli, and Brian Elliott leave Ottawa (and also saw the arrival of Craig Anderson) in an attempt at hoarding draft-picks.
On draft-day, the Sens had three first-round picks which ultimately became: Mika Zibanejad, Stefan Noesen, and Matt Puempel. With Noesen gone as part of the deal that brought Bobby Ryan to Ottawa, and Matt Puempel still trying to crack the club's lineup, Zibanejad remains the only first-round pick from 2011 to suit up for Ottawa.
Zibanejad's role on the team for the upcoming season is somewhat of a mystery. While the organization claims that he will continue to develop as a center, an abundance of talent down the middle makes it far more likely that he will transition into a winger. At 20 years of age, it's safe to say that this kid hasn't reached his full potential yet, and could arguably be a top-line player down the line. He plays with a combination of skill and grit which makes him an asset to the team. In 51 games, Zibanejad has scored 7 goals and 14 assists.
So, who's your favourite?