A constant theme in the past few drafts by the Ottawa Senators was the system of choosing the best player available and not necessarily the best player by position. Given we are now 6 drafts into the Murray era, we can look at how that strategy has worked out in the first rounds to at least 2011. For the sake of simplicity I will largely focus on the first and second rounds for comparison since beyond the 2nd round the chances of drafting surefire NHLer's is drastically reduced. Scott Cullen put it succinctly when he noted a third round player has a 1 in 7 chance in making the NHL compared to even the second round where the average is 1 in 4.
2008: Traded up to acquire Erik Karlsson 15th overall. Hard to deny the Senators made the best pick available getting a player worth a top 3 pick at 15th overall. Were there good choices after him? Yes but Eberle, Stepan, Nyquist, and Atkinson just are not of the same of the same caliber. So 2008 was a definite win for the best player available strategy.
2009: Jared Cowen drafted 9th Overall: It can certainly be argued that better players were drafted after him but not necessarily better defenceman. His three closest comparable players all come with warts of their own. Ellis was a lesser Karlsson in both height and ability. Kulikov had the Russian factor so evident among the Murray's scouting staff and De Haan has posted very similar numbers with more ice-time. Only Nick Leddy looks to be a better player but he is on the best team in Western Conference and comes with the same caveats as Ellis. Thus 2009 was passable for the best player available strategy, though it should be noted Ottawa later admitted it tried to trade up for Ekman-Larsson before Phoenix drafted him earlier than expected.
2010:Traded for Rundblad who floundered as a pick but netted the team Turris before he dropped too much in value.. 2010 was a pass by virtue of good asset management but not by draft choice. Tarasenko and Bjustad both were drafted afterword and look to be productive NHLers.
2011. Zibanejad at 6th overall. This pick will come down to how Mark Schiefele develops as a player. Sean C. after a great rookie year has settled into a dependable but not elite 2nd/3rd liner center. Currently Zibanejad produces at roughly the same level as the pick after him but does see less ice-time behind the duo of Spezza and Turris and the large use of Z.Smith. If Zibanejad emerges as the better player within the next few years this would be a win in 2011 for the Best Player available strategy but a pass if the players produce similar results.. As most of the players 11th overall and beyond have yet to see serious NHL time, I refrain for analyzing them. It should be noted that Ottawa had drafted 3 straight defenders in the first round so Dougie Hamilton was not even on their radar with 6 high-end centers in the top ten.
In conclusion the strategy of picking the best player available has been a mixed bag for the Ottawa Senators. 2008 was a definite win well 2009 and 2011 produced players who did not greatly outshine their competition. 2010 was the only true bust as at least two better picks were available but neither had proven better than the potential of Turris as of yet.