Picking 6th: A Primer

When the New Jersey Devils won the NHL's draft lottery, they moved from 8th to 4th, bumping the Senators to 6th overall -- about the most disappointing result possible considering fans were debating what they would do with the second overall pick at one point this season. Though it's not an ideal reward for a miserable season, it is far from a kiss of death. Keep in mind that just last year, All-Star and probably Calder Trophy candidate Jeff Skinner was selected 7th by Carolina. Quality talent is available outside of the top five.

Since the draft lottery began in 1995, the following players have been selected at the 6th overall spot:

Year Player Pos. Drafted From Drafted By
2010 Brett Connolly RW Prince George (WHL) Tampa Bay Lightning
2009 Oliver Ekman Larsson D Leksand (Swe) Phoenix Coyotes
2008 Nikita Filatov LW Moscow CSKA-2 Columbus Blue Jackets
2007 Sam Gagner RW London (OHL) Edmonton Oilers
2006 Derick Brassard C Drummondville (QMJHL) Columbus Blue Jackets
2005 Gilbert Brule C Vancouver Giants (WHL) Columbus Blue Jackets
2004 Al Montoya G U. of Michigan (NCAA) New York Rangers
2003 Milan Michalek LW/RW Ceske Budejovice HC (Czech) San Jose Sharks
2002 Scott Upshall LW/RW Kamloops Blazers (WHL) Nashville Predators
2001 Mikko Koivu C TPS Turku (FNL) Minnesota Wild
2000 Scott Hartnell C Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) Nashville Predators
1999 Brian Finley G Barrie Colts (OHL) Nashville Predators
1998 Rico Fata RW London Knights (OHL) Calgary Flames
1997 Daniel Tkaczuk C Barrie Colts (OHL) Calgary Flames
1996 Boyd Devereaux C Kitchener Rangers (OHL) Edmonton Oilers
1995 Steve Kelly LW Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) Edmonton Oilers

While that list is a pretty mixed bag, there are some appealing names in there. Brett Connolly was considered a potential top three player before injury. Filatov is considered to have "game-changing shiftiness and excellent offensive instincts." Ekman-Larsson is projected as a "puck-moving defenseman with elite upside." Gagner has "awesome vision and uncanny ability to always find the open man" (though Edmonton fans might disagree). Koivu has done well in Minnesota, and Senators fans should be familiar with what Michalek brings to the table.

Fans hoping for an elite talent will obviously be disappointed, but beyond defenseman Adam Larsson, there isn't really a consensus elite talent identified yet in the draft. Time will tell who those players are, but given GM Bryan Murray's apparent skill at finding talented players (think 50-goal scorer Corey Perry, All-Star Ryan Getzlaf, and All-Star Erik Karlsson) with later picks, there's still plenty of room for optimism -- as long as fans are not expecting next year's pick to have a major impact at the NHL level immediately.

Here's a quick look at who the Senators might be able to land if they remain in the 6th spot:

Sean Couturier - Center

Height: 6'4"
Weight: 197lbs
Born: Dec 7, 1992

Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2008-09 Drummondville Voltigeurs QMJHL 58 9 22 31 14 24 19 1 7 8 8
2009-10 Drummondville Voltigeurs QMJHL 68 41 55 96 47 62 14 10 8 18 18
2010-11 Drummondville Voltigeurs QMJHL 58 36 60 96 36 55

Stats via Hockeydb.com

Couturier is an interesting case, as he was at one time considered a frontrunner to be selected first overall. Since the start of this season, though, his ranking has fallen. TSN currently ranks him fifth overall, and NHL Central Scouting has him sixth among North American skaters. The primary reason given for Couturier's drop, believe it or not, is his consistent play. The players ranked above him have all raised their level of play, while he has merely remained "good." Given his size and skill level, it's probably unlikely that he'll fall to Ottawa.

Ryan Strome - Center

Height: 6'1"
Weight: 175lbs (soaking wet)
Born: Jul 11, 1993

Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2009-10 Barrie Colts OHL 34 5 9 14 35 7 -- -- -- -- --
2009-10 Niagara IceDogs OHL 27 3 10 13 26 -9 5 0 3 3 0
2010-11 Niagara IceDogs OHL 65 33 73 106 82 28

Stats via Hockeydb.com

Strome is more likely to be available where Ottawa is picking. His numbers are eyebrow-raising, as he essentially exploded for 106 points, more than doubling his points per game from his previous season. He obviously doesn't have the size of Couturier, and while he appears to be quite a skilled playmaker, the striking difference in his numbers may very well have some teams wondering what kind of player he really is. Strome has the skillset -- at least according to reports -- to be an ideal second line center behind someone like Jason Spezza, but it's unlikely he'd be ready for that role for several years. As it stands now, it's doubtful he could fill that role should Spezza be unavailable.

Jonathan Huberdeau - Center

Height: 6'1"
Weight: 171lbs (with rocks in his pockets)
Born: Jun 4 1993

Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2009-10 Saint John Sea Dogs QMJHL 61 15 20 35 43 28 21 11 7 18 22
2010-11 Saint John Sea Dogs QMJHL 67 43 62 105 88 59

Stats via Hockeydb.com

Huberdeau is a very similar player to Ryan Strome. He shares similar numbers and playmaking ability. His stickhandling is already reportedly considered to be NHL-level by some scouts. While smaller in stature than Strome, NHL central scouting has him ranked third among North American skaters. This may mean he has a higher ceiling than Strome, and thus makes his availability to Ottawa in the 6th spot unlikely.

Dougie Hamilton - Defense

Height: 6'4"
Weight: 187lbs
Born: Jun, 17 1993

Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2009-10 Niagara IceDogs OHL 64 3 13 16 36 -8 5 0 1 1 4
2010-11 Niagara IceDogs OHL 67 12 46 58 77 35

Stats via Hockeydb.com

While it's hard to believe that any grown man could go by the name of "Dougie," Hamilton is nonetheless is reported to have great mobility for his size, and when you're talking about defensemen, mobility is a key factor -- there's nothing more painful than watching someone turned into a pylon by a shifty forward. Initial research shows that the name Jay Bouwmeester keeps showing up for comparisons, and that's not too shabby.

Ryan Murphy - Defense

Height: 5'10"
Weight: 166lbs
Born: Mar 31, 1993

Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM +/- GP G A Pts PIM
2008-09 Villanova Knights OJHL 4 4 2 6 0
2009-10 Kitchener Rangers OHL 62 6 33 39 22 -3 20 5 12 17 16
2010-11 Kitchener Rangers OHL 63 26 53 79 36 22

Stats via Hockeydb.com

Murphy has the numbers of a forward. Combine that with his size and Senators fans have someone very obvious to compare him with: Erik Karlsson. Should Murphy fall to the Senators, they could suddenly find themselves with an embarrassment of riches on defense -- putting them in prime position to trade someone for a high-quality forward they were unable to draft given their draft position.

Though some rankings have been released, it's far too early to say for sure who will be available when Ottawa selects. At this point, it's logical to assume the first two picks will be Adam Larsson and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in some kind of order, but beyond that, it's a crapshoot. There's a high likelihood that several of these players will be off the board by the time the sixth pick rolls around. In the coming days, we'll get a better sense of who might be available and take a more in-depth look at those players. For now, consider this no more than a primer to whet your appetites.

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