The Greatest Ottawa Senators From Every Country
And when I say every country...I mean six.
Welcome back! So far we’ve built iterations of the Ottawa Senators representing both Canada and the United States. Going forward, it’ll be quite difficult to highlight the best Senators from around the world if we stick with the same format so it’s time to change things up.
We’re going to reduce the size of our teams by over half — to three forwards, two defensemen, and one goaltender. Let’s see which countries are eligible to compete.
There may not be a ton of Swedes that have played for the Senators, but among those are the greatest to ever represent the nation’s capital — Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson.
Many have been blessed with the opportunity to play alongside the team’s longest-serving captain, and we’re going to blend old-school with new-school on that forward line, with Mika Zibanejad and Magnus Arvedson. Even though you’re getting pre-Ranger Zibanejad, he still produced as a legitimate second-line centre for Ottawa between 2014 and 2016.
Erik Karlsson. The most talented Senator in history. His decline as a Shark is irrelevant here, he was capable of carrying an entire defence corps on his back during his prime (although he really shouldn’t have been relied on to do that). Though he’ll need a capable partner to really make this team dominant, and Freddy Claesson is the best available option, thanks to a 33-game stretch in 2016-17. He played in 14 playoff games that year and was a useful depth piece during that time. And even though he hasn’t been able to lock down an NHL role since leaving Ottawa, he did what so many players would give everything for — he won the Stanley Cup this past year.
Finally, it’s got to be Robin Lehner in net, right? He didn’t have the best time in Ottawa but he was good, especially in 2012-13 as part of the three-headed monster in goal along with Craig Anderson and Ben Bishop — Bishop’s .922 save percentage was third-best among that group.
If you’re going to give the Finns credit for one thing, it’s that they’ve got guts. Sure, Jarmo Kekäläinen didn’t spend much time in a Senators uniform, but he’s played more than enough games to be a lock on this team. A former Senators executive, and the current GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets, he’s best known for his gambler’s mentality, trading for Matt Duchene in 2019 and going off the board in the 2020 draft in a way that Trent Mann can’t even comprehend.
If you followed the Sens during the turn of the millennium, you may remember backup goaltender Jani Hurme, who, during a line brawl against the Los Angeles Kings, went toe-to-toe in a fight with Felix Potvin, who in turn is famous for manhandling Ron Hextall while taking minimal damage in the process.
Jarkko Ruutu shouldn’t be overlooked either, he spent three seasons as an aggravating bottom-six forward with the Senators, and although the most iconic moment of his career didn’t take place with Ottawa, it still involves another former Senator, and is absolutely worth watching either way:
The forward line will be rounded out by Antti Tormanen, who played in 50 games for Ottawa in 1995-96, and the defence pair consists of two decent options combining for over 450 games in the organization — Janne Laukanen and Sami Salo. Close, but no cigar, Jyrki Jokipakka.
On the global stage, you may place the Czech Republic on a tier below that of Sweden, Finland, and a few others, but in this context, you’ve got one of the strongest contenders out there. Czech out this forward line — Milan Michalek, Radek Bonk, and Martin Havlat. Not the absolute best we’ve seen but you’d be wise not to underestimate a trio consisting of the centrepiece of the Dany Heatley trade, a player who was traded straight-up for Heatley a few years later, and the Mullet.
The defence isn’t half-bad either — Karel Rachunek and Filip Kuba aren’t elite but they’ll get the job done. Especially considering who they’ve got manning the crease behind them.
He played just one season with Ottawa, but if Dominik Hasek decided to come out of retirement (his beautiful, beautiful retirement) and return to his Senators form, every other team would be fearing for their life. With a .925 save percentage, can you blame them? Even Sens legend Craig Anderson would think twice before getting into a goaltending duel with him, you know his only hope would be to hit up the nearest jewelry store and chuck a few rings at him.
Everyone knows the best team the Russian Sens could put together would be six Artem Zubs. But that would be unfair to those who have put in tons of service for Ottawa over the years. Particularly on the back end, your best bet is to go with Anton Volchenkov, or “A-Train” to his friends and enemies, who places a respectable 18th on Ottawa’s all-time games played list, and was an absolute warrior in every one of those 428 games. Sergei Gonchar could be an ideal partner for him, but I’ve opted to go with Igor Kravchuk, who’s played more games for Ottawa and was still a decent offensive contributor.
The forward line will be centered by Alexei Yashin, best known for getting Ottawa Jason Spezza, Zdeno Chara, and yes, even you, Bill Muckalt. That trade is still slightly better with you in it, and you should be proud.
Yashin will be flanked by Alexei Kovalev and Petr Schastlivy, two wingers who’ve played over 100 games with the Senators. Kovalev in particular didn’t meet expectations, but he still produced 76 points in 134 games and ended up netting a seventh-round pick which became Ryan Dzingel. Huh.
So, now we’ve got a problem. Because you’ll find that the Senators have never had a Russian goaltender in their history. It’s a conundrum. A dilemma. An emergency, if you will. Wait a second...emergency...that gives me an idea.
#Artygoalie pic.twitter.com/M6oM5zEhhl— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) April 25, 2021
Okay, well after seeing that, it might be better if they just run with six skaters. Aside from Erik Condra, who’s not scoring on that five-hole?
To recap, here are the six teams we’ve built over this entire series:
CAN: F Jason Spezza, F Dany Heatley, F Mark Stone, D Chris Phillips, D Wade Redden, G Patrick Lalime
USA: F Bryan Smolinski, F Shawn MacEachern, F Bobby Ryan, D Joe Corvo, D Brian Pothier, G Craig Anderson
SWE: F Mika Zibanejad, F Magnus Arvedson, F Daniel Alfredsson, D Fredrik Claesson, D Erik Karlsson, G Robin Lehner
FIN: F Jarmo Kekäläinen, F Antti Tormanen, F Jarkko Ruutu, D Janne Laukkanen, D Sami Salo, G Jani Hurme
CZE: F Radek Bonk, F Milan Michalek, F Martin Havlat, D Filip Kuba, D Karel Rachunek, G Dominik Hasek
RUS: F Alexei Yashin, F Petr Schastlivy, F Alexei Kovalev, D Anton Volchenkov, D Igor Kravchuk, G Artem Anisimov (lmao)
We’re finally at the end! Here’s another shout-out to OttawaWendy in the comments for inspiring the start of this three-part series! There were quite a few players I got to learn more about during the research leading up to these pieces, which certainly added to the fun of the entire exercise.
So, where is home to the most talented Senators in history? Is it the well-rounded Canadian squad, or might it be Sweden, led by Alfie and Karlsson? Perhaps a surprise contender in the Czech Republic? Be sure to let us know!
Which six-man Senators squad is the strongest?