Redrafting (Ranking) Every Ottawa Senators First Round Pick
It's the most exciting time of the year for a team that missed the playoffs. The Stanley Cup has been handed out, the Toronto Maple Leafs now have sole possession of the longest playoff series win drought in the NHL, and a black cloud is lifting over the Ottawa Senators franchise with the news of Daniel Alfredsson’s trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the jump starting of the LeBreton Arena project and some new blood in Alex DeBrincat.
It’s a good time to be a Senators fan, and it’s going to get better in short order. With an eye to the future and withdrawal symptoms from not seeing the team play a game in a few months, and a few more months to come, it’s a great time to engage in some purely theoretical and speculative exercises on this fine blog.
Being that it’s the 30th anniversary of the team this season and with the draft just completed, I thought it would be fun to put every Senators first round pick into a big pool, and re-draft every player ever picked by our favourite franchise.
Of course, while my opinion and my opinion alone determined the new draft order, please let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!
Here’s how we’re doing this draft, and how I determined the new order. You can call it a re-draft, you can call it a ranking, but whatever you do, please enjoy this trip down 30 years of Sens’ first round picks, presented in three parts.
- The available pool of players must have been drafted in the first round by the Ottawa Senators between 1992 and 2021.
- Rankings are based on their contributions to the Ottawa Senators first and foremost, rest of their career with other teams is secondary
- Current players with high potential get ranked higher based on potential over players who the book is closed on.
- Second tie breaker is what (if anything) they brought back when they left via trade or other assets.
- Last tie breaker is “that guy was RIGHT THERE to be picked after him!”
- Obviously we’re going in reverse order for this exercise, you’ll just have to read to the bottom for the shocking conclusion of who went first overall.
Without further ado, The Sens Nation is reluctant to select with the 35th overall pick:
Mathieu Chouinard (Originally selected 15th overall in 1998
- Spent three seasons in the Senators organization, refused to sign with the team and re-entered the draft. Why not double down on that mistake by drafting him again in the second round 45th overall in the 2000 draft? He would leave as a free agent and only made a single appearance in the NHL on February 29, 2004, playing mop up duty in a 6-3 blowout with the Los Angeles Kings. Two high draft picks spent on a goalie of the future for whom the future never came.
Our next selection at 34th overall:
Jakub Klepis (Originally selected 16th overall in 2002)
- Getting drafted one spot ahead of Mathieu Chouinard because he didn’t cost the team an extra second round pick. Gets bonus points for getting traded for 2003-era fan favourite Vaclav Varada. Played a total of 66 games in the NHL, scoring 4 goals and 10 assists, none for Ottawa. His career however, continues to this day in his native Czechia.
With the 33rd overall pick, Sens Nation selects:
Matt Puempel (Originally selected 24th overall in 2011)
- Puempel was part of a trifecta of Ottawa picks that year, their first in 12 years having missed the playoffs at the time. Drafted for his speed and slick hands, Ottawa traded two second round picks to Detroit to move up and grab Puempel. Puempel never found a home in the NHL, having only played 87 games in the NHL with a total of 16 points. Only six of those points came in 52 games in a Senators jersey. He would be waived and claimed by the New York Rangers in 2016, for whom he’d score a hat trick, half of his goal output for the entire season.
With the 32nd overall pick:
Logan Brown (Originally selected 11th overall in 2016)
- Depending on who you ask, it was a mix of injuries, expectations, and attitude that torpedoed Brown’s career, especially in Ottawa. With an enviable mix of size and skill, Brown should have been the Sens’ second line centre for a decade to come. Instead, he was traded to the Blues after five underwhelming seasons in the Sens’ system. He most recently scored 11 of his 20 career points last season in 39 games for the Blues.
At 31st overall, we’re now out of pure bust country, and into the “it took 200+ career games to figure out they’re a bust” territory.
Brian Lee (Originally selected 9th overall in 2005)
- Perhaps the most notorious pick in Senators’ first round history. Gifted the 9th overall pick in a total lottery after the lost lockout season of 2004-05, the Senators went way, way, way off the board to select Brian Lee 9th overall. An undersized puck mover right out of high school, Lee was selected immediately ahead of Marc Staal and Anze Kopitar, and would go on to play 167 underwhelming games for the Sens, with 28 points to show for it in addition to dreadful defensive play. He was then traded to Tampa for Matt Gilroy, who played roughly the same giveaway riddled game Lee would. To this day, I’m convinced Sens management thought they were drafting Brian Leetch. Lee would retire in 2014, less than ten years from his draft date.
The 30th overall pick is up, and it’s:
Jared Cowen (Originally selected 9th overall in 2009)
- Jared Cowen roared out of the gates as a rookie with a hard hitting style, but became a whipping boy in short order. If you’re a defenseman selected 9th overall by this franchise, watch out! Originally compared to Zdeno Chara for his size and mobility, Cowen’s career in Ottawa went south in a hurry, punctuated by terrible defensive zone coverage and limited mobility due to a slew of knee injuries across 249 games with the Sens. He would eventually be cast away as a throw-in on the Dion Phaneuf trade in 2016 with the Leafs, and would never see NHL (or AHL) ice again. He retired in 2017.
As we move into the 20s, we move past outright busts, and get into the category of players who never made it to Ottawa, but managed to scratch and claw their way on other rosters in the NHL. Sort of.
With the 29th overall pick, Sens Nation selects:
Shane Bowers (Originally selected 28th overall in 2017)
- He’s not a bust. Yet. But he’s getting dangerously close to one. Originally considered a centrepiece along with Ottawa’s first round pick in the absolutely disastrous Matt Duchene trade, Bowers has yet to see any NHL regular season ice for either Ottawa or the Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche. With only 45 points in 117 AHL games in the last four years and no room for him on a championship calibre roster, his time is quickly running out.
At 28th overall, Sens Nation selects with a shrug of the shoulders:
Stefan Noesen (Originally selected 21st overall in 2011)
- Selected with the first round pick received in the 2011 Mike Fisher trade with Nashville, Noesen has been an in-betweener in the NHL and AHL since. Having never gotten into a game with the Senators (AHL or NHL), he was moved to Anaheim as part of the Bobby Ryan trade, which bumps him up a few notches on this redraft for a nice return. In 207 NHL games between Anaheim, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Toronto, and most recently two scoreless games in Carolina, Noesen managed to get 85 points in 70 AHL games with the Chicago Wolves last season. His career continues, but he’ll be hard pressed to match his career high 27 points in 72 games with New Jersey in 2017-18, considering his next best season saw him score 8 points, a total he would reach in three separate seasons in the NHL.
As we hit 27th overall, we’re now in the “good career in a different uniform” category of Sens first round picks.
At 27th overall, Sens Nation selects:
Tim Gleason (Originally drafted 23rd overall in 2001)
- Gleason spent two years in limbo after being drafted by Ottawa without being able to come to a contract agreement. Ottawa traded him to Los Angeles for Bryan Smolinski, a great depth piece during some of the franchise’s strongest years.
At 26th overall, Sens Nation selects one of those most controversial players in Sens history.
Bryan Berard (Originally selected 1st overall in 1995)
- Not the first controversial player on this list, and certainly not the last. When Berard wasn’t handed a roster spot right out of his first training camp, he took his ball and went home, requesting a trade less than a year after he was drafted. While he would go on to score 48 points (a total he would never match again) and a Calder trophy with the Islanders in 1997, I think most Senators fans would gladly redo the three team trade with the Islanders and Maple Leafs that brought both Damian Rhodes and Wade Redden to Ottawa. Berard’s link to the Senators would take a devastating turn in 2000 when his eye was clipped by a Marian Hossa shot follow through in a game against the Leafs. It was certainly a catalyst for the budding hatred between the teams and fanbases. The injury took its toll on Berard and cut his career short, ending with 323 points in 619 games. To his credit, he didn’t pull a Lindros. He at least put the jersey and cap on at the draft. Zero games for the Senators plus his draft hype equals a 26th overall selection for Berard.
At 25th overall, I suppose Sens Nation selects: Jim O’Brien (Originally selected 29th overall in 2007) - Fresh off their Stanley Cup finals run in 2007, O’Brien never seemed to fit the mold of a first round pick, but did yeoman’s work on the 4th line when given the opportunity. While he only managed 13 points in 77 regular season NHL games (All but 4 of them in an Ottawa jersey), he at least had one of the most memorable playoff assists in Ottawa history, making a beautiful pass to Kyle Turris for an overtime winner in the 2012 playoffs against the New York Rangers. At 24th overall, Sens Nation makes their selection with a hamburger on the side. Curtis Lazar (Originally selected 17th overall in 2013) - Curtis Lazar was an instant fan favourite as he brought high energy, an infectiously positive attitude, and a willingness to eat burgers thrown onto the ice during the infamous hamburglar run. As a leader of a Memorial Cup win and several Canadian Junior gold medals, he looked like a leader from day one. However, with time it became clear that the team rushed him to the lineup and stunted his development. In a career that should have been much more offensively minded, his production sputtered to the tune of 90 points in 404 games. The Senators saw enough when he only managed a single assist in 33 games in his third season. Lazar only once managed 20 points in the NHL, his sophomore season in Ottawa. He was traded to Calgary in 2017 for a second round pick that became Alex Formenton. Not a bad return for pulling the parachute. At 23rd overall, we have our most contentious pick: Alexandre Daigle (Originally selected 1st overall in 1993)
- We know what you’re thinking. He should have been the last overall pick in this draft. Daigle remains one of the most notorious first overall busts in the history of the NHL. But is it warranted? Compared to the hype, maybe. But compared to other first overall busts like Patrik Stefan and Nail Yakupov, Daigle was a Hart Trophy contender by comparison. Can you tell me any set of hockey parents that wouldn’t be thrilled to see their son score multiple 50+ seasons in the NHL, win two World Junior Medals, and finish their career with 129 goals and 327 assists in 616 games. 172 of those points came in an Ottawa jersey during the worst years of the franchise. What he did bring to the Senators franchise was attention and hype to a team that sorely needed it in its nascent years. Getting Vaclav Prospal in return for Daigle in a trade with Philadelphia was not a bad return either. But yes, who wouldn’t rather have Chris Pronger or Paul Kariya, who went 2nd and 4th after Daigle? No one remembers who went 2nd overall, right Alex? At 22nd overall, we’re starting to talk about potential instead of results. Tyler Boucher (Originally selected 10th overall in 2021)
- Boucher’s pick was considered a reach when it was made less than a year ago as of this writing, and his career has taken a bit of a tough start, but the son of former NHL goaltender Brian Boucher has lots of runway left to turn things around. After only scoring 2 goals and 3 points in 17 games for the Boston University Terriers, Boucher moved over to the Ottawa 67s of the OHL, scoring a slightly better 14 points in 24 games. He will need to double that production to continue to be taken seriously as a prospect this coming season. Alexandre Daigle is waiting to overtake him in this draft. So as we approach the 21st overall pick, Sens Nation wonders if these guys were actually drafted in the first round. *Checks notes* Yep, these next three guys were indeed first round picks, so we’re happy to select: Colin White (Originally selected 21st overall 2015) - White parlayed a season playing alongside Mark Stone and Brady Tkachuk into 41 points in 71 games. The team rushed to sign him to a six year, $28.5 million contract extension during a time when any player willing to stay was good news, and putting a down payment on potential seemed like a good bet. The three seasons since have been an injury riddled mess of lost potential and decent 3rd line level player production. He’s a prime buyout candidate this summer, and hasn’t topped 23 points in a season since his 41 point breakout. At $2 million a year, he’d be a great bottom six forward. At nearly $5 million, he’s a whipping boy for the fanbase who’s at least popular with his teammates and plays a responsible two way game. Speaking of whipping boys, Sens nation selects at 20th overall; Cody Ceci (Originally selected 15th overall in 2012) - What wasn’t to love? An Ottawa native, captaining the Ottawa 67s, being drafted by the Senators. It was a match made in heaven. While most Senators fans will recall his dreadful defensive zone positioning and his miscasting as a defensive-minded second pair defenseman after an offensive puck-moving junior career; he did have his moments to shine in Ottawa jersey, most notably as Dion Phaneuf’s second pairing partner during the magical 2017 conference finals run. He would be positively run out of town in the following seasons, so getting traded for both Connor Brown (yay!) and Nikita Zaitsev (boo!) works out as a wash in terms of return. He seems to have found a home in Edmonton, where he provided solid defensive play and scored the game 7 overtime winner against the Kings in the first round. At 19th overall, we take one more step back to “wait, he was a first round pick?” territory as we take: Patrick Eaves (Originally selected at 29th overall in 2003) - One of the grittiest and most respected third liners in his day, Patrick Eaves was a key contributor to several quality teams, including the 2007 Stanley Cup finals roster, missing most of the first three rounds with an injury. While his offence never set the league on fire, he did manage a couple of 20 goal seasons (including his rookie year with the Sens) and quality leadership throughout his career with Carolina, Detroit, Dallas, and Anaheim before his career was cut short with a post-viral syndrome diagnosis. Eaves would be traded to Carolina along with Joe Corvo for Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore ahead of a 4 game sweep at the hands of the Penguins in the first round of 2008. At 18th overall, we’re going back to the well of potential, and we’re selecting: Ridly Greig (Originally selected 28th overall in 2020) - Greig certainly looks like he’s the hard edged reincarnation of a Mike Fisher type. With 63 points in 39 junior games last season, he appears ready to make the jump to at least the AHL this coming season. Will his potential be realised in a Sens jersey, or will he be part of a bigger package to bring in some immediate help? He could be the team’s third line centre for the next decade, or he could be the price you pay to bring in a veteran. We’re sticking with more potential at 17th overall as we select: Lassi Thomson (Originally selected 19th overall in 2019) - Thomson is the centrepiece of the Matt Duchene trade out of town as the first rounder received back from Columbus. A gold medal winner at the U18s with Finland in 2018, Thomson is a solid puck mover who’s looking to knock on the NHL door this season. 5 points in 16 games as a young defenseman last season is nothing to sneeze at. Time will tell, although he’s another candidate to be moved as a larger package to bring in immediate help. The potential continues at 16th overall as we select: Jacob Bernard Docker (originally selected 26th overall in 2018) - The double gold medal winner at the World Junior championships in 2020 and 2021 has just embarked on his professional career, putting up 9 points in 58 games, respectable totals for a defensive minded defenseman. There’s probably no room for him on the big squad just yet on a regular basis, but 8 games in the NHL last season gave him a taste of what’s needed to take the next step. As a right handed shot, he may have a good opportunity to play with Chabot or Sanderson in the near future, but probably needs at least one more season in the AHL first. At 15th overall, Sens Nation invites you to say “Hey, remember that guy?!” Andrej Meszaros (Originally drafted 23rd overall in 2004) - I could swear he played longer in Ottawa than the three seasons he played here between 2005-2008, where he was a consistent iron man who played 82 games and had point totals between 35 and 39 each year. The model of smooth skating consistency and beautiful flowing curly locks, he was Dion Phaneuf’s defensive partner on the All Rookie Team in 2006 thanks to his stellar +39 rating, likely a partial result of playing with Zdeno Chara in his final year with the Senators. Unable to come to contract terms with the team, he was traded for Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard, and San Jose’s 2009 first round pick (which would be used to acquire Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli later). His three years in Ottawa would be the three best of his career, as he would only top 30 points once more and would move to the KHL by 2015-16, despite signing a six year $24 million contract with Tampa after the trade.
As we hit the 14th overall, things really start getting ramped up here, with great quality players who really brought the skill and excitement to Ottawa. Sens Nation is (finally) thrilled to select at 14th overall: Nick Foligno (Originally drafted 28th overall in 2006)
- Foligno was a popular gritty forward with the Ottawa Senators for five years, putting up some solid offensive years, culminating in 47 points in 2011-12 before he was traded straight up for the beloved Marc Methot. His next 9 seasons would be as Columbus’ spiritual leader, with a 73 point season to boot. His career is likely slowing down at this point, but Foligno has comfortably left his mark on multiple franchises, especially Toronto in 2021 when he scored zero goals in 7 games, and added another zero goals in 4 playoff games. If you want to judge the Ottawa Senators draft record, we’ve gotten this far down our first round picks list, and our 13th overall selection is only the second player in this redraft so far to put up a 50+ point season in a Sens jersey. Yikes. It’s: Mika Zibanejad (Originally selected sixth overall 2011) - Now, this blogger is on record as actually being a fan of the trade that sent current superstar Mika Zibanejad to the New York Rangers. This blogger is also the proud owner of a Mika Zibanejad jersey and a fellow member of the DJ fraternity. But Zibby’s time in Ottawa always left fans wanting a little more. While he managed 46 and 51 points in 80 and 81 games in his final two of five seasons in Ottawa, there was a feeling that he would never deliver production to go along with his sixth overall pedigree. Two more 37 and 47 point seasons with the Rangers solidified that reputation as a solid move for Ottawa to trade him for Derrick Brassard. Of course, all Zibby has done in the 4 seasons since is be a point per game player, 41 goal scorer and leader on an emerging Rangers squad. He would be ranked higher if we took production on other teams further into account. We’ve got a little more potential coming up with our next two picks. Our 12th overall pick has potential to be comfortably in the top ten in the coming years. The NHL express is calling: Jake Sanderson (Originally drafted fifth overall in 2020): - Some unfortunate injuries sadly derailed not only his professional debut this season with Ottawa/Belleville, but also his selection to the American Olympic team. However, with an enviable mix of genetics, skill, size, and a head for the game, Sanderson has a lot of pressure on his shoulders to be the next great Ottawa Senators defenseman. Can he do it? All signs point to very likely, yes. Once he does, he can move up a few spots in a hurry. Coming in at number 11 is another player who will be looking to move quickly up these rankings. Sens Nation is pleased to select: Tim Stützle (Originally selected third overall in 2020) - The affable young man with a German accent as silky as his hands, Stützle has “next great Senators superstar” written all over him. Already only the third Senator on this list with a 50+ point season, no player selected before Stützle in this draft has matched his 58 points in his recently completed sophomore season. The sky's the limit for this kid, and most excitingly, has taken every challenge he’s encountered in his career head on, from taking the high road after whiny accusations of diving by Brendan Gallagher, to seizing the second line centre role with aplomb last season. At number 10, we move away from potential and into beloved fan favourite territory. Please welcome your 10th overall pick, it’s: Anton Volchenkov (Originally selected 21st overall in 2000) - The A-Train was a beloved fixture for seven seasons in Ottawa. With 428 games of tenacious shot blocking and thunderous but clean body checks (his highest penalty minute total in one season was 67), Volcheknov remains one of the best all time defensive defenseman in team history. Always a mainstay on Chris Phillips’ side during the franchise’s best seasons between 2002 and 2010. His body couldn’t keep up afterwards, where he was bought out of a six year, $25.5 million contract with New Jersey four years in. Here we reach the coveted top ten. We’ll take another break to bring up a depressing stat. Not a single player drafted so far has played 500 games in a Senators jersey. Not one has scored 60 points in a season in Ottawa either. Only Foligno and Zibanejad have broken that point milestone to boot with other teams. 25 first round picks, and not one has hit either milestone for the franchise. Maybe this team isn’t quite as good at this whole drafting thing as we thought. Anyway, that finally changes with our ninth overall pick: Radek Bonk (Originally selected third overall in 1994) - Not only does he have one of the best names in Ottawa Senators history, he had a pretty good career in Ottawa, even if it took him a little while to get there. After a few frustrating seasons, Bonk flourished when he was thrust into the number 1 centre role during one of several Alexei Yashin holdouts. Magical alongside Marian Hossa, he put up an impressive 243 points in 306 games between 1999-2000 to 2002-03, including a 70 point season in 2001-02. Beyond all that however, his mullet is positively legendary in Senators lore. We’re starting to get electric as we make our eighth overall pick: Martin Havlat (Originally selected 26th overall in 1999)
- A diamond in the rough of what was a stupendously bad draft where Patrick Stefan went first overall. You wonder why, because Havlat hit the ground running with super slick moves, blinding speed, and a lethal shot over five seasons in Ottawa. The first player in this draft to have a point per game season with the Sens, he erupted for 68 points in 68 games in 2003-04. Injuries would eventually slow him down, even limiting his final season with the Sens to just 18 games in 2005-06. He’d have a few more productive seasons in Chicago and Minnesota before retiring in 2016 after just two games with the St. Louis Blues. His slick moves are still spoken of in hushed tones in these parts. The trade return for Havlat (and Bryan Smolinski) was the underwhelming return of Micharl Barinka, Josh Hennessy, Tom Preissing (who would lead the league in +/- the following season with the Sens) and a second round pick that would become Patrick Wiercioch. We take a look at the present with our 7th overall pick, with the best current Ottawa Senators defenseman: Thomas Chabot (Originally selected 18th overall in 2015) - Chabot has been a man on an island for much of his Senators tenure. The most skilled player on weak rosters that have finished at the bottom of the standings every year. Chabot has always been a bright spot as a puck mover who always makes the smart play and takes on crazy 30+ minute workloads. Even before his Senators career, he was the first defenseman ever to be named MVP of the World Junior Championships. Just coming into his prime and with some actual roster help on the way, Chabot has an opportunity to climb a few more spots in the coming years. It’s lucky number 7 at 6th overall, please welcome your current Ottawa Senators captain: Brady Tkachuk (Originally drafted 4th overall in 2018) - Brady is already making a strong case as one of the top 3 captains in team history. All he’s done is lead by example, provide ample grit and toughness, and already has a 30 goal season under his belt, the only player on this draft list so far to do so for Ottawa other than Martin Havlat. He’s also signed for a further six years. Easily the most popular player on the current roster, it might be a little sad that he’s already the sixth best first round pick in franchise history after only his fourth season in terms of direct impact on the franchise. A wonderful personality that brings a ton to the dressing room and the community beyond, his game is custom built for the playoffs when the team eventually gets back there. A hearty thank you to the Montreal Canadiens for leaving him on the board at 3rd overall. We’re going back to the controversy well with our fifth overall pick. Alexei Yashin (Originally selected second overall in 1992) - If we keep things just to on ice contributions, Yashin is a slam dunk all timer for the Ottawa Senators. He put up a great 491 points in 504 games (most of which when the team was hilariously awful), making him only the second 500 gamer in Sens first round history on our list. He’s the first and only Senator to be nominated for a Hart Trophy. He was an iron man in Ottawa, rarely missing a game due to injury. Where he did miss plenty of games was with multiple holdouts, including while signed to a contract. Yashin would be the king of pout, mercifully relieved of his captain duties and replaced by Daniel Alfredsson for the next 13 years. That’s not even getting into the disaster with the NAC donation. Still, at his prime, any team in the league would take him, as proven by the Islanders when they traded the 2nd overall pick (Jason Spezza) AND Zdeno Chara (and the legendary zero goals in 70 game “scorer” Bill Muckalt) to the Sens for him in one of the great all time league fleecings. After signing a ten year contract with the Islanders, he would be bought out after five pretty productive seasons and never play in the NHL again. Thanks Mike Milbury! If you’ve read this far, congratulations! We’ve sifted through a lot to get to our Mount Rushmore of Ottawa Senators draft picks. It’s only appropriate that we kick off our top 4 with number 4 himself: Chris Phillips (Originally selected 1st overall in 1996) - The prototypical defensive defenseman wasn’t always the slam dunk role player that he would become over a 1179 game, 17 season career with the Senators. Phillips would struggle with injuries and a weird experiment at left wing early in his career, before settling down as a calming presence on the back end across three decades. Despite offence never being a key part of his game, his 288 points in an Ottawa jersey comfortably puts him among the top 10 scorers in Senators first round draft history to boot. He’s also the only player in this draft to have his number retired by the team. At number 3, we really start ramping up the skill with a player who is missed in Ottawa to this day. Marian Hossa (Originally drafted 12th overall in 1997) - Hossa covers a lot of “only one” territory among Ottawa first round picks. He’s the only Senators first round pick to score over 1000 career points. He’s the only one to score over 40 goals in one season with the Senators. He’s the only one to win a Stanley cup, and he won three of them. He’s the only one to get voted into the Hall of Fame. If it wasn’t for this draft’s bias towards Senators contributions, he’s easily number 1 overall. Even the return of Dany Heatley when he was traded was a win win for several seasons. As far as his Senators contributions, his 390 points in 467 games makes him an all timer Senators legend. We’re down to the top 2. Who will it be? Why of course it’s:
Jason Spezza (Originally drafted second overall in 2001) - Spezza had the numbers, the longevity, the ridiculous skill plays, and the leadership to be considered among the all time greatest Ottawa Senators. His point per game career with 689 points in 689 games was truly remarkable. Always a polarizing player in Ottawa, the fanbase always seemed to expect more from him, and he did a great job reinventing himself from offensive playmaking juggernaut to fourth line veteran leader later in his career. While he’s unfortunately identified most today with his late career, bottom six role, at league minimum salary seasons with the Leafs, he’ll always be remembered in Ottawa as one of the most consistent, affable, and memorable superstars to ever put on a Senators jersey. Which brings us to the number 1 overall pick. The greatest first round selection in franchise history. Who else could it possibly be? Sens Nation is please to crown, as the greatest all time Senators first round pick:
Erik Karlsson (Originally selected 15th overall in 2008) - What was the team thinking? Moving up three spots in the first round to take a tiny 165 pound soaking wet, sub 6 foot defenseman? At the draft hosted by the Senators in Ottawa to boot? “He’s a garbage pick” proclaimed one member of the Ottawa media who shall remain nameless. Good thing they drafted Jared Cowen the next year to add some size and toughness. All Karlsson did after being drafted is become the best defenseman in the NHL for the next decade. The most electric superstar to ever put on the jersey, Karlsson piled up points like a first line forward and accolades in his nine seasons with the team. He would captain the Sens to a thrilling conference finals double overtime game 7 loss in 2017. He won two Norris trophies which really should have been 4 or 5 of them along with a Hart Trophy or two. He came back from devastating injuries such as a sliced achilles with the determination of a pitbull. Things got tumultuous in his last season in 2018 as the team fell apart around him and controversies swirled from every direction. When it was clear that the team would not be able to resign him, they moved him to San Jose for what originally looked like spare parts but turned into a massive haul for the team, bringing both Josh Norris and Tim Stützle into the fold and setting up the team for the future. Meanwhile, Karlsson toils in San Jose, making $11.5 million a year for good point per game numbers, but hasn’t managed to play more than 56 games in a season for the Sharks in four seasons. I’d be willing to bet that most Ottawa fans would welcome him back with open arms if San Jose could be convinced to pick up half the tab on his massive contract. Until that can happen, Karlsson remains the greatest draft pick the team has ever made, first round or otherwise. So there you have it. 30 years, 35 players, all redrafted in the order of their importance and contributions to the Senators franchise. How did we do? What’s your Mount Rushmore of Ottawa Senators draft picks? Let’s hear your picks, and thanks for reading!
By Andrew Sztein | Sens Nation Hockey