Friday, June 22, 2012

The Senators All Time Best Draft Picks

Earlier this week Sens Town hit you with the top 10 worst draft picks in Senators history. There was some debate about which belonged and which didn't, but that's to be expected with any list you make. Either way it seemed to be a popular feature and readers enjoyed the stroll through memory lane. So with the 2012 NHL Draft starting later tonight in Pittsburgh, it's time to unveil the top 10 best all time Senators draft picks list.

The criteria was totally subjective, with me being the one deciding. A few were left off because I didn't have room or because they were too obvious. I could have included guys like Mike Fisher or Antoine Vermette, but they were 2nd round picks. Ray Emery was in consideration and so was Havlat as a late first rounder but ultimately they didn't make the cut. Enjoy the list and let's hear your feedback.

#10: Colin Greening was drafted in the 7th round, 204th overall in the 2005 draft. The 6'3, 215lb forward was the captain at Cornell during his Junior and Senior seasons, which is rare under their coach. He won an AHL championship with Binghamton in 2010-11, splitting time between the AHL and the NHL. He is the fastest skater on the Sens at the moment and was named to a 2012 Young Star for the 2012 NHL All Star weekend. Not bad for a 7th rounder, who's chances to even play one game in the NHL are minuscule at best. After last season he was rewarded with a 3 year, 1 way deal with all 3 years being less than a million per. Over 2 seasons he's played 106 NHL games while dropping 50 points. He spent most of the year on the first line with Spezza and Michalek. Greening has a ton of potential and to get a guy 204th overall who can contribute is extremely rare.

#9: Pavol Demitra was drafted in the 9th round, 227th overall in the 1993 draft. While it takes special circumstances for a 7th rounder to ever make an impact in the NHL like Greening did, it's almost unbelievable that a 9th rounder would ever play a game in the league, let alone eventually become an impact player. While Demitra ultimately flourished after his time in Ottawa, he was still a sold contributor while a member of the Sens and one of their all time picks.

He played 59 games for the Sens over 3 seasons, putting up a decent 26 points, but was a star in the AHL, dominating for the Sens farm team in PEI. He held out at the start of the 96-97 season for some reason and was ultimately dealt to St Louis for Christer Olsson. Ya I've never heard of him either but he played 25 games for the Sens in 96-97, scoring 5 points. Demitra went on to play 847 NHL games, scoring 768 career points, was a 3 time All Star and won the Lady Byng in 2000. Not bad for a guy selected in the 9th round right? Too bad it didn't happen in a Sens uni. He was killed in the September 2011 Lokomotiv plane crash and remains a legend in Slovakia.  He would have been higher but most of his success happened outside the nation's capital.

#8: Karel Rachunek was also drafted in the 9th round, 229th overall in 1997. Rachunek was a member of some of the earlier Sens teams and while unspectacular, was a solid, serviceable all around defenceman in the late 90's/early 2000's. He played 246 games as a Senators, registering a solid 97 points. He was traded to the New York Rangers at the 2004 trade deadline for Greg De Vries, who you will remember was traded with Marian Hossa in the Dany Heatley deal. Rachunek ended up playing 371 NHL games and put up 140 points while being a +49 for his career. Very solid numbers for a guy you wouldn't expect to ever even play in the league. He won a gold for the Czech's in 2010 at the World Championship's. He, like Demitra was also tragically killed in the Lokomotiv plane crash in September of 2011.

#7: Speaking of 9th rounders, incredibly Sami Salo was also drafted there, 239th overall in 1996. He played 195 games for the Senators over parts of 4 years, putting up a respectable 69 points for Ottawa. He was named to the 1999 All Rookie Team and was known as a solid defenceman with one of the hardest shots in the league. He was also known for his remarkable amount of injuries. During his time in Ottawa he missed games due to the flu, broken fingers, a concussion, back spasms, broken teeth and a snakebite. Yes, a snakebite.

He was eventually traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Peter Schaefer and currently still plays in Van City, where he continues to have a plethora of injuries that is up to 40 in his career now. He has played 761 games and registered 305 career points so far in his career. Amazing production for a 9th rounder. Someone saw something in him back in 96. That's three 9th rounders in a row. Incredible!

#6: Andreas Dackell was drafted in the 6th round, 136th overall in the 1996 draft. Many of you younger fans may not remember him, but the Swedish forward played 401 games and put up 180 points in his 5 years as a Senators. He was a solid contributor and rocked an awesome lid. On draft day 2001, he was moved in a rare inter division deal to rival Montreal for a 7th rounder. He went on to play 3 more seasons in la belle province but his game wasn't quite the same after leaving Ottawa. He played 613 games in the NHL and put up 250 points. During the lockout he returned to Sweden to play for Brynas, the same team Jakob Silfverberg lead to a championship this season, and stayed untit 2008-09 when he retired.

#5: Chris Kelly was drafted in the 3rd round, 94th overall in 1999. Though drafted in 99, the Toronto native didn't make his d├ębut with the Sens until February 2004 against his home town Leafs. He played 463 games for the Senators, racking up 176 points. He was our #1 penalty killer and a key member of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final team. He was probably our best player during an awful 2010-11 season and his popularity had gone up tremendously as well with the fans.

He was ultimately traded during the rebuilding season to the Boston Bruins, where he went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Sens received a 2nd round pick in exchange for Kelly, which they used to draft friend of the blog Shane Prince. Kelly went on to be a key member of the Boston team, scoring 20 goals in 2011-12 and being rewarded with a new 3 year, 12 million dollar deal recently. He will go down in Sens lore as an underrated player and a guy who had hands of stone. Kelly still makes his offseason home in Ottawa.

#4: Magnus Arvedson was drafted in the 5th round, 119th overall in the 1997 draft. He played 6 years in Ottawa, suiting up for 393 games and registering 210 points as a Sen. He was an amazing 2 way player who usually would have the challenge of taking the other teams top players out of their game. Had his finest season in 98-99, when he had 21 goals and 47 points. The league took notice of the amazing year and he finished 2nd in the Selke voting to Jere Lehtinen.

He was on track to be one of Ottawa's most important players until a rash of injuries, especially the 2000 incident in Philadelphia where he was hit into the Sens bench door and had to have parts of his intestine removed and derailed that plan. He was never really the same player after that. He went on to play one medicore season in Vancouver before heading back to Sweden to coach, which he is still doing. On a personal note, Arvedson was and remains one of my favorite Senators of all time. One of the all time underrated/under appreciated guys who ever put on a Sens uni in my opinion.

#3: Alexei Yashin was drafted 2nd overall in the Sens inaugrual draft in 1992 in Montreal and was our franchise's first ever draft pick. At first glance you may be wondering why Yashin is so high. Given the way he left Ottawa, many seem to forget what a player he was, even if he was picked so high. He was one of the brightest stars in the game during his time in Ottawa.

He played 504 games as a member of the Senators, putting up nearly a point a game with 491 during his time here, including a 79 point rookie season that got him a Calder final nomination. He was named captain of the Sens and in 98-99 had a 98 point season that saw him come in 2nd in the Hart voting as league MVP.

He had many scandals as a Senators as well, including the infamous NAC fiasco and sitting out a year during his prime because he wanted to be paid Daigle money. He was ultimately traded on draft day 2001 to Long Island for current Sen star Jason Spezza, Bill Muckalt and future star and Norris winner Zdeno Chara. He signed a 10 year 87.5 million dollar deal with the Islanders but was bought out after a lack of production. He currently plays in the KHL and remains possibly the most hated Sens player of all time.

#2: Chris Neil was drafted in the 6th round, 161st overall in the 1998 draft. He has spent his entire career as a key member of the Senators, playing 731 games and counting, putting up 200 points and 1861 penalty minutes so far. If you can believe it his plus/minus after 10 years is exactly zero, weird! He is the all time Sens leader in PIM's and has been a physical presence for the team since the beginning. He is one of only 4 members from the 2007 finals team to still be playing currently and one of the franchise's all time most popular players. The amazing contributions and heart he's shown this city and organization is amazing for a 6th rounder.

#1: Who else would it be other than Daniel Alfredsson, who was drafted in the 6th round, 263rd overall in 1994. He's played 1100+ games and has 1082 career points, becoming only the 75th player to ever crack four digits in NHL history. He was the 95-96 Calder winner for rookie of the year, a 7 time NHL All Star, an Olympic gold medalist, Swedish Elite League champion and thanks to Wednesday night, now a King Clancy Award winner too. Just add it to the list of accomplishments #11 has on his resume.

He's the all time leader in everything possible for the Senators, by far the most popular Senator of all time, an Ottawa icon, a hockey legend, the inspiration for our Alfie chants and easily the best all time draft pick the Senators have ever made. It's even more remarkable when you look back at his career so far and think someone so good could fall to the 6th round and 263rd overall somehow. It goes to show you how big of a guessing game the draft is.

Thoughts on the list?

Thanks for reading and be sure to follow me on twitter @SensTown


Luke Wells said...

Hey there Stephen. Dont get me wrong, I really enjoy your twitter and blog posts, but I don't see how Erik Karlsson didn't make it into this list? Just a thought, and keep up the great tweets!

Anonymous said...

Well done on the list! Dackell didn't retire in 2009 though, he was on Brynas this season and was the captain before being injured and having Silfverberg take the C.

Anonymous said...

This list is brutal. No Stone in the 6th? No Karlsson? No Silfverberg? AND YASHIN? Dude your nuts

JA said...

Stone, Silvferberg, and even Karlsson are still too new to include on the team's 'top ten best draft picks'. By next year, though, Karlsson is certain to displace someone from this list.

As for Yashin, the numbers don't lie. 491 points in 504 games? If anyone but Yashin put up those numbers, we'd have been thrilled to have him. Yashin was, for a time, a great player, and if he'd been a better man, he'd be an Ottawa hero instead of a villain.

Anonymous said...

Your Yashin pick seemed to derail the point of your article; he was a 2nd overall choice. That alone would make the exclusion of someone like Hossa questionable.

worsteverything said...

Not a bad list. Nothing like an Alexei Yashin appearance to get the conversation flowing. As is often the case with Daigle, we fans enjoy our revisionist history and think that because both players were enormous tool bags that they were also terrible players. Daigle was for sure a disappointing first overall (those junior numbers, what a tease!!) but Yashin definitely picked up the slack and was Ottawa's first legit jerk/star. That said, I think Jason Spezza is the better pick, considering he's at 616 points in 606 games as a Sen PLUS 51 points in 53 playoff games all for our side, I gotta take my hat off to the guy. Sure he was taken 2nd overall but for this organization a high pick has rarely translated into production. Spezza has really delivered. I think up til recently he's been one of the most under appreciated players in our team's history.
Also, Brometheus moaning about exclusion of of Stone and Silfverberg, both are exciting prospects but let's check back when those two have played 10 NHL games between them. I do feel you on Karlsson though, he put up more points in one season than Salo did in his time in Ottawa/The Ottawa Hospital. Pedigree is different obviously but I'd put King K in over Salo.

Steph said...

I find it hard to believe Chris Kelly was a better pick than Jason Spezza... just sayin.