One of the hardest things in hockey to do is to identify what teenagers are going to become when they mature into men. Even harder than that is to keep those players they draft within the system and having them make an extended impact with the team. SenShot looks at the 10 most impactful Senators draft picks on the Senators franchise:
10. Anton Volchenkov - The A-Train was drafted 21st overall in the 2000 Entry draft. Never known for prolific offensive ability, he is in the top 3 the best defensive defenseman in the history of the franchise. A shot blocking machine, Volchenkov was not a fighter but never shied away from making a big hit.
SENATORS STATS: 7 seasons, 428 GP, 94 PTS
9. Marian Hossa - Not many people knew much about Hossa when he was drafted 12th overall in 1997. Hossa developed into a powerful scoring machine with great hands. He had some injury troubles in his first season but was a horse after that. He played 7 seasons in a Senators uniform, before getting a big contract and being traded for Dany Heatley in 2005.
SENATOR STATS: 7 seasons, 467 GP, 188 G, 202 A
8. Chris Kelly – Relatively unheralded as a pro prospect coming out of Junior, Kelly wasn’t really expected to have an impact in the NHL. His work ethic and smarts forced his way into the lineup, and despite never being a prolific scorer kept his place on the third line with faceoff prowess and penalty killing ability. Kelly was one of the most consistent players in Senators history, and you could always expect his best effort every night. Won a Cup this year after a late season trade to the Bruins.
SENATOR STATS: 7 seasons, 463 GP, 75 G, 101 A
7. Chris Neil – A late round selection (161st overall in 1998), Neil made a name for himself with his fists. Not your classic heavyweight, he has turned his fearlessness to fight players bigger and stronger into a full time NHL job. He also showed some scoring ability in the high-flying Senators years, putting up goal totals of 16 and 12 in 2005-06 and 2006-07 respectively.
SENATOR STATS: 9 seasons, 659 GP, 77 G, 95 A, 1683 PIM
6. Radek Bonk: Great things were expected from Bonk after being drafted 3rd overall in the 1994 Entry draft. He never really lived up to the high expectations heaped upon him, but he did develop into a solid second line centre who could be relied upon in his own end. He did put up 4 straight 20 goal seasons in the early 2000’s before being traded to LA and subsequently Montreal on draft weekend 2004.
SENATOR STATS: 10 seasons, 689 GP, 152 G, 247 A
5. Mike Fisher: The Senators 2nd rd pick, 44th overall in 1998 draft, Fisher surprised everyone by making the team in his first pro season. He was a little injury prone early on, missing extended periods of time in his first 5 seasons. Came into his own after the 2005 lockout, and started to put up 20 goal seasons, but was still hampered by injuries. He was pegged in the Senators 2nd line centre role, but would have been considered a great 3rd line centre in the league. His popularity superceded his talent level and he could never produce to expected levels. Fisher was a beloved player due to his work ethic, good looks and community support. Add that to his fairytale marriage to Carrie Underwood and worldwide celebrity status, and you got outrage when he was traded to Nashville this February.
SENATOR STATS: 11 seasons, 675 GP, 167 G, 181 A
4. Chris Phillips: The first overall pick in 1996, Phillips has been a mainstay on the Senators blueline since he made his debut in 1997. A defensive stalwart, the “Big Rig” was at his best when paired with Zdeno Chara and then Anton Volchenkov as a top shutdown pair. Destined to retire in Ottawa, Phillips will become the second Senator player to play 1,000 games with the franchise this season.
SENATOR STATS: 13 seasons, 945 GP, 60 G, 177 A
3. Alexei Yashin: The Senators first ever draft pick, 2nd overall in 1992 had a very turbulent career in Ottawa. When he was on the ice, he was a dynamic force and the first real star of the Senators franchise. A two time 40-goal scorer, Yashin was the only good reason to watch the Senators in the early seasons. A series of stupid off-ice decisions led to him becoming Public Enemy #1 in Ottawa (until a certain #15 recently took that honor away from him), leading to the best trade in Senators history when he was dealt to the Islanders for Zdeno Chara and the pick that would become Jason Spezza.
SENATOR STATS: 7 seasons, 504 GP, 218 G, 273 A
2. Jason Spezza: The 2nd overall selection in 2001, a pick that was acquired from the New York Islanders in the Alexei Yashin/Zdeno Chara trade. Spezza has been a lightning rod in his seasons in Ottawa, beginning with being a healthy scratch by Jacques Martin in his first playoff season right up to the present constant trade rumours. There is no doubting his offensive ability, as he is already 2nd on the Senators career points table. His play away from the puck and his penchant for turnovers has been the criticism, but he has shown this past season an apparent maturity that will see him become a complete player.
SENATOR STATS: 8 seasons, 526 GP, 192G, 340 A
1. Daniel Alfredsson: Was there really any doubt? A late bloomer & a late round pick, Alfie developed into the face of the franchise and its undisputed leader in almost every offensive category. Alfredsson is sure to have his number retired and is a Hall of Fame candidate when his career does finally, unfortunately come to an end. The fact that Toronto Maple Leafs fans have so much respect for him that they boo every time he touches the puck is icing on the cake!
SENATOR STATS: 1056 GP, 389 G, 634 A
So there is the track record of how well Ottawa Senators management teams have used their selections. Honorable mentions for this list would include Martin Havlat, Alex Daigle, Magnus Arvedson and Antoine Vermette.
After almost 20 seasons, the list of Senators draft picks that have made huge contributions to the club that drafted them is not as extensive as you would expect. Hopefully some of the recent picks of the Bryan Murray regime will turn out better than his predecessors’ picks did.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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