For Ottawa Senators fans, if you looked a little deeper while watching the Stanley Cup Finals that wrapped up last week, you would have felt a large wist thinking about what could have been.
If you look back to the 2005 draft, you remember one of the Ottawa Senators’ biggest blunders at the draft table. I remember specifically watching the draft and seeing San Jose select Devin Setoguchi at #8 with the Senators holding the 9th pick.
I also distinctly remember elation that Sudbury Wolves defenseman Marc Staal was still on the board and for about 2 minutes assumed that Ottawa would make the right pick and take Staal. Imagine my surprise when John Muckler stepped up to the podium and selected an unknown defenseman from North Dakota, who looked like he was about 10 years old named Brian Lee.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but when you look at the 3 picks that followed the Senators, you see the Canucks picked Luc Bourdon at #10, the Kings unearthed perhaps the steal of the draft at #11 with Slovenian Anze Kopitar and the Rangers nabbed Staal at 11.
Unfortunately for the Canucks and the game of hockey, Bourdon was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident after the 2008 season and his promising career and life were cut short far too soon, having played just 36 NHL games.
Back to this Stanley Cup Final, you saw the other two “ones that got away” going head to head as Kopitar has developed into one of the top 5 players in the league and Staal has developed into a pretty solid shut down defenseman although his offense hasn’t developed as anticipated.
Either one would have been an upgrade on Lee, who played 167 less than remarkable games in Ottawa before being shipped to Tampa Bay for another remarkable underacheiver, Matt Gilroy.
Either Staal or even better Kopitar would have been a direction-changing pick for the Senators, and last week we were privy to exactly why.