The Ottawa Senators 1st Round Draft History – Successes and Failures


The Ottawa Senators have had average success with their first round picks.  In a lot of cases, they have come away with the best player at that spot, while on others the players in the spots closely following the Senators pick have outperformed the player Ottawa selected.

June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cody Ceci is selected as the number fifteen overall draft pick to the Ottawa Senators in the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The following chart illustrates each first round pick the Senators have ever had, and also states who I would have rather had that was picked up in the 5 or so picks following the Ottawa pick.  If there is no player listed in the “hindsight” column, then Ottawa made the most effective pick they could have.

1992Alexei Yashin (2)
1993Alexandre Daigle (1)Chris Pronger (2)
1994Radek Bonk  (3)Ryan Smyth (6)
1995Bryan Berard (1)Wade Redden (2)
1996Chris Phillips (1)
1997Marian Hossa (12)
1998Mathieu Chouinard (15)Robyn Regehr (19)
1999Martin Havlat (28)
2000Anton Volchenkov (21)
2001Jason Spezza (2)
Tim Gleason (23)
2002Jakub Klepis (16)Daniel Paille (20)
2003Patrick Eaves (29)Loui Eriksson (33)
2004Andrej Meszaros (23)Cory Schneider (26)
2005Brian Lee (9)Anze Kopitar (11)
2006Nick Foligno (28)
2007Jim O’Brien (29)
2008Erik Karlsson (15)
2009Jared Cowen (9)
2010traded for Rundblad
2011Mika Zibanejad (6)Sean Couturier (8)
Stefan Noesen (21)
Matt Puempel (24)
2012Cody Ceci (15)

Obviously, there are always players that every team passes over multiple times, and are late round gems, so they are not included in this study.

The biggest one that sticks out is the 2005 drafting of Brian Lee.  With a top 10 pick, you cannot afford to make a mistake, and passing up on Anze Kopitar, the late Luc Bourdon and Marc Staal (who were the next 3 picks) proved to set the Senators back in their development.

It is too early to tell about the classes of 2011 and 2012, but I put in Couturier as a possible hindsight selection simply based on the impact he has had in his 2 full seasons as opposed to what Zibanejad has done so far.  That may even out or Zibanejad might even surpass what Couturier does.

What you can gleam a little bit from the above chart is the impact that a competent GM can have on your team.  John Muckler made mistake after mistake in drafting, while his replacement Bryan Murray has done a pretty admirable job so far.  What if Muckler had drafted Paille, Shneider, Kopitar and Eriksson instead of Klepis, Eaves, Meszaros and Lee in 4 straight seasons.  The Senators would look a lot different and might even have secured a ring by now.

But that is why they do the draft, and mistakes are made.  It is often the team that makes the fewest mistakes, especially early on, that comes away with a successful team in the following years.