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Best pick at No. 26: Martin Havlat, Senators

Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 12:00 PM
Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first NHL Draft, NHL.com assembled a 13-member panel to select the best first-round picks of all time, based on selection number. NHL.com will feature one of the top first-round picks each day, beginning with the best No. 30 pick on June 1 and culminating with the all-time No. 1 pick on June 30, the day of the 2013 NHL Draft.

Today: The best No. 26 pick: Martin Havlat, Ottawa Senators, 1999

After watching Martin Havlat play in his native Czech Republic, the Ottawa Senators were sure the right wing wouldn't need much time before he could step into an NHL lineup.

Though injuries have limited his effectiveness since he reached the NHL in 2000, Havlat has remained a key contributor wherever he has played.

He also earned the most votes from NHL.com's Dream Draft panel to earn recognition as the best pick at No. 26 of the first round.

The Senators had the No. 26 pick in the 1999 NHL Draft after finishing with a franchise-best 103 points and winning the Northeast Division for the first time. With a young core group in place, the Senators were able to allow Havlat to spend one more season in the Czech Republic, where he had 42 points in 46 games with Trinec. He also played for his country at the 2000 IIHF World Junior Championship and the 2000 IIHF World Championship.

Havlat made his NHL debut Oct. 5, 2000, picking up an assist in a game at the Boston Bruins, and in his fourth game, Oct. 14, 2000, scored his first goal, on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He finished his first season with 19 goals and 42 points in 73 games and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team.

He raised his goal and point outputs in each of his first four seasons, topped by career bests of 31 goals and 68 points in 2003-04.

A shoulder injury limited him to 18 games in 2005-06, and that summer he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. Shoulder and groin injuries limited him to 91 games in his first two seasons there. He was healthy enough to play 81 games with the Blackhawks in 2008-09 and led the team with 77 points. He added 15 points in 16 games to help Chicago reach the Western Conference Final after the club had missed the postseason the previous five seasons.

Havlat signed with the Minnesota Wild as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2009. He played well in his two seasons, finishing third on the team with 54 points in 2009-10 then leading it with 22 goals and 62 points in 2010-11. However, the Wild missed the playoffs each season, and Havlat was traded to the San Jose Sharks at the 2011 NHL Draft.

A lower-body injury sidelined Havlat for most of the 2011-12 season, but he returned healthy in 2012-13, and at age 32 had eight goals and 18 points in 40 regular-season games. More injuries, however, limited him to two games for the Sharks in two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Despite the affect injuries have had in diminishing his numbers, Havlat was the pick of six of NHL.com's 13-member Dream Draft panel.

"Havlat has been a consistent offensive producer as long as he's been able to stay healthy," NHL.com columnist John Kreiser said. "He has good speed, good size, a good shot, and has always been defensively responsible. He's accomplished more -- by far -- than any first-rounder taken in this slot in the draft."

Voting: Martin Havlat, Ottawa (1999) 6; Cory Schneider, Vancouver (2004) 4; Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington (2010) 2; Tyler Ennis, Buffalo (2008) 1.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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