"It's nice because I get to go to a Canadian team, so I guess this is a blessing in disguise. I always wanted to play for a Canadian team, so that's going to be great."
-- Jared Cowen on being selected ninth overall by the Ottawa Senators
While the season didn't go quite as expected for him, it ended on a high as the big blueliner was drafted by the Ottawa Senators with the ninth pick.
Senators General Manager Bryan Murray said the combination of Cowen's 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame and defensive ability was too much to pass up.
"We're happy he was available," Murray told NHL.com. "I had heard another team was going to take him a little earlier, but it didn't happen so we did get him."
What they got was a player who helped the Chiefs win the 2008 Memorial Cup as a nasty, stay-at-home defenseman.
This season, however, Cowen got off to a slow start, and just when he started to straighten things out, he tore two ligaments in his knee and needed season-ending surgery in January.
"Me and another guy were chasing for the puck, it was right along the boards, I hit him shoulder to shoulder and we kind of stood still a little bit, then he fell backwards," Cowen told NHL.com. "My right leg was underneath him. His entire body weight went on the outside of my knee and it caved in and dragged me down, and I could feel my ACL and MCL snap. At the time I didn't realize what it was; (I) thought it was just bones popping out. Pretty painful, and I knew something wasn't right."
Cowen still finished with 7 goals, 21 points and a plus-15 rating in 48 games, and he was ranked No. 9 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings for the draft.
"The injury set him back a great deal," Murray said. "We had quite a number of calls at the last minute trying to get the pick. We don't know if they were going for him or not, but there were a number of teams that appeared to want that pick badly."
Cowen is on pace to be fully recovered by the time Senators training camp starts in September. Rather than dwell on how much the injury hurt him in his draft standing, Cowen said falling to the Senators is a good thing.
"It's nice because I get to go to a Canadian team, so I guess this is a blessing in disguise," Cowen said. "I always wanted to play for a Canadian team, so that's going to be great."
Murray envisions Cowen as a complement to last year's first-round pick, offensive-minded Erik Karlsson.
"We drafted a couple defensemen last year, one being a very skilled guy," Murray said. "As our more defensive types get older and possibly move on in the near future, we think we have a bright young guy coming here that will be a solid player for a long time in Ottawa."
"I think I bring reliability," Cowen said. "I can do everything well. I'm a big, strong guy and I like to use that effectively. I'm a hard worker, that's what everyone says, but I think I really put that forward in games."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.