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NHL Draft

Senators have high hopes for top pick Brown

Center could fill hole felt since Spezza was traded in 2014

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

OTTAWA -- A pretty strong argument can be made the Ottawa Senators have had but two true No. 1 centers in their 25-year history.

They hope they have another in 6-foot-6, 208-pound Logan Brown, selected with the No. 11 pick at the 2016 NHL Draft on Friday from Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League. Brown took part in his first on-ice activity with the Senators on Tuesday at their development camp.

Alexei Yashin and Jason Spezza are the best big, point-producing centers in Senators history.

Yashin was Ottawa's first selection (No. 2) in the 1992 draft. After some strong performances on the ice and seemingly constant contract disagreements off it, the Senators traded him to the New York Islanders on June 23, 2001, in a deal that included the No. 2 pick in the 2001 draft.

The Senators used that pick to draft Spezza, who played 11 seasons for the Senators before being traded to the Dallas Stars on July 1, 2014.

Spezza had 687 points in 686 games with Ottawa, and Yashin had 491 points in 504 games, ranking them second and third in Senators history behind former captain Daniel Alfredsson (1,108), a right wing.

Video: 11th overall pick Logan Brown on joining Senators

Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion traded the 80th pick in the 2016 draft to the New Jersey Devils (they used it to select center Brandon Signac of Shawinigan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) to move up from 12th to 11th to make sure they got Brown, the son of former NHL player Jeff Brown, who is coach and general manager of Ottawa in the OHL.

"The only way you get a big center is you overpay on July 1 or if you give up something incredible because not many teams give up a big centerman. We've strived for one in our organization for a long time," Dorion said. "Moving up one pick just to make sure we got the guy we really targeted was the easiest decision to do."

Brown, who was born in Raleigh, N.C., and has lived in St. Louis and Ottawa as his father moved around during his NHL career, said he felt comfortable on the ice for the first day of development camp, partly because his father helped him prepare for it.

"It was kind of what I expected. Growing up with my dad, I had a little bit of insight into what it takes," he said. "He actually ran a few Blues practices back home (in St. Louis) during the lockout. I'd go out and skate with them a little bit. I was younger, but I saw a little bit of the pace. I felt pretty comfortable out there today. It's a lot of guys my age and my level, so it's not that big of a step. For a lot of us, it's our first time out there this summer, so it's good to get in a good sweat.

"It's my first NHL skate of my entire life, so it's a step to achieving my dream. This past week I've just been anxious and a little curious to find out what it's all about. To get out there today, it was good to see the pace and what the coaches require of a player."

Video: Senators draft F Logan Brown No. 11

Brown showed the advantages of his size during one of the drills. Without a stick, he controlled the puck along the end boards while two opponents unsuccessfully tried to push him off the puck.

It's one of the qualities Dorion liked in Brown when he had the opportunity to scout him.

"Playmaking ability, strength on the puck, range," Dorion said, listing Brown's attributes. "I don't worry about his skating. His speed is fine. He's got to work on his quickness, but to me, he showed a lot of power in quick turns, so to me that shows he's got really good balance. He has the puck, he can bring it in tight or hold it out far, those are all things that really impress you about a guy with his size."

Brown said he's going to be keeping an eye on 21-year-old forward Nick Paul at the development camp to learn a few things in the gym and on the ice. Paul is another big, rangy forward from the OHL who played 24 games for the Senators this past season, his first as a pro.

Paul was the last player off the ice after practice Tuesday.

"That's a good guy for me to learn from," Brown said. "He's been there and he knows what it takes. I'm definitely going to look at him during this week."

The Senators will be keeping the players busy at the development camp, which runs through Saturday, but Brown said he is hoping he can find some time to answer some texts. He said he has about 250 he needs to go through after being drafted.

"I feel so bad," he said. "I haven't had any time. It's going to take my two hours to look at them all."

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