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Building success through the draft

by Todd Anderson / Ottawa Senators
Defenceman Andrej Meszaros is the youngest of 12 original Ottawa Senators draft picks who played with the team last season. Photo: A. Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC

by Todd Anderson

The Ottawa Senators have had tremendous success at NHL entry drafts. Twelve players originally drafted by Ottawa made this year's lineup.

Leading the way is captain Daniel Alfredsson. Selected in the sixth round, 133rd overall, in the 1994 draft, Alfredsson has developed into a star. He won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1995-96 and has gone on to rank first in virtually every offensive stat category for the club, including goals (291), assists (467) and points (758) in 783 games.

In 618 games with the Sens, alternate captain Chris Phillips, who was drafted first overall by Ottawa in 1996, has emerged into one of the club's best defensive defenceman. Partnered with Anton Volchenkov, the Sens' first-round pick in 2000, the duo held off some of the NHL's top scoring lines last season. Volchenkov finished with a league-high 273 blocked shots during the 2006-07 regular season and also led all players in the playoffs with 80.

Centre Mike Fisher, drafted in the second round, 44th overall, in 1998, was recognized for his work ethic at both ends of the ice after the 2005-06 season with a nomination for the NHL's Selke Trophy.

Forward Chris Neil, drafted in the sixth round, 161st overall, in 1998, continues to play a gritty style but has also worked hard to develop his scoring touch and skating ability.

Chris Kelly, drafted in third round, 94th overall, in 1999, is a former captain of Ottawa's American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton and is one of the more defence-conscious forwards for Ottawa.

Speedster Antoine Vermette, drafted in the second round, 55th overall, in 2000, can be used in several roles for Ottawa. A strong penalty killer, he can also be called upon to provide offence while short-handed. Vermette was second in the NHL with six short-handed goals in 2005-06.

Centre Jason Spezza was selected second overall in the 2001 draft. In his second full season in 2005-06, Spezza set a club record by handing out 71 assists and finished with 90 points in just 68 games. This season, Spezza set a career high with 34 goals and had 87 points in 67 games.

Goaltender Ray Emery, Ottawa's fourth-round pick, 99th overall, in 2001, established himself as one of the NHL's top goaltenders this year. With 33 wins, Emery became only the second goaltender in club history to record 30 or more. Patrick Lalime had 36 in 2000-01 and 39 in 2002-03.

Drafted in the fourth round, 127th overall, in 2001, Christoph Schubert is a versatile player who has been used as both a defenceman and forward in his first two seasons.

Winger Patrick Eaves was the 29th overall selection in 2003. He enjoyed great success in his first season in 2005-06, scoring 20 goals and 29 points in just 58 games.

Defenceman Andrej Meszaros was the youngest player on this year's roster. Drafted 23rd overall in 2004, Meszaros finished tied for third in the NHL with a +34 plus-minus rating in his rookie season in 2005-06.

Click here for a photo gallery featuring all 12 Senators draft picks.

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