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Draft still vital pipeline for Senators

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Blueliner Erik Karlsson, the 15th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, is the latest Senators first-round choice to make an impact (Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).

For many a successful National Hockey League team, it has been their lifeblood.

Count the Ottawa Senators among the group that has used the annual NHL Entry Draft as a vital tool in putting a strong team on the ice every season.

A quick look at the Senators’ closing roster for the 2009-10 season indicates the fruits of past drafts. Thirteen of the players included on that list were drafted by the club, including seven first-rounders: Centre Jason Spezza (2001), forward Nick Foligno (2006) and defencemen Chris Phillips (1996), Anton Volchenkov (2000), Brian Lee (2005), Erik Karlsson (2008) and Jared Cowen (2009).

Obviously, it’s that top pick that draws the most fanfare each season. They’re the players deemed to be the cream of the crop, the ones who get to slide on their future NHL jersey in the glare of the bright television lights.

While the first-rounders still on hand are key cornerstones for the Senators’ present and future, what about the rest of the top picks? What follows is a ‘where are they now’ look at every Senators first-round pick going back to the franchise’s inaugural season in 1992-93 (statistics for the 2009-10 season).

2009 – Jared Cowen, defenceman: As captain of Spokane Chiefs of Western Hockey League, scored 30 points in 59 regular-season games. Made his NHL debut on April 8 in Tampa, Fla., against the Lightning.

2008 – Erik Karlsson, defenceman: In his rookie NHL season, scored 26 points in 60 regular-season games. Helped Sweden win the bronze medal at 2010 IIHF World Hockey Championship in his national team debut.

2007 – Jim O’Brien, forward: In first full pro season, scored 17 points in 76 games for the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League.

2006 – Nick Foligno, forward: Finished third season with Senators, scoring 26 points in 61 games. Represented Team USA at 2010 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Switzerland, scoring three goals.

2005 – Brian Lee, defenceman: Split season between Ottawa (23 games) and Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League (27 games).

2004 – Andrej Meszaros, defenceman: Traded Aug. 29, 2008, to Tampa Bay Lightning for defencemen Filip Kuba and Alexandre Picard and a first-round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (acquired by Tampa from the San Jose Sharks). Scored 17 points in 81 games for the Bolts.

2003 – Patrick Eaves, forward: Traded to Carolina Hurricanes, along with defenceman Joe Corvo, on Feb. 11, 2008, in exchange for defenceman Mike Commodore and forward Cory Stillman. Played for Detroit Red Wings this season, scoring 22 points in 65 games.

2002 – Jakub Klepis, centre: Traded Feb. 25, 2003, to Buffalo for Vaclav Varada and Sabres’ fifth-round pick (Tim Cook) in 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Helped Czech Republic win gold medal at 2010 IIHF World Hockey Championship. Also scored 22 points in 56 games in second season with Avangard Omsk of Kontinental Hockey League.

2001 – Jason Spezza, centre: Finished seventh season with Senators, scoring 57 points in 60 regular-season games; Tim Gleason, defenceman: Scored 19 points in 61 games for the Carolina Hurricanes.

2000 – Anton Volchenkov, defenceman: Finished seventh season with Senators, scoring 14 points in 64 regular-season games.

1999 – Martin Havlat, forward: Traded July 10, 2006, with Bryan Smolinski to Chicago Blackhawks for Tom Preissing, Josh Hennessy, Michal Barinka and Chicago’s second-round pick in 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Scored 54 points in 73 regular-season games for Minnesota Wild this season.

1998 – Mathieu Chouinard, goaltender: Signed as a free agent by Los Angeles Kings on July 7, 2003. Now out of hockey. Made one NHL appearance for Kings in 2003-04 season.

1997 – Marian Hossa, forward: Traded Aug. 23, 2005, with Greg de Vries to Atlanta Thrashers for Dany Heatley. Signed as a free agent before this season with Chicago Blackhawks. Scored 51 points in 57 regular-season games and is currently playing in the Stanley Cup final. 

1996 – Chris Phillips, defenceman: Finished 12th season with Senators as one of team’s assistant captains. Moved up to No. 2 in modern franchise history in terms of games played (863), behind only captain Daniel Alfredsson.

1995 – Bryan Berard, defenceman: Traded Jan. 23, 1996, with Don Beaupre and Martin Straka to New York Islanders for Wade Redden and Damian Rhodes. Last played for Chekhov Vityaz (KHL) in 2008-09 season.

1994 – Radek Bonk, forward: With Senators until traded to Los Angeles Kings on June 26, 2004, for a third-round pick (Shawn Weller) in 2004 NHL entry draft. Finished season with Trinec Ocelari HC of Czech Elite League, scoring 17 points in 39 games.

1993 – Alexandre Daigle, forward: With Senators until traded to Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 17, 1998, for Vaclav Prospal, Pat Falloon and a second-round pick in 1998 NHL Entry Draft. Finished season with Langnau of Swiss Elite League, scoring 24 points in 25 games.

1992 – Alexei Yashin, forward: With Senators until traded to New York Islanders on June 23, 2001, for Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and Isles’ No. 1 pick (Jason Spezza) in 2001 NHL entry draft. Scored 64 points in 56 games in first season with SKA St. Petersburg of Kontinental Hockey League.

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