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Entry draft remains vital pipeline for Sens

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Defenceman Anton Volchenkov is one of five first-round picks who finished the 2008-09 season on the Ottawa Senators roster (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images).

It has been the lifeblood of many a successful National Hockey League team.

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 roster the Senators iced against the Toronto Maple Leafs in their final game of the 2008-09 season provides a clear indicator of the fruits of past drafts. Twelve of the players included on Ottawa’s season-ending roster were drafted by the club, including five first-rounders: Centre Jason Spezza (2001), forward Nick Foligno (2006) and defencemen Chris Phillips (1996), Anton Volchenkov (2000) and Brian Lee (2005).

In a roundabout way, forward Dany Heatley could be added to that group. He was obtained by the Senators three years ago for Marian Hossa, their No. 1 selection in 1997.

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 2008-09 season).

2008 – Erik Karlsson, defenceman: Scored 10 points in 45 games for Frolunda HC of the Swedish Elite League. Represented Sweden and was named best defenceman at 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Ottawa.

2007 – Jim O’Brien, forward: Scored 62 points in 63 games for the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL). Added one goal in five playoff games. Represented Team USA at 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Ottawa.

2006 – Nick Foligno, forward: Finished season with Senators. Represented Team USA at 2009 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Switzerland.

2005 – Brian Lee, defenceman: Finished season with Senators.

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).

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.

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. Started season with Avangard Omsk (KHL), scoring 32 points in 55 games. Finished year with Slavia Prague (Czech League).

2001 – Jason Spezza, centre: Finished sixth season with Senators; Tim Gleason, defenceman: Scored 12 points in 70 games for the Carolina Hurricanes.

2000 – Anton Volchenkov, defenceman: Finished sixth season with Senators.

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 77 points in 81 regular-season games for Blackhawks 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 Detroit Red Wings. Scored 71 points in 74 regular-season games. 

1996 – Chris Phillips, defenceman: Finished 11th season with Senators as one of team’s assistant captains.

1995 – Bryan Berard, defenceman: Traded Jan. 23, 1996, with Don Beaupre and Martin Straka to New York Islanders for Wade Redden and Damian Rhodes. Scored 18 points in 25 games for Chekhov Vityaz (KHL).

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. Scored 25 points in 66 games for Nashville Predators, his third NHL team.

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. Scored 32 points in 44 games in third season with Davos of Swiss Elite League.

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 47 points in 56 games in second season with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of Russian Super League.

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