by Todd Anderson
When the Ottawa Senators take their turn at the podium to announce player selections at the NHL draft on June 24 in Vancouver, they'll be looking for the next Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips or Mike Fisher.
Thanks to a talented scouting staff in Ottawa, the Senators have had a history of success at the draft. Nine Senators first-round draft picks skated as regulars last season for Ottawa. Success hasn't come solely from early round picks, however. Alfredsson, the team captain, is a perfect example. Who would have thought the 133rd overall pick in the 1994 draft would carve out such an amazing career?
Director of player personnel Anders Hedberg says Ottawa has always strived to build from within.
"This team has drafted players that can play. Having so many original draft picks on our team last year speaks volumes of our organization. We're not a big market team and we have to have a flow of players accelerate through our organization. We're very much in favour of giving opportunities to our draft choices."
In all, 13 players who were Ottawa draft selections skated regularly with the Senators in 2005-06. Included in that number were five rookies: Christoph Schubert, Patrick Eaves, Andrej Meszaros, Chris Kelly and Ray Emery.
Drafted in the third round, 94th overall, in 1999, Kelly is a former captain of the Senators American Hockey League affiliate Binghamton Senators. The Toronto native was one of Ottawa's top penalty killers last season and finished with 10 goals.
Schubert, 24, was selected in the fourth round, 127th overall, in 2001. A native of Munich, Schubert had a versatile role for the Senators last season, playing on defence -- his natural position -- as well as an equal amount of time at forward.
Emery, 23, was selected in the fourth round, 99th overall, in 2001. The Hamilton native took over for the injured Dominik Hasek in goal during the second half last season and finished with 23 victories in 39 games played. Emery also set the NHL record for consecutive wins to begin a career with nine, and tied an NHL record after recording 12 victories in a single month (March). For his efforts, Emery was named NHL defensive player of the month in March.
Eaves, 22, was selected in the first round, 29th overall, in 2003. The Fairbault, Minn., native scored an impressive 20 goals in just 58 games played. Eaves' willingness to absorb abuse from opponents while screening goaltenders led to an abundance of minutes on the power play.
Born in Povazska Bystrica, Slovakia, Meszaros, 20, was selected in the first round, 23rd overall, in 2004. He finished one point back of teammate Wade Redden and New York Ranger Michal Rozsival for the NHL lead in plus-minus ratings. Meszaros's +34 rating and 10-goal, 39-point campaign could secure him a spot on the 2005-06 all-rookie team.
Other Ottawa draft picks who continued their careers with Ottawa last season included, Alfredsson, Fisher, Phillips, Martin Havlat, Chris Neil, Antoine Vermette, Jason Spezza and Anton Volchenkov.
For more information on the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, visit ottawasenators.com's Draft Central by clicking here.