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Senators sticking to draft plan

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
They’ve made their list and checked it twice.

Probably even several more times since.

And when the big moment arrives Friday night at Scotiabank Place, the Ottawa Senators will stick to that set of rankings when they make their first selection at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Ottawa 67's defenceman Tyler Cuma is a player who might be available to the Senators with the 18th selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at Scotiabank Place.
Barring a trade – and the Senators have an interest in making a move upward – Ottawa is slotted into the 18th position for the first round of the two-day entry draft. Assistant general manager Tim Murray said the club will take a rather simple approach to deciding which player they’ll choose with that pick.

“Right now for us… it’s a cliché, but (we’ll pick) who we think is the best player available,” he said. “We have our list done and the best guy on our list left is who we’re taking. We won’t be sitting there saying ‘let’s take the defenceman over the forward.’ You can do that after the first round, I think, but not during it.”

The Senators scouting staff has been instructed to compile its draft rankings with that strategy in mind.

“We stress it to these guys.… Make the list the way you think is right because we’re going to go off that list,” said Murray. “If we’re picking at 18 and the best player available is the guy (we have rated) at 12, don’t waffle on that. Be ready to pick the guy.”

While Murray said “we’d love to” move higher up in the first round – possibly even into the top 10 – he admitted “it’s going to be tough.” But sometimes, everything works out right and two teams walk away happy.

“We traded two picks the year we were in Anaheim,” Murray said in recalling the 2003 entry draft. “I think we called three or four other teams and we finally got Dallas to take two second (round picks) for the 28th pick and I think Dallas was thrilled we were willing to do that…. We ended up with Corey Perry.”

Who might the Senators be able to land at No. 18?

One intriguing possibility: Ottawa 67’s defenceman Tyler Cuma. He’s rated No. 19 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, while TSN slotted him in at 16th in its prospect ratings released yesterday.

“He’s one of the guys we feel could be there and would be a good choice at 18,” said Murray.
A goaltender might even be in the mix, too.

“There’s some good goalies out there,” said Murray. “The question is, do you step up on one or wait and see who’s there? We’ve got two for sure (in our rankings).”

He speaks highly of Tri-City stopper Chet Pickard, who thrived in the Western Hockey League despite having the unenviable task of following Carey Price – a Montreal Canadiens rookie standout this season – into the Americans crease.

“He’s a Carey Price clone,” Murray said of Pickard, who was named the Canadian Hockey League’s top goalie this season. “He’s big and strong, looks a lot like him.”

The entry draft begins Friday at 7 p.m., with the Tampa Bay Lightning set to make Sarnia Sting forward Steven Stamkos the No. 1 selection. Rounds 2-7 go on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.

Passes for Saturday’s activities remain available at any Sports Experts or Local Heroes location, the Sens Store at Rideau Centre and Place d’Orleans, and at the Scotiabank Place box office.

For a complete list of NHL Entry Draft week events, visit Draft Central.

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