It’s time for Bryan Murray to get on the horn; Ottawa’s hopes of winning the 2011 draft lottery were dashed last night as Edmonton took top spot and New Jersey squeaked in past the Senators, dropping them to 6th pick overall. Murray looked like a deer in headlights as the announcement was made and it’s assumed that his entire career flashed before his eyes at that very moment. But now the moment is gone, and it’s time to roll up the sleeves and start planning some strategy- there will have to be a trade come draft day, or the rebuilding process for the team will be even more painful.
The season has ended, but question marks fill the air. What will happen with Alfredsson? Who will be the Captain of the team next season? Who will be the coach? How will the Senators decide who their number one pick should be? How would this pick best be used? How many picks will it take to strengthen the core of the team and make it a contender in the future? Who will bring chemistry to the ice and spirit to the locker room? What will the Ottawa fans put up with? And will the media ever go away and stop asking all these questions?
No. That last answer is categorically no. Murray’s extension has effectively put him on the hot seat and the city of Ottawa is watching. There may be no playoff hockey to watch this year, but there’s still plenty of drama in this city and there will be no summer off as far as the team’s future is concerned. Every bit of news regarding next season is going to be scrutinized, analyzed and turned on its head and all fingers will be pointed in one man’s direction if things go wrong.
There are some great picks waiting up top on this year’s draft: Gabriel Landeskog, Adam Larsson, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stand out. All of these players would be good additions for different reasons. Landeskog is my number one pick because he’s ready to go now and he has all the markings of a Captain in the making. Smart, tough, committed and Swedish with accentless English- he’s basically Alfredsson version 2.0 for this team. The dream tandem of Alfredsson mentoring Landeskog is near perfect, if we can make it happen. Landeskog has good size, skill and hockey sense and as Captain in Kitchener, he’s a vocal and engaged leader. With the right mentoring and a reasonable transition plan, he is very likely to become a key part of a future winning team and his future is very, very bright.
Adam Larsson squeaked by Landeskog in the standings with outstanding play at the IIHF World Juniors for Team Sweden. He’s big, solid and seems to see the ice very well. The trouble is, Ottawa is already pretty top heavy when it comes to defensemen with Erik Karlsson breaking into All Star status this past season, and the likes of Jared Cowen and David Rundblad waiting in the wings. Larsson may be an overall asset, but he may not be filling in the gap that Ottawa desperately needs to fill, which is offense. Ottawa’s paltry 1.5 goals averaged per game this past season is a stark reminder of that fact.
There’s a lot of buzz surrouding Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Some scouts are saying that he could easily be the number one in this draft. If that’s the case, it’s very likely that Edmonton, who is sitting pretty with the top spot, is going to snatch him up. He would easily fit into a top-loaded machine of young offensive talent with Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall and just blow the league out of the water. But assuming that they don’t, Nugent-Hopkins is developing into a first-class Centre. But that’s the problem: he’s developing. While it isn’t unheard of for 18 year old players to have a breakout season, (case in point: Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes, who is running away with everything this year), it’s highly risky to pin the hopes of a team on such young shoulders. Another possible obstacle: his size. He’s very much a boy growing into a man’s body and no amount of padding is going to help him when the big boys come to town- he needs to put on some mass.
Regardless of who the Senators pick, they will have to haggle their way to the top, because it’s clear that these top picks won’t be around at number 6. Any of these 3 players could be instrumental to a team’ s future- and let’s face it, Ottawa needs it more than the others. It’s time for Murray to pick up the phone.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.