There was only one thing that was going to make up for the disappointment of foregoing a first round draft pick last year in exchange for a trade that has so far not profited the Ottawa Senators; a good showing at this year’s draft in Minnesota. And Murray didn’t disappoint or make a predictable choice.
In fact, he made an unlikely choice which was referred to in my pre-draft blog entry, mostly because we share the same moniker. Mika Zibanejad was chosen at the number 6 spot, a nice surprise when it looked clear that Ottawa would pick Sean Couturier after Ryan Strome was poached from the number 5 New York Islanders. Zibanejad, at 6 foot 2, 192 pounds, has good size for the NHL and the perfect work ethic that makes him a perfect fit for the lunch box mentality espoused by Cameron and a hard working Detroit philosophy. If anything, the choice of Zibanejad clearly demonstrates the direction of this team for the future and it’s going to be based on hard work.
In a couple of years from now, he may become a fixture on one of Ottawa’s second or third lines and when he does, his slick style will be exciting to watch. He can be sneaky on the ice, has great hand eye, and is not afraid to lure goaltenders way back into the net and take it to them. One to watch, that’s for sure.
Ottawa made good use of its’ second pick at number 21 with Stefan Noesen. While he’s not projected to be an NHL-ready player for another 3-4 years, he has good size and an aggressive style. The young prospect from Texas attributes his love for hockey to his Canadian grandfather and the Dallas Stars. He’s something of a fish out of water, which is why his obvious love for the game is so refreshing. He will likely be the type of player who will work extra hard to make the team and stay on it one day.
Ottawa didn’t stop there; they traded second round picks to Detroit in order to get another crack at the top 30 and picked Matt Puempel. Described as a pure goal scorer, Puempel’s last season was marred by injury and hip surgery that had many teams feeling nervous about his future. Scouting reports have said that speed is a factor for the young player and that he isn’t a fast skater by any means, which may be problematic considering the increasingly fast pace of the game. His good points do include good hands and a good ability to find spots on the ice from which to score. If it turns out his hip is working like it should, he will be able to generate some serious offense for an offense starved Ottawa team.
Three picks in the first round is a good showing by any means. Murray is clearly taking to heart the need to change this team completely and give it an overhaul. His performance at the draft could inspire confidence. That confidence could keep going up if this performance is followed up with a great free agency signing.
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.