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The Power of Three: An NHL History of Teams with Three First Round Draft Picks

Gregg Kennedy | The Sens Report


Whenever the NHL finally gets around to holding the 2020 Entry Draft the Ottawa Senators may have three picks in the first round.  It's not as rare an occurrence as one might think.  In fact, it has happened 14 other times since the second incarnation of the Senators sat down at a table in the Montreal Forum at the draft of 1992.  Believe it or not twice in that 26-year span a team has had four first-rounders.  This year won't even be the first time the Sens will have three first-rounders as they made a draft floor deal for a third round-one pick in 2011.  They already had their own and Nashville's from the Mike Fisher deal.

Zibanejad, Noesen, Puempel - Ottawa's Three First Rounders from 2011

Today, I am going to detail 13 of those 14 other times and attempt to rank them.  I did not include the Rangers from 2018 as it is just too soon.  I considered discounting the 2017 Vegas trifecta too but figured I could muster up a ranking. Please don't get too excited though; I won't be using any fancy statistical analysis.  No, we're going to do this the old fashioned way - with subjective analysis.  By me  And me alone.  Deal with it, chirp my picks in the comments section if you must and, while you're at it, get off my lawn!


For starters, I compiled the list and applied a simple grade to each player selected...

0 - the duster who never even managed to play ten games in the league.  Think Mathieu Chouinard.

1 - the guy got into at least one game but no more than 82 or so.  Think Jacob Klepis or Jim O'Brien.

2 - he played anywhere from 82 or so to 246 games in the show; the rough equivalent of three seasons, Think Stefan Noesen or Brian Lee.

3 - he played between 246 and 500 games; a serviceable NHLer who maybe got his 400 games in and can collect his pension.  Think Jared Cowen or Curtis Lazar.  Okay, so maybe "serviceable" is a stretch.

4 - a true first-round draft pick who played over 500 games.  Think Marian Hossa or Jason Spezza.

5 - a stud


I gave the fifth point if the guy was a real stud versus some guy who stayed in shape and got to 501 games on the third line.  Think Erik Karlsson vs Patrick Eaves.

Obviously, I made adjustments for the more recently drafted players who haven't had a chance to get to some of my games played thresholds, but, again, I am being subjective here. Deal with it.

Okay, so here we go in reverse order...

#13 - 2013 Columbus Blue Jackets with 6 points

Pick 14 Alexander Wennberg

Pick 19 Kerby Rychel

Pick 27 Marko Dano


Quite the collection of ho-hum.


Could have taken - Anthony Mantha, Shea Theodore,  Tyler Bertuzzi, Andre Burakovsky.

#12 - 2013 Calgary Flames with 6 points

Pick 6 - Sean Monahan

Pick 22 Emile Poirier

Pick 28 Morgan Klimchuk


Otherwise known as centreman Monahan and his wingers Riff and Raff but Monahan is enough for this group to finish ahead of the Columbus collection.


Could have taken - Anthony Mantha, Shea Theodore,  Tyler Bertuzzi, Andre Burakovsky. #11 - 2015 Boston Bruins with 7 points Pick 13 Jakub Zboril Pick 14 Jake Debrusk Pick 15 Zach Senyshyn The Bruins have a lot of former NCAA guys in management, love their American players and have quite a bit of depth so who knows if Zbril or Senyshyn might have/may still turn out but both were viewed as stretches at the time. Could have taken - Matthew Barzal, Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot who went in the three spots immediately following, not to mention Brock Boeser or Travis Konecny who went later in round 1. #10 - 2011 Ottawa Senators with 8 points Pick 6 Mika Zibanejad Pick 21 Stefan Noesen Pick 24 Matt Puempel Yeah, we don't need to talk about this one, do we? Could have taken - Nikita Kucherov, William Karlsson, Mark Scheifele #9 - 2010 Florida Panthers with 9 points Pick 3 Eric Gudbranson Pick 19 Nick Bjustad Pick 25 Quinton Howden Pretty much the definition of serviceable times two and a flop Could have taken - Vladimir Tarasenko or Ryan Johansen at #3 and Evgeny Kuznetsov and Mark Stone with the other two picks #8 2007 Edmonton Oilers with 9 points Pick 6 Sam Gagner Pick 15 Alex Plante Pick 21 Riley Nash Essentially a questionable number 2 centre, who? and a third line checker but this group beats out the Columbus group because the Blue Jackets had third overall Could have taken - Logan Couture, Max Pacioretty, Jamie Benn #7 2017 Vegas Golden Knights with 10 points Pick 6 Cody Glass Pick 13 Nick Suzuki Pick 15 Erik Brannstrom Ok, a bit of subjective analysis here but I gave three points to Glass and Brannstrom and four points to Nick Suzuki and still think that 10 point total could be low with the passage of time.  This is also the second-highest grouping of picks in this whole exercise with a pick average of 11.3.  The best is 7.6 and is still to come.  The best the Senators can get this year is 7.   Could have taken - it's just too early to tell but Josh Norris went 19th to San Jose.  The Sens took Shane Bowers at 28 #6 1999 New York Islanders with 11 points Pick 5 Tim Connolly Pick 8 Taylor Pyatt Pick 10 Branislav Mezei Pick 28 Kristin Kudroc That's right, four first-round picks; three in the top ten!  Without post-concussion syndrome, Connolly would have been a real stud.  Pyatt played over 800 games with six clubs as a big, strong winger.  Mezei after a few years bouncing around in North America is still playing in the Slovak league.  Kristin Kudroc I think had a guest spot on an episode of The Flintstones.  Oh, wait, I am now being told he went on to a career as a caveman lawyer.   Could have taken - Martin Havlat, Craig Anderson, Jordan Leopold; not the strongest draft class of all time.  Freakin Saprykin went 11! #5 2003 LA Kings with 11 points Pick 13 Dustin Brown Pick 20 Brian Boyle Pick 27 Jeff Tambellini Three guys drafted high known more their intangibles - work ethic, heart, guts, toughness. Could have taken - Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron #4 2002 Washington Capitals with 11 points Pick 12 Steve Eminger Pick 13 Alexander Semin Pick 17 Boyd Gordon Alexander Semin was a very gifted, highly skilled NHLer who put up some serious numbers for the Caps over seven seasons.  Unfortunately, he couldn't check his coat, may have had a wood allergy which appeared to prevent him from going anywhere near the boards and, quite possibly, had a void behind the left nipple.  Steve Eminger was a Steady Eddie second-pair defenceman for ten NHL seasons and Boyd Gordon was your typical bottom-six forward over 13 years in the league Could have taken - Alex Steen, Duncan Keith #3 2007 St Louis Blues with 12 points Pick 13 Lars Eller Pick 18 Ian Cole Pick 26 David Perron Three solid NHL first-rounders who each played over 500 games and contributed to whatever team they played for.  The Blues made out considerably better than the Oilers who also had three first-rounders and each was ahead of the Blues picks. Could have taken - Max Pacioretty, Jamie Benn, PK Subban #2 2004 Washington Capitals with 13 points Pick 1 Alex Ovechkin Pick 27 Jeff Shultz Pick 29 Mike Green The Caps make their second appearance on our list and only an underwhelming career out of defenceman Jeff Shultz prevents a perfect score of 15 points. Could have taken - Carl Soderberg, David Krejci, Ryan Callahan, Johan Franzen #1 1998 Colorado Avalanche with 15 points Pick 12 Alex Tanguay Pick 17 Martin Skoula Pick 19 Robin Regehr Pick 20 Scott Parker Our second team with four first-round picks but I only counted the top three for scoring purposes and this group gets a perfect 15.  Two very good defencemen and a guy who put up over 850 points.  Most impressively, I defy you to go through the 1998 draft and find a forward you would have taken ahead of Tanguay and any defencemen you would have taken ahead of Regehr and Skoula. The opportunity presented to the Senators at the 2020 Entry Draft is huge.  Thanks to two very good trades and a poor record on the ice, GM Pierre Dorion will most likely find himself with three first-round picks - two in the top five.  I say "most likely" as we still don't know who will get the first pick.  Worst case scenario, the Islander pick ends up first overall which is protected so the Sens would get New York's 2021 first-rounder.  After a season with Alexis Lafreniere in the lineup, I can't see that pick being very high.  But, in order for that to happen, the Isles would have to lose their play-in round series to the Florida Panthers and win phase two of the lottery.  I cannot see that happening.  Best case scenario is, of course, the Islanders lose to the Panthers and do not win the lottery.  In that case. their pick is at best 13th overall and at worst 15th. So, as a Senator fan, there is lots to cheer for when the qualifying round eventually gets underway sometime in late July or early August.  Besides the obvious support for Columbus who are playing the Leafs, you might want to get on that Florida Panther bandwagon.  There's probably a lot of room.

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