The Ottawa Senators have lost two vital pieces of their offence — lucky for the team there's an abundance of talent from the 2011 draft that's proven more than capable of making an impact.
Most NHL teams would feel pretty lucky to have more than two or three players from a given draft reach the big league. This season alone, seven draft picks from 2011 have hit the ice for Ottawa.
- Mika Zibanejad's hat trick fuels comeback win over Calgary
- Ryan Dzingel's 1st NHL goal helps Sens end 3-game slide
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau helps pace Senators past Lightning
In 2011, general manager Bryan Murray made 10 draft choices — the most Ottawa's made since the NHL shortened the draft to seven rounds in 2005 — including eight forward and two defencemen. Among those picks, three forwards were drafted in the first round alone.
The Sens, who only had four draft picks the previous year, needed to replenish their forward prospects.
Fast-forward five years: The seven players chosen in 2011 who have laced up for Ottawa this season are:
- Mika Zibanejad.
- Matt Puempel.
- Shane Prince (traded on Monday to New York Islanders).
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
- Fredrik Claesson.
- Max McCormick.
- Ryan Dzingel.
That list doesn't even include Stefan Noesen, the first-round pick traded to the Anaheim Ducks as part of a package for Bobby Ryan. Noesen has played just one NHL game for Anaheim due to a serious leg injury.
Sixth-round pick Darren Kramer, now playing for the AHL's Manitoba Moose, and seventh-round pick Jordan Fransoo, who eventually played hockey at the University of Saskatchewan, are the only two Sens picks yet to reach the NHL.
Key injuries leave big void
This year has seen a revolving door and musical chairs for the Senators' forward lines due to serious injuries suffered by top scorers Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris.
But with the trade deadline now in the rearview mirror, Murray seems comfortable relying on the team's youth to log more ice time and fuel a playoff drive.
Of the 2011 draftees, Zibanejad leads the way this year with 40 points, followed by Pageau with 31. Prince, McCormick, Dzingel, Puempel and Claesson have pitched in despite limited playing time.
On Tuesday night against St. Louis, there was a 2011 draftee on each of Ottawa's four forward lines and all three Senators' goals were scored by 2011 picks: Dzingel, and Pageau with two.
Past drafts strong too
The Senators have had other successful drafts since they entered the league in 1992.
The 2009 draft brought Mike Hoffman and Chris Wideman to the current roster, while Jared Cowen, Robin Lehner and Jakob Silfverberg have since been traded.
The 2001 draft brought Jason Spezza, Ray Emery and Christoph Schubert to the Senators, while Tim Gleason and Brooks Laich were used as trade bait before making it to the NHL.
Go a little further back and the 1997 draft brought five players to Ottawa: Marian Hossa, Jani Hurme, Josh Langfeld, Magnus Arvedson and Karel Rachunek.
Those earlier drafts brought top quality to Ottawa in Spezza and Hossa, but the quantity of talent is nowhere close to the class of 2011.
Without the season's final tallies, or predicting future years, assessing the ultimate quality of the 2011 draft is difficult.
Nevertheless, it's safe to say fans and teammates alike can be thankful for the scouting staff's ability to find so much talent in just one draft year.