For those that don’t feel like clicking on Wikipedia, we actually have a decent history with our first round draft picks. In fact, we’ve actually done pretty decent over our entire franchise history, save for Matthieu Chouinard in 1998 (we don’t even talk Daigle here). Hossa was a 12th overall pick, Havlat 26th overall, A-Train 21st overall…and so on. Three of the last five years, we’ve taken a defenceman with the first round pick (Meszy, Lee, and Karlsson). I’m not convinced we’re going to do the same this year.
What is so interesting is that while in the past, we’ve been desperate for help on the blue line, this year might be the year that we’re desperate for forward. Brian Lee was picked over some fugly dude named Kopitar because Muckler knew that we’d lose one of Chara or Redden. Obviously Lee hasn’t hit his potential yet and he’s no Chara, but the pick served a purpose. The same was the case last year with the Karlsson pick as Murray and Co. realized that we stunk at getting the puck up the ice.
But this year is different and I don’t fully understand why Bryan Murray was quoted as saying the Heatley situation doesn’t affect his pick. In my opinion, the Heatley saga completely changes the strategy on that pick because what used to be another 5 years of a lethal scorer has turned into beaucoup of unease and uncertainty. We already lack scoring depth and we’re days away from trading away one of the best goal scorers of this decade. The other piece to consider is that our beloved captain is on his last contract. By the time this draft pick hits his prime, Alfie will probably have his #11 in the rafters. Four years from now, only one of the big three will still be skating in Ottawa and we’re going to need more guys to put the puck in the net.
To me, the writing is on the wall and Ottawa MUST go after a forward. There’s a strong chance that there is going to be a solid defenceman available, liked OEL or Kulikov. That being said, we’ve got to keep our attention on big goal scorers like Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson or centremen like Nazem Kadri. I know everyone’s got the hots for MPS, but I like the Canadian factor that we’d get with Kadri. I’m not anti-European by any stretch, but I think we got a great pick with Foligno because he grew up around the Canadian game (Buffalo is close enough) and knows the passion in Ontario. Kadri brings that same understanding of how important hockey is to us in Ottawa. Murray is such a big ‘character player’ guy that I think Kadri will be right up his alley. We're looking for strength and depth up the middle for a guy that doesn't have to be a #1 centre with Spezza in town. We're looking for a guy that is big enough to forecheck hard, but not so big that he can't skate. And we're looking for a guy that can rack up points without having to be 'the' guy on the team. Enough with the run on Swedes, let's keep it local again.