As the 2011 edition of the NHL Entry Draft has come to an end there is one team that really beat out the rest of the league this weekend and that would be the Ottawa Senators.
After a troubling year that saw a perennial playoff team fall to the bottom 10 in the league the Sens held the 6th overall pick in this year's draft, but it was not only their smart drafting that put them leaps and bounds ahead of last year, a few trades helped them out as well. We'll take a look at just the first round where the Senators did most of their damage.
Let's take a look at what the Sens did this weekend starting with their draft picks. The Senators had only one glaring organizational need which was upfront. They are set in net with Craig Anderson for a few years and Robin Lehner will come with time while on defense they already have Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen and David Rundblad.
1st Round: 6th Overall - C Mika Zibanejad - Djurgarden, SEL
GP: 25 G: 5 A: 4 P:9 PIM: 2
In the No. 6 slot the Ottawa Senators picked up an offensively powered center with great size 6'2", 190 lbs. and has already played a full year against men in the Swedish Elite League. Mika is a big strong power forward with great hands and skills for someone of his size. He uses his size effectively to ward off defenders and is very difficult to knock off the puck. This kid is going to look real good in a Sens uniform after some North American experience in Binghamton.
Zibanejad was the Senators first step in restocking their offensive cupboard. He also has solid understanding of his defensive responsibilities as a center and makes a strong effort to play sound two-way hockey.
1st Round: 21st Overall - RW Stefan Noesen - Plymouth Whalers, OHL
GP: 68 G: 34 A:43 P: 77 PIM: 80
Continuing to add to their forward prospects the Senators took a kid from Texas at No. 21. The report on Noesen is that of a big time competitor with great hands and playmaking abilities. He's known around the OHL as being a big game player, something every team needs. He's a great two-way hockey player and is always the hardest backchecker on both ends of the ice. His hockey IQ is off the charts and he has the skill to go with the smarts.
Has decent size listed at 6'0", 190 lbs. He is a great pick although his speed is somewhat questionable as he has used his decision making and quick hands to overcome his skating shortcomings.
1st Round: 24th Overall - LW Matt Puempel - Peterborough Petes, OHL
GP: 55 G: 34 A: 35 P: 69 PIM: 49
The Senators completed their first round forward lineup by selecting a right winger whose name lends to his skills as Puempel pumps the puck past goaltenders at an alarming rate. Puempel slid down the draft rankings after having a season ending hip injury that required surgery just 55 games into the OHL season. Puempel has decent size at 6'0", 196 lbs. and is not afraid of going to the net when needed. Puempel has a top-end shot and can pass the puck through traffic with ease and makes his linemates better.
Puempel is probably the most natural goal scorer in the draft his NHL comparison would be Michael Cammalleri, Puempel just knows how to score.
Shane Prince - The Senators selected a kid from their own backyard with the last pick in the second round. Prince had 88 points in 59 games, he's an elite puck distributor and has blazing speed. He got glowing reviews from Ottawa 67's GM and CHL legend Brian Kilrea about his work ethic and how he makes his teammates better.
Ottawa trades their two 2nd round picks for Detroit's 1st round pick and select Matt Puempel
Ottawa trades their 3rd round round pick for to Columbus for Nikita Filatov
Bryan Murray was a busy man in the first round of the NHL draft, picking up some great prospects and restocking his forward cabinets, but my favorite was the Filatov trade. Acquiring Nikita Filatov a former number one overall pick for only a third rounder is a low-risk, very high reward move. Filatov will be a top six forward in Ottawa which he was not in Columbus, he has high-end skill and is only 21 years old. The Senators by far were the winners of the 2011 NHL Draft.