Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Best Former Senators - Centre

Alright, players report to camp in less than two weeks, so we don't have much more time to kill rehashing the same Heatley smut. Here's how we're going to count down the days - with a tribute to Dany Heatley! Seriously, though, I pulled up a list of all-time Senators statistics (thanks, hockeydb.com, for being great). I limited it to the modern day team, since nobody that reads this blog was also around to watch the early edition of the Sens. I then cut out all players with less than 50 games in Ottawa (read: Straka, Stillman, Bondra, Hasek, Barrasso, and offensive juggernaut, Alexei Kaigorodov).

It would be too easy to put together a list of the highest scoring players in terms of points per game since the best three are on the team right now. Instead, let's look at my all-time (modern day) Former senators All-Stars. I'll be completely up front with everyone - this started with simple points/game in Ottawa, then adjusted slightly based on my opinions. For instance - Steve Duchesne had the best points/game of any defenceman in Ottawa, but was he better than Redden or Chara?

Today, we'll start down the middle with the centres and our top four that crack the roster. Every other day, I'll come back with the left wingers, right wingers, defencemen, and goalies. Let me know if I'm missing anyone critical and remember - 50 games as a Senator.

Centre:

1.Alexei Yashin. (504 games, 218g, 273a, 491pts, 222PIM, 1993-2001, 0.9742pts/game).
Obvious choice here. Regardless of what a hassle he became off the ice, he still goes down as the best centre no longer here. Even after his holdout year, he still managed to come back and put up better than a point per game. The biggest knock on him, besides the multiple holdouts and the NAC donation, was his inability to maintain his scoring prowess in the postseason. Yashin will fondly be remembered for attending CFL games and for netting us our greatest trade. While Bill Muckalt is irreplaceable, Spezza and Chara worked out okay. In case you were wondering, Boris, Yashin put up 21 grapes and 26 apples for 47 points in 56 games for Yaroslavl last season. More astonishing is that in the past two seasons there, he's put up 32 points in 35 playoff games. Damn you!

2. Todd White (230 games, 58g, 86a, 144pts, 78PIM, 2000-2004, 0.6261pts/game).
There is some personal bias in this for me - in White's last year with the Sens, I got an autographed picture of him and got him to write: "To Geoff, K-Town forever, Your Friend, Todd White." Classic. But in all seriousness, it doesn't matter to me that he was a product of centring Alfie, White had speed and decent enough hands to be a second line centre on a team that historically has never had a second line centre. He lasted a little while into the Muckler era, but was never a Muckler player. He isn't a Mike Fisher-esque player that hits like a truck, but instead was more of a playmaker. Again, a lot of his success came from playing with Alfie, but White actually just put up his most successful season with a whopping 73 points in Atlanta (22g, 51a). If you thought White was just in the league because the Sens wanted a local boy to put bums in the seats, then look no further than what he just did with the Thrashers. He's a legit talent, even if he's not top line material. K-Town forever, indeed, Mr. White.

3. Bryan Smolinski (171 games, 39g, 63a, 102pts, 97PIM, 2002-2006, 0.5965pts/game)
Smoke is another one of those second line centres that was probably better suited on a third line in Ottawa. By the time we traded Tim Gleason for him in 2003, his better years were behind him. He still managed to hang around for a while and put up some decent minutes but was never a real scoring threat. Whereas a guy like Fisher (sorry to bring him up again) always leaves you wanting a few more points, Smoke was more of a 'what you see is what you get' kind of player. Like his teammates in the early 2000's era, he'll be remembered for being a part of the playoff teams that stunk. Great dressing room guy, very well-liked, and sadly, he's likely played his last game in the NHL. Smoke 'em if you got 'em, folks!


4. Bob Kudelski: (90 games, 47g, 29a, 76pts, 36PIM, 1992-1994, 0.8444pts/game).
I hesitated on this one just because Kudelski was only here for part of two seasons, but he was a talent and he rocked the Ottawa Civic Centre. I also didn't want to put up Bonk and Vermette, though they get honourable mentions later. Kudelski, in all honesty, didn't do much for us other than be a beacon of hope during a period of utter failure. While most of us were just thrilled to have a hockey team, Kudelski was kind of the first, talented acquisition in franchise history. It was as if someone said, "you know that you're allowed to try and win games, too, and here's Bob Kudelski to help." Fact is, Kudelski didn't help much in the W column, but was most definitely on pace to actually become a 50-goal scorer before Randy Sexton saw it reasonable to trade him to Florida for Scott Levins and Evgeny Davydov, neither of whom will be on our lists here. Imagine that, we could have had a 50-goal scorer in our second year! As it turns out, 50-goal scorers aren't necessarily all they're hyped up to be...right, comrades?

Honourable Mentions:
Antoine Vermette: Nice kid, never blossomed into anything more than a third line centre and avid penalty killer. Sure, he seemed to find some ice time in Columbus, but that was more about catching on with a hot team and proving your worth. Vermette will forever be a 45 point player making over $2M, a checking line centre that can't check.

Radek Bonk: Quick 'did you know' - Radek Bonk still sits as fourth all-time in games played in Ottawa. If he hadn't wasted so much time, he might have worked his way into the top four. You might say it is unfair to put a jackass like Yashin at number one but leave Bonk out completely. Both put up significant points but Yashin was an elite centre while Bonk was just some dude that skated aimlessly for months at a time. 23 points in 61 playoff games didn't help. Most importantly, he was just one of those guys that you didn't miss when he was traded. His numbers were decent but you would never pick him on your team heading into an important game. The only reason we drafted him is because Jovanovski and Tverdovsky mysteriously went 1-2 in the draft, leaving us with the forward we were sure we wouldn't need to take. Not to get all 'we should have drafted that guy' on you, but Ryan Smyth went sixth overall after Bonk went third. Do you think our playoff series with the Leafs might have gone slightly differently had we taken Captain Canada instead of Captain Crunch?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have an old issue of "Bodycheck" magazine. Now if you remember those, they always had 3 "player in action" posters in the middle of the issue. The one of Evgeny Davydov will always stand out to me, because I still remember to this day that he had on those plastic "Micron" skates with the hinge. Even as a young child I remember wondering how he could possibly play in the NHL with plastic skates that you wouldn't even have to wear if you rented Rideau Canal skates.

duff said...

Classic. I had Microns as my very first pair of skates and they lasted until a short while later when I realized that they were awful. Scary that Davydov sported them, though I guess it isn't surprising then that he didn't make much of his career. With Bauers, he could have been a star!

Paul said...

Imagine he had a pair of Ferlands? He'd have been a star. He'd move up on the list of "obscure former sens" passing Radim Bicanek.

Paul said...

In fact, here he is in his Micron Glory.

Paul said...

Check that, I found a better shot.

Joshua Lind said...

Is it any wonder who the goalie will be?