We're back for the third of five installments, putting together a roster of former Sens. If you didn't catch the centres and right wingers (they're below this), the rule is that this is only modern day Sens (sorry, Frank Finnigan) and they must have played 50 games (sorry, Peter Bondra). The basis is looking at points per game with Ottawa and then bringing in some subjective opinions to iron out a well-rounded team, ie. Mike Peluso cracking the roster as the 4th line right winger.
One thing that plagued this team in the late 90s and early 2000s is that we never had a top flight left winger. When we had Alfie, Hossa, and Havlat, we tried to move Boots to the second line left side, but he didn't adapt. Instead, we were like a canoe that was tipping to the right or going in circles. Okay, terrible analogy, but we were easy to shut down because you just had to put your strong defenceman on that side to slow us down. While Heatley was a right winger when he arrived here, he has managed to move to the left side when the Pizza Line plays together so we kinda sorta have it figured out...until he gets traded.
1. Shawn McEachern: (454 games, 142g, 162a, 304pts, 244PIM, 1996-2002, 0.6696 pts per game)
Without question, Gecks was our top left winger for his tenure in Ottawa. Acquired for Trent McLeary and a third round pick before the 96-97 season, he was one of our better trade acquisitions of the 90s. He also settled in nicely on the left side of Yashin and Dackell on the MOO line (Ministry of Offence). McEachern is 8th in all-time scoring with the Sens and second best scoring left winger we've ever had (#15 is first). McEachern's best years were in Ottawa, no question, as he twice put up 30-goal seasons. Was he a legitimate top line left winger? That's hard to say because we were just so stacked on the right side and Gecks wasn't really superstar status. But he was a hard worker, a Stanley Cup winner, and an all-around solid player. I also bought his stick at the Sensations Equipment Sale a long time ago and still use it today. Allegedly, my shot isn't quite as good as his, since he's long since retired yet his stick is still in one piece. McEachern was picked up by the Bruins, played with both the big club and in Providence, and was eventually waived into retirement, but at least was able to do it in his hometown.
2. Magnus Arvedson: (393 games, 92g, 118a, 210pts, 229PIM, 1997-2003, 0.5344 pts per game
I was never much of an Arvedson fan. Part of it was because I didn't like his last name infringing too closely to Alfie's, and part of it was because he was the perfect characterization of what was wrong with our franchise during our playoff failures. Here's a guy that was solid enough to play in the top six during his tenure in Ottawa but would need to get a freaking map to learn where the corners of the rink were. Think about this - 92 goals in 393 games in the regular season, 3 goals in 52 playoff games. Here was a player that could play a solid brand of two-way hockey in the regular season but had no response for the playoffs when grinding and emotion takes over. It wasn't all bad with Arvie - in 1999, he finished as runner-up for the Selke trophy to Jere Lehtinen. But sadly, I'll always remember him most when he was punched in the nose by Tie Domi.
3. Vaclav Prospal: (213 games, 34g, 77a, 111pts, 114PIM, 1997-2001, 0.5211 pts per game)
Vinny didn't necessarily put up great numbers in Ottawa and is best remembered for saving his best years for his post-Ottawa career. He arrived from Philly fresh from a broken leg (courtesy of Lance Pitlick) and never really took off with the Sens. He was sent to Florida in 2000-01 for conditional draft picks, which were then traded right back to Florida for Mike Sillinger. I'll be honest, I didn't know Sillie played for the Sens, dressing for 13 games at the end of the season before signing with Columbus in the off-season. Back to Prospal - looking at his career numbers now, he's a legit top six left winger. In Ottawa, he was either an underachiever or underdeveloped because we never had the 80 point player he later became. Nevertheless, he was good enough to crack this roster.
4. Randy Cunneyworth: (276 games, 36g, 59a, 95pts, 360PIM, 1994-1998, 0.3442 pts per game
There are some guys in the honourable mention list that might be better scorers than Cunney, but we're building an all-around team here, not just the highest scorers. Cunney is our captain on this former Sens team and is going to be a critical piece of that fourth line with Kudelski and Peluso (what a hodge podge line!). A former Ottawa 67s star, he came as a free agent and was handed the C. While he never ripped the twine with us, he was our stabilizing force when we went from laughing stock to powerhouse (regular season powerhouse...). Think about how bad we were when he arrived here and how good we were by the time he left. Obviously, most of that had to do with this young Swedish kid named Alfie, a system-oriented coach, years of top draft picks developing, etc. But don't underestimate the importance of having a strong captain during those years. There will come a time when this guy is a head coach in the NHL. Seriously, who wouldn't want this guy in their organization? Perfect candidate when people finally realize that Lindy Ruff isn't that good of a coach in Buffalo and gets let go next summer.
- Sly Turgeon was hard to leave off the list. If we were looking for all scorers, he probably would have received the contract over Cunney, but too many years of tucking in his sweatshirt and slyling his hair cost him dearly. He was our first line winger in our inaugural season and was certainly fun to watch out there.
- Peter Schaefer is a player that I just didn't care for. For years, people would say 'he's the best boards player in the league'. What the hell do you mean, boards player? It isn't like he owned the corners, he'd just skate there and pin the puck on the boards so that neither team could score a goal. That's awesome, except for when 45 seconds go by and your entire shift in the offensive zone hasn't come close to producing a scoring chance. If this guy was worth a look, he would have a job right now. Muckler signed him for 4 years (!!!) and Murray was somehow able to peddle him off for Donovan and, more importantly, a salary dump. Yikes.
- Patrick Eaves gets an HM just for being a hard working kid and getting lumped in with the Corvo trade. Eaves is not a top six player, and we're probably better off with Foligno as he has better hands, but he should do fine in Detroit.
There are boatloads of other left wingers but these are my top four for our roster. Thoughts?
Can you name the 2002-03 Ottawa Senators roster?
42 minutes ago