• By: Dave Gross

Will No. 4 be the one for Senators?

Cheesy as it sounds – ‘may the fourth be with you’ – is something Ottawa’s suffering faithful sure hopes bears fruit.

Because let’s face it Senator fan, the past 12 months have been plagued with more pot-holes than Carling Avenue in April.

With a pending nasty legal case involving Ottawa’s assistant general manager, the continued hate-on by the fan base for owner Eugene Melnyk and a potential parting of the ways between the hockey club and the franchise’s all-time best player choking and suffocating the spring and summer air, hockey followers in Eastern Ontario could sure use some good news.

Any good news.

Perhaps the next few weeks will deliver.

The NHL’s entry draft goes June 22 and 23 in Dallas. (First round is on the Friday night and rounds 2-7 happen Saturday).

Stinking the joint out an entire season apparently does have its benefits because Ottawa gets a shot at a potential difference-maker as it will select fourth overall at said proceedings.

Fourth and 22nd to be exact.

But for the time being, let’s concentrate on that No. 4 and see exactly what kind of fruit Ottawa might expect to pluck.

Keep in mind that history can make for a sometimes kind, or a sometime mean-spirited companion.

So, let’s take a look back at the past 20 years and see what worked, and what did not, at pick No. 4.

Fun times.


1998, Bryan Allen (Vancouver): The gigantic Allen was a killer in the OHL when he skated with Oshawa (just ask the 67’s who lost one of their key players – Kevin Malcolm – thanks to an Allen ka-bong). Injuries slowed his pro career somewhat but the Kingston, Ont., native did bring the muscle to the Canucks and then Florida, Carolina, Anaheim and Montreal.

2001, Stephen Weiss (Florida):Selected two picks after Ottawa nabbed Jason Spezza (and one pick after Alex Svitov . . . yup), the Plymouth Whaler product put up decent numbers (423 points) during a 13-year NHL career. Weiss wasn’t given much to work with while skating for the Panthers.

2004, Andrew Ladd (Carolina):This was not a strong draft. (Ottawa landed a decent one in Andrej Meszaros at No. 23). After super-talents Alex Ovechkin then Evgeni Malkin were taken 1-2, the water table dropped right off. Ladd is still playing and could hit 1,000 games next season. His best years were with Chicago (Stanley Cup 2010) and Winnipeg. A great combination of grit and talent.

2006, Nicklas Backstrom (Washington): You think? -30-

2008, Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis):The big argument heading into this Ottawa-hosted draft was, in what order do Drew Doughty, Pietrangelo and Zach Bogosian go? Steven Stamkos was a no-brainer to Tampa at No. 1, after that it was a crapshoot. Pietrangelo is accurately considered one of our country’s top blueliners. A smooth, confident leader.

2009, Evander Kane (Atlanta):It took a while, but Kane appears to have found his spot, in San Jose. He’s certainly getting the term and money to make that argument.

2010, Ryan Johansen (Columbus):The numbers aren’t overly large now in Nashville (Johansen was swapped for Seth Jones in 2016). Johansen brings a lot of game to his, um, game. Who wouldn’t die for a great skating big centre? (. . . That’s Montreal calling on Line 2).

2011, Adam Larsson (New Jersey):The death of his father and a back injury slowed Larsson’s progress this year in Edmonton (traded for Taylor Hall). Larsson isn’t glitzy, just gets the job done.

2013, Seth Jones (Nashville):Subject to an early trade – see Johansen above – Jones has flourished as a free-skating, big-bodied talent. 2013 is morphing into an exceptional year for Top-10 picks. Sean Monahan, Darnell Nurse, Jones, Aleks Barkov, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Bo Horvat all have bright futures.

2015, Mitchell Marner (Toronto):The Leafs best player – by a mile – in the playoffs. Marner is a phenomenally skilled skater and as creative as you can find. Should top 80 points if healthy next season.


1999, Pavel Brendl (NY Rangers):The Rangers grabbed the can’t-miss Brendl right after Vancouver’s (Brian Burke at the helm) steal of the Sedin twins at No. 2 and 3. Brendl had a 73-goal season the year his Calgary Hitmen (WHL) made it to the Memorial Cup in Ottawa, eventually losing to the 67’s in the final. That can’t-miss junior product? He missed. Brendl was tagged as lazy and uncommitted to any kind of defensive game. He finished with just 11 goals in just 78 career NHL games.

2003, Nikolai Zherdev (Columbus):The class of 2003 was likely the finest in recent memory. While names like Fleury, Staal, Weber, Suter, Getzlaf, Perry, Burns, Carter, Parise, Phaneuf, Kesler and Coburn were selected, so too was Zherdev. This is why Columbus was Columbus in its earlier years.

2005, Benoit Pouliot (Minnesota):I guess it’s not really fair, but if you’re picked one ahead of Carey Price, you’re going to get circled. Pouliot’s hockey sense is often criticized for getting in the way of some respectable talent. This draft will always be remembered for the Sidney Crosby lottery.

2007, Thomas Hickey (Los Angeles):Patrick Kane, James Van Riemsdyk, Kyle Turris were 1-2-3. The Kings took the trumpeted Hickey at No. 4. He seems to have found a quiet home with the Islanders.

2012, Griffin Reinhart (NY Islanders):Sandwiched between Alex Galchenyuk and Morgan Rielly (more than 800 games played between the two), Reinhart skated in just 37 NHL games before being taken by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft. He played in the AHL last season. The clock is ticking.

2014, Sam Bennett (Calgary):It’s still early and the book’s still out on Bennett. Still, three full seasons with the Flames later, and the buzz has died on the former Kingston Frontenac (OHL).


2000, Rostislav Klesla (Columbus):A physical force in junior (Brampton), Klesla was expected to mirror that at the NHL level. He had 174 penalty minutes in 1999-2000 with the Battalion, but never truly brought that edge to the next level. Not a bust at No. 4, but not a difference-maker.

2002, Joni Pitkanen (Philadelphia):This wasn’t a gob-smacking draft year and, following suit, Pitkanen didn’t have a gob-smacking career. After a couple of solid offensive years with the Flyers, Pitkanen finished out his career in anonymity in Carolina . . . which of course is redundant.


2016, Jesse Puljujarvi (Edmonton):A highly touted prospect with oodles of upside.

2017, Cole Makar (Colorado):Waiting . . .