Senators slip in draft lottery

Senators GM Bryan Murray, with owner Eugene Melnyk at a press conference last Friday, is

Senators GM Bryan Murray, with owner Eugene Melnyk at a press conference last Friday, is "fairly confident" he'll get a good player in the draft. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency file photo)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:32 PM ET

The Senators complained long and loud that they didn’t get the bounces all season.

There were none for Ottawa in Tuesday night’s draft lottery, either.

Those late-season victories turned out to be more costly than the Senators could have imagined after they slipped a spot to No. 6 in the lottery held at TSN studios in Toronto.

While GM Bryan Murray tried to play down the impact, the Oilers were celebrating after winning their second first overall pick in as many years.

The Devils were another big winner, moving up the maximum four spots to No. 4 while pushing down both the New York Islanders and Senators.

Murray was hopeful he was going to move up, all the way to No. 1, when it was revealed the Islanders had fallen to No. 5.

Then, he had to deal with disappointment a few minutes later when the Devils’ victory was announced.

“I thought (we were moving up to No. 1),” said Murray. “What I really thought was with the odds and with it tough to get that sequence of numbers to move up, I really felt that the potential existed.”

The Devils only had a 3.6% likelihood of being drawn first. The Senators, meanwhile, had an 8.1% chance of getting the No. 1 pick — odds that decreased with the club’s strong play down the stretch.

The Senators played much better after sending veteran players packing at the deadline and acquiring goalie Craig Anderson from the Avalanche for Brian Elliott. Oddly enough, Colorado will select No. 2.

Murray said he couldn’t tell the players to tank at the end of the season so the club could have a better chance of a higher pick.

“For the fans and for the community as a whole, No. 1 you have to try every night,” said Murray. “I said this many times to the coaches and the staff, ‘You should never, never not try to win.’

“When you do that, the message you send is terrible and it’s wrong and it comes back to hurt you at some point in time. On draft day, it would be nice to draft a little higher.

“We’re going to get a good player and I think we’ve earned some credibility the way the players played at the end of the year.

“We saw the way a number of our prospects, who are now or were playing in Binghamton, and that message is a lot more important than moving up two or three spots in the draft right now at any rate.”

Murray said picking sixth isn’t the worst position. But they will likely miss out on top-end forward prospects Gabriel Landeskog of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels.

Murray is going to see another top forward, Ryan Strome of the Niagara IceDogs, play Wednesday in Oshawa against the Generals during their second-round OHL series. Senators scouts think highly of Strome, who could be available with the sixth selection.

Murray wouldn’t rule out trying to move up in the draft, but would also be content to stay where he is.

“There are three quality defencemen in the top eight or nine and three or four forwards that are really quality players,” said Murray. “It just comes down to who is there and who is the right fit for us.

“I’m going to see (Strome Wednesday) night, but we’ve got a list of six or seven guys that have good years and they’re candidates to be early (picks). They’re good players and they have a good chance to be good players for the franchise. We’ll be ready for whatever happens.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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