OTTAWA - The magnitude of the move was unknown at the time.
Urged by his scouts to get the 15th overall pick at the 2008 NHL draft in Ottawa, Senators GM Bryan Murray made a deal on the floor, trading the 18th overall pick and a 2009 third-round selection to Nashville.
“When I turned to Bryan and said, we’re going to take Erik Karlsson, he said: ‘How long do you want to work for me?’ ” Senators director of player personnel Pierre Dorion recalled Thursday. “I said, a lot of years hopefully.”
With decisions and picks like that he won’t. No, with that kind of stick-handling, Dorion will soon be some team’s GM himself.
While the Predators used the 18th pick that day to take goalie Chet Pickard (who had his difficulties in the ECHL this season with a .890 save percentage), the Senators could have stood pat and grabbed either of defencemen Michael Del Zotto or John Carlson, who were still on the board. And although those two look to have promising careers ahead of them with the Rangers and Capitals, the Senators are more than happy with the Karlsson they landed.
You know, the guy who’s up for the Norris Trophy next week?
Now, will No. 15 be that kind of magic number for Ottawa at the 2012 draft in Pittsburgh? Or will the Senators be making another move during Friday’s first-round action?
The answers to the above: Highly unlikely and maybe.
“I think things fell into place,” said Dorion. “When we picked 15th that year, I give a lot of credit to Bryan. He had the initiative to maybe listen to us, saying we wanted to move from 18th to 15th, and he did ... we can’t forget that Erik at the time was 5-foot-10½, and 161 pounds ... and it was probably one of the greatest things we did for our franchise.
“This year, picking 15th ... I don’t think this draft is as deep as that draft was.
“We’re confident we’re going to get a good player, Maybe not someone with the flash and dash of Erik, but we’re going to get a good player, at whatever position he is, and someone who down the road is going to help us.”
Despite picking three forwards in the first round last spring, the Senators will stick with the “best player available” approach when their turn comes in Pittsburgh.
That might be a defenceman, and it could be a netminder.
P.K. Subban’s brother Malcolm is the best North American puck-stopper available.
“We will draft a goalie in this draft,” said Dorion. “Whether it’s in the first round or seventh round, we don’t know what’s going to happen.”
At the same time, Murray is not at all opposed to making another draft floor deal again. He said he’ll trade up, or down, or even one of his established players if the offer is tantalizing enough.
“There are people on this team that we’re not really interested in trading,” said Murray. “But it may well happen that we would try to do something to either add a player or a higher pick. We’re very open-minded. So if it gets out there that other managers would like to call, I’d be very open to that.”
If it sounds like Murray might be guilty of wanting to rush the rebuild after the Senators surprisingly made the playoffs this season, well, he’s not about to deny that.
“We want to be competitive, obviously, and there will be a little more pressure on our team to do better, or at least the same type of thing next year,” said Murray. “I’m not adverse to try and hurry it up. If there’s something we could do to make that happen, we’d love to make it happen. But we’re going to also protect as many of our assets as we can, knowing and thinking we have people very close to being NHL players that will compete this year.”