All season long the debate among fans and hockey experts alike has been the same.
Who goes first overall?
Living in Ontario, I get more insight to the Leafs and Senators. Ironically, both teams are in the hunt for a lottery pick. Both teams seem to be going in opposite directions.
The Maple Leafs are in rebuild mode, while Ottawa is still in the "try to win" now mindset. However, listening to Bryan Murray at the deadline, fans may believe the team is in a rebuild, but they are not going to blow up the team.
So for arguments sake, lets look at two scenarios. The first is that the Leafs win the lottery pick, and the second is that the Senators win it.
The Toronto Maple Leafs last year drafted Luke Schenn fifth overall, a solid defense first minded player. With that pick, Toronto has the blue-liner to build around.
When you look at many of the upper-tier teams in the NHL, they have someone patrolling the point in, which they build their defense around. Detroit has Lidstrom, Calgary has Phaneuf, San Jose has Boyle, Boston has Chara, and so on.
Toronto now has that cornerstone.
One popular belief among championship teams is that you build from the net out. Toronto may have that prospect in Justin Pogge, but Brian Burke is still unsure about the youngster.
You cannot totally blame Pogge for his 1-3-1 record with a 3.94 GAA. Montreal may have put to much pressure on Carey Price, which is why the young netminder is struggling (16-5-5 pre all-star, 3-9-1 post).
If Pogge does not respond next year, that may be the end of him in Toronto.
Now that we have established that, one area Toronto is lacking is a true scoring threat. Not since the days of Dave Andreychuk has Toronto seen a 50-goal scorer. Although the Leafs are 13th this year in goals, they do not have anyone who could break 70-points.
The team also has not seen a 100-point season from a player since Doug Gilmour's 127 in 1992-1993. With that being said, Toronto needs a scoring forward to build their forwards around. That answer lies with the ISS rated No. 1 pick.
So who should the Leafs draft if they win the lottery?
Verdict: John Tavares
The Ottawa Senators currently sit in 25th place in goals for and the knock against them has always been secondary scoring. But would John Tavares be the answer?
Good arguments could be made both ways. If they trade Jason Spezza, then they may want to take a long hard look at him. However, Spezza's contract makes him a hard commodity to move.
The other knock would be against goaltending. In all fairness, aside from Dominik Hasek, the Senators have never had a true number 1A goaltender.
Gerber, Lalime, Rhodes, Beaupre, Tugnutt, Barrasso, and Emery have all come and gone.
But not all championship teams had a Roberto Luongo or Martin Brodeur. Prime example is Detroit with Chris Osgood, and now, Ty Conklin. Not household names, but they can hold the fort for one reason. Defense.
Some would argue the Senators started to break apart when the decision was made to let Chara walk and keep Redden. The stats do not lie and that argument proves true.
In Chara's last season, the team won 52 games and surrendered 205 goals. In 2006-2007, they won 48 and gave up 216. In 2007-2008, they won 43 and gave up 242. So far this year, they have won 26 and given up 183 goals.
What Ottawa is missing is that presence on the blueline.
Scoring was never an issue with Ottawa until this year. So while many fans wish to jump on the Tavares bandwagon, I would say skip him.
So who should the Senators draft if they win the lottery?
Verdict: Victor Hedman
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