Welcome to Last Word’s Draft Boom and Bust series. As the 2020 NHL Entry Draft approaches, we decided to examine each team’s best and worst pick since the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The biggest boom is a player that had the best value relative to where they were selected. Meaning, no one in the first round will be considered a team’s best value pick. However, the biggest bust picks will almost always be in the first round. We will examine each player, why they were picked where they were, and what their NHL career was like. Today, we look at the Ottawa Senators draft, and their biggest boom and bust.
Ottawa Senators Draft Boom and Bust
Biggest Boom: Mark Stone
Ottawa drafted Mark Stone in the sixth round, 178th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. In his draft year, Stone scored 28 points in 39 games for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. His stats were certainly not eye-popping. However, the largest knock against him was that he was a weak skater. Stone said in a Sportsnet feature that he didn’t think he was going to get picked.
The Senators and Stone worked hard to improve his skating, with a better skating stride and a healthy season, Stone exploded for 106 points in 71 games during the 2010-2011 season. He tied with the first overall pick of that season, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, for third in WHL scoring. Stone took a greater step the following season, scoring 123 points in 66 games for second in league scoring. He also scored seven goals and 10 points in six games at the 2012 World Juniors, which led Canada.
Stone actually jumped into the NHL immediately after his junior season ended. He played in game five of the Senators’ first-round series against the New York Rangers because Jesse Winchester was out with an injury. Stone assisted on the first goal of the game, and Ottawa won by a score of 2-0.
Stone played the next two seasons, mostly with Ottawa’s AHL team in Binghamton. In 91 games in the AHL, Stone scored 79 points.
He became a full-time NHL player in the 2014-15 season, and it was an impressive rookie season. Stone scored 26 goals and 64 points and was two points behind Erik Karlsson for the team lead. His takeaways and offensive ability were crucial when the Senators went on their ‘Hamburgalar run’ in 2015. In the final game of the season, Stone scored two goals to clinch a playoff spot for Ottawa. He was a nominee for the Calder Trophy that season.
Over his career, Stone has led the league in takeaways for every season except for two, and this season he finished second. He’s considered the best defensive winger in the league and was a finalist for the Selke Trophy last season. He’s also a great scorer. He scored 73 points last year and was on pace for nearly 80 before the stoppage.
Mike Hoffman: Mike Hoffman is a late bloomer. Ottawa drafted him 130th overall in the 2009 Draft by Ottawa. During the 2008-2009 season, he scored 128 points in 81 games, including the playoffs with Drummondville. He was two years older than most players in the draft in 2009, so he slid. He became a full-time NHL player during the 2014-2015 season. Hoffman has become an offensive star in the NHL, scoring 359 points in 493 NHL games. He played four and a half seasons in Ottawa and two with the Florida Panthers.
Brian Elliott: Ottawa selected Elliott with the second-last pick in the 2003 NHL Draft, 291st overall. In his draft year, he played for the under-scouted Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League, a level below major junior. He became a full-time NHL player with Ottawa in the 2008-09 season. Elliott has played 471 games with a respectable 2.50 goals-against average, and a .912 save percentage in his career. He is a tweener. He’s not really a starter but not a back-up either. He plays his best hockey when he has a challenger for the net. With the St. Louis Blues he battled for ice time with Jaroslav Halak and Jake Allen. Today, the 35-year-old netminder is in a goaltending tandem with 21-year-old Carter Hart with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Biggest Bust: Brian Lee
Ottawa drafted defenceman Brian Lee 9th overall in the 2005 NHL Draft. It was a surprise at the time. Ottawa jumped over the top-ranked European prospect Anze Kopitar and top defensive prospects Luc Bourdon and Marc Staal to draft him. Lee had an interesting draft year. He was a superb skating defenceman with good offensive instincts and lots of poise. He played high school hockey in Minnesota but became one of 13 Americans to ever play in the World Juniors as a high school hockey player. Ottawa saw a lot of potential in Lee and reached to grab him. Lee had success in high school hockey scoring 38 points in 25 games, but in 19 games split between the World Juniors and the USHL, Lee only scored three points.
Lee would have a successful two-year career at the University of North Dakota, scoring 53 points in 82 games. However, at the World Juniors, he would only score one goal in 21 combined games.
Lee’s first three seasons of professional hockey from 2007 through 2010 were split between Binghamton and Ottawa. During that time, he played 123 games in Binghamton, scored 52 points, and scored 82 games in the NHL for 17 points. Ottawa signed him with a two-year 1.7 million dollar one-way contact at the end of the season.
The 2010-11 season did not go well at the start for Lee. He ended up being a regular healthy scratch. Ottawa demoted him to the AHL, and Lee cleared waivers. However, he was called back up, and according to Sens blogger, Kevin Lee, he was paired with Chris Phillips and succeeded in playing a shutdown role. He finished the season playing 50 games and scoring three assists.
The next season, Lee was once again the odd man out. Ottawa traded Lee at the deadline to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He had success with the Lightning scoring eight points in 20 games, but the next season he went pointless in 22 games and was demoted to the AHL.
Things took a tragic turn for Lee. His left knee cartilage was deteriorating. He had multiple surgeries and tried to make an NHL comeback in 2014. However, Lee’s doctor told him that he better quit hockey before he needs a wheelchair or a fake knee. Lee retired in December of 2014. A 2018 article mentioned he is now a medical sales representative in his home State of North Dakota.
Jakub Klepis was Ottawa’s 16th overall pick in the 2002 draft. Klepis was a hardworking, physical and defensive-minded centre who had excellent playmaking ability. He jumped to the AHL in 2004 as a member of the Washington Capitals organization and played in the minors for two seasons, scoring 64 points in 132 games. Klepis took a step the following season, scoring 32 points in 31 AHL games and 10 points in 41 NHL games. He was sent back to the AHL the next season, but he didn’t play the full-year and went back home to the Czech Republic to play professional hockey. In his NHL career, Kelpis played 66 games and scored 14 points.
Matt Puempel was chosen 24th overall in the 2011 NHL draft. He was an excellent goal scorer in junior. In his first season with the Peterborough Petes of the OHL, Puempel scored 33 goals and 64 points to win CHL Rookie of the Year. Over his next three CHL seasons, Puempel scored 86 goals in136 games.
He got off to a hot start in the AHL scoring 30 goals as a rookie in Binghamton, showing that the Senators may have a pure goal scorer. He also had 94 penalty minutes, so he had some edge to his game. However, he never found his way in the NHL scoring 11 goals in 87 career games between the Senators, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.