This is my list of the Top 10 Ottawa Senators, past and present, since returning to the NHL in the 1992–93 season:
# 10 Ray Emery - Ottawa has had it share of goalies but Emery is the only one to take Ottawa all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. With only one real season as the true starter in Ottawa, it felt like he put in much more time than that over a mix of 4 seasons. Emery played 134 games, registered 70 wins and 8 shutouts. Did he have a career like Lalime or Tugnutt, no he didn't. Was he better, I think so, and I think he had much more potential which is why he makes my list as the only goalie. Who can forget the fight against Sabres goalie Martin Biron, which lead to him taking on enforcer Andrew Peters? It was classic. Sens fans loved him and loved to hate him. Emery has taken a lot of heat during his career in Ottawa and I'm sure I'll take heat for having him on my list.
# 9 Chris Phillips - Only the 2nd player in the team's history to play over 1000 games with the club. Character can be summed up in two words- Big Rig. Drafted 1st overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, he still plays a vital role on the Sens blueline. Phillips was never seen as a gifted goal scorer, but often considered Ottawa's lucky charm when he lite the lamp. It was Phillips stay-at-home defensive style and amazing ability to play so many seasons of continuous Hockey that land him in 9th spot on my list. Add in the fact that he's a genuinely nice guy, whom I've met and had the chance to share a beer with.
#8 Erik Karlsson - Young, fast, energetic and destined to be the best offensive defenceman we've ever drafted, and he's only 22. Is it too quick to put him in the top 10? Maybe. But he's already fifth on the all-time points list for D in Ottawa. And you cannot deny the skills he brings and the way he make things happen on the ice. The kid is dynamic and right now, there isn't a more electrifying D-man to watch. Fans love him and for good reason, he brings something magical to the ice each and every night. Add the fact he was named the 2012 James Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman is just the icing on the cake. We'll all be cheering EK65 for many years to come. Bring it!
# 7 Zdeno Chara - The Big Z. Drafted by NYI, and eventually acquired in the Yashin deal. Still listed as the biggest player to play the game at 6 ft 9, Chara's size will likely go unmatched for some time. Offensively, his numbers were not incredible while with Ottawa, but they increased each season. In his 1st season he had 23 points, followed by 39, 41 and 43, only to continue to climb after moving on to Boston. Chara, Ottawa's record holder for hardest shot is now the record holder in the NHL for the past 5 years, clocking in at over 108 mph. Nominated for the Norris trophy while with the Sens, it was a sign of things to come. Chara ranks 3rd all-time among Sens D in goals, 4th in assists and 3rd in points. He is also second all-time in plus/minus. In my head, Chara will forever be remembered for treating McCabe like a rag-doll back in 2006.
# 6 Wade Redden - I was trying to make a decision about Redden or Chara and wasn't going to put both on my list originally. Strange because it takes me back to the old debate we still talk about today, which ran through the city like a bush fire. Hard to believe both Redden AND Chara were drafted by the New York Islanders. In the end I had to put Redden at # 6 over Chara as he is still the all time Sens points leader for a defenceman and played over 800 games in a Sens uniform. Redden is also in a very select class of players who scored his first NHL goal on his first shot in his first game against Montreal's Jocelyn Thibault in 1996. Redden was also a very important part of the team's first playoff appearance in the modern Senators' history. Alternate captain of the Sens for nine seasons, he will forever be known for that first pass.
# 5 Dany Heatley - Let the booing commence. Yes, like the rest of you, I despise Heater and everything he did to the Sens. But if you look on the bright side, his moving on is what eventually triggered Bryan Murray to sell his star players high and complete one of the best draft stories in NHL History. How many teams have been able to re-stock the entire prospect cupboard in one year? Ok, so back to Heatley. It's no surprise he's on this list, playing 317 games, scoring 180 Goals, with 362 points. Heatley holds the franchise record in Ottawa for goals in a season with 50, doing it back to back. Also leads the club with a points per game average of 1.14. You have to admit that during his time here, and as part of the famous pizza line, he had no haters. His International accomplishments are also impressive- in 2008 he surpassed Marcel Dionne as Canada's all-time leader in goals and Steve Yzerman as the all-time leader in points, in the World Championships.
# 4 Chris Neil - Some of you may be shaking your head and wondering what does Neil have when it comes to records and achievements that are better than those left off the list, like Hossa, Bonk, and McEachern? Well he has bled for this team since his first season in 2001–02, where he appeared in 72 games, scored 10 goals (17 points) while accumulating 231 penalty minutes, which is still the most he's had in a season in Ottawa. He is Ottawa's all time PIM leader with 1861, has lost the most teeth (this isn't a proven fact but seems right) and can be put in almost any game situation and not look too out of place. Not bad for a guy drafted 161st overall in 1998 for his toughness. In 2005–06, Ottawa added some extra grit to the team in the name of McGrattan giving Neil a chance to show he was more than a tough guy. That season Neil picked up 16 goals and 33 points, as well as 204 PIMs. This was his best season as a Senator and the most points he ever notched. Neil has five 20+ point seasons in his last 7, and 4 seasons with 10+ goals. Neil's work ethic is unmatched and there is not one team in the NHL who wouldn't want him in the lineup.
# 3 Alexei Yashin - I don't really like writing about Yashin and not many Sens fans do. But in the same way I had to include Heatley, you cannot leave Yashin out of the mix. He was the face of Ottawa after being drafted 2nd overall in 1992, Ottawa's first draft pick in the history of the expansion Ottawa Senators. It took a year for fans to see him, but when they did he helped sell the tickets and put fans in the seats. In 504 games with Ottawa, he scored 218 Goals, 491 points and managed a respectful 0.98% points per game. Yashin made history as the first Russian to be a full-time captain of an NHL team, putting Ottawa in the history books. But if there is one thing that I really liked about Yashin, it's what we got in return for him when he left. And to read more about that, let's take a look at #2 on my list.
# 2 Jason Spezza - Second only to Alfredsson when it comes to total goals, assists and points, Spezza is the clear number two on my list. Drafted 2nd overall in 2001, Spezza is the most coveted Centre in the history of the franchise. Who would have thought a former baby model and child commercial star, would end up being such a cornerstone of this Senators organization? With an often imitated giggle, Spezza would take a lot of criticism during his first few seasons in Ottawa. Trade talks would heat up each summer, fans would be up and down regarding his style of play. But when it's all said and done, he's continually improved his game at both ends of the ice and has proven his worth. Spezza has a PPG of 1.02, which is 2nd best as a Senator, good for 46th on the NHL All-Time Points per Game Leaders, 6th among active NHL players, and two spots ahead of 1st overall pick that same year, Ilya Kovalchuk. Spezza is a class act and will be the next Captain when Alfredsson decides to hang 'em up. And I for one am ok with that.
# 1 Daniel Alfredsson - Our Captain, The heart and soul of the Sens. Drafted in 1994, 133rd overall, most didn't see him coming. Overlooked by many NHL scouts, Alfredsson went on to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in his 1st NHL season in 95–96. Alfredsson's records and achievements are tops in Ottawa, with games played 1131, goals 416, assists 666, points 1082 and an amazing 0.97 Points per game over his career and is currently the NHL's longest-serving active captain. While proving his weight in gold for the Sens, he has played for Sweden internationally thirteen times, including being part of the 2006 Olympic gold medal winning team. Alfredsson was the 75th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career points, and the list goes on. I don't think I stand alone when I say he is by far, the top player in the team's history. Praise Alfie!!!
Again, this is my own take on who I think fall into the top 10, it's not based on any other reports or articles, it's my own feelings on a per player basis. I took into consideration things like stats, games played, special achievements, fan perception, as well as how they did after leaving the organization.
So there you have it, discuss and feel free to dismantle.