Drafted in the first round of the 2007 NHL, Jim O’Brien may have the distinction of being Bryan Murray’s first ever draft selection as GM of the Ottawa Senators, but you would be a fool not to think of him as one of the last remaining remnants of the John Muckler era.
Talking to reporters at a media availability back in January of 2011, Murray made reference to the prospects coming through the pipeline when the Sens were close to initiating the first phases of their rebuilding effort. (Note: skip to the 5:50 mark in the video to hear Murray's draft record comments.)
“Erik Karlsson was my first real draft here, and I say ‘mine’, I mean our staff. And he’s a pretty legitimate player.”
Legitimate indeed and having watched a number of Bryan Murray’s draft classes grow and develop, the man wasn’t wrong.
After Muckler failed to acquire Gary Roberts at the 2007 trade deadline, Eugene Melnyk’s harbored resentment towards the-then GM eventually led to his dismissal and the hiring of Bryan Murray as GM just six days before the 2007 NHL Draft. As things played out, Muckler’s inability to land Roberts was one of the greatest things to happen to this franchise because of the change it facilitated within.
I mean, who doesn’t fondly recall the days when we got all excited over Cody Bass because he was the closest thing that we had to resembling a prospect coming up through the system? (Hint: no one.)
Without a handpicked amateur staff of Murray’s own, the first four Senators draft picks were made using Muckler’s scouts and Ottawa’s final three picks were traded for 2008 fourth round pick – which in turn was used to select Derek Grant.
In putting him on waivers along with Tyler Ekford, Nathan Lawson and Corey Cowick, Bryan Murray now wipes his hands clean of O’Brien – who now joins Brian Lee (2005) and Nick Foligno (2006) as former Muckler first rounders who’ve been expunged from the roster by the Silver Fox. Taking this a step further, the last remaining parts of the Muckler era include Ben Blood (4th round, 2007), Colin Greening (7th round, 2005), Eric Gryba (3rd round, 2006) and Erik Condra (7th round, 2006) – in other words, two six or seventh defencemen and two forwards that the Sens were fortunate to hit the lottery on so late in the draft.
In a blog yesterday, Scott hit the nail on the head in saying that O'Brien was replaceable. In his time as an Ottawa Senator, he was nothing more than a placeholder until better prospects and players surpassed him.
Coach Paul MacLean said he is hopeful someone will pick up O'Brien. Said he has been surpassed by others. #Sens
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) September 27, 2013
All 4 Sens players – Cowick, Lawson, O'Brien and Eckford all cleared waivers and can be assigned to Binghamton.
— Brent Wallace (@tsn_wally) September 27, 2013