The 2005 NHL entry draft order was established completely by weighted lottery. The Ottawa Senators were fortunate enough to land the ninth overall pick, their highest draft position since 2001, despite finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference. They selected then-College bound high school senior Brian Lee out of Moorhead in Minnesota. Lee has taken his time developing, but seems poised to become a significant part of Ottawa’s future blueline.
2003-04: Lee, a freshman at Moorhead high school in Minnesota, produced amazing numbers and turned a lot of heads as he posted 48 points in just 29 games. Lee, a veteran of USA hockey events, participated in the 8 Nations tournament and was named top defenseman at the U-17 Five Nations Cup in Slovakia. The Lincoln Stars of the USHL selected Lee 111th overall in the 2004 draft.
2004-05: Minnesota’s 2005 Mr. Hockey and Associated Press Player of the Year was the first high school player selected in the 2005 NHL draft. Lee had an accomplished senior season at Moorhead. Although his point total dipped from 48 to 37 in five fewer games, Lee lead Moorhead to the championship game of the state AA high school tournament. Upon completion of the high school season, Lee joined Lincoln in the USHL and finished the season strong with 5 points in 4 playoff games. Lee also became only the 13th high school player to make the USA roster at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
2005-06: In his freshman year at University of North Dakota, Lee played with an all-star cast that included Jonathan Toews, Travis Zajac, Drew Stafford, and T.J. Oshie. Lee quickly became the go-to defenseman for the team and lead all North Dakota defenders with 27 points in 44 games. Lee once again participated in the World Junior Hockey Championships, picking up one goal in 7 matches.
2006-07: This marked the defenseman’s second, and last, season with the University of North Dakota (WCHA). In 38 games he tallied two goals and 26 points, along with a career-high 69 penalty minutes. He finished with UND with six goals and 53 points in 82 games.
2007-08: Opting out of collegiate play, the defenseman entered the AHL this season, the first of his professional hockey career. In 55 games with the Binghamton Senators, the blue-liner netted three goals and 25 points, adding 51 penalty minutes to boot. He also saw his first bit of NHL action, appearing in six games (one assist) with Ottawa.
2008-09: Lee spent most of his season in the big league, appearing in 53 games with Ottawa. In his time in the NHL, he tallied a pair of goals and 13 points, racking up 33 penalty minutes along the way. He also appeared in 27 games with Binghamton (AHL), scoring two goals and 12 points total.
Lee was an imposing player at the high school level, possessing good size and superb skating skills. He can play in all situations, can easily move the puck up ice, and is adept at joining the rush. Lee has excellent hockey sense and handles the puck with ease. Lee plays well in his own zone and his smooth skating ability gives him terrific gap control. He is rarely beaten on a rush. Despite being more of an offensive defenseman, Lee lacks the creativity to be an effective quarterback. He is still a good option for the power play though because of his reliability, calm demeanor, and poise with the puck. Lee has added body strength over the years, but still does not possess a mean streak. His 6’3 frame should allow him to play a solid physical game, but Lee rarely finishes his checks.
Lee was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the deal that sent Matt Gilroy to the Senators.