Sens Active At 2009 Trade Deadline

Posted: 4th March 2009 by Luc "Sandman" G. in Hockey

vermette The Ottawa Senators were first out of the gate today, the last day of trading for the 2008-2009 NHL season. Our hometown Sens sent the much beloved Vermette to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for goaltender Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round draft pick.

I am sad to see Vermette go. He was a gentleman on and off the ice. I met him and a sign and greet last year and he was polite, gracious and was really nice to my young nieces. Professionally, I believe that he will be hitting his prime in the next season or 2. Watch for him, as he’ll explode to be a 30-35 goal scorer. Its just to bad that it won’t be with the Senators. At least he’s going to a good organization that still is in a position to make the playoffs (currently seeded 6th in the tightly contested Western conference). I wish Antoine all the luck with his new team.

Coming our way is Pascal Leclaire, the 26 year old goaltender who was drafted 8th overall in theleclaire 2001 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has been a very good goaltender for that team but unfortunately got hurt earlier this year and is out for the rest of this season.  In almost 7000 minutes of play, Leclaire has a very respectable .907 save percentage and 2.82 goals against average. Assuming he comes back 100% from his ankle surgery, Leclaire could end up being the best goaltender we Ottawa fans have seen between our pipes (Hasek notwithstanding).  With him comes a 2nd round pick in what experts are calling the best draft in many years. All in all, I think that Murray did a very good trade and that Ottawa came out the winner. Unfortunately we don’t get to see until next season if it is truly so.

gerber That wasn’t the only change to the Sens lineup. Even though he has been playing down in Binghamton for the farm team, Gerber was finally picked up off waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their #1 goaltender, Toskola, requires hip and groin surgery and will be out of the lineup for the rest of the season. The Leafs, not wanting to put the pressure on the again Curtis Joseph, picked up Gerber for the remainder of the season. Since he was picked up on waivers, the Leafs will only have to pay 1/2 of his remaining 800k salary. Not a bad deal for a team that absolutely required a goaltender. Gerber is a class act and I’m glad that he gets the chance to play in the NHL again, even if it is for the greatly hated Leafs.

Before the trade deadline, Murray managed to sign Filip Kuba to a contract extension that will keep him in a Sens jersey for the next 3 years, at a very reasonable 3.7M per season. Kuba was expected to be able to fetch 4.5-5M on the open market this summer. I believe that giving the team such a significant homtown discount speaks volumes regarding Kuba’s character and his belief in this team. It shows that he believes this team can and will be a contender in the short term.

What came as a surprise to the majority of NHL fans, Chris Neil was not traded. Murray stated that he received a couple of phone calls the day before the trade deadline regarding Neil, but come the day of the deadline no team showed any interest. A contract couldn’t be reached between the Sens and Neil before the deadline. The team was offering Neil 1.8M a year, whereas Neil was looking for 2.5M. I strongly believe that for what Neil brings to the table, 1.8M is a very generous offer (I’d peg it more at 1.3-1.4M). Hopefully Neil and his agent will see this lack of interest for what it is, and accept the 1.8M deal.

All in all, I think that Murray has done great things for this team over the last couple of weeks. We acquired Campoli and Comrie for McAmmond and San Jose’s draft pick, giving us the puck moving defenseman we’ve been searching for, and a possible 2nd line scorer. Today Murray brought in a goaltender who was regarded as being the best goaltender available on the market, and one who has the potential to be a difference-making #1 goaltender. Our playoff hopes for this year may be gone, but things are shaping up to turning this team into a real contender again in the 2009-2010 season.

Go Sens Go!

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