OTTAWA – With five trades in the past three weeks, the biggest moves the Ottawa Senators made came well in advance of Monday’s trade deadline, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some activity in the hours leading up to it.
Late on Sunday a contract extension was offered to defenceman Chris Phillips, who has played all 925 of his career NHL games with the Senators.
He agreed to the contract Monday, setting the stage for Ottawa’s one trade.
The Senators sent defenceman Chris Campoli and a conditional pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for minor-leaguer Ryan Potulny and a second-round pick in 2011.
Potulny had 32 points with the Edmonton Oilers last season but was held pointless in three games with the Blackhawks this season. He had 18 goals and 41 points in 58 games with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.
According to Senators’ general manager Bryan Murray, Potulny will spend the rest of the season with the Senators and not in the minors.
Campoli, in his third season with the Senators, had three goals and 14 points in 58 games. Between the Phillips signing and Ottawa’s youth movement, Campoli wasn’t shocked by the trade.
“I thought it was a good possibility, especially after seeing Philly sign last night,” Campoli told TSN. “I spoke to my agent and he thought there was a good fit for me to be moved and once that happened you could see the writing on the wall.”
Chicago general manager Stan Bowman said the deal benefits both clubs.
“I think the good news for Chris is that he’s coming into a situation here where he’s not going to be required to carry the load,” Bowman said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can play good minutes, so he needs to complement them, and I think in some ways, he’s going to alleviate their load.
“I think his skill set and his experience is going to be a nice addition to our club. I think it’s a definite upgrade.”
Campoli is excited to be joining the Blackhawks, the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
“My game is skating, moving the puck and chipping it in the offensive side,” said Campoli. “It looks like a good fit where I’ll be able to do that and play to my strengths.”
It was widely rumoured following the Senators’ 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night that Phillips had played his last game for the organization. He scored his first goal of the season in that game, and the 60th of his career.
“I certainly didn’t think they were waiting for me to score a goal to get a contract,” Phillips said following Monday’s practice.
Phillips feels that he left money on the table by not exploring free agency July 1, but that is of no consequence to him.
“There’s no question that I gave up something,” he said. “But what that is we’ll never know because I didn’t go to July 1 and test that market. It’s not a concern.”
Thanks to the Phillips contract, players were upbeat in the Senators locker room on Monday despite the departure of so many teammates.
“Phillips has been around here for a long time, he’s a great leader in the room and a guy that a lot of guys lean on so we’re happy to see him stay,” said Senators forward Jason Spezza.
“I think it’s been trade deadline day for a few weeks for us now so not much has changed.”
Ottawa also announced that goaltender Robin Lehner had been re-assigned to Binghamton of the American Hockey League.
Lehner had been acting as a backup to Craig Anderson, who was acquired from Colorado for goaltender Brian Elliott on Feb. 18.
Ottawa also announced it had claimed Curtis McElhinney off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The move is a clear indication that Anderson will be the go-to guy in Ottawa’s net and possibly in the future as the Senators continue to groom Lehner.
“I’ve been treated with great respect here and so far everything about Ottawa has been unbelievable,” said Anderson. “It’s definitely a place where I could see myself playing for a long time.”
Murray, who said he wantsLehner in the minors where he can play instead of sitting on an NHL bench, was pleased with the Senators moves in the past few weeks.
“What we’ve done is try to clean it up, to accumulate draft picks,” said Murray. “They don’t play so we now have to use them to acquire other assets whether it be pick or trade at a later date.”
Murray was satisfied with Monday’s transactions, even though there was only one deal.
“I had several inquiries on a couple of veteran guys but for the time being I think we have the core we need to start over.”