OTTAWA – The rebuild in Ottawa continues.
The Senators dealt centre Chris Kelly to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday in exchange for a second-round pick in this year’s draft.
The Bruins get a two-way forward who can kill penalties and contribute offensively, while Ottawa continues to look to the future.
“I just traded one of the good guys and most-respected players on this hockey team,” Senators general manager Bryan Murray said in announcing the deal after Ottawa’s 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders. “To have to make the moves we’re making are difficult, but that’s the way we have to go at this point in time.”
The 30-year-old Kelly was in his sixth full season with Ottawa after being drafted in the third round (94th overall) in 1999.
“It’s pretty tough to get traded, it’s my first time, but these things happen, especially the way things have gone this year,” Kelly said. “Obviously, Bryan had to make some moves.”
He won’t have too wait long to make his return to Scotiabank Place. Ottawa hosts the Bruins on Friday night.
“It’ll be a weird feeling coming out on the other side of the rink. Ottawa’s all I know, being drafted here and playing my whole career here,” Kelly said.
“I would have loved to have been part of the organization for a long time to come, but that’s not the case and I wish them a lot of luck going forward.”
Ottawa, which traded fan favourite Mike Fisher to Nashville last week and sits last in the Eastern Conference with 45 points, now has two first- and two second-round picks at this summer’s draft.
“Obviously, to see a guy like Mike traded, who’s been here so long and really was an idol, then everyone could possibly be moved,” Kelly said.
Murray says he’s open to discussing trading the picks he’s acquired in the trades, but dealing two big pieces of his team back-to-back was tough.
“They’re two character people, two guys you respect as much as you can possibly respect a hockey player. Funny how it goes, that’s what other teams want,” Murray said. “If they’re going to make a deal, it seems to start (with) those types of players.”
Murray says Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, a former assistant GM in Ottawa, asked about Kelly a few days ago and the deal progressed from there.
“It was important to get this one done. We need help in a couple of areas and this is one of the areas,” Chiarelli said after Boston’s 4-3 loss to Toronto. “He’s a smart player and a responsible player.
“He can play up the middle and he can play the wing, but he’s a natural centre.”
Kelly will go from a last-place team into the thick of the playoff race. Boston is currently tied for first in the Northeast Division with Montreal. Both teams have 69 points, though Boston has a game in hand.
“I spoke with Peter Chiarelli and he seemed excited and I told him I was excited. I get an opportunity to play in the post-season and an opportunity to go, hopefully, deep in the playoffs,” Kelly said.
Kelly became a full-time player with the Senators in the 2005-06 season and recorded 75 goals and 101 assists in 462 regular-season games. In 36 career playoff games, the Toronto native has four goals and nine assists.
Kelly, who has 12 goals and 13 assists this season, is making US$2,125,000 both this season and next before entering unrestricted free agency.
Despite dealing Fisher and Kelly out of Ottawa in the last week, Murray says he’s far from finished in trying to rebuild the former Eastern Conference powerhouse.
“If you’re going to rebuild the organization, there has to be more than that to go,” he said.
—With files from The Associated Press