Going into the deadline, there were no less than four players that Bryan Murray was expected to trade or waive in exchange for prospects and draft picks. One of those five--Martin Gerber--was picked up by the Maple Leafs on waivers, while another--Filip Kuba--was re-signed by the Senators to a three-year, $11.1M contract. Here's the day, in a nutshell:
In: Pascal Leclaire, 2nd round pick (CLB)
Out: Antoine Vermette (CLB), Martin Gerber (TOR)
- Re-signed: Filip Kuba (3 yrs, $11.1M)
The biggest deal, however, was a trade with someone who wsan't actively shopped by the Senators, but was still valuable: The Columbus Blue Jackets traded goaltender Pascal Leclaire to Ottawa along with a second-round pick for Antoine Vermette (recap here).
Analysts on TSN suggested that the acquisition of Leclaire was a great move for Bryan Murray, although injuries will likely keep him out for the rest of this season. Although Leclaire comes with a $3.8M cap hit for the next two seasons, it will be a bargain if he regains the form he had in 2007-08. It costs Ottawa Vermette, who has long been an important part of the Senators' offensive depth, but hasn't yet reached the goal-scoring form that has long been expected of him. Impossible to know at the moment, but the Senators also receive a second-round pick from Columbus, which will help re-establish depth in the prospect system.
Toronto hadn't been mentioned as interested in Gerber until yesterday, and even then I had hardly believed it. It will not really do anything for the salary cap, given that Gerber was in the AHL anyway, but it will save owner Eugene Melnyk a few hundred thousand dollars.
The Kuba signing was unexpected. Still, Kuba has been one of very few bright spots on the Senators roster this season, and he made it well-known that he wanted to stay in Ottawa--he even put his money where his mouth was, leaving what could very well be up to $2.4M on a three-year deal in the off-season to stay with the Senators. (His contract reportedly also includes a no-trade clause.) In my opinion, Kuba has had a free pass this season, because most fans and analysts have seen him as a one-year experiment who was far from the Sens' biggest problem. Along with this larger commitment will come more scrutiny.
With Kuba, the Senators retain a puck-moving defenceman, albeit a middling one. They now have four highly-paid 3-4 defencemen on the payroll, and most would argue no number one defenceman:
- Filip Kuba: $3.7M
- Chris Phillips: $3.5M
- Jason Smith: $2.6M
- Anton Volchenkov: $2.5M
That's a log-jam, particularly with Brian Lee, Alex Picard, and Chris Campoli also on contract for next season, and prospects Mattias Karlsson and Erik Karlsson looking to take the next step in their development. Some move will likely have to take place to clear that up.
In terms of 'rebuilding', this may be a disappointing deadline day for the Senators. The expectation was that a few of the players on expiring contracts--including Kuba, Chris Neil, and possibly Mike Comrie, as well as Christoph Schubert--would be swapped for promising prospects and high draft picks, but that didn't happen. Comrie was neither traded nor re-signed (yet), but there is plenty of time for an extension to be worked out with him. The Senators, in fact, only received one draft pick, that one that came with Leclaire.
Overall, in my opinion, it's been a confusing day for Senators fans. We went in expecting--perhaps unfairly--more moves and more pieces coming back, but those simply didn't happen. Still, with some d-corps re-jigging in the off-season, and the acquisition of Leclaire, this day could have put some pieces together towards a quick rebuild for this Senators team.