The Otttawa Senators have made their usual pre-trade deadline deal, and this time it sends Alex Picard and Ottawa's second round pick to Carolina in exchange for Matt Cullen.
|2009 - Matt Cullen||60||12||28||40||0||26||1||2||1||0||137||8.8|
There are a few things to notice about Matt Cullen that are instantly impressive. He plays on bottom-feeder Carolina, but is not a minus player. He has 28 assists on the season, which instantly puts him at second highest in that category for the Senators. He kills penalties and plays the point in the powerplay, offering a big boost to special teams. Finally, he has a Stanley Cup ring, a bit of a rarity in these parts.
Cullen is an underrated player, but his presence on the team is a little confusing. He's a centreman, a position of strength for the Senators (Spezza, Fisher, Kelly, Regin, Winchester). It's hard to know where he'll fit on the team, but I'm sure Murray and Clouston have already figured that all out. It also gives the Senators three extra forwards when everyone is healthy, meaning that there's another trade coming, something that Murray has already stated (the Sens are looking for another defenseman at the actual trade deadline if the price is right).
Cullen is a 33-year old UFA after this season, so if he is a rental, he didn't exactly come at a cheap price (thanks, Montreal Canadiens for setting that second rounder price!). However, the Senators did have two second round picks this year, so it's not as though they're going to be lacking in picks or sacrificing too much depth because of this move. Losing Picard is not at all an issue for this team, because the Senators are already full of inconsistent puck-moving defenseman who play a bit too soft in their own zone. Picard was likely thrown in to get rid of some money, as the Senators are now over the cap.
Cullen should be a strong presence on the team for the playoff run, and it'll be interesting to see where he fits into the lineup. As I said, losing Picard (who was likely going to be let go in the offseason anyways and could not gather much if any return on his own) is a negligible loss, and the late second rounder was an appropriate price for a 40-point player like Cullen. It does leave the Senators thinner at defense than they should be on a playoff run, but if everyone is healthy then Picard was going to be benched anyways. Furthermore, even if there are injuries, it's not as though Picard is an improvement over Brian Lee. It's not a steal by any means, but it's a fair deal that should help the Senators come playoff time. Both teams should be quite happy with this one.
To see what Canes fans think of the deal, head to our affiliate Canes Country for their take on it.