The Ottawa Senators were hardly busy on the first day of free agency, but they still made a couple of moves. And by couple, I mean two. Here’s a look at the day that was for the Senators, as well as where some of Ottawa’s UFAs and former players ended up.
Alex Auld, G: 1-year, $1M
Ottawa’s biggest dip into the free agency pool. The Senators needed a backup goaltender, and they got a backup goaltender. Auld joins the Senators for the second time in his career in a move that has been positively received by fans. Bryan Murray was on record saying that while he talked to many players about the backup position, everybody but Auld wanted a two-year contract. Auld, however, was just fine about taking a one-year deal as a stopgap until Robin Lehner is promoted to the NHL full-time.
Make no mistake, unlike the last time around, Auld will not be competing for a starting job. While Martin Gerber was displaceable, Craig Anderson is firmly planted in the starter’s role. With Bryan Murray stating that Lehner will be the starter if Anderson gets injured, it’s pretty safe to say that Auld will be the backup and nothing more. And that’s just fine for the Ottawa Senators.Francis Lessard, F: 1-year, dollars undisclosed, 2-way
The only other signing the Senators made on the first day of free agency was actually a re-sizing, one that can only be described as disappointing and confusing. Lessard failed to impress in either the AHL or NHL last season, and why he was retained is a complete and utter mystery. He’s a pugilist and little else. In his 115-game NHL career, Lessard has a whopping one goal and three assists to go alongside 346 PIMs. In his past three AHL seasons, he’s amassed six goals and five assists in 156 games, tallying 800 PIMs along the way.
Ottawa Senators UFAs
Ryan Potulny, C: Washington Capitals, 2-years, $525K per year, 2-way first season, 1-way second season
Potulny came Ottawa’s way as part of the Chris Campoli trade. He was an integral part of the Binghamton Senators’ Calder Cup-winning playoff run, but it was highly unlikely that he’d get a shot in the NHL with Ottawa. He’s earned that contract, and I believe I can speak for all Senators fans when I say good luck to you, Ryan Potulny.
Unsigned UFAs: Ryan Shannon (C), Marek Svatos (RW), David Hale (D), Pascal Leclaire (G), Curtis McElhinney (G), Mike Brodeur (G)
Patrick Eaves, RW: Detroit Red Wings, 3-years, $1.2M per year
Eaves has been serviceable, though unspectacular for the Red Wings. It was enough to earn him an extension after Mike Modano left and Jaromir Jagr signed with Philadelphia.
Mike Commodore, D: Detroit Red Wings, 1-year, $1M
Fresh off the buyout table, Commodore somehow found work with Detroit. While he’s no Brian Rafalski, he could be a solid #6/7 defenceman at the price he was signed for. Maybe.
Brian Elliott, G: St. Louis Blues, 1-year, 2-way, dollars undisclosed
Clearly he’s an insurance plan if Jaroslav Halak or Ben Bishop get hurt. Elliott did absolutely nothing to earn himself an NHL contract in his time with Ottawa and Colorado last season. It’s a relatively low risk signing for St. Louis.
The Senators found themselves the backup goalie they needed. With their defence more or less complete going into next season, the last things on Ottawa’s to-do list is to find a top-six forward and/or a serviceable two-way player. Any other moves will likely be ones to stock up Binghamton for another season. In other words, don’t expect Sergei Gonchar-type surprises.