Newest Sen 'just thrilled'

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Mike Comrie couldn't wait to join the Senators.

After being acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes by the Senators in exchange for Russian prospect Alexei Kaigorodov yesterday morning, Comrie wasted no time packing his bags to come to Ottawa.

While the Coyotes were catching a flight to Carolina from Washington, Comrie made the trek to Ottawa just in time to suit up last night against the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Place.

"I'm just thrilled. I'm really excited," Comrie, who had seven goals and 13 assists for in 24 games with the Coyotes, told the Sun before his flight at noon. "I look at the people they've got in that organization, the success they've had and the opportunity for me to win a Stanley Cup and that's what excites me the most.

"It's tough because I've been in Phoenix for a few years and I've made some really close friends in the dressing room and these are guys I've gone to battle with every night. To be back with a Canadian team in a market that really knows a lot about hockey is something I'm really looking forward to being a part of."

Senators GM John Muckler didn't waste any time making a deal after losing out in a bid to acquire Petr Nedved on waivers. Muckler confirmed yesterday's Sun report that Ottawa did put in a claim on the veteran Flyers centre, who was grabbed by Edmonton.

With Jason Spezza (knee) and Mike Fisher (knee) sidelined indefinitely and Antoine Vermette (hip) out until at least Saturday, Muckler didn't believe he could sit any longer without bringing in help. Comrie, 26, is a skilled offensive player who should be a nice fit: He's a lefthanded shot who will help captain Daniel Alfredsson.

"I just felt we needed to add a little more offence," said Muckler. "The team has been playing very well, but I think since Spezza and Fisher have been out, a lot of people have stepped forward.

"We just felt that we needed a little push on the offensive side."

The key to the deal : Ottawa didn't have to give anything up off its current roster and Comrie, who makes $3 million, will be an unrestricted free agent July 1. That means the Senators can wait to see how he performs and then make a decision in the summer.

This doesn't give the Senators a whole lot of wiggle room under the $44 million US salary cap. A league executive said Ottawa is now at $43.3 million by adding the $1.5 million that's left on Comrie's contract. He was made available by Phoenix when he let the Coyotes know he didn't plan to return next season.

It's believed several teams were asking for Vermette or defencemen Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips. Muckler isn't ready to give up on any of those players and wanted to add without subtracting. Kaigorodov sealed his fate when he refused an assignment to the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton, then ripped Muckler and coach Bryan Murray in the Russian press.

"We were able to make the deal because of that," said Muckler. "It's not that Kaigorodov isn't going to play in the NHL because he certainly is going to play in the NHL and Phoenix said they're probably going to leave him in Russia the remainder of the year.

"We've been working on this deal for Mike Comrie for a long time. We've done our homework. He was the best one for what we wanted on our hockey club. He's going to help us and that's why we decided to bring him in."

Murray has always liked Comrie. As the Anaheim Ducks GM, he tried to pry Comrie away from the Oilers in December 2003 for then-prospect Corey Perry and a No. 1 pick. Instead, Comrie was dealt to the Flyers by Edmonton and landed in Phoenix in February 2004.

"It gives us a little more strength down the middle and when you're playing in our conference in particular, it seems that players are hard to come by, especially productive players," said Murray.


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