Auld man behind the mask

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

When it came to a backup plan, Alex Auld was the Senators' No. 1 choice.

The Senators signed the former Bruins netminder late yesterday to a two-year contract that will pay him $1 million (all terms US) per season and the club expects Auld to be able to come into Ottawa to push Martin Gerber for playing time next season.

The Senators also spoke with former Chicago goalie Patrick Lalime, an ex-Senator, and former Pittsburgh goalie Ty Conklin, but GM Bryan Murray confirmed that Ottawa wanted the 27-year-old Auld, who had some success with the Bruins after being picked up from Phoenix last season.

"I know Alex. I drafted Alex in Florida (No. 40 overall in the 1999 draft). He chose Ottawa over a couple of other opportunities for him. He thinks he can get some games here and he thinks he can challenge here," said Murray.

"We like his character and we like his ability. We know if he gets called upon to go into the net, he can do (the job). The other thing is, he's a really good guy and he's a real straight competitive person. We think he'll be great in our locker room and that's the type of atmosphere we want to create."

Auld, who had some interest from the Sabres and Red Wings, said he liked the look of the Senators.

"It was an exciting day. There were lots of goalies in play and Ottawa is the team that I wanted to be with" said Auld, who was 9-7-5 in 23 games with Boston last season while sporting a 2.32 GAA. "I just hope it works out. I was really just excited about this opportunity. Everything looks good right now.

"I love the fact that it's a great market for hockey. It kind of reminds me of when I played in Vancouver with the energy and the excitement.

"The (Senators are) a year removed from going to the Stanley Cup final with a lot of the same players and I like the fact that I will be in a situation where I will be able to play some games and I'll be able to push (Gerber for playing time). It should be a lot of fun."

The 6-foot-4, 200-lb. Auld, of Thunder Bay, has played 140 NHL games with the Canucks, Panthers, Coyotes and Bruins, posting a 58-57-10 record with a 2.85 GAA and five shutouts.

STILLMAN TO PANTHERS

The Senators weren't surprised to see LW Cory Stillman move on to the Panthers. He had demanded a three-year, $10.5-million contract and Ottawa couldn't meet the asking price. Panthers GM Jacques Martin, a former Senators coach, signed the free agent Stillman to a three-year, $10.6-million deal. "We've got a great fit," said Martin. "A player that has the ability to score goals and is also very smart. He's won (the Stanley Cup twice) and both times he had tremendous playoffs. He's a great competitor and he's great on the power play. He'll really be able to help our top two lines, bring some production we had lost and will fit in well. He' just a good character." Stillman was brought to Ottawa, along with D Mike Commodore at the trade deadline in the deal that sent D Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves to Carolina. Commodore signed a five-year, $18.75-million deal with the Blue Jackets yesterday.

INTEREST IN SATAN

League sources say the Senators are among a group of teams interested in UFA Islanders W Miroslav Satan. He made $4.5 million last season, but will likely have to take a pay cut after scoring only 16 goals last season. Satan, who had scored at least 22 goals each season in the 10 years previous to last one, is in that second tier of forwards that's going to have to wait until a day or two to get a deal done. If he wants in the $3.5 million per season range, that could take the Senators out of the running.

MOVING ON DONOVAN

The Senators have made another pitch to UFA W Shean Donovan. The club has offered the Carleton Place native a two-year deal that he's pondering. He made $975,000 last season, but will have to accept in the range of $600,000 to stay with Ottawa.


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