The Senators will not be accused of being deadline duds this season. The team has already traded Antoine Vermette for a goalie, and signed a key performer on the blue line this season.
Long accused of sitting on the sidelines too much when they were one of the NHLís most dominant teams, the Senators have become major players now that they are one of its sad sacks.
GM Bryan Murray dealt Vermette to the Columbus Blue Jackets this morning for goalie Pascal Leclaire and a second-round draft pick. He is also weighing numerous offers for tough winger Chris Neil, and a deal for Neil is expected anytime.
He has also finalized a new three-year contract with defenceman Filip Kuba, who joined the Senators this season and has been a consistent performer on a team that has struggled mightily and will miss the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
The deal for Leclaire is seen as a move to try and find a No. 1 goaltender for a team that has had its share of struggles in net over the years. Leclaire, 26, a native of Repentigny, Que., is in his fifth NHL season but has been out recently with an ankle injury. The knock on Leclaire has been injuries Ė heís also had back and groin ailments Ė but he has tremendous potential according to many NHL observers.
He has a 4-6 record in 12 games this season and a 3.83 goals-against. His career GAA in the NHL is 2.82. His best year was last season when he had a 24-17 won-lost record with a 2.25 goals against.
Leclaire also played for Team Canada at the World Championships last year, posting four wins and no losses.
Vermette, 26, has underperformed this season, with just nine goals and 28 points in 62 games. His strength is as a faceoff specialist, but the Senators felt they needed more out of the speedy centre for the $2.5 million he is being paid. Vermette is fifth in the NHL winning more than 58% of his draws.
"I wasn't really sure what to expect. I had heard a lot of rumours. I heard my name on television in the background in the medical room,' said Vermette, who was at Scotiabank Place prior to today's practice. "I am excited. I don't really know who I will be playing with. This is a good opportunity for me."
He said he and Leclaire had crossed paths once before. While both played in the Quebec major junior league, they were involved in another trade rumour. That one did not come to fruition.
"(Back) then there was some rumours, him and me. So, it's pretty funny how things worked out."
Kuba, who would have been an unrestricted free agent this summer, will sign a three-year deal for $3.7 million per season. He arrived in Ottawa last summer after a trade from Tampa Bay, and has compiled two goals, 27 assists and a plus-8 rating in his 54 games. He is 32 years old.
The Senators had been hopeful they could re-sign Kuba, who has been a solid presence on the blue line. He is also a decent puck mover, something the Senators lack since the loss of Wade Redden to free agency last off season.
That leaves Neil as the Senators' key unsigned trade prospect. There are multiple offers on the table for Neil, Sun Media has learned, and the San Jose Sharks are among the teams in the mix.
The trade deadline is at 3 p.m.