A "shocked" Brian Lee packed his bags for Binghamton yesterday.
As the Senators wrapped up practice at Scotiabank Place, the 22-year-old blueliner stayed on the ice to play a game with some of his teammates, promptly lost, then had to fetch Gatorade for a few of them after leaving the ice.
Then, came a tap on the shoulder that GM Bryan Murray and coach Cory Clouston wanted to see him. An hour later, Lee, the Senators’ last cut before the season opens, was AHL-bound and it’s fair to say he didn’t see the demotion coming.
“He’s shocked and surprised that he’s not among Ottawa’s top-six defencemen. There’s not really much more I can say,” Lee’s agent, Wade Arnott, said yesterday.
The demotion is a double whammy for Lee. Besides not playing in the NHL, he won’t making big-league money, either. Instead of making $850,000 (all term US) in the NHL, the 22-year-old will pull down $62,500 in Bingo.
The two-way contract was the biggest factor working against Lee.
While fellow blueliner Alex Picard is also scheduled to earn $850,000 this season, he has a one-way contract, which means the Senators save nearly $800,000 by demoting Lee.
Lee can also be recalled without having to clear waivers.
With defenceman Christoph Schubert clearing waivers yesterday, the Senators will be paying him $900,000 to toil in the minors.
That means blueliners Erik Karlsson and Matt Carkner have made the team out of training camp.
“I know Brian Lee and he’s going to go and work hard,” said Arnott.
Schubert, 27, was saying the right things after no team put in a waiver claim on the German.
“Obviously, I’m a little disappointed. This is part of the game right now and money has something to do with it,” said Schubert. “I just talked to Bryan Murray and he wants to give some younger guys a shot. I respect that. All I can do is go down and work hard and work my butt off so I can prove I belong in this league again.
“I’m going to turn 28 (in February) and I’ve got to act like a professional. I have to do the best I can. You’ve got to put your heart into it. I’m going to go down with a good attitude and I’m going to do the best I can. Every time Bryan Murray gets a report, I want him to see that I work hard and I’m a good team player.”
Schubert insists he doesn’t want to be dealt.
“It’s the same thing right now, asking now to go for a trade, (he) would be a quitter. I don’t want to be a quitter,” said Schubert. “I want to be a guy who works hard and it doesn’t matter if I had two minutes of ice time or 20 minutes, I always worked hard and I always tried my best. I just want to go to Binghamton and prove that I can come back up again.”
The Senators had the option to recall Schubert to see if a team would take him on re-entry waivers at half of his salary, but Murray doesn’t want to pay $450,000 to a player not in the organization.
“Things can change really quickly,” said Clouston. “I saw that first-hand last year down in the AHL. Your whole roster can almost get overhauled in the matter of a week. We were on a trip and in the span of two days, we lost (Brendan) Bell, (Ryan) Shannon and (Ilya) Zubov.”