Sens send Leclaire to AHL

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

OTTAWA - Pascal Leclaire's road back to the NHL will include a stop in Binghamton.

The Senators' injury-prone goalie -- out of action since pulling up lame with a hip/groin issue on Dec. 17 in the warmup against Colorado -- was sent to the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton for a conditioning stint.

The 28-year-old is expected to start against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Wednesday in Binghamton.

Once he's ready to return, rookie Robin Lehner will be sent back to the Baby Sens.

Leclaire practised Monday without incident in Binghamton.

"He's going to practise for the next couple of days, we're looking at him playing Wednesday, but we'll see how that goes," said Ottawa coach Cory Clouston.

"We're looking at him playing at least two or three games. We'll wait and see how he is after practice and then we'll see how he is after practice (Tuesday) before determining if he plays Wednesday. It's a day-by-day situation with him."

Where Leclaire is concerned, the Senators don't want to get ahead of themselves. He's been hurt so much this season and suffered setbacks just when you thought he was ready to return.

Clouston was cautious in predicting when Leclaire could return to Ottawa.

"It just depends on how his injury responds," said Clouston. "I'm not going to put a number of days or anything on (the length of time). I'd like to put a specific number (on the stint) but I can't."

The decision to send down Leclaire is no surprise. He has to get his game together and hasn't had a chance to practise with the team in Ottawa.

Newly acquired goalie Craig Anderson will get the bulk of the work as the Senators audition the potential unrestricted agent following the trade with Colorado for Brian Elliott.

Leclaire, making $4.8 million in the final year of his contract, is trying to save his NHL career. A strong showing in Binghamton might convince a few teams to look at the looming UFA this summer.

As for Lehner, the Senators want to get him some starts in the AHL while Anderson takes the reins with Ottawa for the rest of the season.

The goaltending situation is starting to clear itself up.

"When you have three of your four goaltenders throughout the season injured, it doesn't help with anybody. You put people in situations where they're not supposed to be," said Clouston.

"It's no different than a forward or young defenceman. You don't throw a young defenceman to the wolves right off the bat. You want people in situations where they can have success or build confidence. We haven't been able to do that."

Now with Anderson on board and Leclaire close to getting healthy, Clouston said the situation should improve.

"We had Brian Elliott in a situation where he had to play 10 or 11 games in a row. We tried to bring Mike (Brodeur) up. He was hurt for the most part this season and he wasn't prepared for that, so he didn't have the success he had last year," said Clouston.

"Robin has been hurt at times. He's a young guy, so when we put him in, he wasn't as prepared as we would like him to have been.

"It's just that ripple effect that we haven't been able to slow down. Once Pascal gets healthy, we can put Robin where want him to be by playing lots and developing."


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