Brassard? Michalek a Rocket man
DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
|Senators forward Milan Michalek moves the puck against the Sabres in Buffalo, N.Y., Nov. 11, 2011. (DOUG BENZ/Reuters)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Senators made a minor trade Friday, but there’s a bigger one for the taking if they want it.
Claims by his agent of mistreatment in Columbus made it clear that Derick Brassard is available. The 24-year-old Hull product has the pedigree to become the second-line centre the Senators have sought. A junior scoring star when he was Guillaume Latendresse’s set up man with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, Brassard was the sixth pick in the 2006 draft. But his Blue Jackets’ career has been marked by injury and an inability to near his potential. Brassard’s best season was 2010-11, when he had 17 goals and 30 assists, and through the first two months of the current campaign, he has just two goals and two assists.
The Senators are interested in players like him — talented and in desperate need of a fresh start, but at two more seasons after this with a cap hit of $3.2 million, he’s likely a bigger gamble than they want to take. They are, however, giving a fresh start to one Robert Klinkhammer.
The 6-foot-3, 209-pound left winger was acquired Friday by Binghamton Senators GM Tim Murray for a conditional seventh-round pick. The scouting report on Klinkhammer, who had two goals and four assists for Chicago’s AHL affiliate in Rockford, is that he skates very well for a big man. But with just six penalty minutes, he hasn’t exactly been playing like a big man. Klinkhammer will report to the B-Sens, and it’s hoped he’ll start hammering some people.
THIS AND THAT
Chris Neil should be back in the Senators lineup against the Caps. After missing nine games with a sprained ankle, he practised Friday on a line with Jesse Winchester and Zenon Konopka. “If I’m not (in Saturday) I wait for the next game and just keep myself in good shape, try to stay on top of things so when they do need me I’ll be ready to go,” said Neil, who doesn’t anticipate having a problem picking up where he left off. “I think the way we play definitely helps,” he said. “We play a structured system. If you pay attention to details and play within the system, you get your first couple of shifts under your belt and you go from there.” Bobby Butler is expected to take a seat in the pressbox ... Of the Senators’ 25 games so far, the opponents have had more power plays in 17. “I asked one of the refs the other night, ‘what do we have to do to get a power play?’” said Daniel Alfredsson. “He just said ‘move your feet, work through it’ so I guess that’s all we can do.” ... Beating the Capitals would give the Senators a 6-3-1 record in a stretch of games that saw them play 9-of-10 on the road. “I think it would be great for our team, for our confidence and growth as a team,” coach Paul MacLean said of having that kind of success away from Scotiabank Place. “When you know you can win on the road, it’s an important step in getting a comfort level in doing that. We kind of let one slip on us, but it’s all part of the learning process.
‘The way we’ve played the last 10 games is also giving us confidence, no matter what the outcome is (Saturday). We’ve played real well as a team on the road and in some tough places. I think we’ve grown.”
Entering Friday, Milan Michalek’s 15 goals had him one back of leaders for the Rocket Richard Trophy, Phil Kessel and Steven Stamkos. Pretty heady company, indeed. “My friends called me (about that),” Michalek said. “It’s nice to be there with these guys. They’re good players. Hopefully I can stay long with them.” ... Dale Hunter, who may actually be Robin Williams in a red jacket, likes the way the Capitals have played since he took over as coach. Never mind the 0-2 record. “There’s not a timetable on it,” Hunter said when asked how long it will take for him to make an impact behind the Caps bench. “But we need to win games. I see the boys getting better every day. As a coach, you’re always scared they’re going to fall back a little bit, but they improved (Thursday) night and I expect them to improve (Saturday).” ... The Caps have lost their last four, and MacLean knows how they feel. “We’ve been that team ourselves before and we know how desperate or urgent you are to win that game,” he said. “You don’t want it to keep going on you. So we have to match or exceed that competition level (Saturday) night. We know how hard they’re going to work so we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go.”