Murray puts his faith in Leclaire – Metro US

Murray puts his faith in Leclaire

Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray went into yesterday’s trade deadline with one clear mandate —to improve his organization’s goaltending.

He thinks he did that both by addition and subtraction, but the fact is the Senators goaltending situation is still as big a question mark as it was before the deadline.

That’s not to say the Senators haven’t ultimately improved their goaltending by acquiring Pascal Leclaire from the Columbus Blue Jackets, because they may very well have done just that.

But anyone who thinks the Senators’ troubles are over in that department is being wildly optimistic.

Given the fact that Leclaire has won just 47 games (and lost 55) in three years at the NHL level should be proof enough that he’s certainly not a sure thing. The fact that he has struggled both with consistency and health issues over those three years should also send up some red flags.

But Murray must be reasonably certain that Leclaire’s surgically repaired ankle will heal completely and that he’ll return to the form of last season, when he went 24-17-6 and had a .919 save percentage. If he does, it’s a great deal for the Senators, considering they also got a second-round pick and they only gave up Antoine Vermette, a player it seemed they couldn’t even give away a few months ago.

That obviously wasn’t the only news for the Senators yesterday. They signed defenceman Filip Kuba to a three-year deal for $3.7 million per year, which seems crazy until you realize that Kuba leads them in ice time and plus-minus and is their top-scoring defenceman.

And when you consider that it’s slightly less than what former Senators defenceman Mike Commodore got from the Columbus Blue Jackets last summer, perhaps it isn’t so crazy after all.

Another player who will stay in town, at least for the balance of this season, is rugged winger Chris Neil, which is something of a surprise.

Most observers thought the Senators would either sign Neil to a long-term deal or trade him and they did neither. Murray said there was no tangible market for Neil, which may be the case, but this will also certainly be brought up when Murray tries to re-sign Neil between now and July 1.

NHL trade deadline moves of note

• The Pittsburgh Penguins added forward Bill Guerin from the New York Islanders for a conditional draft pick.

• The Phoenix Coyotes sent Derek Morris to the New York Rangers for fellow defenceman Dmitri Kalinin and forwards Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes.

• The Calgary Flames acquired Olli Jokinen and a third-round pick from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and a conditional first-round pick.

• The Boston Bruins acquired forward Mark Recchi and defenceman Steve Montador. The Bruins sent forward Martins Karsums and defenceman Matt Lashoff to Tampa Bay for Recchi and a second-round pick in 2010.

• The Los Angeles Kings traded Patrick O’Sullivan to the Hurricanes, who turned around and sent O’Sullivan and a draft pick to the Edmonton Oilers for Erik Cole.

• Brendan Morrison is joining the Dallas Stars, who claimed him off re-entry waivers from the Anaheim Ducks.

• The Maple Leafs sent forward Nik Antropov to the New York Rangers for a second-round draft pick and a future conditional pick, and Dominic Moore to Buffalo for a second-round draft pick.

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