Ranking the best and worst deals by Ottawa general managers near the trade deadline
All eyes will be on Bryan Murray leading into Wednesday’s National Hockey League trade deadline, and any moves the general manager decides to make will be heavily scrutinized by the media and fan base in this city.
While it’s tempting to over-analyze deals right after they’re made, it often takes years to sufficiently judge all aspects of them.
So, with the benefit of hindsight, here’s a look at the five best and worst trades made by Ottawa Senators general managers near the NHL trade deadline over the years.
THE FIVE BEST
1. Craig Anderson for Brian Elliott (Feb. 18, 2011)
Looking back, this deal is grand larceny for the Ottawa Senators. When Brian Elliott was traded to the Colorado Avalanche, he was in the midst of a horrible season with the Senators, posting a .894 save percentage and winning only three times in his final 26 starts with the team. But Bryan Murray was able to pry pending unrestricted free agent Craig Anderson away from the Avalanche in return for the struggling Elliott. All Anderson has done since coming to Ottawa is provide the Senators with the type of consistent goaltending they’d been lacking for years.
2. Antoine Vermette for Pascal Leclaire and a second-round pick (March 4, 2009)
At first glance, this deal does not appear to be a major win for either side. Vermette spent parts of three seasons in Columbus before he was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes in a fairly minor deal. Leclaire’s tenure in Ottawa was punctuated by injuries and inconsistency, as he never fully took reigns of the No. 1 goaltending job. But the key to this deal was the second-round pick that Murray was able to secure — which he used to select Robin Lehner in the 2009 NHL Draft.
3. Mike Comrie for Alexei Kaigorodov (Jan. 3, 2007)
With several of his key players injured, John Muckler was searching for secondary scoring a few weeks ahead of the trade deadline in 2007. He ended up landing Mike Comrie from the Phoenix Coyotes, and Comrie wound up fitting in perfectly on the club’s second line. The Senators ended up reaching the Stanley Cup Final that year and Comrie played a significant role in the club’s first-round win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. As for Kaigorodov, he never played another game in the NHL.
4. Tom Barrasso for Ron Tugnutt and Janne Laukkanen (March 14, 2000)
While Tom Barrasso’s greatest legacy in Ottawa remains his frostiness towards the media, his acquisition by general manager Marshall Johnston at the trade deadline in 2000 cannot be overlooked for its significance. It marked the first time the Senators had truly made a splash at the trade deadline by acquiring a proven veteran for the stretch drive.
5. Matt Cullen for Alex Picard and a second-round pick (Feb. 12, 2010)
Though he only ended up being a rental player, Matt Cullen had a significant impact for the Ottawa Senators in 2010. He led the club in scoring during their first round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, collecting three goals and eight points in the six-game loss.
THE FIVE WORST
1. Peter Bondra for Brooks Laich and a second-round pick (Feb. 18, 2004)
Legend has it that John Muckler only traded for Peter Bondra because he was convinced the Maple Leafs were trying to acquire him. Ironically, the two teams met in the first round of the playoffs and Bondra did not score a single goal in the Senators’ seven-game loss to Toronto. To make matters worse, Brooks Laich blossomed into the prototypical second-line centre that the Senators desperately lacked for so many years.
2. Tyler Arnason for Brandon Bochenski and a second-round pick (March 9, 2006)
It’s not that the Senators gave up a lot of assets to acquire Arnason at the trade deadline from the Chicago Blackhawks that makes this deal regrettable. The bigger problem was that Arnason arrived out of shape and never scored a goal for the team in 19 regular season games. He was subsequently benched for the playoffs. In a year when Muckler should have traded for a veteran goalie to serve as an insurance policy for Dominik Hasek, he instead only dealt for the enigmatic Arnason — who never fit in with his teammates.
3. Chris Campoli and Mike Comrie for Dean McAmmond and a first-round pick (Feb. 20, 2009)
Many Ottawa fans were upset Bryan Murray gave up a first-round pick to the New York Islanders in order to complete this trade. As a result, there were high expectations for Chris Campoli when he arrived in Ottawa. Comrie’s second tenure in Ottawa was also not as magical as the first one, as he scored only 3 goals in 22 games.
4. Oleg Saprykin and a seventh-round pick for a second-round pick (Feb. 27, 2007)
One year after trading for Arnason, Muckler once again underwhelmed fans by landing spare-parts forward Oleg Saprykin at the trade deadline. While the Senators ultimately reached the Stanley Cup Final, it’s believed that Muckler’s reluctance to trade for anything more than Saprykin at the deadline sealed his fate as general manager.
5. Bryan Smolinski for Tim Gleason (March 11, 2003)
In the Senators’ President’s Trophy season, Muckler tried to make a significant splash at the deadline. But Smolinski only scored two goals in the club’s 18-game playoff run that spring, while Gleason has emerged as a solid NHL defenceman.
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