Assessing the Dead Deadline

With only 16 trades and many of the boring variety, yesterday’s NHL Trade Deadline featured its lowest total amount of activity since 2000. It didn’t help matters that the Canadian sports networks borrowed a page from Fox’s NFL coverage and contrived some of the most obscenely large and unnecessary “expert” panels that sports fans have ever seen. Denis Potvin’s Hall of Fame career notwithstanding, I’m convinced that the panel stocks up each year on well-travelled role players for filler so that we can hear trade deadline stories when trades are few and far between.

And as an aside, when the hell did the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox become annointed as the voice of the Ottawa Senators? Considering Sportsnet already employs Mendes, who is around the team, watches every game and has his thumb on the pulse of this team, why are deadline viewers subjected to Cox’s drivel concerning the state of the Senators and his asinine discussion with the Bobcat and Brunt as to whether Alfie should be considered as a trade chip?

Oh well, considering the lack of activity at this year’s NHL Trade Deadline, maybe I should be grateful that the Senators actually made a couple of transactions that I can discuss. And what a splash they made by claiming goaltender Curtis McElhinney off of the waiver wire from Tampa Bay. With the number of injuries that have beset the goalies down in Binghamton — Brust/Brodeur/Leclaire — McElhinney is an experienced, albeit shitty, NHL backup. McElhinney’s numbers aren’t a thing of legend — a 6-9-1 record, a save percentage of .890 and a 3.43 GAA. If it weren’t for his two shutouts, his numbers would be even worse and they already have me yearning for the days of having Brian Elliott as a backup. Here’s a look at his career numbers:

Year Team GP GS MIN W L T OTL EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009-10 CGY 10 7 502 3 4 0 0 1 27 3.22 235 208 .885 0
2009-10 ANH 10 7 521 5 1 0 2 0 24 2.76 288 264 .917 0
2010-11 ANH 21 16 996 6 9 0 1 0 57 3.43 516 459 .890 2

Although it’s unlikely that McElhinney will find himself in a lot of games in the final 20 games, his acquisition affords the Senators the opportunity to send Robin Lehner down to Binghamton to get some much needed playing time…

… And he needs to play. Despite playing three times in the first week of February, Lehner has only played in two games since then. His numbers aren’t particularly impressive — 1-4-0, .888 save percentage and a 3.52 GAA — but like he hasn’t benefitted from the play of his teammates in front of him, he hasn’t exactly benefitted from the lack of consistent minutes either. By heading to Binghamton for the playoff stretch, I’m inclined to agree with The Goalie Guild belief that Lehner’s development path is much more beneficial if he plays in games that matter. Yes, he does learn a lot by being in the NHL and learning the day-to-day routine of being with the Senators, but this is rushing the situation. Remember, he’s coming off just one year of juniors in the OHL with the Greyhounds and he’s still very young and inexperienced.

Move Nombre Two

In his second and final move of the day, Bryan Murray dealt Chris Campoli and a conditional 7th round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Ryan Potulny and a conditional second round pick. Scott MacArthur (@ScottMacArthur) tweeted that the conditional 7th is dependent upon the Senators re-signing Potulny after the season and as per NHL.com, the Blackhawks have until 48 hours before the start of the 2011 Entry Draft to decide whether they send their own second-round pick to Ottawa, or ones they previously acquired from Atlanta and Calgary. Looking at the current standings, it’s more than likely that Ottawa will receive Calgary (74 points) or Chicago’s pick (72 points) than Atlanta’s (63 points). Mind you, there isn’t exactly a big discrepancy in their respective point totals and as Ottawa continues to stockpile its picks – 6 in the top 62 and possibly 7 in the top 75-90 if Nashville advances a round or two – it seems more than likely that Ottawa’s second rounders will be used as currency to move up in the draft with Nashville’s pick.

Moving Campoli was nothing more than a foregone conclusion after it had been announced on the eve of deadline day that Chris Phillips had agreed to terms on a 3-year extension. Considering the salaries or talent levels of the other defenceman, Campoli is a relatively inexpensive commodity who makes $1.4 million. and although his offensive numbers might be down slightly, I thought Campoli was having a quietly solid season. And as someone who was very critical of the trade with the Isles that saw Ottawa trade a late 1st rounder for Campoli and Mike Comrie, this return for Campoli means that I no longer have to repress memories of this trade.

In fact, regardless of how you feel about the Phillips signing, Murray deserves some credit for being able to remove $13.7 million in salaries, saving his owner more than $3 million. Hell, even the most cynical of Binghamton Senators fans should find themselves in good moods today. After the Baby Sens had their roster pillaged of players as injuries and trades depleted their parent club, the addition of Lehner and Potulny (who had 18 goals and 23 assists for the Rockford Ice Hogs) means that they regain some warm bodies who can contribute and assist in Binghamton’s pursuit of an AHL playoff spot.

Other News and Notes:

- Having inadvertently blocked a Jason Spezza shot with his skate during Saturday night’s game against the Flyers, Ian Mendes reports (@ian_mendes) that Milan Michalek is expected to be out of the lineup indefinitely. It’s another stroke of misfortune for a player who was starting to come into his own and regain the confidence that he exhibited prior to last season’s knee injury.

- According to Binghamton head coach Kurt Kleinendorst, Pascal Leclaire played through some recurring pain on Saturday night. It’s part of the reason why putting in a claim on another goaltender like McElhinny was a necessity. “He’s not quite right. There’s something that’s just not quite right. I give him a lot of credit for coming in here and learning earlier (on Saturday) that he’s been put on waivers, and then to go out there and play like that. I think that says a little something about Pascal.”

- Sticking with Bingo, as part of the AHL’s rules pertaining to playoff eligibility, Bobby Butler, Erik Condra and Potulny were all assigned to Binghamton for the purpose of qualifying them for the postseason.

- In Senators prospect porn related news, the organization has revealed their latest version of their Prospect Update. Of note, the two players who are expected to make the jump to the NHL next season, Jared Cowen (50 GP, 16 G, 26 A, 42 pts, +40, 83 PIM) and David Rundblad (52 GP, 11 G, 36 A, +8, 12 PIM), both have staggering statistical lines.

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