The Ottawa Senators made only a minor move at Tuesday's trade deadline, mindful that they got the ball rolling with a big swap two weeks ago.
The Senators acquired rugged forward Martin Lapointe from the Chicago Blackhawks for a sixth-round draft pick on Tuesday, and that, combined with last week's trade for forward Cory Stillman and defenceman Mike Commodore, provides them with players who have performed well in the playoffs.
Martin Lapointe will provide grit and leadership to the Ottawa Senators.
(Jay LaPrete/Associated Press)
"I want to bring some grit to the Senators and if I can bring some leadership to their locker-room, I will do that," Lapointe said. "I think they have a great team and a great bunch of guys and, hopefully, we can go far in the playoffs."
Lapointe, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, is reunited in Ottawa with Senators general manager Bryan Murray, who selected him 10th overall in the 1991 NHL draft.
"I said to him, 'We can end our careers together, maybe,'" Murray said. "Marty is a terrific man.
"When he came as a young player, I saw character galore in him [and] he has not changed."
Murray confirmed Tuesday that he spoke to the Atlanta Thrashers about reacquiring forward Marian Hossa, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"It was a fair [offer], it just didn't work out," Murray said. "I think the first-round pick [the Penguins threw in] probably topped the package off."
Murray told reporters that he pursued Nikolai Khabibulin of the Chicago Blackhawks, but he could not accommodate Khabibulin's $6.75-million US salary under the cap.
"It happens too often," Murray said. "Business gets in the way with the salary cap and the money going forward."
That said, the Senators settled on Lapointe.
Lapointe captured consecutive Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98, and is considered one of the most respected leaders in the NHL.
"It is not my place to do that now," he said. "But once I'm established and on the team and have a regular spot, that is when you step in and straighten things out if it is [needed].
"You have got to go with your gut feeling. Great leaders do it with their gut, usually — and I think that is what is going to happen. You assess the situation and make sure the guys are on the same page.
"It is not a secret, it is not a magic potion. It is just that everybody has to be on the same page to win the Stanley Cup."
Lapointe, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, has posted 178 goals and 197 assists for 375 points in 973 NHL games.
"He has maybe lost a step," Murray said. "He plays with great determination and grit, a real character guy.
"I really like the fact he has won, and his presence in the room will help us and help the leadership group. He is not afraid to step on toes.
"That is only part of what we need. But we certainly needed that gritty guy that will show up at critical times in games."
Lapointe replaces veteran forward Chris Neil, who is shelved four-to-five weeks because of a torn ligament in his right knee.
"He does not seem to be in a lot of pain, but needs a lot of [rehab] work at this point in time," Murray said.
Traded for Stillman, Commodore
Stillman and Commodore were dealt to Ottawa on Feb. 11, the first significant move leading up to the league-imposed deadline.
Neither has yet to make his presence felt, but the feeling is it is just a matter of time before they begin contributing like they can.
Stillman, a power-play specialist, is slowly rounding into form, scoring in back-to-back games to extend his points streak to four games before Ottawa was blanked 5-0 by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
Commodore sports a minus-six rating in eight games with Ottawa.
"I don't think that there is any secret to it, other than working and trusting each other and playing for the guy next to you," Senators head coach John Paddock said. "For whatever reason, that isn't there all the time or isn't there enough."
"That is our goal for the rest of the season, to get playing good hockey and try to finish first [overall in the standings]," Senators forward Jason Spezza said. "Everybody seems to be getting points every night, so we have got to be good."
The Senators have settled on Ray Emery in goal, handing him five consecutive starts with Martin Gerber serving as the backup.
Emery excelled in last spring's playoffs, when the Senators advanced to the Stanley Cup finals, and the hope is he can again.
"The biggest thing is, we have just got to keep going and keep getting better here," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said.
"We're going in the right direction, which is good to see."With files from the Canadian Press