Sens, Canucks swap goalies in multi-player trade

The Ottawa Senators traded netminder Mike McKenna, forward Tom Pyatt and a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NHL draft to the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday for goalie Anders Nilsson and minor-league winger Darren Archibald.

Nilsson, Archibald head to Ottawa in exchange for McKenna, Pyatt, draft pick

Ottawa Senators goaltender Mike McKenna has been traded to the Vancouver Canucks for netminder Anders Nilsson as part of a multi-player deal on Jan. 2, 2018. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The Ottawa Senators traded netminder Mike McKenna, forward Tom Pyatt and a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NHL draft to the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday for goalie Anders Nilsson and minor-league winger Darren Archibald. 

Nilsson, 28, had a 3-8-1 record with a 3.03 goals-against average and an .895 save percentage this season with Vancouver as Jacob Markstrom grabbed the reins as Vancouver's No. 1 goalie.

Canucks general manager Jim Benning said on a conference call after the deal was announced that he had been in discussions with Senators counterpart Pierre Dorion, who is in Vancouver for the world junior hockey championship, for some time.

"We've been talking about this for a while," Benning said. "This is a deal for us that, I think, gives us flexibility and keeps our options open."

Archibald, also 28, had one goal and one assist in nine games with the Canucks to go along with 16 points (11 goals, five assists) in 23 games with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League.

After the deal was announced, Archibald was assigned to the AHL's Belleville Senators.

McKenna, 35, was 1-4-1 with a 3.96 goal-against average with Ottawa this season, while Pyatt, 31, had two assists in 37 games.

Benning said Pyatt, who cleared waivers before the trade was finalized, will join the Comets.

The Canucks and Senators, who are currently without injured starting goalie Craig Anderson as he recovers from a concussion, were set to play in Ottawa on Wednesday night.

Anders Nilsson blocks a shot as Vladimir Sobotka of the St. Louis Blues looks on. Nilsson was traded Wednesday to the Ottawa Senators. (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

McKenna will be backup

Benning said McKenna would back up Markstrom against the Senators and again Thursday in Montreal when the Canucks visit the Canadiens.

But Vancouver's GM indicated prized goalie prospect Thatcher Demko, 23, would likely be recalled from Utica soon.

"We'll look at our options here the next couple days," Benning said. "But one of the things that we wanted to do was to make room to get Thatcher up here and get him going."

The 36th pick in the 2014 NHL draft, Demko is 7-5-0 in the AHL this season with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

Markstrom is 16-10-3 in 2018-19 with a 2.81 GAA and a .910 save percentage. He was 8-1 in December with a 1.66 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage.

The 28-year-old's rise means that Demko can ease into the NHL rather than get thrown into the fire.

"We've been patient with (Demko's) development," Benning said. "He's been down (in the AHL) for 2½ years. He's playing really well down there right now. We just felt like the foundation for his game is set."

"Now it's time for him to move up here so we can get a look at where he's at versus NHL competition."