Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sens trade up to draft Karlsson, re-sign Kelly

It was a busy Friday for Sens fans. After the buyout process of Ray Emery began friday afternoon, the Sens went into the draft looking to make a splash and made one (although it was minor), and re-signed utility forward Chris Kelly to a four-year, $8.5M contract.

Beginning with the draft, Ottawa was slotted to pick eighteenth overall, but decided that when Swedish defenceman Erik Karlsson--who was the fourth-ranked European skater--was still available when the fifteenth pick, the Sens traded picks eighteen and a third-rounder for the 2009 draft to get Nashville's first-round pick in order to draft Karlsson.

Said GM Bryan Murray of Karlsson:

"We had Erik (rated) ninth overall, I think," said Murray of a player who was named the top defenceman at the Under-18 IIHF World Championship earlier this season. "Very definitely, we're happy we could add him. I like big, strong guys but I also like high-end skill people that do things with the puck and create offence on the back end, and it helps our forwards a great deal. I think he brings that for us."

As for Kelly, the deal was made public while I was at the draft (more on that below), but it's pretty exciting after many reports suggested that Kelly and the Senators were far apart in contract talks, and that Kelly was likely to test the free-agent market. And the deal, which works out to a cap hit of $2.125M per season, seems like a reasonable one for a flexible defensive specialist whose role on the team seems certain to increase this season.

As for the draft, it was cool for a bit, but it got old fast. You know how long it seems when you're watching on TV? Well, imagine that without interludes of intense prognosis from Pierre McGuire and Bob McKenzie, and just sitting waiting. But still, it was neat to hear the many trades that were made over the course of the draft. What surprised me was how many decent players were moved (including Mike Cammalleri, R.J. Umberger, Alex Tanguay, and Olli Jokinen). Other than Jokinen (who was traded for Keith Ballard, Nick Boynton and a pick), all the players were traded for draft picks.

Now it's off to the second round! I'm probably only going to stay for the next Sens pick, but I'll be back with a report later.
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