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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Canadian Press
7/10/2006 3:23:43 PM

Having watched star defenceman Zdeno Chara sign with Boston on July 1 and get nothing in return, Ottawa Senators GM John Muckler wasn't going to let that happen again a year from now with scoring winger Martin Havlat.

With Havlat and his agent telling the Senators they wanted to test unrestricted free agency in July 2008, Muckler put Havlat on the block more than a month ago.

"We watched Chara walk away and didn't get anything for him," Muckler said. "I made up my mind that we had to make an early decision with Havlat. It's a tough decision, you don't get the compensation that you deserve compared to the old system, but this is a new system."

The Senators dealt Havlat and Bryan Smolinski to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenceman Tom Preissing, prospects Josh Hennessy and Michal Barinka and a 2008 second-round draft pick. The Hawks first traded Mark Bell to the San Jose Sharks for Preissing and Hennessy to get the three-team trade going Sunday. The moves were officially announced Monday.

Havlat, 25, also had filed for salary arbitration this summer. That didn't scare Muckler.

"I didn't think he would win in arbitration," said the Sens GM. "I couldn't see how he would win when he basically hasn't played in two years."

While happy to get his hands on the 27-year-old Preissing, an offensive defenceman who had 11 goals and 32 assists with the Sharks last season, Muckler sounded clearly frustrated by having to lose another key asset like Havlat because he couldn't afford to keep him.

"Chara signed for $7.5 million a year, Havlat for $18 million over three years (in Chicago), we just can't keep people like that," Muckler said Monday on a conference call. "It's hard to take when as an organization you're successful and you draft well. But then you're penalized by cap system and you have to make choices."

The Senators chose to re-sign star defenceman Wade Redden to a $13-million, two-year deal but sacrificed Chara and Havlat. There's only so much money to go around under the $44-million salary cap, especially with Jason Spezza and Martin Gerber also signing big contracts.

"This cap is designed to distribute the good players throughout the league and that's exactly what's happening," said Muckler. "And that's what causes parity. If you're not successful I guess it becomes a lot easier because you become a buyer. If you're successful you become a seller.

"It's a whole new ball game, everything has changed. You better get used to losing players, because if can't get used to it, you're going to get yourself caught."

Still, considering the circumstances, Muckler should be happy with what he's done since July 1. He got a No. 1 goalie in Gerber and added a pair of underrated and offensively talented defencemen in Preissing and Joe Corvo.

"Oh definitely. I like our team," Muckler said of his revamped lineup.

"We have four pretty good lines, our defence is pretty mobile and our goalkeeping with Gerber and (Ray) Emery I think will do a pretty job for us. They should be one of the better tandems in the NHL."

Corvo and Preissing join Redden, Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Andrei Meszaros and Christoph Schubert on a blue-line that remains one of the best in the NHL.

The offence still has Spezza, Dany Heatley, Daniel Aldredsson, Mike Fisher, Antoine Vermette and Peter Schaefer.

· Registered
25,851 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ezekiel said:
I think the sens will now be underdogs until they prove themselves this year.
I really love them as underdogs as they seem to play their best hockey then.
As underdogs, they look pretty good though.
Yeah I have to agree, for some reason they do play better as underdogs!!! Go figure!!!
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