CALGARY - In a trade deadline twist, the Ottawa Senators acquired a player who had just dealt a blow to their playoff aspirations.
Less than 24 hours after Ales Hemsky scored twice against the Senators in Edmonton, Ottawa acquired the 30-year-old winger for a pair of draft picks.
"I said to him 'didn't you get the message that I was trying to trade for you?'" Senators general manager Bryan Murray told reporters at a downtown Calgary hotel Wednesday.
At 27-24-11, the Senators were 12th in the Eastern Conference prior to facing the Flames at night, but just eight points separated Ottawa from fifth.
The Senators also ended trade rumours swirling around veteran defenceman Chris Phillips by announcing a two-year extension worth $5 million.
Hemsky is scheduled for unrestricted free agency in July. The Senators paid a third- and a fifth-round pick to the Oilers to get him for the remainder of the season. Oilers GM Craig MacTavish confirmed the Oilers would retain some of Hemsky's salary, which is $5.5 million this season.
If Hemsky fits in well with the Senators, they'll look to re-sign him, said Murray.
"An offensive type player, a guy with good puck skills, certainly can play in the top six forwards," Murray said. "We think he can make plays, score some points for us down the stretch.
"It wasn't my plan to get an unrestricted free agent. Part of it came down to the price. Obviously a lot of it came down to the price.
"The couple of picks we gave up for Hemsky gave us a little better chance to evaluate the guy and we didn't have to pay the huge price we would have otherwise."
Hemsky was a first-round draft pick of the Oilers in 2001 and has spent all his 11 seasons in the NHL with them. He scored Edmonton's first and second goals in a 3-2 win over Ottawa on Tuesday. They were his first since Jan. 12.
The six-foot, 185-pound forward played junior hockey across the river from Ottawa with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Hull Olympiques. Hemsky had nine goals and 17 assists in 55 games for the Oilers this season.
"It's a weird feeling," Hemsky told reporters in Edmonton. "I've been here for so long and have a lot of great memories. It comes to the end. It's a weird feeling, but excited for a new challenge.
"I knew I would get traded. I was kind of prepared for that for the last four months."
The Senators interpreted Murray's moves Wednesday as an endorsement of their post-season possibilities.
"We know as the games tick by we can't afford to lose hockey games," captain Jason Spezza said. "It's encouraging to see Bryan trying to add somebody to help us get that push towards the playoffs.
"It re-emphasizes how important this next stretch is for us and that the expectation is for us to get into the playoffs."
Phillips, 35, was the first overall pick in the 1996 draft by Ottawa. After 16 seasons as a Senator, the stay-at-home defenceman is a face of the franchise. He and Murray signed a contract extension at the team's hotel in Calgary on Wednesday morning.
"With the uncertainty of this day, if nothing happened, what the alternatives were, that weighs on you," Phillips said. "Very excited to get something done.
"The multi-year was a big part for me and to also do it in Ottawa, I've been there my whole career. I'd love nothing more than to be part of bringing a championship to Ottawa."
In other moves, the Senators put defenceman Joe Corvo and forward Cory Conacher on waivers. Conacher was claimed by the Buffalo Sabres. Corvo went unclaimed and was loaned to the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves.
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