OTTAWA (CP) - Ottawa's deadline-day acquisition of Oleg Saprykin likely didn't cause many ripples throughout the NHL, but the Senators still think he'll make a splash down the stretch.
"He's an energy player. I think any time you get an energy player with skill, it's a good addition," Senators GM John Muckler said Tuesday. Ottawa had just picked up the left-winger from the Phoenix Coyotes along with a seventh-round pick in the upcoming NHL draft in exchange for a second-round pick in 2008.
In their lone deal before Tuesday's 3 p.m. ET deadline, the Senators added a pesky utility player who's having the best season of this career on a struggling Phoenix team.
"We feel we've got a lot of skill on our hockey club, so we wanted a person who was a little more aggressive in his play," Muckler said. "He's got some scoring talent, he's got some offence to him, works very hard and he's an energy hockey player, so we thought he was a good fit for our hockey club."
The move also allowed Muckler, who wanted an extra defenceman and a forward who could play on the Senators' top three lines, to complete his shopping list.
On Monday, the Senators picked up defenceman Lawrence Nycholat from the Washington Capitals in exchange for AHL blue-liner Andy Hedlund and a 2007 sixth-round pick.
Saprykin, a six-foot-one, 190-pound Moscow native who turned 26 earlier this month, was second on the Coyotes in scoring with 14 goals and 34 points in 59 games. His 20 assists and plus-minus rating of plus-eight were team highs.
Originally a first-round pick (11th overall) of Calgary in 1999, he first caught Muckler's eye during the Flames' run to the Stanley Cup final in 2004, where he played all 26 post-season games.
"He could play pretty well anywhere," Muckler said. "We're going to run into injuries throughout the playoffs, we have a depth defenceman, we now have a good support staff for the regular players. He makes us a better hockey club because there's more depth on the hockey team. That's something we haven't had in the past."
In Ottawa, he'll be expected to contribute to a team that's had little playoff success in the past and one that will be considered as having underachieved again without a long playoff run this year.
The Senators, who played Tuesday night in Carolina, expect to have Saprykin in the lineup Wednesday when they play host to the Hurricanes in the second game of the home-and-home series.
"It's great to go to Ottawa," Saprykin told reporters in a conference call from Edmonton, where the Coyotes played Tuesday night. "It's good that everybody there expects to play in the finals of the Stanley Cup.
"I was a little surprised to be traded, but it's great to go to a team going into the playoffs."
Saprykin will make US$1.06 million this season. He becomes an unrestricted free agent this off-season.
The Senators' big move came earlier this year when Mike Comrie joined from Phoenix on Jan. 3 and Muckler warned teams before the deadline that he wouldn't part with a roster player or a first-round pick.
Although Ottawa was long rumoured to be in the running for bigger name players such as Gary Roberts or Bill Guerin, Muckler remained true to his word.
The Senators were among the final three teams bidding for the services of Roberts from the Florida Panthers, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who ultimately wound up with the veteran winger.
Muckler broke off negotiations with the Panthers late Monday night and admitted the Senators held "several conversations" with the St. Louis Blues over Guerin, but again felt the asking price was too much.
After getting off to a slow start, the Senators have been one of the NHL's top teams since Christmas and Muckler said he's content without the addition of another big-name player.
"We have all kinds of confidence in our hockey club," he said. "We're a better hockey club now that we have been in the past because of the adversity that we've been through."