|The Ottawa Senators rewarded Brian Elliott for his strong rookie season, inking a two-year contract with the goaltender on Tuesday (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Brian Elliott earned his stripes with the Ottawa Senators.
Now the third-last player selected in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft has earned himself some security –
and a regular home in the National Hockey League. Elliott and the Senators agreed on a two-year contract earlier today, making it clear he's a big part of the team's future plans.
"He proved last year that he was a very capable NHL goaltender and, we think, a young guy with a real bright future," Senators general manager Bryan Murray said after finalizing a deal with the team's lone unsigned player. "We're very happy to get him signed and committed for two more years. Hopefully, he’ll grow in our organization and be a real solid player going forward."
Elliott wasn't expected to make a real impact with the Senators during the 2008-09 season. But with the team struggling in January, Murray summoned the Newmarket, Ont., native from the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators, where he had earned a starting role for the annual AHL All-Star Classic (he was unable to play in the game because of his recall to Ottawa).
The 24-year-old Elliott never looked back from there. He made 31 appearances in the Ottawa net, posting a team-best 16-8-3 record with a 2.77 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. Elliott set a rookie franchise record with eight straight wins from March 5-21 and later posted his first career NHL shutout on March 29, a 3-0 blanking of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"He proved last year that he was a very capable NHL goaltender and, we think, a young guy with a real bright future. We're very happy to get him signed and committed for two more years. Hopefully, he’ll grow in our organization and be a real solid player going forward." - Bryan Murray
With Elliott now locked up, the Senators goaltending picture is set for the next two seasons. Expected starter Pascal Leclaire, who was obtained in a March 4 trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, is also signed through 2010-11.
Murray said the presence of two solid young goaltenders made Alex Auld
expendable. The veteran netminder was dealt to the Dallas Stars last month.
"Brian was NHL game ready," said Murray. "We thought that it would be a disservice not to give him that opportunity here and Alex’s trade was based on that. We now think our goaltending is in the hands of two good young guys (Leclaire is 26) who should make this organization very competitive on a nightly basis."
The Senators added to their goaltending depth during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in June in Montreal, selecting Robin Lehner
of the Frolunda juniors in the second round. The Swedish stopper, who'll tend goal for the Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds this season, was NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked European netminder heading into the draft.