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Hale adds extra depth to crowded Sens blue line

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Veteran NHL blueliner David Hale, who spent last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, has signed a free-agent contract with the Senators (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images).

Toss David Hale's name into the competition for jobs on the Ottawa Senators blue line.

The veteran free-agent defenceman inked a one-year, two-way deal with the Senators earlier today. The 29-year-old native of Colorado Springs, Colo., suited up for 39 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season and spent the two previous campaigns in the National Hockey League with the Calgary Flames (2007-08) and Phoenix Coyotes (2008-09).

In other words, don't hand Hale a ticket to the farm (the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators) just yet.

"David Hale has extensive NHL experience," Senators assistant general player Tim Murray said in reference to a defenceman whose resume includes 302 games' worth of NHL duty. "He’s going to come into training camp in good shape and fight for a job right off the start. He knows that by signing a two-way deal, he could get sent to the minors, but he’s going to provide depth.

"We know he can play games in the National Hockey League and give us good minutes. So we’ll see how he is in camp and in exhibition games and he will decide where he ends up."

An already crowded Senators blue line includes five returnees — veterans Chris Phillips, Filip Kuba, Matt Carkner, Chris Campoli, and last year's rookie sensation, Erik Karlsson — along with prize free-agent signing Sergei Gonchar. Also in the mix are Brian Lee, Jared Cowen and Patrick Wiercioch, all of whom intend to push for a job.

The Senators also added some grit to the organization with the signing of forward Francis Lessard. In 61 games with the AHL's San Antonio Rampage last season, the 31-year-old Montrealer racked up 289 penalty minutes.

"(Lessard) is going to provide toughness and depth for us," said Murray. "We think he’s a real heavyweight on the wing in the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League, so  we’re very happy to get a character guy like him to come in ... whatever team he's on."

In another move today, Rob Murphy has been added to the Senators' professional scouting staff. The Hull native, who was an amateur scout with the Coyotes during the last three seasons, played 44 games with the Senators during their expansion season of 1992-93.

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