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Methot returning home to bolster Ottawa blue line

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Veteran defenceman Marc Methot, an Ottawa native, is thrilled to return to his hometown to play for the Senators, who obtained him from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images).

So how was your Canada Day, Marc Methot?

On the day the nation's capital lets down its hair in a major way to put on the county's biggest and best birthday party, the 27-year-old Ottawa native celebrated a hockey homecoming of epic proportions.

"It’s an unbelievable opportunity and I couldn’t be more excited," Methot said late this afternoon after learning he'd been dealt to the Senators by the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for winger Nick Foligno. "After everything I’ve gone through in Columbus ... I think it was just a great time to move on and get a change of scenery.

"It’s an absolute thrill for me and my family and all my friends. I can’t wait to get it going here this season."

The acquisition of Methot and Mike Lundin — signed earlier in the day away from the Minnesota Wild — was vital for the Senators, who saw veterans Filip Kuba (Florida) and Matt Carkner (New York Islanders) move on to new locales on the opening day of the National Hockey League's free agency period.

"We knew we had to address our defensive core," said Senators general manager Bryan Murray, who had to surrender a character player in Foligno to make the deal with the Blue Jackets. "We felt that getting a quality guy (Methot) that everybody in our organization thought a lot of ... he’s a big guy (6-3, 227 pounds), he’s a local guy and he plays real good defensively. He’s obviously very happy to get on board with us.

"But there’s a price to be paid when you have to do that. The other part of that is, we feel we have a number of good young forwards coming. Nick was a good man for us and he’ll be a good man for Columbus, but at least in that role, we think we have a couple of guys who can come in and challenge to play and, hopefully, contribute up front."

The Senators did add some size in the wing on Sunday, inking free-agent forward Guillaume Latendresse to a one-year deal. The 25-year-old native of Ste-Catherine, Que., is a former 25-goal scorer with the Minnesota Wild who Murray believes can possibly fit into a top-six role.

"He’s a big strong guy and he goes to the net real hard," Murray said of the 6-2, 230-pound Latendresse. "He wasn’t healthy last year, but we think he can fill that role. He should be able to play on the second line for our hockey team. His goals are a little different. He goes hard to the net and he’s a little bigger body."

In Methot, the Senators are also adding a rugged player on their blue line who just inked a new contract a year ago in Columbus, meaning the Senators have him signed through 2014-15.

"(He's got) size, strength, he's a defensive defenceman," said Murray. "He's willing to play physical and he's fairly mobile. Not a point getter, or at least his history is that he’s not that. But he's a real steady guy. He’s under contract for three years, which we really like. He’s going to be a guy who can fit in, whether it be with (Erik) Karlsson or (Cody) Ceci or one of our young offensive-type defencemen in the future. The thing I like, again, is he’s a local kid who is really happy to come here and we kind of knew that about him."

Talk to Methot and you'll quickly find the latter sentiment might be a bit of an understatement.

"It’s funny, I’ve never been traded before," said Methot, a member of the London Knights' Memorial Cup-winning team in 2005. "But for me in this particular day ... I almost broke into tears, I was so excited. I grew up in that city and it’s a hockey town and a great hockey squad there. I’m excited and I know my family is pretty pumped about it, too, so we’re going to enjoy it."

After Sunday's flurry of activity, Murray expects a much quieter week. While the Senators did make inquiries about big ticket free agent forward Zach Parise and had further discussions about possibly dealing for Columbus sniper Rick Nash, neither is a likely possibility.

"We’ve got a full team now," said Murray. "We’ve got, I think because of our development camp, a good number of young men who will challenge for a position on this hockey team. So I can’t foresee right now doing much more, but things do happen in this business and you can get a phone call (to change that)."

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