You can’t put a price on Stanley Cup experience.
And Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray figures he’s pushed his team a step closer to winning hockey’s biggest prize by acquiring a pair of veteran players who already own Stanley Cup rings.
Murray announced Monday afternoon the Senators had finalized a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, picking up forward Cory Stillman and defenceman Mike Commodore in exchange for blueliner Joe Corvo and forward Patrick Eaves.
|Mike Commodore, acquired by the Senators along with forward Cory Stillman in a four-player trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, brings added size to the Ottawa blue line (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images). |
Stillman and Commodore, who played key roles in the Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup triumph in 2005-06, are expected to arrive in Ottawa on Tuesday morning and be in the lineup against the Buffalo Sabres later that night at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).
The 13-year veteran Stillman also helped the Tampa Bay Lightning claim the Stanley Cup in 2003-04, making him only the sixth player in National Hockey League history to sip from the Cup in consecutive seasons with different teams.
“What we get here are two guys that have won Stanley Cups,” Murray said in assessing the deal, which was completed two weeks before the NHL’s Feb. 26 trade deadline.
“I think it’s a message to the community that this team wants to win a Stanley Cup. Does this put us closer? I believe so, just in what we’ve added with these two individuals.”
Said head coach John Paddock: “When you go after players who have Stanley Cup rings, I think the message is clear what the objective of this team is.”
Murray believes the addition of Stillman, who’s totalled 21 goals and 25 assists in 55 games with the Hurricanes this season, addresses the team’s need to add a top-six forward into the mix. Paddock added that he’ll likely place Stillman alongside Mike Fisher on the team’s second line.
“That’s a natural place for (Stillman) to start,” said Paddock. “That’s one of the reasons we talked about acquiring him. It addresses the need for (another) goal scorer.”
Stillman and Fisher are also both natives of Peterborough, Ont., and Murray said he felt that proximity to Ottawa played a role in the former waiving his no-trade clause to accept a trade to the Senators.
“I don’t think he would have gone to any other place at this point in his career, especially with his contract over (after this season),” he said. “I think it helped beyond a doubt.”
The 6-foot-5 Commodore, meanwhile, brings the Senators what Paddock called “a more physical presence on the back end.” Initially, at least, he'll be paired with veteran Senators blueliner Wade Redden.
“He’s a real competitive player with size,” he said. “We said last year after the playoffs that size matters and now we’ve got a bigger, more imposing figure back there.”
Added Murray: “(Commodore) is a big guy, competitive, gritty, just a real solid battler (defensively).”
But there’s no measuring the importance of bringing two Stanley Cup champions into the mix. And both, Murray noted, were vital contributors to a Cup-winning team in Carolina that also included current Senators goaltender Martin Gerber.
“It’s a tremendously big deal,” he said. “The fact our team went to the finals last year helps. I think having guys that have won Stanley Cups really helps.
“Both of them were important players in (Carolina’s) win, they were front and centre people. They really helped in the dressing room with some of the younger players. Maybe that will address a need here.”
Eaves, the Senators’ No. 1 pick in the 2003 NHL entry draft, has missed the last six games with neck and shoulder pain but was likely to return to the lineup later this week. Now, it’ll happen in a Carolina uniform.
“I sure feel bad about giving up a young guy in Patty,” said Murray. “I like him as a person, I think he has a chance to score goals in this league and be a player. But (NHL) deals area always tough to make, deals are always give and take.
“We had to address some of (Carolina’s) needs and they helped address ours.”
Corvo and his booming shot had become mainstays on the Senators power play, but Paddock said captain Daniel Alfredsson
will probably assume that role on the point now.
“He added a real dimension to this hockey team,” Paddock said of Corvo, who signed with the Senators as a free agent before the 2006-07 season. “For small periods, he fought some inconsistencies but I think Joe was exactly what was advertised. (The last three games), I thought he was outstanding.
“It was just a different mix on our defence (that) we felt was needed.”