Monday, February 11, 2008

Sens, Canes make a deal

The Ottawa Senators have shuffled the deck in a big way by completing a four-player transaction with the Carolina Hurricanes. Sources say the Senators have acquired defenceman Mike Commodore and forward Cory Stillman in exchange for defenceman Joe Corvo and forward Patrick Eaves.
Well, well. I didn't expect we'd see much action in the run up to the Feb. 26 trade deadline, and especially not between two potential playoff teams, but Ottawa's certainly been rumoured in a lot of deals lately.

It may seem like a steep price for two pending unrestricted free agents, but (a) Ottawa has been looking to unload Corvo's contract almost as soon as they signed it and (b) the Senators are trying to shake things up by adding two key veterans.

Stillman's the best player in the deal, as he had a terrific start to the year and is on pace for a 30-goal season at age 34. Commodore, meanwhile, is a pretty underrated stay-at-home defenceman, and should help fill in some of the shutdown minutes for the Sens.

For a team going for it all, the deal makes sense.

The trade from Carolina's perspective is pretty interesting, especially considering they're nipping at Washington's heels in the race for the Southeast Division title. Now, either GM Jim Rutherford thinks his team doesn't have what it takes to a win the Cup, even if they do sneak into that third spot, or he thinks his team isn't significantly weakened by adding two younger, less experienced players into his lineup.

Stillman and Commodore were huge minute guys for the Hurricanes, with Stillman playing more than all but Rod Brind'Amour and Eric Staal, and Commodore clocking in at 19:16 a game, the most minutes on the team's blueline. It's true that Rutherford's been in search of someone to play the power-play quarterback position for a long while, and Corvo can fill that role, but at what cost?

This really strikes me as a 'better luck next year' deal for Carolina, one that might rest with how the 23-year-old Eaves can continue to develop. He's really been a lost soul in Ottawa this season, putting up only four goals in 26 games and missing half the year with a separated shoulder. He hasn't played sine Jan. 24, and has actually only seen six games action since Nov. 21 when he originally suffered the injury.

Rutherford can't be banking on a lot from him this season.

Here are the salaries involved:

To Ottawa -
Stillman: $1.75-million, UFA on July 1
Commodore: $1.25-million, UFA on July 1

To Carolina -
Corvo: $2.625-million, signed until 2009-10
Eaves: $942,000, RFA on July 1

The Senators, in other words, come away with about $570,000 in cap space, which leaves them with about $3-million room. That prorates to about $7.5-million given there is only 40 per cent of the season left to play, which means GM Bryan Murray can add a few other additions at will.

Pierre LeBrun is on the radio here in Toronto and says that Stillman would only waive his no-trade clause to go to the Senators, as Ottawa is fairly close to his hometown of Peterborough. He hasn't played in Ontario since his junior year with the OHL Petes 15 years ago.

Here are the Behind The Net figures (5-on-5):

MIKE COMMODORE D 41 15.04 0.79 0 0.29 0.49 0.39 1.17
CORY STILLMAN LW 55 14.01 -0.19 0.03 0.7 0.62 0.7 2.02
JOE CORVO D 50 13.51 0.71 -0.06 0.44 0.18 0.36 0.98
PATRICK EAVES RW 26 10.22 -1.14 0 0.68 0.68 0.23 1.58

MIKE COMMODORE 33 29 3.21 2.82 2.22 2.62
CORY STILLMAN 32 34 2.49 2.65 2.79 2.75
JOE CORVO 40 29 3.55 2.58 2.87 2.6
PATRICK EAVES 8 8 1.81 1.81 3.29 2.15

It's interesting just how much both Commodore and Corvo were driving their team's offence, while Stillman's numbers aren't anywhere near as impressive as you'd expect them to be.

Of course, Carolina's getting Corvo for their power play (and losing Stillman on it, for that matter).

Not much of anything has been going on when Eaves is on the ice.

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At 2:59 p.m., February 11, 2008, Blogger Chemmy said...

Looks like the Sens clear about $500k of cap space with this move. That's a pretty big number at the trade deadline.

At 3:06 p.m., February 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like this deal from a Senators POV. They get the veteran they've always craved plus a useful defenseman. They dump Corvo's contract. And, most of all, they clear ~3.5 mil off the books for next season.

At 4:03 p.m., February 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This deal is good for Carolina. The team has stagnated and something had to happen. Commie became more focused on staying out of the box than playing the body smart and Stillman just stopped producing points. The 'Canes don't have time to wait around and this is a good shake up. More excited about Corvo than Eaves, but Carolina is a little better off for forwards than for defense so that's ok.

At 8:41 p.m., February 11, 2008, Blogger andy grabia said...

This is a great trade for both teams. Interesting to see what Ottawa does in the summer, if only to see if teams are going to follow the NBA trend of acquiring expiring contracts. There's a truckload of quality RFA defencemen available this year.


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