Beating the deadline
Canadian NHL clubs make some moves ahead of schedule
The Ottawa Senators are gearing up for a post-season push, acquiring veteran forward Alexandre Burrows from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for prospect Jonathan Dahlen on Monday.
The deal was announced about 46 hours before Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline and gives the Senators a skilled pest with plenty of playoff experience.
Burrows, who turns 36 in April, played 822 regular-season games with the Canucks, posting 193 goals, 191 assists and 1,066 penalty minutes.
The undrafted free agent who fought his way from the thirdtier ECHL to eventually star on Vancouver’s top line added 19 goals and 15 assists in 70 playoff games.
“We had to do something like this,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion told reporters Monday before Ottawa’s game in Tampa, Florida. “We just felt it was time to add another piece, and in Alex Burrows, I can tell you, we’re ecstatic to have added that piece.”
Set to become an unrestricted agent this summer, the Pincourt, Que., native had a full no-trade clause in his contract and would have had to sign off on the deal that brings him to the nation’s capital. There are reports he could sign a two-year extension with Ottawa as early as today.
Burrows had four straight seasons of at least 25 goals from 2008-09 to 2011-12 playing largely with the Henrik and Daniel Sedin. His best year came in 2009-10 when he scored 35 goals and added 32 assists.
Burrows’ days as an offensive catalyst are behind him — he has nine goals and 11 assists in 55 games this season — but he will still bring sandpaper to a Senators team pressuring the Montreal Canadiens for top spot in the Atlantic Division.
Dahlen, 19, was selected in the second round, 42nd overall, by Ottawa at the 2016 NHL draft.
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Brian Boyle, meanwhile, was still with the team when he shut down for a pre-game nap on Monday morning. The 32-yearold woke to news that he’d been traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s a little bit of what do I first?” Boyle said of initial emotions to the trade, which sent a conditional second round pick in 2017 to Tampa. “Do I start packing a bag? Do I take a shower? It’s different. It really is a different feeling.”
Boyle will likely play a very familiar role with the Leafs though, as the capable fourth line centre head coach Mike Babcock has been searching for all year-long. It’s a role Boyle wore well over three seasons with the Lightning and in five seasons prior to that with the New York Rangers.
Babcock will love the size Boyle offers — six foot six and 244 pounds — as well as his effectiveness in the faceoff circle. Boyle has won 53 per cent of his draws this year, including 50 per cent on the penalty kill. He’ll likely be trusted to take not only shorthanded faceoffs for the Leafs, but key defensive zone draws — of which he’s won 51.4 per cent.
Toronto sits dead-last in the NHL in winning just 46.2 per cent of defensive zone faceoffs this season, including a 44.6 per cent showing from Ben Smith, the most-used fourth-line centre to this point.
Unlike Smith and a rotating cast of pivots in that spot, Boyle offers some offence too (13 goals and 22 points), shows well in puck possession (53 per cent) and can even play in front of the net on the power play if needed.
The Leafs’ limited depth down the middle was exposed over the weekend in a 3-2 overtime loss to Montreal.
They were without Tyler Bozak (hand) for the key divisional game — Toronto could have pulled within two points of Atlantic Division-leading Montreal — and were hurt for it. Bozak’s replacement in the lineup, Smith, got hammered in the faceoff circle (3-11) and in the puck possession battle at even-strength.
Montreal also made an addition, acquiring Jordie Benn from the Dallas Stars for Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft in an exchange of defencemen on Monday.
The move came a month after the Canadiens picked up rearguard Nikita Nestorov from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a sixth round pick.
Benn, the older brother of Dallas all-star Jamie Benn, is a left-shot defenceman who can also play on the right side. With Pateryn’s departure, the Montreal roster has only Shea Weber and Jeff Petry as natural righties.
“In Jordie Benn, we get an experienced NHL defenceman and a player who will solidify our defensive group,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. “While providing stability in our end, he can also contribute offensively.”
The six-foot-two, 200-pound Benn has two goals and 13 assists and is minus-3 in 58 games this season. The 29-year-old Victoria native has 11 goals and 60 assists in 302 career NHL games.
He signed a three-year US$3.3 million contract extension last June.
Benn, who will take over Pateryn’s jersey No. 8 in Montreal, usually plays on a second or third pairing and can help kill penalties. He averaged 18:37 of ice time per game this season in Dallas.
Pateryn, 26, had one goal and five assists in 24 games. He missed time earlier in the season with an ankle injury and has been a healthy scratch at times. The physical, six-foottwo 223-pound native of Sterling Heights, Mich., has two goals and 11 assists in 82 career NHL games.
Vancouver Canucks’ Alex Burrows lines up during a faceoff during NHL action against the Philadelphia Flyers in Vancouver, B.C., on Feb. 19. The Ottawa Senators have acquired forward Burrows from the Vancouver Canucks for prospect Jonathan Dahlen.