Beat­ing the dead­line

Cana­dian NHL clubs make some moves ahead of sched­ule

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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.

CP PHOTO

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.

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