Senators sign two players

The Ottawa Senators have signed forwards Jakub Culek and Darren Kramer to three-year entry-level contracts.

Senators sign two players

If Darren Kramer ever strikes it rich with his patent-pending, double-twist-off peanut butter jar, he may not need a day job as a professional hockey player.

But until that ship comes in, the entry-level contract he signed on Friday with the Ottawa Senators is going to be his meal ticket.
Kramer, who recently completed his final season of junior eligibility with the Spokane Chiefs, and Jakub Culek, who recently finished his third full season with the Rimouski Oceanic, were both signed to two-way, three-year deals on Friday.

Kramer will make $565,000, $600,000, and $635,000 over the three years if he makes the NHL team, while Culek will make $565,000, $590,000, and $615,000 over the three years.

However, for Kramer, that money will be peanuts if his double-twist-off jar catches on.

It was an idea born of annoyance: He kept getting his hand stuck in the peanut butter jar when he reached in to get the last bits at the bottom.

So he came up with a jar that comes in two stages.

When the top half is empty, that portion is unscrewed from the bottom portion and thrown away, while the lid finds a new home on the bottom half (Check out: ca.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/jrhockey-buzzing-the-net/ottawa-senators-prospect-darren-kramer-spreads-word-peanut-153830053.html).

Kramer, a native of Peace River, Alberta, said he’s had talks with a few different corporations but the idea hasn’t gone anywhere yet.

“It’s a long process,” he said in a newspaper interview.

“I’ve talked to some people who got their ideas patented and it took them almost eight years before it flew.

“I like to have peanut butter in the mornings on my toast. I have big hands and I’ve always got peanut butter on my hands. It’s that idea that motivated me to do it.”

On the ice, Kramer, sixth-round pick (156th overall) in the 2011 draft, is mostly a fighter but also has some skill.

He has had at least 200 penalty minutes over the last four seasons, the first two of which were spent with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Grande Prairie Storm.

As the Chiefs’ team captain in 2011-12, he established new career highs in goals (22), assists (18) and points (40) while playing in 71 of 72 regular-season games.

Over his two-season career with Spokane, Kramer had 54 points (30 goals, 24 assists) and 506 penalty minutes.

Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray said Kramer has to improve his skating if he wants to play in the NHL, but he comes with a high endorsement from Spokane coach Don Nachbaur, a former coach of the Binghamton Senators.

As well, his physical play and willingness to stand up for his teammates every night convinced the Senators to “give him the full opportunity to make the NHL,” said Murray.

Culek, 19, a native of Klatovy in the Czech Republic, matched his career high with 13 goals and 27 assists while playing in 55 regular-season games this season.

In 173 career games with the Oceanic, he had 109 points (33 goals, 76 assists) and 149 penalty minutes.

Murray said the Senators were impressed with his development from the start to the end of this season.

Culek was also a member of the Czech Republic’s team in last two world junior hockey championships, scoring six points (two goals, four assists) in 13 games.

Culek, a third-round pick (76th overall) in the 2011 draft, had four goals and seven assists in 21 playoff games with the Oceanic this spring.

“They’re both young draft choices that we think are future candidates to play in the NHL,” said Murray.

“We know both are going to take a little time to develop, but the door is very definitely open now in Binghamton for them to start their pro careers.”

While Culek could return to play another year of junior hockey as an overage player, the intention now is that both would be in Binghamton next year.

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