Trades keep coming as Senators deal Ruutu to Anaheim

The shuttle bus will be heading north from Binghamton Friday morning with a fresh body for the Ottawa Senators.

Trades keep coming as Senators deal Ruutu to Anaheim
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The shuttle bus will be heading north from Binghamton Friday morning with a fresh body for the Ottawa Senators.

Right wing Francis Lessard will arrive to fill the spot Senators general manager Bryan Murray opened when he traded left wing Jarkko Ruutu to the Anaheim Ducks for a sixth-round draft pick (which was previously acquired from Phoenix) on Thursday.

With Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly, Ruutu is the third Senator to be traded in a less than a week as Murray blows up the Ottawa roster and prepares to make it over.

Lessard’s arrival will mean that Ottawa’s lineup against the Boston Bruins tonight will feature six Binghamton Senators. And there will be more openings in the days leading up to the Feb. 28 trade deadline. Murray said he suspects there will be a couple of more deals “at least.”

Unlike Kelly and Fisher, who still had time left on their contracts, the 35-year-old Ruutu was set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Still, Murray has done a commendable job of stripping salary.

He managed to drop the remainder of Ruutu’s $1.3 million salary for this year, Fisher’s $4 million salary, and Kelly’s $2 million salary.

Plus, he dumped $7 million for the final two years of Fisher’s contract and $2 million for the final year of Kelly’s contract.

Ruutu, who was in the final year of a three-year contract, hadn’t had a great season with the Senators. In 50 games, he had only two goals and eight assists. As well, he was in-and-out of coach Cory Clouston‘s doghouse, occasionally sitting as a healthy scratch.

He was particularly upset when Clouston scratched him a week ago in Vancouver, where he started his NHL career, and made some sharp comments about the coach.

But if Ruutu had differences with Clouston, he didn’t voice them on Thursday night. He departed with grace.

“I guess it’s always surprising (to get traded),” he said.

“But it all comes down to how the team is playing. When you’re not winning and you’re at the bottom of the standings, you know that changes are going to be made.

“And with free agency coming (for me) this summer, you knew it was going to happen.”

Asked if he was surprised that Clouston remains the coach, Ruutu said he was more surprised that players such as Kelly and Fisher were traded.

“With the coaching changes they’ve made over the last few years, I think they have to look the other way,” he said.

In Anaheim, he’ll join fellow Finns Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and Toni Lydman, all of whom he knows well.

But he knows that playing in Anaheim, even if it’s in the playoffs, won’t be the same as playing in Ottawa.

“I like playing in Canadian cities where they are really passionate about the game,” he said.

“I guess that’s the No. 1 thing that comes to mind.”

With a tight fight for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, Ducks general manager Bob Murray is looking for Ruutu to help in the race.

“Jarkko is an effective, two-way player that we feel will help us down the stretch,” he said.

“He’s the energetic, gritty type of addition we were looking for.”

Bryan Murray said it’s difficult every time he trades a veteran player, and all the movement has to be a “little draining” on the players.

But the moves also open doors for minor-league players and create financial room to recruit new players this summer.

One of the main names on the rumour mill has been defenceman Chris Phillips, who has a no-movement clause in his contract.

Murray said he talked to Phillips’ agent, J.P. Barry, on Thursday and that they’ve agreed to talk today.

Murray suggested there was a “strong possibility” Phillips could be traded “if he were so inclined to do so.” But if he isn’t inclined, Murray would “never force anyone.”

If Phillips, due to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, wants to finish out his contract and take his chances on signing another with the Senators, that’s his decision, said Murray.

But he added it was important to have that conversation.

Asked if he’s only starting to make trades, Murray suggested there’s more to come.

“I’ve had a variety of calls,” he said.

“I think at some point we know we need a core of players, because some of the young players we have won’t be available to us, but I’m talking to other people about other people.

“So I suspect there will be a couple of more trades, at least.”

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