Blog Entry

The battle of Southern Ontario

Posted on: February 16, 2011 12:09 pm
Moments after they lost to the New York Islanders on Tuesday, the Ottawa Senators announced they had traded veteran forward Chris Kelly to the Boston Bruins for a second-round draft pick this June.

And if your wondering why the rush, you probably haven't been paying attention to the long-standing rivalry between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.  If you had, you might even remember when it used to be about the games between them. These days though the most intense fight between Ottawa and Toronto seems to be which team will have more bragging rights by the time the trade deadline passes.

And they're taking it seriously. In fact both bottom feeders have jumped the gun on the annual frenzy in the last week, moving out notable names who didn’t figure in either’s rebuilding plans in a race to see who stockpile more hope for their futures.

The Senators picked up extra first- and second-round picks in the upcoming draft by moving Mike Fisher to the Nashville Predators and then Kelly, while Toronto got a 2011 first-round  choice from Philadelphia for Kris Versteeg, along with forward Joffrey Lupul, a highly touted college prospect and a conditional draft pick by shipping veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin back to Anaheim.

Leafs GM Brian Burke also did his former assistant in Anaheim Bob Murray a favor a few days later by taking Aaron Voros off his hands for a seventh-round pick in a move that is more about providing some payroll relief to the Ducks than anything else.

So who’s done better?  That remains to be seen and probably won't be for a while. But on the surface, Ottawa seems poised for a quicker turnaround with its moves. The Senators already had a first-round pick that could end up being the first overall and added another in the middle of the pack to go along with second-rounders in similar slots.

The good news for Toronto is that it at least gets a choice in the first round, a right it relinquished  last year by moving the pick to Boston last year in a deal for Phil Kessel. Problem is that Toronto’s own would have been near the top of the draft, while the Flyers are serious Stanley Cup contenders, meaning their choice will be near the bottom. 

But maybe the Leafs will spark something in the often-injured Lupul will help – he was the seventh overall pick in 2002 after all and has scored at least 20 goals three times in is career – and by Jake Gardiner, the prospect in the deal is having a monster season at the University of Wisconsin and could be signed once his college schedule ends in April.

 And there are still nearly two weeks until the deadline. Burke says he isn’t done dealing yet. Neither is Ottawa GM Bryan Murray for that matter, which is why over the next couple of weeks, both teams will be more interesting to watch for their battle off the ice rather than on.
Category: NHL
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