First news of the day:
Antoine Vermette is traded to Columbus for goalie Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round pick.
This is a bit of a jaw-dropper only because I never thought Murray would actually part with the speedy Vermette, despite his struggles to turn into a regular scorer.
On the one hand, it's tough to see Vermette and his speed leave town but you have to like Murray's aggressiveness in going after a number one goalie. This plugs one huge hole because Leclaire is only 26 and has the potential to be a great goalie despite his problems with injuries.
If Murray can find a way to re-sign Mike Comrie, he has essentially replaced Vermette with a more consistent scorer yet loses something on the penalty kill. Luckily they still have players like Chris Kelly, Mike Fisher and Daniel Alfredsson to continue in that important role.
Leclaire was one of the league's best goalies last year under Ken Hitchcock in Columbus and will get a chance to play here with both Brian Elliott and Alex Auld struggling. He also comes with a cap hit just under 4 million for the next two years, an ideal number for a number one goalie with a lot of potential.
The second round pick is also a great pickup for Murray. Good move.
Also, Filip Kuba has resigned in Ottawa (3 years at 3.75 million per year).
This is a great contract for Ottawa. I'm not the biggest Kuba fan but those are reasonable numbers for a guy who can play a lot of minutes and provide some offense. I don't think Kuba is the answer for Ottawa's defense woes but there may not be a better option for Murray this summer in free-agency. There is no guarantee Murray can grab a superstar like Jay Bouwmeester so Kuba is a good stop-gap measure for this team.
So far, Murray looks good today.
Now we wait for word on Chris Neil, Christoph Schubert and possibly others.
More updates to follow….