Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Bondra switches capitals 

With the Senators' forward corps depleted by injuries, John Muckler pulled the trigger on the long-rumoured deal to acquire top sniper Peter Bondra. While this deal has obviously been in the works for some time, the timing is excellent with Todd White's broken foot being just the most recent bite of the injury bug.

Going the other way in the deal were prospect Brooks Laich, and a 2nd-round draft pick in the 2005 draft.

The deal certainly fully backs Eugene Melnyk's assertion in the Citizen last week that he'd do "whatever it takes" to win the Cup. It seems like only yesterday that Senators' deadline acquisitions were guys like Ylonen, Sillinger, and Brunet. Decent players but... in the end it's still only Benoit Brunet. The Senators have made a few above average acquisitions too. Bryan Smolinski and Tom Barrasso come to mind. In the end, Bondra has the potential to trump them all. He's certainly the most talented player they've ever traded for.

And what's even more impressive is that he may be more than just a rental. Muckler indicated that the Sens have every intention of picking up Bondra's $4.5 million option for next year.

If I have a reservation about Bondra, it's that he seems very reluctant to leave Washington. From the TSN story:

"I didn't expect it despite the rumours,'' Bondra said on a conference call. "I was shocked, even disappointed. I'm trying to be honest. I've played for 14 years in Washington."

"I am disappointed but, at the same time, looking forward to coming to Ottawa to play for such a good team.''

In a way, you really can't blame him. He's spent his entire career in Washington, living in the city year-round. He obviously loves the city. George McPhee also sprung the trade on him:

"He never mentioned any trades and, obviously, that's why it was a shock,'' Bondra said.

There's really no reason to think that Bondra's disappointment will carry over to the ice, but hey, I just don't know what to do in this situation. The trade just seems to good to be true.

I'll leave the final word to Washington-ite Eric of Off-Wing Opinion who writes an eloquent parting tribute to a player whose career he's followed from the beginning:

"He played the point on the power play. He killed penalties. And this season, he was sold on taking on the mission of shutting down the top enemy skaters. And he did it all without complaint.

Black, Red and Gold seems pretty excited about Bondra coming to Ottawa, and he ought to be. What you're getting is a dedicated professional who won't leave anything on the ice.

One day, his number will hang from the rafters at MCI Center. But first, there's other business to take care of."