The Ottawa Senators continue to clean house as they have traded forward Chris Kelly to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a second round draft pick in the upcoming 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
The 30-year-old Kelly was held scoreless in just under 17 minutes of ice time in Ottawa's 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday. He has 12 goals and 11 assists in 57 games this season.
With the loss on Tuesday the Senators sit dead last in the Eastern Conference with 45 points and an 18-30-9 record. They have won just once in their past 13 contests. While Kelly knew the possibility existed that he would be dealt before the deadline, he admitted it was a surprise.
"It's pretty tough to be traded, this is my first time, but these things happen, especially with the way things have gone this season," Kelly told the assembled media at Scotiabank Place.
"I spoke with Peter Chiarelli and he seemed excited and I told him I was excited to get an opportunity to play in the post-season and an opportunity to go late, hopefully, in the playoffs."
The Toronto native, who is in his sixth NHL season, had spent his entire career with the Senators.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray said how difficult it was to trade away Kelly in a hastily called press conference following the loss to the Isles.
"I just traded one of the good guys and most respected players on this hockey team," Murray told reporters.
"These are difficult deals for myself to make, because Chris was such a good player when I coached and followed directions so well and to have to make the moves that we're making are difficult, but that's the way we have to go at this point in time."
While Murray admitted that there would likely be more moves to follow, he disagreed with the notion that the Senators were completely clearing the decks.
"I'm trying to trade some other people or move some other people but it's certainly not a house cleaning by any means"
Kelly has one more year remaining on a four-year deal worth $8.5 million that he signed prior to the 2008-09 season. He is scheduled to make $2 million next season, after which he will be an unrestricted free agent.
Kelly, who was originally a third-round pick of the Senators in the 1999 draft, won't need to wait long for his return to Ottawa as the Senators play host to the Bruins on Friday at Scotiabank Place.
"It'll be a weird feeling coming out on the other side of the rink," said Kelly. "Obviously Ottawa's all I've known, I was drafted here, played my full NHL career, so it'll be a bit different."
Murray acknowledges that the Senators appear to be stockpiling draft picks after acquiring a first-round pick from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Mike Fisher last week.
"With two first-round picks and two second-round picks (in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft) we can do something to help this team by the fall"
The departures of Kelly and Fisher have not only left a pair of significant holes in the Senators' lineup, but also in the community where both players were very active.
"I find it very difficult because I have great respect for both players we have traded this week," said Murray. "They both were character people in this town for a number of years."
Kelly is a solid two-way forward who excels on the penalty kill and should fit in as the Bruins' third-line centre, which likely pushes rookie Tyler Seguin further down Boston's depth chart. The move became somewhat necessary after the team lost Marc Savard for the remainder of the season with a concussion.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Kelly's versatility played a key factor in his acquisition.
"The fact that Chris can play the wing is helpful too," Chiarelli told reporters Tuesday night. "We felt we had to make a move."
"We have a lot of uncertainty with Marc Savard"
Chiarelli admitted that he has also been looking for a defenceman, with Tomas Kaberle's name mentioned in speculation; however Chiarelli said that nothing was imminent.