Friday, August 26, 2005

Senators sign two more


The Ottawa Senators continue to fill out their roster, signing defenceman Lance Ward and forward Jeff Heerema to one-year deals. Both are former first round draft picks.

Ward, 27, has been in both the Florida and Anaheim organizations, having played over 200 NHL games. At 6'3" and 210 pounds, he's not all that gifted offensively (only 16 career NHL points) nor is he especially fast, but he's a big, physical defenceman with a mean streak, including the willingness to drop the gloves if necessary, something they don't have much of on the blueline outside of Zdeno Chara, who I doubt the team wants fighting every other game.

I suspect the move came at the behest of new head coach Bryan Murray, who was the GM of his previous NHL team, the Mighty Ducks. He's also had some time at left wing in the pros, so he gives the Senators some versatily. Ward was New Jersey's first round pick, 10th overall, in 1996, but he went back into the draft two years later, being picked in the third round, 63rd overall, by the Panthers. Interestingly, he hails from the same small Alberta town as Wade Redden.

Heerema, 25, was the first round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in 1999, 11th overall. His NHL experience is limited to only 32 games, collecting 4 goals and 2 assists. I've actually never seen him play, but TSN's scouting report says that he's dangerously fast and has demonstrated a scoring touch in junior and the minors. Unfortunately, they also comment that he's undersized and weak. He's bounced from NHL club to NHL club, from being drafted by the 'Canes to the being claimed off waives by the New York Rangers to being picked in the waiver draft by the St. Louis Blues. Unlike Ward, he did play last year, scoring 14 goals and 30 assists for the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, the affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks.

Obviously, both are depth moves. Ward might fight for one of the alternate defenceman spots with the big club, but I imagine Hereema will strictly play with Binghamton in the AHL, as they will be very bare in comparison to last year's team due to the fact that Jason Spezza, Antoine Vermette, Ray Emery, Anton Volchenkov, and Brian Pothier will all be back with the NHL Senators this coming season.

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