There had been speculations before the start of free agency that former Ottawa Senator forward Chris Kelly could be someone that general manager Pierre Dorion had interest in acquiring. It looks like this is a case of where there is smoke there is fire.
Today the Senators have announced that the club has signed forward Chris Kelly to a one-year deal that will pay him $900k.
Drafted in the third round (94 overall) of the 1999 NHL Entry draft by the Ottawa Senators, Kelly spent his first three seasons in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins (former Senators AHL affiliate) and Binghamton Senators (current AHL affiliate) before getting his first taste of NHL hockey, appearing in four games in February with the Senators.
Kelly would spend the next year with the Binghamton Senators where he set a career high in goals (24) and assists (36) in 77 games on a pretty good team. While he didn’t put up 117 points like Jason Spezza did that season, Kelly did finish the season with a team leading plus/minus of +30.
It wasn’t until the 2005 – 06′ season that Kelly began his National Hockey League career. In his first full 82 game season Kelly scored 10 goals and had 20 assists with a +21 rating and a faceoff percentage of 45.7% – on a pretty good Senators team.
He spent the next four and a half seasons with the Senators playing another 377 games in which he scored 65 goals and 81 assists and having his faceoff percentage never dip below 45%
Kelly was dealt to the Boston Bruins on February 15, 2011, for a second-round draft pick at the upcoming 2011 NHL Entry Draft – a pick the Ottawa Senators used on forward Shane Prince.
Kelly went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Bruins that year – on a pretty good Bruins team.
While it was rumored the Senators might have tried to reacquire Kelly, the Bruins locked him up and he would go on to spend the next five seasons with the Black and Gold.
Kelly played mainly on the third line with the Bruins and was a very reliable penalty killer, he was also a leader on and off the ice Kelly had served as one of the Bruins alternate captains.
These are the exact qualities that Senators general manager Pierre Doiron was looking for:
“In our evaluation of our roster we felt that we needed to add another player with the ability to succeed in close situations and on the penalty kill. Chris will be able to contribute to both of those while adding another accomplished leader to our group. He understands the type of commitment that is necessary to play at a championship level.”
If Chris Kelly is 100% after his broken femur (or as best as possible) – then I’m of the opinion that this is a very solid pickup for the Senators. He provides experience depth at the center position and on the penalty kill – he can also play the wing which is an added bonus if the Senators choose to deploy him with Lazar (who would like to get to his natural position of enter) and off the ice he’s a professional who leads by example.
Updated to include video: