Ottawa Senators Add Matt Cullen with Playoffs in Mind

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Ottawa Senators Add Matt Cullen with Playoffs in Mind
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

Provided with a one-year contract extension on Friday, Bryan Murray finalized a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, which sees veteran center Matt Cullen go to the Senators in exchange for young defenseman Alex Picard and a 2010 second-round draft pick.

Cullen, 33, will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. He provides needed depth to Ottawa's forward positions as well as valuable playoff experience. Cullen was a member of the 'Canes when they won the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Cullen can also bolster Ottawa's special teams. Despite winning 13 of their past 14 games, the Senators' power play has struggled all season. Cullen is expected to see duty at the point position on the power play, probably on the second unit. An effective penalty killer, Cullen brings depth to that unit, which already stands among the league's best.

In 60 games with the Hurricanes this year, Cullen has scored 12 goals and added 28 assists. He is solid in the face-off circle as well, which can prove extremely valuable in key situations during the playoffs.

Of course, the Senators had to give up something to get Cullen, and they now part ways with 24-year-old defenseman, Alex Picard. The offensively-talented Picard has been somewhat of an enigma in his young NHL career. He has never blossomed into the complete player that he seems capable of becoming.

Picard's place in the Senators' defense hierarchy fell with the rapid development of rookie Erik Karlsson and the surprisingly steady play of tough Matt Carkner.

It remains to be seen whether Murray will be making any more trade moves prior to the deadline. Since Picard's long-term place on the Senators roster was not a sure thing, it seems that Murray has made a move in the right direction. The Senators currently sit atop the Northeast Division standings and are playing at a level that makes them Stanley Cup contenders once again. Only playoff success or failure will determine whether this trade was a good move.

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