Muckler speaks out

Sens GM John Muckler was on The Team 1200 a few minutes ago. The highlights:
  • This was a deal he worked on for a month. The team simply could not afford Martin Havlat at the price it would've cost and didn't want to risk losing him a year and getting no compensation
  • Tom Preissing will help the powerplay and gives them three defencemen, along with Joe Corvo and Wade Redden, who can anchor a PP.
  • All the moves they've made this offseason have added to their backend speed and puck moving ability, which was key in Carolina's success
  • They haven't freed up that much $. By his calculations, with Havlat and Bryan Smolinski, they would've been up around $47 or $48 million
  • He talked with six or seven teams about Havlat but they were all concerned about his contract status, and things weren't helped by his agent's public decree. Chicago was the natural fit because they had a low payroll and could afford to pay Havlat the contract he wanted.
  • He expects both Josh Hennessy and Michael Barinka to start the season down in Binghamton, but if they have good camps, he's sure they could win jobs, as there is always a surprise every training camp.
  • On the prospects in the system, he was very impressed with goalie Brian Elliott's performance in the developmental camp. He'll have another year in college and then probably go pro. Elliott will be a strong candidate for an NHL job in two or three years. He thinks defenceman Brian Lee will be able to go to the NHL right out of college.
  • They've agreed in principle to a contract with Russian prospect Alexei Kaigodorov but they're still waiting for the IIHF-Russian transfer agreement to be finalized.
  • Denis Hamel is a "strong candidate to get one of the positions on the fourth line."
  • On Mark Bell: he's not as consistent as you'd like but he's a big body and has talent. The Sens inquired about getting him last year but at that point the Blackhawks were not interested in letting him go.
  • He thinks they'll be able to avoid arbitration with all their RFAs and it's more of a formality than anything else.
  • He's not gonna "tweak" the team anymore, but are looking at a few players to bring in, however, he's comfortable with the team as it is. He wants to wait and see with the cap space they have and might not utilize it until the season is already underway.