Blackhawks obtain Sens' Havlat in three-team deal
In addition to Havlat, Chicago received veteran center Bryan Smolinski from Ottawa. The Blackhawks sent defenseman Tom Preissing and prospect Josh Hennessy -- both acquired from the Sharks for center Mark Bell -- with blueliner Michal Barinka to the Senators.
Ottawa also received a 2008 second-round pick in the deal.
A restricted free agent, Havlat also signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Blackhawks, according to TSN of Canada. He was seeking just a one-year contract from the Senators and had filed for arbitration. But the team had been reluctant to grant his wish, fearing he would walk away as an unrestricted free agent after next season.
The team did not address Havlat's contract status in its press release announcing the trade.
The deal fills needs for all three teams. The Sharks got another top forward to join their formidable collection, while the Senators added Preissing, an offensive-minded defenseman who should help assuage the free-agency loss of Zdeno Chara. Chicago landed Havlat, a proven NHL scorer who returned from shoulder surgery last season for an outstanding playoff run.
Given his skills and toughness, Bell should be a top candidate to play alongside NHL MVP Joe Thornton and league goal-scoring champion Jonathan Cheechoo on San Jose's top line. The thought of joining the league's most potent tandem forced Bell, who plays all three forward positions, to chuckle with excitement.
"It was very tough to play against those guys last year, and I know how good they are," said Bell, the eighth overall pick in the 1998 draft. "It's kind of mind-boggling to think that I could be on that line. If I play on that line, all the best. If not, I'm just going to try to help the team wherever I do play."
Havlat has 235 points in 298 career games with Ottawa and will be expected to give a boost to the Blackhawks' foundering lineup.
"Havlat is a young, scoring winger who is exactly the type of player we were looking for," Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon said. "He is 25 years old and has averaged about a point per game. His numbers have improved every season, and he definitely will help our goal scoring."
Preissing scored 43 points with a plus-17 rating for the Sharks last season while logging significant time on the power play, but the Sharks are loaded with top young defensive prospects.
Matt Carle, last season's Hobey Baker Award winner in college, showed tremendous promise in a late-season callup to the Sharks, while prospects Josh Gorges, Garrett Stafford and Marc-Edouard Vlasic all might be ready for significant NHL roles next season.
After making no personnel moves before last season, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson went in search of tested young veterans this summer following the club's second-round playoff loss to Edmonton. San Jose signed forwards Mike Grier and Curtis Brown earlier, adding two experienced NHL talents to a roster consisting largely of homegrown talent.
"He's a big, physical kid that can play in all situations and really fits in with our team," said Wilson, a fellow alumnus of the Ottawa 67's junior club. "To get a guy at this age, coming right into the prime of his career, I think a change might be good for him. It worked pretty well for another guy we picked up."
SportsTicker and The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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