Bargain Signing: Guillaume Latendresse Inks With The Ottawa Senators

Jonathan Willis
July 01 2012 07:22PM

Image by User:Saruwine at Wikimedia Commons

Ottawa had a reasonably busy start to free agency, making one trade and signing a pair of low-money contracts. At least one of those contracts has a good chance of offering exceptional value to the team in the 2012-13 season: the one-year, $1.25 million deal the team agreed to with Guillaume Latendresse.

The Senators got some help from geography on this signing. Latendresse had made it clear prior to the start of free agency that he hoped to play closer to his son in Montreal, and that made Ottawa an attractive destination.

The big problem with Latendresse is that he has played only 27 games over the past two NHL seasons. One of the conditions to signing in Ottawa was that Latendresse pass a physical (which he did), so he will presumably be healthy entering next season. Whether he can stay healthy is a more difficult question, but even if he can’t the Senators aren’t paying a lot of money to make this particular gamble.

Back when it first became clear that Latendresse would become an unrestricted free agent (but before it became clear that he wanted to be near Montreal) I wrote the following from an Oilers perspective:

If the latter happens, the Oilers are in a unique position to make an offer. 2012-13 is the last season where cap space is unlikely to be a significant concern (the deals of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle expire at the end of the season), so it’s the ideal year to take a chance on someone like Latendresse. He’s young, big, often physical, and more importantly he’s a pretty good possession player who has consistently been a high-percentage goal-scorer over his NHL career (on 568 career shots, Latendresse is a 14.3% shooter; he’s never been below 12.0% in a single NHL season). He fits team need perfectly.

I feel the same way now. Ottawa just got a guy who, if healthy, can be a power forward who plays effective top-six minutes. That’s something virtually every team in the league is looking for, and the Senators landed him for less than 2% of their room under the salary cap.

This is an excellent gamble for general manager Bryan Murray.

This week by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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