Chris Kelly is returning to the place where it all started. In the 3rd round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, the Ottawa Senators drafted Kelly, who went on to play in 463 NHL games with the franchise. The Senators announced on Thursday that they would be bringing the veteran center back on a team-friendly one-year deal worth $900,000.
Kelly returns to the team where he played his first 463 NHL games. #WelcomeBackChris
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) July 7, 2016
In 2011, the Senators and Chris Kelly parted ways at the trade deadline. The Senators received a 2nd round pick from the Boston Bruins for their solid third line center, and things worked out well for the Bruins over the next five seasons. With Kelly in the lineup, the Bruins managed to win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and make another appearance in 2013. While Kelly isn’t going to score 20 goals again at this point in his career, his strongest assets have always been his leadership, awareness, and defensive accountability.
With the Senators, Kelly will probably be given fourth-line duties primarily, as well as penalty kill minutes. Kelly will provide strong value for Ottawa, especially with some of the younger names on the team who could learn a thing or two from the veteran center. Another trait that is impressive about the 35-year-old is his ability to play up and down the lineup, at both the center ice position as well as the wing.
Kelly playing in the 2016-17 season wasn’t an absolute certainty given his age, mileage, and most importantly, an ugly leg injury that limited him to just 11 games last year. With Ottawa, Kelly will get another chance to prove his worth while playing the sport he loves the most. A veteran role will suit Kelly perfectly, and it’s a role he’ll likely embrace in Ottawa the same way he did in Boston.