OTTAWA -- Training camp opens this week for the Ottawa Senators and the team has acquired two centers via trade that should immediately find time on the pro roster.

Earlier this month, the Senators traded Elmer Soderblom, Adam Engstrom and OTT 2025 Rnd 3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Mikael Backlund, a perrenial Selke candidate who can also distribute the puck from the middle of the rink.

Then on Friday, the Senators traded recently-drafted defenseman Maxim Strbak and a fifth-round pick to the Florida Panthers in exchange for William Karlsson, another center who has similar traits as Backlund.

Backlund, 34, has two years left on his deal which pays him $2.25 million per season. In 73 games for Columbus last season he had 53 points (19 goals, 34 assists). In 17 playoff appearances he scored at a point-per-game pace, with four goals and 13 assists.

"We needed to find depth down the middle," said GM Mike McMahon. "That said, there aren't a lot of No. 1 centers on the market, either via trade or in free agency. Mikael is one of the best defensive centers in the game, he's very good at distributing the puck and making players around him better, and we think his veteran leadership is going to add a lot to our team."

Karlsson, 30, has three years left on his contract, which pays him $2.1 million per season. In 65 games for the Boston Bruins last season he had 42 points (17 goals, 25 assists). The Panthers acquired Karlsson earlier this summer in exchange for a second-round pick.

"William is similar to Mikael in a lot of ways," McMahon said. "With the addition of these two players, it allows the rest of our roster to fall into place a little better."

At least to start the season, McMahon said he expects Backlund to play with Taylor Hall and the newly-signed Rickard Rakell. Karlsson, he said, would likely start the year with countryman Gustav Nyquist and Alex Killorn.

The move allows Anton Lundell to move down to Ottawa's third line where he'll likely center James van Riemsdyk and Rem Pitlick. Parker Kelly will start the year between Max Jones and Brendan Lemieux on the fourth line.

"We'll see how it goes," McMahon said. "Part of me also likes the idea of putting a chunk of our Swedes together. I think at some point this year you will likely see Nyquist play with Backlund and Rakell, and then maybe Hall with Karlsson and Killorn. We have some options and flexibility. Even JVR and Lundell can move up if we get caught with injuries or just if the chemistry isn't working."

Ottawa opens the preseason on Sunday. It's not known if Karlsson will be in uniform. The league office still needs to approve the trade.


Bonus: $250,000