OTTAWA – If the Ottawa Senators are going to make a push for the post-season, it’s more than likely going to be with their current cast of players.
General manager Bryan Murray says he has been working the phones with the trade deadline less than a week away, but adds there isn’t a sense of urgency to make a deal.
“I expect to talk to teams, which I’ve been doing a fair amount,” Murray said Tuesday. “I don’t know that we’re doing anything, but a lot of managers seem to be like me in that they’re not sure what they want to do. They are in the (playoff) race, but they aren’t convinced whether they are going to be in or out.
“We are all trying to be somewhat cautious.”
If Murray’s past actions are any indication, it’s unlikely the Senators will be very busy come Monday.
Murray has pulled the trigger on just five deals in four deadline days as GM with Ottawa.
And he says he already made his big move when the club acquired Kyle Turris from the Phoenix Coyotes in December for David Rundblad and a 2012 second-round.
The 22-year-old centre has five goals and 10 assists in 34 games with Ottawa and has provided stability to the team’s second line.
“That’s the kind of trade I’d like to make,” Murray said. “If we could get a younger player coming in that has a good future that can help us now, that’s the kind of thing I much prefer to do over trading away a young player for a veteran guy that is unrestricted.”
One name that seems to surface on a regular basis for the Senators is defenceman Filip Kuba, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“I think he’s one of our best defencemen, if not the most steady guy at this point and time,” Murray said. “He’s played penalty killing, power play, been Erik Karlsson’s partner, plays a lot of minutes and has great respect on the team.
“I’m not sure why his name has ever come up, but at this point in time unless I got something awfully, awfully good it would not do us any service to not keep him here.”
With the Senators holding on to seventh place in the Eastern Conference heading into Tuesday’s game, the players say they feel confident with the group currently in place.
Goaltender Craig Anderson, acquired last year prior to the trade deadline, has been solid, while Karlsson has emerged as one of the league’s top offensive defencemen.
Jason Spezza, meanwhile, has been playing some of his best hockey and captain Daniel Alfredsson has exceeded expectations at 39 years of age. In addition the Senators have also been getting solid contributions from a number of their younger players.
“We have great chemistry and Bryan’s done a good job of putting us in the position we’re in and if he feels he can add to our club he’s going to do it,” Spezza said. “But if there’s no movement around our team we’ll be satisfied with it and we feel with this team going forward we can continue to win hockey games.”
Many experts predicted the Senators would be occupy the Eastern Conference basement this season. The fact this group has been so competitive says a lot about the individuals currently in the locker-room.
“We built ourselves up as a pretty solid group in here, a great group of characters and to mess with that right now I don’t know if that’s the wisest thing unless a big deal or something significant can happen,” defenceman Matt Carkner said. “I don’t think messing it up right now is the answer. I think a lot of guys here feel pretty safe and that’s a good feeling.”
Murray is well aware of the accomplishments made by this group, but adds it’s his job to always look at improving the team.
“I think chemistry is very important and the ownership that some of our veteran players have taken with this team has a big part to do with what’s happened,” he said. “So I do think guys liking and feeling good about each other, working together is all very important.
“But I also think if you make the right addition players buy into that very quickly and I think the message to the players is ‘we’re trying to help you.'”