To hear Bryan Murray say it, he’s not sure how Filip Kuba trade rumors got started in the first place.
“I think he’s one of our best defensemen, if not our most steady guy at this point in time,” the Senators GM said of his 35-year-old blueliner. “He’s played the penalty kill, power play, been Erik Karlsson’s partner and played a lot of minutes.
“He has great respect on the team and I’m not sure why his name has ever come up.”
Well Bryan, there are a few reasons why:
— Kuba’s an unrestricted free agent at year’s end and Ottawa hasn’t initiated negotiations for an extension.
— Given market value for veteran defensemen (Pavel Kubina = second- and fourth-round picks; Hal Gill = prospects and second-round pick; Nicklas Grossman = second- and third-round picks; Kyle Quincey = first-round pick), Kubina could fetch a nice return.
— As good as the Sens have been this year, owner Eugene Melynk insists the team is still in rebuilding mode.
There’s also the fact that, after questioning why Kuba’s name came up in trade rumors, Murray went ahead and said it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he’d deal him.
“At this point in time — unless I got something awfully, awfully good — it wouldn’t do us any service to not keep him here,” he said.
So, what is Ottawa looking to do? According to Murray, rental players are out — paying a high price for a veteran isn’t part of the plan — but something with a long-term outlook, like December’s Kyle Turris, is in play.
“That’s the kind of trade I’d like to make. If we can get a younger player coming in that has a good future going forward, that’s the type of thing I’d much prefer to do,” said Murray. “Rather than trading a young player for a veteran guy who is unrestricted and you will have a hard time re-signing and keeping here.”