Sens ruled out flipping Filip

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

As active as he was, Bryan Murray was unable to make the moves people thought he would.

Not in good conscience, anyway.

After being denied in attempts to sign a puck-moving defenceman last summer, Murray just couldn't trade Filip Kuba. So he convinced the 32-year-old Czech to avoid unrestricted free agency and signed him to a three-year contract worth $3.7 million per season.

"We liked him, he's a puck-mover, he's rangy guy, he's doesn't slam people into the boards, but adds to our defence quite a bit," said Murray, who gave Kuba a $700,000 annual raise. "There were more inquiries about Filip than anybody. Several good teams involved thought we should get (the contract) done because (blueliners like Kuba) are hard to come by."

Murray couldn't deal Chris Neil, either. Not for the pittance being offered in a market that saw solid veteran Bill Guerin move for a conditional pick. So Murray has another four months to tempt the Senators' all-time tough guy with a contract he cannot refuse.

That's fine with Neil, who'd rather not become an unrestricted free agent in July.

"I'm happy I'm still in Ottawa," said Neil, who's been a hard-working employee of the organization since 1999. "I'm just glad I didn't have to pack up and move shop."

Neil, out of action while recovering from a lacerated calf, was bracing himself.

"I thought I was moving, for sure. Bryan probably tried, but me being injured might have made it a tougher sell.

"It was a tough night (Tuesday)," he added, referring to the Senators-Flames game at Scotiabank Place. "I thought it was going to be the last night I saw all the boys and the trainers for a while."

Murray said "several teams" called about Neil, and that one in particular indicated late Tuesday it planned on making a pitch. Ultimately, that team did not.

"The market right now for Chris wasn't there," said Murray, who will reopen talks with Neil's agent, Todd Reynolds.

Kuba, meanwhile, would have likely netted a higher salary had he not reached for a pen until after July 1. But frankly, he's tired of moving.

Since arriving in North America in 1996, Kuba has played with the AHL's Carolina Monarchs, New Haven Beast and Kentucky Thoroughblades, as well as the IHL's Houston Aeros and the NHL's Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning and now the Senators. That's eight cities in 14 years.

"If I commit to something, I want to stay and be with the one team and try to accomplish something there," said Kuba, whose new deal has a no-movement clause in its first year. "I don't want to try new things every year."

And now, a humble evaluation of Murray's performance on deadline day:

He did a good job landing Pascal Leclaire and his potential, and getting Columbus to toss in a second-rounder, and his explanation of why he did it now makes sense.

"What happens is like waiting for that puck-moving defenceman in the summertime," he said. "There are 29 other teams that are trying to do the same thing ... You end up giving more."

I still think Vermette will become a 40-goal scorer, but as coach Cory Clouston said, "you've got to give up something to get something."

I also get what Murray said about the demand for puck-moving defencemen, but Kuba remains overrated and, at $3.7 million, overpriced.

Neil wants to stay. Murray wants to keep him. Because he wasn't moved, I don't think he's going anywhere.

THIS AND THAT

Murray couldn't trade Christoph Schubert, either. But for different reasons. "I had three teams in the last three or four days ask me about him," said Murray. "I called them back (yesterday) and they all passed." ... Brendan Bell, who cleared waivers yesterday, had two assists while stuck in limbo Tuesday. "Brendan has played well here," said Murray. "We put him on waivers to make him eligible for the AHL playoffs. Hopefully, we will assign one or two other players there, so they can have a good team down the stretch."

GOOD KNIGHT, TONIGHT

Oops. I messed up yesterday. The Ottawa West Golden Knights Jr. B team will open its second-round playoff series and raise money for the Lori MacDonald Fund tonight at Barbara Ann Scott Arena, beginning at 7 p.m. The MacDonald family, a pillar of the local hockey community, consists of three strong young men after the untimely passing of Allen and Lori, the parents of Jonathan, Matthew and David MacDonald, in the last four years. Lend them all the support you can.

DON.BRENNAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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