Senators have Lee-way

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

While the players had an eight-day vacation, Senators GM Bryan Murray was busy during the NHL’s Olympic break.

Murray spent at least a couple of hours every day looking for a depth defenceman ahead of next Wednesday’s trade deadline. He remains hopeful he’ll get a deal done.

The Senators will have blueliner Erik Karlsson back from a shoulder injury when they play Tuesday against the New York Rangers at Scotiabank Place and Brian Lee was recalled from the club’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton, but Murray confirmed he wants more help.

“I talked to a number of teams over the break about different areas. I’d be wrong if I didn’t say we’re trying to get stronger,” Murray said during Thursday’s practice at the Bell Sensplex. “We’re trying to get stronger on the back end and up front.

“If there’s something there that addresses a need that we feel we have, then we’re certainly going to follow through with it. The one thing that has happened to us is that we’re a little bit light (on defence), even down in Binghamton, so I would like to get at least one more guy if it’s at all possible.”

The Senators are looking at their options, including Carolina’s Aaron Ward, Atlanta’s Pavel Kubina and Nashville’s Dan Hamhuis. The club wants to add depth because Chris Campoli is sidelined with a shoulder injury with no timetable for his return.

The answer may already be here with Lee, who has spent most of the season in Binghamton. There has been plenty of speculation he could be dealt, but Murray says Lee has a future here.

“He has to be responsible. Defensively, he has to be really solid and aware of what’s going on around him and be responsible to help the team be solid in its own end,” said Murray.

“I think (he has a future). Brian is one of those guys that kind of got caught in a numbers thing here. We hope and think that if he has worked down there at all, that his development in the long term will help him. He’s a big body, he skates pretty well. He passes the puck fine. We just need him to compete really hard every night.”

Lee, drafted ninth overall by the John Muckler regime in 2005, isn’t sure where he stands with the Senators. He admitted he wasn’t happy when the club sent him down after camp, but he hasn’t asked for a trade and wants to contribute here.

“It has been tough (to be in Binghamton), but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” said Lee. “I just tried to go down there and worked hard and tried to improve things: My skill set individually and I’ve tried to contribute in games. I just have to keep it simple by skating and moving the puck. If I can take away a guy’s space defensively, then things should take care of themselves.”

Coach Cory Clouston will likely play Lee with Matt Carkner.

“I thought (Lee) played very well (against the Isles before the break). He kept it simple and moved the puck well,” said Clouston. “He’s just got to be a little more assertive, play with more intensity and be solid defensively. When he does that, he’s very effective.”


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