Monday, February 23, 2009
Bryan Murray told the press today that he has been in contact with the agents for pending unrestricted free-agents Chris Neil and Filip Kuba, but that neither were close to signing a new contract with Ottawa.
He vowed not to let them leave this summer for no compensation and would explore trading both before next Wednesday's trade deadline.
I've already written about why Murray should bend over backwards to re-sign Neil and keep his special skill set on this team but I also understand why he doesn't want to let him or Kuba walk for nothing.
As for Kuba, I don't think he has a future with this team. His 3 million salary is not prohibitive but he's sure to demand a raise and I don't think he's worth it. He's calm with the puck but he rarely shoots it, something that has hurt this team on the power-play. While it's tough to give up on yet another puck-moving defenseman, recently acquired Chris Campoli seems like a good replacement at a cheaper price.
So if Murray feels he has to move both of these players (hopefully in Neil's case, they come to a contract agreement), where would be the best fit around the league?
Calgary: Not much to base this on but the fact that Neil is definitely a Mike Keenan-esque player - a guy who can play the game and drop the gloves.
Dallas: Once you get past Steve Ott, this team is soft as butter. That's one of the reasons they took a chance on the now departed Sean Avery. Neil would be the perfect counterpart to skilled players like Brad Richards, Mike Ribeiro and Mike Modano.
Minnesota: Another team with little toughness outside of Cal Clutterbuck (and Derek Boogard of course!!).
San Jose: This rumour has been making the rounds for some time but the Sharks have a glut of forwards already. Do you sit Jeremy Roenick, Mike Grier or Claude Lemieux, guys who seem handpicked by GM Doug Wilson to make hay in the playoffs?
Vancouver: They don't have much depth at right wing or on their third or fourth lines. Neil would be a perfect fit with the Canucks, short and long-term.
Columbus: This team needs to make the playoffs this year but Mike Commodore is their second highest scoring defenseman. That's not a good sign. Kuba can definitely fill a need and in the right package, might even fetch Ottawa young defenseman Kris Russell, whom Murray is rumoured to be hot after.
Dallas: Kuba isn't exactly Sergei Zubov, but with the Stars fighting for their playoff lives, Kuba would be a nice-fill in for the injured star. Players like Matt Niskanen and Trevor Daley are doing a good job but Kuba would give them some much needed depth.
Los Angeles: Don't laugh. The Kings are still in the playoff hunt with Kyle Quincey being their only defenseman with over 20 points. They need help on the back end big time and they have a plethora of prospects to deal.
Minnesota: The Wild are just barely holding on to that last playoff spot in the West and could use a boost on the back end. They are already familiar with Kuba and he would be an upgrade on Martin Skoula. They already have their big guns in Brent Burns and Marek Zidlicky but Kuba would give them one of the deepest set of blueliners in the West.
New Jersey: They definitely need another offensive blueliner but word is they are hunting bigger fish than Kuba.