Don’t expect Filip Kuba back on the Senators blueline next season.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray told the Citizen on Tuesday morning that the organization is making plans for a team that does not include the veteran Kuba, despite a comeback 2011-12 season.
“I think we’re moving on,” Murray said, in an interview, implying we just might have seen the best of Kuba, and the last of him.
“I haven’t heard from him,” Murray said. “I talked to his agent (Rich Evans) before the year ended and told him sort of the thoughts I had, about what we might consider and I haven’t heard back.”
In other words, the Senators were only interested in the 35-year-old Kuba (36 in December) if he were willing to take a significant cut from his current $3.7 million per year contract, which just came to a close. Kuba is an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“He’s going to get his money,” Murray said. “I think he’s going to get similar money to what he was earning with us. And I’m not going to go there I don’t think.”
Kuba arrived in Ottawa from Tampa Bay in the summer of 2008, part of a package for defenceman Andrej Meszaros. After a strong 2008-09 season, in which he scored 40 points and averaged more than 23 minutes per games, Kuba signed a three-year deal for a total of $11.1 million.
The next two seasons, Kuba struggled with injuries and poor play, but he bounced back this season under new head coach Paul MacLean, contributing six goals, 32 points while a plus 26. Kuba was usually paired with budding superstar Erik Karlsson, but the team feels the young Swede is ready to spread his wings with or without Kuba. Besides, there is other talent in the system and a strong group of defencemen in the coming draft.
“I’m hoping one of our young defencemen can make it out of camp,” Murray said, but we do need to sign another quality defenceman without a doubt.”
Murray said he hoped either Patrick Wiercioch or Mark Borowiecki, who played in AHL Binghamton last season, “might be able to step and play at least a chunk of games for us.”
The Kuba file is an indication Murray isn’t like to blow the budget on a big name replacement, not when he already has the $5.5 million contract of Sergei Gonchar, the pending deal for Karlsson, plus knowing he has to pay Jared Cowen down the road.
“Whether I can find another forward that is a big upgrade, that’s to be seen, and I have to wait for Daniel (Alfredsson) to let me know what he’s thinking.”
Murray thinks the Senators captain will probably decide by the end of the month if he’s returning for at least one more season.
“I’m not even going to call him about it,” Murray said. “I think he deserves the time he wants to take for this. And we’ll see.”