Stone’s hands could be next for Ottawa Senators: Bryan Murray

Forget about a trade. A new Stone Age is more likely to happen before the Ottawa Senators make a big deal to bring in a marquee name who can fill the net, according to Senators general manager Bryan Murray

General Manager Bryan Murray of the Ottawa Senators follows the morning practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, February 15, 2013. Photo by Jean Levac/OTTAWA CITIZEN

Forget about a trade. A new Stone Age is more likely to happen before the Ottawa Senators make a big deal to bring in a marquee name who can fill the net, according to Senators general manager Bryan Murray.

“I’m looking to get a couple of guys healthy, that’s the main thing I’m looking for,” Murray said, when asked about the possibility of acquiring a proven scoring threat.

“There are no scorers available around the league. You can talk to people, but — I suppose that if I traded one of our top end players, you could get a guy in the short-term — but I don’t know if there’s a ‘scorer’ being offered around the league.”

The Senators could have first line left winger Milan Michalek back from his mysterious knee injury for Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s also possible that Mark Stone could be recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League, perhaps as early as Tuesday.

The Senators did make one roster move Monday, re-assigning centre Derek Grant to Binghamton. Grant played five games with the Senators, without picking up a point.

Stone, the 20-year-old former Canadian junior star, had been sidelined with a broken finger, but he returned to play Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Binghamton, registering a pair of assists in the three games.

Stone, who had an assist in his one playoff game with the Senators last spring, has eight goals and 13 assists in 38 games with Binghamton. Stone, selected by the Senators in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2010 NHL entry draft, scored 41 goals and 82 assists in 66 games with Brandon of the Western Hockey League during the 2011-12 season.

“We’ll make a decision if we’re going to make any changes and (Stone) would be one of the guys we would take a look at,” said Murray. “We could call up a Shane Prince or a (Jean-Gabriel) Pageau or people like that, who have some offensive ability down there and give them a try, but for the moment anyway, we’ve brought up the guys who we thought were most ready to play in the NHL.”

Excluding shootout goals, the Senators have scored only 19 times in their past 12 games. Kyle Turris hasn’t scored in 18 games. Zack Smith is goalless this season and has now gone 43 games without a goal, dating back to March 8, 2012. For the season, the Senators have averaged 2.13 goals per game, 29th in the league, ahead of only the Nashville Predators, as the impact of losing Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Michalek and Guillaume Latendresse to long-term injuries has added up.

In the nine games the Senators have played without both Spezza and Karlsson, they’ve scored only 14 goals.

Karlsson is gone for the season, Spezza is probably still weeks away from returning and Latendresse’s recovery has stalled. The good news for the Senators is that Michalek travelled with the team last week and is “getting real close” to returning, according to Murray.

“We’re hoping he’ll be able to tell us he’s fit to play,” said Murray. “He needs a couple of practices with the team and he would know better.”

Despite the injuries, the Senators have managed to tread water due to their outstanding goaltending and solid defensive play. Their 1.83 goals against average is second only to Chicago’s 1.73 goals against average.

After playing back-to-back games on the weekend, a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday and a 3-2 shootout defeat to the New York Islanders Sunday, Senators coach Paul MacLean gave the team a day off from practice Monday.

In such an unpredictable, injury-plagued first half of the abbreviated season – the Senators will hit the half-way point against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday – MacLean has found countless positives.

“We’re striving to be more consistent and we have to be better at a higher level, but with all we’ve gone through, our group has worked very hard, we’ve been very diligent,” he said.

“(Defenceman Eric) Gryba has been an eye opener for me, coming up and playing as well as he has and (Dave) Dziurzynski, as well.”

In a normal season with limited injuries, Gryba and Dziurzynski probably would have remained in the American Hockey League for the entire season. Instead, Gryba has become part of the Senators’ shutdown defensive pair, playing alongside Marc Methot. Dziurzynski, meanwhile, has become an important player on a checking line with Smith and Chris Neil.

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