Bryan Murray wasn’t hesitant about making a deal within his own division when he acquired Dion Phaneuf from the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of a nine-player deal Tuesday morning.
“I’m never concerned about making a good trade. I’ve made trades in Tampa and with Buffalo and now with Toronto,” he said. “I think if you can make a trade that satisfies your needs you can’t worry about how it affects the other team.”
Murray said he and Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello began talks a while ago after Lamoriello inquired about something else. Murray brought up Phaneuf’s name and on Saturday things began to get serious.
For the Senators, the trade was all about hockey and improving areas of need, specifically an experienced left-side defenseman, something Murray said has been a priority for him for over a year. Toronto, meanwhile, had their eye on the future and opening up cap space.
“It’s about getting an experienced leader, good person, hardworking, competitive guy to add to the mix in our top four,” said Murray, who noted that Phaneuf will likely be in the lineup Wednesday against Detroit and paired with Cody Ceci.
With a blue line whose average age (not including Phaneuf) is 26 years old, Murray sees the addition as something that could help his young back end and bulk up Ottawa’s top four. The move also signals to the Senators that he’s trying to help this team win this season and beyond, despite the GM admitting making the playoffs this year will be a stretch.
The Senators currently sit four points out of a wild card spot and six points behind the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division.
Is Murray now done dealing with 20 days until the trade deadline? No, he said. He’ll continue talking to his scouts and assistant GMs to formulate plans to try and further improve his lineup. As we know, players do suddenly come available as teams fall further and further out of playoff contention. “If it makes sense and we can get it done, we’ll try to do it,” he said, adding he has the full blessing of team owner Eugene Melnyk.
Murray did his homework on the 30-year old Phaneuf, who was dealt to Toronto from Calgary in a seven-player deal in 2010, and feels strongly that the defenseman shouldn’t feel the pressure to carry the burden of turning Ottawa’s season around.
“I never had a doubt about Dion’s character,” he said. “I know we scrutinize people, especially in good markets or big markets and guys that wear the ‘C’ on their sweater. I talked to enough people over the years to know… obviously, Clark MacArthur played with him in Toronto. I’ve talked to people that are in the media business that knew him quite well in the Toronto area. I don’t think I’ve heard one thing other than he’s a real good person, he competes, he wants to win. He’s been in a tough environment. He’s been judged very tough in the environment he’s in.
“We don’t expect him to come in here to be a savior. We expect him to come in here and just be the hockey player he is.”
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