Senators are in the market for a rental

Ken Warren, The Ottawa Citizen

GM Murray expected to pursue defencemen ahead of trade deadline

Pavel Kubina in an Ottawa Senators uniform? How about Dennis Seidenberg or Jordan Leopold from the Florida Panthers, Dan Hamhuis of the Nashville Predators or the return of Brendan Bell, who is now playing for the Syracuse Crunch in the American Hockey League?

All of the above have been mentioned in trade speculation involving the Senators, for good reason.

It’s pretty much a given that Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray will be adding a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent defenceman — or maybe two — before the March 3 trade deadline.

Murray took his cellphone with him to Florida for his Olympic holiday, hoping to have a deal or two in place once the NHL roster freeze ends a week from Monday.

The Senators’ defence is ultra-thin at this point, following the Feb. 12 trade that sent Alexandre Picard to the Carolina Hurricanes for Matt Cullen and the left knee injury suffered by Chris Campoli on Feb. 11.

When the Senators return for a mini-camp Wednesday, they will have only three defencemen on the ice: Chris Phillips, Matt Carkner and Erik Karlsson, and that’s providing Karlsson is fully recovered from the shoulder injury he suffered Feb. 5.

Even when Anton Volchenkov (Russia) and Filip Kuba (Czech Republic) return from the Olympics, the Senators will have only five healthy defencemen. In the short term, the Senators could attempt to plug the hole by recalling Brian Lee from Binghamton of the AHL. But Lee struggled, once again, when called up by the Senators for the club’s final two games before the Olympic break.

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