Tampa Bay Lightning Matt Gilroy tries to control the puck as Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson defends his net during first period NHL action in Ottawa on Thursday January 5, 2012. The Ottawa Senators acquired Gilroy from the Tampa Bay Lightning for fellow defenceman Brian Lee on Monday.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
OTTAWA - Bryan Murray liked his team as it was, but that didn't stop him from making a trade Monday afternoon.
The Ottawa Senators general manager acquired defenceman Matt Gilroy from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenceman Brian Lee.
In many ways the move is more about the Senators future than present.
Gilroy, who is making US$1 million this season, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Lee, who has an $875,000 cap hit, is scheduled to be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but the Senators didn't really see him fitting into their plans.
The next few weeks will likely be used as a dress rehearsal to see whether or not the Senators might be interested in re-signing the 27-year-old Gilroy.
"We believe he's got very good mobility," said Murray. "He's the kind of defenceman that we've been inclined to go to in the last while to push the pace, push the puck.
"He gets a chance to look at us; we get a chance to look at him."
At this point Murray sees Gilroy fitting in as one of Ottawa's top six defencemen who will likely play alongside Chris Phillips or Jared Cowen.
In 53 games Gilroy, a native of North Bellemore, New York, has two goals, 15 assists and 16 penalty minutes.
Gilroy said he learned of the trade while at a shopping mall when Tampa general manager Steve Yzerman reached him by phone.
"I'm an Ottawa Senator now and couldn't be more happy," said Gilroy, during a radio interview. "I've heard great things about the team and the coaching staff and they're making a big push for the playoffs."
Gilroy will join the team in Boston and could be in the lineup Tuesday when the Senators take on the Bruins.
Lee, selected ninth overall in the 2005 NHL entry draft, never really found his place in Ottawa as he was in and out of the lineup.
"We appreciate what he did here and wish him good luck going there to start off with," said Murray. "We think he's growing as a player. I think he'll go there now and get a chance with Tampa. I think he'll get a chance to be plugged in and then it will be using his ice time to be important. I think that opportunity is there for him and I'm sure knowing Brian he'll grab it and be a regular player."
Murray admitted he held several conversations with various general managers over the past few days and while he could have made other deals found the asking price much too high.
"We weren't trying to do very much, but we were trying to do a couple things and the ask was so high that it just didn't make any sense for me," said Murray. "I could have traded one or two of our young prospects and got a player for today, but that wasn't the mode."
Notes: The Senators have assigned G Ben Bishop, acquired Sunday from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a second round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, to the Binghamton Senators. He is expected to play Tuesday night. Depending on the status of injured goalie Craig Anderson, Murray said it's more than likely Bishop will be recalled to make his Ottawa debut sooner rather than later.…G Robin Lehner will get the start in Boston on Tuesday.