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Three-year deal keeps Kuba with Senators

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
A smiling Senators defenceman Filip Kuba talks with reporters about the new three-year extrension he signed with the team this morning, which will keep him in Ottawa through 2011-12.

Filip Kuba is staying exactly where he wants to be.

The Ottawa Senators defenceman beat the clock and signed a three-year extension with the club today that will keep him in the nation's capital through the 2011-12 season.

Kuba was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and Senators general manager Bryan Murray had indicated he would entertain offers for the blueliner if no new contract was in place before today's 3 p.m. National Hockey League trading deadline. However, the two sides finalized a new deal this morning, which had Kuba smiling in the Ottawa dressing room after practice wrapped up earlier this afternoon.

"I'm very happy to get it done," said Kuba, 32, who’s in his ninth NHL season. "That was always my priority, to stay here. I'm glad that everything worked out. I had the feeling from both sides that an agreement could be done here and I'm excited."

He has developed a comfort level with his teammates and the Senators organization since being acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning last summer in a deal that also brought fellow blueliner Alex Picard to Ottawa and sent Andrej Meszaros south to Florida.

"I like the guys in this locker-room," said Kuba, who leads all Senators defenceman with 29 points (two goals, 27 assists) this season. "It's a really class organization here and they take care of their players very well. And I think there are a lot better seasons coming for us than (this) one."

Captain Daniel Alfredsson agreed with that assessment, calling the retention of Kuba "a great signing" for the Senators.

"That's great news for us," said Alfredsson. "(Kuba) plays a lot of minutes, he can play all situations and I think he has the potential to get even better. A puck-moving defenceman is something you don't want to give up if you have him."

Senators head coach Cory Clouston is happy he'll have the services of "arguably our most consistent defenceman overall" for the foreseeable future.

"(Kuba) does a little bit of everything," said Clouston. "He just does a lot of the little things well and he's a big, steady defenceman who can really add depth to this club.

"I'm very happy to get it done. That was always my priority, to stay here. I'm glad that everything worked out. I had the feeling from both sides that an agreement could be done here and I'm excited." - Filip Kuba
"He's had some ups and downs, too, but when you look at his numbers, his plus-minus (plus-8), the minutes he's played (a team-high 23:18 per game), we're very happy that he's with us for the next three years."

Added Murray: "He's a puck mover, he's a rangy guy, he doesn't slam people into the boards but he adds to our defence a fair amount and he's a good piece for us to have here.

"When I talked to a number of managers who called about him -- and I had more inquiries about Filip than probably anybody -- each and every one of them thought it was was for us (to keep him) because they're hard to come by."

The Kuba deal, combined with the acquisition of goaltender Pascal Leclaire from the Columbus Blue Jackets, has centre Jason Spezza thinking the Senators are "making steps in the right direction" toward next season.

"It's good to see (Kuba) want to stay," he said. "When you see guys wanting to stay, it shows we're rebuilding here and we're building a good culture around the room. Our room is pretty close-knit and guys want to stay in it and that's a positive."

Meanwhile, the trade deadline came and passed without any change in the status of Chris Neil. The Senators and the Neil camp still haven't hammered out a new contract yet, but the rugged forward doesn't need any change-of-address cards, either.

Murray believes there is still room to get a deal done before Neil becomes an unrestricted free agent.

"I think we're there," he said. "We have a certain budget in place for Chris. We like his grit, we like his size, we like the fact he's been an Ottawa Senator for (his entire) career. If we can do that, we will, but we have to do it closer to our number than his number."

Leafs grab Gerber off waivers

After learning goaltender Vesa Toskala will be sidelined for the season with a groin injury, the Toronto Maple Leafs filled the void by claiming Senators stopper Martin Gerber off re-entry waivers. Gerber had been toiling with the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators and had gone through waivers twice previously.

Defenceman Brendan Bell went unclaimed, clearing waivers at noon today. Murray said the purpose of the move was to re-establish his two-way status and make him eligible to help Binghamton's drive to make the AHL playoffs.

Around the boards

Clouston said Picard (lower body) is "probably 10 days to two weeks away" from returning to game action. "Unfortunately for him, he just gets back into the lineup ... it's a tough break," said Clouston ... The Senators have recalled forward Peter Regin from Binghamton (AHL) to fill the void up front created by the trade of Vermette ... Fewer than 2,500 tickets remain for Thursday's game against the Edmonton Oilers.

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