Senators deal goalie Matt Murray to Toronto

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have rolled out the ‘Welcome Matt.’

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Matt Murray will be packing his bags and headed to the other side of the Battle of Ontario after Ottawa Senators’ general manager Pierre Dorion sent the veteran goaltender to the Leafs with a third-round pick in 2023 and a seventh-round pick in 2024.

The Senators receive future considerations.

Ottawa also retained 25% of the $15 million remaining on Murray’s deal for the next two seasons. The Leafs will pay $11.25 million and the Senators will pick up the other $3.75 million.

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Making this deal will allow to Dorion to try to make a trade for a right-shot defenceman, or sign one in free agency.

As noted in this space Monday, the Leafs were trying to make sure the 28-year-old Murray will be ready to play when training camp opens in September before signing off on a deal. He suffered a concussion March 4 against the Arizona Coyotes and didn’t suit up again this season.

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The indications are that the Leafs didn’t finalize the trade until they did a full checkup of Murray and received clearance from their medical staff. There was talk he spent at least part of Sunday with Toronto doctors so they could get a first-hand look.

Talks heated up on the draft floor at the Bell Centre when Dorion was seen huddled with Toronto counterpart Kyle Dubas.

“Matt loved his time in Ottawa,” Murray’s agent Rob Hooper of Octagon Hockey said in a text message to Postmedia. “He believes the Senators have a bright future with a lot of great young players. He wishes nothing but the best for them next season.

“He’s also very excited as he begins the next chapter of his hockey career with the Toronto Maple Leafs.”

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The Senators have Anton Forsberg and Filip Gustavsson under contract, but the club will at least sniff around the market to see if there’s another goalie available.

Acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in Oct., 2020, Murray signed a four-year, $25 million deal with the Senators, but the trade just hasn’t worked out. He has been plagued by injuries and a string of inconsistency that has never allowed him to get on a roll.

The Senators knew the first couple of years with Murray could be difficult while the rebuild was going on around him, however, he just hasn’t been reliable. The decision to send him to Belleville after he cleared waivers in late November last season was the low point for Murray.

Ottawa has a lot of moving parts with free agency set for Wednesday at noon ET, and that’s why it was important to have clarity on Murray.

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While the Senators made a huge deal to acquire Alex DeBrincat from the Chicago Blackhawks last Thursday, that doesn’t mean the club won’t go big-game hunting in free agency. The name that has been linked to Ottawa the most is 34-year-old forward Claude Giroux.

The Senators would love to bring Giroux home. He grew up in Orleans, played across the Ottawa River for the Gatineau Olympiques, and spends all of the off-season here. There’s talk the Florida Panthers want him back, however, they would have a tough time making the numbers work.

Giroux would be the perfect fit here to help groom the young players.

The club would still like to acquire a right-shot defenceman that can play in the top four. Ottawa has kicked tires on Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar, while Jakub Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes plays on the left side, but he’d be on the radar screen.

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The possibility of veteran defenceman Nikita Zaitsev getting moved before camp is also good.

Winger Connor Brown’s days with the club appear to be numbered. He’s a year away from being a UFA, but the Senators have been listening to offers for the last month and the sense is they will find a fit if they determine they want to move him.

There’s a lot of interest in Brown, but Dorion won’t make a move unless he can find the right fit.

Also keep an eye on the future on blueliner Michael Del Zotto.

Signed as a UFA last summer, Del Zotto carries a $2 million cap hit, but his actual salary is $2.25 million. The Senators have been trying to package the 32-year-old Del Zotto up in another deal but if they don’t then there’s a chance he gets bought out Wednesday.

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A buyout would save the club $750,000 in real dollars. The club would carry a cap hit of $500,000 next season and $750,000 in 2023-24 if it decides to go that route, but the preference is to try to move him to another team.

That decision will have to be made by noon Tuesday because this is the last day Del Zotto is eligible to be put on waivers for the purpose of a buyout before the first window closes.

Monday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for the Senators to issue qualifying offers to restricted free agents. As reported in this space last week, winger Adam Gaudette and defenceman Victor Mete will both become UFAs. Minor-league goalie Michael McNiven also wasn’t qualified.

The Senators did issue qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Josh Norris, Alex Formenton and Mathieu Joseph, along with defenceman Erik Brannstrom. Of that group, only Joseph has the right to file for arbitration.

This has the potential to be a wildly interesting few days for this franchise.

bg[email protected]

Twitter: @sungarrioch


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