Jan 9, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT
As we wrote this morning, Tim Murray is considered one of the top talent evaluators in the game. Suffice to say, the new general manager of the Buffalo Sabres will need to use all his evaluating expertise to take the NHL’s last-place team and turn it into a Stanley Cup contender.
The draft is obviously going to be important.
“You build a team through the draft,” said Murray. “Good drafting allows you to trade well, and then you use free agency to put you over the top.”
But there are other pressing issues for Murray. Such as…
What does he do with Ryan Miller?
The club’s 33-year-old franchise goalie is a pending unrestricted free agent who said in December that he’s “not going to sit around and let promises get thrown around” by management.
When asked about Miller this morning, Murray said he first needed to get a feel for the trade market before making any decisions about the club’s list of pending UFAs, which also includes captain Steve Ott, Matt Moulson, and Henrik Tallinder.
“The market dictates that,” said Murray. “I can’t go out and tell you right now I’m going to trade all the pending UFAs if there’s no market to trade them. If there’s a market and it makes sense…this team’s in last place right now; everybody could be traded.”
The market for Miller is a tough one to predict. Typically, Stanley Cup contenders are already set in goal. There’s been speculation (much of it ours) that St. Louis could be a potential landing spot for Miller prior to the March 5 deadline, but if there’s no guarantee of re-signing him beyond this season, the market for a rental goalie will be limited.
What does he do with Mikhail Grigorenko?
“You can draft a guy in the first round. If you don’t develop him right…you can lose him.”
That was Murray this morning, and it wasn’t hard to picture Grigorenko while he was saying it. The Sabres selected the talented 19-year-old in 2012 with the 12th overall pick. In hindsight, they shouldn’t have kept him with the big club last season. They did eventually send him back to junior, but not until the first year of his entry-level contract had been triggered.
In 43 NHL games, Grigorenko has just three goals and five assists. Right now he’s in limbo, unable to go to the AHL and possibly unable to go to junior. Obviously, Murray needs to figure out a better development plan than the one that’s gotten the situation to this point.
What does he do with Ted Nolan?
Murray was non-committal when asked about the Sabres’ head coach.
“There’s no preconceived notions,” he said. “He’s the coach of the hockey team and I’m looking forward to getting to know him, getting to know the staff, and getting to know the style of coaches they are and the style they want to play…It’s a clean slate here.”
The consensus opinion is that Murray will hire his own bench boss when all’s said and done. But while that may well be the case, it’s not unheard of for a new GM to stick with the coach.
Off the top of my head, when Mike Gillis was hired as the new GM in Vancouver, it seemed likely that Alain Vigneault would be fired. Instead, Gillis stuck with Vigneault and nearly won the Stanley Cup a few seasons later.
In fact, here’s what Gillis said after he got the job: “I haven’t made any predisposed decisions…This is a clean slate moving forward.”
Oct 21, 2014, 10:17 PM EDT
No call on that play.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT
It’s gone from bad to worse for Vancouver.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT
Happened on an innocent enough play.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:29 PM EDT
Outplayed Philly big time in first period.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:07 PM EDT
Bet that felt good.
Oct 21, 2014, 8:27 PM EDT
Thought to be in against Chicago, but no.
Oct 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT
NHL Insider analyzes what the future has in store for the L.A. defenseman.
Oct 21, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT
Check it out via the NBC Live Extra stream.
Oct 21, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT
“Nathan is a frustrated kid right now. He’s in constant pain.”
Oct 21, 2014, 6:18 PM EDT
After watching the first five games of the season from the press box.
Oct 21, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
‘Canes the only winless team in the league.
Oct 21, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
For example, a really tough upcoming schedule. (But also goaltending and that defense.)
Oct 21, 2014, 3:43 PM EDT
“It’s adversity for us but we’re going to come through it,” says Jarrett Stoll.
Oct 21, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT
News and notes from around the blue paint…
Oct 21, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
“I don’t think there’s any question that we’re behind what the league has done.”
Oct 21, 2014, 3:01 PM EDT
Click to hear what those “values” entailed.
Oct 21, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT
Former Coyote faces his former team tonight.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT
Still no timeline for his return.
Oct 21, 2014, 1:24 PM EDT
Could Devan Dubnyk take a run at Mike Smith’s job?
Oct 21, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT
Pretty strong vote of confidence right there.
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