Jan 9, 2014, 2:09 PM EST
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.”
Jan 30, 2015, 3:26 PM EST
Key Western Conference tilt tonight at Honda.
Jan 30, 2015, 2:48 PM EST
Not that that’s likely. Just…possible.
Jan 30, 2015, 2:17 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Jan 30, 2015, 1:01 PM EST
Xavier Ouellet sticking around?
Jan 30, 2015, 12:52 PM EST
Pittsburgh d-man won’t play tonight against New Jersey.
Jan 30, 2015, 12:39 PM EST
They play in Vancouver tonight.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:42 AM EST
Ducks and Rangers have been hot.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:37 AM EST
Just one day after Artem Anisimov drew back into the lineup.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:21 AM EST
St. Louis’ forward depth about to be tested.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:06 AM EST
Rangers d-man has struggled to get games recently.
Jan 30, 2015, 10:33 AM EST
74-year-old was the first player to ever have his jersey retired by the organization.
Jan 30, 2015, 10:19 AM EST
Will he make his NHL debut?
Jan 30, 2015, 9:56 AM EST
There’s lots of interest in him, but teams that see him as a rental might balk at that price.
Jan 30, 2015, 9:02 AM EST
Both are out Friday.
Jan 30, 2015, 8:04 AM EST
Friday’s collection of links.
Jan 30, 2015, 12:17 AM EST
Head coach Mike Yeo said he earned that goose egg, too.
Jan 29, 2015, 11:47 PM EST
So much for some rest for Frederik Andersen.
Jan 29, 2015, 11:17 PM EST
Two youngsters change teams.
Jan 29, 2015, 10:22 PM EST
A bit of a statement from Tampa Bay?
Jan 29, 2015, 9:51 PM EST
A bitter game at times.
- Comparing the records of all 30 teams in the last two months 48
- Lightning ride Paquette’s first hat trick to Atlantic lead 7
- Price wins goalie duel vs. Lundqvist as Habs edge Rangers 4
- Leafs’ luck: Bernier gives up long distance goal, things unravel in third 20
- AHL announces new Pacific Division — who could go west next? 35
- Babcock didn’t think Wings would be ‘near where we’re at’ 16
- Brodeur announces retirement, leaves ‘the game with a big smile on my face’ 16
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks’ ‘dog fight’ continues vs. red hot Ducks 5
- NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Canadiens seek edge as divisional battles intensify 2
- Struggling Kings complete the comeback against Blackhawks 12