So much for the slow offseason. Every once in awhile the organization throws a wrench into what should otherwise be a very uneventful Thursday afternoon. In case you hadn't noticed, GM Bryan Murray was anywhere and everywhere yesterday. In fact, Ottawa has almost become oversaturated with Bryan Murray news today, essentially, the only way that it could have been worse was if he was announced as a presenter for the Much Music Video Awards. I guess they'll just have to settle for the lead singer of Hedley to present with PK Subban.
Anyways, where was I?
Ah, yes... Bryan Murray was interviewed yesterday morning on Team 1200's SportsCall with Lee Versage and the man with the perpetual smile, Terry Marcotte. Below is a transcript of what was said. As always, my thoughts are in bold. Lets get at 'er.
On the possibility of staying at fifteen to nab a player or moving up in the draft to get a player that they want:
“Well we know we’re fifteen at the moment. We are, as always, trying to move around depending (on) who Pierre Dorion and his staff tell me might be available. We think at fifteen, and we’ve gone through our list many times over the last little bit, and we really think we can get a good player at fifteen. I guess it depends, which often is the case, if a particular player is still sitting there at eleven or twelve and these guys prompt me enough and we have an asset to trade to move up, then obviously we always consider that.”
On finding another good player at fifteen:
“Well, we heard, and this is where you try to keep your eyes open and not say too much, or your ears open I guess in this case, we had heard… we were picking eighteen(th). We found out that there was a team going to pick before our pick and take Erik. We thought he would slide to fourteen or fifteen at least and so I got on the phone and eventually got to David Poile in Nashville and encouraged him by flipping an extra third to him to move three spots back. I kind of was under the understanding that he was looking at a goaltender at that time anyway, and the (goalie) he felt would slide to eighteen so we were able to make that move and it paid off obviously in a big way. David and I have talked about it several times since and he said, ‘How did I let that happen?’ But I don’t think he was going to pick Karlsson at that spot in any rate so it worked out.”
While that Chet Pickard pick for Nashville was having a hard time collecting rebounds in the ECHL last season, Karlsson will make his way to Vegas next week to collect some Norris Trophy hardware. Thanks for letting it happen Poile.
On the possibility of moving up in the draft and GMs exchanging names about who they’re picking:
“I don’t tell them. You wouldn’t dare tell them because… Garth Snow last year when I talked to him, he was picking I think one spot or two spots ahead of me, and I tried to flip with him to move up a couple of spots and his demand was ‘Tell me who you’re going to pick,’ and I wouldn’t do that, so he wouldn’t move. But if he says no to you, then he takes your guy because there may be some indecision on their part and with our history, our drafting has been good so they can use you as a lever sometimes.”
And now we get a little insight into why the Isles have had such a difficult time moving up in the NHL realm...
On assessing their organizational needs at the draft:
“I don’t think there’s any question that we have a good core of young forwards coming. We think in a couple cases, star forwards, so the depth is better up front. There’s no doubt about that but if there’s a top forward there that may be a little different type, we very definitely would take him. But I guess where you don’t have depth as often in an organization, is on the blue line. If there was a good (defenceman) sitting at fifteen and if we thought that he was as comparable at least to the forward or the goaltender, whatever it may be, we might have a leaning at that time.”
Ironically, just shortly after recalling the David Poile/Karlsson story, Murray has the stones to talk about his comfort taking a goaltender at around the same point in the first round. Yeeesh, I know I've made my feelings about this known but may the hockey gods help us if this decision come to fruition.
On the number of strong defencemen in this year’s draft class:
“I think there are several teams at the top in particular, Edmonton being maybe an example and it’s not for me to talk for them, but there’s no question that they have got a great collection of young forwards as well. I think their need is probably more to the blue line than up front and where they’re picking, there is a top forward. There’s no doubt about it and they may do some manoeuvring to move back a pick or two to get that (defenceman) that you were talking about. I don’t think there’s any doubt that there’s a couple of other teams that are in the same boat. There are a lot of quality, quality young D that are out there and they will go fairly early, there’s no question.”
I have to wonder how well this will sit with Oilers fans: knowing that another league exec is talking about the possibility that the Oilers will trade down to draft a defenceman. If there's smoke, is there fire?
On whether the scouting staff has identified a guy that they should move up to get:
“No, I mean sure, I’d like to move to one or two and have the options that would be provided by doing that. No, there’s no one guy that they’ve come to me, at least yet, as a target and say, “We’ve got to go get (that player).” Many years ago, I remember Tim Murray was working with me and he said, “Are you going to move? Are we going to get Corey Perry or not?” It took me a long time to make a trade so that we could get Corey Perry when we were in Anaheim but there is not that target at this time that I’ve been told (about) at this point anyway.”
Do teams ever make these kinds of deals in advance of the Draft? There's so much pomp, buzz and good PR generated from the NHL Draft that it makes more sense to announce these deals when teams are 'on the clock'.
On the difference in philosophies between this year’s draft and last year’s:
“Well, there was no question. We made a big sacrifice before last year’s draft by trading Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly and some of the veteran guys that were here. So we knew that we had to have success. There was a lot of pressure on our people. All of us, we spent a lot of hours going through the young players that were potentially going to be there and when I was able to get the third first round pick from Detroit, it added to that. We had a good game plan, I think and Pierre and his staff, as I say, executed it very well. This time, it’s different. We have a focus. We have a core that we think, out of two or three, four players, we think we’re going to get one of those guys. So maybe the emphasis on the draft this time isn’t as big as obviously before. I felt we used our second round pick, it’s too bad on draft day that we’ve done it, but we’ve got Kyle Turris who we think is going to be a top player for us for a while. We made a little hurry up to the plan that we had going and if something comes up again and if there’s a player that some team really likes on our team and would pay a price for it, we may add another draft pick. But at the moment, I think there’s a little different focus (from last year). There’s still a lot of pressure: we have got two third (rounders) and then we have the rest of the draft to look after. But very definitely, the first round was a real priority for us last year and as I say, I think our guys did a good job.”
Admittedly, thanks to the strength of last year's draft class, the surprising success that Ottawa had this season and the loss of Ottawa's second round pick in the Kyle Turris trade, it's very easy to forget about the conditional third round pick that was obtained when Nashville advanced one round in the 2011 playoffs. With the team having these two third round picks this season, interviewing prospective prospects like Malcolm Subban makes sense because the organization could potentially parlay those two picks together to move up in the draft and procure a second rounder.
On trusting his staff to identify the talent:
“I’ve been very adamant and lucky I guess… both but from my days in Detroit, to Florida, Anaheim and now Ottawa, you have to have good staff. You have to have guys on your scouting staff that are willing to travel, work hard and sacrifice a lot over the course of the winter to get to know players - not only on the ice but some of their characteristics off the ice and their behaviour off the ice. Over time, we’ve been very successful because you allow your staff to do their job. You have one or two great people. You always have hardworking guys. We got Erik Karlsson because we had a guy by the name of Anders Forsberg in Sweden that knew all the insides about Erik and where he was going to go. Of course Pierre (Dorion) spent a lot of time over there (in Sweden) that winter and we got Zack Smith because Bobby Lowes is from Western Canada and got to know him. We were able to take him a little later in the draft but we end up with a NHL player, so trusting and having good leadership… and Pierre provides great leadership for his amateur staff. Tim (Murray) has a lot of input as far as where he is and his history of evaluating is very, very strong so I’ve been fortunate as I have travelled around the league to be able to bring some good people with me. And I give them all the credit in the world for bringing the right names to me so we can go forward and get the evaluation and pick the right people.”
Anders Forsberg should be commemmorated with a statue outside of SBP immediately.
On working on an extension with Erik Karlsson:
“We’ve talked. I actually spent some time yesterday and I think we have an idea of where we’re going now (in negotiations). Next week they’re going to be in Vegas because of Erik’s presence in the Norris Trophy race. I hope to sit down at that time and at least spend a little time with them and eventually, over the next week, I hope no more than a week, that we get to numbers that are realistic for both parties and we get something done. But something is starting to happen. We’re starting to talk more and more and I believe both parties want to get a deal done and it will work out.”
On talking with any of Ottawa’s impending UFAs:
“We’re talking to some of them. Not all of them. We can’t bring everybody back. We have been in the process of at least making some conversation happen. Over the next few days or certainly by the draft or before the very first of July at any rate, but certainly, I’d like to get a lot of stuff done around draft time. We’ll see if we can get answers from the people that we’d like to bring back and see if we can get a deal done.”
A very polite way of putting it. I'll be surprised if more than one or two impending UFAs are retained.
On updating Alfie’s status:
“No. I’ve had a long talk with him on the exit interview. I have asked him his opinion of a couple young players. I have bounced back and forth a couple of emails with Alfie and I have not asked him for a decision. I’m not going to ask him for a decision. I think he deserves the ability; he deserves the right to take whatever time he has to take to decide. I think it’s a very important decision for him in his life too. When you say “I’m not coming back,” then that’s it and when you say “You’re coming back,” you get working out full boar for the rest of the summer. I’m giving him the time and he deserves that. It’s just a matter of ‘Alfie, when you’re ready to let us know, let us know.’ ”It's only mid-June and I'm already sick of the Alfie talk and articles contemplating his future. Like Murray said, he'll make his decision when he makes his decison and we'll know it as soon as he announces it himself.
What Others Are Saying:
"I think we're going to get a pretty good player at 15, barring any change. Whether we pick a goalie a defenseman or forward, I think we're going to get someone we feel is going to play either top-four defenseman or top-six forward down the road. But picking 15 you know that player won't probably play for you for two or three years." ~ Pierre Dorion via SENS TV
“We will draft a goalie in this draft. Whether it’s in the first round or seventh round, we don’t know what’s going to happen.” ~ Pierre Dorion via the Ottawa Sun
“He made the decision. He signed in Russia.” ~ Bryan Murray on whether Nikita Filatov would come to camp in September, via the Ottawa Sun
“You make a mistake in life and you learn from it. I would make a different move if I could have that back.” ~ Alexei Kovalev on leaving Montreal as a free agent and signing with Ottawa, via Senators Extra
"Alex Kovalev is a dOther News of Pithy Importance...
For ESPN Insider (it’s behind a pay wall), Hockey Prospectus’ Matthew Coller penned an article that outlined how each of the Northeast Division teams should retool come July 1st. Essentially, Coller was tasked with providing the name of one free agent player for each of the Northeast’s teams.
When it came to Ottawa, here’s what Coller had to say:
The hole: Stay-at-home defenseman
The Senators had one of the most impressive offensive-minded defenses in the NHL with budding superstar Erik Karlsson and veteran puck mover Sergei Gonchar. But when it came to keeping pucks out of the net, Ottawa struggled badly in 2011-12, ranking 24th in the NHL in goals against and 29th in shots against per game. The Sens also proved they do not have good enough goaltending to make up for a barrage of chances each night. They sorely need a reliable D-man to even things out on the back end.
The fix: Sign D Barret Jackman, UFA (6.9 GVT)
There hasn't been much hype around the 31-year-old Jackman becoming a free agent, but he was at the head of the St. Louis Blues' record-setting defense last season and was the fifth-ranked defensive player in the league according to GVT. Jackman was second in total ice time and finished the season plus-20. He won't put up high point totals, but Jackman can be the go-to guy Ottawa has been missing when looking to shut down the league's best forwards.