This afternoon on The Healthy Scratches, Senators assistant GM Tim Murray talked to Steve Lloyd and Shawn Simpson about this past weekend's NHL Draft, the Rick Nash sweepstakes and unrestricted free agent Justin Schultz. The interview itself can be listened to on the Team 1200's Facebook page, but here are the important parts transcribed below. As always, my thoughts are in bold:
On the comparison between Cody Ceci and Larry Murphy:
“Sure, the one complaint that I’ve heard consistently on Cody has been his lack of physical play and that he does everything well to very well. That was the type of player that Larry was. Larry was an easy guy to love and an easy guy not to like as you know… depending. And he got moved a couple times because of that but he’s the type of player that you have to look back at the whole career… and (he) was extremely productive. Played on good teams and won championships at different levels. If he could be a Larry Murphy-kind of guy, that’d be great for us.”
Like Murphy, so long as Ceci gets booed by the Leafs faithful for the way that he plays on the ice, I think most Sens would be happy with that.
On being concerned with the low number of penalties that Ceci takes:
“It’s a low number for sure, (they’re) Nik Lidstrom numbers, I believe and I’m not comparing to him at all. But I think he can be an effective guy, as long as: your team knows what you are; the coach knows who you are; your expectations are what they are. We know this player very well. We know his strengths and weaknesses. He’s the type of defenceman that we believe as an organization, so we’re going to benefit from it or not, we believe is the new NHL defenceman. And that’s log minutes, especially in the top four or top three. Maybe if you look back at Montreal’s top three in a different game, they played a lot of minutes and played in every situation. I think that’s the kind of player that (Ceci) can be.”
And all this time, I’ve believed that penalty minutes were only valuable in some fantasy hockey leagues.
On the possibility of Ceci being able to compete for a spot this fall at training camp:
“Well, you know what I think of speculation. Would I be surprised if he came into camp and played really well and earned a spot? No, I wouldn’t be surprised but I mean, that’s up to him and we know that he’s got stuff to improve this summer. We’ll find out this week how much he knows about, for example, single leg stability and how much he knows about recovery products and supplements and all these things that we preach. So we’ll find out how far behind he is behind our guys that have been here for a couple of years. And maybe his knowledge of that is extensive. There are a lot of unknowns. There’s not unknowns as far as on the ice. We’ve watched him a lot. We’ve interviewed him a lot. We like him a lot and the rest as we say, is up to him.”
Single leg stability? Having played much of the past two seasons on one leg, that’s probably going to be the lecture given at development camp by Matt Carkner.
On the possibility of Ceci working out with Luke Richardson during development camp:
“Well, they all get their turn. We try to involve them all. I know that Dave Cameron talked at the draft about golfing one day this week and he just brought up that they don’t need him on Thursday maybe it is, so each guy has their day or two days and we try to concentrate on their specialties, so Luke will be involved for sure. It is a good chance for Luke to get to know a lot of the guys that are going to be down there. He knows a little bit but gets to know them a little bit better but certainly having Luke around Cody (will benefit him). Playing defence, I mean, the little things… I personally complain a lot about a defenceman on a one-on-one if his stick is not in the right position and these guys are players and I never played the game. And these are things that we have to teach them and they all have their own styles but I think that a guy like Luke can really reinforce maybe what is considered Cody’s weaknesses – maybe his defensive play a little bit and pushing guys off of pucks and getting the right angles knowing that we’re not going to see a defenceman who is going to run guys through the glass. So I think that Luke becomes real important for (Ceci) to reach his potential and become a top four defenceman for us.”
On the importance and role that the team’s development camp plays:
“Yeah, I think it’s a great tool. I don’t have a lot to do with it, so I can’t take any credit for it. But I think that Randy (Lee) and his team, you know, Randy has been through this 100 times. He has had people who have left this organization long before I got here and asked these people if he could help them set up their development camp wherever they have gone. He’s a pro at this and then you add our strength people – Chris (Schwartz) and our skating people and everybody. I’m not naming names but they’ve been around a lot and they’ve fine-tuned it, if you will. There have been mistakes made in the last ten years but I think on every mistake, we’ve tried to learn by that and develop something better. And you’re right, it’s the off-ice stuff as much as the on-ice stuff. We bring in a sleep expert in and some nights, I need that. But we give them all the information and again, when we talk about Cody, it’s what they do with it. We can’t force feed them. We can give them the information. We try to draft the player who will take and use the information, but it’s up to them.”
Interesting to note that mistakes have been made during these development camps, I wonder if allowing Nikita Filatov to participate at last year’s development camp qualifies?
On the surprise at the lack of trades following the days of build-up leading up to the draft:
“Yeah, I don’t know if it’s the CBA or if it’s July 1st and waiting to see where the big guys fall. And then maybe, when you’re not in on that, you get involved in the trade talks. Yeah, I don’t know the reasons. I think we hear so much more about trades today than when I first started in the game. When you heard a trade twenty years ago, you were like ‘Holy geez, that’s unbelievable.’ Now, with bloggers and everything that goes on, it’s an hourly occurrence. I used to get excited by trade talk, but now it’s almost so overboard that you can’t believe anything. It’s taken the fun away for me. I was a fan before I was involved in hockey and trades were exciting days and now it is fantasy hockey now in some people’s minds. I don’t get it, really but not a lot happened. You’re right.”
Way to go rumour bloggers. You ruined trade talk being fun for Tim Murray. In fact, this would be a great quote to put on SensChirp’s banner, “Ruining Tim Murray’s fun since (whenever it was established).”
On Ottawa not being on Rick Nash’s list of destinations that he’d be willing to waive his NMC to go to:
“Well, I mean, that was the newspaper report out of Columbus yesterday, I believe? Is that right or wrong? Was he quoted in that? Well, then I cannot speculate on whether he wants to come or not. I haven’t heard one way or the other if we’re on a list. The talks that Bryan has had with Columbus have been very vague: ‘What are you looking for? What type of package are you looking for?’ Not names, more so, ‘is it two prospects, a pick and an established player?’ or ‘is it four prospects?’ Those are the conversations that have gone on. Other than that, they haven’t told us their interest. They haven’t told us if we’re close and what we’d be willing to part with as far as the parameters of the trade. And we aren’t close to knowing if Rick Nash wants to come to Ottawa or not. He’s property of Columbus and that’s all I know.”
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why a team would even enter into negotiations on a player who knowingly has a NMC without knowing whether or not he would waive to go to that organization. It’s one of the first things that happened when the Toronto Blue Jays’ GM, Alex Anthopolous, inquired on Zack Greinke’s availability and reflects a process in which both GMs understood that that any subsequent discussions would be a colossal waste of time if Greinke did not want to go to Toronto.
Of course, Murray could be playing coy. I have a hard time believing that a GM who admittedly checks out Twitter and is aware of the blogosphere, isn't in tune with where Rick Nash wants to play. He's more in tune with things than he's letting on.
On the possibility of talking Nash into coming to Ottawa:
“No, we’re not going to talk anybody into coming. We have to obviously make a pitch for free agents and that’s part of the game and we’ll make our pitch. We’ll tell them why (free agents) should come to Ottawa. Why we’re going to be competitive for a lot of years. Why it’s a good city to come to. Why it’s better to play in the East is better than the West. All those reasons, but I don’t consider that begging a player to come. You’re put out the facts on the table and then he decides. And if you have to go back, and beg or try to convince then it’s probably the wrong player that you’re talking to.”
Suck it Kevin Lowe.
On the possibility of bringing in unrestricted free agent defenceman Justin Schultz:
“I talked to his agent this morning. It’s the group. I wouldn’t say that Craig (Oster) is at the head of the group but I’d say it is more Eddie Ward and Wade Arnott that would be the guys who would have recruited him. On a guy like that they’re very involved and obviously, on a decision like this, I would think Donnie (Meehan) and Pat (Morris) would be front and center for sure.”
“Yeah, I think it’s just his choice. I believe that he took it this far, he now has given himself a … he can only sign an entry level deal, there’s no question but he gets to choose where he wants to go. He gets to choose where he can try to get established in these three years of his entry level deal and it’s a great choice for a kid that not many kids that age get that choice.”
Odd. If I remember correctly, because of his age, he’s only eligible for a two-year ELC. (As an aside, for anyone interested in reading up on Schultz, I've devoted some share of digital ink on him -- here, here and here.)
“Not many kids do this but you have a Canadian kid who on the surface, it looks to me like he wants to play in Canada and I think he can play now. That’s the message that we’ll be sending to him. He’s an offensive defenceman. He’s a puck-mover. His transition game is outstanding. He’s similar to somebody that we already have and I’m not comparing him to him but he’s just similar to him in style. And how far he gets with that style, we’ll find out.”
More on the Karlsson-stylistic comparison:
“Just in style of game, I’d compare that. The times during a game, he’ll be on the ice. It’ll be obviously offensive situations, power play. So in the type of ice-time he’s going to get in certain situations and his style of play, and his ability to change games is obviously more on the offensive side than the defensive side.”
On Ottawa having a real shot to land Schultz:
“I believe we’ve got a shot. I believe without telling secrets that it’s down to three to five teams and I believe that we’re one of the teams.”
On Ottawa’s ability to develop young players and have a competitive team:
“Well, they’re going to help obviously for sure. The kid, he has a rare opportunity here. Our message is that we’re competitive but young. We have lots of opportunity. That’s what kids are looking for: opportunity and opportunity to succeed as a team and individually. I think there is opportunity obviously on lesser teams that have not made the playoffs in a long time and that is a different opportunity. So it depends on what they’re looking for. If a kid like this has taken it this far and he’s looking for an ideal situation where the team is competitive and he gets to be a big part of that team and hopefully have team success which translates to individual success.”
After listening to Murray, it’s becoming somewhat obvious that he considers a team like the Edmonton Oilers to be the favorites to land Schultz. In fact, this status is something that goes back to the mid-season when TSN’s Bob McKenzie touted them as the favorites to sign him.
More on what separates Ottawa from Schultz’s other suitors:
“Well, I think that’s our argument. I think that without knowing for sure who the other teams are, I think that (for) a couple of teams, that would be our argument – that we’re ready to be competitive right now but there’s still opportunity for you and we’ve got good players for you to play with. If you want to line up on a power play with Erik and Alfie and Spez and Turris, Michalek… whomever you want to talk about. We have the players that can make you successful and make our team successful. No disrespect to other organizations but there might be a longer process to get to where we are now and I know ours has just started but we like the direction that we are going in.”
It’s a valid point: Ottawa already has an intriguing blend of veteran talent and young talent. Paul MacLean’s coaching has helped net Erik Karlsson a Norris Trophy at such a young age. If you’re looking for an organization that can develop prospects, has a large quantity of high-profile prospects in the system and can surround them with some skilled pieces, Ottawa has to be considered as a viable destination.
Surprised Murray played his hand on a radio interview in advance of free agency. if piling it on, i would think Ottawa has two other pluses. First would be Carkner opening up space for skill players, the second would be the ridiculous amount of cap space the senators have to spend on current prospects that show promise during their ELC's. Sens prospect pool is high end, but I'd say Toronto and Washington grew more than Ottawa so far this offseason.