Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
Sabres GM Tim Murray hit WGR's Hockey Hotline this morning after a very busy weekend dealing with the draft and the decision to use an amnesty buyout on veteran defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.
Host Kevin Sylvester dove right in, asking about the Sam Reinhart pick and Murray reiterated that he was the consensus No. 1.
Murray also reiterated that he had been trying to trade Ehrhoff and that his discounted asking price was low-balled even more and that the d-man could've been traded.
But he balked.
Murray also said that he consulted with Ehrhoff's agent about the future and even talked with owner Terry Pegula.
The bottom line: The Sabres felt that Ehrhoff clearly packed it in last season and really didn't want to be in Buffalo. With a potential cap recapture penalty looming in the future should Ehrhoff retire before the end of his contract, Murray ultimately decided that it was best just to buy him out.
Ehrhoff is off the books permanently.
The busy draft weekend is being followed quickly by tomorrow's start to free agency.
Much to the surprise of everyone, including Murray. "There seems to be interest in Buffalo," he said. "I'm surprised at how many calls I've had." And not just from scrap-heap NHL'ers and AHL'ers looking for an opportunity. "I'm getting calls from legitimate NHL player agents."
This is a totally different scenario in Sabreland. There was a time during the previous regime before Pegula took over that fans could expect to wait until at least a day or two for them to sign a 2nd or 3rd tier free agent.
Then the summer Pegula took over, when the bell rang, Pegula and former GM Darcy Regier were headed up to Canada to woo Brad Richards (they settled for Ville Leino.)
One would have thought the Sabres fans would be waiting once again this off season, but from the sound of it, they may be in the game when "Christmas" comes tomorrow in the form of the "free agent frenzy."
Murray isn't going to get caught up in that. Because of the new rules, he's been able to talk to agents up to five days prior. While in Philadelphia this past weekend he was bouncing from place to place while his scouts finalized their draft list, talking to agents as well as other GM's.
The Sabres look to be players tomorrow. The question is, are the players willing to come to Buffalo.
It's been reported that Murray had talked to the agents of former Sabres Steve Ott and Matt Moulson. Although he stated that he wants vets on short-term contracts so as not to disrupt the charge of the youngins, a player like Moulson, and even Ott might not want short-term contracts.
From his Hockey Hotline interview, Murray also outlined what he's looking for when the market opens tomorrow.
"Big for me is harder to play against. We didn't score goals last year, so offense is something to look at but Plan B is to be hard to play against. Have character guys in the room," he said
This is an extension of a philosophy that the Sabres have been touting for two years. And he explained how he wants the near future to unfold:
"We're going to be adding two or three young guys for the next three or four years. Do we just leave it to them to learn how to be good pros? Or do we have people in the room that show them how to become good pros. That's not the analytics movement pretty guy, that's reality. The guys coming through [the system] are going to be the skill guys. That's what we need to get here first. We need people here to show [the youngins] the proper way to play the game so that when we are ready to compete they know what it's all about."
In that context both Moulson and Ott fit that mold of character guys. And a 30-goal scorer like Moulson would be a part of "Plan A" as well.
One of the questions was directed at how Reinhart fits in this year.
Murray simply stated that Reinhart's done all he could do in junior--dominating the competition--but if they feel he's not ready for the NHL, it's back to junior he goes.
The charge of the youngins is on as Murray also is set to qualify some of his RFA's--C, Tyler Ennis, F, Marcus Foligno, D, Chad Ruhwedel, F, Luke Adam, and G, Matt Hackett.
D, Jamie McBain and G, Connor Knapp were not qualified and will become free agents while at this time the team is still on the fence with F, Cory Conacher.
Sabres fans shouldn't expect too much tomorrow, but they shouldn't dismiss anything either.
It could prove to be an interesting day to kick off the summer.