The Buffalo Sabres held an end-of-year press conference at First Niagara Center on Tuesday. General Manager Tim Murray made a bold statement to kick off the day, telling media and fans he does not expect a drawn-out rebuild.
“When you tear it down, it doesn't happen over night. But I don't buy into five-year rebuilds,” Murray said.
Murray and head coach Ted Nolan addressed some off-season issues, including whether the Sabres would buy out forward Ville Leino.
“It is a very good possibility that will be one of our buyouts,” Murray said.
Nolan praised the work of Zemgus Girgensons, saying his 20-year-old center keeps getting better. He also mentioned that Cody Hodgson was happy with playing on the wing.
Decisions about the coaching staff have not yet been made, according to Nolan. WGR's Paul Hamilton reported it was likely the Sabres would part ways with much of the staff.
One of the buzz words around all non-playoff teams is “culture.” The head coach was asked about what he would do to change the culture in Buffalo.
“You don't have to have skill to come into training camp in the best possible shape,” Nolan said.
With the draft lottery on Tuesday night, Murray told the media he is hoping for the No. 1 pick or whatever makes life more difficult on the Islanders. The Isles owe the Sabres a draft pick either this year or next year.
The Sabres' GM was asked about the possibility of drafting defenseman Aaron Ekblad.
“We have to take the best player available,” Murray said. “If he is the best player available, we would be open to taking him.”
Buffalo will have to sign players to get to the salary cap floor. Murray would like to bring in several veterans.
“They have to approach us and decide if they want to come here,” he said. “I would like to get out in front and bring in a couple veterans.....We could use two guys who are strong on and off the ice. Plays properly, and leads by example.”
Does the team want to tank next season?
"Tanking is not what I want," Murray said. "Where does the tanking come from when the GM doesn't want to lose and the coach doesn't want to lose?"
"Nobody wants to tank. Nobody wants to finish last."
On the injury front, Murray said goalie Matt Hackett will require surgery on his injured knee.