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Sabres and the NHL start free agency

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550)  -- With the draft and buyouts done, now Tim Murray gets to concentrate on free agency.
Jamie McBain, Connor Knapp, Cory Conacher and Matt MacKenzie were not qualified by Murray. Others that were qualified include Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Luke Adam, Matt Hackett and Chad Ruhwedel.
As far as the unrestricted guys go Murray said he has spoken to Steve Ott, “He’s one of the guys on our list and it’s definitely not first come, first serve, it’s just we have to think through each guy on our list. He is a possibility to comeback and bring leadership to this team. Matt Moulson is a possibility, but one conversation doesn’t mean they’re coming here for sure. For all I know we might be 20th on their list, so they’re in with many other guys.” Murray did confirm he has not spoken to Ryan Miller’s agent.
As far as other unrestricted free agents Murray said, “There’s been a lot of interest, whether its legit interest, I’m not sure, we’ll find out, but I’m pleased with the amount of calls, I’m pleased with what they say is interest in coming to Buffalo. I think certain players see opportunity, they see the rebuild happening and they see we’re going to add two or three very good young players to our team every year for the next three or four years, so I think that’s attractive the certain free agents.”
It seems like it’s five and six year contracts that go to unrestricted free agents. Murray’s not looking for that, “I might be willing to go longer than a year or two, but I don’t want to get too tied up in term. I think there are a lot of unknowns like young kids, are they ready at 20 or 22? When a kid’s ready to play, I don’t want to him blocked by somebody else.”
Of course players around the league talk and Murray thinks it’s getting around and Buffalo’s reputation is improving, “Are we going to be the number one destination for a lot of these free agents, no, we’ve got to get there. Even not being a very good team, the way we’ve treated players that have left here, should help us with veteran guys, should help us with guys that may want to return. If you just kick them out the door and say good riddance, I don’t think we’d be getting calls on guys that have been here that want to come back, so when they get to a new team, they say I love my time in Buffalo, was treated well there by ownership and upper management. I think players talk to each other a lot.” Murray added, “Even the Ehrhoff thing, it may seem harsh, but there are players out there that may think, wow, that was an awesome thing to do. I think he was treated very fairly here, he made a lot of money and we gave him an opportunity to go somewhere else.”
I get asked quite often if Ted Nolan has a lot of input into what players the Sabres sign or trade for. Murray said, “We talk, he’ll come up to the office and ask, ‘Who’s on the board today, who are we talking to today’, but no I respect our scouting staff, I respect the process that coaches have to have some input, but you give the coach the players to coach and they coach. In saying that, I’ve talked to him about players I think he knows. I think I have a good feel on the type of player he likes, so is he in on every meeting or do we talk daily, no, but we do talk about players, yes.”
Free agency begins today at noon and we’ll have you covered all day.

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