Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- Tim Murray thinks it was a good day for the organization and I think Murray has passed his first three major tests with flying colors. By that I mean the trade deadline, the draft and now the start of free agency. Murray told the fans to come along for the ride, “People can get on the bandwagon early or get on later, it really doesn’t matter, but if you want to be more right than you are wrong, I don’t want to sound cocky, but get on a little earlier than you might have thought.”
Murray started things off by finding out that Josh Gorges added Buffalo to the list of teams he’d accept a trade to. Murray liked that and gave up as second round pick to Montreal for him. His last transaction was another veteran defenseman in Andej Meszeros who he had in Ottawa. That gives him two leaders along with Mike Weber to help Myers, Ristolainen, Pysyk, McCabe, Ruhwedel and Zadorov. They will show the youngsters how to be a professional.
One of the reasons Gorges chose Buffalo was one of his best friends in Montreal was Brian Gionta. Gionta got a three year deal while Matt Moulson came back with a five year contract and that gives Buffalo a few guys up front to show the forwards the way. If number one pick Samson Reinhart stays with the team this season, I can’t think of a better winger to learn from than Gionta. I think you could easily let him be the captain for the next three years then hand it over to Zemgus Girgensons who by then should be more mature.
Even on Tuesday, Murray was questioned about how he’d get to the cap floor and how he’d convince free agents to come to a team that was one of the worst the NHL has ever seen. Murray had no doubt he’s be able to convince players. “I talked to Matt Moulson and he was thrilled to be able to come back, enjoyed his time here, we were his first choice. He had choices and this was a place where he wanted to be. Cody McCormick was the same thing, he felt that he was treated fairly here and his agent told me that he had other choices, but he made the call here and we got it done.”
“For the organization it’s a great day. I think our kids are sitting at home going, wow. They know these players, they’ve watched the National Hockey League and they know the quality of the play, they know the quality of the person, they know the character.” Murray added, “This changes the mindset is what it changes. I don’t consider us a contender by any means. Now the players might think differently and that’s good, but we have a lot of work to do and today was one day.”
You might notice there’s no player like John Scott on this team. Scott could only fight and to be honest, he never really understood how to do that role well. The role of defending teammates will fall on Cody McCormick. He’s not a heavyweight, not these days you don’t need that. You need players that can play and McCormick can kill penalties and play any of the three forward spots. He scored a few key goals for Minnesota after being traded to the Wild and had one season here in Buffalo where he netted seven. Both McCormick and Pat Kaleta are going to have to add to the offense if they want to remain Sabres. Murray said, “There are guys that are just considered fighters that are still looking for jobs today. You have to be able to play four lines if you’re going to be a top team. You watch L.A. play four lines, you watch Boston’s fourth line the last six, seven years its considered one of the best fourth lines in the game so you have to have guys on your fourth line that can play the game.”
Many fans were upset with Murray because they felt he did so well today that he took them out of a lottery pick for next year. I think you need to put the brakes on there. You got a much better defensive player in Gorges, but you lost some offense in Ehrhoff. Buffalo goaltending is still an unknown and they were a last place team when Moulson was playing in Buffalo. Don’t forget, 10 more wins and they’re still in the league’s bottom three and I think 10 more wins is very optimistic. The team should be better because I think the culture that Murray and Ted Nolan are creating will automatically make them better, but I really can’t see a huge jump this season. What I can see with Murray and this organization is improvement after they use their two of their first round picks from next year and from where I sit, they’ll have two lottery picks to use in a very strong draft.