The new general manager of the Buffalo Sabres, Tim Murray, spoke with ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun yesterday and shared some new thoughts on both Ryan Miller's future and his philosophy at the trade deadline.
We haven't heard a ton from Murray since his hiring, as he's been busy getting to know his new organization, evaluating the talent and meeting his staff, and traveling. Now that he's all settled in however, (he officially moved to Buffalo on Tuesday) Murray and his staff are finally starting to explore what's out there on the trade market, and are discussing what to do with the Sabres' biggest asset.
On what to do with the team's star goaltender, Murray shared a nuanced, but not-unexpected, answer.
"I think if Ryan thinks that we’re three years away from being competitive, at his age ... he’s not going to come out and ask for a trade, and I know that -- he’s been here a long time, and I wouldn't expect that. But you do have to be fair to a guy that has put his time in here and be realistic on what’s left and how much time it’s going to take. We were fair to guys in Anaheim and in Ottawa in the past. We traded Mike Fisher to Nashville. It’s not the best scenario, but I think I can figure out what deep down Ryan really wants and what’s fair to him. And maybe what’s fair to him is a chance to win a Cup."
But Murray was quick to add that he’s not trading Miller for sure.
"It depends on the market," he said.
That's nothing we didn't already know, though LeBrun notes in his article that at least one other GM around the league would rather keep Miller than open up another potential hole on a team already full of them.
Doing right by Miller at the deadline rather just dealing him for whatever they can get is the type of move that helps to solidify the Sabres organization as a place players want to play - it shows that the Sabres have more than just their bottom line at heart when thinking about the future.
However, Murray's comments regarding his trade philosophy were much more interesting (emphasis mine).
"We’re just starting to explore the market the last day or two," Murray said. "I’ve had some calls, and most of the calls are just generalities: 'If I can meet your demand, would you be willing to move him?’ So you have teams calling, for sure, and they’re asking about different players. Every team has a different need; the same names come up, obviously, as far as the forwards go. My mandate here is to get better. I don’t want a five-year rebuild, that’s not what I’m about. It’s about getting better, and if that means trading guys and getting assets for them, then that’s the way it will be."
The fact that Murray isn't looking to trade away every single older-than-20 asset that the organization has "just because" they're supposed to be rebuilding is a good thing. Every move should be made with the thought of getting better. Perhaps that means trading for more picks, though the Sabres already have a boatload both this year and next. Perhaps that means trading for an NHL-ready prospect, or young roster player. It could even mean not trading players, if the return won't be enough to improve the organization. The idea of trading someone for a bag of pucks, or addition by subtraction, does not seem to be in play here.
From his comments thus far, Murray doesn't seem like a man phased by public perception or expectations. He has his own ideas and philosophies, and will implement them as he sees fit, as he did when he changed the team's scouting computer system to fit the style and language he prefers. His first real test is still in front of him, but so far, he's saying and doing all the right things.
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