Sabres GM Tim Murray and head coach Dan Bylsma met with the media this morning to discuss the draft and the team's off-season plans. Here are some of the more interesting things we learned.
Bylsma hires assistants
Sabres keeping Johnson
Buffalo acquired goalie Chad Johnson from the Islanders at the deadline this year, but he was injured before ever suiting up for the Sabres. He is signed through this season, and it sounds like Murray expects him to be back next season. He said Buffalo will be looking to add to goalies this off-season, one to pair with Johnson and another to backup in Rochester until Linus Ullmark returns from his hip injury. Murray said he would like to trade for a younger goalie.
Murray gives a Grigorenko update
Tim Murray said the team is planning to qualify Grigorenko, and discussed the differences between the two when it comes to negotiations. Not surprisingly, Grigorenko and his agent believe that he is ready for the NHL, but Murray and the Sabres think he may need more time in the minors.
Murray said the Sabres are offering a two-way deal, but said he believed that the type of deal does not matter. If Grigorenko is as talented as he believes, he'll start in Buffalo even if he's on a two-way deal.
Almost all get qualifying options
Murray will be retaining the rights to most of his restricted free agents. He said the Sabres expected to extend qualifiers to Johan Larsson, Tim Schaller, Phil Varone and Jerry D'Amigo. He will not be sending offers to Zac Dalpe and Kevin Sundher, meaning both will be unrestricted free agents and likely be leaving the organization.
He was non-commital about Jordan Samuels-Thomas, Nathan Lieuwen and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc. He said he hasn't made a decision on any of these players yet, but would pursue an AHL deal with Gauthier-Leduc and Lieuwen.
Murray discusses drafting a goalie
It wasn't the first time that Tim Murray discussed taking a goalie as early as 21, which seems more and more likely every time he brings it up. The talk was mostly surrounding Russian Ilya Samsonov, who will likely be the first tender off the board. Murray said he isn't worried about Samsonov signing a three-year deal in the KHL. He talked with the young goalie in Detroit this week.
No update on Rochester coaching search
The Amerks are still without a head coach, and Tim Murray said there is no timetable yet for when they will hire one. Rochester has struggled as of late, and Murray said that he hopes to have more success on the farm going forward.
Hackett return doesn't sound promising
Matt Hackett didn't play in enough NHL games this season to allow the Sabres to retain his rights at a restricted free agent. He'll be heading to the open market, and Murray doesn't seem too urgent. Hackett's agent has called Murray twice, but the Sabres GM hasn't returned those calls due to dealing with other business.