Pat LaFontaine has made his first big splash as the President of Hockey Operations for the Buffalo Sabres in naming Tim Murray the new general manager. In addition, LaFontaine also announced the club will bring in Craig Patrick as a special assistant.
Murray, the nephew of Senators general manager Bryan Murray, had been working in Ottawa as the assistant general manager for the last seven years. Patrick, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, had been working in a similar role for the Columbus Blue Jackets for the past few years.
The duo will have their work cut out for them as the Sabres currently rank last in the 30 team league. With less than two months until the NHL trade deadline, there will be heavy interest in a number of the Sabres unrestricted free agents.
While the focus will be on Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, and Matt Moulson, do not expect a big trade just for the sake of Murray making a trade. “I can’t go out and tell you right now I’m trading all pending UFAs if there’s no market to trade them,” Murray stated but continued with, “This team is in last place right now. Everybody can be traded”. Murray acknowledge that the cupboard in Buffalo is not bare and he would like to “put an emphasis on the development of the people already here”.
The second major issues facing the new general managers is the fate of head coach Ted Nolan. Nolan, who was brought in earlier this season after the firing of Ron Rolston, appears to be safe for now. However, even if Nolan is safe for now, the new front office must decide if Nolan is the man of the future.
Murray stated his philosophy is “You build a team through doing well in the draft. Free agency puts you over the top”. If that is the case, Murray will have plenty of opportunities to trade for even more draft picks over the next few weeks to aid this rebuild.
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Around the Rink Contributor Joe Catanzaro – @JoeCatNYR9
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