This afternoon on the Team 1200‘s Healthy Scratches, Senators Assistant GM Tim Murray was on to talk to Jason York and Steve Lloyd about the playoff match up with the New York Rangers, scouting Erik Karlsson, and liking fourteen prospects in the upcoming draft. The interview itself lasts for almost twenty minutes, so I’m not going to bother transcribing all of it. It was a worthwhile listen, so I encourage you to check it out. Now having said that, here are a few nuggets of information that interested me.
As always, my thoughts are in bold.
York: When you look at the Bingo grads who won (the Calder Cup) and made that jump, how much stock to do you put in how good that program has become?
TM: Well, I put everything into it. It’s development. I don’t know the percentages but your first, second and third overall picks normally play in the league right away. But there are seven rounds in the draft and thirty players per round. There are college free agents. There are free agents out of junior. There are European free agents. There are a ton of players that have to develop and get better before they get to the National Hockey League and the best way to do that is (through) the American Hockey League. I think we have a good program down there. We’re well coached. It’s all about teaching. Last year we won with a pretty good team. Another surprise, I think all of the experts, if I remember reading The Hockey News and some predictions for the American League before last year, but this year now we’re not too good down there in terms of points but we’re still going to get players out of there. You know there were a few things that happened to start this year: Lee Sweatt retired in August and he was my (Andre) Benoit type player this year and you need that top defenceman down there to help your kids and make the power play effective and your special teams effective. Mark Parrish was my other vet guy and he’s played hard when he’s played but he hasn’t been able to play a lot. The veterans that I have put in there, and I’m responsible for that, the veterans that I’ve put in there this year certainly weren’t near the guys last year like Benoit, like Keller, like Potulny. I mean, those were special players and we let them move on in certain cases. Potulny, we owned his rights, and he wanted to move on. He wanted to an opportunity and there was no point in keeping a guy who doesn’t want to be there.
Sadly, this may be the last time Lee Sweatt’s name ever appears on this blog.
Lloyd: Of all the call ups that you’ve had, I can’t remember a guy this year who didn’t appear ready.
TM: No, they’re ready to play. Again, I bring up the coaching. They don’t coach the exact same system as we have here but what they do coach is accountability and responsibility. Play the game properly. Play the game hard. I mean, if you look at some of… we’ve got a couple smaller guys – now Andre Petersson, who’s a smaller player and so they’re not supposed to play the game hard. They’re not supposed to compete like a Canadian does but he for the most part has. And those are the lessons that we’re trying to instill down there and if you want to play up here, you have to play hard. You’ve heard Paul’s mantra all year about skating 200’ and playing properly and that’s what we’re trying to do down there. From a Bingo standpoint it hasn’t been a successful year but when you see four or five of those players become NHL players, from a development perspective, it is still successful.
Lloyd: How many black aces do you want for the start of the playoffs?
TM: Around eight. I’m going to guess around eight. I think three defencemen. I think one goaltender and three, four or five forwards I would believe would be the number.
Smart money’s on: Lehner (goaltender); Gryba/Wiercioch/Borowiecki (defencemen); and Petersson/Da Costa/Hoffman. Perhaps a Dziurzynski or a Grant get the nod as well.
York: What’s the plan, if you can say, for Mika?
TM: The plan is, he’s going to go down there (to Binghamton) to play in the two games this weekend. Randy Lee is going to go down to watch. I’ve asked Jimmy Clark and Rob Murphy, our two pro scouts, to go down and watch. And not to go down and see if he can score, I want to see his energy level. I want to see if he’s active. I want to see if he forechecks. I want to see if he plays at the same pace that he played here in earlier in the year and that he played at the world juniors at. For the most part, he was sick a long time over there. He had a cold and something else that he couldn’t kind of shake. He’s lost some weight. He was concussed. So if we are legitimately thinking about putting him in down the road here, you know that anything can happen here – injuries; somebody’s not going. I find when you add someone to the lineup, you want to add energy, you want to add jump, you want to add somebody who can help you. Certainly, in his case, when you’re burning a year (of his ELC), which really doesn’t bother me at all, we’re not going to get into the CBA aspects here but the burning the year thing for me doesn’t mean anything. He’s a top end player who’s going to get his money. He’s going to get his term here down the road. I don’t think it really matters that he’s one year closer to arbitration rights, that’s not the point. In saying that, it is a big decision and you want to be sure that he does bring you that jump, that life and that energy and anything after that is a bonus. So they’re going to keep a close eye on him down there and see where he’s at from a physical standpoint.
I’ve re-read this blurb about four or five times now and it still seems like the negatives outweigh the positives. I’ll come back to this later.
Lloyd: The burned ELC year is overplayed. He’s no closer to free agency because it’s not an accrued NHL season. If he burns his year, he burns his year. He’s going to get his money because he is a top end guy.
TM: It’s either he’s going to get his money or we made a major mistake and I don’t think we made a mistake. He’s going to get his money. He’s going to have a long career. We hope it’s here in Ottawa. Actually, by burning his year, we get rid of potentially the one year of bonuses that he could make. As I talked to his agent yesterday, neither side is sure who gains by burning a year – does the player gain or does the organization gain? Because he’s got three years of potentially decent bonus money, you have to assume that he would achieve that in his third year, if he played three years in the National Hockey League. Now you’re removing one of those years. Guys that achieve bonuses, you don’t mind paying them because they did work them. But, there is the potential there that he does not max out his full earning power by burning year. Again, that’s not a reason why we’d do it, I’m just giving you both sides of burning a year. I know it’s a big topic and people are worried about it but this could come back and bite us down the road but I don’t think it hurts us to burn a year and I really believe that.
“But this could come back and bite us down the road…”? I’m sold. Free Mika!
Lloyd: Is the plan for Silfverberg to come over as soon as the SEL finals are done?
TM: Yes, the plan from day one that I’ve been talking to his agent from when the playoffs have started, we’ve made it clear that we want him here. They’re going to do their due diligence with the national team and get his release from there is what I’m told. When he’s done there, we want him here. He wants to be here. Playing in another World Championships is great but first is coming here and being around. If that’s the least that he gets out of it is just being around and seeing what happens here around North American playoff time, legitimately I can see him getting into the lineup. He’s a hell of a player. It’s not like you’re putting a kid in the lineup. He’s three years in the elite league over there. He’s the MVP of the elite league – second youngest ever, I believe. He’s the straw that stirs Brynas’ drink and they’re probably going to win a championship. Apart from playing in the American League, his development has been outstanding. We all believe he’s ready for the next step.
Umm, nails much?
Lloyd: He’s the most ready prospect that you have in the organization, is that fair?
TM: I think so. You never know how they react. I mean, if you were to put Mika in, or if you were to put Mark Stone in, or if you were to put Silfverberg in, I would pick Silfverberg now as being the most ready but who knows in a couple games who is ready to do what.
For what it’s worth, Mark Stone’s Brandon Wheat Kings could be swept and eliminated in their WHL semifinals series versus the Edmonton Oil Kings. Not too sure what to make from Murray’s comments considering that: a) he has no problem putting Zibanejad in for one game and burning his ELC’s first year; and b) he sees Silfverberg getting into the lineup when he comes over. Does this mean that Stone could potentially be a lineup possibility should his Wheat Kings be eliminated tonight? I’m not entirely sure, especially after Stone missed the third period in game three of the series with an undisclosed injury.
As Bob Cole would say, everything is happening!!!
Other News of Pithy Importance
– HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman voted for Erik Karlsson as his Norris Tropy winner.
– More 30 Thoughts from Friedman:
3. Team broadcasters pick the Adams winner. Sounds like it’s going to come down to Ken Hitchcock and Paul MacLean, both very deserving.
5. Biggest on-ice adjustment MacLean made? Asking his defencemen (other than Karlsson) to try and make plays. Ottawa was a real get-it-off-the-glass-and-out team. He wanted puck possession and challenged them to make good passes, even up the middle.
– For Slam Sports, Bruce Garrioch is staking the claim that Ottawa should be Canada’s adopted team for this year’s playoffs.
– Puck Daddy‘s Sean Leahy picked the Rangers to win in five games in their series preview.
– Should either of the Vancouver Canucks or Ottawa Senators win the Stanley Cup this season, Boston Pizza has pledged to give away 10,000 pizzas to the victor’s city.