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Bryan Murray, Tim Murray, Pierre Dorion Speak

With the NHL Draft right around the corner, the Ottawa Senators had a massive media availability involving GM Bryan Murray, Assistant GM Tim Murray and Director of Player Personnel, monsieur Pierre Dorion. Video of which can be linked from here and here. But if you want to read a transcript of what was said, you've come to the right place. 

As always, my comments in bold

Up first, Mr. Bryan Murray. 

On being confident if the organization stands pat with the seventeenth overall selection…

“Well, there are certainly players that we believe will be there and certainly have an option. I think there’s some prospects that are legitimate prospects that bring some of the ingredients that we’re looking for. If we were picking (first overall) it’d be different, but we think in the first round, there’s a good supply of players.”

If you believe the Sens when they say they had Ceci fifth on their board last year, one can understand why they might be content to sit tight at 17.

On the team’s prospective chances of moving up in the draft…

“I think it will be difficult to move up from the indications that we’ve got. And I’ve talked to a number of teams now and they haven’t even given me a price to move up. So, as I’ve been told by a couple of managers, ‘It’s hard to move back to seventeen from where we are.’ Maybe on the day of the draft, someone will say, ‘If you give me X-player, I would consider it,’ but we haven’t been given that option so far.”

If trade talks to move up are developing slowly, at least the Senators have expressed their intent to move up to the 'majority' of the teams in the top ten, as we'll find out later in the interview. With a mixbag of prospects, we can only hope that some organization or GM who resides over a thin roster, is desperate enough to sacrifice a potentially better prospect for an accelerated rebuild that can be accomplished by adding the quantity and depth of prospects that Ottawa can offer.

On when he expects to hear a decision on Daniel Alfredsson’s decision to play or retire…

“Yeah, we’ll have an answer before the weekend I believe. I had a really good meeting with Daniel before he left to go back to Sweden. He gave me sort of a timeframe and hopefully before the draft, I will have a chance to at least understand what he’s thinking. And whether we make the final decision or he does at that time, I believe we’ll have a good indication.”

With the way that the season unfolded and the unbridled optimism and feel-good story atmosphere surrounding this team in 2013, did anyone actually have a moment of doubt that Alfie wouldn't return in 2013/14? Maybe like the rest of us, Murray and Alfie grew tired of the constant newspaper stories covering the stale 'will he or won't he' angle. 

On having a good feeling that Alfie will play next season…

“Yeah, I have a feeling he wants to play. That was certainly something that he wanted to look at further. Whether that will be the final answer or not, I don’t know at this point. He felt good when he talked to me. He said he felt healthy; he hadn’t worked out much. He wanted to do that starting this week and I think that’s all he was waiting for to feel good about another summer of working hard and getting ready for a hockey season. As I’ve said, he didn’t want to give me an answer until he had at least started that process.”

Can't imagine a scenario where Alfie announces his retirement on the eve of the draft. Would totally swamp news of whomever Sens draft.

On Alfie having the passion or will being the biggest thing to keep going…

“I think Alfie always has that. He has a real understanding of what it takes to be ready to play; what he can bring to the table for the team and how he can contribute in other ways. I’ve talked about intangibles with him – the leadership, the day-to-day conversation and the compete level in practice with the young players. Just all of that to me is important and he can bring that, I believe. I think he agrees with that, it’s just a matter of, for him, it’s more than that – he doesn’t want to be a player that is just hanging on. He wants to be a player who can contribute and I agree with that. For his sake and for people who watch him play, he wants to be able to give it at a good level and then based on whether he feels he can do that, then I believe he’ll continue to play.”

Wonder how real the buzz is about Alfie possible signing a two-year deal.

On whether he thinks Alfie is a player who is just hanging on…

“Oh no, he’s the opposite of that to me this year. I thought he was a good player for our hockey team in a year that was kind of difficult in a lot of ways – and from an injury point of view in particular because of the new guys coming into the lineup on a regular basis. I thought Alfie was a real contributor.”

Was not expecting Alfie to play as many games as he did in the compressed schedule.

On there being anything else he can do to convince Alfie to keep playing…

“I’m not going to do that. I think if you get into a debate (with the player) about playing or not playing, I don’t think that helps the process at all. It’s simply up to him to make a decision that he can contribute and he feels good about it and is able to do it. If that’s the case, then I’d want him to play, but I’m certainly going to wait for him to make the decision. I’m not going to pursue it until I get the call.”

Right tact.

On Alfie’s postponement of a decision affecting the intents of the organization in free agency…

“Well, when you get into free agency, guys have to make the decision based on a lot of reasons to come to a city to play. Part of it is financial obviously, but (free agents) want to come to a team that has a chance to win and that too. If we have Alfie, we know that he is better than most free agents that we could get.”

Even if Alfie postured, who really cares how much it impacts the team's efforts in free agency? It's such a weak crop of candidates, that you can't really concern yourself with how much the captain's presence (or lack thereof) will affect some plug's intent to fight for a job on one of Ottawa's bottom two lines. Assuming the Senators actively pursue some deals, if this team is immediately looking to get better quickly, they're more likely to rely on internal growth and/or a trade, before looking at noteworthy UFAs. 

On whether he feels like he has to make some moves to make this team better or whether he’ll just continue to let the roster grow…

“Well, I think we can continue to let it grow. I don’t think there’s any question we have got a core group here now that are good. We have got some good young players that are really coming forward. Unless something strange happens, a number of them are going to get better through the natural process of playing in the league and understanding what it takes to play in the league – having a summer to work real hard and get stronger and all the rest of it. But, I’d like to (make a move) to be able to add a piece to our team to take a bigger step, if we could do that. We know it’s difficult, but we’re going to try.”

What more can you ask for of the GM?

On getting the sense that guys are going to be more available now that the Stanley Cup Finals are over…

“I don’t think a lot, but there will be some, there’s no question. There’s always a few players that will be available that you can go talk about. You just have to make sure if you do that, at least I feel you have to… we’re not at the stage where we were a few years ago, where we just went and got a couple of veterans because we had to get a couple of veterans. I think we’re at a stage where we have to be somewhat selective and I’m going to try and be that way with our staff.”

It's an equally fine balance that any GM strives for. There's no question that Ottawa's cultivation of prospects has afforded them the opportunity to be patient, but at the same time, you don't want to have any nagging concerns that the organization has or will grow too attached to the prospects and players that they're responsible for bringing into the fold. 

On what selective more specifically means…

“(A player) that can come in and play and contribute. Not just fill a spot. Not just be there because he’s a veteran hockey player that has been around. A guy that can come in and play in a definite role with this hockey team and contribute in that role.”

In other words, I think the organization is done gambling on inexpensive, low risk/moderate upside plays like Guillaume Latendresse or Peter Regin. 

On what kind of player he’s looking for to complement the success of the hockey team…

“Well, there’s no particular type at the moment that I’m going to divulge. I think that would be playing into the hands of an agent that maybe I’m trying to talk to a little bit right now.”

If I had to wager a guess, I'd put money on it being Ryane Clowe. 

On where Ottawa’s needs align at seventeen…

“Like every group, I think we have a good core of young players coming, but there’s no question that there are a couple of roles that we’re trying to fill. But maybe Pierre (Dorion) or Tim (Murray) can address that better than me. I think the group that we have now is fairly rounded, but there’s no question there’s particular types that we’re looking for.”

Well this team could use scoring so maybe a goal-scorer?

On drafting a forward because they drafted a defenceman in the first round last year…

“No, I don’t think there’s (a need) as far as a goalie right now. Either the forward or defence, I think if we get the quality guy that we’re looking at, we’re just going to be happy and pick him.”

I am fine with this.

On getting the sense that the teams drafting high are talking about moving…

“Yeah, I’ve talked to a few. I haven’t talked to every single one from one to seven or eight, but I have talked to the majority of them. And they’re trying to get from me, rather than give up a pick, so it’s not really that they’re legitimate in offering to flip picks.”

If teams are asking Ottawa to give up their first rounder without giving up an earlier first rounder of their own, then hopefully this just tells you something about the quality of this draft. If anything, it provides some reassurance that the seventeenth pick still carries some significant weight in a trade or that Senators should be able to find some useful talent if they stand pat.

On what the organization is looking for…

“The same as every year – the best player available. We think we’re pretty deep in most positions. Pierre and his (scouts) in the last three or four drafts have done a tremendous job. It’s a cliché to guys but it is, I stand here to you guys and say, ‘(We’ll pick) the best player available.’ At seventeen, if you look back at past drafts, it’s tough to get an impact defenceman at that point, so I’ll let you guys figure that out. I would say that the percentages says that it will be a forward, but maybe a (defenceman) drops. Every year, a good (defenceman) is dropped, as we’ve seen in the last couple (of drafts), so (we’ll take) the best player available.”

Be curious to hear Tim elaborate on first round percentages and different player types. 

On getting an impact forward at seventeen and whether the draft is deep…

“I don’t think it’s as deep as I’ve been told by you guys. But in saying that, I think the top end is good. I think the first couple of rounds are decent. I think at the top of the first round is very good, obviously. I think it’s a decent draft. I find that we find out after a couple of years which draft is good and which draft wasn’t good. We can talk about it beforehand, but it plays out. And your original question, ‘Can a guy play at seventeen?’ Sure he can. Are we expecting that? No. You saw a guy last night, Patrice Bergeron, who was drafted in the second round at 160 pounds and none of us expected him to play (in his first year) and all he’s done is come in and play great since his draft year. So, does it happen? Yes, it happens.”

So Bryan Murray wants to trade up and Tim Murray doesn't think the draft is as deep as has been reported, okay, (deep breath). I don't want to get my hopes up thinking that the Senators are going to move up in the draft to grab an elite young talent, but yeah, it's kind of exciting to hear that the organization is aggressively trying to make something happen.

On the enticement to move up…

“The enticement to moving up is we get a player on our list that we think is better. Now we’ll find out if we were right in a couple of years, but that is why you move up. The draft changes – this year, you could say there is the three top guys and then there is another five, and then there is another five and then another six. But wherever that gate is up, it goes up at different years. But obviously, we want to move up for a reason and that is to get a guy that we think is better than a guy where we’ll be picking.”

Funny to remember how pissed people were when the Sens traded their pick in 2010 draft on the floor for Rundblad, hahaha. Yes, fans definetely prefer moving up to that.

On understanding why teams are reluctant to trade down…

“No, I mean, for sure. If we were picking in the top five or top ten, it would be extremely hard for him to come to Pierre and I, and say, ‘We have a chance to move down. We can get a third line center, we can get the 20th pick in the draft and a second round pick.’ It sounds exciting, but if the whole amateur staff is in the suite in New York and that comes up, the chances are that we’re going to say no. But saying that, there are teams out there that need NHL players – and they’ve stated it. There are teams out there that are very thin. We feel that we are very, very deep. We feel that we have a lot of young depth that we have drafted, we’ve developed that we like a lot, but we’re not shopping them. But, if that scenario came up, we feel comfortable helping another team out with NHL players. And I think there’s that part of it that could come into it, but with that said, it’s hard (for other team's) to move down.”

It's a great point. The only thing moving down the draft boards these days is Seth Jones. 

On when those kinds of trade discussions will take place…

“That will happen Saturday. That’ll happen Saturday, for sure.”

Am psyched for crazy draft weekend rumours.

On picking up size and grit this year…

“The bigger, the better, that’s what we want. But in saying that, a guy like (Jean-Gabriel) Pageau comes  up and plays for us this year – probably a couple years sooner than a lot of people thought and all that stuff and it was a great story. He played well. There are certain guys that the size doesn’t seem to matter. They are extremely driven. They’ve got tremendous hockey sense and they can skate. And there are certain people that you have a hard time keeping out of the league, despite their words. We would love to get a big power forward, there’s no question, but we’re not going to go by good players on our list just because of size.”

Amen

On having an organizational plan and areas that the Senators have to look at…

“No, I don’t think we are. I think what will happen is, the later the draft goes, Pierre will lean on area guys a little more. I think it’s harder to have a consensus in the sixth round. I think you’re looking at guys who two guys have seen and four guys haven’t seen. So I think that’s where the area guys become extremely important. We talk about (Mark) Stone a lot. Did Pierre see Stone? Absolutely, but Bobby Lowes knew Stone very well, so you lean on your area guys later in the draft and I think that’s why we have them. They have a voice. So I would say the first two or three picks are consensus picks for sure and I think after that, it’s your area guy with your head guy that that’s the right guy (to draft).”

Good candour into the process here.

 

On his thoughts of the draft and Ottawa’s position at seventeen…

“I think we’re in a good position this year. Picking at seventeen, obviously we made the playoffs. But picking at seventeen, I think as a group, we’ve done a good here with picks in the teens – taking (Cody) Ceci last year at fifteen and taking (Erik) Karlsson at fifteen also. So, I think we’re really looking forward to this draft and I think it’s a good draft. As Tim mentioned before, I think some people overrate the draft because the draft has now become a bigger and bigger deal. But, I still think that we’re going to get players for the Senators in the future.”

Winning a round and still being able to pick 17 ain't too shabby at all for a rebuilding club.

On having any specific needs that they’re going to look for that number…

“No, it’s boring to answer but it’s always the best player available. And that’s what we’ve done in the past. We haven’t really focused on a position. I think the year that we ended up with the three first round picks, we made it a key that we wanted to draft forwards. And we took (Mika) Zibanejad, (Stefan) Noesen and (Matt) Puempel and we all feel that all three are going to be good NHL players in due time, but this year… Last year, it was… when we got to fifteen, it was (Cody) Ceci or another player, and the other player was a forward, but it doesn’t really matter what we try, we don’t look for specifics. It’s pretty much just (draft) the best player available.”

Dang. Was hoping few Alfreddson replacements would be available.

On having five or six players that they’ve identified as being available at seventeen and would they talk to them beforehand…

“I think in the past, last year we talked about having Ceci in our top five on our list, so we were ecstatic when we came to him. I think if you look at our list, if you look from eleven, twelve to sixteen –is probably the range that we are going to pick (from). And we’ve done our homework. We’ve had four guys in here in Ottawa a few weeks ago. We took them out to supper and we had them on the ice skating – just a visual for Bryan and Tim; even though Tim had seen these four guys. From there, we have a feeling that it could be one of those four or it could be someone maybe above on our list. You never know, if we move back, it could be someone later.”

Thanks to Twitter, we know that two of the players who came to Ottawa were left wingers Kerby Rychel and Adam Erne. As of yet, the other two names have not been disclosed yet and oddly enough, no one asked a follow up question to find out which four players attended.

On prospects being able to separate themselves and what the organization is looking for at seventeen…

“At that point in time, you’re obviously looking for a good player. Most of the time at seventeen, the player won’t play for you right away, but I think you’re still looking at someone in the short-term that can still do something. Maybe not at 19 years old but maybe at 21 – compare that if you’re picking earlier, you’re looking for someone to play for you as quickly as possible. Like Zibanejad played for us at 19 this year, but compared to if you’re picking later in the draft, you’re just hoping that someone can lace up skates.”

Projectability is a key that is so often overlooked by fans and the media. It's such a 'what have you done for me lately?' mentality. Who could forget fans last season criticizing the selection of Zibanejad before Couturier? One season later, we know it's just another example of one season not making a career.

On Colorado making statements like them picking MacKinnon and how it affects the draft…

“I don’t think it really affects much. It’s not going to affect who we’re going to take at seventeen with what they’re doing at one. So for us, we’re just looking at what they do is fine, and they’re going to get a chance to take – whether it’s one of three or one of four great players – it’s going to be good for their organization.”

I am enjoying very much how much Patrick Roy is choosing to say.

On whether the organization bothers to rank the top end guys…

“No, we rank everyone. I think I’m at liberty to say, we had, for the guys who see everyone, we had three different guys number one. And it was pretty intense and Bryan sometimes kids me, ‘I think I can get the number one pick,’ and I say, ‘Oh!’. But it would be a very healthy discussion. I don’t think it’s going to happen, you guys know that but we’ve had very healthy discussions. Bryan and Tim, from day one, have said, ‘Prepare for every scenario,’ so we prepare for every scenario.”

What an odd question. What exactly do people think Dorion and his staff do all year?

On how big the Senators master list is…

“This year, it’s 1 to 150, I think. And sometimes there are healthy discussions between 78 and 79 because maybe that’s our third round pick or maybe that’s our fourth round pick and we have to be prepared for that scenario. We meet for a long week and we go through every process. This year, we went through our first 17 and we talked of our first 17 on list with everyone on our scouting staff. And I really want to emphasize that everyone that gets a chance to see everyone on our scouting staff has a big word to say. We have a great scouting staff here and it’s just not me, or Tim or Bryan – it’s the guys who do a lot of the work. And we discuss every scenario from 1 to 17 – like, ‘Is everyone in this room happy (with) whomever we take from the first 17 on our list?’”

Ditto on this one.

On the specifics of the players brought into Ottawa…

“Yeah, we talked about it. We brought in four guys. We have a feeling, whether it was the guys from 11 to 17 or maybe it was a guy after the top 17 on our list that we just wanted to get another look at. We brought in four guys that we think could be in the mix for our pick, and we had a great meal at Big Rig. They went out and skated. We had tests for them and we had a chance to get to know them better. At the combines in interviews, we only have 20 minutes with these guys. And when you get to spend a day and a half with them, you get to know them a bit more as people and individuals and you get to know what makes them tick as hockey players; and we find that is very important.”

Biggin' up the Big Rig.

On finding that these intimate sessions means that the players aren’t as rehearsed for them…

“Guys are so well prepared now that I can’t say. They’re still well prepared and coached, but I can’t say that anything comes to us as a surprise. We know enough on the kids and what they’re all about that we can grill them one-on-one or find out more in a group concept on how they function.”

On publications that characterize Ottawa as one of the best drafting organization right now…

“I’d tell you Ottawa, but I think if you look at a lot of publications, I think we’re well ranked. I wouldn’t say we’re the best drafting team. I think sometimes there’s a little bit of luck into everything we do. I think we had Erik (Karlsson) seventh on our list and we picked fifteen, so we were lucky. The year that Jared (Cowen) had a knee injury, I don’t think he falls to us if he’s healthy all year. We had Cody (Ceci) in our top five last year, so we felt we did a good job there. I think we’ve done a good job here as a group and credit goes also to Randy Lee and Chris Schwarz (for) the way they have developed our players. I think it’s a whole team concept. As far as who’s (the best drafting team), a lot of teams do a lot of good things. I think if you look at the two teams that were in the (Stanley Cup) Finals, you look at their core of players – Chicago picked Toews two or three and they picked Kane one, but some of the other players like Duncan Keith was a second rounder, Corey Crawford, if I’m not mistaken, was a third. If you look at Boston, Lucic was a second rounder. Bergeron was a second rounder. Krejci was a second rounder, if I’m not mistaken. So I think, you’re always ranked on what you do in the first round, but sometimes it’s the bulk of your work that really shows that you’re doing a good job. I always tell our guys that, ‘When you get good guys in the second and third round, it shows that you’re not just working towards what you can do in the first round.’ But in our business, we’re always ranked towards what we do in the first round.”

Just goes to show the value of a second round pick in the hands of smart scouts.

On how many picks Ottawa has this year…

“We have six if I’m not mistaken, or seven – a first, a third, two fourths, two sixths and a seventh.

Great question.

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