Tim Murray Speaks: Ceci, Mika, Trades? & More

Yes we are getting tired of transcribing stuff, but Tim Murray is a great interview dammit!

The Assistant GM's full In The Box appearance can be heard here,or via streaming the embedded audio below.

My thoughts in bold.

On Cody Ceci being invited to camp…

Yeah, I think what we want to do here with Cody is reset him, reset his season. This certainly is no disreprect to the 67's, they've had a tough year…he's part of it. He's gonna move on now to a better team, obviously when you get traded from a low team to a higher team. He's gonna be counted on there heavily, and he's gotta be ready for that. And I think by coming in here, and getting a little bit of coaching from our guys on what we expect in the second half from him – it's a different situation so expectations are different. Put a lot of the onus on him to step up his game, and I think by starting him here with good players here it gives him a chance to just walk in there and you know have no issues on changing teams.

Can't say the Senators haven't been pro-active with Ceci's development. Back in December, Tim Murray confirmed they'd had Jason Smith working with him one-on-one.

On how realistic Ceci's chances are to make the team…

We're not telling him he can't make the team, and if he comes in here and if he's the best defenseman he can make the team. But, in saying that he should understand there's some pretty good defenseman here, there's some pretty good defenseman in Binghamton, and right now in the depth chart they're ahead of him. Can he move ahead of them? We'll see. All these kids know where they stand, they know the depth chart, they know where they stand, they all think they're ready to play. But, you know being realistic he's gonna come in here and try his best, and probably move on.

As a fan, this will at least be a good gauge to see how far Ceci is from being "NHL-ready".

On Stefan Noesen being in camp…

We're leaning towards bringing him. For the simple fact he's had a ten game suspension, he's not eligible til Friday with his team I believe. So we're thinking same thing, he's been out a long time, get him in here, see where he is in his development's number one for us. I mean, we've watched him play a lot in junior, but NHL camp is not junior. Maybe if he has to go back…maybe the camp here being around the pros, the high-tempo, he hasn't played in awhile. Plymouth might be extremely happy that we do that, and he hits the ice for them, and is ready to go, and hopefully it'd be like he hasn't missed a game.

Good carrot to hand the player, watching the USA convingingly take the gold in Ufa would of been bittersweet…and probably slightly more bitter than sweet.

On Zibanejad's status…

Well he's on the ice everyday. He's been monitored everyday. When you're working out in the gym and then when you're skating on the ice that can all go very well, and than it's how you feel after. Since Tueday he's had no issues, and felt very good after. Luke feels he's getting in better shape….we feel he could play this weekend.

Good news. Still be a little surprised to see him in camp, considering he hasn't played in six weeks, of course there will be at least of few of those in camp anyway. Wait and see I guess.

On if the concussions Mika suffered last year are why they're being so cautious…

Well there are a lot of factors. One, he's a high pick and he's a young guy. Two is, in Binghamton we're winning every night. So you don't have to do in quotations 'stupid things', and we didn't have to. So I just said to Luke here, we just have to shut him down, and I talked to Randy Lee about, let's just shut him down, let's just get him right. Fortunately we were in a position, where we didn't have to rush him, we were still winning. I think when you you're winning great things happen, byproduct of winning are many things, but in one of them you don't have to rush a guy back, you can take your time, you can sure that you don't make a mistake with them. Glen down there has done a great job with him, he came up to Ottawa and worked with our people up here a little bit and did a great job with him. I think now actually he's been out so long that he felt he could play before we allowed him to play, so I think that's a good situation.

Applauding the organization taking the conservative longview here.

On the possibility of bringing in another defenseman via trade or free agency…

Yeah, we've been working the phones, I was on the phone a lot yesterday at home, and Bryan here in the office. Certainly agents are calling us for the lesser guys, you know "my guy's ready, he's available he's in great shape" that's the message you get from them all. And some of those guys wouldn't be your first choice, but that's not to say they wouldn't be useful defenceman. I think that the phones with the other GM's are heating up, so Bryan is certainly…we're gonna find out what's available, what the price is , and then that's the decision you have to make. Would I be surprised if we traded for one defenseman? No. Obviously you guys can see it, everybody in the league can see it, when you look at our depth chart that's where we're a litlte bit short right now because of injuries. But in saying that you do have to give your kids a chance at some point too, to find out if they're ready. You know, we've seen these kids for three years, none of them are first year players; Benoit's a veteran, I would call Patrick a veteran in the AHL, I'd call Gryba a veteran in the AHL, I'd call Borowiecki a veteran in the AHL. They're inexperienced NHL players, but everybody was at one time. So, we'll work the phones and if can get better than them then we will, but I think we're pretty confident that one or two out of this group of four will do a tremendous job for us.

Could be wrong, but it looks like the brass is going to give this Bingo grouping at least some time to see if they can hack it before they'd pull the trigger on a trade.

On the organization's goaltending depth…

It's a position that takes time. You can draft four or five goalies over a four, five, or six year period and come out with nothing. And that is no disrepct to your scouting staff, it's attrition. We've seen lots of goalies picked very high that didn't turn out, and we've seen goalies picked in the mid-rounds that now are players. Robin's in his third year, he's had a tremendous year, we know he's a #1 goalie in the league…eventually, and we're quite confident him. And you trade a second for Bishop, and what he's done. They're probably the biggest twosome or tandem in hockey as far as that goes, they've both played great down there. Everybody saw what Anderson did here last year, he got us to the playoffs, he was great against the Rangers. So we're quite confident in our goaltending. And uh, the two guys we drafted last year are farther along the line but now we have depth here, we got guys coming, and I think that's the kind of progression you want.

This sounds like a guy loathe to take a goalie in the first-round.

On if Lehner's two-way contract and Bishop's one-way will affect the organization's mindset in camp…

Not for me. If Paul tells us that Lehner should be his guy, then we'll listen. But the way the other two guys can play the game…we're confident in those two guys in the net too, so if it's Bishop and Anderson or Anderson and Bishop, that's what it was last year or for part of last year and we were a playoff team. Anderson played great so if he comes in here and gets going right off the bat…and the other two guys have been playing. I don't know if I'm answering your question, but I"m confident in all three guys. I mean if you told me Robin Lehner was our starter tomorrow, I'd be happy with that. If you told me Bishop and Anderson would be the two guys, I'm happy with that. I think they're all quite capable of being top ten or so goalies in the league…and um, the contract may come into play.

Last six words hold a great deal of the truth.


Tim Murray Speaks

Assistant GM Tim Murray made an appearance on The Drive yesterday afternoon, the bulk of which is transcribed below. The big news of Zibanejad staying in Bingo (rather than playing in the WJC) was explained from the organization's perspective. Among other topics hit on were Lehner's hot start, the job Luke Richardson has done, and if Tim would like to see Cody Ceci moved to a contender.

As always, my thoughts are in bold.

On what he is doing to keep himself busy these days…

“Lots of different things – the AHL, this weekend I’m going to do some college free agents finally. I’ve been through the OHL and seen the Super Series and the under-18s. (I’ve been) talking to lots of different people – agents and that so you always find a way to put in your day.”

If only there was another Justin Schutz to pluck, amirite? Dude is killing it … *shakes fist in Edmonton's direction*

On Mika Zibanejad not playing in the WJC, and playing in the AHL being the best road to take for his development…

“Yep, it is… Without going into our internal stuff too much, that’s a big part of it, the been there done that kind of thing. I think the keys to becoming a real good pro are focus and preparation and I think that is what we’re trying to do with all our young kids down there. I think we’re the youngest team in the league down there and we’re having some success in low scoring, tight games. To take him out of that to go back to being a wheel and getting his bum patted every second and minute in Sweden when he has already been through that. We’re trying to instill different things in him that aren’t instilled at that level and we just basically, it comes down to it, we don’t see that helping his progression to become a good pro.”

Who am I to argue if they think this is what's best for Mika's development? The Senators are in a position to control his playing environment. As opposed to last year, which is something Tim didn't shy away from criticising in August with regards to Djurgarden“Unless you’re there every day you don’t know, but I can say there were times they didn’t (put him in the role they promised). Consistently, they didn’t. There were probably times we didn’t see them play that they did. Overall, no, it wasn’t a great experience, that’s for sure. … Nothing is ever a waste of time so it wasn’t a waste of time, but it was close to that I guess."

On being worried about Swedish backlash…

“Yeah, we’re not worried about that. We have to do what’s best for the kid. We have to do what’s best for the Ottawa Senators organization. Obviously he was consulted on this. His agent, Craig (Oster) and I had many conversations over the last two weeks about it and you want to make sure that you’re doing the right thing. And that means that they have to be on board, certainly. They know what we believe but they have to be on board and I think we are all on the same page and we came to the same conclusion that if he’s going to be a good NHL player, either this year or next year, being away from pro hockey for a month and away from Luke (Richardson) down there is not what we think is the best thing.”

SteffeG had a post on this yesterday…but at the risk of sounding like a jilted Swede myself, I do think there is some truth to the argument that if the Senators had a top Canadian prospect who had scored the OT winning WJC goal last year, they'd be less prone to draw a firm line and keep him in the AHL

Suspect a lot of this comes down to the distance involved in travelling to Ufa, Russia and playing on international ice. If this year's WJC was in North Dakota (on NA ice) like it was during the 04-05 lockout, the Sens brass might have felt differently.

On there being any disappointment from Mika…

“No, basically Craig called me and said, ‘Have you been in touch with the Swedish federation and what are our thoughts on Mika going back to the WJC?’ and I said, ‘Whatever Mika wants to do,’ and he said, ‘Well, I’ve talked to him and here are my thoughts, what do you think?’ and I said, ‘In a perfect world, this is what we do.’ So that initial thought came from their side and I thought it was exactly what we want to do and certainly, I consulted with Bryan (Murray) and he thought the same thing. The closer we get to (the WJC) and if Sweden is struggling, will opinions change on it, who knows? But, I know on our side, we’re all on the same page. I think it’s the right thing to do. If he had been a fourth line bit player last year, I think that would have come into the equation and we might have made a different decision but all those things were taken into the plan, and this is what we’ve come up with.”

Will be interesting to hear Zibanejad's take on how all this went down. His Swedish agent commented Thursday that Ottawa's unwillingness to grant Mika's release was due to their belief the NHL could be playing again soon (a strain of optimism that looks to be shared by no other organizations, to say nothing of Alfie making plans to leave for Europe).

Still, Zibanejad scored an overtime championship winner to end a 30-year drought for his country; understatement to say a lot of players would take that.

As a fan though, it's a bit unfortunate, we all wanted to see Ziba play in this tourney, even if any benefit to his development would be marginal at best. For 99% of the fanbase, watching crystal clear HD broadcasts during the holidays is preferable to watching a blurry online stream of Bingo @ Albany. At least we have burgeoning scoring star Mikael Wikstrand to look forward to!

Who has stood out in your mind on Binghamton…

“Our goaltending has been outstanding, so you have the two guys there obviously who have been basically, really good every single game. So, they keep you in games. Our blue line has been basically been really good every single game. Our forwards are playing well and I mean, I keep hearing this negativity that we don’t score, but who cares? I don’t care. I mean, the idea is to win. They’ve all bought into the system and like I say, we’ve been playing some very hard, physical games and I think that can only help (the prospects) development and prepare them for the next level.”


On Robin Lehner being the MVP of the team thus far…

“Yeah, great numbers and again, great attitude. He has really learned a lot in two years. The talent has always been there and I think, when these players get to the American (Hockey) League and the National Hockey League, the talent has got them so far. But it’s preparation, it’s execution and it is focus and these are things that young guys have to learn and some learn them quicker than others. He has come in with a great mindset this year. He knew that he had made some mistakes in the past and owned up to them, finally and I think it has made him a better goaltender and a better person.”

Also a great hair-do that's obviously been the source of Lehner's resurgence.

On Silfverberg trending in the right direction…

“Yeah, for sure. He’s been playing with different linemates and he is certainly getting his power play time and killing some penalties. But he himself has stated that it has been a struggle at times in certain games. Against Toronto he (had a goal and an assist) on Thursday night and then (against) Syracuse, see the tape, right from puck drop, he is being hit, sticked, spit on, whatever… He is the focus of their game plan that night and he doesn’t get a point. But what he did was he took a lot of their attention and then other guys step up and we win a game against arguably, the best team in the league. Again, there has been a learning curve but he has taken it all in stride. I just think that you will see a lot of these guys, including him, in the second half, be more comfortable and start to produce on the scoreboard a little more than they are now.”

One of the best things about offensive depth is skilled guys on the PK. Loved that about the Martin-coached teams.

On the job that Luke Richardson has done…

“Well, yeah certainly, if you haven’t seen them play, that is what you look at — the standings and goals against. Different people (are) stepping up every night, so he’s done a great job. And even beyond that, if you go and watch (Binghamton) play, we play the game right. We don’t have a tough guy but we have team toughness. Different guys step up when they have to and we don’t fight for the staged fight. We play the game right. We check hard. We track the puck hard. We always have a man high. We pinch our D. We do a lot of good things that you want to see your NHL teams do. We play an aggressive brand of hockey and again, I’m not too worried about how many goals we score. I think that is going to bode well for the young guys coming up and I think there are quite a few guys down there that can step up. Whether it’s to have a long career or just play games, I think they are really learning a lot (from) Luke about what it takes to get to the next level and then how you stay at the next level.”

10-4-2 a decent way to start your AHL coaching career. Have to think the goaltending will regress a little at some point, likewise on some of the roster's low shooting percentages. Could be a wash.

On Mark Borowiecki, the injury to Jared Cowen, and the door being open to him…

“Yeah, I don’t know how many guys Shawn (Simpson) has had like this in his career, I’ve maybe had one other one. They are just guys that you do not find. Huge heart. Whatever. Every kid tells you at the draft that they will do whatever it takes (to be an NHLer) and most of it is bull. This guy, it is that. It is whatever. He goes to the wall every night for you and for his teammates. He is the most courageous guy that I have ever been around. And it’s not just his play, it’s the way he practices. Nobody wants to practice against him in battle drills, well you’re going to, so you better practice a little harder. You better battle a little harder. He just makes everyone around him better. He certainly makes our scouting staff (look) better. A fifth round pick and a North American defenceman at that, that doesn’t usually happen after two rounds or so, that is going to play in the National Hockey League and is going to be hard to play against. He has his limitations for sure, but he is just a guy that nobody really wants to dump the puck in his corner anymore. Everything is a battle against this guy, and we love him.”

I kind of worry the org and media's campaign to build up Boro as a super-competitive monster who drinks the blood of his enemies may be detrimental. Not that he isn't competitive and mean on the ice, and not that those things are bad. Just that the hype has placed him in a box, and It seems every minute he's on the ice (this season) he's made a point to justify it — 71 PIM's in 16GP seem excessive to anyone else? Not hating, but it might not hurt the guy to hear a few other parts of his game praised every once in awhile.

On Andre Benoit and whether he needs to clear waivers before the start of the season and whether he needs to clear waivers before going back to Bingo…

“Well, that depends on the new CBA. I don’t know. We were talking about that yesterday, so I don’t know what is going to happen.”

In a story last week from Kevin McGran about things the NHL and NHLPA had "more or less agreed to"; one of the listed items was "Eliminate re-entry waivers". Time will tell.

On Cody Ceci and whether he would like to see him get moved to a contender…

“Well, we have got a pretty good relationship with them. If they come to us and say that is what they feel is best for their organization, we certainly wouldn’t say no. There is a good chance that he is not back in junior next year and that he turns pro. I think it works for both sides. They are in our building and they are a local team that we like, obviously. If they can move him and that helps their future and it helps our guy salvage his season and have two good months of hockey, we’d be all for it." 

The 67's are bad, not Raptor-bad…but pretty damn bad. Jeff Hunt can see the forest for the tree's, and indicated two weeks ago they'd be looking at trading veterans if the team's situation didn't improve. Well it hasn't, they're 1-9 in their last 10.

Ceci currently sits third in defenseman scoring in the CHL, he should bring a sizable return.