July 5, 2007
Murray adds nephew to staffTim Murray will be assistant GM; coaching candidate -- likely Cunneyworth -- to be interviewed
By CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media
With little cash to spend, Bryan Murray has pretty much been left just "kicking tires" when it comes to the NHL free-agent frenzy.
Big, bloated, over-inflated tires, but that's neither here nor there right now.
The Senators general manager should have better luck having the rubber hit the road when it comes to rounding out his coaching staff.
Murray said yesterday he has a meeting today with a candidate -- believed to be former Senators captain Randy Cunneyworth -- and is nearing the end of the interviewing process.
Murray, who was on hand yesterday for the final day of the Senators' prospects development camp at the Bell Sensplex, said he hopes to have his coaching staff finalized in the next few days.
Also looking on at the Sensplex yesterday was John Paddock, an assistant to Murray last season and believed to be the leading contender for the head-coaching position.
Assistant coach Greg Carvel will return next season as well.
Cunneyworth is highly regarded -- it's rumoured the Coyotes are also interested in him -- after pumping out well-prepared prospects with the Sabres' AHL farm team in Rochester.
Also taking in yesterday's 3-on-3 wrapup tournament was new Senators assistant GM Tim Murray and new director of player personnel Brent Flahr.
Tim Murray -- Bryan's nephew -- will also be the GM of the Senators' AHL team in Binghamton, an important consideration because morale and depth on the farm have both suffered lately.
Flahr was a scout with the Ducks last season.
This is a Murray family reunion of sorts, an act that has previously had success in Detroit, Florida and Anaheim, helping produce teams that all went to the Stanley Cup final. Detroit and Anaheim both won the Cup after the Murray clan had laid the groundwork and departed the scene.
"His record of drafting and scouting is pretty outstanding," Bryan said of Tim, who left the Rangers, where he was the assistant director of player personnel.
Bryan Murray wants to have as many opinions and voices as possible when it comes to making judgments on players.
"Having somebody in charge of your depth players, your prospects, as well as do a fair amount of scouting will be real important. As a GM you have to have good input from your staff, from the main guys on your staff in particular, and (Tim) will definitely be a big part of that," he said.
"It's so important to have good opinions and good observations."
The title of "assistant general manager" in today's NHL usually goes to the guy in charge of contracts and managing the salary cap, but it will be a personnel position with the Senators.
"(Tim) won't be doing contracts, though he's yelling at agents already," joked Murray.
Kevin Billet, brought in when Peter Chiarelli left the Senators to become the GM of the Bruins, will continue in the role of hockey administration, dealing with contracts, for now.
It's not known yet where Shaun Van Allen, the Senators' director of player development under former GM John Muckler, fits into the picture.
Bryan Murray was hoping to bring in a veteran forward from the free-agent marketplace, but when one guy he had his eye on told him he had been offered $5 million (all terms US) a year for two years, Murray could only shake his head.
The GM was thinking more like $3 million a year.
"Where we are financially is very, very close to cap numbers at this point," he said. "I kicked the tires on a lot of guys, but the bottom line was the money got to such a point that I couldn't make that kind of commitment without moving some money out and I haven't been able to do that."
$41M ALREADY COMMITTED
The Senators have about $41 million committed to 16 players for next season. You can add another $1 million to that if forward Oleg Saprykin accepts the qualifying offer he got from Muckler before Muckler was fired. Saprykin is expected to take a pass.
Goaltender Ray Emery, forward Chris Kelly and forward/defenceman Christoph Schubert -- all restricted free agents -- will eat up more than half the available cap space, leaving Murray with probably about $3 million to play with, some of which has to be saved as an injury float.
The Senators would like to get out from under goalie Martin Gerber's contract -- two years left at $3.7 million a year -- but Emery's uncertain status complicates the situation.
Emery is a restricted free agent and could get an offer sheet from another team or could get a ridiculous award in arbitration.
Murray said he needs Gerber around right now as insurance until the Emery situation works itself out ... or doesn't.