(Editor's note: I'm pleased to welcome Sens_Army_ to the Silver Seven team as a Guest Contributor. Welcome!)
Bryan Murray spoke to the media today, touching on numerous topics. TSN 1200 played it back on The Drive later in the afternoon (available here).
On Curtis Lazar:
"He’s showed he can play a two-way game, very responsible, Paul had him killing penalties at different times. I can only see a player like him expanding his role as we go forward."
On if he thinks Lazar will be here for the long term:
"Well right now he’ll have to play himself out of the lineup I think, the way he played in training camp, but like every junior player there is that nine-game limit, or ten-game limit, that after nine we have to make another decision but I’m envisioning him having a real good chance to stay on this team."
"He has to play. I think that will be the decision of how much, how many minutes a game, I wouldn’t even pretend to know but being around the players, practicing everyday with NHL guys is good for development but he’s got to get on the ice in games, and handle pressure and do things that are required for NHL players. So if we find that he’s not getting enough minutes, that’ll be part of the decision."
"He’s enthusiastic, very ambitious, very confident, comes to work everyday. For a young player he’s really a professional at this point and where he came from obviously had a big influence on what he is as a person as well as a player. As I said, I can’t find a fault with him right now as far as the work ethic and the determination to be a good player, but the ability in particular right now to play the defensive zone as well as he does."
On Mike Hoffman:
"Mike Hoffman’s last two games against Montreal were really good. He’s quick, he scores, he made plays he drew penalties. He helped us win the game here friday night by his speed drawing a penalty in overtime and getting us to the win. It would be really unfair for us not to give him an awfully good look going forward. Again, he’s kinda paid his price somewhat in the minors, he was a very productive player now let’s find out if he can do it every night in the NHL."
On young talent at camp:
"I thought overall the work ethic in camp was real good, much different than a year ago, I felt. We have some candidates that can come up and play games, we know that and we had to do something. A couple of them can play regular. Buddy Robinson, Matt Puempel, Pageau. I mean Pageau is the one guy today I felt really bad about. I thought he was really good in every game he played and to have to send him down, but he’ll be back there’s no question, he has that chance now to be a regular NHL player."
On if Marc Methot is close to being healthy:
"I honestly don’t know. I talked to Gerry Townend this morning, they’ve shut him down right now to get him healthy. I guess Marc was starting to get a little bit better, then he over did it and didn’t help himself..."
On if there’s any news on the Methot contract negotiations:
"No there’s no news. They turned us down on the offer I made. There’s no further offer at this point."
On sending down Jean-Gabriel Pageau:
"Contracts come into play big time and I told him that this morning that one-way contracts versus two-way contracts make the difference. We make commitments to players and then somebody else steps in and does a little better job maybe but for now he has to go down and play well, be a star down there which he should be and it’ll give him a chance to play."
On if keeping 14 forwards will become a problem at some point:
"It’s only a problem if the guys make it a problem. I think if we have guys that aren’t playing up to par and we don’t make a change, then it becomes a little bit of an issue, but the players sitting out understand that. For now, I think when you start the year in particular having 14 guys around up front is not a bad thing. There’s options to try a couple different looks and I think we’re in a position to be able to do that with the youth of our group overall."
On if he likes his team:
"I like our team. I said to Mr. Melnyk yesterday ‘Maybe we should have a marketing theme, that the Pesky Sens are back’. That’s what it looked like to me, the last 3-4 games we played, the work ethic, the come from behind ability, the four lines being able to contribute, the goaltending was good. I liked the effort. It’s going to take that most of the nights. We know we don’t have younger star star quality, the individual that maybe wins a game for you by himself, but I really do think we have a group with the ability right now to roll four lines, play 6 to 8 defencemen, that the coach has some options now and I think we’re one of those teams that’ll make the opponent work every night."
On Matt Puempel:
"All he does is score. He shoots the puck, it goes in the net for him. So all I said to him is it’s early for him, he needs to start down in Binghamton, he needs to play a high level to be a high level player for that team and put pucks in the net because goal scoring is always a need in this league. So he’ll go down, Matt’s really made great strides."
On Buddy Robinson:
"When I saw him last year I thought he had a chance he could be a role player. I wasn’t sure that he’d be a regular NHL player but it sure looks like to me in this camp he made great strides. He’s fast, he’s on the puck, he finishes checks, he handled the puck pretty well. Paul had him killing penalties. So again, it looks to me like a guy that has a real chance to get games in the NHL maybe as early as this year."
On Fredrik Claesson:
"He was, for me, the other big surprise that came in. At the beginning of last year he was a very competitive guy but very average, I thought, in the American Hockey League and made great strides. Again, he was impressive in camp, he competes, he’s certainly a brave guy, he moves the puck decent, defends real well and his work ethic is just going to allow him to be better and better. So again, another real good depth guy for us this year and I believe a future NHLer."
On David Dziurzynski:
"David was disappointed I think and we weren’t disappointed at all. He’s a role guy, he’s not going to score a lot of goals but he can play a role and skates real well, he’s a big strong kid and again, has to play."
On Aaron Johnson and Derek Grant:
"We got Johnson and Grant that are good veteran guys that could play games if we needed to, but for me (Puempel, Claesson, Pageau, Dziurzynski, Robinson) are the players that are probably most likely to get games here."
On possible deals:
"Right now I’m not really looking to make a move. If there’s something that’s out there that’s obvious, I would do that, but I like our group. I think like every team, you want to be better, you want to add if you possibly can add, but very definitely it looks like a very competitive group to me. I think we’ve got enough talent, the work ethic, there’s some checkers there that I think Paul’s got more options now for penalty killers and defensive role players. Like a lot of people, we have to prove that we can score goals and will we do that consistently? I don’t think any team will in this league. It hasn’t been, at least lately, a real high scoring league, so you have to learned to win games 3-2, 2-1, and we might have to do that more often than we did in the past."
On the decline of heavyweights in the NHL:
"I think there’s a need at some point in the year against particular teams, but we’re putting face masks on everybody. I remember saying at the GM meeting ‘Why would anybody want to fight anybody with a mask on?’ It doesn’t make any sense and I think that is encouraging, the fact that fighting is going down, there’s still the occasional ones but I don’t think you can just have a guy that can only do that, I think you have to have players now."
Bryan Murray had quite a bit to say today and was very candid in his dialogue with the media. Just like we've been doing over the course of training camp and the pre-season, he raved about top prospect Curtis Lazar. There's no question Lazar is ready for the big leagues, but if he's playing 10-11 minutes a night on a line with Greening/Hoffman and Neil, I expect the Senators to send him down before or after his nine games are up. Matt Puempel, who was also very impressive in camp, received great compliments from Murray today and is probably a year away from being a full-time NHLer. We are often reminded about Puempel's 30-goal season as a rookie in the AHL last season (a number that he could easily improve on this season if he stays healthy) and Murray recognizes that playing full-time on the top line in Bingo will be beneficial for his development.
As expected, Murray seems to have a ton of confidence in this squad heading into this season and you he's optimistic about the future with so many promising young players in the system. It's always fun to listen to an NHL GM give detailed scouting reports of the players he drafted in addition to updates about players already in the system.
Unless they regress in Binghamton (or if other players in Bingo impress), the five bubble players cut in the past few days (Puempel, Pageau, Dziurzynski, Robinson, Claesson), will battle it out in that order to get the first crack at a call-up this season. Murray understandably felt bad about sending Pageau down and when he mentioned making "commitments to players" you have to think he was talking about Greening.
Regarding Marc Methot, Murray was very blunt when asked if any progress had been made in the negotiations and it doesn't seem like an extension is coming anytime soon. As for trade talks, there aren't many GMs who publicly reveal information surrounding that matter.