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Bryan Murray Talks Alfredsson, Cowen, O'Connor and More

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During an interview with TSN's Bob McKenzie, Bryan Murray talked about Daniel Alfredsson's role, Matt O'Connor in the NHL, not trading Patrick Wiercioch and much more.

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On how he's feeling:

For the most part, pretty decent. There are days that are good days, but for the most part, okay.

On whether or not this will be his last year as GM:

I haven't made the final decision on that. It's the final year of my general manager's contract. I do have something going forward if I do want to be an advisor. I'd like to wait a little into the season to really have a firm answer.

On what Daniel Alfredsson's role will be and what he brings:

He brings credibility right off the bat because of his reputation as a player, his commitment as a player and where he came from as a player that was drafted to the player he ended up being. As far as a role is concerned this year, at this point in time it's a learning process for Daniel. Being a player is one thing, but knowing about drafting, knowing about contracts, being involved in scouting, being involved in evaluating the team and coaching performance are all part of the learning curve. At the end of the day, I think Daniel has a chance to be something like the president of hockey operations.

On the offseason:

There were a couple discussion where we thought we might have a chance to add a player. We did more subtracting to provide more opportunity for young players and it fits our budget at this point in time.

On budget and spending money during the offseason:

We had a number of contracts to do: Stone, Zibanejad, Hoffman, Chiasson and in particular, Pageau. That was part of what happened. We got more money, but we had it eaten up by internal players. It was the right thing to do, no question. We're not a cap team by any means, but we have a budget that's comparable to some teams, and that gives us a fighting chance.

On looking for a top six forward:

All along, I really thought we needed a top six (forward) and the early 20 games this year will tell us that. Some people feel we need one more defenseman, so it's one or the other.

I'm more inclined to think that if we got a top six guy that was a real regular performer, a more veteran guy, that would make a real difference in our team. But again I say if Mike Hoffman steps up the way he did last year, Bobby Ryan gets back to what we think he is, I think we'll be in pretty good shape.

On the possibility of trading/signing players:

We can add. I think that it has to be a reasonable add. I always consult my owner. Eugene is part of what we do, but he has never said "no" to me in all the time I've been (in Ottawa), so if I suggest we find the right fit and it means a little difference in dollars, it would happen.

On if it would be fair to say that Andrew Hammond saved the season:

Without a doubt. I think other people got on board after we came in, and I remember well going to California, the start of his run, and he had two shutouts his first two games, and at that point I think we were all questioning where were going to be. When he played at that level I think a lot of players jumped on board and a lot of us started to believe.

On how long it will take Matt O'Connor to play in the NHL:

He has to play games in the (AHL) and Matt knows that. He agreed to come to Ottawa in our promise that we wouldn't force him, that he would have a chance to go play, learn and get better. I've watched him in training camp and in the rookie camp, he could play (NHL) games pretty soon in a year. Very definitely, he'll go down and play and hopefully be our No. 1 guy down there and do a good job.

On the slow start of last season and the direct link to Erik Karlsson's play and the team's play:

As soon as Dave Cameron came in, and it's not a knock on anybody, but as soon as Dave came in we skated more in practice, we worked harder in practice and we got better. We didn't win right away, but our team started to play better and Erik started to play better. And Erik's a unique individual, but he has to be mobile. And when he's in shape and really going, he's a catalyst to our team.

On not trading Patrick Wiercioch being the best deal he never made:

Patrick had said to me earlier "if I could play 10 or 15 games without sitting out a game, you'd find out what I am." And we did that and we found out what he is, and sometimes you're happy the phone call didn't come back to make the trade.

On Jared Cowen:

I expect a good defensive defenseman. He's 6 foot 5, he's pretty mobile, he's healthy now. He's had a couple years of not very good health, hip, knee and different things. I think he's behind the curve for his age group, but I expect he to play solid, be a matchup guy and move the puck. He doesn't have to do anything offensively. He thinks he's a more offensive guy than I think he is. When he buys the fact that he is what he is, big, strong and defensive, he'll be a top four, No. 5 defenseman.

On getting Cowen more playing time and Chris Wideman:

Part of the reason I traded Eric Gryba was to give Jared Cowen a chance to play. For the last 19 or so games last year he didn't play, partly because of injury, but partly because he couldn't get a spot. I want him to have a chance to play, but Chris Wideman brings a different dimension to our team. He's smaller, he's quicker, he's an offensive guy. He could fill in Erik Karlsson's role once in a while if he had to.

On having Karlsson and Methot as top pairing, and Ceci and Wiercioch as second pairing:

It appears that would be the case at the moment. We'll have to let it play out, but certainly the way they played at the end of the year, that probably is true.

On if Chris Wideman is the best fit for the 7th defenseman:

At the moment. He's a waiver guy, we've got to give him a little bit of an inside track because of that. We do have a couple of other younger guys that look like they need some games, but could play, as fill, nothing else. But I think Wideman is the next guy (after Cowen and Borowiecki), yes.

On Thomas Chabot:

He's played very well. He played with Karlsson the other night against Toronto, I though he was really solid for a young player. He's mobile, an offensive type of guy, has to improve his shot a little bit, but he brings a lot to the table. I think we'll let him play a little bit more in preseason before a decision has to be made, but the odds are that he'll go back and play junior.

On Bobby Ryan:

Bobby's one of those kids that when confidence isn't there, you know, he's a goal scorer, so he gets into a slump of sorts. But when he gets going, he scores every night for a while. We think he'll have a real bounce-back year, I don't think there's any question. Bobby Ryan's a star in this league and will play awfully well.

On Mike Hoffman:

Mike Hoffman, we didn't want to go to arbitration with him either. He had a great year, looks like a promising young player. He's done it once, he's been in the minors, he's now 25, he took a while to get here, but we just want to see him do it again. Is he a flash in the pan? We don't think he is, but is he? He didn't score down the stretch either (along with Ryan) and those were two big players for us that didn't score down the stretch. And that was our argument. Show it to us again and we know we'll have to pay you. We love paying players that perform.

On Shane Prince:

Shane Prince really played well down the stretch, He was a guy that when we first drafted him, I thought he was going to be an offensive player, going to pass the puck and score a little bit and he'll have to really work hard to be an NHL player. Today, he looks like a real NHL player. He's really done a lot of work off the ice with his body, he's skating hard, he's really becoming a decent defensive guy, works in the offensive zone and cycles real well. And he scored a great goal the other night.

On Matt Puempel:

Matt Puempel's a goal scorer. (He's) a smart, competitive kid, but he's more of a pure goal scorer. He's one of those guys that the puck goes in for some reason and we need that in our lineup at some point in time, there's no question about that.

On if Prince and Puempel are fighting for the final roster spot:

At this moment, that would be the case, unless I did something.

It'll be an interesting competition. They both work hard, they're both great young kids, they're both good people and they fit what we're trying to work towards in Ottawa. It's a competition in which I wouldn't want to even make an attempt in judgement right now.

It's always a factor (that Prince requires waivers to go to the minors and Puempel does not). You don't want to lose a good young prospect if you can help it, so there's no question that there's a prejudice that way, and there should be. Matt will have to overcome that.

On still having the passion for coaching:

I would've coached forever. I don't know why I ever got into management, honestly. I was in Detroit and Mr. (Mike) Ilitch said "I want to hire you as the manager," and of course at that time I wanted to work so I took that job. I coached for three years there, but I really like coaching. I like being around players. I like people. I like to talk to the kids, it keeps you young and involved. I am a little crazy in the (press) box some nights, I know that.

On the team's chances this season:

I think it's a playoff team. It's going to be competitive as heck in the East... It'll be difficult. I think we have a good team, I think we have a competitive team. I like the fact that we skate pretty well, I like the fact that we have some skill and we have lots of depth. The depth is fairly young, but I think we have lots of depth. When we do have a problem, we can fill it with somebody internally.

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You can watch the full interview on TSN.ca.