By Mike Harrington
New Sabres GM Tim Murray got out of town yesterday before the bad weather hit so he could take a trip home to Ottawa and be at the Sabres-Senators game there tomorrow night. Then he's off on a scouting mission for the Olympic break. But his phone is apparently ringing with trade offers. A lot of them. And he's listening.
In the wake of Ryan Miller's comments yesterday that he's still waiting on a definitive stance from the organization, Murray pretty much confirmed that he's in limbo on dealing Miller as well.
"His status at this point is that he's a Buffalo Sabre," Murray said today in his weekly appearance on WGR Radio. "I've had talks with a couple of teams. They've showed some interest. They haven't done anything yet to change that scenario. Talks are going on for a lot of players. There's a lot of ideas being thrown about here the last few days. As of right now, nothing has changed with Ryan."
Murray said the Sabres are studying options all over their roster but the scuttlebutt around the league is they're getting plenty of inquiries on pending unrestricted free agents Miller, Steve Ott and Matt Moulson, as well as interest in defenseman Henrik Tallinder.
"There are players on the team we're certainly going to go forward with, young guys that they fit what we want to do," Murray said. "In saying that, if a team calls and they absolutely knock your socks off, then I guess I've told a fib by saying we're going to go forward with a certain player and I've traded him. It doesn't look right, but that's my motto. I'm willing to listen on every single player, so I'm certainly listening on Ryan. Is that our plan? I guess we'll see what other teams have to say."
Murray didn't break much new ground in the interview, other than to admit activity has stepped up. Remember, he told me during the team's recent trip to Columbus that any trade is going to be predicated on what return he gets. Translation: Pony up if you want Miller, Ott or Moulson.
The Olympic roster freeze, which has become a pseudo early trade deadline, is 3 p.m. Friday.
"I have been getting more calls yesterday, the day before and today,' Murray said. "Nobody has said I want to do a deal before Friday but certainly there's been more action. So I'm wondering if we did decide there was a fit on one of our players, that they wouldn't want to pull the trigger before Friday. But nobody has said they do."
Murray was asked if trading for veteran players, or perhaps promising to sign some in free agency, would be a way for the organization to show Miller it wants to accelerate its rebuild.
"Would we be doing that for Ryan? No. We're doing that for the organization," Murray said. "That would be up for Ryan to decide then if he felt we were going in the direction he wanted to go in. I would listen to anybody on a top high-20s, 30-year-old guy if it made sense for us but I would be doing that for the best of the Buffalo Sabres, not for Ryan Miller."
In an interview that lasted roughly 13 minutes, some of Murray's last words pretty much summed up his feelings on making deals to get this rebuild flying: "I'm ready. You just need help, need a partner."