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Grading Bryan Murray

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Bryan Murray has stated he wants to continue as the GM of the Senators past this season.  Has he earned it?

Now that the trade deadline is over, it is time to look back on a very tumultuous couple of months in Senators history, and to take a “big picture” look at the new direction of the franchise.

This post will focus on a 19 day period – Feb 10th to Feb 28th, a time frame where the direction of this Franchise was altered more than any other time in team history.  Eugene Melnyk apparently gave Murray a two point mandate once it became clear the club would not be in playoff contention: 1) Cut Salary and 2) Begin the Rebuild for the future.

Here is a summary of the moves made this month:

DATE OUT IN
Feb 10 C Mike Fisher 1st Rd Pick, cond 3rd/2nd rd pick (2012)
Feb 15 C Chris Kelly 2nd rd pick
Feb 17 LW Jarkko Ruutu 6th rd pick
Feb 18 G Brian Elliott G Craig Anderson
Feb 19 W Alex Kovalev cond. 7th rd pick
Feb 19 - F Marks Svatos
Feb 28 D Chris Campoli & cond. 7th rd pick F Ryan Potulny & 2nd rd pick
Feb 28 - G Curits McIlhinney

(complete Senshot analysis on each trade can be found HERE)

Based on his mandate and the assets he had to work with, Bryan Murray made out just fine.  Between the players shipped out and brought back in, the Senators shed almost $6 million in REAL MONEY (not cap space) for the rest of this season.  Murray has also stockpiled 6 picks in the top 65 in the upcoming draft.  The housecleaning allowed Murray to clear roster spots for prospects to join the lineup and test their skills at the NHL level, auditioning for the upcoming season.

Opinions on the Feb 28th signing of Chris Phillips to a three year contract extenion have been split, as many feel that he should have been part of the housecleaning, while others like the signing but feel $3 million plus per season was too much.  Very few that I saw were in complete agreement with the term and salary included in the agreement.

Prior to this season, there were some errors in judgement made by the Senators’ management.  Alex Kovalev stands out like a sore thumb, as one that could have gone either way.  However, that signing was made in the midst of the Dany Heatley “situation”, and some have wondered whether it was a signing Murray wanted to make or if it was influenced from above (read: Melnyk).

So given the instructons from his boss, Murray was able to effectively trim the season’s remaining payroll and in doing so, add multiple draft picks.  He was also able to add Craig Anderson, a goaltender who has had a tremendous start to his Ottawa career and might just be a key to the future, should they be willing/able to sign him to an extension.

With the moves that have been made and the authority Murray has continued to wield, it would not surprise me in the least if he indeed continues to be the General Manager of the Ottawa Senators for the upcoming season.  At a season ticket holder conference call on March 2, Murray’s comments seemed to indicate that he felt he would be a part of the future of the club. He didn’t say anything directly to the fact, but based on his discussions of  the plans that are in place to move forward, that is the gut feeling I got.

The only thing that would have made the deadline more successful for the Ottawa Senators would have been if Murray could have found landing spots for Filip Kuba and/or Sergei Gonchar and their inflated salaries.

The bottom line is, Murray was forced to make some difficult decisions.  Some of which he knew would not be popular with the Senators fan base.  In the end, he did what he had to do.  He has seemingly put this team in a better position to move forward with his moves leading up to the trade deadline.  However, any grade handed out will only be an interim grade, as final evaluation is reserved until the draft picks have a chance to develop into legitimate prospects and players.

BRYAN MURRAY’S TRADE DEADLINE GRADE:  B+

What do you think?

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