The biggest news to come out of the Sabres' pre-draft press conference today in First Niagara Center was Dan Bylsma's announcement that he has added two veteran coaches to his staff as assistants.
Terry Murray, the 64-year-old uncle of Sabres General Manager Tim Murray, and Dave Barr will be joining Bylsma as assistants. Bylsma said he is still working on the rest of his staff, including whether to retain under-contract goaltending coach Arturs Irbe.
Terry Murray has most recently been the coach of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL in the Philadelphia chain, and was expected in many quarters to become an assistant with the Flyers under new coach Dave Hakstol. Terry Murray has 499 NHL wins in 1,012 games as a head coach for Washington, Philadelphia, Florida and Los Angeles.
He directed the Flyers to the Stanley Cup final in 1997, beating the Sabres in the second round before getting swept by Detroit in the final. He was fired in Los Angeles 29 games into the 2011-12 season, and the Kings rebounded to win the Stanley Cup under new coach Darryl Sutter.
Barr, 54, played 13 seasons with seven NHL teams and was an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils last season after previously serving in Colorado and Minnesota. He was general manager of the Guelph Storm when they won the Ontario Hockey League title in 2004, and was the OHL coach of the year there in 2005-06.
In other news, Tim Murray said he is still pondering a buyout of Cody Hodgson and is mystified that contract talks with Mikhail Grigorenko have seemingly stalled. The Sabres want to give Grigorenko his qualifying offer with a two-way component to send him to Rochester; Grigorenko and agent Jay Grossman want a one-way deal and are also believed to be pondering the KHL.
"Their expectations of a contract are a little different than ours," Murray said. "They feel he's NHL ready. We feel he needs time in the minors, whether it's 10 games, half a year. That depends on what kind of summer he has."
The Sabres would have to put Grigorenko on waivers to send him to Rochester and Murray says he realizes the former No. 1 pick could be claimed.
"I don't know why they'd be afraid of a two-way contract," Murray said. "I'm baffled actually. ... We have to put him on waivers, therefore if he is what he thinks he is, he's in the NHL in my opinion, he's just not in Buffalo."
In other news:
---Murray says he's exploring trades every day, both for an NHL goalie and for other positions from "salary-cap jammed" teams. He said his No. 21 overall pick could be in play, either to move up or for an NHL player.
---Murray said he needs to acquire two goalies: A No. 1 in Buffalo and No. 1 in Rochester. He expects Chad Johnson to be the Sabres' backup. And he will add to the organization depth there as well, noting, "I think you should throw a dart on a goalie every draft."
---Murray is moving forward with the process of finding a coach in Rochester and wants the Amerks to both develop players and win.
---Restricted free agents Johan Larsson, Phil Varone, Tim Schaller and Jerry D'Amigo will all receive qualifying offers. Kevin Sundher and Zac Dalpe will not. The Sabres are still pondering what to do with Nathan Lieuwen, Jerome Leduc and Jordan Samuels-Thomas, and are undecided yet on unrestricted free agent Matt Hackett.