Sabres Commit to Murray with Extension

Tim Murray will get a chance to finish what he started.

A man of few words who would prefer to let his actions speak for him, the seventh Buffalo Sabres General Manager in team history agreed to a multi-year extension with the club last week that will allow the Quebec native to continue to shape and mold an organization that has missed the playoffs each of the past five seasons.

“I’ve felt secure. I’ve felt great here,” Murray, in the midst of his third season at the helm, said. “I’ve felt very secure and I guess (when) you’re going into the last year of your deal, I guess it’s a vote of confidence when you can get a deal done and you don’t have to wait until June 30th, which is great for me and my family obviously. I wasn’t printing out resumes or anything, but no, it feels good. It was a pretty simple process.”

Murray arrived in Buffalo in January of 2014 from the Ottawa Senators where he previously served as the team’s Assistant General Manager. Murray said the extension, which has not yet been outlined, had been on the back burner with team owners Terry and Kim Pegula for some time but it had not been a priority.

“It’s a multi-year extension,” Murray said. “I have this year left on my deal then it’s going forward after this year. A little bit of talk about it, but nothing we’ve been meeting on or anything like that, just a couple of casual conversations. It’s something I thought the past couple of weeks might get done but then it all came together the last couple of days.”

Related: Sabres put Their Money on Ristolainen

Murray’s Fingerprints

Buffalo Sabres, NHL Draft
Murray introduced new Sabres head coach Dan Byslma on March 28, 2015. (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Buffalo Sabres have not sniffed the NHL post-season since 2010-11 but Murray is determined to bring the Stanley Cup playoffs back to Western New York.

Since coming aboard nearly three years ago, Murray has been busy. Picking up the pieces from the old Darcy Regier regime, Murray has acquired Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Dmitry Kulikov via trade, made a splash with free-agent signings of Kyle Okposo, Brian Gionta and Matt Moulson while drafting a couple of pieces who should define the franchise for years to come in Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel.

“You make changes in the off-season and a lot of them is based on ‘if’ and our young guys,” Murray, a well-respected former NHL scout in his 24th season in the league, said. “You make a trade for (Dmitry) Kulikov, for example, you give up a pretty good young player in (Mark) Pysyk and it could be a short-term move because Kulikov is at the end of his deal this year, but you’re confident that you add a guy like that and you’ve added a Kyle Okposo and your young guys got a year older that you have a real shot at taking a run at the playoffs and beyond that.”

Murray Timeline

Oct. 11, 2016 — Buffalo re-signs restricted free agent Rasmus Ristolainen to a six-year contract

Sept. 1, 2016 — Buffalo re-signs free agent Zemgus Girgensons to a one-year contract

July 15, 2016 — Buffalo signs first-round draft pick Alex Nylander to a three-year, entry-level contract

July 14, 2016 — Buffalo resigns free agent Marcus Foligno to a one-year contract

July 2, 2016 — Buffalo acquires goaltender Anders Nilsson from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for its 2017 fifth-round draft pick

July 2, 2016 — Buffalo signs free agent Derek Grant to a one-year contract

Alexander Nylander, 2016 NHL Draft, NHL
Alex Nylander, the Sabres’ first-round pick at the 2016 NHL Draft. (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

July 1, 2016 — Buffalo signs free agent Kyle Okposo to a seven-year contract

June, 30, 2016 — Buffalo signs Jake McCabe to a three-year contract extension

June 29, 2016 — Buffalo signs Casey Nelson to a two-year contract extension

June 25, 2016 — Buffalo acquires Dmitry Kulikov and the 33rd pick (Rasmus Asplund) in the 2016 NHL Draft from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Mark Pysyk and the 38th (Adam Mascherin) and 89th (Linus Nassen) picks

June 20, 2016 — Buffalo acquires rights to Jimmy Vesey from the Nashville Predators in exchange for its 2016 third-round pick, 76th overall (Rem Pitlick)

June 20, 2016 — Buffalo signs Nicolas Deslauriers to a two-year contract extension

April 29, 2016 — Buffalo signs Johan Larsson to a one-year contract extension

Sept. 10, 2015 — Buffalo signs free agent Cody Franson to a two-year contract

July 4, 2015 — Buffalo signs Ryan O’Reilly to a seven-year contract extension

July 2, 2015 — Buffalo signs Jack Eichel to three-year entry-level contract

June 26, 2015 — Buffalo acquires Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher and the 31st pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (Jeremy Roy)

Ryan O'Reilly
Ryan O’Reilly has quickly become a cornerstone player for Buffalo since Murray acquired him in 2015. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

June 26, 2015 — Buffalo acquires Robin Lehner and David Legwand from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the 21st overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (Colin White)

June 26, 2015 — Buffalo signs free agent Cal O’Reilly to a two-year contract

May 28, 2015 — Buffalo hires head coach Dan Bylsma

April 12, 2015 — Buffalo fires head coach Ted Nolan

March 2, 2015 — Buffalo trades Chris Stewart to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a 2017 second-round draft pick

March 2, 2015 — Buffalo trades Torrey Mitchell to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Jack Nevins and a 2016 seventh-round draft pick (Vasily Glotov)

March 2, 2015 — Buffalo acquires Chad Johnson and a 2016 third-round draft pick (William Lockwood) from the New York Islanders in exchange for Michal Neuvirth

Feb. 11, 2015 — Buffalo acquires Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and the rights to Jason Kasdorf from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and a conditional first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft (Jack Roslovic)

July 1, 2014 — Buffalo signs free agents Matt Moulson to a five-year contract and Brian Gionta to a three-year contract

July 1, 2014 — Buffalo acquires Josh Gorges from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a second-round pick (Chad Krys) at the 2016 NHL Draft

March 5, 2014 — Buffalo claims Cory Conacher off waivers from the Ottawa Senators

March 5, 2014 — Buffalo acquires Hudson Fasching and Nicolas Deslauriers from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Brayden McNabb, Jonathan Parker and 2014 (Alex Lintuniemi) and 2015 (Erik Cernak) second-round draft picks

NHL, Buffalo Sabres, Hudson Fasching, Fantasy Hockey
In a shrewd move in March of 2014, Murray acquired Hudson Fasching (above) and Nicolas Deslauriers from the Los Angeles Kings. Both players are on the 2016-17 roster.  (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

March 5, 2014 — Buffalo acquires Torrey Mitchell, a 2014 second-round pick (Vitek Vanecek) and a 2016 second-round pick (Chad Krys) from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick

March 5, 2014 — Buffalo acquires Michal Neuvirth and Rostislav Klesla from the Washington Capitals in exchange for Jaroslav Halak and its third-round pick at the 2015 NHL Draft (Robin Kovacs)

Feb. 28, 2014 — Buffalo acquires Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick (Jack Roslovic) and a 2016 third-round pick (Casey Fitzgerald) from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Ryan Miller and Steve Ott

Jan. 9, 2014    — Buffalo hires Tim Murray as General Manager

The Jury is Still Out

After tearing down and rebuilding the franchise from the ground up following the departure of Darcy Regier, the jury is still in recess regarding Tim Murray’s job performance with the Sabres to date.

The brass seems to like the direction the organization is headed. It would not have inked Murray to a contract extension if it didn’t feel he was the right man for the job, but Buffalo is committed now. And with Jack Eichel out for an extended period, Murray enters his toughest stretch as GM.

To his credit, since the house cleaning, Murray has amassed more draft picks than any other NHL team since his arrival. From 2014-15 to 2015-16 no other NHL team saw a bigger points increase in the standings over a one-year period than Buffalo’s 27-point jump last season.

This is his team now. If it succeeds he will be given the key to the city, but if the Sabres fail he will be run out of town. One thing is for certain, Murray’s tenure will be defined and forever linked to those first four words: “Buffalo selects Jack Eichel.”

Complete Sabres Coverage From THW

Buffalo Sabres All-Time General Managers

Punch Imlach (January 16, 1970-December 4, 1978)
John Anderson (December 4, 1978-June 11, 1979)
Scotty Bowman (June 11, 1979-December 1, 1986)
Gerry Meehan (December 1, 1986-July 30, 1993)
John Muckler (July 30, 1993-May 14, 1997)
Darcy Regier (June 11, 1997-November 13, 2013)
Tim Murray (January 9, 2014-Present)