Tampa Bay Lightning name Al Murray their new director of amateur scouting

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for tb-yzerman.jpgEven with smaller moves that seem a bit difficult to contextualize (maybe you’re an expert on the NHL/hockey’s best scouts, but I’m not), it’s still interesting to follow every bread crumb left on Steve Yzerman’s trail to make the Tampa Bay Lightning a credible franchise.

The latest front office move involved the Lightning adding a new director of amateur scouting, as Yzerman & Co. snatched away Al Murray. Murray spent the last three years as the head scout of Canada’s national teams. Here is more from the team’s Web site.

“Al’s vast scouting experience will prove to be a great asset for the Lightning as we move forward,” said Yzerman upon making the announcement. “We are pleased to have him join the organization and I very much look forward to working with him as he leads our amateur scouting staff.”

During his time with Hockey Canada, Murray was responsible for all player evaluations and selections for National Junior Team evaluation and selection camps as well as the National Men’s Under-18 Team. He also worked with regional under-17 programs. Murray won the Gold Medal at both the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championships, and won gold at the 2008 World Under-18 Championship. He won championships with the National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2008 and 2009 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournaments, also winning the 2010 tournament earlier this month, defeating the United States, 1-0, in the Gold Medal Game.

Prior to joining Hockey Canada, Murray spent 12 years with the Los Angeles Kings, serving as director of amateur scouting. In that position he was responsible for the team’s amateur scouting operation, including scheduling, assignments, evaluation of talent and development of the final list of players leading up to the NHL Entry Draft. Before Murray was named to that position he spent six years as the Kings’ western scouting coordinator.

It’s been a summer of stark change for the Lightning, as they’ve changed their GM, coach, director of amateur scouting and various roster spots as well. Though calling them a Stanley Cup contender or odds-on favorite to win the Southeast might be a little bit hasty, a playoff run is more than reasonable considering the nice amount of talent on their roster.

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    Oilers win first series since 2006 after Sharks fall crossbar short of overtime

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    After making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t just “happy to be there.” They confirmed as much by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 victory in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.

    Yes, those young Oilers just eliminated the team that represented the West in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Wow.

    Ultimately, winning the breakaway battle in the second period indeed made the difference. Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored on their chances in the middle frame while Patrick Marleau could not; Slepyshev’s 2-0 goal ultimately became the series-clincher.

    Now, that’s not to say that Marleau was a drag on San Jose. If this is it for one of the faces of the franchise, he had a great 2016-17, including generating the Sharks’ final goal of the postseason.

    The Shark Tank was alive after Marleau reduced the Oilers’ lead to 2-1, and more than a few blood pressures rose – both in Edmonton and San Jose – after the Sharks got this close to tying things up.

    Wow.

    With this result, the West is set. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators while the Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks.

    As much as people try to put the training wheels on Connor McDavid & Co., the West is wide-open enough that it’s not so outrageous to imagine a big run for Edmonton.

    Beating the Sharks is a pretty nice way of adding an exclamation point to that statement win. And hey … they beat the Sharks last time around, too.

    Canadiens sound a lot like Wild after playoff exit (without ‘better team’ talk)

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    Much like the Minnesota Wild earlier on Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens are stunned to approach the golf courses so rapidly.

    Many of the responses after the New York Rangers eliminated them in Game 6 sound a lot like what the Wild uttered, though there’s no potential bulletin board material like Bruce Boudreau’s line about the better team failing to win four games.

    Max Pacioretty viewed this early exit as a “missed opportunity” and never really believed that an elimination was coming.

    Claude Julien provided parallel comments to Bruce Boudreau, believing that Montreal generated chances but lacked “finish.”

    Brendan Gallagher? He worries that this might have been the Canadiens’ best chance, something the Wild must also worry about with a difficult offseason ahead.

    Now, it’s likely that most teams speak about being shocked and expecting better after being booted from the postseason.

    Still, these reactions do shine a light on the staggering nature of some of these exits. Will the likes of the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Wild struggle to be in such prime positions in the future? With the Sharks needing a comeback against the Oilers, could the trend continue on Saturday?

    The bottom line is that, instead of preparing for a Game 7 after winning the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens are packing up their stuff and worrying about re-signing Carey Price. That’s a pretty stunning turnaround, regardless of the soundbytes available.

    Video: Draisaitl, Slepyshev score on breakaways, Talbot spurns Marleau

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    Some playoff games or even series come down to something as stupidly simple as one team taking advantage of their opportunities while the other fails to capitalize on chances.

    If Game 6 of the Oilers – Sharks series follows the story of the second period, then San Jose may join Saturday’s stream of eliminated teams.

    It’s not fair to boil it down to three breakaways, but some might feel that way.

    Leon Draisaitl looked like a gritty, strong veteran during his first career playoff goal, bulling his way to the net for 1-0 breakaway tally. About a minute later, Anton Slepyshev was even more alone against Martin Jones, and he scored his first postseason goal to make it 2-0.

    That stings for the Sharks, and it doesn’t help that they had a similar chance not long after. This time around, Patrick Marleau couldn’t beat Cam Talbot, so it remained 2-0 for Edmonton.

    That’s the same score as the game enters the third period, even with some dangerous late chances for the Sharks.

    If the Sharks don’t score at least two goals in the third, their push to return to the Stanley Cup Final could end in the first round.

    Report: Ilya Kovalchuk wants to return to NHL (with Devils or not)

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    The Montreal Canadiens fell short against the New York Rangers, but the series put the spotlight on Alex Radulov‘s great return to the NHL. What if an even bigger name came back from the KHL next season?

    Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that Ilya Kovalchuk wants to come back to the NHL, whether it be with the New Jersey Devils or someone else.

    It’s a tantalizing thought for the Devils: either add a big star or gain a nice set of assets for a team that might be a little more prepared to make the most of the 34-year-old’s skills right off the bat.

    With big-name free agents rarely becoming UFAs these days, the market could always use some juice. Even at an advanced age, Kovalchuk provides that as one of the deadliest snipers of his era.

    Kovalchuk had a fantastic year in the KHL, scoring 32 goals and 78 points in 60 games. He last played in the NHL with the Devils in 2012-13, collecting 11 goals and 31 points in 37 games.