James O'Brien

mattmurrayap

Pens opt against making AHL record-breaker Murray a backup for Fleury

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The departure of Thomas Greiss and a record-breaking AHL season apparently aren’t enough to inspire the Pittsburgh Penguins to tab Matt Murray as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup, as the team website reports.

Management’s explanation is simple enough: Fleury is the No. 1 guy, so why not allow Murray to get more reps as the top dog in the AHL instead of being glued to the bench?

“He’s not coming in here and beating out Marc-Andre Fleury and taking over this team,” Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald said. “We love what we have down the line here, and it is down the line. He just turned 21. He needs to play hockey games. You can’t develop if he’s sitting on the bench. That’s just a fact.”

Although he said the Penguins knew he was good, Fitzgerald admitted that they didn’t expect him to generate the kind of 2014-15 campaign he did, winning the AHL’s goalie of the year award while putting up big numbers.

A devil’s advocate take might be that it’s sometimes wise to ride out surprise hot streaks with goalies. The Ottawa Senators rode Andrew Hammond’s out-of-left-field surge to a playoff berth while Devan Dubnyk went from the scrap heap to saving the Minnesota Wild’s season, and neither team anticipated either scenario, right?

Regardless, the good news for the Penguins is that Murray seems fine with both scenarios.

“I think either way could be good for me,” Murray said. “I think playing in the AHL wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but also practicing with the best players in the world wouldn’t be a bad thing either, so the way I look at it, either way I can take the positives out of it. Wherever I end up, I’m still going to have the same determinations and play the same way each and every day and let things take care of itself.”

Matching a record-breaking season might be asking for too much, but if Murray’s for real, he’ll get his big chance sooner or later.

Semin’s agent says he’s closing in on a deal, critiques Bill Peters

Carolina Hurricanes v Detroit Red Wings
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Alexander Semin stands as one of the most fascinating wild cards in NHL free agency, and it sounds like we’ll find out where he’ll land soon.

His agent Mark Gandler told Sovsport.ru that Semin should come to a decision soon. Here’s a translation of a rather saucy quote Gandler gave about Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters, via Hockey VIPs Magazine:

“[Semin’s] career can only go up,” Gandler said. “He is still young. His buyout was under unique circumstances and the (Hurricanes) coach did not understand Sasha’s game.”

As usual, the 31-year-old sniper’s strengths and weaknesses make him a pretty polarizing player. Granted, the “against” crowd is growing with each disappointing season, whether the letdowns come from injuries or a perceived lack of effort.

While his future destination and production stand as mysteries, it seems obvious that there are hard feelings between Semin and the Hurricanes.

Gandler took a swipe at Carolina’s head coach following GM Ron Francis’ comments about Semin’s lack of “compete level,” a criticism that’s been common throughout his career (fair or not). It’s been made repeatedly clear that the (once?) dangerous scorer doesn’t want to go to the KHL, so whenever his new team is revealed, drama-lovers are likely to circle his dates against the Hurricanes in 2015-16.

Related: Discuss possible destinations for Semin

DeBoer says Sharks will have a captain next season

Peter DeBoer
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Lacking a player with a “C” on his sweater was far from the only sign of dysfunction in San Jose last season, but new head coach Peter DeBoer said the Sharks will get that captain question out of the way in 2015-16.

NHL.com transcribed his interesting thoughts on the subject, which he expressed during an appearance on San Jose’s 95.7 The Game on Wednesday.

“I feel very confident by the first game of the season, we’ll have a captain,” DeBoer said. “It’s not something we are going to drag around as a distraction this year. We’re going to move past that. I think the players are ready for that too; they just want to play some hockey and get this thing back on track.”

Even with a captain likely to be named, DeBoer believes that the Sharks will continue to “lead by committee,” much like other teams. He noted that you only see a Mark Messier-type leader every now and then (even with that annual award and all).

Quite a bit has changed in San Jose, but the go-to guys remain largely the same, include former captains Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

The 2014-15 campaign was something of a meltdown at times, and if nothing else, the hope is that DeBoer will provide stability to a team that still seems to boast playoff-level talent. Cutting down on drama seems like a worthy effort, really.

Coyotes hand Bunting an entry-level pact

2014 NHL Draft - Portraits
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The Arizona Coyotes gave forward Michael Bunting a three-year, entry-level contract on Thursday.

Arizona selected him in the fourth round (117th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

The 19-year-old enjoyed a nice bump in production after his draft year. In 2013-14, he managed just 42 points in 48 games for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He really turned it on with that same OHL team last season, scoring 37 goals and 37 assists for 74 points in 57 contests.

Perhaps that’s a sign that he may be able to develop into an NHL player at some point?

If nothing else, his name begs for some really bad baseball puns and he seems excited by the signing:

Sabres wrap up RFA signings by inking D’Amigo

New Jersey Devils v Buffalo Sabres
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Perhaps the Buffalo Sabres’ busy front office can finally take a vacation, as the team signed its last remaining RFA Jerry D’Amigo to a one-year, two-way deal on Thursday.

The 24-year-old became a member of the Sabres’ organization thanks to a trade that also involved Luke Adam.

He played in nine games for Buffalo in 2014-15, failing to score a point. He also played in 22 contests for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2013-14, collecting his only career NHL points (one goal, two assists).

Toronto selected D’Amigo with the 158th pick of the 2009 NHL Draft. For many, his most memorable contributions have come at the international level for the U.S. so far.

source: Getty Images
via Getty