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Sabres GM resumes search, won't reveal candidates

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Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray said he is continuing his search for a coach but on Thursday would not reveal who the candidates might be.

Murray did confirm to WGR Radio that the Sabres negotiated with Mike Babcock, who on Wednesday left the Detroit Red Wings to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs. But Murray refused to confirm an ESPN.com report that he will be interviewing former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma.

"I just don't feel like making the list public," Murray told the Buffalo radio station. "I have no preconceived notions that I want a veteran NHL guy or that I want a young guy to grow with young players. I’m looking for the best guy, the guy that comes in here and is a good fit."

Babcock reportedly signed an eight-year, $50 million contract with the Maple Leafs. His contract with the Red Wings was ending on June 30, and Murray said he thought the Sabres had a good chance to hire him.

"There's no deal until he agrees to come and signs a contract. I know that, we all know that," Murray said. "We knew he was talking to other teams. … My understanding was it was Detroit and us, and that he had spoken to Toronto.

"I guess deep down I might have thought that, but when a team like Toronto is involved, you can never be surprised. It's the Toronto Maple Leafs, it's in Toronto. … Am I surprised? I don't even know how to answer that. Nothing surprises me."

The Red Wings gave Babcock permission to talk to other NHL teams on May 8.

"He went through a two-week process with us and I assume we were in the mix until he decided on Toronto," Murray said.

"We were quite a piece down the line," he added. "We were in negotiations in a contract knowing full well that at the end of the day, there's no deal done until [Babcock] says, 'I'm coming to you,' and he told us that he'd call us on Wednesday morning at 11:30. So he wasn't a man of his word, because he actually called me at 11:33 and told us he wasn't coming, and that was it. We move on."

The Sabres fired coach Ted Nolan after going 23-51-8 this season, last in the NHL standings.

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford on Thursday told The Associated Press that Bylsma is free to pursue any coaching opportunity. Bylsma was fired by the Penguins after last season and has two years remaining on his contract with them.

Murray said teams have called him about trading for the Sabres' No. 2 pick in next month's NHL Draft, which Buffalo likely would use to draft Boston University center Jack Eichel, with Erie Otters forward Connor McDavid expected to be selected first by the Edmonton Oilers.

"I've had two calls asking if I would move my pick. It was short," Murray said. "We're picking No. 2 and I think we're picking in a great spot. We are extremely happy. Deciding on who we are picking No. 2 …that's the easiest decision I think I will have in my general managing career."

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