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MURRAY RECAPS A RELATIVELY QUIET DEADLINE DAY

by Jourdon LaBarber / Buffalo Sabres

It came down to the final hour and wasn't announced until well after the 3 p.m. deadline had passed, but the Buffalo Sabres made their mark on Deadline Day by acquiring a conditional third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft from the Anaheim Ducks for forward Jamie McGinn.

The third-round pick becomes a second-round pick in the 2017 Draft should Anaheim advance to the Western Conference Finals this postseason and if McGinn plays in half the games.

The deal marks the third trade made by the Sabres in the past week. Defenseman Mike Weber was dealt to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick on Tuesday and seven minor leaguers were swapped in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

"I'd like to really quickly thank Mike and Jamie for all of their contributions here," Sabres general manager Tim Murray said at the outset of his press conference Monday. "They're both character guys that, more often than not, you're looking for versus trading away. But that's the position we're in, so that's that."

McGinn, 27, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. He joins a Western Conference contender in the Ducks, winners in nine of their last 10 games and just two points behind the first-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division.

"We had a couple different offers and I thought that Anaheim was the best fit as of the team that they have there. That's what we try to do – is find a good fit for guys that are going out anyway," Murray said. "Anaheim was, to me, the team that had the best chance to win out of the teams I spoke to."

McGinn played in all 63 games for the Sabres this season after being acquired alongside Ryan O'Reilly in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche in June. A consistent face among Buffalo's top-six forwards, his 27 points (14+13) ranked fifth on the team.

McGinn has had quite the comeback season. His 2014-15 campaign was cut short when he underwent back surgery after only 19 games .

Murray said that although he spoke with McGinn's representatives and the two sides never came close to a contract extension, he wouldn’t rule out the potential for a return once the forward hits the open market on July 1.

"It didn’t get close and I understand why," Murray said. "There's a difference between a guy signing now and a guy signing on July 1. All the comparables that we have and they have today go out the door on July 1. There could be a big payday out there for him, and I get that and he deserves it.

"But maybe it's not there, maybe he comes back to us on July 3. Would we have interest? For sure, we would have interest."

The bulk of trades around the League were announced within the final two hours before the deadline on Monday, which Murray said is the norm from year-to-year. He said the McGinn deal was done well before 3 p.m., but wasn't announced until later due to the number of other calls that were being made in the final hour.

"As we all know in any walk of life there's no urgency until there's a deadline, like I never did my homework until the day the project had to be in," Murray said. "From two o'clock to three o'clock it was stupid [busy] … I've got some rattled guys upstairs but they'll get over it."


WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER UFA'S?
The Sabres entered Monday with four players set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season: McGinn, fellow forward David Legwand, defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and goaltender Chad Johnson.

The GM said that he took calls on his other UFAs but didn’t approach any deals. In Johnson's case specifically, he wouldn’t rule out re-signing the goaltender to be the backup to Robin Lehner again next season.

"I could envision it, yes," Murray said when asked about that possible scenario. "I haven’t spoken to him or his representative, I don’t know what their expectation will be after having a year that he's had, a pretty good year with pretty good stats. I've liked the way Chad's played … There's very little not to like about him right now especially with his stats, so I can envision it for sure."

Johnson, 29, seized the opportunity for playing time after Lehner was injured in the season opener this season. He's 14-14-3 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.45 goals-against average in 33 appearances.


UPDATE ON TYLER ENNIS
Murray was asked about the status of the forward on Friday, and while he admitted that it wasn’t within his realm of his expertise to make a projection for Ennis' return he did provide an update on his recent activities.

Ennis has missed 26 games with an upper-body injury.

"I've talked to Tyler, I've talked to the doctors; when you're dealing with this stuff it's day-to-day," Murray said. "He skated yesterday and today and he had no issues. But that doesn’t mean he won't any issues tomorrow

"… I think Tyler will come back this year. I think that they're being careful, very careful with him. He doesn’t have headaches and he's not going blind, light doesn’t bother him now, none of that. It's heart rate and fatigue, so there's no rush."


MURRAY'S TAKE ON THE SEASON SO FAR
Although they were sellers this season, Murray made no secret of his thoughts on the Sabres' improvements from a year ago. He pointed to their recent California road trip – in which they allowed four goals in three games against the top teams in the Pacific Division – as examples of the team's competitive nature.

"I think we have a lot of bright spots and we're young," Murray said. "Veterans are playing hard and our young kids are only going to get better. Every day, they're going to get better and I know that when they come to camp next year we're going to see an improvement again."

Murray said that with the continued development of the team's young players – he pointed to the significant bump in Sam Reinhart's play, for example, from his nine-game stint last season and said he still believes there's growth to be seen – he can envision the team being in a different position on future deadline days.

"We're not a cap team yet," Murray said. "Someday I hope that we are and that’s the plan. You see trades – teams that loaded up this year are going to have to move good players. I think that we'll be one of those teams that will be a buyer.

"I'd like to think that we're a destination, despite our standings the past couple years, in free agency and we have a ton of picks."

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