Sabres GM Murray not calling Eichel a consolation prize

Tim Murray wants to make one thing clear: He's thrilled that he's likely getting Jack Eichel with the second overall pick in the June NHL draft.

"We love him," the Buffalo Sabres general manager told ESPN.com on Sunday, one day after seeing the Edmonton Oilers win the draft lottery in a bit of an upset.

Sure, Murray was disappointed Saturday night after losing the No. 1 pick in the lottery -- that's the competitor in him. He doesn't want to lose at anything.

But he's thrilled that the Sabres will probably get Eichel, who he thinks is also a great player.

"People took my comments last night as an insult to Jack Eichel, that's the furthest thing from the truth, I love Jack Eichel," said Murray, referring to his comments that he was disappointed for Sabres fans.

"Do you want to win the lottery? I mean, absolutely. I mean, we haven't even had our [draft] meetings yet. We haven't done our list yet. I wanted to win the lottery and pick who we pick. Maybe after we have our meeting in two weeks, maybe we have Jack Eichel at No. 1.

"But when you go to anything, you want to win, that's all. We knew full well we probably weren't going to win. We had an 80 percent chance of losing it. So we knew that."

And Murray says it's not about settling for Eichel if the Oilers -- as expected -- take Connor McDavid first overall.

"To me it's not a consolation prize," said Murray. "There's two guys in the draft [who] stand out, we'd be extremely happy with either one of them. That's the way we came into the year and it hasn't changed one iota since. They're both great players. They're both impact players if they're not franchise players; I think they're both franchise players. But at worst, they're impact players. I've said that about both guys all year."

Now it remains to be seen whether other teams make offers for the Sabres' No. 2 pick.

"Will I get a couple of calls? You always do," said Murray. "I'm sure that teams will call and ask what it will take to trade the pick. I'm pretty sure that there's not an offer out there that you would trade the pick."

Murray said he hasn't spoken with Eichel yet. He didn't want to bother him during the season and figures he'll wait now until the draft combine.

"We'll speak to him at the combine and we'll probably bring him to Buffalo after the combine," said Murray.

In the meantime, Murray has a coaching vacancy to fill after firing Ted Nolan.

There's no rush on that. Some potential candidates are still working in the playoffs. Murray will be patient and wait to see what develops.

"I would like to interview five very good candidates, probably," he said. "So I think to do that you have to wait and see who else becomes available."

Murray would not mention names, but as I've reported before, Murray has been linked to Mike Babcock, among others. Murray, along with his uncle Bryan Murray, hired Babcock for his first NHL head coaching job in Anaheim years ago.

But there will be other candidates on Murray's list. The Sabres are intent on taking advantage of what is a great offseason potentially for coaching candidates. Todd McLellan will perhaps be available if he's fired in San Jose, and free agents such as Pete DeBoer and Paul MacLean are already available.