At the opening of 2023 training camp, GM Brad Treliving discussed the status of his injured players, the structure of camp, his feelings on his goaltending and defense corps, the competition for spots, and much more.
Brad Treliving updates the injury status of Jake Muzzin, Matt Murray, and Bobby McMann
Treliving: I just want to start with a couple of housekeeping items specifically with an injury report, and then I will get into a little bit of how our camp is being structured and then open it up to any questions.
From an injury standpoint, for Jake Muzzin, there is no change with Jake Muzzin. He won’t be participating this year.
With Matt Murray, he has worked closely with our performance and medical team over the spring and summer. It has been determined that Matt is going to require a significant surgery which will require a significant rehab. That is going to take place in the next week. For Matt’s privacy, I am just going to leave it at that. I will update everybody once Matt is through that.
It has been determined now for a while that Matt would have to go this path. We are looking forward to getting him better and onto the path for recovery.
Bobby McMann is not cleared to participate fully through the injury from last year. He will begin with our Group 3, which I will walk through a little bit in terms of how our groups are structured. He is progressing, but on day one, he is not ready for full participation.
We had two injuries in Traverse City during rookie camp: Ty Voit was injured, and Braeden Kressler. Both were injured and both are progressing. We are helpful that neither is too significant. Hopefully, they will be back and up and going fully sooner rather than later.
Did Matt Murray suffer an injury in the offseason that led to the need for surgery?
Treliving: It is a little bit of both. The surgical procedure will be something he was dealing with. It wasn’t an event. He aggravated some stuff over the summer, but what he is going through is something he was dealing with prior.
Is there any chance Murray could be healthy enough to play this season?
Treliving: We are going to see. It is going to be a significant rehab.
Matt is a good goalie. We are not necessarily focused on timeframes right now. It is about getting it done and getting it done correctly. We have to start the process of rehabbing. We will see where that leads us.
This is months, not days or weeks. We will see where it gets to. There is certainly potentially a chance.
Treliving on the team’s training camp structure
Treliving: We have three teams. We have the camp into two teams, if you will, and then we will have a third team that I would like to refer to as our development team, which is a lot of younger players who will spend their time working directly with our development staff.
There will be, at times, players in Group 3 moving into Groups 2 & 3, but the main focus of the camp is the two teams. The players who aren’t ready to participate fully will be in our Group 3 — some of the younger players will be working and getting extra time with our development staff over the course of the next week.
That is how camp is structured. I am just excited to get started. You spend the summer putting your team together. Now, today is day one of building your team and becoming a team. That process happens every year.
I am excited to get started.
Treliving: Lines of communication remain open with William Nylander about a new contract
Of everything on your to-do list this offseason, the only thing that wasn’t attended to was William Nylander’s status. Will the lines of communication remain open or is something that will be shelved to a later date?
Treliving: I don’t do it to be a pain to you people, but I will not comment. I am not going to do a daily play-by-play on it. I made a comment recently that it is a priority. We want to get Willy signed. Willy is a really good player. You want to keep your good players.
Willy has expressed to me — when he and I have talked — that he wants to be here. That is usually a good starting point. We will try to get it done.
The lines of communication will always stay open. We will work with Lewis and see where it gets to. Today is a day when we want to answer questions, but after today, I am not going to comment on it until we have something to report. I just find it is best to do business that way, and hopefully, we can find a good conclusion.
What have you learned about Nylander as a player and person since you arrived as GM?
Treliving: He is a cool cat. He is a really neat kid. I have spent a lot of time with him.
I have repeated this, and I will be able to stop soon because I am going to have some inside views, but I have always had the outside view. I always thought that there was not a lot that bothered this guy. When you get to know him, there is not a lot that bothers this guy.
It can be misinterpreted. This guy really does care. He cares about having success. He cares about being a really good player. He works at his craft. I probably didn’t have that perception of how driven he is.
I have really enjoyed my time with Willy. He is a great kid.
Treliving on his defense unit: “I think it is underrated”
Is your defense as it is currently constructed good enough for a Stanley Cup?
Treliving: We will see. I like our defense. I think it is underrated. As with any part of your team, you are looking at ways to be better.
“Can you be better,” is sometimes interpreted as needing to bring in a truckload of new people and make it better. Getting better can also come from internal growth. It can come from tweaking a system. Especially when we talk about defensemen, it can help depending on how your forwards work, how they track, and how they play.
It is a long way of answering the question. I have been pretty honest in talking about in the past that I’ve had bigger defenses than we have here, but I like the defense that we have here. When you break them down individually, I think there are some really good parts here.
As with all parts of our team, we start watching tomorrow. There are going to be some areas we really like. There are going to be some areas to improve on. That is what I plan to do: watch and see where we can help ourselves. That process starts tomorrow.
Treliving on the addition of Bertuzzi & Domi: “They are two players who can get to the hard areas when the games matter the most”
Bringing in Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi, these are some feisty personalities. We have heard the terms piss, vinegar, and snot. Has it been a goal to remake this team’s identity? If so, what would the identity be?
Treliving: I should probably not use the term snot. I have heard a lot about that.
I don’t know if it was about remaking the identity as much as I firmly believe there is a style that we need to play at the most important times. It is as much a mentality as it is anything else.
I know there has been lots of talk about the abrasiveness, but these are also good players. To me, they are players who can play inside. They are two players who can get to the hard areas when the games matter the most.
We are not going to focus on what is down the road. What I am going to talk to the players about is being where your feet are today. That is what is most important, but we have all watched games in April, May, and June. It didn’t change from 10 years ago. It isn’t going to change in 10 years. There is no space. It is a harder game. You have to fight through traffic.
The more players you can have with that mentality and skill set, I think it helps you.
What is the identity of the team right now?
Treliving: We are going to build that. I know people get lost in what the identity is. One thing I have seen in the time I spent with these players over the summer is that this is a driven, driven group. It is a serious group. They are very committed to their craft. They are committing to having success.
I know there has been lots of talk out there around the hockey world about people arriving early. For the most part, this group has been here for three weeks — maybe more — as a group, skating together and doing things together. There is a real seriousness about them. I think that stems from a lot of the experiences that they have gone through.
In terms of our team identity, I know internally what I want that to look like. I will keep that to ourselves, but tomorrow, we will start to build that.
Treliving on PTO invite Noah Gregor: “He brings a lot of speed and has some hardness to him”
It looks like you are going to have to make a salary-cap decision before the start of the regular season. Does that weigh on your mind? Might you bring in a few players on PTOs?
Treliving: No, our camp is where I want it to be. We had some opportunities to bring some players. I really think there are some younger players in this organization that I want to get to know a little bit better. I have an outside view of them, but I need an inside view. I want to give them a path if there is a path there.
Now, they have to go, get it, earn it, and show they deserve to be here. But we have some younger pros that maybe aren’t 18 years old. They have had a couple of years, whether it is in the minors or what have you. I want to see if they are ready to push for a job.
Let’s be honest. There are not a lot of “Help Wanted” signs sitting on our roster right now. There are one or two spots depending on how things go. I wanted the path for those players to be a little clearer.
If there was somebody out there that I thought could help us, we would. We brought in Noah Gregor. I really like his game. He brings a lot of speed. He has some hardness to him. But I am happy with where our camp is at numbers-wise and personnel-wise.
Treliving: “I feel good about our goaltending”
How do you see the goaltending playing out now with having a veteran in Martin Jones here and Joseph Woll as well?
Treliving: I am interested — like everybody else is — to see how this goes. When we got word of Matt’s status earlier in the summer, I thought it was important for us, from an organizational depth standpoint, to add another goaltender. For me, it was somebody with a little gray hair — someone who has played some games — and some experience.
I just got back from Traverse City. I think we have some good goaltenders in the pipeline, but they are young goalies. We all know it is an important position that takes time. We are not going to rush anybody. I have seen it too often. You can derail a guy putting him in a position too early.
We have really good goaltenders on the come-up who are young and need to learn the craft. We have some good goalies here. We needed something in the middle. That is where Martin came in.
At the end of the day, there is competition at every position. I think we have created that with Martin. Having said that, Sammy is coming off of a hell of a year and has really established himself. I have watched Joe for a long time, and I think he is at that spot where he is ready to grab some time here. And then we have Martin, who has had a lot of success in the league.
We will let it play out in camp, but as I sit here today, I feel good about our goaltending.
Treliving on building relationships and lines of communication with the players
How important was it to be very communicative with the players, as the players have mentioned you have been, particularly knowing the relationship they had with Kyle Dubas before?
Treliving: I think you have to be who you are. I have a way of doing business. You have to be authentic and be yourself.
I believe you communicate with people and let them know. Our players are going to hear me talk a lot about habits and standards. When you have expectations, you have to communicate those. You have to get feedback from the players.
Coming in here, I had to learn about this place. You only do that by talking to guys and getting to know them and them getting to know you. That is just how I operate.
It has been great. There has been a real honesty and a real seriousness about the group. It has been impressive to watch.
I have spent a lot of time with Auston. People have asked me what my takeaway was with Auston. The only word I can come up with is “impressive” with how this guy goes about his business and how dialed he is in his preparation.
He got his deal done, and everybody was back here the next day getting ready. It is a driven group. We have gotten to know each other, and now we are looking forward to going on this journey together.
Was the plan after leaving Calgary to take some time away initially? This was probably a job you didn’t expect to be open.
Treliving: That’s for sure. I didn’t expect it to be open. When you are in this for a while, you talk to a lot of guys, take some time off, and they say it is the greatest thing to get some time off. After about three weeks, as I said, my wife took an application from the local coffee place and passed it along to me. I was getting a nudge from her.
You are wired to do it. When I left Calgary, there was no master plan. Fortunately enough, this opportunity became available. As I said at the time when I got here, I am fortunate because of the work of the people before me that have put this team in a good spot. I am fortunate because of that group of players because they are focused on the job here.
Now, as much as I have an opportunity, I have a responsibility to them and to this market who love this team. It is something I don’t take lightly.
Treliving on Nick Robertson: “He is pedal down all the time, which I love… He has a chance [to make the roster]”
How do you view Nick Robertson’s chance of making the team? What is your message to him as he comes into a contract year here?
Treliving: We talked earlier about whether we need to populate the camp with anybody else. Nick is a guy who I am really interested in seeing. I have had some good discussions with Nick right when I got here and Nick was in town and over the course of the offseason. He is a driven kid.
There are people that you have to give a boot in the rear, and then there are people you have to hold back. He is a guy who is pedal down all the time, which I love.
The one thing that has impeded Nick has been injuries, which you can’t control. What are his chances? Everybody has a chance. We are going to just watch. We have three weeks or so. We have a bunch of preseason games. I am looking forward to seeing him.