BOSTON - Bryan Murray is down to a handful of candidates for the Ottawa Senators vacant coaching position.

The general manager has spoken to a number of people since firing Cory Clouston at the end of the season and is ready to conduct some follow-up interviews. He's getting close to making a decision.

"What I'm finding out is there's a number of very qualified people out there that are interesting to talk to," Murray said Wednesday after the NHL's GMs meeting. "Even as long as I've been in the game you learn from each and every one of them.

"I just have to have a second interview with two or three of them and then make a decision."

One of the possibilities being considered by Murray is Kurt Kleinendorst, who led the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators to the Calder Cup in his first season behind the bench. His familiarity with the organization's prospects is a big asset.

"Kurt's performance has always helped his case," said Murray. "He's a good man, he's real fair and honest. The players have enjoyed playing for him and played hard. I think we had 12 or 13 young players playing for him and he's done a real fine job."

There will likely be a couple coaching announcements made in the coming weeks. Dallas, New Jersey and Minnesota also have vacancies.

Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk is hoping to make a final decision before the draft is held June 24.

"It's going well, we've met some impressive candidates," said Nieuwendyk. "Ideally, I'd like to have it done before the draft. But certainly before free agency (opens July 1)."

The Wild would also like to have a coach at their draft table while hosting the event at Xcel Energy Center. For GM Chuck Fletcher, it's important for him to bounce ideas off his coach.

"In a perfect world, you have guy in case you make a trade at the draft or for free agency he may have insight into a player," said Fletcher. "He might have a player he absolutely doesn't like or a style of player that he prefers. So if you're filling out a certain role on your third or fourth line — let's be honest, if the coach has a strong opinion on something I'd rather go with that player."