Buffalo - March 4, 2015 - So it’s been a few days since the NHL trade deadline has come and gone. Once again, the Sabres were active on deadline day despite making a couple of bigger trades – Tyler Myers for Evander Kane – before the actual deadline.
Over the last few seasons, the Sabres have been one of the biggest sellers on deadline day, shipping out names like Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville, Drew Stafford and the aforementioned Myers in addition to anyone who might be a pending unrestricted free agent.
Here’s a quick recap:
Chris Stewart – Minnesota Wild
Michal Neuvirth – New York Islanders
Brian Flynn – Montreal Canadiens
Torrey Mitchell – Montreal Canadiens
What Came Back
G Chad Johnson
F Jack Nevins
2nd round pick (MIN 2017)
3rd round pick (NYI 2016)
5th round pick (MTL 2016)
7th round pick (MTL 2016)
There are a few things to take away from all of this, so let’s start with this: the tank is ON. Edmonton sold off its best defenseman while Arizona parted with arguably its best defenseman and forward. So Buffalo followed suit by getting rid of three roster forwards and their best goaltender while getting a mediocre-at-best goaltender back in terms of “NHL-ready” players. This will force the Sabres to bring in the likes of Tim Schaller to fill in those roster spots and the joke that the Sabres are essentially an AHL will be less and less of a joke and more of an actuality. Still, they’ve chosen the tank path and there is no way in hell Tim Murray is going to settle for anything other than 30th in the standings at this point.
The second is the outrage from sections of the Sabres fan base. The one complaint I heard more than a few times was in regards to the lack of NHL-ready players or prospects coming back with the concern being that the team won’t have anyone ready for next year. First and foremost: who were they going to get back for that group of players? They might’ve gotten someone for Stewart, but would it have been worth Murray’s time? Probably not. Secondly, there are a ton of young players ready to take roster spots as soon as this fall. Mikhail Grigorenko, Johan Larsson, Sam Reinhart, McEichel, Jake McCabe, Mark Pysyk and possibly a surprise or two from the prospect pool. The aforementioned players weren’t keeping roster spots from those guys whether they remained in Buffalo or not. Murray shipped out UFAs and got assets back. That’s what you do.
Lastly, Murray was very smart in getting multiple picks for 2016 and 2017. He’s smart enough to know that he’s going to have a huge haul in the 2015 Draft and spacing out some of those picks is imperative to limit the potential logjam. More than that, it gives the Sabres the flexibility to pull off deals like the one that brought Kane to town. Remember: just because the team has a ton of prospects and draft picks doesn’t mean they will all be used for that purpose. Always trade potential for production whenever possible.
Overall, Murray did what he was supposed to at the deadline: he moved the few UFAs they had, made the team worse for the short-term and added to the asset pile going forward. Right now, it’s all about finishing last. Once he has his prized prospect, don’t be surprised if the rebuild shifts into overdrive.
When not inanely bantering about the Sabres, Ryan Womeldorf can be found here and at TwoPadStack.net talking all things hockey. He's usually got a lot to say, but sadly most of it is wrong. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org