Eric Staal’s tenure with the Sabres will be largely forgettable. Traded after 32 games, three goals and 10 points, there will be few people who ever connect Staal to the Sabres.
He’s hardly the first notable player to have a cameo with the Sabres and hardly the first to have a rather minimal impact. He certainly won’t be the last (paging Taylor Hall). The list of notables whose Sabres tenure is barely a blip in relation to the rest of their career is pretty impressive. There’s a healthy mix of late stage trade or free agent acquisitions with early departures.
I don’t know how Buffalo’s list compares to other teams around the league given that these scenarios are pretty commonplace. It’s not hard to come up with a handful of examples of notable stars having a cup of coffee with a team at the end of their career. Remember Dallas Star Eric Lindros? Calgary Flame Curtis Joseph? How about legendary Toronto Maple Leaf (or Boston Bruin) Brian Leetch.
Staal is the latest Sabre to get added to this rather ignominious list and he probably won’t even be the last one this season. Acquiring Staal was a shrewd move by Kevyn Adams. It’s unfortunate that the deal didn’t work out as Staal represented a quality upgrade at center behind Jack Eichel. The results didn’t follow and now we can catalog where Staal falls among others whose Sabres career isn’t the easiest to recall.
Staal’s 32 games falls right in the middle of this group of trade and free agent acquisitions who simply didn’t give the Sabres much bang for their buck.
This week we discuss some of the rumors swirling about Buffalo’s front office and how the various names connected to the Sabres could affect their future. We touch on the trade that sent Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens and the potential positive impact of the return. We wrap up the show analyzing some college free agents who could help in goal.
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Spring cleaning started in earnest for Kevyn Adams and the Sabres with Friday’s trade of Eric Staal. There’s almost certainly more to come for the four-plus UFAs expected to be shopped ahead of the April 12 deadline.
The Staal move works on a number of levels for the Sabres. The most obvious being the return on an expiring contract and a player who hadn’t performed to expectation this season. Getting a 3rd and 5th round picks for Staal feels appropriate given his play this season, but perhaps slightly underwhelming given the player he’d been for the Wild over the last few seasons.
Buffalo has had some poor results at recent deadlines, particularly in seasons where they had opportunities to sell expiring assets. Tim Murray notably made zero moves in what would be his final deadline and Jason Botterill only made one move at his first deadline; trading Evander Kane to San Jose in a year the Sabres finished dead last.
Botterill’s subsequent deadlines featured a mix of buying and selling, meaning this year might be the first the Sabres sell on a number of players for the first time since 2015. An odd consideration given their results in the interim but the sad reality the organization is facing.
I suppose Jonas Johansson was really the first domino to fall but Staal is one of Buffalo’s three big(ish) tickets for this year’s deadline. Taylor Hall is the big prize while Brandon Montour is rumored to be on the block as well.
After 300 days the Sabres will be back on the ice this week, kicking off the 2020-21 season. Their lengthy layoff was punctuated by the same sort of turmoil that has followed them in recent years as Jason Botterill was given a vote of confidence before being fired shortly thereafter.
A large chunk of hockey staff were handed their walking papers along with the entire Rochester coaching staff. With additional bad press surrounding ownership due to layoffs on the business side of the organization, they landed on Kevyn Adams as their next GM.
Adams’ first offseason was a bit of a roller coaster. The acquisitions of Taylor Hall and Eric Staal were big wins but questions linger over the selection of Jack Quinn at eighth overall and the decision to let Dominik Kahun walk. Meanwhile, the jury is out on the Cody Eakin and Tobias Rieder signings. It seems the offseason was a success for Adams with a few expected hiccups.
Now, on the eve of the season, the Sabres face a tough division and yet another uphill battle to ending their playoff drought. While the East Division may not be as tough as initially thought, the Sabres are hardly a shoo-in for the postseason. But the NHL has produced its fair share of darkhorse playoff qualifiers and with just a few sly moves (and a bit of luck) the Sabres might find themselves in the postseason for the first time since 2011. So what are the boom or bust factors for the Sabres in 2020-21? Continue reading →
Sabres camp continued on Monday with the Blue-Gold Scrimmage which featured a number of impressive performances from players up and down Buffalo’s roster. We touch on a few of the stand out performers, discuss which performances may have affected roster battles while touching on some of the weaker showings as well. Also on the docket was discussion over a trio of AHL teams opting out for the 2020-21 season, a World Juniors update and a bit of fun remembering some guys who moved teams this year.
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The Eric Staal deal came down about 24 hours after we finished recording our previous episode. So we play a little catchup this week in breaking down the first trade of Kevyn Adams’ tenure. We also touch on the moves being made by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the difficult situation in Arizona and even the hiring of Mike Weber and Adam Mair in Rochester.
The 20 minutes between Jochen Hecht’s go-ahead goal and puck drop for the third period were sublime. The 20 minutes that followed were a nightmare of delay of game penalties and Rory Fitzpatrick’s skates.
The heartbreaking end to an exhilarating Conference Final run hasn’t been forgotten by Sabres fans in the 14 years that have followed. It’s still a fresh wound despite the time that has passed and, for fans of a certain age, salt was poured back in on Wednesday evening when the Sabres traded Marcus Johansson to the Minnesota Wild for Eric Staal. Continue reading →