Things have gotten awfully bleak for the Sabres over these past few weeks and the demand for changes continues to grow across Sabres nation. This week’s 31 Thoughts notes that Buffalo continues to search for forward help. There’s also a blurb about replay review, which is never a great topic as this league loves getting into their own way. Continue reading
Chris and Tyler spend far too much time discussing the fallout from Jack Eichel’s harmless comments following the Sharks victory in addition to hitting on Buffalo’s You Can Play Night and the fast approaching NHL trade deadline. We also focus in on the continued rumors surrounding the Coyotes and Islanders while hitting on a few more trade deadline storylines as Brian Gionta, Dmirty Kulikov and Cody Franson are starting to come up on watch lists.
The third round of the NHL Draft is hardly an electrifying portion of the event. The picks all hold fair value on the floor and in trade negotiations, but in either case you’re not referring to any blockbuster moves.
However, the Buffalo Sabres’ own involvement in the 2016 third round was actually somewhat interesting. Not so much for the picks they made, but for the ones which found their way to other teams.
At one point or another, the Sabres held five picks in this year’s third round. Buffalo would only wind up making a pair of selections in the round after entering the weekend with a trio of picks. Cliff Pu would be selected 69th (nice) and Casey Fitzgerald 86th while the other three selections previously held by the Sabres found their way to other cities. Continue reading
It’s been an interesting deadline season thus far. Plenty of deals have gone down in the weeks leading up to today’s deadline and the Sabres really led the way in that department, sending Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and Jhonas Enroth away in pre-deadline deals.
I’ll use this space to track the moves made by the Sabres along with offering up a few quick thoughts on each move.
Buffalo acquires a 2016 5th Round pick from Montreal for Brian FlynnFlynn is an RFA, so it’s plausible to assume that Tim Murray wasn’t planning on qualifying him this summer. He’s a very serviceable player and I saw him as a nice fourth line forward once the roster rounded out. He does a good job on the penalty kill and has begun to show some offensive upside in the right situation.
Ultimately, Flynn was signed by the previous regime as a college free agent and simply may not be a player Tim Murray saw as a long-term part of his plans. If that’s the case, then by all means try to get as much return for him as possible. It’s still a questionable decision since they’re only getting a 2016 5th, but as a depth player who will be restricted this summer, there’s not much more to ask for.
Buffalo acquires Chad Johnson and a conditional 2016 3rd round pick for Michal Neuvirth
The prayers of the most ardent tank fans have been answered with this deal. Tim Murray saw the goaltender he acquired at last year’s deadline enjoy a fair resurgence over the past few weeks and leveraged his play for an additional asset in the 2016 draft. The Sabres already own the Islanders first and second round picks in the 2015 draft and now own four total picks in the third round of next year’s draft. This was solid return for a goaltender who about a month ago looked as if he was unmovable thanks, in large part, to a lengthy losing streak. This was very much a move for the Sabres’ tank as the Sabres have seen the Coyotes sell off nearly every asset they had in an attempt to nosedive to the league basement.
Johnson hasn’t been great this year as Jaro Halak’s backup and now joins Anders Lindback in what is easily the most unstable goaltending duo in the league. Johnson comes in with a 3.08 GAA to complement Lindback’s 3.71. Tank on.
Buffalo acquires 2017 2nd round pick from Minnesota for Chris Stewart
Certainly not the return originally expected for Stewart as there were rumors that Tim Murray was requesting as much as a top prospect in exchange for Stewart. In the long run it will probably look like Murray waited a little too long to deal Stewart but landing a second round pick, as far in the future as it may be, is better than taking less than the original asking price. Further, the Sabres already owned Minnesota’s 2016 2nd (which they used to acquire Josh Gorges), so Murray did a good job getting a more valuable pick.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Murray’s thought process on acquiring this pick is to provide himself more ammunition for next year’s deadline and future trade offers. As the Sabres sit in a position to really hit the gas on their rebuild, having additional picks to swap is a very good position to be in.
Buffalo acquires Jack Nevins and a 2016 7th round pick from Montreal for Torrey Mitchell
This has been a top secret deal (for some reason) since it was announced. Turns out the Sabres grabbed a prospect who has done nothing of substance at the professional and a very late pick in 2016 for Mitchell. This was simply maximizing return for an expiring deal while also pushing another veteran out the door and Murray certainly did that. If Nevins actually plays for the Sabres, I’d be shocked. But, they got an actual body for a player who would typically be pretty worthless in any other scenario.
I’ll have a full recap up on today’s happenings soon.
The move that sent Jaroslav Halak to the Capitals was one that ensured Tim Murray ensured that he had a goaltender who would be with the organization past this summer’s free agency period. Little did many know that Halak would wind up becoming a contributing factor in which first round pick the Sabres receive from the Islanders.
Halak was swapped by the Capitals for a fourth round pick yesterday in a move that gives the Islanders two full months to negotiate with Halak ahead of free agency. This is a move geared towards improving the Islanders now. Their lack of goaltending last year kept the Islanders from competing for a playoff position and ultimately pushed them towards the top of the draft. While this isn’t a final piece of a Cup run puzzle it’s certainly a move that indicates that Snow won’t be taking the scenic route towards reshaping the roster.
That route likely includes using their 2014 first round pick.
There’s still the possibility that Halak chooses to test the market despite the Islanders efforts to get in him ahead of time – remember, the Islanders failed to get Christian Ehrhoff under contract after trading a fourth round pick for his rights in 2014. Should that be the case Snow would be stuck pursuing a contingency plan in net. Either way, it’s obvious that he wants to make immediate improvements to his roster which tells me they aren’t necessarily in the tanking business for 2014-15. Continue reading
Even before Darcy Regier uttered the word suffering at his press conference last year, the Sabres were embarking on a rebuilding effort that would see many of their established veterans traded for futures that include prospects and picks in the coming drafts.
Regier likely expected to be in the exact spot that Tim Murray find himself in now; without Ryan Miller, Matt Moulson (via Thomas Vanek) and Steve Ott while possessing a bevy of draft picks in the top 60 of the next two drafts. He also most certainly knew his team would be picking quite high in one or perhaps both of the drafts as he set the organization on the path they’re on now. Exactly how deliberate the on-ice results that followed were is up for debate, but it would seem as if Regier and Murray both knew the Sabres would be picking at the top of this June’s draft with a strong likelihood of repeating the feat in 2015.
That’s why the news that the NHL is considering to make a significant change to the draft lottery, ahead of what’s expected to be one of the deepest first rounds in years, is likely startling to many Sabres fans. It falls in line with so many “because it’s Buffalo” moments as those who follow the team and were expecting to have a chance to purchase a Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel jersey in a few years may be watching another fan base with envy. Continue reading
This probably doesn’t seem too familiar to some out there in Sabres nation. Winning has been something relatively absent from the psyche of Sabres fans for a while and was amplified by the team’s o’fer start to the year.
However an offensive – can I say explosion? – explosion from the Sabres pulled their contest with the Islanders to overtime where Ryan Miller eventually shut the door on two of the three New York shooters on the way to his first victory of the year. Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis scored for the Sabres in the skills competition.
The shootout victory came after yet another shooting gallery effort from the Sabres skaters as they were outshot by the Isles 44-34 on the night and giving Miller another 40-save effort. Miller, who has seen over 40 biscuits in three of his five games, ranks first in shots against and saves in the entire league. As unbelievable as that may be, he has indeed seen the most shots in this young season.
Luckily for the Sabres he has been up to the challenge. I opined earlier this year that if there’s ever a time to want Ryan Miller on a roster it is during an Olympic year. He was a man possessed after his snub in 2006 and saw his name etched on the Vezina after standing on his head in 2009-10. I’m not ready to guarantee an Olympic roster spot or a Vezina season, but I’m fully confident that he will be maintaining this top form for most of the season.
Where there is going to be a disconnect is in the win and loss column. Only 1-4-0, Miller’s record is far from sterling despite his sublime stat line and plenty of shortsighted fans will point to negative decisions as evidence to how overrated, average, overpaid, soft, etc. Miller is. Despite the exact opposite to be true. Continue reading
This will serve as the second portion to a post that I put up last week on the prospects of trading Ryan Miller
After exploring which teams may or may not make Ryan Miller’s no-trade list, I wanted to take things a step further and determine which teams may serve as suitors for the netminder. By doing so I wanted to determine which teams would have little interest in him as well.
As is well-known, Miller’s no-trade clause allows him to veto a trade to eight different teams. This may end up being a list that significantly handcuffs Darcy Regier but it could also serve as a list that does indeed limit options, but doesn’t prevent Regeir from effectively doing his job.
I decided to include the 11 different teams which Miller may veto a trade to on this list. I wanted to provide a comprehensive collection of the direction I’d assume each NHL club to take if approached about Ryan Miller.
Count the Rangers (Lundqvist) and Penguins (MAF) in a group of teams who would not provide themselves with a significant upgrade in acquiring Miller. Boston (Rask), Nashville (Rinne), Los Angeles (Quick), Vancouver (Schneider), Montreal (Price) and Detroit (Howard) are also on this list. Each of those seven teams have determined their goaltender of the future (and present) and wouldn’t provide their team with any sort of significant upgrade by bringing Miller into the fold.
There is another large group of teams who have a solid netminder and fall in the middle of the road when I consider potential suitors. They probably all lean closer to a no than a yes and here’s why: Continue reading
Two points go in the win column tonight but the Sabres only enjoyed a one-point improvement in the standings. Buffalo played two dominant periods of hockey before hanging on for a 2-1 victory over the Islanders.
The trade deadline is fast approaching and teams that sit on the playoff bubble are nearing the point where they need to decide if they’re contenders or pretenders. The Sabres will need help for a while longer if they are to climb into the eighth or ninth spot in the conference.
However, more performances like tonight will certainly help matters. Ryan Miller was brilliant yet again in goal, turning aside 30 of 31 shots and the Sabres received another smart performance from Tyler Myers along the way.
The obvious problem of not having the “right” players still exists. It appears that teams who remain in the hunt but realize their shortcomings are beginning to sell off pieces. The Sabres certainly fall into that boat, but have plenty of skill on the roster that may just need the right amount of glue to get them on a playoff run.
Frankly I see too many issues that need to be addressed before the Sabres are capable of making a true run in the playoffs. They could certainly get the ball rolling at the deadline and carry that momentum into the off-season. In the meantime, their push towards eighth will be an uphill battle and they will need those above them to stumble along the way. Continue reading
The bottom of the Eastern Conference is little more than a cluster of teams trying not to make playoffs. Seven points separate eighth place from fifteenth and even the Southeast Division leading Panthers are a point better than eighth at this point.
Buffalo are still well within striking distance of a playoff spot, as are the Islanders. New York sits six points behind Toronto and Buffalo is seven back of the Leafs. There is still plenty of hockey to be played, but with the deadline looming you have to wonder how some teams in the East will move forward based on their current roster.
The Sabres are stuck in the middle. They’re only seven points out of a playoff spot and could conceivably push that gap to one point if they were to sweep this week’s games and get some help. While that isn’t the most realistic scenario, the ability for the Sabres to snag six points is well within reach. This team did cobble together a short streak of points recently. A strong week would likely set the team up to try and make one final push for the playoffs. Dropping three or more points could potentially set the table for a trade deadline of selling.
Personally, I just want to see this team play some strong, consistent hockey. Their last six-goal performance on national television was followed with two average efforts. If this team is serious about making a run, they need to prove their capable of being dominant for a number of games.
The Gaustad line vs. the Tavares line. Buffalo made Frans Nielsen look like Gretzky last time these two teams met. His success was mostly thanks to some poor defensive efforts. Buffalo has three points in their last two games, a big part of that has been the success the team has had in shutting down their opponent’s top line. Paul Gaustad is quickly making himself a commodity many teams will want at the deadline and Pat Kaleta and Nathan Gerbe have been effective in their roles. If this line is capable of another shut-down effort there is a good chance of grabbing two points.
BUF: Ryan Miller
NYI: Al Montoya
*no stats today*