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What’s next for the Buffalo Sabres?

Oct 28, 2013, 10:44 AM EDT

Ryan Miller AP

Even before the season began, expectations were low for the Buffalo Sabres and rumors about Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller‘s future were persistent as they entered their contract seasons.

They’ve underperformed even by the low standards applied to them and less than a month into the season, Vanek has been shipped to the New York Islanders in exchange for a first round pic, a second rounder, and forward Matt Moulson.

So what is the next step for the Sabres? If nothing else, this move left them with plenty of options.

There’s still months before the trade deadline, so they have plenty of time to decide whether they want to re-sign Moulson before his contract expires this summer or trade him for more draft picks and/or prospects. Moulson is a capable top-line forward and averaged nearly a point-per-game last season, so he’s likely to fetch a decent price if they opt to move him.

This will obviously also fuel the trade rumors surrounding Miller, but it sounds like nothing is imminent on that front either.

“I’ve really had no discussions of late with respect to any of our other potential free agents,” Sabres GM Darcy Regier told reports during last night’s press conference. “Ryan continues to play extremely well, as I know all of you know. Between him and Jhonas has really been at the forefront of terrific efforts of our hockey team right from the start.”

He also doesn’t want to completely write off this season despite the team’s 2-10-1 start.

“I think it will depend on how quickly and how much we can get the team to jell and get the players to grow and a combination of those two things,” Regier said. “I don’t know the answer to that, but I can tell you the younger players are growing right now. They are getting better. The team is getting better.”

How the Sabres do in the coming months will be another key factor, but clearly Regier is looking to the future and has made a commitment to building through the draft. Because of that, this probably isn’t the last blockbuster trade Buffalo will be involved in this season.

Related:

Vanek’s agent says no extension with Isles just yet

Moulson’s agent says they’re ‘open-minded’ about Sabres’ plans

Snow on Vanek trade: Isles ‘need to take the next step’

  1. amityvillefun - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Dear Buffalo Season Ticket Holders,

    Thanks for the cash. We have no plans on bothering this year and are throwing in the towel until next season. Thanks for your patience while we rebuild the team. We appreciate your generous donations and sorry about all the losses. We didn’t see this coming!

    Sincerely,

    Darcy Regier and Buffalo Management

    • jl9830 - Oct 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      Well, what would you have them do? This is a pretty unreasonable position for a fan to take. Would you rather they throw money at mediocre players to keep the facade of contending alive? The Sabres are one of the worst teams in the NHL right now (if not the worst). The Sabres “bothering” isn’t working out so well, so may as well rebuild, still be bad now, and have a little hope for the future. Trust me: as an Islanders fan, the rebuild is worth it. Just be an all-weather fan of your team, not a fair-weather one.

      • elvispocomo - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:40 AM

        Well, there’s a small amount that can expect some sort of success after throwing money at the issue a few years ago and going after some big names in Ehrhoff and Leino, while trading for Hodgson and all that. They finally committed to improve the team but failed miserably in that.

        That’s an expectation fans can be a bit upset about, since now they’re looking to dump the players that have been cornerstones of the franchise and have the fans sit through a full rebuild.

        Vanek might have walked and Miller is likely on the tail end, but still, it’s the optics of it.

      • rabidbillsfan - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:24 PM

        Fans can only be mad at themselves. Buffalo is a sports city through and through, and the management of our professional sports teams sometimes err on the side of appeasing the fans in business decisions that these “fans” don’t understand. Everybody in the Buffalo area was calling for Darcy to spend money now that he could with Pegula, and he did. We got a Playoff hot Leino and a consistent, but not superstar Ehrhoff. Then, the biggest thing you hear in Buffalo is letting players walk for nothing, or not ponying up the cash, so we splurged on Stafford. The moves management made, were the ones all fans wanted to begin with. What I think they are finally starting to understand is that, let the fans say and do what they want, but there is a plan in place and nothing will influence it. Look at Ott wearing the “C”, it is a bit pathetic to see a guy who spends so much time in the box hurting his team with that on his chest, no? Fans wanted it though, check the Sabres Facebook, twitter and other social feeds. I’m sorry, but that deal that Darcy made for Vanek was a straight up Robbery. Same can go for Gaustad and even Pominville. This team is stacked with young talent, and in 1-2 years, that talent will bud into veteran guys. Then, the Sabres can try and acquire pieces through free-agency to make the championship push. Either way, it doesn’t matter to me how the Sabres do this season, I was expecting bad hockey and a last place finish, who cares how they get there. And yes, I do have season tickets, and still attend the games.

    • yougotgirouxed - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      Dude I wish the Flyers would do that. If we gave ourselves a fair shot to build from the ground up without expectations, we could put a team together. The Flyers never do that, and among other reasons, have not been able to win a cup since 75.

      I am a season ticket holder and I totally get where you are coming from and Philly is not a patient city at all. But I would sacrifice a couple seasons like this if it gave me a legitimate run at a Cup.

      • cantphaseme - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:59 AM

        Exactly, I mean look at Toronto. They basically built from the ground up through drafts. This is what HAS to happen. I am so sick of Buffalo fans crying and moaning be it Bills fans or Sabres fans just be happy that they are finally on the right track and this is what should have been done a few years ago.

      • jb8588 - Oct 28, 2013 at 12:02 PM

        Buffalo is doing the right thing, something Calgary should of started at least two years ago. With the way the league is anymore, you pretty much have to be terrible to get those top picks and rebuild. Chicago sure didn’t get Kane & Toews from being a good team that they are now. Same with the Caps with Ovi & Backstrom, Pittsburgh with Malkin & Crosby, LA with Kopitar & Doughty, etc etc.

  2. pxland - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    “What’s next for the Buffalo Sabres?”

    Anguish.

  3. channelguy - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    Remember that the culture you have in basketball particularly, and the NFL to a lesser degree, of tanking for the draft doesnt really exist in hockey — the exception being back when Alexander Daigle, who was (wrongly) seen as a can’t miss superstar was up 20 years ago, and Ottawa was accused of dumping games to draft him. There has also been more balance in recent years, with the worst teams in the league in recent years being NOWHERE near the level of ineptitude the Sabres have been playing at. The top picker in the draft last year, Colorado, got a new coach, a couple new players, and is 10-1. So being really really bad would likely enrage the fans, especially the season’s ticket holders

    In addition, if the Sabres REALLY wanted to tank, they would need to do it for TWO years. This is supposed to be a good draft year, but the real prize isn’t until 2015, when Connor McDavid becomes draft-eligible. So the Sabres would have to tank two years in a row — and then hope they win the lottery. How many players on the Sabres now would have their careers ended by that? And would the coach and GM survive? Remember that when Indianapolis fans in the NFL called for their team to “Suck for Luck,” they got him, but both the coach and GM were fired and neither is a head coach or GM now.

  4. rabidbillsfan - Oct 28, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    @channelguy

    The Colts are a poor example for starters. The only reason they had the top pick was because Manning was hurt. It’s not like the team had been semi-bad for a few seasons and just decided to pack it in to get Luck. I also don’t think the Sabres want to tank, I think they want to be young and develop a solid core. It’s not like they are fire-sale-ing guys for nothing, they have gotten massive returns on their assets in the trades the last few seasons. Remember, some of these guys haven’t even played 10 NHL games yet, and we are going to judge them now? That’s crazy. This team will develop into a Top-10 power in the NHL in a few years, just give it time. It will be a night and day difference at the end of the season and will spark hope for things to come. Look at the Bills. This team was a laughingstock the last few seasons, now they have played every single team tough, and outside of yesterday, hadn’t lost a game by more than 7 points. Those are steps in the right direction. Winning for a young team is nice, but coming out of it knowing you played your tail off and made improvements, win or lose, is almost more important.

  5. wingsfan97 - Oct 28, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    It’s nice to be a wings fan.i don’t see them ever having to rebuild

  6. Patrick Helper - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    The Sabres will go fire sale from top to bottom. http://helpersportsblog.wordpress.com/tag/buffalo-sabres/

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