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PHT Morning Skate: Did Sabres sign themselves out of Connor McDavid?

Jul 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

Erie Otters v Windsor Spitfires Getty Images

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Did the Buffalo Sabres ruin their chances of tanking to the No. 1 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft by adding some notable free agents such as Matt Moulson and trading for Josh Gorges? Here’s a strong vote for “No” – Brian Gionta isn’t anywhere near the player he once was, for example – but it’s an interesting question to ask. (The Hockey News)

Is it time for the Winnipeg Jets to blow everything up and start over? (Arctic Ice Hockey)

Which players would make the all-California all-time team? The list is based on players born in California, not ones who merely were employed in the state at one time or another … and let’s just say it isn’t pretty. (Battle of California)

“Fancy stats” readers can read up on “dCorsi” (aka Delta Corsi) in two helpful posts from Steve Burch. (Pension Plan Puppets and NHL Numbers)

PHT touched on some of the high points already, but just in case you missed it, check out Elliotte Friedman’s last 30 Thoughts column for some time. (CBC)

Saku Koivu isn’t the only player looking for big bucks for his old pad. Check out how much Henrik Lundqvist wants for his posh penthouse. (The Modlin Group via Henrik Lundqvist blog)

In praise of Nashville’s value-heavy offseason signings. (SB Nation NHL)

  1. alicesrightfootesq - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    If there is one signing that may have put Buffalo out of McDavid, it is Ted Nolan.

  2. lowenni - Jul 23, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    I really don’t think the Sabres are going to end up drafting 1st next year, or even 2nd. I’m torn on how I feel about all their free agent signings–on one hand, they signed two great veteran leaders in Gorges and Gionta and brought pack a proven scorer in Moulson who wants to be there. That’s good, it shows they’re committed to winning and building a strong roster. But on the other hand, they aren’t gonna make the playoffs next year, and the point of a rebuild is to give youngsters a chance to play and move out aging veterans (*cough cough* Gionta). But I don’t think they could pass up the opportunity to bring in a hometown veteran guy like Gionta, he’ll be a fan favorite and probably captain. So, they’ll have a top-5 pick, but they chose to risk missing out on McDavid or Eichel and I suppose they just chose to bring in great vets to mentor their young guys instead. They could also use some of their many picks and prospects to trade up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ottawa Senators picking 1st next year.

    • elemeno89 - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      Buffalo needs at least 14 more wins to put them out of last place. Do any of our signings do that? Maybe, but we’re still close to the bottom of the basement. Essentially our signings allowed us to stay stagnant, maybe a little better. We still have mediocre goal tending, and a young roster that has little true NHL experience.

      I expect much to be the same this year for the Sabres, but this time with a little added effort.

    • lilroot9 - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      I could not disagree more. You seem to be missing the point. Gionta is here for leadership for the young players, to learn the NHL game for a true professional. I am sure they told him not to worry about his point totals, but showing the players to play hard and prepare better. You can’t just put young players in the league that are not ready and expect them to grow from that, it could be devistating to the players developmental future.

      Signing Moulson means really nothing for next year. Sabres had Vanek for a bit and then Moulson to trading deadline, did the help their overall standings (point totals) that much? And Gorges is a stay at home D, so he is not adding to the point sheet. It was a strong move towards the future for our D (with all the young D we already have).

      I am a Sabres fan, so tanking for 1st or 2nd overall is totally worth it (one more time) and then expect growth from there. Their are some other teams that could be horrible too though, Ottawa is one, so is Calgary (and hopefully the Islanders, haha).

      Building this attitude and work ethic takes time, so they started this off season. Go Sabres!! (in 2015, lol)

      • islesjb - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:34 AM

        Completely understand your hope for the Isles to tank this year (I would too if I were in your shoes), but I really don’t think that is going to happen; they’ve gotten a lot better this off season and will have a healthy John Tavares leading the team. I think they are at least a borderline play and certainly not a basement-dweller this year

      • lilroot9 - Jul 23, 2014 at 12:01 PM


        I understand they look to be better, I just want them to tank. I don’t think they will, but you never know! HOPEFULLY the Blues tank too (but I know they wont).

      • elrock7 - Jul 23, 2014 at 7:52 PM

        Building an attitude and work ethic for tanking? That’s pretty funny.

  3. lordfletcher - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    Buffalo will be better but how much is the question. Florida looks pretty bad and who knows what’s going to happen in Edmonton. Calgary is the wild card to me and possibly Ottawa.

    That said, Buffalo was so bad last year (points) they would have to get significantly better, I don’t see them falling past #2 still. When your goal diff is -91, that’s hard to rebound from in one year

    • 19to77 - Jul 23, 2014 at 1:05 PM

      Also, one thing some people seem to be underplaying is the loss of Ryan Miller. Look, he wasn’t lights-out in St. Louis. Fine. But he WAS the best player in Buffalo last year up to the point he was traded, and that abysmal goal differential would have looked even worse without him. Which is exactly the situation they find themselves in now. Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth and Matt Hackett are not going to save this team from itself.

  4. rmccleary97 - Jul 23, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    Winnipeg needs significantly better goaltending. Even just league average goaltending would shave 23-24 GA off; that would put them at 213-214 GA.

  5. phtjoey - Jul 23, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    TM is building for the short and long term. You don’t have to tank and finish last to get the first overall pick. There will be a McDavid derby next year which will involve 29 teams trying to trade for the first draft pick from the team who owns it.

  6. cantescapekarma - Jul 23, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    The thing is, even if Buffalo finishes dead last again this year we are not guaranteed the first overall pick (as we seen this year). The odds are actually even less next year because of the changes. But at the same time, I guess that gives them a better chance at 1st overall if they don’t finish last, since we should have 2 lottery picks (since I see NYI improving but I still think they miss the playoffs).
    BUT – if the draft picks we already have in our system are not developed correctly, it doesn’t matter if we get McDavid or not. We will just be another Edmonton. So therefore I love these moves by Tim Murray. We got some great character guys to help develop these young guys the right way. How could you possibly turn down Gionta, Gorges & Moulson all wanting to come to Buffalo?
    I get it though, we were so absolutely terrible last year that now the fans are invested in getting a couple of top players in this years & next years draft. We want that terrible season last year to be worth it in the long run. But at the same time it’s pretty terrible that we have lowered our hopes so much, to the point that we’re rooting for then to put a terrible losing team on the ice. At least with these changes the fans should get their money’s worth if they go to a game this season….

    Also, we have 3 first round picks next year and that’s in what everyone is calling a pretty loaded & deep draft. Add that to what they have already amassed and Buffalo is a scary team down the road even without McDavid or Eichel. But only if the players are developed correctly, which is why these moves Had To be made.

    • elrock7 - Jul 23, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      Who cares where he goes? It guarantees NOTHING! It is no lock that he becomes the next great player either.

      • elrock7 - Jul 23, 2014 at 8:03 PM

        Also how many cups has the so-called great penguins with Crosby and Malkin won? How about the Isles with Tavares? Isles are still not a whole lot better now than they were pre-Tavares.

  7. drewsylvania - Jul 23, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    F**k tanking.

  8. rosloe62 - Jul 23, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    I feel bad for whoever has to play in Buffalo.

    • cantescapekarma - Jul 23, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      ^ well Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges, Cody McCormick and Matt Moulson would all disagree with you, seeing as they all had plenty of other options (besides maybe McCormick who only had a few other options) but Chose to sign in Buffalo. Giant a actually came seeking the Sabres to sign him. So did McCormick & Moulson – who both had Buffalo as #1 on their list of free agent destinations.

      But yeah, who would want to play in a great hockey town like Buffalo, with amazing fans, a great coach in Ted Nolan who players absolutely love, a great new young GM with a great hockey mind and an amazing billionaire owner who has proven that he is willing to spend unlimited amounts of money in an effort to bring The Cup to Buffalo (and has dumped lots of money into this team already, built a giant state of the art hockey complex next door to the arena (HarborCenter) as well as renovated the players locker rooms to be the nicest most state of the art dressing rooms in the entire NHL as just a couple examples). Not to mention the owners amazing wife, who has welcomed every players families with open arms and made their transition to living here as nice as possible. The ownership of this team is as first class as it comes.

      Personally, I would think that it would be exciting to play for Buffalo, especially in the coming years. They are loaded with young talented players and they haven’t even used the 3 first round picks in next years draft yet. Plus, any player who is a big part of the turn around here will be famous in Western NY forever, and will probably have statues built of them… I think that’s a very big reason why so many ex Buffalo players live here after they retire.They are treated like first class for the rest of their lives by an amazing fan base here in WNY. (just look at how this area has embraced Jim Kelly and his family during his fight with cancer).

  9. pjblake2redwings - Jul 23, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    I think Buffalo drafts 3-4.. my money is on Calgary or Winnipeg to draft McDavid

    • beergold - Jul 23, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      He would be a god in either city!

    • bullwinkle88 - Jul 23, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      You’re all forgetting Arizona…they will probably be last in the league.

  10. thomasvanek - Jul 23, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Even if we are in last the league isn’t going to give us McDavid like they gave Pitts Crosby.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jul 23, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      So what? Eichel isn’t just another player.

  11. leninthebuff - Jul 24, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    The Sabres might have improved their line-up but in the end their goal tending will not get them the amount of points that Miller got them last year…it will pretty much even out more offense but less goal tending

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