April 2, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Jason Pominville (29) skates during warmups before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Why the Buffalo Sabres Should Not Gut The Team . . . Yet

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Following last night’s rousing, and many would say surprising, victory over the hotter-than-hot Pittsburgh Penguins, the Buffalo Sabres seemed poised to become major sellers on the final day of trading in the NHL this season.  And why not?  The Sabres proved they still have a team with some desirable parts, not the least of which would be Ryan Miller, who has been playing great hockey as of late and was a huge reason why the super-charged offense of the Penguins only managed to tally one goal last night.  A lot of people feel the Sabres should take advantage of this, including Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, who tweeted this last night:


There’s only one problem with the “Sell Darcy Sell” approach: it’s absolutely the worst idea at this point in time.

For starters, the very fact that someone like Ryan Miller played so well last night should make everyone in the Sabres organization realize that he’s still an elite net-minder.  (Bothered by the word elite?  Than just substitute the phrase “damn good,” and let it go!)   Trading him for a few picks would be absolute insanity; the Sabres would need to get equal value for him in order to keep their organization from becoming the absolute laughingstock of the NHL.  The problem is, who is going to be willing to give up a player who is even close to being equal in value to a starting net-minder?  If the Sabres were looking to outright replace Miller, their options are . . . well, they don’t have any, not with this news out of Phoenix:


And if you think the Kings are going to move Jonathan Bernier right now . . . well, that just makes me smile!

So the Sabres cannot swap Miller for another instant starting goaltender – can they possibly land a top-25 forward for him?  The pickings for those types of players are slim.  Sure, Mike Riberio has put up good numbers during his career, but he’s 33, and he’s more of a second-line player.  Besides:



The reality is, if the Sabres trade any of their three best players, they will most likely only get picks in return.  Rumor has it that the Columbus Blue Jackets are interested in Pominville, and hold the LA Kings’ first-round pick, which they are willing to part with (this is according to My NHL Trade Rumors), but unless the Sabres feel really lucky, I think it is insane to trade a proven player for the roll of the dice.  If the Sabres cannot get equal value, they should hold onto their big three . . . for now.

The second problem with selling your best players now is that your team is still within a miracle of making the playoffs.  I know that sounds ridiculous, discussing the playoffs when this team went down to Florida last week with playoff dreams and came home with nothing but nightmares . . . and yet, if the Sabres beat New Jersey this Friday, they will be only three points behind the Devils, who currently sit in seventh place. Shipping out Miller, Jason Pominville, and/or Thomas Vanek today means the Sabres are not even going to try and pretend that there is still something left to play for this season.  Maybe Terry Pegula is okay with seeing a bunch of empty seats at First Niagara Center as the season winds down – who knows?  I would think not, however.  Besides, a strong finish to the season might actually make some of the players more valuable come the offseason.  It’s not like Pominville has been lighting it up lately, but if he returns to form over the next three weeks . . . .

The Buffalo Sabres should definitely consider selling off some players, such as Drew Stafford, while they still can.  However, as last night’s game proved to the hockey world, the Sabres still have some quality players that can’t just be traded because the fans are clamoring for change.  I would like to think that the organization is savvy enough to combine the picks they have acquired with some equal-value trades to improve this team for next season, which is why I do not feel the Buffalo Sabres should trade any of the big three today.

As always, I welcome your opinions and suggestions, either here or @theamazingMrS!  Just try to play nice!


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