With free agency set to begin at noon today, it’s tempting to hold out hope that the Buffalo Sabres will dip their toes into the water and miraculously pull out a desirable free agent such as Nathan Horton, Valtteri Filppula, or Mike Ribeiro.
Sabres fans, that just ain’t going to happen.
For starters, General Manager Darcy Regier has already taken the pains of heading you optimists off at the pass, saying,
“The focus is going to be on supporting this younger group, this younger core group. Certainly, you want good players, but you want players who are committed to being professionals, being examples, being contributors. Those are the most important characteristics and the most important things we can do organizationally to make sure we progress in the direction we need to go.” (Courtesy of Sabres Edge)
Being professionals, being examples, being contributors . . . hmmm, that sounds an awful lot like “role players” to me. No guts, no glory this year.
That’s okay, though, because the other reason you should not hold your breath and wait for the Sabres to fare well in the free agent market: they are a franchise embarking on a 3-4 year rebuilding process. Everyone in the NHL knows that, and if you are a highly sought-after free agent, you are in no hurry to settle for a team that has virtually no chance of making the playoffs in the foreseeable future. I don’t care how deep Terry Pegula’s pockets are; if you are a wanted man, better teams can offer you not just the cash, but the chance to win.
The Sabres are destined to be minor-league players in the free agent game, then . . . but that should not mean that Regier and company need to set their sights low when it comes to the trade market. With players such as Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford, and Ryan Miller to offer, there is zero reason why our beloved (cough) GM should be bored at work. As the Dallas Stars proved yesterday, you don’t need to go at it alone in the NHL. Sometimes, picking up the phone and initiating a dialogue can lead to a situation wherein two teams help each other out. The Sabres may be in a rebuilding phase, but there is some young talent out there that Buffalo should attempt to acquire in order to give fans a reason to cheer, as well as to speed up the process.
Let’s look at three realistic dancing partners for the Buffalo Sabres, starting with the one I am currently hearing the most chatter about.