Three Reasons Why the Buffalo Sabres Need to Make A Significant Trade

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Apr 26, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Thomas Vanek (26) brings the puck up ice as New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) pursues during the second period at the First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Over the weekend, I played nice.

When Friday, July 5th, came and went, and 27 out of the 30 NHL teams had finished setting fire to the excess piles of cash they had clearly been stockpiling while they told the world the old CBA wasn’t working, I took a moment to reflect on the total lack of any free agency activity exhibited by the Buffalo Sabres.  Had I not taken that moment, I might have written a very angry-sounding post . . . but I would have had to issue a retraction the very next day, because when the dust had settled, I was okay with the Sabres choosing to remain out of the bidding wars that had broken out over players like Valtteri Filppula (an okay player) and Ryane Clowe (a player who only scored three more goals than I did during my tenure in the NHL last season).  This year’s free agency market was weak, so my post on Saturday defended the Sabres and embattled General Manager Darcy Regier, as did the majority of readers who voted in the poll (252 out of 365, for 69%).

The weekend is over now, along with my Mister Nice Guy approach.  Free agency might have been worth steering clear of, but the fact that the Sabres have not pulled the trigger on any significant trades is inexcusable, in my eyes. Allow me to present my three reasons why.   Sabres, prepare to spar again!

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  • Jes

    your complaining too much.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      Thanks for the read!

  • 40plusyearsfrustration

    Great article. We have a wannabe, cheerleader owner who can’t get over his girl crush on Darla. Keeps said gm and watches team become a joke to rest of league. Claims he is a great fan and cries over great players from past. They should stand up and laugh at him to to prove what a pathetic joke he has let this team become.
    Yes, we have good young talent that MIGHT produce. So why not a trade for a proven talent that WILL produce.
    Ahg, why bother, absolutely frustrated with this team.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      Rebuild doesn’t have to mean just draft, right? There were pieces to be gotten.

      • 40plusyearsfrustration

        Just venting my frustration. I’m just tired of waiting. Year after year of the same story. I am beginning g to this k that being a Sabres fan is the definition of insanity. Doing the same thing year after year and expecting different results. Have almost had it with them. One more bad year I can handle if someone gets smart and fires the a__hole gm too. But another terrible year with retain I g the clown, all bets r off.

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          Some people think I’m just trying to be negative- we’re a fan blog, so the writers here WANT to see a winning product, just like you! We vent, you vent – it’s catharsis! :D

          • 40plusyearsfrustration

            I appreciate your articles and the forum to vent. Have a good one and let’s hope for the best.

  • PaulR

    Why is Buffalo a laughingstock? You yourself said that there were no good deals in free-agency. Avoiding that bidding-war nonsense should make the Sabres clever, shouldn’t it?

    As to not trading Miller or Vanek. My questions are: why does everyone assume they must be gone? Can’t they contribute to the Sabres next season? Without Vanek, the Sabres will have no scoring punch whatsoever, and everyone knows it. I am still more comfortable with Miller in net vs. Enroth. I would bet Rolston feels the same way.

    Also, I’m not a big Regier fan, but with the cap going down, and veteran player buy-outs and salary-dumps occurring on many teams, it is clear the market for $6-$7 million players is extremely thin. Darcy probably got very few offers – if any. Imagine what fans would say if Vanek was traded for an AHL prospect and 2nd-round pick? If the market is indeed bad, Regier is absolutely correct to have these guys play out their contracts and look towards a deal later on.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I said that staying out of the bidding war was smart. However, doing NOTHING to help the team is not smart. Trying to make trades, and failing, also does not add to the club’s image as a team that can get the job done. Look at the teams that are successful – they make moves. The Sabres did not. Can’t help but see that as a missed opportunity.

      • qwicwted

        Rich, I think if the Sabres signed someone like Marrow or Cleary – that would add leadership. I read a rumor that Buffalo was interested in Jagr – God, I hope not. While I admire his work ethic and he does have “hockey sense” – he is slower than molasses. I would also think that if St. Louis had an interest in Miller last year, their interest would be even more intense since they didn’t get out of the first round. Their goaltending situation is questionable and I wonder what is going on with Stewart who can file for arbtration. I would like to see something like Halak and Stewart for Miller, Adam and Stafford.

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          I certainly would support the St. Louis deal you describe, and I likewise would not be on board with the Sabres picking up Jagr (or Morrow, but tat may just be me!). Cleary, I could see.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      Sure – let Vanek and Miller, two guys who have made it very clear they are open to being traded (which makes their odds of resigning with Buffalo what, exactly) play next year and then leave as free agents. The Sabres get nothing in return, and that helps the team how? I didn’t make Vanek and Miller go public with their sentiment, but if they are open to leaving, why wait until they do?

      • PaulR

        Vanek’s cap hit is $7.1 million and Miller is $6.25 million. From my basic view of team salary caps, >50% of teams did not even have room for a new player with such a salary. For the remainder, its a question of if Vanek or Miller were even wanted. I have no way to know for sure, but I bet other teams’ interest in Miller was very low – lower than the average fan or hockey follower would imagine.

        As to Vanek, all I heard was one brief comment at the end of the season where he indicated he wouldn’t want to be around for a slow re-build. Maybe Regier and Pegula have reason to believe they can keep him. I would also imagine that offers for Vanek were nowhere near what you or I would deem reasonable.

        My point – everyone assumes Miller and Vanek should have been traded. What if no one in the rest of the NHL wanted them for more than chump-change???

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          Teams have inquired about both of those players – and the Sabres have actively shopped them, so this isn’t a fantasy: the reality is the Sabres are trying to trade, and failing. Again – failed trades, no free agent activity – none of this makes me feel like the Sabres are a team that knows how to play ball in this league. Look at how many trades went down in the past week – teams are moving people, big contracts were signed. Big league teams make moves is what I am getting at; the Sabres have a mediocre team, and have done what to improve it?

          • qwicwted

            Richard – we talked about the “big trade” of Ryan to Ottawa – thing is Anaheim has $7M in available cap space, they have to resign at least Salenne and Palmieri. Before the Ryan trade they only had $4M. They swapped out a $5M player for two prospective top 6 forwards along with a 1st round draft pick – all for > $2M thus giving them an additional $3M to sign some of their UFA. They got the most bang for their buck and Vanek would have added $2M leaving them only $2M to sign Salenne and Palmieri – just wastn’t gonna happen.

            Yes, Darcy does value his players and let’s face it, the Sabres are rebuilding – not having a fire sale. When Vanek and Miller opened their mouths about wanting to leave the Sabre Organization – they decreased their value. Perhaps they thought teams would offer the Sabres what they were worth – but I don’t think the talent was anywhere near the value.

            Rumor has it that Boston may be interested in trading Raask, Marchand and Kelly for Miller and Vanek. That would be a deal that should be looked at very carefully.

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            Hello again! I remember our discussion, and it’s my fault that people assume I’m only talking about Vanek and Miller, because they are the two most high-profile guys being shopped right now, Someone else the Sabres should move is Drew Stafford, who doesn’t carry the $7 million price tag that Vanek does. That doesn’t mean they still could have swung the Bobby Ryan deal – but there’s deals to be made. I’m patient – but in my eyes, they need to do more than they have done this offseason. I follow other sports – winning teams make moves more often than they sit on their hands. The Boston rumor is intriguing, indeed!

          • qwicwted

            Richard, sorry to say I don’t think Stafford has any value. I thought perhaps Darcy might have been able to pull off a Setoguchi for Stafford trade, but the Wild pulled the trigger on Seto for a 2nd rounder. Just tells me that Drew’s days might be numbered in the NHL.
            At this point, I would rather Darcy stay pat then do a trade just for a trade – to silence his critics. Yes, winning teams make moves, but how often does a SC winner repeat back to back? One thing is certain and I think you and most Sabre fans would agree is that Darcy won’t fire sale Vanek or Miller.

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            No -you-re right about that: Miller and Vanek should not be victims of a fire sale, even though I would hate to see them walk without the Sabres getting close to equal value in return. As for Stafford – dude needs a change of scenery. I don’t think he has no value, but he didn’t help his cause last season.

          • qwicwted

            I appreciate your viewpoints and Sabrenoise has given me a forum to voice my thoughts and receive an intelligent response in return. Too often people respond – fire Darcy, fire Lindy, I’m not going to support the Sabres etc.

            Personally, Stafford has been stagnant for awhile – yes, he scores in bunches – but I’ve been hoping he would have been gone by now – hot yoga just didn’t do it for him. One thing I will say is that he came back after his benching playing a more physical game and I appreciated the effort. But aside from that, any trade involving Stafford will also mean taking some salary back. I’m also not completely sold on Kevin Porter – but being practicle – what would you get for him?

          • Robert Patrick Moscato

            I don’t believe that the Bruins, a division rival is willing to part with two players instrumental in getting them one period away from winning the Stanley Cup. The Bruins don’t seem the type of team to sacrifice the future, for two players who maybe just past their prime. This rumor is just not to be believed

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            The more I slept on and thought about that rumor, the more I said to myself, “Well that will never happen.” of course, watch me be wrong now, but it wouldn’t seem to benefit Boston much.

          • qwicwted

            I’m not saying I would jump at the trade, but it would give me pause. The logic behind it is – Marchand has a rep of being a party boy and he wasn’t pleased that his buddy Seguin was traded. The thinking in Boston is that Rask as an elite goalie is suspect – choking in the SC final. Is he worth $7M? I guess for some, they would rather have Miller for that amount. Lastly, Kelly had a crappy year last year. Kelly is more of a defensive center – I really like the way he plays, but Boston is looking to shed some salary and Kelly seems to be the sacrificial lamb.
            I’m not saying this deal is in the works or anything, but I’m seeing more and more mention of a “big deal” involving Marchand and/or Kelly.

          • Robert Patrick Moscato

            July 11th Tukaa Rask sings a long term contract extension with the Bruins. So much for this trade happening w/o Rask..

    • Justin Tosczak

      They have become laughing stock because Darcy has lost enough respect, and bargaining power with the other GM’s of the league.. Everyone in the league knows how Darcy is now, heck, he has been around for 16 years!! GM’s come and go, but when Darcy stays, and keeps doing things his old school way, we get caught in this time warp. We are just repeating history, and aiming to be a bottom place team yet again.

      Trading Miller and Vanek have become non-negotiables now. Miller already sold his Condo, and hasn’t played the same or cared the same since the Lucic incident. He wants out. And I promise, if we do not trade him while we can, he will walk for nothing, and unfortunately, once Miller gets a huge contract from somewhere else, Vanek will want a piece of cake too. I hate to say it, but they gotta go. They should have done a deal for Bobby Ryan, or still work a deal for James Neal, or something, but Vanek won’t stay either.

      My biggest point here is that something significant needs to be done, or else History will keep repeating itself.

  • Robert Patrick Moscato

    So let me get this straight. The Sabres should make a Big Trade, probably give away too much and then sign a player to contract for a too much money?? Then Sabres fans will complain it was the wrong player for too much money?? Man Sabres Fans,and Buffalo sports fans are just never happy.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      Sorry – I don’t see where I typed any of that. Actually, I am arguing that the Sabres may have put themselves in jeopardy of doing those very things. I allude to two players who do have trade value, who will almost certainly walk next year, who the Sabres have been openly shopping. The chances of dealing these players for near-equal value has diminished, to the point where the Sabres may wind up making a bad trade in order to get any value out of these pieces.

      • Robert Patrick Moscato

        Richard I was not saying that about you or your story, I was just commenting on how I feel that many Sabres Fans see that everything regarding the improvement of the Organization has to be done right away, and then after Sabres management screws up they complain that what was done should n’t have happened in the first place. I believe that both Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek will be in Blue and Gold come the first week of October. I do believe however they’ll have left the Organization before or at the trade deadline.

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          Thank you for clarifying – my apologies. I was a little fired up from another comment, so I jumped at the chance to re-explain my post. I definitely hear a lot of negativity coming from the Sabres fanbase, and I know I can be tough on the organization, as well. I have to say that (IMO) part of the frustration comes from being told the Sabres were on a 3 year-plan to win the Stanley Cup (which is foolishly optimistic, but at least it was optimistic) to seeing a franchise in decline that has now reverted back to rebuild mode. That, and the fact that no one in Buffalo likes Darcy Regier. :)

          • Robert Patrick Moscato

            I am willing to cut Terry Pegula a little more slack than many in this town. I will say however that the biggest error he made so far in his tenure as Sabres owner was a promise to win the Stanley Cup in 3 years. Anyone who knew the make up of the Club back then knew at best the team was 4 to 5 years away from having a club that is able to go deep into the playoffs. I am convinced Terry will take look at where this franchise is in a year and do the correct thing and let Darcy Regier go.

          • 40plusyearsfrustration

            I like both of what the two of you have to say. Yes, I too have been a bit upset with Mr. Pegula, but am willing to see where he goes from here.
            Just in my eyes, his biggest mistakes have been the retention of said GM and his need to rein in Mr. Black from some his snide comments. My personal experience with him was an e-mail stating that if he lost me as a fan, no problem, there is always someone else to take my place. Very condescending.
            I never bought the 3 years to win a cup, but as was implied, at least there was optimism. Now were starting the said GM’s 2nd or 3rd rebuild since he’s been here??
            And so many folks are willing to give said GM the benefit of the doubt. Failure is failure, nough said I guess.

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            Wow – can’t believe Black would tell you that in an email! I would like to think that this is Regier’s last shot – how many times can you allow someone a chance to do their job correctly? If this was practically any other business in the world, he would be out of a job, or at least he would have been demoted to a lesser position.

  • Matt Nolan

    I’d prefer we try to steal an rfa or two like Damien Bruner or alex petrangelo

  • jimbobv2

    It’s hard to blame Regier for not moving Vanek and Miller when we don’t know if any other GM was really interested.

    Do you blame a homeowner for asking for a fair market price for their house and it takes a while to sell?

    What if Regier asked St Louis for a reasonable package and St Louis only wants to give up a 3rd round pick and Halak for Miller?

    It doesn’t appear that the Flyers had any real interest in Miller. Not with them opting to go with Mason & Emery next year.

    The same with the Islanders given that they re-signed Nabokov and Poulin.

    You can’t trade Miller if no team really wants him.

    At the end of the day, I think the Blues deal happens. It’s just the two GMs playing chicken at this point.

    Vanek could still get a great return at the deadline. He should net about what Pominville got, or more.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I don’t blame a home owner who asks for market value, but I do blame a home owner who asks too much given the current reality. Regier often over-values his players. I don’t know if that is currently the case, although that’s what St. Louis claims he did when he was pricing Miller. We’ll see!

      • jimbobv2

        Regier sets a high price for his guys.

        But, he happens to get it plenty of times.

        People were laughing when he wanted a 1st at the deadline for Gaustad. Then the Preds pulled the trigger on a 1st for Gaustad+4th.

        I bet plenty of GMs thought the price for Pominville was high. Then the Wild gave up the package they did.

        Without knowing what Regier asked St Louis for exactly, we’ll never know if this is another team lowballing Regier or Regier overvaluing his guy.

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