The Top Five Changes I Want to See the Buffalo Sabres Make

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Nov 27, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) in net during the game against the Montreal Canadiens at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Ryan Miller and Bring Up Matt Hackett

I like Ryan Miller – always have.  I think Buffalo Sabres fans end to over-value him a bit – he’s not one of the top 10 best goalies in the NHL, and really hasn’t been except for his 2009-2010 campaign – but he’s a good goaltender who could win a championship with the right team/system around him.   There is no doubt that Miller and Jhonas Enroth are the Sabres’ MVPs so far this dismal season, so props to him for stepping up and giving this rough-around-the-edges team a chance to win so many times this season . . . but it’s time to let him go contend for the Stanley Cup, folks.  Whereas Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek were traded solely to help the team stockpile draft picks, Ryan Miller should be traded because he deserves to finish his career with a few more playoff wins under his belt.  (That doesn’t mean Buffalo should trade him for magic beans, just that this is the RIGHT reason to trade him.)

Besides, it would come as an absolute stunner if Miller chose to resign with the team come the offseason.  He’s going to be gone this time next year, and the Sabres are going to be relying on the goalie tandem of Enroth and Matt Hackett, so let’s get Hackett up in the big leagues now and see what we have in the guy.  After all, he presumably has the inside track over guys such as Nathan Lieuwen and Andrey Makarov, and even though his 4-7-2 record and 3.06 GAA with the Rochester Americans right now isn’t super impressive, he’s on a team that is just 9-8 and that has been outscored 64-71 so far this season.  Hmm, sounds like the same predicament Miller, he of the 5-15-0 record and the 3.05 GAA, is in.  I want to know who the goaltenders of the future are, today, so let’s throw Enroth and Hackett into the flames and see what we’ve got!

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres

  • Caitlin Campbell

    I think convincing Moulson to stay is imperative for the future of this team. I know he probably doesn’t want to stay but if they can some how convince him to stay long-term- Cody Hodgson type the rebuild battle is being won little by little.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I agree – Hodgson may not be a “true” first-line center, but having two proven scorers on the wing with him will sure help.

  • Dano

    ” I don’t envy Pat LaFontaine and the rest of the Buffalo Sabres’ front office, as they have quite the challenge in front of them.”

    I fully agree with your assessment on many things and like yourself, I dont envy lalalalalFontaines position right now.

    I do feel another capable/scoring winger needs to be brought in ( and soon ) to play with Hodgson and Moulson. Show Moulson that the team is serious, offer him a good and fair pay raise and try to keep him around by showing how serious this organization is about re-establishing a winning seasonal campaign.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      Yes, yes! Grab another winger and turn to Moulson and say, “This shows you: we’re serious about winning.” Going out and getting a right winger before dealing with Moulson would be the smart thing to do – I’m glad you brought that up.

      • Dano

        I think it serves purpose on 2 fold.

        1.) It shows Moulson the dedication the team has to moving forward.
        2.) It puts Hodgson in a position to prove his worth between 2 legitimate wings.

        It puts to rest weather or not Hodgsons abilities are inflated at present or if he can excell/grow with more talent around him.

        Given the right situation, we all can find excellence in what we do. I thought Hodgson did well with Vanek and Pommers considering he was a third line center on the Nucks and was pushed up to first line duties. ‘ trial by fire ‘ so to say.

    • Joe Mazurkiewicz

      Good point Dano!!!! So why not bring up JOEL ARMIA & try him with COHO & MOULSON!!!!!!!!!

      • Dano

        Excellent idea!

      • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

        I agree – but Nolan has made it pretty clear he doesn’t want such raw rookies out there making rookie mistakes, so I don’t think we’ll see this any time soon.

      • Jes

        Armia is to early to bring up IMO. We do not want to bring him along to fast like we did with Ristolainen and Grigorenko and to a lesser extent Girgensons. But for a couple games I wouldn’t mind. And we already know how Nolan feels about rookies minus Girgensons so I doubt anything happens with that anytime soon.

        • Kevin

          I say bring him up and give him right wing on the first line. Let’s see what he’s got. Don’t just stick with the “green giant” and “I do nothing” Flynn.

  • TheKaz1969

    With regards to the # of Leafs fans at Buffalo home games — I honestly don’t blame season ticket holders for selling these tickets to Leafs fans. Even if the Sabres were currently undefeated, I would not blame them. When season ticket holders can sell the Leafs games and pay for, probably, 1/4 to 1/3 of their season tickets with the proceeds because Leafs fans are willing to overpay for the honor of cheering for their team in another arena, they’d be foolish not to sell.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I can’t blame them for selling their tickets, either, but I would like it to become less glaring any issue then it was last Friday. I would also like the organization to make fans proud enough to want to use their seats as often as possible. The ticket selling will never stop, but when home fans are outnumbered, that’s just one more reason for everyone to make fun of Buffalo.

      • TheKaz1969

        is this really an issue beyond Leafs games?

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          Is it as big an issue? No. But some teams can sell out an arena and only win 20% of their games, because the fan base is supportive and has pride. I feel the Sabres fanbase could support the team a bit more in this regard.

          • Jes

            Exactly Richard, it also does get a tad embarrassing that our own arena we get out chanted and get beer bottles thrown at our home team right? But whatever it’s not going to change with TO games so we might as well put it behind us. I honestly hate to see what a Toronto vs Buffalo game in Buffalo in the playoffs would look like nowadays….

          • JHizzle75

            Ha ha Sorry, Jes, but a Buffalo Toronto playoff game? I think that will be a couple years at the earliest….and I bet by the time Buffalo gets good Toronto will be back in the cellar where they belong. Lol. I haven’t done any research, but when was the last playoff meeting between these teams? Or have they ever met in the playoffs?

            Sorry I’m a dumb-ass. Lol
            They played in the East final in ’99
            How could I forget that one.
            Long day at work. Lol

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            We’re a forgiving bunch around here, so don’t worry about it! :D

          • JHizzle75

            Good to know. From what I read last night I would say MOST of you are forgiving. Lol. Sorry Jes and Dano, but I must admit I’m not easily offended and was actually very entertained by your back and forth. Lol you need never worry about hurting my feelings with your language or comments… So let ‘er rip !

          • Jes

            Lol I got a warning from the staff so I cant say anything anymore lol.

          • JHizzle75

            How does that work?

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            Tim is the moderator for this site; he can have comments deleted (as he had to, for the piece I wrote about the Leafs) and can have you blocked from Disqus if he really feels you are out of control.

            Jes and Dano are not out of control; I’ve had heated conversations with both, and there’s never any harm meant. Things get out of hand sometimes, but the regular readers here are great and just love to discuss hockey.

          • JHizzle75

            Good to know. Thanks. Guess I’ll have to watch the ‘ol sailor talk as well. Lol

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            It’s only a problem if you are blatantly attacking/insulting a write or reader. I am the first one to jump in and defend my writing staff here, and the only time we have ever deleted comments is when trolls came out and were being excessively vulgar two weeks back. Otherwise, we’re not policing your language and we genuinely like to engage in discussions with everyone here!

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            Ha ha ha!

          • Jes

            Lol ya JHizzle Leafs will be at the bottom soon enough. With all that spending on average players minus Kessel they are doomed. I believe they have met in the playoffs before. I was young gun back then so I have no idea the attendance situation. But they met when they made east finals against them in 99

  • JHizzle75

    My two cents: On the topic of Scott being only useful to fight, couldn’t agree more.
    He’s nice to have around for when things get ugly, but doesn’t offer much else.
    Personally, I would like to see Ben Eager as a Sabre. Always been a fan of his….
    Good skater, has some offensive ability, but most importantly has a great work ethic that I think would fit well on Ted Nolan’s team.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      There are definitely guys who can skate, play, and mix it up, so I am puzzled as to why we have Scott. Eh, we’ll see.

      • Dano

        Foligno fits your description. :D

  • Johntrice Smith

    Great article, you are right on target with all 6 points. In regards to value, you have to remember that you aren’t just going to see the Sabres. I paid $30 on Stub Hub and enjoyed seeing all the good young Avalanche players when they played here. Sometimes the opportunity to see the other team live is worth the price of admission if you are a hockey fan rather than a Sabres fan.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      True – but the willingness to allow Toronto fans, one of the Sabres’ biggest rivalries, to fill FNC is embarrassing. Fans want quality players to come to the 716, and they want the organization to be respected . . . but when there’s 10,000 Leafs in attendance in your home arena, you’re not doing much to help your cause.

      • Kevin

        Quality players do come to 716, unfortunately for the other team, LOL. I agree with your point. immensely

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          Great – way to make me even sadder, Kevin. :(

      • Kevin

        When someone offers 300% over the face value of the ticket, there will always be people willing to sell.

  • Jes

    1. Trading Miller for whatever they can get. Right now there isn’t a huge demand for goalies. And wherever there is a demand Miller doesn’t want to go. But hopefully the right deal comes along and Lafontaine or the new GM jumps on it.
    2. Getting a first rounder or a top prospect in return for Moulson. He is already as good as gone. IMO he doesn’t have any intention of sticking around, just a contractual obligation, nothing else. Plus like Rich said he’s not really enjoying Nolan’s style of coaching. So unless we get a new coach and or we are vastly overpaying he’s gone.
    3. I don’t know what people have against Scott but whatever… The guy does his job to a T and has improved since Nolan’s took over. I think we should resign him. I’d keep him over Kaleta.
    4. Your right about providing more value for dollar.
    5. I believe this trade deadline will mold the future and what our franchise will become in this next decade.
    6. I’d like to add that we will probably end up trading Ott. Doubt he will sign. The guys 31 and hasn’t won a cup yet so he like the other two big UFA’s will be dealt. Only thing that may keep him here is smart moves by a GM up and till the trade deadline that make us better for next year. Like acquiring proven players. Players with a name in the league. And maybe another center. We have all the pieces to acquire all that but sadly I believe Lafontaine are committed to drafting there next team. I’m sure Weber will have a little say in it as well.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      It’s not that John Scott doesn’t do his job; it’s just that his job is becoming obsolete, especially if you can find someone who can check, fight, AND score.

      I would love to say get another prospect for Moulson, but the problem with all of these prospects is that they don’t all pan out. We know Moulson can score, especially if he is paired with a top-notch center – do we need more prospects who could flame out, a la Grigorenko?

      • JHizzle75

        Agreed. Well said.

      • Jes

        Yes true, but you also got to look at it from a Buffalo stand point. No one in free agency wants to come here except for maybe the scrubs/leftovers. So where will we get that #1 center to play with Moulson? The guy is 30 and has shown flashes of brilliance but only with a superstar center. And honestly he isn’t going to sign for anything less then $6 mill with a rebuilding franchise. So let me ask you this would you rather just take a risk on a top flight prospect or a draft pick that could lead to much better in another trade or would you just roll the dice and pay him the money and hope Hodgson turns into that #1 guy we desperately need?

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          I know what you’re saying, and I don’t have any hope that CoHo will turn into the #1 guy. Like Dano said earlier, the best way to convince Moulson to stay is to bring in another first-line talent, in order to prove to Matt that the Sabresa are serious about winning next year. Will it happen? I don’t know. But the Sabres have a lot of prospects that just are not living up to the hype, and I know they are still young, so I’m not panicking – but at some point, you have to bring in some proven talent, too.

          • JHizzle75

            I’m watching the Oilers play Phoenix right now, and can’t help thinking they are the anti-Sabres.
            No problem sc
            oring at all…almost too many options, but terrible goaltending. Wish Miller would have ended up there as they are my hometown team( kinda).
            But I do think they are a team we should be dealing with. Ales Hemsky would look good on the top line, as would a few others.

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            I don’t know if anyone can confirm this, but I’m pretty sure Edmonton is one of Miller’s 8 no-trade teams. Too bad – they do have some talent!

          • JHizzle75

            Sorry, I should have been more specific. I am aware of Millers no trade clause, I’m just saying instead of waiting for our draft picks to develop, we could maybe use some of our assets to wrestle a first line player from the Oil in order to intice Moulson to stay.

  • Dave

    Moulson would be a great place to start and build from I agree I like miller a lot but I think its time for both the sabres and him to part ways .Not sure what the hold up is on making moves is it that Patty really holding out for a GM or the phone is just not ringing but still like the feeling that’s in the air .

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I honestly was surprised they didn’t move Miller during the offseason, so I don’t know what the hold up is, especially when there are teams in need of better goaltending.

      • Dave

        Honestly the way he has played I’m very surprised teams aren’t blowing up the phone to grab Miller

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          Agreed. But what are the Sabres asking for Miller? Or has someone (Nolan?) convinced upper management to try and resign him?

    • Jes

      Moulson IMO wouldn’t be a good place to start if the Sabres are rebuilding. If they are going to make major moves this year picking up a couple other first liners including a #1 center then yes keep him in the fold, other then that I’d trade him. That was the plan when Darcy traded for him and unless the new GM is a genius that is the plan when the deadline approaches. I also wouldn’t mind keeping him around if we end up with a more offensive minded coach unlike Nolan.

      • Dave

        That’s the thing right now I’m not really sure how deep of a rebuild they are still thinking .I get the feeling the build from youth and the draft left with Darcy

  • Kevin

    Do you really think that lowering the ticket price will stop people from selling their tickets to Leafs games? People sell them because they make a profit… lowering the ticket price only increases the incentive to sell.