Apr 18, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24) skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Montreal Canadiens defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Offseason Hopes For Tim Murray


The Buffalo Sabres and Tim Murray have a very different look on their offseason this summer. For starters, they are faced with a completely new front office, ready to polish and sand down these rough edges and put a team on the ice worth filling the arena.

Mr. Murray, you have our faith.

Jan 9, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray speaks to the media during the press conference announcing his hiring as the new Sabres general manager at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Three different types of transactions occur each year, and from my observations, it seems two of them happen more than the third.

Right now, Murray is focused on the draft. With multiple picks coming in the first few rounds, it is what to do with that second overall pick that has everyone in Buffalo’s attention.

Sam Reinhart is without a doubt the top offensive prospect this year, and Buffalo should be watching. Selected to the Kootenay Ice four years ago, he had topped himself each year since, finding the net more often each year.

Buffalo struggled to find the net this year, setting lows this year with 157, so goalscoring is definitely a must when it comes to the selection. This is why I believe that Sam Reinhart is our guy.

He is dynamic on the power play, with vision that Superman could be envious of, and a knowledge that any team could dream of having, we just have to hope that the Panthers

Of course, I wouldn’t put it past Murray to make a big move. The Buffalo Sabres sit in a very great spot, one that a team with a high asking price may deal out some big names to lock down some young talent. This is why I believe that Buffalo Sabres have a fantastic offseason on the horizon. It may not be the top pick overall, but a number two pick with plenty of good names in the market sit there, just baiting teams to pick them.

Now, Buffalo has the choice…..”pick?” or “pass.”

If I was Buffalo, I would focus solely on the thought of young, talented individuals who will explode in 2-3 years, just when Buffalo will need them.

Only if the price is right should they defer their pick to another team. But the price needs to be huge and by that, I mean Billy Fucillo huge. Granted, I don’t see many offers coming in, so Buffalo should just stick to the draft, and focus on Reinhart.

Sam Bennett is also a great choice, emerging as one of the top forwards in North America, exploding from his first season to this past season and greatly improving his ranking for this draft.

The only thing standing in front of us and that pick is Florida, and depending on if they want to go for defense or offense, they could either make their choice very easy, or very very difficult.

If I was Tim Murray and the rest of the staff, I would be prepared to claim either of those two immediately, because once you pass on them, there is no going back.

So, Mr. Murray, Reinhart or Bennett, the choice is yours.

For the offseason, however, Buffalo is dealing with a potential buyout that is likely to happen, and a pool of UFA’s to empower the offense.

Ville Leino is as good as gone in my book, he did nothing to even compensate for his massive overpriced contract dealt to him. Buffalo was a bit too confident in signing a player who performed great for a team that had offensive weapons in the playoffs, the same guy who ended Buffalo’s bid for a playoff run that very summer. I mean, if you can’t beat him, sign him, I guess. Still set to earn 15 million over the next four seasons, Buffalo just might as well buy him out and save us another low-performing season. When we have a player who gets outscored by John Scott, it’s time to rethink our finances. No offense to John Scott, because I think he did great under Nolan.

Once we eliminate the Leino deal, I (as well as the majority of Buffalo) think Buffalo needs to get someone like Paul Stastny. While he isn’t the huge 30+ goal scorer, he excels in great two-way play and playmaking ability, a player he himself describes himself as. I think Stastny would do great things here in Buffalo, being able to become a top-tier center for us and hopefully train the new up and comers we get in the next few drafts. Learning himself from Joe Sakic, I think he has a few things to show these new guys.

Another player I believe would love to come to Buffalo, Ryan Callahan. The Rochester native grew up rooting for the Buffalo Sabres, why wouldn’t he love joining them? His tenure with the New York Rangers and brief stint with Tampa Bay Lightning has prepped him with massive amounts of talent to try his hand at resurrecting a team to glory, finding a fit with Buffalo is that try. I think he would mesh great with the current team, surrounding him with loads of young talent, and giving that kick to the current veterans is just what Buffalo would love.

A good winger that Buffalo should take a look at would be Milan Michalek. Plagued by injuries throughout, Michalek is a scorer that Buffalo needs, he is versatile with great vision and hardworking ability that have only made him valuable to any team. His played has dipped a little bit, mainly due to lockout and an injury that set him father back than he would have liked. Nevertheless, I believe Buffalo could steal away a great player at a reasonable price, to avoid a Ville Leino pt.2.

Of course, the only problem with looking at UFA’s is their age, not many players have both potential and young age, for those begin to go away once they start hitting their 30′s. Many players who go to different teams when they above their thirties often see their game dip due to having to adjust to an altered system and an inability to change their pace. Luckily I believe with Nolan and co., that any player who is willing to give their all can bloom and succeed within his system. In a modern day Herb Brooksian sense, he doesn’t need the best ones, he needs the right ones.

On the current team, I see a lot of potential going into the offseason. Players like Drew Stafford, Cody Hodgson and Tyler Myers began to pick up the pace and perform greater than previous years. Luckily we have another year to focus on them and contracts, so this next season is a test of true talent and want to work, a try-out of sorts. Call it optimism, but I feel we can still accomplish good things with them on the roster.

Current Buffalo Sabres RFA’s whose contract runs out this summer are Tyler Ennis, Cory Conacher, Marcus Foligno, Jamie McBain and Chad Ruhwedel. The UFA’s include Zenon Konopka, John Scott, Matt D’Agostini, Henrik Tallinder and Alexnder Sulzer. Sulzer of course has now decided to head to Europe to play with the Cologne Sharks of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in Germany.

Of those, I feel that Buffalo should resign Conacher, Foligno, Ennis, Scott, and Ruhwedel. The other players were helpful, but if Buffalo wants to advance themselves, sometimes they have to let the loose ends go.

It will be interesting what Buffalo does in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

 

Tags: Buffalo Sabres

  • ende

    Buffalo is not going to spend any time in free agency this year.

    • Sean McGrath

      I wouldn’t be too sure. Buffalo was so positive to have a potential of three choices in the first round this year, but that all changed with the Isles giving the pick to Buffalo in 2015 and St. Louis releasing Miller, officially ending the chance for a late first rounder. Buffalo won’t see much more after that, so looking into the free agency might just be the route they choose, even if it is a quick fix for a temporary solution. Keep an open mind about free agency for the draft might not pan out as much as they hoped this summer.

      • ende

        They may bring back Ott with a front loaded contract just to hit floor, but theres no point in bringing in any actual difference makers on the order of Callahan. In order to capitalize on their two 2015 1sts they need to be as bad as possible. I also dont think they will buy out Leino yet for that very reason. Theres better UFAs next year anyway, and bringing home Pat Kane is a real possibility; esp if McDavid is his linemate.
        So what Im really saying is: yes, but not yet.

  • davidmuscalo

    Murray has said he doesn’t see a long re-build. He must be planning on picking up some UFAs, and, perhaps making a few trades during the summer. He certainly can’t shorten the rebuild from the draft!

  • Andrew

    “Sam Reinhart is without a doubt the top offensive prospect this year”, why do i keep seeing the exact opposite of this everywhere else including this site? everyone seems to think either bennett is the top prospect or it is not clear who the top offensive prospect is. how can you just blatantly go out and state that he is without a doubt the best prospect when everyone else is saying well the two Sams are pretty much neck and neck with a few stragglers following behind them. what evidence do you have that reinhart is “without a doubt” better than bennett or even draisaitl? in my mind you’re taking a gamble on either of those three because this draft is not deep and none or all of these players could pan out. IMO none of the top prospects are a lock as the best and most NHL suited.