How To Watch: The March To March 3rd


Being that the Buffalo Sabres are out of any playoff contention, the focus now switches to the individuals. In the next month, the Sabres will have a chance to showcase their individual talent in front of the teams they play, and the teams that are paying attention, starting tonight with the Dallas Stars.

Feb 3, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Buffalo Sabres right wing Drew Stafford (21) before the game against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

That is the focus of todays “How To Watch.”

Tim Murray is almost surely paying attention. His team is sitting pretty in 30th, he made the trip down to Erie for last nights 6-1 loss to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The lone goal came from Buffalo Sabres prospect Nicholas Baptiste on an assist from Connor McDavid. Sure enough, with Boston having seven games remaining on their schedule, I’ll be shocked if Murray doesn’t make a trip to see him in action.

It’s no secret, the Buffalo Sabres have a deep prospect pool. It’s just the NHL team that they are struggling in. That’s why over the next month until March 2nd, expect that Buffalo gets active.

But Murray is adamant that he will not let any of the UFA’s leave this season, so the list shortens even more. From here until then, it’s almost all about the individual.

Chris Stewart may find home in a new city by the end of the season. His game has been nothing short of decent in these hard times. He also leads the Sabres in points against Dallas with 14 points (11 G’s, 3 A’s) in 19 games.

Over the past 21 games, Stewart has taken at least a point in 12 of those games. His streak is worthy of GM’s to turn their heads, so he could be a little extra bargaining chip moving forward.

Speaking honestly, I’m surprised the Buffalo hasn’t started to dish out deals starting now. Teams are looking for complements to their rosters, some to head to playoffs with a little more security, or teams looking to ease the building over the offseason once that time comes.

Security that may come with Tyler Myers.

Myers is close to ending his fifth season in the league, visiting the postseason twice in his first two years, both early exits from the Bruins and Flyers. The team that is topping the list in interested is no other than the Anaheim Ducks. Leading the NHL, the Ducks need one final push on defense and they can make an even bigger run towards the cup.

Myers play is nothing short of good, yeah he is streaky with both good and bad games, but with what he is working with, that shouldn’t deter the Ducks from making a decent offer, a player and picks from what I believe he is worth.

Next up is Drew Stafford. Stafford is a weird player. He has the potential to be a top-line player, but is stuck on the third line because of inconsistent play as of late. He scored the first goal a few days ago against Montreal to break a 14-game losing streak. Stafford could draw a decent amount of attention should he pick up his play. His 23 points is good for third on Buffalo, but good for eighth on a team that I believe he could head to– the Winnipeg Jets.

With Evander Kane gauging some interest from Buffalo, we could see Stafford in the mix of things. Both are almost equal in points, with Kane earning 22 and Stafford getting 23. Another reason this works, Kane will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, rumored to have been put off by himself, who was playing through the pain in order to help Winnipeg into the playoffs.

Both Stafford and Stewart could find a home in the Peg. Since we lose them to free agency at the end of the season, Murray could pull off another heist like in Minnesota. Dish out these players for extra picks and players, then sign them to another contract

That took an odd turn when Kane showed up to a game wearing a Vancouver-clad sweat suit and ended up getting benched. No more than 24 hours after this, Kane opted for the surgery and will now be out 4-6 months for rehab. This is an easy pick up for Buffalo, throw some players in the form of two Sabres or a mix of NHLers, prospects and AHLers for Kane and let him rehab. Pull up someone like Johan Larsson and let him play out the season in his place.

Jhonas Enroth isn’t even safe. If the price is right he could even be added to the mix for teams who need him. Buffalo has an ample amount of net-minders in Rochester that could serve as a backup to Michal Neuvirth. Enroth gets the start tonight against the Stars, with Neuvirth looking as the starter tomorrow against the Islanders.

Honestly, I don’t see why they aren’t focusing on getting the young guys some extra minutes. I’d even let them pull double duty, let them excel in the AHL, pull them up and let them learn the pace of the NHL.

Right now, Buffalo just needs to put on a show, garner some genuine interest and let the players showcase that they belong in this league. Buffalo can continue to rebuild through what is basically an extension of the offseason. Right now, it’s all about how each individual talent plays, minus the wins or losses that accompany.

That is what you should watch for in the coming games.

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