The Buffalo Sabres Rebuild Has Only Just Begun
Three players from the Sabres' everyday team and another who was at least a halftime player, have been dealt. Jason Pominville is really the trade that is starting the changing face of the Buffalo Sabres (sbnation.com).
Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr were really inevitable. Both had expiring contracts and no future with the team. They also had high value as playoff-experienced defencemen. Pulling three second-round picks out of those two players really was a work of art by the embattled Sabres general manager Darcy Regier. But neither was considered part of the core.
As Wednesday began, Sabres fans watched as there was little to speak of surrounding the core. Then, around 2 p.m., we started to hear whispers of a Pominville to the Wild deal circulating heavily on Twitter. Following that was more Twitterings that Minnesota had pulled two of their young players, Matt Hackett and Johan Larsson, off the ice during practice.
We finally heard that the deal was Pominville for Hackett and Larsson. Ok, that's relatively even, but not really spectacular. What followed was the addition of a first and second-round pick also packaged for Pominville. It suddenly became a steal. No, we don't know what will come of that, but it's now a big haul for an above-average, but not amazing, player.
So, the Sabres now have three first-round picks and four second-round picks in the next two drafts. That's some interesting collateral for the offseason.
Drew Stafford's name circulated around Twitter and he is still a Sabre. Lets not get too worried. He still has two years left after this current year. He's still very tradable in the summer or even next year.
Ryan Miller still has extreme value, but shouldn't really be dealt until another goaltender emerges. Thomas Vanek is interesting. He's probably attractive, but Buffalo may have to eat part of his contract, and he is a bit fragile. Jochen Hecht will be gone after the season, maybe even to retirement. The rest of the team is probably safe.
I don't think we should expect much from free agency. Aside from mostly average or broken down players, it's a pretty slim crop—except for Nathan Horton.
I would like to see Regier, depending on draft position, try to move up to get the most promising offensive talent in the draft. He has picks and players. We'll probably also see most young players from Rochester and maybe Mikhail Grigorenko will be back.
At the moment, Buffalo still has solid trade assets, a stockpile of draft picks and a ton of cap space next year. That could also increase as the offseason progresses. The face of the team is changing and will change even more in the next six months.
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