With the Buffalo Sabres crashing back to earth in a big way over the past 12 games, the focus has again turned to the upcoming offseason and beyond.
The Sabres currently sit in 29th place and have looked worse than ever at times in this 1-10-1 stretch.
Whether it's the goaltending falling off a cliff, the special teams remaining a special kind of awful, the injuries starting to mount or just general regression, the Sabres have had a lot of reasons to fall back near the bottom.
So now, with the season comfortably lost, the murmurs of who will finish the season as a Sabre, and who won't, have picked up considerably once again.
The Sabres have a number of soon-to-be unrestricted free agents that have caught the attention of some teams, but the big fish is definitely defenseman Tyler Myers.
Myers seems to have found the point he left off at in his Calder Memorial Trophy-winning season, a development that is a huge boon to the Sabres moving forward. Many seem to forget he is only 24 years old and has many good years of hockey left in him.
That's why it should come as no surprise that general manager Tim Murray made it clear yesterday that he has not made any effort to trade Myers.
In an interview with Dan Rosen of NHL.com, Murray was emphatic that he thought Myers was a big piece of the rebuild and that he was not actively seeking to trade him.
There are not many 6'8", minute-hogging defenseman that can skate and move the puck as well as Myers. In fact, there really has only been one ever─Zdeno Chara─and his career is probably in its final act.
Chara is exactly why the Sabres have been so patient with Myers over the past few seasons when it seemed like he would never reclaim his Calder form. Chara was a tire fire when he started in the league with the New York Islanders. It was not until he joined the Ottawa Senators that he began to realize his potential, and that was with a lot of help from the then-dominant Wade Redden and Chris Phillips.
In fact, a reasonable argument can be made that Chara did not truly become a franchise defenseman until the age of 30, when he started to play for the Boston Bruins.
But therein lies the problem for Myers. He's never had a Redden or Phillips to play with, and the ability to play with a guy like that could have hidden many of his growing pains over the past couple of years.
This is not meant to be read as an excuse for Myers and his past subpar play, it's merely to illustrate the fact that his closest contemporary in the NHL took a while to get to his Norris Trophy-winning self too.
And if you think Tim Murray is not acutely aware of that, you are gravely mistaken.
This is why a Myers trade seems to be more of a media and fan driven pursuit than a legitimate desire of the Sabres front office.
Now, as Murray acknowledged in the interview, if an offer comes in that "knocks his socks off," he would be willing to move Myers, but the same goes with essentially everyone on the Sabres roster. If Colorado offered Nathan MacKinnon and Ryan O'Reilly for Zemgus Girgensons, you would have to assume he would take it. They won't, but the point remains the same.
It may also not be a coincidence that this show of support for Myers comes as the team that has been most interested in him, the Detroit Red Wings, are in Buffalo to take on the Sabres Tuesday night. Could it be a backdoor negotiating tactic on Murray's part to make it clear that the price is high and will remain high?
Only Murray knows for sure, but it's likely that Sabres fans will be seeing Myers in the blue and gold for a while.
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