Posted 11:50 AM ET | Comments 3
Darcy Regier was not kidding when he said he would remain quiet during the free agency period. The only news the team made was signing AHLer, Drew Bagnall, and re-signing defenseman, Alexander Sulzer. Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek are still members of the Buffalo Sabres, for now. Talks between Buffalo and the St. Louis Blues ended when the price for Ryan Miller was too high. Typical Darcy, over valuing his players and demanding for too much.
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I still believe that Ryan Miller will be dealt this summer before the preseason begins. Vanek will remain a Sabre, but he will be dealt at the trade deadline when his value is the greatest.
If Darcy Regier wants to make his re-build successful, he needs to be able to trade both Vanek and Miller and get the young pieces he wants in return. Letting one or both of them go to free agency next season would be a failure, and should be deserving of a pink slip. But does Darcy Regier have a philosophy to all this? And I am not just talking about this offseason, I'm talking for a couple years to come.
Darcy Regier stated in his end of the year presser that the city of Buffalo should be prepared for some "suffering". After the past couple of days, I finally understand why he said what he said. Here's why:
First, the free agent class this past season was nothing spectacular at all. There were few names that could have had an impact with this team, but there were no big name free agents available to really try and talk to. I would have targeted Val Filppula, David Clarkson, and Nathan Horton, but all 3 found new homes on Friday. But next year's free agent class is stacked, and I mean loaded. Here are some of the big name, unrestricted free agents that could be available after the season is over:
Daniel and Henrik Sedin
Not to mention that there are probably more players that could become available after round two of complaince buyouts next offseason. If I was Darcy, I would target a guy like Ryan Callahan, that is if he's not locked up by then. The Rangers captain would be a great fit for the Sabres because he is an all around skilled forward that can pull the entire length of the ice a whole game. Callahan, who will be 29 next summer, has amassed 229 career points in over 400 games played and is a role player for the Rangers organization. Callahan can play on the power play, penalty kill, he can fight, and he is a player you want to have on the ice with less than a minute to go down by one goal. Callahan would be a great addition if he becomes available next year.
Asides from just the free agency, the Sabres are going to face some suffering because of the situations with Vanek and Miller. Ryan Miller's time in Buffalo is essentially over, and keeping Ryan in Buffalo just does not make sense. The feeling is that Jhonas Enroth is going to be the future goaltender of this team and will start at the beginning of the year. Unless Miller is not traded, that is how it will be. Thomas Vanek's trade value is not as great as it would be if he was to be dealt at the trade deadline. Keeping Vanek would not be a problem, it's just you let him walk for nothing at the end of the year. It is either trade him at the deadline, or re-sign him and convince him to stay and be a part of the re-build. I believe Vanek is gone as well by February next season.
One positive of this offseason is the fact that this Buffalo team is younger. The Sabres want to be surrounded by youth and want to re-build the franchise that way. Most teams find success by starting with a very young core group of players, and that seems to be the philosophy. With guys like Armia, Grigorenko, Girgensons, Foligno, Larsson, Ennis, Tropp, Pysyk, McNabb, Ruhwedel, and Ristolainen, this team is stacked with young talent. Not to also mention Cody Hodgson and Brian Flynn, who are currently restricted free agents looking for new deals. With the young group, you also have to take into account that this upcoming year is going to be a learning curve for many of these players.
So the strategy? It's simple, suck this year. Hate to say it like that, but with every team in the division getting better (Toronto, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Boston) it seems like it will be a year of suffering for the Sabres.
So my goal for this upcoming season is to find a way to trade Miller and Vanek and get even more young talent and draft picks for the organization. Let this year be a learning curve for the Sabres, and it will be okay with me if the Sabres are one of the worst teams in the NHL. The Sabres then can get a high draft pick (hopefully top 3) and get even younger. When free agency begins, The Sabres should have a new contract for guys like Steve Ott, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, and maybe even Jamie McBain. In addition, go strong after the unrestricted free agents coming into play in the offseason and get one of the big name players available.
It may take one or two years of suffering, but if the cards are played right, the Sabres could be back in the contention real soon.
For more, follow me on Twitter @BraytonJWilson
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