The Buffalo Sabres are spiraling down into a pit of despair. They can’t score goals and they can’t stop goals. The defense gives the puck away constantly, like that’s what they’re paid to do. The goaltender has little to no confidence in himself and the players in front of him. The coach has run out of answers for the terrible play that we fans watch every single game. The general manager…is doing absolutely nothing.
Only one person can change what’s going to happen with the rest of this season and future seasons to come. His name is Terry Pegula. The owner that brought the city of Buffalo back to life after a dismal start to the 2010-2011 campaign needs to do something to re-spark this team again. He has a few options when it comes to what he can do to fix the team:
1.) Fire Lindy Ruff and hope that doing this ignites the team into a playoff position.
Analysis: I personally would hate this move. I know everyone barks at the fact that he has been here for 14 years and has done nothing to prove he can win a Stanley Cup. I know people think that he has lost the attention of the boys in the dressing room. But, he is one of the best, if not the best coach in the NHL. Twenty-four hours after we would fire him, he would have 20 job offers to come win a Stanley Cup with another team. Do you think that a new coach would make Drew Stafford shoot the puck in the net instead of right at a goalie’s face? Do you think a new coach would make Gragnani pass the puck faster instead of letting it be intercepted for a game winning goal in overtime? Do you think a new coach would make Ryan Miller not go down 10 hours early so the opponent can’t score top right corner every time? I don’t think so. Simply put, Lindy does not have good players to work with. For the Detroit game, if you switch coaches for just that night (Babcock coaches Buffalo, Ruff coaches Detroit), but leave the players on the same team, who wins that game? Detroit…every time. They have elite players that have the will to win. They don’t need a coach in the first place because they have leadership in the dressing room and everyone plays for each other. That all has to do with the players, not the coach. If I were Pegula, firing Lindy Ruff would be my last option.
2.) Make one or two (1-2) trades for decent players to help carry the team into the playoffs.
Analysis: This could be a short term fix, but it wouldn’t get Buffalo the multiple Cups that Pegula promised. Also, it would be difficult finding trading partners for Buffalo that has actual helpful pieces that could carry us into the post season dance. Most Buffalo players’ have bad contracts and the ones that don’t, would not bring back significant return. Another reason why this likely won’t happen is because Darcy Regier likes his players too much. He loves the core of this team, and doesn’t have the “cajones” to make a major trade. (I am in favor of firing Darcy, just not Lindy). The core we have right now is pretty much crap, besides Vanek and Myers (Pominville is good, but if you took him away from Vanek I personally think his numbers would drop). The Sabres need a whole sail change up front, which brings me to option number three.
3.) Make multiple major trades and signings that would change the core of this team and make us win now.
Analysis: This is my favorite option out of the four I am presenting but, there are some flaws. With this we again run into the situation of whom Buffalo is going to trade with. Also to accomplish this, Darcy would need to part with multiple picks and prospects to get good players in return. I have been thinking about possible trades since about November 13th (day after Lucic incident) and I will share them. Please keep in mind that these are not even close to being rumors and I am WELL AWARE that these aren’t realistic either. I don’t need to hear from the hypocritical donkeys that are on this website that rip apart everything the bloggers say. What I would love is people commenting on how to make these trades better even though I know they WON’T HAPPEN. It is just fun to play around with ideas…so here they go:
Roy, Gragnani, and a first to Columbus for Jeff Carter. Keep in mind that the Jackets traded Voracek, a first, and a third to Philly for Carter. If the Sabres wanted Jeff, the Jackets would want a center in return. I also think that Grags is worth more than a third while Roy is worth a little less than Voracek. So it evens out. Sabres improve their center position while the Jackets get another pick to rebuild and get a playmaker for Rick Nash. They also get a young puck moving defenseman in Grags. It’s a win-win situation.
Miller, Stafford, Szczechura, and a third to Chicago for Patty Kane. This would only really work if what I think is going to happen to Chicago in the post season, actually happens: their goaltending goes down the tubes and costs them the series. Also Miller’s play would have to pick up toward the end of the season. But Chicago has Hossa at RW already and Staff is a good number two RW. Chewie would give the Hawks good center depth as well. Bringing Kane to Buffalo would be absolutely dirty. The hometown boy alone could win us a cup and he is a game changer the Sabres need.
Calgary’s second pick to NY Islanders for Nabokov. Since we would lose Miller in the above trade, we would need some one to fill in a goalie spot. Nabby would be great as a 1B with Enroth and would give Jhonas some great advice and help him grow and blossom into a true number 1 guy.
Ennis, Hecht, Joel Armia, and Buffalo’s second to Colorado for Paul Stastny. I know everyone in Buffalo really wants Getzlaf and I do too, but I really don’t think he is coming here unless Myers is going back in return. So I think Stastny is the second best option. The Avalanche already have Duchene who needs to resign in the summer and Ryan O’Reilly who have blossomed into a solid 1-2 center. They could use help on the LW where Ennis fits in nicely and soon Hejduk will retire and Armia could replace him. I am 99% sure Armia will turn into some one like Bobby Ryan. Giving them Hecht will supply them with a veteran number 3 center to help them in the dressing room. Jochen is also a fabulous two way player which is a plus for them. Stastny coming to Buffalo would give the Sabres something they haven’t had since 2007: two solid centers and depth at that position.
Sign Zach Parise with all the money you have left on July 1. If Eklund is right and NJ won’t be able to re-sign him, Buffalo should eat him right up. Make him the highest paid Sabre and give him the “C.” Make him feel like he is the number one guy here. He along with all of the other offensive additions above, plus what the Sabres already have would make Buffalo a great goal scoring team. Plus we kept our already “solid on paper” defense. If we sign Zach, trade Ville Leino to the highest bidder, even if it’s just a sack of pucks.
If there is any money remaining, sign Jaro Spacek to a one year deal. He would be a great veteran for a young d-man corps and he still have a great shot form the point.
If all of this happened, your 2012-2013 Sabres would look a little something like this:
I think that is a Stanley Cup winner right there.
4.) Sell off all your pieces and rebuild through the draft.
Analysis: This would suck for a couple years but Buffalo would be beastly in 3-5 years. Like I said about Armia earlier: he is the next Bobby Ryan. Adam can be a solid number 2 center and we have good pieces like Enroth and Myers. It would be a horribly long and painful process but after we were done with the rebuild, we would have multiple cups coming to the Queen City.
My favorite option is of course number three. It solves our problems now and gives us a chance at Cups for the next 5-7 years. After that? It would be bad…but at least we would have some fun in the near future instead of in almost a decade.
All in all, by me sitting hear and typing all of this, there is one main theme: SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE NOW. Even if Pegula goes with the rebuild option, at least tell the fans! The Buffalo faithful need to hear and see that management cares and is trying to fix the problem. By doing nothing, we are left wondering.
I told a friend before the Sabres current 7-game road trip started, that to even be considered in the playoff hunt, Buffalo had to go 5-1-1 on the trip. They are 0-2-0 so far. The Sabres have a chance tonight and tomorrow night to get tied with the Jets and back into post season discussion. It starts with making a statement at the United Center against an insanely good Blackhawks team this evening.
Will the Sabres step up to the challenge?
Can Miller get back into form?
Will the offense actually score?
Sabres’ fans can only hope.
Thanks for reading! Please comment!