I write to you out of respect. I believe you finally need a blog in which someone checks their spelling and grammar. Let's be honest, some things bloggers say are biased by what they want to happen to our team, not informative on what they think will happen to our team. For that reason, people go a little stir crazy and say things that are somewhat outlandish, and that Pat LaFontaine simply won't do in the real world.
In this first blog, I bring you my honest and informed opinions on the status of Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, and Matt Moulson. I'll leave Miller for last, as his Sabres resume brings with it the most history, allure, and importance.
I hold a firm stance on what Ott brings to Buffalo, and this stance will not change. It is a travesty that Darcy did not lock Ott up to an extension before crawling away with his cautious little tail between his legs. Honestly, Darcy spent more time in Buffalo navigating his way out of tricky questions from the press than he did being a satisfactory and mediocre GM. Steve Ott deserves an extension, a 5-year extension. He is the undeniable leader of the 2013-14 Buffalo Sabres. He brings grit, fight, drive, energy, and most importantly, a no-nonsense style that syncs rather nicely with the style of Ted Nolan.
Tim Murray has spoken openly in recent weeks about not only keeping players in Buffalo who want to be here, but surrounding the young core with veteran leadership and proven attitudes. My biggest hope as a Sabres believer is that for all the scouting Murray does, he sees in Otter what the fans of the city see. Ott is not worth trading away. He's never been a big points guy, and he's never really even been a top line guy until this year. Teams that want him, want him for his attitude, not his production. But he's a bottom-line locker room stud, and I want him on my team for this rebuild. If anything, give the loyal fans some consolation for our angst and pain by letting us have the one player on this team we truly love.
Moulson is a tougher decision in my mind. He's clearly a top-6 forward with veteran leadership skills and the ability to score significantly for a few more years. Questions arise when one considers his desire to play Buffalo. This information really isn't readily available. The Sabres' higher-ups are doing a nice job keeping everybody's opinions private while they work out potential deals, professionally and properly. Tim Murray might know whether Ott, Moulson, and Miller want in or out. He might know right now which guys he's going to trade and which guys are here for the long haul. That being said, the fans do not.
Moulson is a Ontario native who lives not far over the border from Buffalo. Location-wise there's some nice perks for him to stay. However, there has been speculation about his possible desire to reunite with his BFF John Tavares, and the potential that his familial ties with Jonathan Quick might lure him to Los Angeles. If Murray can convince him to stay, he's the right kind of veteran for this team. He's proven, he's not too old, and he's not just an attitude guy. He can score. And let's be real. Nobody on the this team can score.
Nevertheless, if Moulson wants out, we're talking a 1st-round pick at least. Tim Murray's demands on potential trade returns seem astronomically high (more on this with Miller later). Yet, they should be high if teams want to acquire some of our only talent to win the cup, and win it now. We've got to wait for it, so if we're going to give you the pieces you need, you better give us something we'll need later.
I have been back-and-forth on keeping or dumping Miller the whole year. I honestly do not know what is better. Miller is 32/33, and who knows how long he can be an elite goaltender in this league? I'm not completely sure I want to crown him with a Lundqvist deal. That being said, he's playing his best hockey since his Vezina season, and one wonders what kind of numbers he might have if Tyler Myers and his turnover cronies didn't hang him out to dry every other shift. The guy's been stopping more shots than a bullet-proof vest and he aint stopping any musket balls either. He's stopping quality scoring chances on a nightly basis, all because the man wants nothing more than to prove he's the worthiest candidate for the Olympic starter job. Talk about cool under pressure.
Then there's the other side of the book. You've got to feel bad for Jhonas Enroth. He's one of the best back-ups in the league, he's never really had a chance with Miller here, and he's not getting younger. If Enroth wants to start, and deservedly so, we need to give him that chance now, or give him that chance with another team. Enroth was lights out for Sweden at the last World Championships. He played like a straight-up monster. But how long can we keep him caged and expect him to spot start while he plays like this? There's one thing for sure, the Sabres will most likely trade a goalie before the deadline. If Miller gets extended, Enroth is out. If Miller's traded, we have a bright young future in net. But who will it be?
It is my current sentiment that Miller wants out. The latest blogs circulating this website and others have indicated that Miller is ready to win and Murray is ready to respect those desires as a elite NHL goaltender, who's given a lengthy career to a team that has never been able to take him all the way. St. Louis, Washington, Minnesota, Long Island, they've all been knocking on Timmy's door for Miller's services. I think Miller is ready to go and Murray is ready to let him. The asking price for Miller is said to be absurdly high. The last I heard it was two first-rounders, a second-rounder and a top offensive prospect. Who knows if Murray can actually pull that off? But I guess it doesn't hurt to ask high and come down a little if need be. And if a team like St. Louis legitimately believes Miller is the salt that makes their water boil, that Miller can bring them the title NOW, maybe Murray just might get what he asks for.
I like Pat LaFontaine. I actually had the opportunity to meet him earlier this year. He was a genuine, heart-felt guy, who shook my hand like a man and thanked me for my kind remarks like someone who actually cared. I like Tim Murray. The guy basically says what he thinks, and after 16 years of Darcy Farcy dancing around his remarks to keep his job, it's amazing to hear a Buffalo GM saying things because he's confident in his abilities, not confident in his gamesmanship. If my inclinations are right, regardless of what happens with Miller, Ott, and Moulson, Buffalo's revitalized leadership will make the right decisions. And good Lords of Hockey, please let them do so. Nobody can stand to watch this kind of hockey any longer.
Stay tuned for my next blog: Let's get serious Sabres fans: Patty, Timmy, and Teddy are what we need.