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"GM Mode"
Fonthill, ON • Canada •
Welcome to the GM Mode<p><BR>Today I will be taking a look at the Buffalo Sabres and analyze a series of “hypothetical” moves that the Buffalo Sabres should make.<BR/></p><BR>Buffalo Sabres GM; Tim Murray is faced with many decisions since after the NHL Draft of 2015. He may not have had the first overall pick but the second pick (Jack Eichel) is a great starting point for a team that doesn’t need to do a complete rebuild but instead a “retooling” (Never will I acknowledge the term “reset” like the Sharks). Let’s take a look at what Tim Murray has for his core and from there break it down to what players will help turn his team from rebuilding to contender.</BR><BR><b>Forwards (The Core)</b></BR><BR>Ryan O’Reilly</BR><BR>Evander Kane</BR><BR>Matt Moulson</BR><BR>Tyler Ennis</BR><BR>Jack Eichel</BR><BR>Zegmus Girgensons</BR><BR>Sam Reinhart</BR><BR><b>Defense (The Core)</b></BR><BR>Zach Bogosian</BR><BR>Rasmus Ristolainen</BR><BR>Josh Gorges</BR><BR><b>Goalies (The Core)</b></BR><BR>N/A</BR><BR>Not including prospects, the Sabres have one thing going for them; they have a nice offensive side to their roster. But for them to make any kind of jump, they need to start looking from the back and working their way to the front. Buffalo’s biggest need is a starting “number 1” goalie; I put number 1 in quotations because yes, Murray did get Robin Lehner at the draft but in my opinion he is not the one who will take the Sabres to the next level. Here is the first move that Murray should have done and still can do.</BR><BR><b>First move</b></BR><BR>Murray should have contacted Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings and set his sight on Jimmy Howard. Howard seems to be falling out of favor with the Wings after last season and the rise of Petr Mrazek. Mrazek was giving the chance to showcase his skills when Howard was struggling and he didn’t fail to disappoint. With a new look behind the bench in Detroit, you can tell the times are changing and what better way to help with that change then give them a little push forward. The Wings are faced with aging stars in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. The Wings needs someone not to refill the cupboard but make the jump and play alongside their future. So Murray and Holland should take the two players that are falling out of favor and give them a new start and new scenery. The trade is Jimmy Howard for Zegmus Girgensons and a 3rd round pick. This is a move that works out great for both teams. Detroit gets a young established Center with good size, offensive skill and young enough that he can be the corner stone around players like Tomas Tartar, Justin Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist and Anthony Mantha. Girgensons is due for a raise in the 2016-17 season as he is an RFA but with the Sabres, he is the odd man out and next year will either seek a raise the Sabres won’t pay or a trade they can’t afford. With players like Eichel and O’Reilly in the middle and Reinhart (a natural center moving to the wing) Girgensons is just too valuable to be playing bottom 6 minutes. Getting Howard for Girgensons clears up room for other prospects and depth players to fill the bottom six rosters spots and also gives Buffalo a goalie that is an established, reliable and proven number 1 goalie that can turn them from rebuilders to contenders.</BR><BR><b>Second Move</b></BR><BR>The next move is to build a solid defense. You have your youth in Zach Bogosian and Rasmus Ristolainen. Those are two big defensemen that are going to be hard to move, hard to play against and have some offensive side to them. With Josh Gorges as more of a shutdown and leader for the Sabres they need to find someone to give them a strong one-two punch on the power play and another stay at home defense to help mold players like Ristolainen. The best spot to find these players are not in trades but in the free agent pool. Tim Murray should be pitching a deal to get Cody Franson. Franson is big, young and right handed. He has proven to be an offensive threat and can quarterback a power play. Franson is seeking a big raise from his $3.3M salary from last season. Buffalo has the cap space that they can afford to make this signing but they shouldn’t overpay for someone who may not pan out to the player he was projected to be. Franson should sign with Buffalo to a 4 year $18M contract. This gives him $4.5M a season, more than what he was making but less than what he was seeking in $5.5M but he signs for 4 years as most teams were only looking for a 1 – 2 year deal for him.</BR><BR><b>Third Move</b></BR><BR>The third move is another free agent signing that Buffalo needs to make on defense. They have their youth, they have their size and they have their offense. Now its time for leadership, experience and someone to control the back end and who better than former two-time Stanley Cup Champion; Johnny Oduya. Oduya is a player who will bring the Sabres something they lack and that is experience and leadership from a player who has played the big games and won them. Oduya and Chicago Blackhawks both would have loved to get a deal in place but the cap strapped Blackhawks had to let him walk via free agency. Buffalo can sign Oduya to a comfortable 3 year $11M contract, with Oduya making $3.67M a season which isn’t much of a raise from his $3.375M but the terms are right in the sense that this will keep him locked in with a team until he is ready to retire as he turns 34 years old at the start of the 2015 season.</BR><BR>After making these moves, the Buffalo Sabres will not have to wait for their team to be “rebuilt” and sit around waiting to be contenders; they can jump right back into the pool and forget the horrific seasons of the last two years. And more importantly they will have the youth and star power that will keep them as contenders for the playoffs for many years to come. Here is a new look, of the new Buffalo Sabres.</BR><BR><b>Buffalo Sabres Roster</b></BR><BR>Evander Kane    Jack Eichel    Sam Reinhart</BR><BR>Tyler Ennis    Ryan O’Reilly   Matt Moulson</BR><BR>Marcus Foligno   David Legwand   Brian Gionta</BR><BR>Jamie McGinn   Cody McCormick   Cal O’Reilly</BR><BR><BR>Zach Bogosian    Josh Gorges</BR><BR>Cody Franson    Mike Weber</BR><BR>Rasmus Ristolainen    Johnny Oduya</BR><BR><BR>Jimmy Howard</BR><BR>Robin Lehner</BR><BR><BR>That is just my take on what will make the Buffalo Sabres a better team for both the present and the future. If you agree with me, don't agree with more or have any suggestions on which NHL team should enter "The GM Mode" make sure to let me know in the comments</BR>
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