As new ownership presented itself in Buffalo, I like all Buffalo fans, sat in anticipation as to what was to come on February 28, 2011. However, I was extremely disappointed, and now it's time for me to say what no one else is...
Buffalo is currently smack in the middle of the playoff race, a place that not many expected them to be in, including myself. Buffalo had numerous options that should have been acted on this trade deadline to better this team, and in turn were ignored.
The Sabres had the benefit of being buyers and sellers at this trade deadline. However, come 3pm today, they were neither. 5 players on Buffalo's roster are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Instead of trying to get something for these players, Buffalo in turn is throwing away around 8 million in cap space.
The first few options that Darcy should have moved towards aren't crucial. I understand keeping Montador. He has found a niche with Jordan Leopold on defense, and that pair shouldn't be broken up going into the postseason, IF the Sabres can get there. Next, Mike Grier and Rob Niedermayer share a salary of 2.35 million heading into the deadline. Grier, I'd keep. He is a leader on this team, despite not scoring a ton of goals, and he plays his heart out. Niedermayer has been a disappointment that no one saw coming. He has failed to score, and has a total of 13 points, all assists. Numerous teams right now probably would like a veteran forward to help motivate and lead a team. However, Niedermayer stays in blue and gold.
Now we come to the monstrosities of Buffalo Sabres trade deadline 2011. First, Lalime is still playing in Buffalo. Lalime has barely played at all this year and is just occupying a space on the bench. When Miller needed a rest, Jhonas Enroth from Portland was called up for one night, performed above expectations, and then was sent down before he had pulled his jersey over his head. Lalime should have been traded weeks ago. Enroth should have been called up, and been used as a more constant backup. At this point in time, even IF Buffalo makes it into the playoffs, Miller is going to be exhausted and by the end of the first round, Buffalo will make an early playoff exit.
Finally, everyone in Buffalo knows who should have been traded today, and that is the 4.5 million dollar waste known as Tim Connolly. He has a mind numbing 26 points for 4.5 million this season, only 8 of them goals. However, the first mistake wasn't keeping him today, but resigning him 2 years ago. After watching the press conference with Darcy Regier today, he stated that Connolly will be able to help this team as they push into the playoffs. He says this after Connolly missed the open net against the Senator's on 2/25. Twice. Both on the same shift. How is that going to help the Sabres get into the playoffs? Lucky for him, the rest of the team can aim.
The Brad Boyes move was a positive one. He does have a lot to offer this team, and hopefully he won't be someone who wants more assists than goals. Boyes has the ability to score, the question is will he? Time will tell, and hopefully Boyes will shoot when he has the opportunity, and help the Sabres get some more goals. As one of my counterparts pointed out, Connolly and Boyes have played together. However, that was over 10 years ago and in the minor leagues. Welcome to the real world, and the NHL. What was done in the minors then is different here and now. Plus, if Ruff is smart, he'll put Boyes between Vanek and Pominville, Gaustad between Stafford and Ennis, and bump Connolly down to the 3rd line with Hecht. No one else has mentioned this, but Brad Boyes has another year on his contract after this. Luckily, he's not a rent-a-player. Boyes is a great move, but putting him with Connolly will probably negate that.
Wonder what spawned the minimalist approach from Buffalo? Simple. Buffalo has played good hockey the past few weeks. Darcy sees this, and thinks that all is well. It won't be well in at the beginning of April, if the Sabres are sitting on the outside looking in. The opportunity to turn this team into a serious contender has come and gone. Now, the fans of Buffalo need to pray that the guys currently on the ice, can overcome that 2 point gap, they've been working at for the past few weeks.
I hope I'm wrong. I pray that I'm wrong. I would love nothing more than to have a ton of comments on here at seasons end saying "ha-ha, you were wrong". But, I don't think I am. Buffalo got lucky last year winning the Northeast Division, and proved it against Boston being embarrassed in the first round. If Buffalo makes the playoffs, IF Buffalo makes the playoffs, they will exit just as quickly, and if not worse.
Like all Buffalo fans, I was enthused as Terry Pegula took over the Sabres. The first change in staff he may want to make, should be extremely apparent right now. It has been apparent to the fans of Buffalo for quite some time.