Before anyone starts reading this, I have to add that this is not a rumor. This is strictly opinion, and I have no hard facts backing this up. I will state stats on various players, and that’s the only fact that’s here.
I keep hearing trade talk surrounding the Buffalo Sabres. Yes they won last night against the Bruins. Too bad they can’t play them all year round. It’s starting to look like that’s the only team they can beat. It seems that everyone wants to see a shake up with the Sabres, and have specific players in mind as to who they want to see gone.
First, I say this. Hockey is a team sport. Blame the team, not specific players. Very rarely can someone blame just 1 person for a loss. Win as a team, lose as a team. Personally, I doubt any trade would really spark things in Buffalo. It’s just, well, not feasible.
That being said, I can’t see anyone on Buffalo’s roster being safe except Miller and Vanek. That’s about it. I don’t care about players having 1 good game. As of right now, that’s all last night was. 1 good game for the Sabres. Let’s see them do it again against the Penguins, and then string some wins together, then I’ll talk about it.
However, 1 person I will just about guarantee will be gone by April 3, this year’s trade deadline.
Jhonas Enroth will not remain with the Sabres.
How can I get off saying this? Pretty easily actually. First, we all know that Ruff is going to ride Miller hard this season. Personally, I’m not seeing Enroth getting a ton of starts. He’s had a few already, and I’m not seeing many more this season. Ruff has a knack to ride his goalie until he drops. Plus, he doesn’t seem to trust back up goalies while he should be looking at how the team plays in front of said back ups.
Also, and this is huge, Buffalo has 4 goalies they’re developing, 2 in Rochester and 2 they have the rights too at this point. Let’s start with what’s going on in Rochester.
David Leggio has been a rock for the Amerks this season and last. He’s a good find and is a fan favorite in Rochester. Last night, he kept the Amerks in a very tight game against the Houston Aeros and allowed 2 goals on 30 shots. He’s currently 25-13-1 this season with a GAA of 2.75 and a save percentage of .917. He’s doing his job night in, night out. Like Ruff, Ron Rolston is riding Leggio pretty hard this year.
Leggio’s backup now is Nathan Lieuwen who has been playing with the Greenville Road Warriors in the ECHL prior to getting called up to Rochester. Prior to that he was with the Kootenay Ice in the WHL. Last season with Kootenay he had 2.50 GAA and a .914 save percentage on the season. He also has shown a remarkable resiliency, after going through a car accident when he was in his teens, and suffering a concussion during his playing career. While there was a lot of doubt surrounding him, he was able to lead Kootenay to a championship in the WHL in 2011, and walked away with the MVP award. (Thanks to www.hockeydb.com
to provide the stats) Plus, he’s a big fella, at 6’5”.
That brings me to Connor Knapp. Connor spent his last 4 season’s playing for Miami of Ohio, posting extremely impressive numbers. His highest GAA in his 4 years in college was 2.09, freshman year. He continued to improve, and post solid numbers, with his best GAA being 1.69 when he was a senior. He was recently sent back to the ECHL, joining the Greenville Road Warriors. He was sent down to get more playing time and develop more before getting the call up to Rochester, and eventually the Sabres. Connor is another big guy, at 6’5”. He’s not ready yet, and he needs experience. He’s in Greenville right now to be able to start every night, and get that experience Once he is allowed to grow more and mature as a player, I feel he’s got a decent shot.
Finally, there’s the newest Buffalo Sabre who was drafted this year, Andrey Makarov who is currently spending some time with the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL. He currently has a 2.51 GAA and a .922 save percentage. Last season, he had a GAA of 3.01 and a save percentage of .913. Again, this is someone who needs time to develop, but has a bright future ahead of him.
How does this relate to Enroth? I come back to my point about Ruff riding Miller like there’s no tomorrow. Why are we paying Enroth if we’re not going to play him? Plus, he’s a young goalie, and a lot of teams may want to develop him. As long as Ryan Miller is in Buffalo, he won’t have a future. Plus, Leggio has been showing that he is worthy of a shot in Buffalo for 2 straight seasons.
I forgot to mention, Enroth’s contract is up at the end of this season.
What do I see happening? I see Enroth being traded as part of a multiplayer deal to a team that’s doing their best to try to rebuild and need a goalie. In the past, we’ve seen several back up goalie trades by the Sabres. This time, they won’t trade to bring a new back up. Leggio will get the call up and become Miller’s back up. Lieuwen will split time with Connor Knapp in Rochester while Makarov continues with Saskatoon. Miller’s contract is up after the 2013-2014 season. Eventually, Makarov makes the move to Rochester, as these guys cycle through. It’s only a matter of time.
Enroth has the potential to fetch some decent players if the right package deal can be arranged. It’s too early to determine whether Buffalo will be buyers or sellers at the deadline this year. What I feel comfortable stating, is that Enroth will be a big piece of Buffalo’s deals this year.
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