"For the Buffalo Sabres, a trade to remember and a season to forget"
In the midst of an embarrassingly bad season, the Sabres are wise to look ahead
The bad news: the Buffalo Sabres are having a terrible season.
The good news: the team’s management is determined to make next year better.
Now, only time will tell if the decision to make a dramatic trade with the Winnipeg Jets falls into the former or latter category.
The Sabres traded veteran players Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford, a first-round pick, and prospects Brendan Lemieux and Joel Armia in exchange for goalie prospect Jason Kasdorf, defender Zach Bogosian and the injured but clearly talented Evander Kane.
Currently 16-36 this season, and having won only two of the last 10 games played, the Sabres are arguably a lost cause. All they can do is rebuild, and look to the future, where the prospect of a winning record still glimmers.
Organizing a large-scale trade is a good way to make headlines that aren’t focused on the team’s poor performance, while also making improvements to a roster that clearly isn’t getting the job done.
General manager Tim Murray was wise to grab Kane when he did. Even though Kane is out for the season, he scores goals consistently and ranks 35th in the league.
Because the Sabres essentially have to write off this year, picking up a player who’s injured for the moment makes a lot of sense.
More worrisome, however, is Kane’s somewhat tumultuous tenure with his former team, earning an unwanted reputation for his attitude and altercations with teammates.
But Kane has been granted a “clean slate” with the Sabres, says team captain Brian Gionta, and hopefully he takes advantage of the offer.
Of course, to get a player like Kane, the Sabres had to give someone up. Six foot 8 defenseman Tyler Myers will be missed, but he was a necessary sacrifice in order to obtain Kane – as was Stafford, who has played over 500 games with Buffalo.
With unproven players like Lemieux and Armia, it’s hard to know immediately if Buffalo was wise to let them go. But doing so will allow other young, talented players the chance to show their skills.
Kasdorf will join the ranks of young unproven players, as the goalie prospect now has to prove his worth in Buffalo.
Bogosian, the other player picked up in the trade, is a top-ranked defensive player, but has struggled with injuries, so he’s no guarantee for the Sabres.
But by depleting the ranks of its active roster even more with this trade, the Sabres grow closer to guaranteeing one of the first picks in the draft this summer, which would go a long ways in quickening the rebuilding process.
One of the first draft picks allows a team to bring new life along with thrilling talent to a team, and the Sabres are wise to pursue that.
And surely, the team’s management isn’t yet.
Buffalo has multiple free agents remaining, and the team will likely shed them before the trade deadline. More trades and more drama loom.
Although it’s going to hurt watching the Sabres get even worse – if that’s possible – the payoff of an improved, possibly competitive team is worth the pain.