With the dark cloud surrounding the Buffalo Sabres (18-18-5) these days, you would think that they were in last place and the season was already over. In reality, the Sabres are a talented team that has suffered from a tremendously unlucky run of bad injuries. And they still sit only five points out of a playoff spot and seven points out of the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. So it’s still far from over.
Right now it looks like the Sabres will maintain the status quo. The problem with the status quo is that we actually haven’t seen it on the ice so far this season. That’s how bad the injuries have been. Of course the Sabres front office would like to see their entire roster on the ice before making any rash decisions. But it is becoming more and more obvious that something is wrong. Or something is missing.
For almost as long as I remember, the Sabres were able to survive difficult stretches like this behind rock-solid goaltending. Ryan Miller has not provided that level of goaltending this season. Sure he hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t been close to his usual dominating self. When your superstar/high-priced talent can’t get it done by himself, it’s time for a change of some sort.
“Changes” don’t include calling up more young players from Rochester. The Sabres young call-ups have exceeded expectations, the problem has been that the Sabres have needed to use them too often. So how can the Sabres shake things up? They’re not moving Miller and with Miller struggling, they’re certainly not moving Jhonas Enroth. Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville and Tyler Myers are also probably “untouchable” in trades. But everybody else on the roster? They should be fair game.
It’s not really know exactly WHAT or WHO the Sabres need. A veteran presence with playoff experience and a reasonable contract would seem to fit the bill. If he could play center that would probably help. But who can the Sabres give up? You have to remember the salary cap here. The Sabres have to basically give out as much salary as they take back due to their status under the salary cap. The two most popular names that are bandied about in Sabres trade scenarios are Drew Stafford and Derek Roy.
I can’t see the Sabres giving up Stafford. He’s still a young talent and he’s under team control for three more years. Roy is a bit of a different story. He’s really struggled with injuries the past two seasons and he doesn’t seem to be a great fit on the ice or in the locker room anymore. He’s only under contract for one more season with a cap hit of $4,000,000. If he can stay healthy, Roy would be a trade chip that other teams certainly would be interested in. Roy is also still young and talented, but a change of scenery might be best for all parties involved.