NHL Rumors: Are the Buffalo Sabres Still in the Bobby Ryan Sweepstakes?

By Matt Clouden

Once one of the most fiercely talked about topics in the NHL, the Bobby Ryan trail has gone cold.

While most of the talk was fueled by the Eklunds and HockeyyInsiderrs of the universe, there seemed to be a general inevitability when it came to Ryan changing addresses.

But, as it stands today, Ryan has not been moved and the CBA negotiations have taken the spotlight off of Anaheim Ducks‘ general manager Bob Murray.

But, for the teams long linked to Ryan, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres, when will this come to an end?

The Flyers just signed power forward Wayne Simmonds to a long-term extension, so naturally he’s now tradable. They also have a bevy of young forwards to move that would interest the Ducks, but it’s unlikely Paul Holmgren will be willing to move them.

The Sabres are a different story. Their strength lies at the back end, with plenty of veterans and prospects at defense to comfortably move more than a couple. There are the high-end forward prospects available, but it’s even more unlikely Darcy Regier would move them given the state of the Sabres’ forwards, especially at center.

So would the Sabres be willing to ante up for Ryan?

Common sense says yes, especially given the price the New York Rangers paid for Rick Nash last month, which was significantly lower than what it was rumored was being asked for Nash.

If Nash got what he did, Ryan should get an established player, a prospect and a pick at most. But that’s just common sense, not the reality of the NHL trade market.

Also, the Nash and Ryan sagas are not the same. The Columbus Blue Jackets needed to get rid of Nash given the media scrutiny his story had garnered. Ryan voiced his displeasure, but has not really gotten the attention Nash did, likely because he’s not the best player on his team.

So, in reality, the price could be much, much higher than anyone could anticipate.

With that in mind, the Sabres should probably bow out. The future of this team lies in the hands of Mikhail Grigorenko, Joel Armia, Zemgus Girgensons, Brayden McNabb and Mark Pysyk, all of whom would not be safe in a Ryan-to-Buffalo scenario. Ryan is a great player, but he might cost more than the Sabres can give up without mortgaging their future.

Sure, the Sabres cannot sit tight and hope all falls into place for them to win a Stanley Cup. They need guys like Ryan on this team. But they need to be careful about disrupting the natural progression of a team too. Save the “Lindy Ruff can’t coach” and “Regier doesn’t have the stones” comments, as those are separate arguments.

The question here is whether or not it’s worth it to give up a top-three talent in the likes of Grigorenko to get a guy who plays on a line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

If it seems like a huge risk, it is because no matter what Ryan does, if Grigorenko (or any of the prospects given up) make it big, Regier loses.

In other words Sabres fans, find a new player to covet.

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