The last few days for Buffalo Sabres fans have been interesting to say the least.
Friday, the team returned 18-year old Mikhail Grigorenko to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, allowing him to join his Quebec Remparts in their playoff push. Later that day, the Sabres sent TJ Brennan to the Florida Panthers for a fifth round pick in this year’s Entry Draft. Then Sunday, with Andrej Sekera out due to injury, the Sabres called up Mark Pysyk, their 2010 first rounder, to fill his spot.
So what’s going on?
There are arguments on both sides of all three developments, especially the demotion of Grigorenko and the Brennan trade. Grigorenko was not getting the ice time that he needs to develop as an 18-year old in the NHL. Playing under six minutes a night is not the answer. Brennan was struggling when playing 5-on-5 and his only real contribution was on the power play.
But there are some very strong arguments on the opposing side as well.
With 19 games remaining, the Sabres are currently six points out of the playoffs, and have not played consistently well enough to show that they have what it takes to make a run at the eighth spot. Why not give Grigorenko 15 minutes a night?
Let him play when it doesn’t really matter and let him adjust to the speed of the game. He seems to have gotten something out of his time with the Sabres, having scored four points in his first game back with the Remparts on Sunday. This doesn’t even consider the fact that they basically wasted a year of his entry-level deal, which makes it an asinine move in and of itself.
A microscope should be put on the Brennan deal as well. No, he would not have passed through waivers and yes he was struggling. But the thought that he can be traded to a team that, despite their struggles, has a solid defensive core and play just under 24 minutes his first game, shows that he was probably worth more.
The fact that Brennan was traded is not necessarily the issue — a defenseman needed to be moved at some point — but what he was moved for seems a bit ridiculous, especially given the resources that were invested in the kid in the AHL.
So Darcy has to have a plan, right?
Honestly, I’m sure most Sabres fans don’t know anymore. Reasonably, he could be in a holding pattern until he’s pushed out at the end of the season, but I don’t think the Sabres’ top brass would necessarily want that either.
They have assets to move that will likely be lost for nothing come the end of the year in Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr if they’re not traded. The upcoming contract negotiations with impending restricted free agent Cody Hodgson will not be quick.
As of this moment, the Sabres are 27th in the league, two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche who have two games in hand and one point ahead of the Washington Capitals, who have one game in hand. When it all evens up, the Sabres could easily be in 29th. Something needs to change.
Does the team need to be imploded? Probably not. Despite a lot of bad, there has been some good this season. Maybe adding another first-round pick by trading a guy like Regehr — who, based on Paul Gaustad‘s price, might be able to fetch a player as well — is what the team needs?
What is for certain is that Sabres fans will be able to get a better look into what Regier’s plans may be by April 3. It would be a surprise to everyone if the Sabres stand pat, but the range of moves they could make is the unknown factor.
Let’s hope Darcy knows what he’s doing.
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