The Buffalo Sabres came into the offseason holding two of the biggest trade commodities out on the market, and potentially more if they decided to throw up their arms and enter a full scale rebuild. That didn’t happen, of course, as the Sabres have done more adding than subtracting this summer.
Those two large commodities are, of course, Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek. Each is a cornerstone of this organization, and each has a contract that expires at the end of next season. With the Sabres not looking like Stanley Cup contenders, there was a ton of speculation that one or both could be dealt at some point this summer.
Miller is coming off a couple of down years, but the team in front of him has struggled as well. Still, in a thin free agent market, it was believed that he could still fetch a decent return out on the trade market. Same goes for Vanek, who still finished among the league leaders in scoring, even with some health issues in 2013.
Trading either one would have meant the Sabres were throwing in the towel in the 2013-14 season, and entering a complete rebuild. There are certainly arguments to be made in favor of such a scenario. But with some young talent in the system, this isn’t a team that is in complete despair quite yet.
Which means they can afford to hold onto each. They’ve upgraded the depth of the blue line, which should prove beneficial for Miller. Which could lead to an upswing for them in the standings. And Vanek is still a big time offensive player, so the argument in favor of keeping him really isn’t necessary.
Now if the Sabres come out and fall flat on their faces during the 2013-14 season, they could look to move either one at the deadline, or even both. That might lead to an even bigger return, as desperation will be at a higher level at that point in the season. But they could improve and convince Miller and Vanek to stick around for the future.
This doesn’t guarantee that Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek will be around for the long term, but keeping them around at least until the trade deadline certainly makes plenty of sense. This is the right move by the Sabres.