To the surprise of nobody following the NHL this season, it’s expected the Buffalo Sabres are going to be big-time sellers as we approach this year’s trade deadline. They’ve already dealt longtime sniper Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson. But, if the rumors are true, this was just the tip of the iceberg.
Buffalo is currently dead last in the entire league, with just 35 points on the season. This resulted in a front office revamp, firing coach Lindy Ruff and GM Darcy Regier and replacing them with Ted Nolan and Tim Murray, respectively. Now, with the March 5 trade deadline coming in fast, as well as a roster freeze beforehand due to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the Sabres appear to be gearing up for some more trades.
According to TSN, names are starting to surface in terms of who exactly Buffalo is looking to shop, and there’s at least one familiar face. That would be goalie Ryan Miller, he who’s been in the rumor mill for what seems like three straight years now. Along with Miller, who some say should expect a trade “soon,” the Sabres also appear to be testing the waters with Moulson and Steve Ott. Each of the aforementioned players are on expiring contracts, making them that much more appealing to potentially interested teams.
For what it’s worth, Murray has gone on record as telling these players, and perhaps anyone else on the roster, not to make much of trade rumors. At the same time, he also claimed, point blank, that their names are all in play. A trade isn’t guaranteed, but it’ll certainly be tested. At the moment, though, Murray stated everything involving potential trades is just in the initial stages.
“There’s been lots of interaction, a lot of early talking,” he said. “There’s been no real specifics. I think teams are just trying to feel us out, feel me out on what we want to do. There’s certainly been discussions. I’m not sure there’s any artificial deadline. I think people are in a wait-and-see mode, to tell you the truth.”
Don’t expect much time in between wait-and-see mode and intense negotiations. Fact is, due to the impending Olympic roster freeze, most teams may want to get in a trade before players break for Sochi. With games resuming the week of February 24, that leaves a little over a week to execute a trade. One has to imagine GMs aren’t going to want to work frantically within that deadline if they don’t have to.
We all know the Sabres are going to be shedding parts soon. Whether they try and get moving before the Olympics or after is really the only mystery left.