When news initially dropped that Ryan Miller had been traded to the St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres fans felt a sense of insecurity and worry that their team’s future would look even bleaker than it had already. While this was easily the simplest opinion to have, fans tend to fall victim when it comes to underestimating the knowledge of a team’s front office.
Terry Pegula and company maneuvered their way around the trade frenzy that comes every year near the deadline with grace and sophisticated knowledge. Bringing in young netminder Michal Neuvirth to complement Jhonas Enroth has proven to be a strong move not only for the present but for the future as well.
Neuvirth is a 25-year-old Czech native who spent his entire NHL career with the Washington Capitals up until being traded to the Sabres. Throughout his time with the Capitals, Neuvirth showed a knack for being a blue-collared player who puts his team first and his ego second. This is precisely what the struggling Sabres need in net compared to a star-studded media-frenzied Miller.
Enroth is a familiar name among Sabres fans as he has played for the organization since the 2009-10 season. At the same young age of 25, the Swede complements Neuvirth in that they both have a strong and lengthy future ahead of them. Much like his new teammate, Enroth is a strong-minded goaltender who puts his team before himself. Enroth’s history speaks for itself as he was a pivotal part of Sweden’s national team that won the 2013 World Championships gold medal.
Not only do the Sabres now have two young goaltenders with a team-first mindset, but they also have two goalies that have posted better statistics than Miller did before his departure. In his final eight games with the Sabres, Miller allowed 25 goals on 267 shots for a save percentage of .906. Since his departure, Neuvirth and Enroth have combined for eight starts in which they allowed 19 goals on 294 shots making for a save percentage of .935.
Rather than doubting the future of the organization, Sabres fans should rejoice over the fact that they have a solid and youthful one-two punch in goal. With continued success in goal, expect Pegula and company to lock-down both goaltenders and move past the position in their quest to strengthen the team.