With the trade deadline now passed the Sabres have choosen a direction for the future. That direction is exactly that, the future. Over the last week the Sabres shipped out Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold, and captain Jason Pominville. Regier has finally come to reality that the current core will not take the Sabres to the promise land. Buffalo is set to miss the playoffs for the 2nd straight season. Sabres GM Darcy Regier would not use the "R" word as he put in his post deadline press conference. However with Ryan Miller and maybe Thomas Vanek set to suffer the same fate as Pominville this summer, the Sabres seem to be ready for a youth movement. Next years opening night roster could feature youngsters such as Foligno, Pysyk, McNabb, Larsson, Grigorenko, Armia, Girgensons, Flynn, and Tropp leading the skaters with Enroth and Hackett in the blue paint. A lot of Sabres fans say they are ready for a fresh start, but next year will be the real test to see if they're ready.
I want to shift focus a little bit and talk about the three moves the Sabres made at the deadline. Leopold and Regehr have been on the block for most of the season and both brought back a good return for the Sabres in the form of high draft picks. The possibilty of Pominville being moved started to come to the surface in the last week. Many believed that one if not two of the big three (Pominville, Vanek, and Miller) would be moved at the deadline. Pominville was the one choosen and he brought a great return to the Sabres. This move could perhaps have been a job saver for Darcy Regier. Minnesota sent back young Swedish forward John Larsson, goaltending prospect Matt Hackett, a 2013 1st round pick, and a 2014 2nd round pick. Larsson is 20 years old and was the captain of the Sweden Junior Team when they won the World Juniors. The 5'10 200 lb C/LW is a good two way player, that has leadership qualities. Larsson won't wow you with flashy skills, but can put the puck in the net and is responsible in his own end. Larsson had 37 points in 62 games with the Aeros this year. Matt Hackett has seen some NHL action in the last few years as the Wild had to rush the young goaltender due to injuries over the last year and a half. Last year Hackett was 3-6 in the NHL with a 2.38 GAA and .921 SV%. This year with the Aeros of the AHL Hackett was 19-20-3 with a 2.66 GAA and .907 SV%. The 23 year old goaltender is still at least another year from being ready to be a full time starter in the NHL, but gives the Sabres some goaltending youth along with Andrey Makarov. Both Larsson and Hackett will start with the Rochester Americans as they prepare for the AHL playoffs. With the picks the Sabres picked up they now have two 1st round picks and three 2nd round picks in 2013, as well as two 2nd round picks in 2014. So to recap the Sabres deadline moves:
Robyn Regehr (LA)
Jordan Leopold (STL)
Jason Pominville (MIN)
2013 1st rd pick
2 2013 2nd rd picks
1 2014 2nd rd pick
1 2015 2nd rd pick
Tonight the Sabres host the young Ottawa Senators who the Sabres can hope to model themselves after. They will have to deal with new acquisition Cory Conacher in his Sens debut. Buffalo sits 5 points out of 8th with 11 games to go. Sabres are more likely to finish in the bottom 5 of the NHL than a playoff spot. However watching some of the kids play will help me get through the next 11 games. Without Vanek and Leino in the lineup due to injury the roster looks a lot different than opening night.
Prediction: I expect the Sabres to take a step back with the loss of their captain the Sens to come out flying with Conacher joining the lineup. 4-1 Sens.
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