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Patience Wearing Thin

February 9, 2010 - Matt Spielman
I'm usually pretty patient when it comes to the Sabres.

The last couple of years when they missed the playoffs by a few points, I looked at the positives. If Ryan Miller didn't get injured last year they would have been in the middle of the playoff pack. One or two more wins the previous year and they would have stolen the eighth seed despite losing Daniel Briere, Chris Drury and — for the final stretch of the season — Brian Campbell.

Back then, they were nearly making the playoffs while they were establishing a young core that would win for years to come.

Well that core is reaching its prime, the players' salaries are going up and for a long stretch of the season, they were winning. But now Buffalo has fallen on hard times. Even two wins heading into the Olympic break would only put the team at 2-5 in its last seven games. I was worried that Ryan Miller would become exhausted heading into a playoff run, but now I'm hoping that he gets hot at the Olympics and carries that into the home stretch of the NHL season.

The Sabres have been rumored to be in on trades involving everyone from Martin Biron to Sheldon Souray. One Web site actually had the gall to mention Buffalo as a possible destination for Teemu Selanne AND Saku Koivu. I'm usually against making big trades like this with little time left in the season, falling under the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" strategy. But at this point in this season, I think it is broke and it needs to be fixed ... fast.

Miller and Tyler Myers are the only untouchables I see on the current roster. If last year's top pick Zack Kassian has to be moved, so be it. If a No. 1 pick in next year's draft has to be moved, do it. Miller is in his prime and the Sabres currently have a 3- to 5-year window as a bona fide threat in the league. Granted, I understand the organization wants to win consistently and keep a steady pipeline of talent coming through the minors but Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff need to be honest with themselves. The Sabres' next goalie probably isn't going to be as good as Miller and future teams probably won't be as good as this team can be right now.

Mortgage a little bit of the future now if it means a run at a Stanley Cup. If management is so high on this defense corps, move one or two of the extras. I have to believe Mike Weber can play as well as Steve Montador. Andrej Sekera has provided an offensive spark the last few games in which he has played. A top-six forward will probably have to be moved. That's a risk that has to be taken. If Buffalo wants to be a player on any of the big names on the trade block, management has to make sacrifices.

I'm a big supporter of Regier and I do think he is largely responsible for making the Sabres a consistent winner, but many professional sports teams are consistent winners without ever really threatening for a championship.

Let's hope the Sabres don't continue to fall into that category.

 
 

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Blog Photos

Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu would come at a price, but would be quite a trade-deadline haul for the Sabres. AP photo