We are six days away from the NHL’s trading deadline, and very few people have a very good sense of what will happen on that day. The general sentiment is that it will be a relatively quiet deadline, as many teams are still considered to be in the playoff race and won’t be so willing to sell and throw in the towel. Brian Burke promises to be active, and the Sens have announced they will be looking to sell. That’s nowhere near the whole story, but it’s a start. But what are the Sabres doing? Buying or selling?
Last season the Sabres tried to do both, and things seem to have worked out in hindsight. Instead of a complete rebuilding mentality, Buffalo swapped Brian Campbell for picks and Steve Bernier, which laid the groundwork for Craig Rivet’s arrival the following summer. That’s classic Darcy Regier rebuilding, and the results have been fairly successful.
This season is a bit different. Buffalo has a number of expiring contracts on the roster, and with a sudden need at goaltender, what happens with this roster next week? If Miller’s timetable is still undetermined, the Sabres may even look to go there, right? Well, at least someone is asking that:
But if goaltending is the Sabres’ biggest concern, would they be willing to go after Kari Lehtonen of the Atlanta Thrashers? Chew on that one for a while.
I’m chewing, but I’m not sure I like the taste of that. As I’ve said before, I really don’t see the Sabres making a move that threatens Patrick Lalime’s spot on the roster. Darcy has proven to be a character guy countless times, and we’ve heard about how well the team gets along with Patrick all season. His favorable relationship with Miller is evident as well, and just because the goaltending position may be one of mild crisis right now doesn’t mean Regier will cut the two-year Lalime experiment short.
So what does that mean if the Sabres don’t trade for a goaltender? Are they sellers? I seriously doubt they approach the deadline as such, but that doesn’t mean they will make any moves intended to help make a run this season. If there is anything Darcy Regier is good at it is not mortgaging the future in order to suceed in the present, and that won’t happen this year.
This team isn’t a cup contender with Miller and Vanek healthy, and they won’t be one no matter what happens next Wednesday. The goal may be to make the playoffs, but I think we’ll see them struggle and fall short of that before we make a push. In fact, I think I’d prefer to see them slip than go for broke. The Sabres already have a core in place that can make things happen. Sacrificing any part of that isn’t worth a first round clash with Boston or Washington…