When I think about the Buffalo Sabres these days, I think about a pair of podcasts we’ve done here. I’ve been thinking about podcasts often these days, obviously, but in the summer months especially they are a good outlet to just ramble about things with no consequence. It’s July, it’s hot and hockey is still months away.
In my last podcast with Kris Baker, we start talking about the future of the Sabres roster. You might not hear it in the audio, but when I asked Baker about Joel Armia, he positively lit up. He is really excited about the future of this team. He’s excited about one of the Sabres’ first round picks centering him on the top line in a few years.
Baker’s someone I trust when it comes to evaluating talent, and so when he got excited, I got excited in turn. The thought of a real top line for the Sabres, one with a dominant and creative center and a sniper on the wing, is something we haven’t had in Buffalo in years. I can’t even really pinpoint a time when I felt totally comfortable with this prototype, to be honest.
The more I thought about it, the more excited I was. This is the future of the team taking shape in my brain, and I’m a pretty big fan of what the neurons are doing right now. In fact, it’s the most excited I’ve been about the Sabres in a long time.
That brought me back to the podcast we did just after July 1 in 2011. The one thing I said in that gigantic audio file that stuck with me is this: Even if it takes the Sabres a decade to get it right, it’s safe to finally feel like they are going in the right direction.
A year or so into the 10-year plan, things have not progressed as quickly as most fans would like. Thinking about Armia and realizing that the Darcy Regier essentially traded a few months of Paul Gaustad for Zemgus Girgensons, though, is a nice shock to the system. It feels like things are starting to come together, even if it is going to take some time.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend to know what signing Girgensons will do for this team. To be honest, I’m currently struggling to tell Girgensons and Mikhail Grigorenko apart right now. They were taken two picks apart, have last names that start with G and I can’t spell either of them without peeking. Safe to say I am not the person to talk to for a scouting report.
I know nothing about these guys, have never seen them play and have little to add to the discussion when it comes to projecting their value for the organization. Now that Girgensons is The Guy Who Signed it may make things easier for me, but I have no idea where he will be in October. I do know that I’m excited about him in a way that’s tough to describe. It feels different, less like the crushing need for a savior and more like discovering a piece to a puzzle that finally looks solvable.
There’s no need for statues here just yet, but building blocks are fine by me.