Through the team’s first four games, it appears that things could end up being much of the same. The team is struggling to score goals in a big way, is blowing leads and more important, is playing a losing brand of hockey with a 0-3-1 record to start the season.
If things continue to go this way for the Sabres, one has to wonder if something is going to give. Specifically, one has to wonder what trades could be brewing when it comes to their two best players, what needs to be done to get the team’s offense going and lastly, what the Sabres need to do to start winning hockey games on a consistent basis.
Let's take a deeper look at these things and how they might impact the Sabres’ organization going forward.
When a team misses the postseason for two straight years, trade rumors are going to swirl around said franchise.
This is exactly the case for the Sabres. Specifically, the rumors revolve around forward Thomas Vanek and starting netminder Ryan Miller.
Since joining the Sabres in 2005-06, Vanek has been the team’s best and most consistent forward. In 585 games, Vanek has 488 points (250 goals and 238 assists) while also being absolutely huge on the power play with 105 goals.
The Sabres looked to move Vanek during the offseason and there were no takers. Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier told the Sabres’ web site that the salary cap has a lot to do with not being able to make a move right now.
Not only did the Sabres have trouble moving Vanek, but they also had trouble parting ways with their star netminder. While Miller has had a solid career in Buffalo, it not quite clear whether or not his future in hockey includes the Buffalo Sabres and that is something he will have to think about when his contract expires after this season.
“The cap is a real big part of it. Any discussions that I have now involve taking back money, moving money. Money plays a very big role,” he said. “I think you can look at clubs you wouldn’t expect to be up and around $60-million-plus and they’re there.”
Miller has spent his entire NHL career with the Sabres and sports a 269-164-53 career record with a 2.59 GAA, a .915 save percentage and 28 shutouts. He is the Sabres’ franchise leader in wins, won the Vezina Trophy in 2010 as the league’s top goaltender and also led the United States Men’s Olympic Hockey Team to the Silver Medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Should the Sabres end up losing both Vanek and Miller and have nothing to show for it, it will be a challenge for the Sabres to qualify for the postseason whether it is this season or even next season.