Tonawanda News

Opinion

March 11, 2014

DUVALL: Sabres team is all about the future now

Tonawanda News — The thought occurs I never offered my take on the Sabres' trade deadline maneuvering. I know you were waiting with baited breath, so sorry to leave you hanging:

In general, I think they did fairly well in converting players they were going to lose in the off season for nothing into assets that will help in this rebuilding process.

But there is an essential reality: They traded arguably the three best players off what was already a last-place team. This is what bottoming out looks like. And make no mistake, this is now indisputably the least talented Sabres roster in the franchise's history. 

Sorry to say, there is no reason to watch the remaining 20 games this season from a team perspective unless it's out of sheer habit. Barring some highly unlikely extended winning streak, the team has locked up 30th place in the NHL. 

On the player front, the team has become even more uninteresting with the departure of franchise goaltender Ryan Miller, feisty captain Steve Ott and Matt Moulson, who felt like the last guy on the team who could score with any consistency. 

But there's good news. The team will have five or six first round draft selections over the next three years, including two — and possibly three — in 2015, which is projecting as the deepest and most talented draft classes in the last decade. If the Sabres hit on those picks fans will almost assuredly look back in a decade at the 2015 draft as the real turning point in our journey out of the woods.

Lost in all of the trade news was a nice perk of being in last place — your choice of any player waived by another team. That brought Cory Conacher, a graduate of my alma mater Canisius College, back to Buffalo. He's potentially a fantastic fit. Conacher should be motivated to play closer to home (he's a southern Ontario native) and in front of fans who have known about him since his collegiate career. He's not a game changing player by himself but if the team can install talent around him, Conacher is an excellent complimentary player. While with Tampa Bay he played with Steven Stamkos and proved he can produce steadily when paired with a talented group of players.

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