Tonawanda News


February 26, 2012

12th-place Sabres in tough spot as NHL trade deadline approaches

BUFFALO — Sitting six points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot has put the 12th-place Sabres, a high-priced club built to win the Stanley Cup this season, in a precarious spot as today’s 3 p.m. NHL deadline approaches.

What the heck do they do? Are they buying or selling?

Right now, the Sabres are surging again, having won three straight last week. They’re 8-3-3 since their defense corps reached full strength, often performing like the legitimate contender many deemed them in the summer.

They just earned three of four points over the weekend against conference powers. Teams often use the days before the deadline to make their final assessments. Perhaps beating Boston and falling in New York to the Rangers in overtime could sway the Sabres into buying.

With 68 points, eighth-place Winnipeg is only on pace for 87, about five fewer than it normally takes to secure the final playoff spot. The Sabres have also played two fewer games than the Jets.

Darcy Regier didn’t speak to reporters last week, but the general manager said Friday on WGR 550 that the weekend “may play a role” in deciding the Sabres’ plans, “but it’s not everything.”

“The focus for us has to be on … how even in its finest form this team can be better moving forward, and if it means we have to take a little bit of a step back in the short term, then I would argue it’s worth it,” Regier told the radio station.

What does that mean? Could a core player, say underachieving forwards Derek Roy or Drew Stafford, be dealt for draft picks or prospects? Regier didn’t elaborate.

So far, teams have paid steep prices for talent.

On Friday, New Jersey gave Minnesota defenseman Kurtis Foster, forwards Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux, a second-round selection and a conditional pick for defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who has zero goals, 14 points and a minus-6 rating in 41 games this season.

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