Sabres sputtering home yet again

March 08, 2018 - 10:28 am

The Buffalo Sabres season is nearing its end and I'm struggling to produce #content for the website. This is a running account of that "struggle". It isn't a coherent essay on what the Sabres' issues are. Rather, it's a bunch of stuff you've probably read or heard before, updated. Sorry not sorry.

** The 2018-19 season opener will be the 455th consecutive Sabres game that the Sabres will have entered without a winning record. A lot on the line! Because a streak like requires numerous consecutive opening-night losses -- and generally lousy starts to seasons -- I think it's possible that this is an NHL record.

This year's Sabres team started the season 0-5.

2016-17: 1-5

2015-16: 1-4

2014-15: 1-7

2013-14: 1-10

That's pretty much amazing.

** Recent discussion about the Sabres improving might be in earnest, depending on who's talking. Or it might be someone getting through the day. The truth is there's really no important factual basis in it, and moreover, if it were true it would still be virtually meaningless. In a league as competitively balanced as the NHL even the worst teams have "streaks". On the matter of whether bad teams playing better late in seasons means anything going forward, is there a group of people in the world that would know better how irrelevant that is at this point than fans of the Buffalo Sabres?

This just in: You can beat Toronto 5-3 despite being badly outshot because that can and should happen sometimes in a span of 82 games. Who knows this kind of thing better than we do?

** In terms of salaries and cap room, there isn't big relief on the horizon. The nightmarish, OMG Josh Gorges Sabres tenure mercifully is about to end, but after that most of what's coming off the books is players making relatively small salaries. This does not include the now-traded Evander Kane, who was actually good.

Here are some Sabres players with their amount of money and years owed:

  • Kyle Okposo (11 goals) - $30 million through 2022-23.
  • Rasmus Ristolainen - $21.6 million through 2021-22.
  • Zach Bogosian - $10.29 million through 2019-20.
  • Marco Scandella - $8 million through 2019-20.
  • Matt Moulson - $3.975 million through 2018-19.

** The one thing I looked forward to this Sabres season since the team was unofficially eliminated from playoff contention in mid-October was the trade deadline. Well, that was a bust. I'm really asking: How could it have gone worse? Kane was traded at the last minute for a conditional first (OK), a fourth, and player Danny O'Regan.

I can't imagine a player of this caliber generating less than that -- with due respect to O'Regan. If he becomes a good NHL player, well, that changes things. Was Jason Botterill not eager to move Kane? The player scored like crazy early in the season. I mean, keep some salary and let's go. Obviously that didn't happen.

The first-round pick is only a first-round pick if Kane re-signs with the Sharks, or if San Jose wins the Stanley Cup. It occurs to me that every draft pick traded that isn't a first-rounder should come with a condition that would make it a first-rounder, no matter how far-fetched that condition is. Could the Sabres have traded Benoit Pouliot for a fifth-round pick and called it a conditional first (because that looks better), and have the condition be that Spain wins ice hockey gold at the Olympics? Tim Murray saddled the Sabres with seriously bad contracts, but at least he was creative.

The probably playoff-bound Flyers lost goalies to injury and traded for someone else's guy. Several of the drags on the Sabres' roster remain here post-deadline. I know there generally isn't interest on other teams' drags, but it's hard to accept the outcome of Not A Single Thing Happening At The Deadline beyond the Kane trade.

** Ah yes, the current standings. Arizona won Wednesday night so now the Sabres and Coyotes are tied for last. No matter what the results of these three Jack Eichel seasons have been, it is still better to finish 31st than 30th. That's true the first year, that's true the fourth year, that'll be true the 40th year. 

Sure, the draft system is flawed because it rewards losing. We know. Fix it if you want. As long as it is that way, this is a thing.

Arizona at Buffalo, March 21.

Stay safe.

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