The Sabres version of a tale of two seasons to this point and the soon to be completed ownership change have made things a little complicated as we head towards the February 28th trade deadline. Should the Sabres be buyers or sellers? Can they do both? Technically there is another option but I'm not expecting the Sabres to stand pat.
So, should Darcy Regier and company look to buy or sell? One month ago you may have thought they should sell. Back in mid January, Buffalo was 10 points out of the final playoff spot. Through the first 3 months of the season they didn't look anything like last season's Division Championship club.
Since January 1st, the Sabres have one of the best records among Eastern Conference teams so perhaps you've changed your mind and now believe they should buy. But is the team good enough to make a deep run in the playoffs (if they make it) even with whoever they buy? Maybe they should do their big shopping in the off season.
Now let’s throw the ownership issue into the mix. What does Terry Pegula think of this team? What are his plans for Regier? If Pegula is planning to make a change in the G-M office, does he want Regier making moves that will affect the team beyond this season?
If the Sabres do make moves, will the philosophy of the organization be different because of Pegula's operating plan? Will they look to acquire players with less concern for salary and length of contracts? Will they be more willing to part with prospects and/or draft picks since the new owner wants to win a Cup and then win it again?
Now that I've thrown all these questions at you, let me give you my opinion. I would attempt to both buy and sell. There are certainly parts to this team that can be moved since they don't appear to be a part of the franchise moving forward or have been underachieving this season. You can try and move some of the veteran players like Rob Niedemayer, Mike Grier and Paul Gaustad. If you can find someone to take Craig Rivet, more power to them. If you can unload Pominville's contract, be my guest. As I said, the Sabres should look into buying as well, but not rental players. I would like pieces that can be counted on beyond the end of this season. A player like Mike Fisher would have been nice since he is under contract for 2 more seasons and his salary isn't bad either. Finding a center should be a priority since Tim Connolly will likely not be back next season. A veteran defenseman would help as well since Rivet will be gone and Steve Montador will be a free agent. If you can find a better backup goalie, I'll take that too unless the Sabres believe Jonas Enroth is that guy next season.
All of these factors will make for some great debates over the next 2 weeks both inside and outside the organization. You can share your opinions with Jeremy and me any weekday morning between 6:00 and 10:00AM on WGR.