Happy Monday morning. Just feeling like both teams are in similar spots, and feeling like the way out is identical. Bear with me on this little stream of consciousness that falls out of my brain and onto this site....
The Buffalo Bills did things right at the NFL Draft. The Sabres can get it done too, with or without the help of a lottery ball. Buffalo is lacking for stars these days, and the near future could see us losing another big one, in Ryan Miller. A new era begins for both teams, and both will need stars if it's ever going to work.
EJ Manuel might be a good quarterback. All we can do at this point is make educated guesses based on his ability to read through progressions in the ACC. Is he fast? How strong is his arm? Will the Bills new coaching staff design an offense that brings us to our feet, and the team to the playoffs?
The answers to these questions will obviously come in time. The fact that we’re asking them is a good thing. It means that the Bills have succeeded in breathing some life into a team and its fanbase. We have something to be optimistic about, which is all you really need for fans anywhere to care.
In EJ Manuel, the Bills have given us reason to believe that it’s somewhat possible. Drafting a QB in the first round means that you can entertain the idea that you may have a star on your team.
This is going a long way but go with me: EJ Manuel could actually make an appearance on one of those late night football openings! You know the ones with Eli Manning, Larry Fitzgerald, and other players on teams that are in the NFL! Yeah, those ones! Imagine the Bills in those opens! That’s the power of star power.
The Sabres are on the other side of this, expected to send their stars packing. We sit at yet another crossroads with Darcy Regier (it would appear) at the helm. The solution is simple. I’ve wanted it and written about it for three years now.
Get the 1st pick.
If you can’t get the 1st pick, get the 2nd pick...or the 3rd. Heck, get 2 of them. Trade away your entire stable of prospects and your bevy of picks for the 2nd and 3rd picks this year. Get 5th and 6th if you must. Trade those 5th and 6th for #1.
Make it happen. Fortune favors the bold.
Get stars. Get a generational star. Get two. Move heaven and earth to get a player that you “can’t get”.
Make a trade that has analysts saying “You just CANT give up that much for this one player”. Make the NHL’s version of the RG3 trade.
Friday night’s game against the New York Islanders may have been the last game of the Ryan Miller era. Miller is a star in the NHL. Forget the discussion about how good he is, and forget about the definition of the word “elite”. The fact is that for the last 6 years he has helped put the Buffalo Sabres on the NHL map. The Sabres aren’t the Penguins, Rangers, Bruins, Blackhawks, or Flyers when it comes to league-wide appeal...but at least they’re in the NHL.
The Sabres haven’t been sent to the back page of the NHL like the Bills have in the NFL. If they trade Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, they could quickly go into the NHL netherworld. (This is by no means a “Don’t Trade Miller!” or “Don’t Trade Vanek” article - not by a long shot.)
When you think about the future of the franchise, it seems likely that both men will move on.
Miller and Vanek should want to move on if the rebuild is going to be a long one. Ownership should too. If Darcy Regier is selling the idea that the “rebuild” has to take a long time, he shouldn’t be the one doing it. It doesn’t have to take long at all. Every time Regier reinforces the belief that it’s going to take years, he gives himself more and more wiggle room when it comes to accountability for his bad team. Another non-playoff year next year simply can’t be treated as a necessary step.
Imagine for a moment...that this horrible 48 game season that has cost us Lindy Ruff, Jason Pominville, and possibly Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, doesn’t come with the payout of a star, or a superstar.
My kingdom for a top pick. It works.
Did you click that link? Click it. Really. Click it and think about it.
Recent overall No. 1 picks include Alex Ovechkin (Washington, 2004),Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh, 2005), Erik Johnson (St. Louis, 2006),Patrick Kane (Chicago, 2007), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay, 2008),John Tavares (NY Islanders, 2009), Taylor Hall (Edmonton, 2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton, 2011) and Nail Yakupov (Edmonton, 2012).
Regier hints at "top players" from time to time, but I'm still not sure he'll take the swing that's needed. When he talks of the Jason Pominville trade, it's the Wild that made the call and seemed to push it forward. Talk of last year's draft is that the team wanted Grigorenko, BIG TIME, but they waited until he fell to them. Sometimes passive plays can pay off. Sometimes aggressive plays are required.
So we wait...and hope our number comes up. The odds say the Sabres have a 3.6% chance of getting the top pick.
I want my team to use more than the lottery ball.