What a difference a few years makes, eh?
During the times of Tim Murray, we were sold thoughts of going out and acquiring the best of the best throughout the National Hockey League world from teams up against the cap ceiling.
Murray often lamented how he was ready to take Buffalo’s surplus of picks and turn them into NHL-ready bodies.
We have come to find out, for the most part, that Murray was just giving us all some good old lip service. Nothing more, nothing less.
Now, fast forward to Wednesday afternoon.
Jason Botterill pulled the trigger on a deal that brought forward Conor Sheary and defenseman Matt Hunwick to Buffalo.
What was the cost? A conditional 4th-round pick.
For aesthetic purposes, those conditions turn the 2019 4th-round pick into a 2019 3rd-round pick if Sheary scores 20 goals or 40 points in 2019 or Hunwick is traded by the 2019 Entry Level Draft.
This move is the type of move that Tim Murray hyped Sabres fans up for throughout his tenure as general manager.
Botterill identified a source of need – speed and even-strength scoring from top six wingers – and pounced.
We have witnessed what Sheary can do. Despite being a streaky scorer, Sheary put up 18 goals and 12 assists in 79 games last season.
His average time on ice dropped from 15:56 in 2016-17 to 13:57 in 2017-18, which most certainly could play a part into his goal total dropping but looking at the stats sheet, it is easy to see the aforementioned streakiness.
Sheary tallied only two goals in 26 games from December 29 to March 5. That is a part of his game that will definitely need some improvement.
His stats last season are somewhat a far cry from his 2016-17 campaign, which featured 23 goals and 30 assists in 61 games. In that season, Sheary never went more than seven games without a goal.
The good news about Sheary’s goal scoring though? 44 of his 48 career goals have been at even-strength, including 16 last season. Only Jack Eichel, with 22 even-strength goals, had more for the Sabres last season.
Sheary most certainly appears to have a knack for putting the puck in the net. In 184 career games, he has scored at a 13.8% clip. That is no fluke.
Sheary has spent a large amount of his young career paired with Sidney Crosby. It should come as no surprise to hear Sheary’s name thrown around with Jack Eichel, as the silly season of potential line combinations begins.
When looking further into his intangibles, grabbing a scouting report most certainly helps. Sheary is under-sized but makes up for that with his speed. The guy is fast, there is no doubt about that.
Another great thing Sheary brings to the Sabres lineup? Two Stanley Cup rings and a bevy of NHL playoff experience in three seasons. He has 57 playoff games under his belt, which puts him second on the Sabres active roster for most playoff games played. Only Jason Pominville, 81 playoff games, has played more.
This acquisition checks all the boxes Jason Botterill had been seeking out. Even-strength scoring? Check. Speed on the wing? Check. Playoff experience? Check.
For all intents and purposes, Botterill took another step toward becoming the anti-Tim Murray and put his money where his mouth is, all while making the top six of the Buffalo Sabres much better on Wednesday afternoon.
With more draft pick ammunition and players potentially on the move, Jason Botterill appears to only have begun his retooling of the Sabres roster this offseason.