Are the Sabres Making the Right Goalie Moves?
<em>Top Veterans are Available, But Managers Seem Complacent</em>
The Buffalo Sabres picked 11 prospects during last week’s NHL Draft. GM Kevyn Adams went heavy on offense, drafting eight forwards, two defensemen and just one goaltender, Topias Leinonen, in Round 2.
Die By the Blade polled readers both before and after the Draft, asking respondents if Adams would make trades or stick with his picks and gauged their opinion on how well he did. 63% of those polled thought the GM would keep the Sabres’ drafts, which was the end result. After the dust settled on the Draft, an equal number, 63%, are pleased with the Sabres’ lack of action on trades.
20% of DBTB’s voters believed Adams would spend cap money on a veteran goalie. So far, Buffalo’s general manager hasn’t made many moves in that direction. The Sabres apparently tried to trade for Ottawa Senators goalie Matt Murray, but the deal fell through.
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who helped the Avs win a Stanley Cup, is a UFA after Colorado failed to resign him. The Washington Capitals are possibly interested in Kuemper and might be willing to pay $5-6 million a year to sign him. Even before the Avs’ Stanley Cup win, some sports pundits felt that Buffalo should make a move for someone like Kuemper, because the Sabres need a veteran netminder to end their more than decade long playoff drought.
The Sabres resigned Craig Anderson, but as Paul Taylor of Fansided pointed out, Anderson is not the player he used to be, with a declining save percentage, although poor d-man coverage last season also contributed. If UPL stays in Rochester for another season, the Sabres will need someone else in net to back Anderson up.
Besides Kuemper, other potential goalies include Cam Talbot, Jonathan Quick, Cal Petersen, Jake Allen, James Reimer and Kaapo Kähkönen. The Leafs might even be willing to trade for Jack Campbell. All of these are possible netminding options for the Sabres, but they won’t be available forever. Buffalo still has more than $32 million in cap space, so Adams could try to sign any of these players if he wants to.
Midway through last season, the Sabres ran into serious trouble when all four of their goalies became sick or injured. Buffalo had to recall Aaron Dell and sign Michael Houser, just to get through their injury and illness slump. The following two months were brutal to watch, as the Sabres lost game after game. It wasn’t until March that the team started to turn things around. By then, it was yet again too late to make the playoffs.
So far, the team’s managers have given no indication that they’re willing to spend big to shore up the goaltending situation. If anything, the organization seems content to be patient, waiting for their prospects to become mature enough to play in the NHL.
Soon after the Draft ended on July 8, the Sabres tweeted the following:
Draft, develop, retain. We're trusting the process. #LetsGoBuffalo | @SenecaCasinos— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) July 8, 2022
Kevyn Adams and the rest of the team’s managers seem to be ok with a long rebuilding process, unconcerned about short-term wins. Adams said the team will look at all options, but they appear to be in no hurry to make any big moves. Will the fans, who haven’t seen a playoff series since 2011 and don’t know if they will next spring, be as equally patient? That’s a question the Sabres’ higher ups need to answer.
What do you think?
Should the Buffalo Sabres Spend Cap Money on a Veteran Goalie?