The future of the new faces on the Sabres
Before Tim Murray took over the Sabres made a few moves to change the nature of their roster. Now that there's a new boss, do any have a shot on being on the team next season?
We aren't at the Trade Deadline just yet, and unlike what we've come to expect with the Sabres they have already made quite a few moves. None of these players were acquired by the new general manager Tim Murray, who is yet to leave his mark on the team just yet. Like most players on this roster, the future of these players is up in the air. Today we look at the four players, Matt Moulson, Matt D'Agostini, Linus Omark, and Zenon Konopka, that the team has brought in this season and what the future looks like for each of them.
#26 / Left Wing / Buffalo Sabres
Nov 01, 1983
|2013 - Matt Moulson||15||15||30||-4||22|
Matt Moulson is the clearly the largest acquisition of the season, coming to the Sabres with draft picks in the Thomas Vanek trade. Moulson was known for having successful seasons in the past with the New York Islanders, but many chalked that up to playing with star center John Tavares. On the Sabres he wouldn't have that same luxury, being paired at first with Cody Hodgson and later with Tyler Ennis.
Like him or not, Moulson has proven that he doesn't need that elite player with him to score. He's scoring about his career pace half way through the season with 15 goals and 30 points. The top line of Girgensons-Ennis-Moulson has put in some very successful nights, and now it seems that Stafford is playing better now that he's replaced Girgensons. However this is the 2014 Sabres, and that line has looked dismal at times just like all the others.
Thomas Vanek and the Islanders have heated up as of late, so Moulson is no longer keeping pace with him statistically. But he is a 30 goal scorer and a guy who would be in the top six of almost any team in the league. He can score 30 goals, and players like that aren't exactly flowing from the Sabres depth chart.
Although he has had a better season than most, he is considered by many to be the best trade bait on the market this season. Moulson is a free agent, and one that has been a part of rebuilding teams for a majority of his career. If Moulson is not interested in staying in Buffalo, he could net a good return. If he is interested in staying, one has to weigh the value of Moulson as a piece for the future or whatever they'd be able to get on the market. He could be pricey on the open market as well due to the fact that it is not a very deep free agency crop.
#27 / Right Wing / Buffalo Sabres
Oct 23, 1986
|2013 - Matt D`Agostini||2||4||6||0||4|
Matt D'Agostini was the first move made by the Sabres after the new regime took over. It wasn't all that surprising since D'Agostini had participated in Ted Nolan's hockey camps in the past. He was signed in the off-season by Pittsburgh after another declining season with the Blues and the Devils. It only took Pittsburgh eight games to put D'Agostini on waivers for the Sabres to pick him up.
To make room for D'Agostini the Sabres waived Corey Tropp, so the two have been tied to each other as the season has gone along. Despite Tropp having a good start in Columbus and a great highlight goal, the two have about the same stat line. Tropp has two goals and four assists, D'Agostini has two goals and three assists.
He will never again be the player who scored 21 goals in 2010-2011, but he's been somewhat steady in his twenty games with the Sabres. He has the third best Fenwick percentage and the second best Corsi on the team. Due to the Sabres being incredibly desperate he's been forced into top six minutes, which has lead to come slightly unfair expectations for how much he should be producing. One must remember he is only making $550,000.
As a bottom six guy he could be a decent player to have around, or as WGR's Matthew Coller said in his review of all the forwards signing a two-way deal could make sense. Many expected that Buffalo would be his last opportunity in the league, and he hasn't done anything flashy or put up the points to necessarily get a second look from other teams. He is liked by Nolan, so if Ted is back behind the bench that could increase his chances of staying as well. He won't exactly be getting a line of suitors trying to sign him to a deal and could be a nice guy to have around in a rebuild.
#17 / Left Wing / Buffalo Sabres
Feb 05, 1987
|2013 - Linus Omark||0||1||1||-2||4|
Linus Omark was the only trade that Pat Lafontaine made before Tim Murray took over as general manager. Omark came back to North America this season after scoring 69 points in 48 games in the Swiss league last season. However, he didn't get much of a shot with the big club. Omark played only one game with the Oilers this year, spending a majority of his season with the Oklahoma City Barons. He was one of the top scorers in the AHL, a point a game player, and showed enough to make the Sabres take a chance on him.
Omark has played ten games with the team and sat the past couple of games before Florida. He started off very slow, looking like he didn't really belong. However with time he's seemed to get better and has shown flashes of skill. That hasn't translated to the scoreboard and he's missed on a lot of opportunities. Ted Nolan has criticized him as recently as last night, saying that his knowledge isn't really translating to his play on the ice.
The trade involved a conditional draft pick which moves up from a sixth round pick depending on the amount of games Omark plays in the NHL. So if the Sabres decide that they've seen enough to determine his ceiling isn't very high, they may deem him not worthy of a higher pick. With the current state of the team he could also be valuable for Rochester, as his scoring touch could really come in handy for their playoff push. The more experience for the youth, the better.
#24 / Center / Buffalo Sabres
Jan 02, 1981
|2013 - Zenon Konopka||1||1||2||-5||63|
Zenon Konopka is the player that Sabres fans have seen the least, only appearing in six games so far. However based on his prior history and the way that he has played so far in Buffalo it's hard to conceive that Konopka has a long-term spot on the roster.
His zero points through six games isn't surprising. In his nine years in the league he's got a total of 12 goals and 17 assists. He's made a name for himself largely due to his face-off ability. However he's face-off winning percentages have been inconsistent with the Sabres, ranging from in the 40s to the 70s. It's a very small sample, but he only has two shots total and his Corsi and Fenwick percentage is towards the bottom of the team.
Despite being very likable, owning a rabbit, and growing up near Niagara-On-The-Lake, Konopka is a fourth line player on a team loaded with fourth line players. He already has eight penalty minutes, and none of those came from fighting majors. Konopka was a healthy scratch against Florida and will likely see more time in the press box as the season goes along.
So do you think any of these players have a spot on this team in the future, or could they all be gone by the next season opener? Or maybe the question is besides Moulson, will we remember that any of these players actually played for the Sabres?
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