Tim Murray is a man with a plan.
A plan to take the Buffalo Sabres from the worst team in the league to Stanley Cup champion. In his short time as Sabres GM, Murray has shown himself to be a man who doesn’t waver from what he believes in. He’s honest, direct, and doesn’t waste anyone’s time with double-speak or trying to be politically correct. He says what he means, and he means what he says.
With that in mind, we can infer a few things from yesterday, a day that will alter the course of the Buffalo Sabres franchise for many years to come. Here’s what we’ve learned from his first capital-M Major move about Tim Murray’s Buffalo Sabres.
1. If an opportunity presents itself, Murray isn’t afraid to strike while the iron is hot.
Murray isn’t afraid to make a trade any time, anywhere, for any player, as long as he believes it benefits the Sabres. The trade deadline is weeks away, but Murray made the biggest hockey trade in years yesterday simply because the opportunity was there. As for the players involved, Murray said that it was hard to make the deal, thanks to the talent he had to giver up, but he obviously believes the Sabres will be a better team in the future with Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian than Tyler Myers and the who-the-hell-knows futures of Joel Armia and Brenden Lemieux.
This aggressiveness and confidence is so much fun for fans of the team, as it means that deals can come at any time from any direction. Following Twitter yesterday during the 90 minutes where we went from “talks are heating up” to “the deal is done” was the most exciting 90 minutes of the Sabres season by a mile, and the acquisition of such a hug piece in Kane gives Sabres fans months of fun debate, YouTube research, and hope. And remember, we’ve still got the deadline and the draft to see what else Murray can do.
2. If you’re not part of the future, you’re out.
He said it before and he said it again last night after trading Jhonas Enroth – nobody is leaving this team without Murray getting something in return. While you can take that statement as simply Tim being a thrifty GM, I read it more as: If I trade you, it’s because you absolutely, 100% were not part of the future of the Buffalo Sabres. I liked Jhonas Enroth, both personally and on the ice, but it’s no secret that Murray prefers bigger goalies, and while he played fairly well for this terrible team, Enroth simply didn’t do enough to force Murray to keep him.
We’ve also know since before the season started that Murray didn’t think Tyler Myers was an elite defenseman. He said that the big man could be, but needed to be insulated by a much better team around him – he wasn’t the rising tide that would raise all ships. Zach Bogosian might not have the ceiling of Myers rookie season, but let’s be honest, Tyler hasn’t been close to that ceiling for years now, and Bogo will provide the same level of production as Myers is now with a bit more consistency. Oh, and they also got this Evander Kane guy, I hear he’s pretty talented.
At this point, it’s a foregone conclusion that Chris Stewart is gone, but it will be an interesting guessing game to see which other veterans Murray is open to trading.
3. He’s not afraid to give some to get what he wants.
A lot of fans yesterday were complaining that the Sabres gave up too much to get Kane and Bogosian (and a goalie prospect) and yes, they did pay a high price. But guess what? Hyper-rich billionaires can afford to pay more for their souped-up sports cars than the Average Joe, because they’ve got the cash to burn.
Spending years and years stockpiling picks and prospects and then never spending that currency outside of your own franchise is a short-sighted way to rebuild. The LA Kings proved that trading away good prospects for established greatness can work, and believe me, Kane is great. When paired with a playmaking center (hello, McEichel, hello Reinhart, hello Ennis) which he almost never was in Winnipeg, Kane will bring an element of dynamic scoring ability that the Sabres simply did not have in their system, Armia included.
Buffalo’s giving up a few nice prospects. They’re getting a guy with identical per-60 EV goal rates to Patrick Kane since 2011.
— Travis Yost (@TravisHeHateMe) February 11, 2015
Murray admitted yesterday that he’s wanted Kane since his Ottawa days, and by doing so yesterday, he acquired a massive piece for next season, one who immediately vaults the Sabres from “should be a lot better” to “contending for the playoffs” just by being here. We can’t drive it right now, but come next October, we’ve got souped-up sportscar waiting in the garage. And we’re gonna love it.
Tim Murray made a move yesterday that will define the first few years of his tenure in Buffalo, but that also gave us major insight into how he wants to pilot this rebuild. With the wounds of the trade slightly less fresh today, have your thoughts changed? What do you think of Murray’s bold statement? Let us know in the comments.