Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Sabres Fired Tim Murray (Part 2)

Part 1 primarily focused on drafting (and, obviously, how poorly the Sabres did with little to no improvement) under Murray's tenure at GM. Now I want to look at the trades that he made over his three years and change.

Ryan Miller Trades

  • Sabes --> Blues: Ryan Miller, Steve Ott
  • Blues --> Sabres: Jaro Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, 1st round pick, 3rd round pick
And then, a week later:
  • Sabres --> Capitals: Jaro Halak, 3rd round pick
  • Capitals --> Sabres: Michal Neuvirth, Rostislav Klesla
Essentially, Murray turned a franchise goalie (who happens to be one of the best American goalies ever) into a shittier goalie who was gone after 29 games, a pair of forwards who will never contribute to anything meaningful in Buffalo, Carrier (who scored 8 points in 41 games this season), and draft picks that were flipped in other trades. 

Grade: Not Great!

And then we have two distinct types of trades that seem to be the product of a confused front office. The Murray-era Sabres participated in 20 trades after the Miller trade. Here's how I'd split them up:
  • Dumping players for picks/pros (6 trades)
  • Spending picks/prospects to acquire players (8 trades)
  • My Trash For Your Trash (5 trades)
The Trash trades are largely irrelevant, of course, but why is a franchise dumping players for picks while also, at the same time, using picks and prospects to add players to their current team? Tanking, at least when maximized, is stockpiling picks and young prospects and then being as bad as possibly to maximize the value of those picks. If you can keep guys in juniors or the minors - and maybe even let them serve in leadership roles and make deep playoff runs in those leagues - then everything should come together and you win a bunch of championships like the Blackhawks and Penguins. 

But adding guys like Ryan O'Reilly and Evander Kane seems to run counter to everything that the Tim Murray "Tanking" Sabres seemed to be doing. That's why they ended up with Alex Nylander last summer instead of Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine. It's why they're going to end up with Urho Vaakanainen or Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen or Miro Heiskanen instead of Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier this summer.

The Sabres, effectively, wasted three years while Tim Murray was in charge. They don't have any good defensemen, they might be able to roll three decent lines next season, and they have not even sniffed the playoffs since 2011. 

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