(Image courtesy of Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald)
Trade deadline day is always a sour day for Buffalo Sabres fans. This is the day we either don’t make a move or we lose all the players we have grown to love. The 2014 trade deadline became the latter and as a Sabres fan, I am hopeful for better days, however I am saddened by the losses. Our new GM Tim Murray seems to be ready and willing to make the trades that he feels we need to move forward.
The Sabres began making moves on Friday, March 1, as Buffalo fans were shocked by the loss of both goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott, both going to St. Louis. In return we received goalie Jaroslav Halak, forwards Chris Stewart and William Carrier as well as a 2015 1st round draft pick and a 2016 conditional 3rd round draft pick. The Sabres were then quiet until Wednesday afternoon when all other teams were also kicking up the trades.
On Wednesday, the first move the Sabres made was for Cory Conacher who was put on waivers by Ottawa. Conacher is coming back to Buffalo as he played locally at Canisus College, and seems to be excited to be coming back to this city.
The next move was a trade letting go of defenseman Brayden McNabb and forward Jonathan Parker to Los Angeles, along with a 2014 2nd round draft pick and a 2015 2nd round draft pick. In exchange, we received defenseman Nicolas Deslauriers and forward Hudson Fasching. Neither player will see time in the NHL this season as Deslauriers will report to the Rochester Americans, and Fasching is currently attending the University of Minnesota.
Another transaction today was sending newly acquired Halak to Washington along with a 2015 3rd round draft pick in exchange for goalie Michal Neuvirth and defenseman Rostislav Klesla. Neuvirth should be the Sabres backup goalie for now with the loss of Miller and subsequent promotion of Jhonas Enroth to starting goalie. Klesla should also see plenty of time on the ice and hopefully bring some new life to the Sabres D-line.
The last trade of the day, and the one that I am most upset about, dealt forwards Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick to Minnesota in return for forward Torrey Mitchell, a 2014 2nd round draft pick and a 2016 2nd round draft pick. Since Buffalo picked up Moulson, he has been giving our forwards the spark they had been missing the last 2 seasons. He is fast, gritty, and likes to score goals, something Buffalo fans had longed for – for a long time. McCormick is a loss for the Sabres in terms of someone who was able to stand up for himself and his teammates. He was tough and brought grit to the team that made us look tough when he was on the ice.
Again, as a Sabres fan, I am relatively bummed by this year’s trade deadline day. We traded away our captain (not the first time), our franchise goalie, several gritty players, and a player who has scored many goals for us. Regardless of how players are performing, you form a bond with them and always hate to see them go, even though it is part of the business. The biggest problem I have with this whole process is the number of draft picks Buffalo always seems to pick up. At best, you get a player you may see in a Sabres uniform in 4 years. Management keeps saying we, as fans, need to suffer for a few years of rebuilding before we can put a solid competitive team on the ice. I, for one, am getting pretty frustrated at waiting – and when you get rid of all your players year after year, the rebuilding is never going to end. The Sabres were already one of the youngest teams in the NHL and I would have to imagine that with the addition of these new players, we should now officially be the youngest and most inexperienced.
Information about our new players:
Cory Conacher: played parts of three seasons with Ottawa and Tampa Bay. In 2012, Conacher was awarded the Les Cunningham Award, as well as the AHL’s Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Award with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals. Conacher (5’8″, 180 lbs, 12/14/89) is from Burlington, Ontario.
Nicolas Deslauriers: currently a member of the Manchester Monarchs and is leading the team in goals and shots. He has spent most of the season at left wing, despite being labeled as a defenseman. Deslauriers (6’1″, 230 lbs, 2/22/91) is from LaSalle, Quebec.
Hudson Fasching: was drafted by LA in 2013 and currently plays for the University of Minnesota. He ranks third on the team with 27 points in 31 games as a freshman. Fasching (6’2″, 213 lbs, 7/28/95) is from Burnsville, Minnesota.
Michal Neuvirth: has spent his NHL career with the Capitals and has played in 134 games. He has a 59-41-13 record, recording 7 shutouts, a .910 save percentage, and a 2.67 goals against average. He has only played 13 games this season with the Caps. Neuvirth (6’1″, 209 lbs, 3/23/88) is from Usti Nad Labem, Czech Republic.
Rostislav Klesla: had a rough trade day as he was traded to Washington from Phoenix and then traded to Buffalo, so he never saw any time in Washington. He has played 13 years in the NHL with both Phoenix and Columbus, totaling 159 points and 620 penalty minutes. Klesla (6’3″, 215 lbs, 3/21/82) is from Novy Jicin, Czech Republic.
Torrey Mitchell: playing in his 6th NHL season, spent between San Jose and Minnesota. He has played 383 games, scoring 35 goals, 55 assists, and 194 penalty minutes. Mitchell (5’11”, 189 lbs,1/30/85) is from Greenfield Park, Quebec.