Tim Murray has only been the Buffalo Sabres general manager for two weeks, but he won’t be afforded a honeymoon period as his club has perhaps the two biggest trade chips as the NHL’s trade deadline approaches on March 5, one week after the league resumes play after the Olympic break.
With goaltender Ryan Miller and winger Matt Moulson, who was acquired in a deal for Thomas Vanek earlier this season, are pending free agents and will force Murray to either trade the two cornerstones of the franchise or work out an extension to keep them in Buffalo.
“We’re just starting to explore the market the last day or two,” Murray said. “I’ve had some calls, and most of the calls are just generalities: ‘If I can meet your demand, would you be willing to move him?’ So you have teams calling, for sure, and they’re asking about different players. Every team has a different need; the same names come up, obviously, as far as the forwards go. My mandate here is to get better. I don’t want a five-year rebuild, that’s not what I’m about. It’s about getting better, and if that means trading guys and getting assets for them, then that’s the way it will be.”
Finding a trade partner for Miller may prove difficult as most teams in the playoff race are there as a result of the play in net, and Miller has been the face of the franchise in the new millennium, so I’d think the team works to retain him unless they are blown away with an offer.
Moulson would be much easier to move as teams are always looking to add a top-six forward to add some scoring punch as they make a push toward the postseason. With two 40-goal seasons on his resume, he could fetch a nice return for the new GM.
The Sabres are in the basement of the Eastern Conference and have the NHL’s worst record with a mere 33 points and for all the wrong reasons, the Sabres will have many around the league watching them closely to see who they can pluck from them as they rebuild.
Who that rebuild will center around will become much more clear in the next six weeks.