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Is There a Path Forward for Eichel and the Sabres?


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2 options as I see it.

 

1) fire Kreugar yesterday and bring in someone with a good track record on a trial til end if season and see if they can change anything with this group. Then look at extension after that.

2) Blow it up from space. Maximise the return on current assets and plan to build around dahlin and cozens. 

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1 hour ago, steveoath said:

2 options as I see it.

 

1) fire Kreugar yesterday and bring in someone with a good track record on a trial til end if season and see if they can change anything with this group. Then look at extension after that.

2) Blow it up from space. Maximise the return on current assets and plan to build around dahlin and cozens. 

Dahlin does not look like an organizational cornerstone going forward.

Not close. 

Way too early to say anything like that for Cozens, he still has hope.

I still support your blow it up approach!  

 

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1 hour ago, Kruppstahl said:

Dahlin does not look like an organizational cornerstone going forward.

Not close. 

Way too early to say anything like that for Cozens, he still has hope.

I still support your blow it up approach!  

 

Fair enough.  I was focusing on the younger (sub 21 guys) we have.

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11 minutes ago, Norcal said:

The train is gaining speed, can they slow it down before it jumps the tracks or is it too late already? Everyone is writing a Jack story nowadays...

https://thehockeywriters.com/kings-cant-afford-eichel-trade/

If a serious return is Turcotte, Kaliyev, Vilardi and Iafallo, I can support this.  Sure thrown in a draft pick if needed. If there is even a question about his leadership and long term viability with the franchise then pull the damn trigger. 

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2 minutes ago, EBG said:

 

This is sad.  I know that I started this thread, but I don’t WANT to trade him. I just feel like they are coming to a point where the team won’t have much choice.  If feels like the situation is becoming untenable.

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12 hours ago, Kruppstahl said:

Dahlin does not look like an organizational cornerstone going forward.

Not close. 

Way too early to say anything like that for Cozens, he still has hope.

I still support your blow it up approach!  

 

I agree with blowing it up.

Dahlin I can have patience with. Look at guys like Victor Hedman, Charra, even Erik Karlsson. It took them years before they got to be elite.

I remember the first few years of Hedmans career, people were saying stuff like "well, I guess he's not going to be great, but maybe he can still be good?"

Karlsson didn't really blow up offensively until his 5th season. His first 3 years he put up Dahlin type Offensive numbers while being a train wreck in his own zone.

Charra?  His game on both end of the ice was a train wreck until his 5th or 6th season. He got better in the D-zone in maybe year 3...but it took 5 or 6 years for his whole game to come around.

When you look at most (not all, but MOST) elite prospects on the back end, it is normal, and expected, for it to take a few years at least for them to develop. Hughes and Makar are the outliers, not the rule.

Edited by mjd1001
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I doubt it means anything to be honest; but regardless I'd rather him sit out untill his contract expires then trade him to an Eastern Conference team for magic beans and hopeful mediocre prospects.

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Today is the first time I’d consider testing the market.

Franchise centre is the hardest thing to acquire and I don’t believe it makes sense to trade one when you got one. Thing is, it doesn’t seem like we have one. I don’t know if Jack is injured, or out of shape, or is going through something off the ice, or just numb like so many fans, but I don’t see the passion for the sweater, or the city, or his teammates or even himself any more and it translates on the ice.

I’d rather fix what is wrong and bring back the Jack we had for much of last year, but I think that is what they tried to do this year and failed. We cannot have a captain who has given up on the franchise: what he projects feeds everyone and everything around him.

A top 10 talent locked up on a fair deal at 25 never goes on the market. The interest will be considerable and so will the return. It will never equal Jack but the space created may allow something better to grow.

This isn’t what I want, and it pains me to say it, but a trade just seems inevitable. See what’s out there. Seize control of the situation and roll the dice for a win rather than retreating into a corner and minimizing your losses.

Really, what do we have to lose?

Edited by dudacek
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I haven't posted here in ages, but I actually think Jack is part of the problem at this point.  If he's the captain, then he should be leading by example, but he's been invisible. The coach is supposed to be this master motivator and this team is flatter than a week old two liter.  I think Jack wanted out, so the Pegulas nixed Botts, brought in KA, and he went with the Hail Mary and brought in Hall to try and show him some good faith.  It obviously isn't working.  There's no better time then now to move Jack.  His NTC kicks in after this season, and he'll hold the bargaining chips on where he ends up.  I wouldn't trade him for nothing (see: O'Reilly), but I think they could legitimately get some quality pieces and not just picks/prospects.  Jack comes across as being ultra competitive, which is great, but the body language, which is always dismissed, says he's done.  It's time to move on while they can get maximum return. 

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12 minutes ago, chileanseabass said:

I haven't posted here in ages, but I actually think Jack is part of the problem at this point.  If he's the captain, then he should be leading by example, but he's been invisible. The coach is supposed to be this master motivator and this team is flatter than a week old two liter.  I think Jack wanted out, so the Pegulas nixed Botts, brought in KA, and he went with the Hail Mary and brought in Hall to try and show him some good faith.  It obviously isn't working.  There's no better time then now to move Jack.  His NTC kicks in after this season, and he'll hold the bargaining chips on where he ends up.  I wouldn't trade him for nothing (see: O'Reilly), but I think they could legitimately get some quality pieces and not just picks/prospects.  Jack comes across as being ultra competitive, which is great, but the body language, which is always dismissed, says he's done.  It's time to move on while they can get maximum return. 

Good to see you again.  I miss alot of the old crowd that left during the last decade.  And I have similar feelings regarding Jack.

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43 minutes ago, chileanseabass said:

I haven't posted here in ages, but I actually think Jack is part of the problem at this point.  If he's the captain, then he should be leading by example, but he's been invisible. The coach is supposed to be this master motivator and this team is flatter than a week old two liter.  I think Jack wanted out, so the Pegulas nixed Botts, brought in KA, and he went with the Hail Mary and brought in Hall to try and show him some good faith.  It obviously isn't working.  There's no better time then now to move Jack.  His NTC kicks in after this season, and he'll hold the bargaining chips on where he ends up.  I wouldn't trade him for nothing (see: O'Reilly), but I think they could legitimately get some quality pieces and not just picks/prospects.  Jack comes across as being ultra competitive, which is great, but the body language, which is always dismissed, says he's done.  It's time to move on while they can get maximum return. 

Just a note.  Eichel’s NMC kicks in after next season, 2022 offseason, not after this season.

So they have a year and a half before then.  Although I don’t know if Jack would last that long.  They don’t need to rush anything though.

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49 minutes ago, chileanseabass said:

I haven't posted here in ages, but I actually think Jack is part of the problem at this point.  If he's the captain, then he should be leading by example, but he's been invisible. The coach is supposed to be this master motivator and this team is flatter than a week old two liter.  I think Jack wanted out, so the Pegulas nixed Botts, brought in KA, and he went with the Hail Mary and brought in Hall to try and show him some good faith.  It obviously isn't working.  There's no better time then now to move Jack.  His NTC kicks in after this season, and he'll hold the bargaining chips on where he ends up.  I wouldn't trade him for nothing (see: O'Reilly), but I think they could legitimately get some quality pieces and not just picks/prospects.  Jack comes across as being ultra competitive, which is great, but the body language, which is always dismissed, says he's done.  It's time to move on while they can get maximum return. 

 

 

I'm in the same place but it's because by the time this team is a legit Cup contender Jack will be 30 and a potential decade long loser.  

That's why this season was so massive.  Just get in the playoffs.  

Opening night vs Washington:

"Starting in goal for Buffalo Carter Hotton."

What a joke.   

Either blow it up or you fire the coach and get this team to make a run right now.  If they know they can't do the former and refuse to do the latter then that's it.  

 

It's over.  

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51 minutes ago, Second Line Center said:

 

He did that months ago.  

He's gone and the team is playing like they know it. 

Do you know when specifically?  The guy who retweeted it made it sound like it just happened.

I will also note that Eichel doesn't appear to use twitter much -- his most recent tweet was a week ago, in support of McCabe, and the one before that was over 4 months ago.

Having said that, him scrubbing the Sabres from his twitter page -- if that is what happened -- is quite consistent with asking to be traded.

Has any of the Sabres beat writers straight-out asked him whether he's asked to be traded?

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26 minutes ago, nfreeman said:

Do you know when specifically?  The guy who retweeted it made it sound like it just happened.

I will also note that Eichel doesn't appear to use twitter much -- his most recent tweet was a week ago, in support of McCabe, and the one before that was over 4 months ago.

Having said that, him scrubbing the Sabres from his twitter page -- if that is what happened -- is quite consistent with asking to be traded.

Has any of the Sabres beat writers straight-out asked him whether he's asked to be traded?

 

I have photo evidence 100% before February 17th.......I sent a screen shot of it to my brother in law at that point I thought something was up.   

I saw he changed it some time around Jan 5th? I thought he was making a new year change or something to start the new season with.  Didn't think it too odd at that time considering the pandemic situation and he was still a Sabre.  

 

No idea why my flashlight was on lol

 

Screenshot_20210301-204039_Messages.thumb.jpg.1c59356a5c07eb3f6478ffbf7dd3fc63.jpg

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The Sabres organization is so ***** ed.

This entire situation is a freaking best selling novel sold in to a 3 1/2 hour movie or a 5 season TV series.

The title?: "Corn holing a hockey franchise fan base, the Terry Pegula Story".

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27 minutes ago, Second Line Center said:

 

I have photo evidence 100% before February 17th.......I sent a screen shot of it to my brother in law at that point I thought something was up.   

I saw he changed it some time around Jan 5th? I thought he was making a new year change or something to start the new season with.  Didn't think it too odd at that time considering the pandemic situation and he was still a Sabre.  

 

No idea why my flashlight was on lol

 

Screenshot_20210301-204039_Messages.thumb.jpg.1c59356a5c07eb3f6478ffbf7dd3fc63.jpg

 

Yea after reading this today he might have changed this in the fall.......maybe he never asked for a trade but the fact they explored it maybe it has him in a bad place mentally.....that's what he looks like.  

And tbh....that speaks to mental toughness.  Or maybe lack thereof. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Weave said:

Good to see you again.  I miss alot of the old crowd that left during the last decade.  And I have similar feelings regarding Jack.

Yeah, I'm a sucker for punishment and keep following along.  Oddly enough it's one of the few things that keep my old man and I in regular contact.  The highlight of my youth is going to games with him in the late '80's/early 90's, sitting up in the oranges.  Now we text back and forth while watching the games, complaining about how no one seems to give a crap, and longing for the days when, they may not have won the cup, but damn if it wasn't fun to watch.  

Jack just seems so "meh."  Everyone gave him a pass for the attitude and body language over the years, but I'm to the point where I think he is as much of the problem with this team as anything else, if not more.  

2 hours ago, Curt said:

Just a note.  Eichel’s NMC kicks in after next season, 2022 offseason, not after this season.

So they have a year and a half before then.  Although I don’t know if Jack would last that long.  They don’t need to rush anything though.

You're right, my bad... got my years mixed up.  To be honest, I don't even know what year it is anymore, they all just blur together.  They definitely don't need to rush into a deal, but I would imagine the return will never be as high as this offseason.

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6 hours ago, dudacek said:

Today is the first time I’d consider testing the market.

Franchise centre is the hardest thing to acquire and I don’t believe it makes sense to trade one when you got one. Thing is, it doesn’t seem like we have one. I don’t know if Jack is injured, or out of shape, or is going through something off the ice, or just numb like so many fans, but I don’t see the passion for the sweater, or the city, or his teammates or even himself any more and it translates on the ice.

I’d rather fix what is wrong and bring back the Jack we had for much of last year, but I think that is what they tried to do this year and failed. We cannot have a captain who has given up on the franchise: what he projects feeds everyone and everything around him.

A top 10 talent locked up on a fair deal at 25 never goes on the market. The interest will be considerable and so will the return. It will never equal Jack but the space created may allow something better to grow.

This isn’t what I want, and it pains me to say it, but a trade just seems inevitable. See what’s out there. Seize control of the situation and roll the dice for a win rather than retreating into a corner and minimizing your losses.

Really, what do we have to lose?

The state of dudacek is always an incredibly insightful and meaningful barometer. 

For much of the last 6 years, Jack Eichel was more central to my sports fanhood than the Buffalo Sabres franchise. It felt like if he ever left, I'd follow him with as much interest as I would my own team. I thought I'd die before coming around to this line of thinking.

I still think Jack Eichel is far more a victim than a perpetrator of the ***** we slog through today. Had he been drafted by the Boston Bruins, with a stable and accomplished leadership core and management, he'd be a staple face of the league, and he can still become one. A guy who is one of the first three names mentioned by casual sports fans when asked what they know about the NHL. 

We have passed my own internal threshold of doubt that this can happen in Buffalo, as well. 

I am resigned to this outcome, and I am almost eagerly anticipating it. With the condition that the new chapter is really a new chapter. 

Adams, gone. Ralph, gone. Eichel, gone. Miller, Montour, Staal, Hall, Okposo, maybe one of Risto/McCabe (I like these guys now), Hutton, Jokiharju, every single one of these guys out the door. Sam can go for the right price, but my gut feels stronger about Sam's game the more time goes on.

The first two in this list are important. I'm not sure who is available, who a new GM should be. What I do know is that Bruce Boudreau, Claude Julien, and Gerard Gallant are available coaches. I know that Barry Trotz, Peter Laviolette, and more were available at times during which the Sabres preferred to hang onto Phil Housley and Ralph Krueger. And yes, I know we tried the Bylsma route and it didn't work. 2 unestablished coaches in a row is enough to come back to trying out experience again. Make sure one of these guys ends up coaching your new team. Enough letting real names slip by to hang onto your previous funky choices. 

But do not operate on your roster complacently, as if you are confident that this will have a meaningful impact. Pretend you are getting league average, or even below league average, coaching, and build your roster with the frantic desperation that this possibility SHOULD induce. This attitude has been missing from so many previous offseasons. I don't mean desperation in a bad way - I mean the kind of desperation an expert in his field finds himself grinding through when he's on the clock with his dream and his reputation on the line, desperate passion, with the unmistakable genius that this kind of thing can produce. These are supposed to be the best hockey minds in the universe, behave like it.

For three straight seasons, we have been one center injury away from 4C-4C-4C-AHL C as a center spine, or something similar. If I had a 3 year GM contract and found myself staring at that in year 1, I'd do everything I can to fix things right away, but I know that it takes two to tango and all of that. Despite this, there is a chasm between likely outcomes if genuinely appropriate attention is given to this problem for its size, and what we ended up doing.

2018: Mitts the rookie and Berglund/Sobotka should be fine right?
2019: it wasn't...we'll sign a 3LW and play him at 2C, and maybe Mitts is better.
2020: Ok...trade that 3LW for Eric Staal and sign Cody Eakin. Oh, and Cozens is at least on the roster, though we rightly don't really want him playing C yet.

2020 is the only year in that set that wasn't a downright revolting, pitiful, disgusting, and embarrassing effort right from the beginning, but in terms of the standards that we should be holding our franchise to, the 2020 attempts to address the center position are like the bare minimum of what should have been acceptable in that FIRST year post-ROR. and it took us 3 ***** years to build up to that point, and it turns out that Staal is worse than useless (seriously, what the ***** is up with this guy? Yeah, I guess he's old.)

This glacier pace towards addressing a hole that was so obvious it had me melting down for the entirety of July, then August, then September, then October, then November, then December of 2018, is all you need to know about why we are where we are. The Buffalo Sabres have addressed all major problems they have created over the years with this exact 'strategy,' pace, and determination. Bizarre assumptions about what remains in the tank of their acquisitions and the roles they are filling, no desire to get creative or pay up to address the inevitable failings before, during, or after our hot starts turn into embarrassing finishes. Jack Eichel isn't a leader? That might be true. But what kind of leadership, direction, and example-setting is this from his bosses? 

The way you fix your center spine over 3 years is that you actually find a way to add an obvious 2C in one of those 3 offseasons. And just in case, you bring in several middle 6 Cs as well, such that should a Cozens or Mittelstadt ever develop, you can be shocked as if you've forgotten they even play that position, and rich in spoils. There is no reason that there shouldn't be 2 centers with worse ability than Jack but better ability than Staal in our organization right this second. No reason at all, given the resources the Pegulas have made available. 

This same conclusion can be made all over our roster, but especially in GOAL. I am still FLABBERGASTED that Carter Hutton made it onto LAST YEAR's roster given his meltdown the year before. Then last year, when our team was actually playing outstanding hockey and going into post-trade-deadline just a handful of points out? we score 5 goals on the road against Ottawa and still lose, because of Carter Hutton. Carter Hutton, who, after the team's second straight hot start to a season, decided to have an 11 game winless stretch, allowing 6, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4 goals, to sample a few of those games. Ullmark got hurt later on, as usual, and the team was forced to hit the ice knowing that THAT type of ability is what stands behind them for the most important stretch of their time as Buffalo Sabres. it went as predictably as imagined, because Jason and the Buffalo Sabres franchise are content to let unfathomably toxic and miserable situations fester for stupefying lengths of time. What does this kind of thing, year after year, do to the psyche of players? I think we're watching now exactly what it can do. 

When I say the reset has to be real, this is what I mean. The urgency and desperation we long to see on the ice will not be in place until the roster gets attacked and monitored with that same urgency and desperation. 

It is just so painful to watch people make such obvious mistakes over and over again. This franchise is as capable of changing as any once they look in the mirror and see this. If the Bills can climb to where they have from 2010, anyone can do anything. There's no reason this can't start now. It will require a type character that hasn't been seen in this building since Lindy hadn't started accruing fan opposition. I don't have answers for who can bring this, but I have plenty of ideas for things they can try  as you're all too aware haha.

If we're gonna do this, the return for Eichel is a really interesting discussion to have. My first instinct was to remember that Barkov was rumored to be leaning towards wanting a change of scenery. But FLA has a damn good record, I just checked. My ideal package would involve a real starting goalie and a worse 1C, but the reality is that despite the uniqueness of an Eichel-caliber player on the trade market, I think this move will have more young guys/prospects that will add up to a lesser value than I'd hope for. Could you add Jeff and send the group off to AZ or a team that is the opposite of cap strapped, like Seattle? Is depreciating Eichel's value with a bad contract attached the dumbest idea on planet earth? Probably. Maybe not. 

Zegras-Drysdale plus filler on whoever's side is intriguing - Eichel and what for Zegras, Drysdale and Gibson? LA has some pieces too. The Rangers get mentioned a lot, but what centers do they have? I would ask for Shestyorkin, Fox, and two good forwards, and I'd add on that for my initial request. Pastrnak or McAvoy as centerpieces? Bergeron is getting old and their center spine is ugly behind him. Either way, if Eichel goes, that desperate attack to build our center spine needs to be even more magnified this summer. 

What a mess this all is. But I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a sort of frenzied, maniacal, exciting aura around it all. Like dudacek says, what is there to lose, besides the perpetual 78 point mediocrity that seems to be the destiny of every iteration of the Buffalo Sabres that has existed in the post-tank paradigm? This would be a true fresh start, unlike any we've received since Terry got here.

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Eichel, Miller, prospect, pick for Zegras, Drysdale, Gibson
Hall, Montour for ammo at the deadline
Give Danault money
Dump Eakin, and while I love Kyle, this kind of play sticking around the lineup, let alone leading the team in ES ice time, is emblematic of a portion of our issues
Pick one or two of Rieder, Lazar, Zemgus to keep around
See if anyone wants Jokiharju
Throw money at David Savard
Get another NHL center through mid-level trade or UFA (I'll use Haula as an example, no idea if he's still good)
Sign a competent 4C, a Bellemare/Laughton type
Ammo of some sort for good a good middle 6 player or two. Pretend you can get Copp out of Winnipeg, even though I know you can't, he's just a guy I've always liked. Pretend the other one is Iafallo, or Blake Coleman for grit, or Miles Wood or something.

Olofsson - Danault - Reinhart
Coleman - Haula - Cozens
Skinner - Zegras - Copp
Girgensons - Laughton - Lazar

McCabe - Ristolainen
Dahlin - Borgen (what a treat this guy is)
Drysdale - Savard (not sure if he's still good, but I love this guy as a steady defenseman)

Gibson
Ullmark

I have no idea if this team wins a lot of games or not in 2021/22, but it's a team whose window is firmly shaped around Dahlin, Cozens, maybe Quinn, Zegras, Drysdale. It has veterans in Danault, Reinhart, Coleman, Haula, Copp, laughton, Zemgus, Savard, McCabe, and Risto, (those last two really seemed to have taken a leap into true NHL veteran status), and most importantly, they have a goalie that will not hamper their efforts to take meaningful leaps in the standings - in fact, they have a goalie that can push the pace a bit and even be ahead of the curve that the young core might naturally take. Coleman, Copp or equivalent, Laughton are downright physical, Risto, Borgen, Savard can have that presence as well, and Danault and Haula and Laughton are strong centers in the defensive zone, unless they have changed since I last paid attention. The names are all placeholders though - the point is, that is a completely different team, and a fresh restart like that is entirely possible if they really want to do it. Would you turn on the TV to watch this group, coached by Bruce Boudreau or Gerard Gallant?


A center gets injured? No problem, Cozens is really striving and can use the reps, and Copp can play C as well. Lazar can too if it's Laughton out. And the better Cozens and Zegras get, the better the unit looks. 

This is all playacting but we really have a chance to have some fun with this stuff if they break through their shell of timid, deferential, meek, spineless, over-patient operation
 

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11 hours ago, dudacek said:

Today is the first time I’d consider testing the market.

Franchise centre is the hardest thing to acquire and I don’t believe it makes sense to trade one when you got one. Thing is, it doesn’t seem like we have one. I don’t know if Jack is injured, or out of shape, or is going through something off the ice, or just numb like so many fans, but I don’t see the passion for the sweater, or the city, or his teammates or even himself any more and it translates on the ice.

I’d rather fix what is wrong and bring back the Jack we had for much of last year, but I think that is what they tried to do this year and failed. We cannot have a captain who has given up on the franchise: what he projects feeds everyone and everything around him.

A top 10 talent locked up on a fair deal at 25 never goes on the market. The interest will be considerable and so will the return. It will never equal Jack but the space created may allow something better to grow.

This isn’t what I want, and it pains me to say it, but a trade just seems inevitable. See what’s out there. Seize control of the situation and roll the dice for a win rather than retreating into a corner and minimizing your losses.

Really, what do we have to lose?

Spot on. And that’s sad. 

But as for the bold..

4 hours ago, Randall Flagg said:

The state of dudacek is always an incredibly insightful and meaningful barometer. 

For much of the last 6 years, Jack Eichel was more central to my sports fanhood than the Buffalo Sabres franchise. It felt like if he ever left, I'd follow him with as much interest as I would my own team. I thought I'd die before coming around to this line of thinking.

I still think Jack Eichel is far more a victim than a perpetrator of the ***** we slog through today. Had he been drafted by the Boston Bruins, with a stable and accomplished leadership core and management, he'd be a staple face of the league, and he can still become one. A guy who is one of the first three names mentioned by casual sports fans when asked what they know about the NHL. 

We have passed my own internal threshold of doubt that this can happen in Buffalo, as well. 

I am resigned to this outcome, and I am almost eagerly anticipating it. With the condition that the new chapter is really a new chapter. 

Adams, gone. Ralph, gone. Eichel, gone. Miller, Montour, Staal, Hall, Okposo, maybe one of Risto/McCabe (I like these guys now), Hutton, Jokiharju, every single one of these guys out the door. Sam can go for the right price, but my gut feels stronger about Sam's game the more time goes on.

The first two in this list are important. I'm not sure who is available, who a new GM should be. What I do know is that Bruce Boudreau, Claude Julien, and Gerard Gallant are available coaches. I know that Barry Trotz, Peter Laviolette, and more were available at times during which the Sabres preferred to hang onto Phil Housley and Ralph Krueger. And yes, I know we tried the Bylsma route and it didn't work. 2 unestablished coaches in a row is enough to come back to trying out experience again. Make sure one of these guys ends up coaching your new team. Enough letting real names slip by to hang onto your previous funky choices. 

But do not operate on your roster complacently, as if you are confident that this will have a meaningful impact. Pretend you are getting league average, or even below league average, coaching, and build your roster with the frantic desperation that this possibility SHOULD induce. This attitude has been missing from so many previous offseasons. I don't mean desperation in a bad way - I mean the kind of desperation an expert in his field finds himself grinding through when he's on the clock with his dream and his reputation on the line, desperate passion, with the unmistakable genius that this kind of thing can produce. These are supposed to be the best hockey minds in the universe, behave like it.

For three straight seasons, we have been one center injury away from 4C-4C-4C-AHL C as a center spine, or something similar. If I had a 3 year GM contract and found myself staring at that in year 1, I'd do everything I can to fix things right away, but I know that it takes two to tango and all of that. Despite this, there is a chasm between likely outcomes if genuinely appropriate attention is given to this problem for its size, and what we ended up doing.

2018: Mitts the rookie and Berglund/Sobotka should be fine right?
2019: it wasn't...we'll sign a 3LW and play him at 2C, and maybe Mitts is better.
2020: Ok...trade that 3LW for Eric Staal and sign Cody Eakin. Oh, and Cozens is at least on the roster, though we rightly don't really want him playing C yet.

2020 is the only year in that set that wasn't a downright revolting, pitiful, disgusting, and embarrassing effort right from the beginning, but in terms of the standards that we should be holding our franchise to, the 2020 attempts to address the center position are like the bare minimum of what should have been acceptable in that FIRST year post-ROR. and it took us 3 ***** years to build up to that point, and it turns out that Staal is worse than useless (seriously, what the ***** is up with this guy? Yeah, I guess he's old.)

This glacier pace towards addressing a hole that was so obvious it had me melting down for the entirety of July, then August, then September, then October, then November, then December of 2018, is all you need to know about why we are where we are. The Buffalo Sabres have addressed all major problems they have created over the years with this exact 'strategy,' pace, and determination. Bizarre assumptions about what remains in the tank of their acquisitions and the roles they are filling, no desire to get creative or pay up to address the inevitable failings before, during, or after our hot starts turn into embarrassing finishes. Jack Eichel isn't a leader? That might be true. But what kind of leadership, direction, and example-setting is this from his bosses? 

The way you fix your center spine over 3 years is that you actually find a way to add an obvious 2C in one of those 3 offseasons. And just in case, you bring in several middle 6 Cs as well, such that should a Cozens or Mittelstadt ever develop, you can be shocked as if you've forgotten they even play that position, and rich in spoils. There is no reason that there shouldn't be 2 centers with worse ability than Jack but better ability than Staal in our organization right this second. No reason at all, given the resources the Pegulas have made available. 

This same conclusion can be made all over our roster, but especially in GOAL. I am still FLABBERGASTED that Carter Hutton made it onto LAST YEAR's roster given his meltdown the year before. Then last year, when our team was actually playing outstanding hockey and going into post-trade-deadline just a handful of points out? we score 5 goals on the road against Ottawa and still lose, because of Carter Hutton. Carter Hutton, who, after the team's second straight hot start to a season, decided to have an 11 game winless stretch, allowing 6, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4 goals, to sample a few of those games. Ullmark got hurt later on, as usual, and the team was forced to hit the ice knowing that THAT type of ability is what stands behind them for the most important stretch of their time as Buffalo Sabres. it went as predictably as imagined, because Jason and the Buffalo Sabres franchise are content to let unfathomably toxic and miserable situations fester for stupefying lengths of time. What does this kind of thing, year after year, do to the psyche of players? I think we're watching now exactly what it can do. 

When I say the reset has to be real, this is what I mean. The urgency and desperation we long to see on the ice will not be in place until the roster gets attacked and monitored with that same urgency and desperation. 

It is just so painful to watch people make such obvious mistakes over and over again. This franchise is as capable of changing as any once they look in the mirror and see this. If the Bills can climb to where they have from 2010, anyone can do anything. There's no reason this can't start now. It will require a type character that hasn't been seen in this building since Lindy hadn't started accruing fan opposition. I don't have answers for who can bring this, but I have plenty of ideas for things they can try  as you're all too aware haha.

If we're gonna do this, the return for Eichel is a really interesting discussion to have. My first instinct was to remember that Barkov was rumored to be leaning towards wanting a change of scenery. But FLA has a damn good record, I just checked. My ideal package would involve a real starting goalie and a worse 1C, but the reality is that despite the uniqueness of an Eichel-caliber player on the trade market, I think this move will have more young guys/prospects that will add up to a lesser value than I'd hope for. Could you add Jeff and send the group off to AZ or a team that is the opposite of cap strapped, like Seattle? Is depreciating Eichel's value with a bad contract attached the dumbest idea on planet earth? Probably. Maybe not. 

Zegras-Drysdale plus filler on whoever's side is intriguing - Eichel and what for Zegras, Drysdale and Gibson? LA has some pieces too. The Rangers get mentioned a lot, but what centers do they have? I would ask for Shestyorkin, Fox, and two good forwards, and I'd add on that for my initial request. Pastrnak or McAvoy as centerpieces? Bergeron is getting old and their center spine is ugly behind him. Either way, if Eichel goes, that desperate attack to build our center spine needs to be even more magnified this summer. 

What a mess this all is. But I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a sort of frenzied, maniacal, exciting aura around it all. Like dudacek says, what is there to lose, besides the perpetual 78 point mediocrity that seems to be the destiny of every iteration of the Buffalo Sabres that has existed in the post-tank paradigm? This would be a true fresh start, unlike any we've received since Terry got here.

...and the two bolded bits here: I’d argue what we have to lose is the realistic hope and likelihood of Eichel being the type of guy for the Buffalo Sabres who, surrounded by a competent team, takes you deep in the playoffs. 

There’s a theoretical argument they have no choice but to sell off Eichel now, and even that maybe it makes functionally no difference in our ability to field a playoff roster, if management is changed too..

But there’s something to lose. We’d be losing what might have been: the Playoff Jack Eichel. Not ever getting that would be a sports-relative tragedy. 

I’m not ready to go quietly into that good night just yet.

 

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