As the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline passed, the Buffalo Sabres technically did not make any moves on Monday, but just before midnight on Sunday night, the Sabres announced that Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar have been traded to the Boston Bruins for Anders Bjork and a pick.
To say this season for the Sabres has been disappointing would be an understatement. From Jack Eichel’s injury, Ralph Krueger being fired, an 18 game winless streak to Taylor Hall scoring two goals throughout his short Buffalo tenure, the list can go on for a while. Many were expecting the Sabres to net a first-round pick in return for Hall, however, that wasn’t the case. First time GM Kevyn Adams sent Hall and Lazar to Boston, gaining only a second-round pick and a replacement for Lazar, when earlier in the day, Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno was dealt to Toronto and was able to send a first-round pick back to Columbus.
The goal for GM Kevyn Adams was to gain as many picks and prospects as he could for players he knew would not be back with the team the next year. The trade of Eric Staal to Montreal showed Buffalo getting a third and a fifth, meanwhile, the trade of backstop Jonas Johansson to the Avalanche saw a sixth-round pick traded to Buffalo. The trade of Brandon Montour to the Panthers provided Buffalo a third-round pick, and with the trade of Hall and Lazar to Boston, locked down a prospect and a second-round pick. It was also reported that Linus Ullmark and the Sabres did not come to a contract extension before the 3:00pm deadline passed and Ullmark will reportedly test free agency this offseason. Adams did say he hopes that Ullmark will re-sign with Buffalo and be their No. 1 goaltender at the start of next season.
In hockey, and in life, some things just don’t work out and that is exactly what happened with Taylor Hall in Buffalo. In an episode of “Behind Blue and Gold”, Sabres owner Terry Pegula said, “If we sign this guy, we’re not only trying to make the playoffs, we’re trying to win the cup.” Boy did those words ever come back to haunt him. After the Sabres two-week COVID break, the team just never got back to the style of play they showed in their first couple weeks of the season. To cap it all off with an 18-game winless streak and the firing of bench boss Ralph Krueger, Adams says he hopes to hire an assistant GM soon to help him out on the hockey operations side. He also hopes to hire more staff, which includes team scouts, player development staff, and expanding the hockey operations department.
Another season, another waste of Jack Eichel’s career, and trending towards another year of Buffalo not making the playoffs. This team has showed signs of improvement with players like Tage Thompson, Casey Middlestadt and Rasmus Aspland all playing their best hockey with the Sabres hockey club. More young prospects like Jack Quinn, Mattias Samuleson and Ukko-Pekka Luukonen should see some NHL action towards the end of the year, so Kevyn Adams can start to evaluate where they might fit in and if they’re NHL ready.
The offseason is going to be a long one again, with roster changes guaranteed to take place, the process of hiring a new bench boss (although Don Granato has been solid in the interim role), their contract situation they have to deal with in Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Dahlin, and the backlash of the Sabres community. I’m not sure how they’re going to convince the fans to come back next season to watch and support their team. The Pegula’s need to give Adams the freedom and resources to hire a staff that will help the Sabres to bounce back from the bottom of the NHL standings. Hopefully, next year we can talk about Buffalo being buyers at the deadline instead of opting for draft picks and cleaning house.