The Buffalo Sabres seem situated for a bright future if GM Tim Murray can make the right moves over the next season or three, but few expect much from them in 2014-15.
Chris Stewart isn’t that far removed from playing for a contender in the St. Louis Blues, so it’s not that shocking that he seems to bristle at “tanking” talk while discussing next season with The Hockey News.
“Look at the Colorado Avalanche two years ago,” Stewart said. “They were a last-place team, and they were arguably one of the best teams in the league last year. So the past is the past. You look at our team now and there are 13 or 14 new faces. So we come in and think of last year as an anomaly. There’s nothing we can do now. We can worry about the future. I hear everybody talking about tanking for Connor McDavid. That’s not in my DNA, personally. I was with St. Louis for four years, and we were Stanley Cup contenders every year. So that’s how I’m going to approach it. It’s playoffs or bust.”
If nothing else, the Sabres have a lot of players who should be motivate to prove that they belong in the NHL (or deserve big raises). Stewart’s $4.15 million cap hit is set to expire, yet he’s far from the only noteworthy player seeking a new deal; Drew Stafford has a lot to prove while both goalies Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth enter crucial campaigns.
Oh yeah, let’s not forget head coach Ted Nolan, a guy who knows all too well that opportunities shouldn’t ever be taken for granted in the NHL.
Ultimately, there’s only so much Stewart can do to avoid playing for a cellar dweller, but it’s easy to take his statements as more than mere platitudes.
Now, Buffalo’s front office? They might be OK with the idea of sacrificing this coming season for the future, even if they end up saying all the right things.
Buffalo has put blueliner Matt Donovan on waivers, per Sportsnet.
Donovan, 25, signed a one-year deal with the Sabres on the opening day of free agency after spending his entire professional career with the Isles organization.
The fact he’s being waived isn’t a huge shock. Donovan failed to draw into a single Sabres game this year despite a whittled-down blueline; Jake McCabe, recently called up from AHL Rochester, drew into the lineup for Monday’s win over Columbus at the expense of Carlo Colaiacovo, who played the first two games of the year.
The fact both McCabe and Colaiacovo were ahead on the depth chart didn’t bode well for Donovan. Today’s move could also suggest that Zach Bogosian, who hasn’t played this year due to injury, is ready to return.
Looks as though slumping Dallas winger Valeri Nichushkin could be a healthy scratch tonight when the Stars host the Oilers at American Airlines.
Per the Morning-News, Nichushkin — who barely played in the second and third periods of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado — is likely to be replaced by Colton Sceviour in the lineup.
Stars head coach Lindy Ruff was fuming after the Avs defeat, calling it “embarrassing, worse than disappointing.” It didn’t take a genius to realize one of the players in his doghouse was Nichushkin, who had just 2:02 of ice time in the second period and 3:24 in the third.
Yesterday, Ruff dropped Nichushkin to the fourth line in practice.
“I’ve been trying to help him by shifting him around,” the head coach explained. “He had some struggles early in camp on right wing, so I put him on left, and he doesn’t seem real comfortable at left right now.
“His game, everything has got to get a little bit quicker.”
The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin has struggled to build on the form shown in his rookie campaign, when he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 contests.
He missed nearly all of last season with a linger hip ailment and has been a virtual non-factor through the first two games this year.