Tag: Joel Armia

New Sabres GM Murray: ‘I don’t want a five-year rebuild’


Though he’s only been on the job a couple of weeks, Tim Murray already has a clear goal for how he wants to fix the Sabres.

“My mandate here is to get better,” he said, per ESPN.com. “I don’t want a five-year rebuild, that’s not what I’m about.”

It’s an interesting approach, especially given Murray’s background. Regarded as one of the driving forces behind a number of key drafts in Ottawa — he was GM Bryan Murray’s assistant for six years — Murray has developed a reputation as someone that can identify talent and manage the grooming/development side of things.

But, obviously, that process takes time.

Ottawa’s quality drafts of 2007-08 (which netted Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen, Zack Smith, Patrick Wiercioch, Jakob Silfverberg and Robin Lehner, to name a few) took a while to materialize at the NHL level and, in certain cases, still is materializing.

On paper, the Sabres could go a similar route. They have a ton of young prospects already (Joel Armia, Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov) and several top-60 picks at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. They could get even more by dealing the likes of Ryan Miller, Steve Ott and Matt Moulson.

But to hear Murray explain it, any future trades could return players closer to making an impact in Buffalo, rather than in junior or with AHL Rochester.

“It’s about getting better,” he explained. “If that means trading guys and getting assets for them, then that’s the way it will be.”

Timeline: Regier era in Buffalo

Darcy Regier

In June of 1997, the Buffalo Sabres hired a former journeyman defenseman named Darcy Regier as the sixth general manager in franchise history.

What followed was one of the longest relationships ever between GM and organization. Regier spent 17 seasons on the job in Buffalo and, prior to his dismissal, was the NHL’s third-longest tenured general manager.

As such, there’s plenty of history to look back on during his time in Buffalo…

1997: Regier is hired and replaces embattled GM John Muckler, who was in a feud with then-head coach and reigning Jack Adams winner Ted Nolan. Regier reportedly made Nolan a one-year offer, which Nolan rejected before leaving the organization entirely.

Regier replaced Nolan with Lindy Ruff, who would go on to coach the Sabres for 16 seasons.

’97-98: Regier made his first major trade, dealing franchise legend Pat LaFontaine to the Rangers, just prior to the start of the season. The move came after LaFontaine feuded with Buffalo’s team physicians — he felt he was OK to return from a concussion, Sabres doctors felt differently.

LaFontaine went on to score 62 points in 67 games with the Rangers before retiring after the season.

1998: John Rigas purchases the Sabres from the Knox family.

1999: Arguably Regier’s finest time in Buffalo. Led by the stalwart goaltending of Dominik Hasek, Regier made three key additions at the trade deadline — Stu Barnes, Joe Juneau, Rhett Warriner — that helped Buffalo advance to the second Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

Buffalo lost in six games to Dallas, a series infamous for this goal (or, depending where you’re from, no-goal):

2000: Regier loads up at the deadline, acquiring Doug Gilmour, Chris Gratton and JP Dumont. The moves fail to pay off, though, as the Sabres are eliminated by Philly in five games in the opening round.

2000-01: Regier engages in a contentious contract squabble with captain Mike Peca, which leads to Peca sitting out the entire season. The impasse leads to Hasek questioning the club’s commitment to winning.

In June, Regier trades Peca to the Islanders and Hasek to Detroit in what marks a changing of the guard for the organization. The moves were made to reduce payroll (Hasek was dealt just before his one-year, $9 million extension kicked in) and begin a rebuild.

In the three seasons following the Hasek/Peca deals, Buffalo failed to make the playoffs.

2003: Tom Golisano purchases the team from Rigas after Rigas and was indicted on conspiracy, securities, bank and wire fraud charges. Rigas amassed $150 million in debt on the Sabres, and the financial situation handcuffed Regier from spending on and retaining free agents.

2001-04: After stockpiling picks, Regier brings in a fresh new crop of Sabres via the draft. The 2001 class yields Derek Roy and Jason Pominville; ’02 nets Keith Ballard, Daniel Paille and Dennis Wideman (none do much of anything for Buffalo, mind you), ’03 lands Thomas Vanek and Clarke MacArthur; ’04 sees Buffalo obtain Drew Stafford, Andrej Sekera and Patrick Kaleta.

Regier also goes about re-establishing the team’s identity through a series of trades, most notably acquiring Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, who go on to serve as co-captains.

2005-06: The rebuild is a success as Buffalo emerges from the lockout as one of the NHL’s most dynamic teams. The Sabres win 52 games and rack up 110 points during the ’05-06 season, boasting one of the league’s best offenses featuring six 20-goal scorers.

Ryan Miller, the club’s fifth-round pick in ’99, emerges as a bonafide No. 1 and the club’s best goaltender since Hasek. The Sabres lose in the Eastern Conference final to Carolina.

2006-07: Buffalo is as good, if not better, than the year before, winning 53 games while racking up 113 points. The team finishes first in the NHL in goals for (308), Briere and Drury post career highs in points and Vanek has a breakthrough campaign, scoring 43 times.

But the Sabres once again fail to get to a Stanley Cup Final, losing in the EC finals to Ottawa.

2007-09: Things begin to crumble. Briere sign in Philly, Drury signs with the Rangers and Vanek signs a massive offer sheet with Edmonton (seven years, $50 million) forcing the Sabres to match, putting a pinch on the club’s finances.

Buffalo fails to make the playoffs in ’07-08 sand ’08-09, their first misses since the lockout.

2009-11: Miller emerges as one of the best goalies on the planet, the Vanek-Roy-Pominville trio emerges and the Sabres are a solid 40-45 win team, but they crash out of the opening playoff round in ’09-10 and ’10-11. Regier appears to hit a draft pick out of the park, though, when ’08 first-rounder Tyler Myers wins the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.

2011-present: New Sabres owner Terry Pegula purchases the team from Golisano and essentially gives Regier a blank checkbook, and Regier proceeds to sign Christian Ehrhoff ($40 million), Ville Leino ($27 million) and trade for Robyn Regehr.

The moves failed to make an impact, though.

Buffalo missed the playoffs in 2011-12 and Regier began shipping out assets. Jordan Leopold, Paul Gaustad, Roy, Regehr, Sekera, Pominville and Vanek were all moved for either prospects or picks (the Sabres end up with five first-round picks from 2011-13, selecting Joel Armia, Mikhail Grigorenko, Zemgus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov.)

Nov. 13, 2013: Regier is relieved of his duties as Sabres GM.

Sabres’ 2011 first-round pick Armia out with broken hand

Joel Armia

One young Buffalo Sabres forward won’t get a shot to make the team out of camp.

Sabres coach Ron Rolston announced forward Joel Armia broke his hand in last night’s preseason game and will be out indefinitely. The 2011 first-round pick, 16th overall, was injured during the second period of Buffalo’s win over Columbus and did not return.

Losing Armia is a tough blow for the youngster as he’s looking to make the team in his first season coming over from Finland. He’s had a solid preseason to this point and was pushing to earn a spot with the Sabres. Now that progress will be delayed as he recovers.

The team is high on Armia and to this point he’s given them hope he’ll be a solid player. Now their waiting game will have to continue.

Buffalo’s prospect pool is looking pretty good

Rasmus Ristolainen

When the Buffalo Sabres traded captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota last season, many looked at it as the start of an overdue rebuild . While GM Darcy Regier didn’t agree with that insinuation, the prospects that deal brought back (Johan Larsson and Matt Hackett) helped enrich an already exciting group of NHL hopefuls.

Don’t believe it? Take a look at Hockey’s Future who, before this year’s draft, ranked the Sabres as having the eighth best group of prospects in the league. When you look at some of the best prospects, Buffalo is poised to make some noise down the road.

Their forwards include guys like Larsson, 2012 first-round picks Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons, and 2011 first-rounder Joel Armia. Even Marcus Foligno is just 21 years-old and found his way into the Sabres lineup full-time last season.

On defense and in goal, Buffalo is teeming over with potential.

The blue line sees the likes of Brayden McNabb, Mark Pysyk, Jake McCabe, as well as a pair of 2013 draft picks in Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov getting Sabres executives excited. Goalies like Hackett and Andrey Makarov will keep things busy in the AHL.

Things might be tough on the ice for the Sabres this season, but if Buffalo fans are patient they may be rewarded for it. At the very least, road trips to Rochester might be in order to get a look at what the future holds.

Report: Sabres prospect Armia suffers possible concussion in Finnish league

Joel Armia

It appears another Buffalo Sabre has been hurt while playing overseas.

This time, it’s Joel Armia — taken 16th overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft — who reportedly suffered a concussion while playing in Finland’s SM-liiga for Porin Assat.

The news was reported on the Assat website and by Goran Stubb, the NHL’s Director of European Scouting.

Armia’s injury occurred during Saturday’s game against JYP Jyvaskyla, and came just weeks after Buffalo forward Tyler Ennis returned to his Swiss team after missing seven games with a mystery injury.

Armia, 19, was off to a solid start with Assat this season, scoring 9G-4A-13PTS in his first 22 games.

This past summer, he was part of the Sabres prospect camp along with 2012 first round picks Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons — the trio actually skated together on a line that had Buffalo fans excited for the future.