We are enjoying the last week of regular season hockey as of half of the National Hockey League teams will go on to fight for the ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, the other half will focus on the draft lottery and the off-season plans, and many will need to find quick answers to disastrous campaigns.
The main problem with one team from the second half, the Buffalo Sabres, is that they already did the whole rebuilding gimmick. Back in 2011, when Terry Pegula took over as owner, he made this big huge statement: “From this point forward, the Buffalo Sabres’ sole reason for existence will be to win the Stanley Cup.” He talked about how becoming a contender would be a process of three or fewer years, and ended up his big scene with: “if you want to play for the best owner in the league, come to Buffalo.”
Yeah, well, that is not the case as we see it in 2018. Superstar player Jack Eichel certainly does not see it that way either, as he has slammed his own team more than once in the past week only. While Eichel has looked committed to bringing success in Buffalo after signing a massive eight-year $80-million extension, he has never hidden his own displeasure with losing, and not playing up to the standards of the league, and of what the fans expect them to accomplish. Eichel even bluntly admitted recently that he has difficulty accepting the sorry state of the Sabres, who haven't reached the playoffs in the three years since his debut in the league.
"When I got drafted, if you would've said we'd be in this position, I probably would've told you to give your head a shake," Eichel told The Associated Press.
"You look at Colorado and some of these teams, New Jersey, that make a quick turnaround and all of a sudden they're in the playoff hunt," he added.
The message he is sending is not a good one. It feels like he wants out. But can you blame him?
However, while NHL insider Pierre LeBrun believes major changes are expected in Buffalo this summer, he knows Eichel is here to stay. LeBrun suggests that the Sabres try to move marquee players and make a final push for a rebuild.
"Another team to keep an eye on through this off-season I think is the Buffalo Sabres. General manager Jason Botterill has had one year to closely pay attention to what he’s had here as a first-time GM, and I think he’s ready to make some tangible changes with that team. Obviously, Jack Eichel isn’t going anywhere. He’s the guy that they’re building this team around. But, they are pretty deep up front in terms of some marquee players and would they listen on a guy like Ryan O’Reilly, would they listen on a guy like Sam Reinhart? I don’t think there’s a real motivation to move any of those guys but in terms of listening and in terms of understanding there might be a huge market and maybe an overpay out there, I do think Buffalo will listen."
While there might not be a huge push to move players like O'Reilly and Reinhart, something has to be done!