What has become of the 2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres

After Terry Pegula bought the Buffalo Sabres during the 2010-11 season, a wave of excitement was brought to the city.  Fans rejoiced that the Sabres finally had an owner that was not afraid to spend money, and this new owner had A TON of money.  After the season ended with a disappointing loss in game seven of the quarterfinals against the Flyers, fans knew they were in for an exciting offseason.  It started with the trade for Robyn Regehr.  Then the acquisition of the rights to the upcoming free agent Christian Ehrhoff, which was followed by giving him a monster contract which would pay him 40 million dollars over 10 years.  And finally, the big free agent signing we were all waiting for…. Ville Leino.  6 years. 27 million dollars.  All of a sudden, the Sabres were being called “Stanley Cup Contenders” and “ A big treat in the Eastern Conference.”

Boy did that fade away quick….

Although the Sabres started pretty good out of the gates, that was soon forgotten once Lucic rocked Miller and NOT ONE PERSON ON THAT ICE EVEN THREW A PUNCH.  It is pretty sad when Thomas Vanek, their best goal scorer, is the first one to do remotely anything on the play by just bouncing off Lucic.  Even when Paul Gaustad and their biggest player, Tyler Myers are on the ice and they do next to nothing to stick up for their elite goaltender.  It still boils the blood of Sabres fans to talk about it.  Enough of that, because we all know what happened afterword, a dive off a cliff.  Injuries, and terribly inconsistent play from almost all of the big name players sent the Sabres spiraling down the standings, at one point in February, they were last in the East. 

Just like that, the “suffering” started.

Although the term was not used by the general manager at the time Darcy Regier until the summer of 2013, this rebuild started in 2012.  Paul Gaustad and a fourth round draft pick in 2013 were flipped to the Nashville Predators for a first round pick in the 2012 draft. 

Now although the suffering started here, after I picked the 2011-2012 team apart and looked at what we got in return for those players, it’s not a bad picture.  In fact it’s pretty amazing.

Paul Gaustad, Jordan Leopold, Marcus Foligno, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford, Derek Roy, Tyler Ennis, Christian Ehrhoff, Nathan Gerbe, Ville Leino, Brad Boyes, Tyler Myers, Luke Adam, Andrej Sekera, Marc Andre Gragnani, Patrick Kaleta, Jochen Hecht, Matt Ellis, Zack Kassian, Brayden McNabb, Robyn Regehr, Mike Weber, Cody McCormick, Corey Tropp, TJ Brennan, Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth.

Those were the big names of the players who played at least a few games during that year.  All but 4 of those players, are no longer under contract with the Buffalo Sabres.

Now I am not going to sit here and break down every single trade that each player was involved in, but I will look at the trades that have brought the most return and how incredible it seems. 

My favorite player growing up was Thomas Vanek.  Knowing he was going to get traded was hard to go through, as I am sure it was hard for most fans.  But if you told me at the start of the 2013-2014 season that by 2015 the return for Thomas Vanek would mean Matt Moulson, Robin Lehner, David Legwand, Josh Gorges, Brenden Guhle, Brycen Martin, Eric Cornel, Jack Nevins and a seventh round pick,  I would have just assumed you didn’t even know hockey was played on ice.  Yes, as of now, that is what we have gotten out of Thomas Vanek.  Although the original was just for Moulson, a first, and a second,  the trade has grown for the past two seasons and continues to grow today.  Moulson, along with McCormick were traded at the deadline the same year, and ended up signing back with Buffalo in the offseason. The other picks in the Moulson trade turned into prospects and Josh Gorges.  And that first round pick was sent to Ottawa for Lehner and Legwand.  All that, equaled Thomas Vanek.

So far the Vanek trade is the only trade in which those pieces acquired were not used in other deals with other players traded from that year.  I’ll put it this way. Ryan O’Reilly was acquired this year by using the major piece from the Pominville trade (Zadorov), the biggest piece of the Sekera trade (Compher, who was really the only piece seeing as how McBain wasn’t even tendered a qualifying offer after one season) and two of our own picks (number 31 overall, and Mikhail Grigorenko).  This trade brought us a number one center that we have not had since June 30, 2007 (I will not say who these players were because it still makes the city of Buffalo livid to this day). It also brought us a solid third or fourth line winger in Jamie McGinn. 

Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian were acquired this past year in exchange for Myers, Stafford, the Blues first round pick, Brenden Lemieux, and Joel Armia.  The Blues first rounder was from the Ryan Miller deal, and many say that, besides Myers, was a huge part of that deal.

Like I said I am not going to go into every deal that has been made, but I will provide you with the list of everything we got in the end for the players on the 2011-2012 team who are still with the team today.

Zemgus Girgensons, Justin Bailey, Anthony Florentino, Vaclav Karabacek, Matt Moulson, Brenden Guhle, Jerry D’amigo, Johan Larsson, Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Jason Kasdorf, William Carrier, Robin Lehner, David Legwand, Gustav Possler, Hudson Fasching, Nic Deslauriers, Ryan O’Reilly, Jamie McGinn, Josh Gorges, Chad Johnson, Jack Nevins, Eric Cornel, Brycen Martin. Three third round picks, one second round pick, and a seventh round pick. 

Don’t forget about those guys we picked high in the draft with our own picks because of this rebuild such as Rasmus Ristolainen, Sam Reinhart, and Jack Eichel. And don’t forget about those four players that are still here, one of which is Tyler Ennis who just had a 20 goal season on a catastrophically bad team.

I think this may be the only article you read about the Sabres all summer where you don’t read the names Eichel or Reinhart within the first 30 seconds of reading. 

We have suffered for many years, but it is coming to an end.  The Sabres are no longer that team that backup goalies can boost their record on. There is nowhere to go but up.  We clearly have a ton of prospects to show what we have been through and where we are going.  Rejoice, Sabres fans.