When Tim Murray was hired in January of 2014 he was seen as a dark horse to the public eye. In the hockey world he was seen as a knowledgeable hockey mind that has paid his dues. He was influential in helping build the Anaheim Ducks Stanley Cup winning team and helped the Binghamton Senators win the Calder Cup in 2011.
Now three years later this Sabres team has Murrays finger prints all over it. Murrays plan was to build through the draft. He’s added some highly skilled players in Sam Reinhart, Jack Eichel, and Alex Nylander at the top while also finding some hidden gems in Cliff Pu, Giorgio Estephan, and Brendan Guhle.
His biggest impact, though, has been through trades. Murray has quickly established himself as one of the more active and aggressive General Managers. He isn’t afraid to make a move. A trait that Darcy Regier sorely lacked.
Now lets take a look at the 1st of Tim Murray’s 21 deals with the Sabres….
February 28, 2014
Sabres trade: Ryan Miller and Steve Ott.
Blues trade: Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, Will Carrier, 2015 1st Round Pick, and a 2016 3rd Round Pick.
Tim Murray’s first trade started off with a bang. Ryan Miller was the face of the franchise for almost a decade and Steve Ott was the teams captain at the time. It was a move that still shocked many although it Miller was in the middle of trade rumors all season. The shock of the trade had to do with the fact that the trade was made about an hour before a game. The Sabres were set to take on the San Jose Sharks but right before the game Miller and Ott were scratched. As soon as the news broke that they were scratched I remember Twitter blowing up. Maybe the first big trade the Sabres made where I remember seeing it happen through Twitter.
The trade led to many different things but one of the most memorable was the fact that Sabres employee, Ryan Vinz came into the game as an emergency backup goaltender. In a moment like that it was pretty cool to see a Buffalonian live out their childhood dream.
Now when the trade was first announced my reaction was that we won the deal. Jaroslav Halak was no slouch himself in net, Chris Stewart was known to be a solid scorer, and we added a solid prospect in Will Carrier to go along with the 1st and 3rd.
As it turns out Jaroslav Halak would be traded about a week later, Chris Stewart would only last a year as he was traded at the next deadline, and both the 1st and 3rd we received were traded in later deals.
This graphic from Adam Gretz details the chain effect from the trade.
Going from left to right, I would say the Miller deal has been pretty good for the Sabres.
Chris Stewart was traded for a 2017 2nd Round Pick and Stewart hasn’t been more than a 3rd line winger in the past two years with the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild.
Jaroslav Halak made it known he wouldn’t stay with the Sabres so Tim Murray didn’t waste time trading him at the trade deadline. We got Michal Neuvirth in return which led to the Sabres receiving Chad Johnson and a 2016 3rd. Johnson was a solid goaltender and played well in relief of Robin Lehner while he was injured last season and the third we received from the Islanders was used as compensation for hiring Dan Byslma.
The lone player still with the Sabres, Will Carrier, has turned out to be a solid one. He brings speed and tenacity to a Sabres team that lacks both. Carrier likely has solidified himself in the Sabres lineup and looks to be a top 9 player going forward.
The first from the Blues was used as part of the trade to get Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, and Jason Kasdorf. I’ll write more about this deal in the future but for now I’ll say that a lot of what Evander Kane does off the ice has brought his value down. His play on ice has been pretty good. He’s in the midst of some of his best hockey and adds speed and physicalness to the top 6.
The 2016 third we received from the Blues was used in the deal that landed us Dimitry Kulikov and Rasmus Asplund. Kulikov has been out most of the year but Rasmus Asplund is looking like a player that could be pushing for a spot on the Sabres roster within the next two years.
Miller didn’t play up to expectations for the Blues in the playoffs and the Blues elected not to resign him. He signed with Vancouver in the offseason and hasn’t found much success there either. He hasn’t been the same since his days in Buffalo but he’ll always be the beloved goaltender that led the Sabres to back to back conference finals. Steve Ott was a heart and soul type of player. He was a fan favorite and laid his heart on the line every night. He played his role in St. Louis and Detroit currently.
The one non-player effect it had was the fact that Pat LaFontaine resigned as President of Hockey Operations the next day. LaFontaine was hired by Terry Pegula to lead the rebuilding process but after hiring Tim Murray there were rumors over who had final say in roster moves. No one knows why LaFontaine made the decision to leave but one has to think that the Miller trade may have played a role in LaFontaine’s departure.
Three years later now and it’s safe to say Buffalo won the deal. We gathered solid assets and Tim Murray was wise in turning them into profit. Murray’s first deal will always be one his most memorable as it changed the face of the franchise on the ice and was his first of many moves to start us down the rebuilding path.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed! Follow me on Twitter @Sabres_Talk!