Sabres move on from the Trade Deadline

March 2, 2017
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There were some relieved faces inside the Sabres locker room this morning. Nobody got traded, although Tim Murray had an offer for Brian Gionta.
 
The captain had said all along that he wanted to see this through here in Buffalo and he appreciated Murray calling him Wednesday, “Yes, at the end of the day this game’s a business and anything can happen, so I’m thankful for the open dialog and I thought we had a pretty good conversation, but the fact that both sides expressed their positions, it was good.”
 
Kyle Okposo wanted to come to Buffalo when he was the league number one free agent. Gionta thinks the respect Murray showed him will help in recruiting players in the future, “For sure, that’s what we’re trying to build here is a place that people want to come to, a place that’s on the rise that has that stability.”
 
In my opinion the Sabres trip out west finished their chances for the playoffs. Of course mathematically they’re still in it trailing Ottawa and Boston by nine in the Atlantic Division and Toronto by six for the Eastern Conference’s second Wild Card position. Gionta doesn’t share my opinion that they’re out of it, “By no means has anyone given up on the season. It’s an uphill battle, but there’s still a possibility for us to make the playoffs here.”
 
The schedule isn’t in their favor as in their final 18 games, they play Columbus three times and Pittsburgh twice as well as San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim. Buffalo also still has two games left with Toronto, Florida and Tampa Bay.
 
Cody Franson was another player that made it clear that he didn’t want to leave. Unlike Gionta, Franson has been traded before. He said, “It was a little bit of a stressful day, I mean there’s no way around that, but I’m very happy with the turnout, I enjoy it here, I like it here and I’d like to remain here, so when I didn’t get the call, I was happy.”
 
Franson knows how it works in the NHL when players have expiring contracts. With that in mind, he was surprised he didn’t go, “A little bit. With what’s been going on and been said, it’s one of those things that you try to prepare yourself for and expect, so if it does happen, it’s not catching you off guard.”
 
Dmitry Kulikov wasn’t traded because teams were concerned with the injury that has been bothering him all season. Kulikov’s play has been getting worse, not better and Dan Bylsma said if it doesn’t improve soon, it will cost him his lineup spot, “I had a discussion with him today, post deadline and he’s a guy that needs to play better, he needs himself to play better and he potentially yes could come out of the lineup if he doesn’t find his game here.”
 
Buffalo has lost four straight games with one coming in Arizona. Robin Lehner has been in net for three of those losses giving up 14 goals.
 
Jack Eichel finished February with two goals and 14 assists for 16 points in 14 games.
 
Evander Kane has 10 goals and 16 points in 17 games.
 
The lines changed again for the morning skate with Tyler Ennis playing with Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo. Ennis has been playing mostly on the fourth line the past nine games. With his role dwindling on this team I asked him if he was looking for a trade to get a fresh start, “I’m a Buffalo Sabre. I love this place and all I want to do is win a championship for this city.”
 
Today’s lines:

Ennis  O’Reilly  Okposo
Foligno  Eichel  Reinhart
Kane  Girgensons  Gionta
Moulson  Rodrigues  Bailey
 
The Coyotes scored three late third period goals to beat the Sabres 3-2 in Glendale. That’s their only win in four games.
 
Join the Bulldog for the pregame at 6:00 live from 716. He’ll have interviews with Dan Bylsma, Brian Gionta, Cody Franson and Tyler Ennis.