Late last night the Buffalo Sabres acquired Brad Boyes from the St. Louis Blues for a second-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

This should be a telling sign regarding the future of Tim Connolly. Connolly is in the final year of his contract and is making $4.5 million and likely won't be resigned.

Boyes is signed through next season so he is more than just a rental player. Boyes can play both the wing and the center position so it appears he may be Connolly's replacement.

Factor in the emergence of Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis and it makes all too much sense to deal Connolly.

With so many teams still in contention it is definitely a sellers market. If the Sabres are fortunate enough they may be able to get a second round pick back for Connolly. 

Even if the Sabres get a minimal return for Connolly, it will at least free up significant cap space and allow the Sabres to make another deal if they wish.

Darcy Regier has gone on record saying that he is making acquisitions with a long term perspective in mind. Trading Connolly would appear to fit into this plan seeing how his future probably won't be in Buffalo.

One team has already called Regier about Connolly but they were shut down. Regier was reported as saying he has no intention of trading Connolly. 

The players you get inquiries on are the players that will be unrestricted next year," Regier said Saturday. "A number of those players have moved, but again our focus is more on buying than it is on selling given where we are in the standings. We want to add to this team as opposed to lessen our chances."

At the very least, the Sabres should discuss a contract extension with Connolly. If a deal can't be reached now then one probably won't occur in the offseason thus giving the Sabres even more reason to deal him.

Tim Connolly only has 26 points and is a minus-11. Making a change would be the best scenario for both the Buffalo Sabres and Tim Connolly. 

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

So, apparently Sabres' General Manager Darcy Regier does know how to work a phone when his hands aren't handcuffed behind his back. That is exactly what Regier has proven as the Sabres have acquired Brad Boyes from the St. Louis Blues for a second round pick in the 2011 entry draft.

Regier said that he was looking to add some scoring punch, but that he would not be going after any rental players. Boyes has one year left on his contract.

A former first round pick and 40-goal scorer, Brad Boyes adds much needed right wing depth to the Buffalo Sabres, who currently sit two points out of the eighth spot in the eastern conference.

Since his 43-goal campaign, Boyes has tailed off the last two seasons. However, over the last 20 games, the skilled forward has started to heat up.

Giving up a second round pick makes this deal a steal for the Buffalo Sabres and they will be hoping that a change of scenery will result in more pucks being put into the net by Brad Boyes.

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

In an unlikely deal announced late in the day, the Buffalo Sabres are sending their second-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft to the St. Louis Blues. In exchange, they receive sniper Brad Boyes in an attempt to add some offense, as they continue their push to make the top eight and claim a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The move comes as St. Louis, which has been one of the most active teams in the league in the weeks heading up to tomorrow's trade deadline, had recently acquired power forward (and right winger) Chris Stewart from the Colorado Avalanche. They would have to consider either moving Boyes to another team or reconsidering his position as a top-six forward with the Blues.

Stewart has six goals in his first six games with the Blues, making Boyes expendable. The former first round draft pick and 40-goal scorer will look to regain his scoring touch with Buffalo, which has experienced trouble this season producing offense since the season-ending injury of top line center Derek Roy.

Despite the offensive contributions of players such as Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford, the Sabres will most likely look to Boyes to jump-start their offense and help put them over the edge and into the playoffs this spring.

For the Blues, despite being only seven points out of the playoffs, this move is yet another in what appears to be the beginnings of a rebuild. They've already shipped away their former captain Eric Brewer to Tampa Bay and their former first overall pick Erik Johnson to the Avalanche as they continue to stockpile younger players and draft picks for a chance at future success.

The move comes off a 1-0 loss tonight at Calgary that saw the Blues shut out by Flames net minder Miikka Kiprusoff.

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

Trade deadline day is always an interesting one to say the least. This one especially for Buffalo Sabres fans. For years now, we have seen very little to nothing done as the day comes and goes.

Players of recent deadline moves who have been brought in by Darcy Regier include: Raffi Torres, Steve Bernier, Dominic Moore, and Dainius Zubrus. Not exactly the kind of players that set your team over the top for a strong playoff push.

But this year just seems different. Regier has had the financial restraints cut loose, and has said any move they make will be for a player to stick around long term...as in longer than 20 games.

If Regier is serious about making a statement to the fans and new owner Terry Pegula, there are several options out there for him to consider.

J.M. Liles from the Colorado Avalanche is a good option. A strong defenseman with some offensive awareness. His salary is roughly $4.25 million per year, with one year left on his contract. Liles would bolster a defense that could use a bit more fire power from the point without sacrificing defense.

A giant splash would be trying to land center Brad Richards from the Dallas Stars. Though the asking price from the Stars seems to be very steep, Richards is the type of center Buffalo has needed for about five seasons. Richards would be an investment in the teams future. He is the type of player who would make a winger like Thomas Vanek flourish, and become the 40 goal player they have hoped for.

Another idea could be Atlanta Thrasher young blueliner Zach Bogosian. It has been rumored Bogosian said he will not be in Atlanta next season, and he and the coaches have had a difference in opinions this season. While he has struggled in his third year, Bogosian is the type of player that a team can guarantee a future with. He has captain capabilities. Something Buffalo has lacked for seasons.

A bit less money with a few more years in age is the option of a player like Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Ron Hainsey. Hainsey is a veteran presence and has some offensive skill. He skates well, and can lug the puck up the ice. His contract is rather high, but its something Regier and the Sabres could handle under their salary cap.

Coming back to the forwards; a speedy high scoring winger like Ales Hemsky could also suit the Sabres needs for lack of fire power. The Edmonton Oilers are not going to let Hemsky go for free though. Regier would have to be creative in his trade proposal with the Oilers to land him. Hensky has speed and a nose for the net. Something the Sabres are in desperate need of.

But the simple fact is, Regier has to make a move. A bold move. A decisive move, which shows the fans of Buffalo just how serious he is as the general manager of a new Buffalo Sabres regime.

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

The long-anticipated day is here for Buffalo Sabres fans. Terry Pegula will become the fifth owner of the franchise.

And not a minute too soon for the Sabres' faithful.

As fans reminisce about how former owner Tom Gallasino saved this team from its demise, they can also look forward to what the future may hold under new ownership.

For all intents and purposes, it will be the last season in the front office for people like general manager Darcy Regier and managing partner Larry Quinn.

Over the last three seasons, fans have watched the exodus of quality players from the team, while very little was ever brought back to replace them in terms of talent.

The days of tremendously overpaying their own players with huge contracts and handcuffing the team financially may finally be over.

It's no secret that Regier and Quinn have tapped this team of most of its young talent playing in the minor leagues and have not had any scoring depth for years now.

Most of this falls back on the cost-cutting measures under which Quinn and Regierwere were forced to work.

No longer having actual scouts and leaving the scouting duties up to video scouting was a horrible if not fatal blow to the franchise.

I am not saying players like Zack Kassian and Marcus Foligno may not become quality players in the NHL someday, but the system was flawed.

Looking over the draft picks they have had since 2005, one could easily assume the video scouting has been a costly mistake made by this franchise.

All of this may change under the new guidance of Pegula.

Rumor has it that Pegula is a very smart business man with a love for the game of hockey. Some of his latest comments regarding how "we are going to win the Stanley Cup" are still being replayed throughout Buffalo.

Fans can assume he will not accept mediocrity as the norm for his team—as it has been the last three years—or front office personnel that collect huge salaries despite their inept abilities to run the team.

There is no doubt Pegula is going to have to do some serious rebuilding of every facet of owning a hockey team.

From players to coaching staff to front office, changes will be made. That said, I like the chances of a guy who is a hockey fan as well as a good business man and a proven winner at everything he has ever done in his professional life.

So Buffalo Sabres fans, I assure you that Tuesday, February 22, 2011 will be a day you will not soon forget.  

 

 

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

While many other teams in the National Hockey League have been causing quite a stir today via trades, the Buffalo Sabres have made some noise of their own.

The sale of the Buffalo Sabres to the deep-pocketed Terry Pegula has been officially approved by the NHL Board of Governors.

If the idea of the Sabres jumping into the top eight wasn't enough to excite the HSBC crowd, then this news will certainly charge up the joint.

For about a month now, Sabres fans have been having daily conversations about who is going to stay and who will be fired once Mr. Pegula takes over.

There is a general sense that Terry Pegula, who is a huge Buffalo Sabres fan, will be very aggressive at the trade deadline which is just over a week away, but only time will tell on that matter.

However, I will leave you with one quote from Mr. Pegula: "We're going to win the Stanley Cup, and then you know what, we're going to win it again."

And that my friends is enough for me.

Enjoy the game.

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

The NHL has about 25 games left on the schedule for each team and coming up on the playoff push there will be some teams that are overlooked. Some of these teams have been coasting along all season under the radar and could prove to be deadly come playoff time. Here are some of the most underrated teams in the game.

Begin Slideshow

Buffalo Sabres fans understand one thing. They do not have the greatest back up goaltender in the NHL. But still as the Sabres get ready for a grueling next two months of play, and push to get into the playoff picture, tonight would have been the perfect time to rest starting goalie Ryan Miller.

But like we've witnessed now over the last two seasons head coach Lindy Ruff shows no confidence back up goalie Patrick Lalime. Rather than give Miller the night off after a few recent shaky outings Ruff in his infinite wisdom goes to the well once too often. Playing a much weaker opponent tonight when hosting the New York Islanders Miller let in a season high seven goals.

To me this blunder once again falls on to the shoulders of two individuals, Lindy Ruff and Ryan Miller. Fans can ask "why Miller?" well it's no secret he has been slightly better than average since last seasons Olympic break. But has shown some serious flaws in his game. He is a very cerebral goal tender. His claim to fame is his mental preparation. But that preparation has been slightly off for some time.

No, I do not expect Miller to tell the coaching staff that he needs a night off. Most competitors would parish the thought of ever doing that. But I do expect Ryan Miller to work at his craft, and seek out the help he needs to regain that determining drive he once possessed.

But really to me the real fault lies with head coach Lindy Ruff and his refusal to see when things are not going well. Yes, Lalime when injected into the starting line up has, at points, left something to really be desired. But at the same time Ruff must show a shred of confidence in Lalime. Giving him four starts to this point in the season is not going to make him any better as a goaltender.  

The Sabres have now played 54 games this season, and Miller has played in 45 of them. Miller has had ample time for rest the first half of the season with nights off between games, but maybe 45 games is too many. Now going forward for the Sabres this will be an uphill battle.

In the beginning of March they will be on a 14 day road trip that will see them play many conference opponents that are well ahead of them in the standings. Not to mention time off between games will now be at a minimum.

It is now time for Lindy Ruff to make some hard decisions. Does he start showing a glimmer of confidence in Patrick Lalime, or does he call on another back up such as Jhonas Enroth? Either way the goaltending duties cannot fall solely on the shoulders of Ryan Miller if this team wants a chance of making the playoffs, and moving past the first round.

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

The New York Islanders have drawn a lot of ire around the National Hockey League over the last 48 hours, and it's not because everyone is dripping with jealousy.

In a season where the Isles have been described using several terms, be it "pathetic,"  "inexperienced" or "lottery team," they added a new one to their repertoire: "thugs." 

To a certain extent, I agree. I think the Isles got extremely carried away. As I said last night, I think they certainly wanted to send a message, and obviously, they did. I just think that message was way too clear.

I personally believe the reason it got that out of hand that quickly, is the Islanders are just absolutely fed up with being disrespected in this league.

Now, they ultimately did nothing to help that cause, and if anything, they now have even less respect than they originally had.  But I think the frustrations in that locker room reached a boiling point, and given the tight-knit environment on the team, everyone felt the need to stick up for one another and stick it to their opponents.

I don't think they realized at the time things would get that carried away, but nevertheless, they did, and so the Islanders will have to pay the consequences.

And pay they did, both literally and in the form of suspensions.

The NHL levied a $100,000 dollar fine to the New York Islanders organization for failing to control the actions of their players. Matt Martin was suspended for four games, Trevor Gillies for nine.

I certainly understand the Islanders deserved some discipline. What I cannot understand though, is how the NHL lets the Pittsburgh Penguins get away with playing dirty all season.  The refs don't care when other teams' players take runs at Islander players, but when the Isles get out of line, the league throws the book at them. But that's for another time.

The New York Islanders need to move on, and as Isles' forward Zenon Konopka is on record saying, they will move on.

Good move on their part, because they have a hockey game to play in Buffalo later this afternoon. This will be another big game for the Islanders because they can go on a three-game winning streak and will have a chance to perhaps show the league they are not the bunch of goons they were made out to be in the game against Pittsburgh Friday night.

What people forget, is that aside from all the fighting, the Islanders showed a lot more about what kind of team they can be that night. They scored nine goals. Their passing plays were nothing short of brilliant. Mikko Koskinen was phenomenal, making 35 stops.

What frustrates me about the Isles' performance this season is that they are clearly a very talented team; a very inconsistent team, but definitely a talented one.

Many of the wins they earned this season did not occur out of sheer luck or just because "the other team had injuries," which has become the No. 1 excuse of Penguins' fans since Friday night. You want to talk about injuries? Ask the Islanders about injuries because they are on pace to top 500 man-games lost due to injuries.

The Islanders have shown talent in the games they've won, and they've beaten some good teams too, such as Detroit, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Tampa Bay, Colorado (twice), the Ducks and the Flames. If they can develop consistency and stay healthy, they can really become a force to be reckoned with next season.

The Sabres come into this game red-hot as well. They've won three games in a row and have shown offensive flair of their own during that stretch. Defenseman Tyler Myers has really stepped up for them lately, and they also have a goaltender named Ryan Miller, who I've heard is decent. He only has a Vezina Trophy and an Olympic silver medal to his credit. So the Isles will definitely be facing a tough challenge in this one.

The Isles' offense will need to play at the level it has since the All-Star break. John Tavares needs to keep finding ways to put pucks in the net, as well as contribute on offense. He tends to do well against the Sabres, and even has a natural hat trick against them this season.

The Islanders have not yet announced who will start between the pipes in this game. My guess is Al Montoya gets the nod, as Koskinen hopefully gets a much-needed and deserved breather.

 

X-Factor

The Islanders' offense needs to continue to produce as it has these last few games. The Isles do not have a shutdown defense, nor do they have a goaltender who can steal the game away. The Sabres however, do have that kind of goalie in Miller, and their defense is very solid. The Isles need to establish their presence on the scoreboard early.

 

Three Players to Watch

  1. Michael Grabner.  Seriously, is there any reason he shouldn't be in this spot? He is a threat to score every time he touches the puck and is creating breakaways for himself at will nowadays. He will either score in this game, or if he doesn't, someone will because he was able to burst into the Sabres' zone and create an opportunity for his line mates.
  2. John Tavares.  He's been an offensive force against the Sabres this year. Not to mention, he's been on fire of late, and will be looking to keep it going today. I say he's going to stay hot in this game.
  3. Travis Hamonic.  This marks the first time I feature an Isles' defenseman as one of my players to watch. He's been involved in the offense for a few games in a row now, and he made some fantastic decisions with the puck in the Isles' last game, the 9-3 slugfest against the Penguins. He had a big offensive night, with a goal and two assists, so look for him to keep it going today.

I'll recap the game later today. Let's go Islanders!

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com

Since 1969—the year the of the NFL-AFL merger—the Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Sabres, who were founded in 1970, have combined for 80 total season without a championship. Outside of the four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s and the Stanley Cup Final runs in 1975 and 1999, both franchises have been ensconced in mediocrity and failure.

That's six seasons, out of 80, where the proud Buffalo franchises have reached the championship, and every single attempt fell short.

But now there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. It may be a long tunnel, but the end may just be coming into focus. Both teams have made very important decisions in the past few weeks that could alter the course of these much-maligned franchises, and Buffalo fans may finally have a reason to celebrate.

First up is the Buffalo Sabres. Owner Tom Golisano gave the city one of its biggest gifts in 2003 by buying up the franchise and keeping them from folding or moving away after the team fell into bankruptcy after the Knox/Adelphia debacle. But Golisano never seemed to be about winning. He loves Buffalo, no question about it, but the almighty dollar always seemed to be his endgame.

But now we are moving on. Golisano finalized the sale of the Sabres this month to a new owner, billionaire Terry Pegula. Pegula, a Pennsylvania native who has ties to Western New York, looks to be everything that Golisano wasn't in an owner.

That is not to say Pegula hates Buffalo—quite the opposite—but he looks willing to make the deals and spend the money needed to build the Stanley Cup-caliber team that Buffalo has lacked for years. Fans clamor every year for GM Darcy Regier to make that deadline trade that would put the Sabres over the top, or sign that big name free agent to ensure the playoffs for the next season, but it never happened.

Since 2007, when the team's two biggest stars—Daniel Briere and Chris Drury—were allowed to walk away in free agency, fans have been dying for someone in charge who will make the best interests of the team more important than the salary cap.

Terry Pegula certainly seems to be that man, and even if he keeps Regier around, you can be certain that Pegula will be much more forceful in demanding his GM make the needed trades and sign the necessary players than his predecessor was.

The Sabres will start to be a major player in the NHL very soon—at the trade deadline, in free agency and most importantly, in the playoffs. Maybe not this season, but certainly in the years to come. However, nobody could argue that the Sabres aren't currently better off than the Bills right now, but even they are starting to make changes.

The Bills haven't made the playoffs in 11 years—you may remember their last trip, something about a Miracle in the Music City—but this season Chan Gailey made strides with an under-manned team and gave the fans some hope for the future.

There may be some questions about 70-year-old GM Buddy Nix and his ability to run the team, but since 2002 there is one thing about which there was no question: the Buffalo Bills had the worst jerseys in the NFL. The hideous, Arena Football League-esque jerseys have only emboldened the idea around the NFL the the Bills are not to be respected. But that's finally about to change.

The team announced this week that they will be changing their jerseys for the upcoming season, a decision that was met with near unanimous praise. Fans and players alike are very excited about the change, from Hall of Fame RB Thurman Thomas to current starter Fred Jackson, who said on his twitter, "I can honestly say this. In the 5 years Ive been in Buff there hasn't been a guy (including myself) that liked the current Unis!!"

Even hard-nosed commentator Jim Rome praised the move on his radio show, going as far as to say that the new jerseys alone will give the Bills one more win next season, because if you look good, you feel good and you play good.

If the Bills can find a franchise-changing player at the No. 3 spot in the draft this April, and build on the successes of last season, then they can get on the path toward winning again sooner rather than later.

A championship, whether it be a Super Bowl or a Stanley Cup, may not be right around the corner, but it may be down the block. And it looks like Buffalo's major franchises may be getting on the right path after all of this time. So hold your head (and beer) high, Buffalo—respect and winning are on the way.

Read more Buffalo Sabres news on BleacherReport.com