Can The Sabres Begin Again With McGinn?

Heading into the draft, there were three sure things in life for Buffalo Sabres’ fans: death, taxes, and Eichel. Tim Murray all-but-defied anyone to gaze deep into his dark, lifeless eyes and try to convince him to loosen his icy grip on the hard-earned number two overall pick. Speculation circulated, though, about Murray’s veritable treasure trove of draft picks – Buffalo had many holes to fill, indeed, and those picks were a commodity in and of themselves. Of the utmost concern for fans was likely goaltending, as Buffalo lost three of their four main goalies from the 2014-2015 campaign. Of course, there was the question of a viable top-line center, a solid D-man to twin with Begosian; the list was utterly endless. Just after GM Tim Murray would step to the mic to select Eichel, Buffalo would have many questions answered.

Early on draft day, Buffalo acquired the services of Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner, as well as aged veteran forward

Lehner has a few words for those who question him.  Photo from hockeysfuture.com

Lehner has a few words for those who question him. Photo from hockeysfuture.com

David Legwand. Lehner’s ability to carry the starting load for an NHL team has yet to be determined, but Murray was a part of the management team that drafted Lehner, so we’ll have to defer to his best judgement. Once Eichel was chosen, no time was wasted in announcing that Buffalo had propelled their roster forward by leap years and traded for Colorado center Ryan O’Reilly and left wing Jamie McGinn. Media coverage of Ryan O’Reilly has been hot and heavy – it seems the young centerman has been the talk of trade rumors for quite some time. Less coverage was given to the accessory to his trade, but McGinn is worth a second look.

When Murray traded the 21st pick for Lehner, my heart sank. I felt confident that we could pick up a good, young power forward at that spot. I was excited about the possibility of reuniting Team USA teammates Eichel and Jordan Greenway, and though Greenway fell into the second round, I thought he really could help our team in the future. Fortunately for myself, Sabres fans, and the team as a whole, Murray knew what I didn’t know – he was on the cusp of bringing in veteran power forward, Jamie McGinn. The former Colorado left wing was a surprising standout in Colorado’s worst-to-first run in 2013-2014. McGinn fit nicely with O’Reilly and Matt Duchene, and could reprise that role with the Sabres this season; O’Reilly has played on Team Canada with winger Tyler Ennis, and McGinn has demonstrated chemistry with O’reilly – the three of them could be a solid line for the Sabres, giving McGinn a crack at more ice time than one might anticipate.

McGinn, along with Kane, could be the top toughness the team has lacked.  Photo from yahoo.com

McGinn, along with Kane, could be the top toughness the team has lacked. Photo from yahoo.com

McGinn missed most of last year when he underwent back surgery to repair a nagging injury that had kept him out of training camp. His current contract expires at the end of this season, so he will be ready to prove that he can play with the elite players Buffalo will have on the ice this season. With Evander Kane returning to the ice, these two players could very well be a dynamic one-two punch that Buffalo hasn’t seen in a very long time – grinders who can play and score are exactly the types of players that Buffalo fans adore, and McGinn could quickly find himself a beloved player by the denizens of the First Niagara Center.  Buffalo has long been yearning for toughness in their top lines and this season, they just might get their wish.

The excitement surrounding the Buffalo Sabres is reaching a fevered pitch. Many fans were heading into this season with fairly low expectations; despite the fact that the team was heading in the right direction, few were confident that we were anywhere close to our destination. In one day, Murray appears to have put players in place that could very well lead us to a playoff run, much sooner than most of us anticipated. The goaltending questions still remain; however, I think fans will take a string of 6-4 wins over a month of 1-0 losses. It’s been a long, hard battle, and these fans followed the tank into the deepest depths of Hockey Hell. Finally, it appears that substantial moves have been made to lead us back into the light, and we will soon reclaim our title as Heaven on the Harbor. Welcome to Hockey Heaven, Lehner, O’Reilly, Legwand, and McGinn.

Congratulations, Phil Housley! Photo from buffalosportshalloffame.com

Congratulations, Phil Housley! Photo from buffalosportshalloffame.com

PS – Congratulations to Phil Housley for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.  The star defenseman redefined the role on his way to becoming the highest-scoring American-born hockey player – a position he held until 2007.

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One Comment on “Can The Sabres Begin Again With McGinn?”

  1. erikwollschlager July 1, 2015 at 8:08 am #

    Reblogged this on ewollschlager and commented:

    Thoughts on McGinn, before Free Agency fires up.

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