The Buffalo Sabres made waves on Thursday morning when they dismissed head coach Dan Byslma and general manager Tim Murray.
The club took a significant step backwards in the 2016-17 season, going from an acceptable rebuild season the year prior to fewer wins, points, and a farther standing from the postseason than the year before.
It seems that the team’s owner doesn’t want to stop there, though.
Later in the day, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported that the club had also let go of both their amateur and professional scouting directors, Greg Royce and Rob Murphy, respectively. Per Friedman, Terry Pegula will be addressing the media on Friday morning, likely to confirm these moves.
The Sabres have picked up a handful of effective players in the last few years, including second overall pick Jack Eichel and pro goaltender acquisition Robin Lehner. The addition of free agent Kyle Okposo is also, in theory, an effective one – although the question there remains how his health will hold up after a serious scare to end the season.
The rest of the team’s moves, though, simply haven’t been good enough.
The club has fallen under criticism for the acquisition of defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, which required moving prospect Mark Pysysk (who statistically outperformed Kulikov by a wide margin this year) to the Florida Panthers.
There’s also the controversial deal that brought Evander Kane into the system, which has yet to show concrete dividends from the array of pieces involved. No defenseman brought on board in the last handful of years – both through drafting and trading/free agency – has significantly improved the blue line, and the prospect system still lacks the level of depth that it should.
If the organization wants to usher in a new administration, it’s smart to clean house fully.
A handful of other clubs made these moves over a week ago, though, and have a significant head start on Buffalo in finding replacements. The timing is a bit odd, at the very least.