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Sabres shake up roster again as rebuild continues

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- For the second straight season, the Buffalo Sabres have shaken up their roster in a big way near the NHL Trade Deadline.

The Sabres traded defenseman Tyler Myers, forward Drew Stafford, forward prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux and a 2015 first-round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for forward Evander Kane, defenseman Zach Bogosian and goaltender Jason Kasdorf.

"It was shocking," Sabres forward Marcus Foligno said. "Obviously Myers and [Stafford] have been here for a long time. They're great guys, good guys in the room. It's tough to see some good friends leave, but that's the business of this game and each day you just have to wake up and go with it."

Buffalo later traded goaltender Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars for goaltender Anders Lindback and a conditional 2016 third-round pick.

It was Feb. 28, 2014 when the Sabres traded goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues for goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart and a 2015 first-round pick. Miller, like Myers, was a fixture with the Sabres.

"I've been through a lot the past three years. There's been a lot of movement since I've been in this organization," Foligno said. "It's just what happens when you're at the bottom and you've got to find ways to build. Things have been moved around lately, but hopefully we can get some stability now. We're headed in the right direction with guys like Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian. Bogosian's going to make a big impact on this team right away, so we'll go from there."

Myers was the 12th pick in the 2008 NHL Draft by the Sabres and won the Calder Trophy in 2010.

"Every year near the trade deadline it always happens," Sabres forward Tyler Ennis said. "There’s always chatter about potential trades. Me and [Myers] would often have talks about how to make the team better and how to improve. He was always an optimistic kid and he loved Buffalo and so did [Stafford]. It's tough in that regard, but it's hockey. We're getting good players in return and those guys will go to Winnipeg and hopefully go far in the playoffs."

Ennis was taken 26th by the Sabres in 2008 and was Myers' teammate for the past six seasons.

"I was just thinking how fast time goes by," Ennis said. "It seems like just the other day we were drafted together. We have a lot of fond memories together but at the same time, it's hockey. It happens a lot. There's been a lot of changes here the last few years. Those things happen."

The Sabres are last in the NHL with a 16-36-3 record and 35 points. Buffalo finished last in the NHL last season with a 21-51-10 record and 52 points and has been going through a rebuilding phase that's had a lot of roster turnover the past three seasons.

The Sabres have traded Miller, Ott, Myers, Stafford, Thomas Vanek, who was traded to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson on Oct. 27, 2013, and Jason Pominville, who was traded to the Minnesota Wild on April 3, 2013. Aside from Ott, who played 107 games with the Sabres, those are a lot of longtime veterans who played key roles for the Sabres for many seasons. Losing them makes adjusting and rebuilding difficult.

"You want to stay positive. You want to have an endgame in sight," Sabres captain Brian Gionta said. "You've got to find something to build off of. You need to have little goals to keep trying to achieve it. That's coming every game and being consistent. It's playing the right way. Whether you're getting wins or not, playing the right way and compete and doing the right things, you're eventually going to get those wins and so you have to take it little steps at a time with little goals that you can achieve and build off of."

Now the Sabres move on again after a blockbuster trade. With the additions of Bogosian and Kane, the results may not be immediate. Bogosian is healthy and ready to play now, but Kane had shoulder surgery Saturday and will be out 4-6 months.

"I played with Evander for World Juniors," Ennis said. "Our team, we came together and we won, so he's a winner. I haven't played with him in a long time. He's talented. He's looking to change course, change teams, and kind of change the way he's been perceived, and with a fresh start this is a good opportunity for him."

Kane ran into trouble in Winnipeg over reported conflicts with teammates and missed team meetings. Those issues aren't of concern to the Sabres.

"It wasn't all unicorns and rainbows and Jujubes," Sabres general manager Tim Murray said. "Players have warts. The best players have warts. I can tell you the best of the very best players have warts. But I can't talk about them. It's just what it is in the past."

When Kane is ready to play for the Sabres, they're ready to have him.

"It's a clean slate," Gionta said. "Nobody knows the situation that's happened in the past. Coming in, he's going to be accepted and brought into the room. We're obviously excited. It's a move that is made for the future and it's great to have a guy with his skill set. There's no opinion or preconceived notion coming in."

"You can't work based off of rumors. Whether they're good rumors or bad rumors, regardless of what they are, it's not how the individual is coming in. He'll be treated like everyone else. Him and Bogosian will both be accepted in and be part of this team from day one."

Ennis said the trades send the message the rebuild is in full effect.

"When you trade [Myers] and he's got five years left in his deal and there's pieces that have been moved and draft picks. I don't know how many players were moved today. Seven or something? It kind of hits home, changes are being made," Ennis said. "We, for the most part, expected this. You're last place, you're not going to keep the same group. The changes need to be made."

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