How Are These Former Sabres Doing?
Buffalo Sabres fans couldn't wait to get 'em out of town and for these two players it was the best thing that could've ever happened to them. Their careers were rejuvenated and now they're both up for league awards.
Goaltender Robin Lehner now with the New York Islanders struggled with alcohol and drug addiction before getting help at the end of last season. He's been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder and postraumatic stress disorder.
The Sabres decided not to extend his contract last year and as a free agent he signed with the Islanders. He's been a rock in goal for the Islanders ever since and helped the Islanders to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Over the weekend Lehner was named one of the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy awarded to the best goaltender. He's also been nominated for the Masterton Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies perseverance and dedication.
Then there's Ryan O'Reilly who was traded to the St. Louis Blues after telling the Buffalo media following last season that he had lost his passion for the game. In exchange the Sabres acquired forwards Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka and Tage Thompson and two draft picks...a first rounder this year and a second rounder in 2021. Berglund quit, Sobotka was pretty much a non-factor and Thompson was sent to Rochester.
Meanwhile O'Reilly has been a major factor in the Blues' advance to the second round of the playoffs and has been nominated for the Selke Trophy, awarded to the league's best defensive forward. While preventing goals he's also been pretty effective in the offensive zone as well with 28 goals, 49 assists and 77 points for the Blues during the regular season and added 2 goals and 2 assists during the playoffs.
For Sabres general manager Jason Botterill it seemed a no-brainer at the time, but after the fact you really have to question the wisdom of allowing these two players to depart. He's supposed to be the expert, but he struck out twice on those two moves.