By now you’ve probably heard the news: top center Derek Roy is out 4-6 months, due to a quad tendon tear. The surgery is scheduled in the next few days. Considering the next guy down the depth chart is Tim ‘I just had my face rebuilt from spare parts) Connolly, that leaves Buffalo extremely thin at center. Derek lead the team in assists and points, and was second behind Thomas Vanek with 10 goals. I guess this is one way to get Luke Adam back in the lineup. Ugh.
What this goes to show is how lacking this team is in the heart department. I keep coming back to the teams from 05-07 and how they soldiered on despite player after player dropping from the lineup. Whether it was Biron stepping in and rattling off 13 straight wins when Miller was out, or rallying around their injured captain and beating Ottawa that night and continuing to win some games after that after the infamous brawl (down 6+ players for much of that). Why does that not happen now? Was it really Drury and Briere that drove that? Jay McKee? We thought Grier was, and Rivet seemed like the kind of guy that would bring that, but look at where they are. Back in ’06, if one guy went down, whatever, someone else will step in. The system would adjust. Now? It seems like the balance is so delicate even when things are going well that one minor change sends things into a death spiral.
Where do the Sabres go from here? I’ve already looked at tradeable assets, and it seems more likely that Buffalo WILL be sellers. Unfortunately, it’s hard to justify trading Connolly when he might very well be the only ‘healthy’ center here. Goose needs to say on the third line, so Luke Adam should see time on the second. They can trade Rivet if anyone wants him. Beyond that, it’s just playing out the string on a lost season, and giving guys like Weber, Gerbe, and Ennis as much time as possible to prove they belong.
The ONLY way Buffalo shouldn’t gear up for next year right now is if they can pull off a deal for one of the big-name forwards rumored to be available, Jarome Iginla or Brad Richards. Richards makes the most sense, being a center, and if there is one thing that Buffalo has in abundance it’s picks and prospects other teams will covet. He’s got an NTC, and is playing for a team that’s challenging for 1st in the west. Dallas may not be able to re-sign him, and their ownership situation is unsettled, but it doesn’t make much sense for either side to move at this point. Especially to go somewhere which has some ownership questions also.
I’ll be watching what does (or doesn’t) happen after the freeze with interest. We’ll find out soon whether Darcy and company have decided to go for broke, or for next year.