Shifts in Strategy

The Sabres have made some moves.  They usually do this time of year, especially since Pegula bought the team.  The theme so far has been to get tougher.  John Scott, a feared fighter (murdersaurus!) who will probably see limited action, was the first signing of FA for Buffalo.  More intriguing is the trade, sending Derek Roy out to Dallas, and getting Steve Ott and Adam Pardy in return.  Pardy is probably just a spare part that had to be tossed into the deal, and at $2 million, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get the Shaone Morrisonn treatment in Rochester.  Buffalo has too many D to find a spot for him here.  I mean, I’d rather have Sulzer as the seventh guy at $725,000.

No, the interesting part of the swap is Roy/Ott.  I’ve defended Roy in the past, but it seems clear his welcome had worn thin with many people.  The team trades away offensive production for ‘grit’ and penalties.  Ott will not be a top 2 center, which leaves a hole to fill if you assume Hodgson is the number 2.  Ennis showed some skills as a C late last year, but it’d be risky to run him out there without a larger sample size to judge him on.  That leaves another trade as an option, and while I know Darcy can find guys that we think aren’t available and make it happen, I just can’t see who it is who is going to fill that role that Roy leaves empty.

The X factor in this is Bobby Ryan.  Not a C, but if you want to replace Roy’s scoring potential, there you go.  Perennially over the 30 goal mark, Ryan could add some punch on the right side, where Stafford has failed to find consistency.  Unfortunately, Derek Roy had been one of the guys mentioned going back as a return, so now you’d be left with figuring out who Anaheim wants in return.  Ennis?  McNabb?  I don’t think we’d be getting off easy here, and many of us fans wouldn’t like what we’d lose.  Alexander Semin?  Somehow I don’t think he would get along with Lindy Ruff, but I wouldn’t fault the team for trying it out, if the cap hit can be managed.

Buffalo is in an interesting spot here.  The old ‘core’ is getting slowly replaced by new guys, with Roy, Campbell, Goose and others out of town.  Can the young guns like Ennis, Gerbe, McNabb and the like step up?  Will there be a stud center on the team due to a trade out of left field?  The Sabres aren’t far out of the playoffs, but there hasn’t yet been a move that says “Yep, they just got closer”.  Big time right now for both Darcy and Lindy.

Feeling Relevant

These were my thoughts as the NHL Trade Deadline coverage got rolling this morning.  Gaustad and Roy had both been involved in the rumors, so no huge surprise when that broke.  The return was surprising, even with the 4th rounder going the other way, but still, we knew he was the sort of guy playoff teams love to add at the deadline.  You know, that intangible-laden 3rd-liner, to win face-offs and ‘battles’ and all that other stuff pundits like to say.  When the official deadline was passing, though, people were disappointed.  “That’s it?” you heard.  Then you started to hear “Vancouver has another deal yet to come”, and then “They’re getting Kassian”.  We all sat up and took notice, and then when we heard Cody Hodgson was the guy coming back…wow.  That’s a great return, giving up Kassian and Gragnani, and getting Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer.  I love these deals.

As I was thinking about these since they went down, I decided this is basically a win-win-win for the teams involved.  Buffalo is a win both for now – Hodgson has more offensive upside than Goose, and is a lot younger – and in the future, getting Nashville’s first rounder next year in addition to the players from Vancouver.  Nashville gets the vet C that teams love for the playoffs, and Vancouver gets a couple of guys that might fit better on their team than ours.  Kassian needs to prove himself in the NHL, and Gragnani might work best for the Canucks where he can just be a power play QB and get the softest minutes otherwise.

I’m genuinely interested in seeing what Hodgson can do for Buffalo.  I’m sorry to see Gaustad go, as I had hopes for him…but it was pretty obvious that what he is now, is all he’ll ever be.  And if you turn Goose and a 4th into a 1st, you do it.  Gragnani was expendable…McNabb, and soon, other D-men in Rochester were pushing him from below, but he couldn’t move up any higher than 7th on the depth chart when everyone is healthy.  And all of this happened without crippling the Sabres’ cap situation any more than it already is.  Good job, Darcy.  Is it Wednesday yet?

What constitutes a ‘Blockbuster’ trade?

What IS a blockbuster trade?

  • Two of those players (70%, 7 Votes)
  • One upper echelon player from your team (top 6 F, top 4 D, starting G) (20%, 2 Votes)
  • Three or more (10%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 10

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Just what it says.  Would you consider it a ‘blockbuster’ deal if, say, Roy and a pick went to Anaheim for one of the big three names bandied about?  Would that be enough to shake up the team, in your mind?  Or do multiple core guys need to go?  Not sure where I am on this scale.

Duck Season

Much more exciting than the Sabres’ recent games, at least for fans, is the fact that the GM of the Ducks has declared their roster open for business, with only Selanne and Koivu off limits.  They’ve already tried a coaching change, and are still only 1 point away from being the worst team in the NHL, so now it’s roster shakeup time.  We’ve talked about Bobby Ryan before (blast from the past there – remember when Kaberle had trade value?) and Ryan Getzlaf would be the center everyone dreams of.  That’s not even mentioning Corey Perry.  And hey, maybe we could get Toni Lydman back.  That would be kind of fun.

Interesting that Bob Murray wants ‘core players’ in return for his core players if he trades them, not picks or prospects.  That creates an atmosphere where an actual blockbuster trade might really happen.  As for who can go from the Sabres…well, I’ve had ‘Untouchables’ the past few years, but not anymore.  There are two players I would be upset over if they got traded, Myers and Vanek, but if Darcy got a good return, I could probably be brought over to his side.  I just don’t think you trade your best goal-scorer when goal-scoring has been a problem at times.  I like a lot of the other guys, but I like a lot of the Ducks too.  There’s never been a better time for a roster shake-up.  Get it done, Darcy

Sabres Draft Six and Land Regehr

To be honest, I wasn’t able to be as into the draft this year as I wanted to, thanks to family obligations and time constraints.  The players the Sabres drafted are here.  Some things haven’t changed from the past few years.  Most of them are big, over 6 feet tall.  Most are North American, though they finally broke out of that by drafting Joel Armia from Finland with their first pick (at 16).  From the report by Kris Baker on Armia, sounds like a guy to watch a couple of years down the road.

The Sabres also got their man in Robyn Regehr, acquired in a trade from the Calgary Flames.  We also got Ales Kotalik back, who might play (he DID have his best years here) or who might go to Portlan–er, Rochester, or who could always go play in Europe.  Buffalo also nets a 2nd round pick next year, while giving up Chris Butler, who showed promise at times but could never seem to get past Sekera on the depth chart, and Paul Byron.  Regehr is big and tough and migh just settle in as a partner for Tyler Myers.  It’s one of those spots people thought needed to be addressed this offseason (a veteran D, a top-flight C), and it didn’t cost the Sabres too much.  There are plenty of good prospects still stacked up, and there’s room for more deals to be done.

Untouchable Players – A Followup

Hawerchuk over at Behind the Net took a look at untouchable players, something I’ve thought about previously in regards to the Sabres.  He posits that there are no truly untouchable players in a salary cap league, but there are a few that might as well be based on the cost it would take to get them.  I like the way he puts it here for Drew Doughty:

if the Atlanta Thrashers or the Edmonton Oilers offered you all of their draft picks for the next three seasons, Doughty still might be more valuable.  In fact, short of another team taking all of your bad contracts off your hands and giving you all of their draft picks, there may not be a set of assets in the entire NHL valuable enough to move a 20-year-old superstar.

As far as that goes, I suppose that really only leaves Tyler Myers as ‘untouchable’.  Miller is theoretically attainable, because he’s only slightly outperforming his contract (considering he’s one of the highest paid goalies).  Although, as I pointed out, there’s no way he’s moved.  His intagible effect on the team, the confidence they have, the fact that he’s the face of the franchise, he’s a Sabre for as long as they can manage.