Gaping Blue Line

A lot of analysts are calling this year’s trade deadline a yawn-fest. I don’t know…it was solid. It wasn’t that sexy, but then again I don’t think anybody has ever referred to Jason Arnott as “sexy.” Maybe the ladies in Edmonton think that way about Dustin Penner, but then again it’s Edmonton…the bar is set pretty low. The trade deadline bar, meanwhile, was set pretty high with names like Brad Richards and John-Michael Liles, and none of those huge talents were moved. What moves there were consisted of teams around the league trying to add depth of scoring of plugging holes in the D.

Maybe all the GM’s just had a hangover of realization from last year’s atrocities in New Jersey.

And then there were the Buffalo Sabres. Of course we all know what move was made, and we all know about The Move That Wasn’t Made. Jerry Sullivan probably took to the old-timey typewriter and clanged away until his fingers wore to the bone, working on an ulcer over the fact that Tim Connolly is still wearing a Sabres sweater. I’m sure there will be an article about how “Connolly” and “cancer” both start with C.

Whatever. Screw it. They added Boyes and absorbed a big contract, and he’s a player that will carry over into next season. More offense is always a good thing, especially with the anemic team we’ve got, but the glaring weakness all season has been the blue line. Well, to be specific, the stay-at-home members of the blue line.

Losing Lydman in the offseason hurt this team pretty bad. Or do people think it’s a mystery that Ryan Miller’s numbers are suddenly magically the worst of his career? He only lost his best shut down defenseman. Meanwhile, Jonas Hiller out in Anaheim is looking like an All-Star while a familiar looking Finn skates in front of him. Strange how that works. Now I know that Shaoenoane Morrisssssonnnn was supposed to fill that spot, but he hasn’t quite lived up. The 5th best D-man on the Caps last year turns out not to be a major shut-down guy on the Sabres. Who knew? To Shaoeaoeaone’s credit, he was hurt for the start of the season.

So the Sabres finally waived Craig Rivet. He’s gone. But they didn’t actually fix the leak, the hole in the defensive zone. Steven Montador is currently our #3 defenseman. I want you to think about that for a moment. I’m a fan of his, I like his play, but there is no way there should only be two guys on the blue line I want to have the puck more than him. Here’s the current D-epth chart:

  1. Tyler “Demigod” Myers
  2. Jordan “7 More Points Than Our #1 Center Tim Connolly” Leopold
  3. Steve “Utility Journeyman” Montador
  4. Shaone Morrisonn
  5. Andrej “I Swear I’m Not Dmitri Kalinin” Sekera
  6. Mike Weber
  7. Chris Butler

Yeah yeah yeah, Sekera had a great game against Detroit, but more often than not he has regurgitated all over himself whenever there’s been an ounce of pressure put upon him. A defender needs to be consistent more than he needs to show “flashes of potential.”

So where’s this drawn-out ramble going? If this team honestly has any hope for the post-season, which they seem to show by holding on to Tim Connolly and praying that Brad Boyes will suddenly fix post-concussion syndrome, they’re ignoring the enormous exploit of this team. They’ve had all season to see if Morrisonn could replace Lydman and he honestly hasn’t. Maybe that’ll come with time, but the trade deadline is an opportunity for insurance. Are you going to tell me that they couldn’t get Adam Foote out of Colorado on the cheap? Or made some sort of move with the Islanders or Edmonton? Maybe it wouldn’t be “cheap,” but then again when you announce to the world that you’re going to be buyers at the deadline, the sellers might just hike up the prices.

They gave up Rivet, which is fine because we’d seen that Rivet didn’t have anything left in the tank. The problem is they didn’t replace him with somebody that could add some insurance. Don’t look now, but Leopold’s been out with a bit of an injury. That means that ol’ Monty is our second-most dependable defenseman. The kids aren’t getting it done, and it’s Darcy’s job to shore up that blue line if they’re at all serious about the post-season.

Or maybe they’re not serious about it. But then why the hell hold on to Connolly? Maybe he couldn’t have been moved, but from all reports the Sabres weren’t interested in pulling that trigger if they could.

Tags: Adam Foote Andrej Sekera Buffalo Sabres Chris Butler Craig Rivet Darcy Regier Detroit Red Wings Eastern Conference Fansided Free Agency Hockey Jordan Leopold Lindy Ruff Mike Weber NHL Northeast Division Sabres Shaone Morrisonn Stanley Cup Stanley Cup Playoffs Steve Montador Terry Pegula Tim Connolly Trade Trade Deadline Tyler Myers Washington Capitals

  • streetsabre

    My take on this:

    1) Boyes trade boosted our team’s offense immensely. We had $8mil in cap space… added Boyes to bring it down to $4mil… so dumping Connolly would have made little sense. He can play center better than Niedermayer, so theoretically it is an upgrade going into the late-season push. Lindy could always play Boyes at center as well – which he probably will do after he gets bored with his lines.

    2) The name thrown around that the Sabres were almost definitely pursuing was Liles: an offensive defensemen out in Colorado. While he would have played for us, he still doesn’t solve the problem of our shaky defensive play. Additionally, his cap hit of $4,425,000 this season and $4,550,000 next season would have caused two problems: the Sabres would have needed to trade a player to get under the cap AND would have less cap space for a big free agent acquisition over the off-season.

    The team made a positive move at the trade deadline, and while Darcy admittedly said he tried to do more, the market just wasn’t there. Parity in this league has caused teams to keep their assets a little longer then they used to.

    On the positive side, if Sekera has another game like he did against the Red Wings, we’ll be just fine.

    Lastly, I am THRILLED that we didn’t trade for draft picks. This year’s draft isn’t particularly strong, and it would have done us very little good.

  • wewanttaro


    1. – Yes, Boyes boosts us. And yes, having Connolly gives us the potential that we don’t have if we don’t have Connolly. Now, if we indeed kept Connolly because he gives us that much better a chance than say Luke Adam or Paul Byron (which is debatable) then Darcy needed to shore up the D. Attempting the playoffs with our blue liners is pointless.

    2 – Liles would’ve put us over and they weren’t looking to get rid of somebody. Fine. Aim lower, hence why I said Foote. Liles is a top pairing D-man who’s been having an awful year. How about they go get somebody decent, somebody like Montador. At worst, they’ll come in at the same level as our current #3 guy. We’d be much better off. The fact that they didn’t get this done either says that Regier is incompetent or that he in fact doesn’t want to push to the playoffs and instead concentrate on next year (this completely refutes point #1).

    3 – Sekera is inconsistent. If he plays another game like the one against the Red Wings…how about he plays every game about 3 degrees less than that. I’d be much happier, because what he brings to the ice 80% of the time is “OMGOMGOMGOMG I’ve got the puck what do!?”

    4 – Yep, we didn’t need draft picks.

    5 – As I started with, they did a positive move. It just wasn’t enough. It was typical Darcy yet again, this time with a bigger wallet behind him. This time instead of not being able to get the move done financially he simply wasn’t able to get it done for some other reason.

  • streetsabre

    I feel Darcy did a pretty good job, considering the kind of signings we’ll need to make during the off-season.

    We enter the stretch-run with $4mil in cap space, which is fine. We just need to evaluate some of the facts that came out of yesterday to see exactly why the Sabres were not in a position to make another move.

    * The Sabres lack quality centers. Connolly NEEDS to anchor a first line now – it isn’t a question any longer. Derek Roy is out for the postseason if we make it – as he is still limping around the arena and is no closer to a return.
    * Pegula stated he “absolutely” wants to be an active buyer during the off-season. To do that, he also needs to resign the players that they deem “worth it”. Our $4mil in cap space will slowly fade away.
    * Darcy did try to get a “big name” player, but he couldn’t afford the asking price – which is fine depending on the price.
    ** He also said that they would pursue this players again – indicating that there IS, in fact, a plan.

    When you look at the defensemen available, not many of them jump out as the end-all solution to our blue line. Even if we would have traded for Wideman instead of Washington, it would have left us with the same problem – we would be in need of someone who plays defensive defense, and not this offensive system that works moderately well here.

    Looking at these last few days, our team took zero steps back and a step forward.

    When free agency comes around, take a look at Christian Ehrhoff for the blueline, and trade for a decent center.

  • Dan

    Dude, I don’t know how else to say it. No, we didn’t take a step backward, but as far as a move to be made at the deadline, this was definitely not good enough.

    Right now this team is above average. They have a good chance of making the playoffs, and yeah yeah yeah anything can happen. To make this team start to look like a contender, they needed 3 things: better scoring, a better center, and a solidified blue line.

    Now, centers were at a premium. None of the big name centers were traded, probably because so damn many of them are out on IR that they’re the most valuable commodity this year. So I’m 100% giving Regier a pass there.

    Darcy went out and got a scorer, or at least somebody who has scored over 40 and over 30 goals. Here’s hoping Boyes regains his touch, or at least keeps up his assists, because any offense generated is a necessity.

    But the GM fell flat when it came to the D. Nothing was done in that aspect. Either he didn’t think he needed to get that done or he couldn’t get that done, and either one of those choices lands him in the dog house for me.

    And I swear, don’t bring up cap space again. We’re $4 mil under. There are plenty of upcoming UFA defensemen who are at least as good as Montador who cost under $2 mil. Yet again, I’ll say that Adam Foote is $1 mil. Do you think that the Avalanche, who basically sold everything they could except for their star defenseman and star forward, wouldn’t have traded away Foote for a prospect? We wouldn’t even have to give them a good prospect, just a body that replaces their upcoming UFA old veteran D man.

    No. Either the Sabres were buyers or they were sellers. They bought Boyes, but they couldn’t buy their way into a respectable blue line. That means that Darcy yet again couldn’t get the job done, whether it was because he had his aim set too high (Liles, Wideman) or he didn’t think it needed to be addressed. Either way, he failed.

    This team is better than it was. It’s not a playoff contender, and if that’s the case they would’ve been better off moving Connolly for a pick or a prospect and letting the kids get some experience.

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