You could feel the temperature in Buffalo rising today as the clocked ticked towards the 2012 Trade Deadline which would freeze NHL rosters until after the post season ends. The Buffalo Sabres were standing idly by, while others were buying and selling pieces that would set their franchises up for immediate success or building for the future, the long time general manager was doing what he did best, preparing his post deadline speech about how hard it was to come by deals, and that the draft was really the way to build a team.
I was talking to many people throughout the day that were uttering the groans of a depressed fan base, longing for a general manager that would put together a championship team, instead of throwing mediocrity on the ice and telling us to deal with it because that is what was available to them.
Darcy stood up to the plate today, and while we all saw whiffing at wild pitches, he was constructing a plane that would send this one 500 feet over the center field wall. Darcy deserves high marks for this trade deadline, but then again, we have been here before. Steve Bernier, Raffi Torres, and Brad Boyes all come to mind. What makes this one any different? For right now I give Darcy a solid B+ for this trade deadline deal. Follow the jump to see why.
Paul Gaustad – Remember slug appreciation day? You wore your old Sabres gear to the FNC and earned 41% off new merchandise. My mom decided now was no better time to buy a jersey. She picked up a #28 jersey without even thinking about it. She hasn’t even worn it yet. Goose wasn’t a bad guy, he was around for awhile, and he was a fan favorite. If I were a name on sweater type of guy, I would feel no shame in rocking a Gaustad sweater despite his skills being peddled elsewhere. This move is a good hockey move, because Darcy got what he was asking for. The asking price was high, we wanted a first round draft pick for a guy nearing the end of his career and playing for what could be his last contract. I initially anticipated Gaustad to play for us Wednesday night when I heard that was the price. Darcy found himself a good dance partner, and only had to part ways with a fourth round draft pick in 2013 to sweeten the deal. Darcy met with Gaustad’s agent, and apparently the two decided that they were not at a good place to bring Gaustad under another contract before he hits the open market. Enter Nashville with a low first round draft pick, and a deal is struck. Gaustad also has the option to come back to Buffalo on July 1 if he wants.
Zach Kassian – If you go back in time, the Sabres needed Kassian to calm down just a tad, his edgy play goes to far and was a suspension risk. He put on an NHL sweater and almost lost all of his edge. If Kassian had maintained a portion of his bad ass mentality, I would be upset over this trade. While I was surprised when it shook out, when you think about it, it makes sense. Kassian’s time in the NHL this year might just have been a ploy by Darcy and Lindy to get the kid some NHL time to show other teams he could handle the maturity of the highest professional level of hockey.
Marc-Andre Gragnani – At the bottom of the defensive rotation, and usually drawing the ire of fans and Lindy Ruff alike, it was a no brainer to bring in a different set of eyes and hands for the blue line as the Sabres need to be stronger defensively since they don’t have a prolific offense.
Joining the Ranks:
While all eyes were on the Rick Nash sweepstakes, the Buffalo Sabres swooped under the radar and grabbed Cody Hodgson in a late deal that Vancouver probably made because of an earlier deal that brought Pahlsson in. At first when I heard this, I thought it was just Darcy being Darcy and replacing a center that he traded away earlier in the day. Not so. While I am not saying that Hodgson is the second coming of Danny Briere, the similarities in situations are eery, second year pro, coming from a Western Conference team looking to make changes. He hasn’t played a game in Blue and Gold yet, and could still end up looking like Brad Boyes in blue and gold, but just like the lotto commercials, hey you never know.
Alexander Sulzer also joins the Buffalo Sabres in an attempt to bolster the defensive corps a little more. little bit older than Gragnani – the defensive prospect could be a little more stable on the blue line.
I can only really find one fault with Darcy on this trade deadline, and that is the fact that Derek Roy is still on the team. I think Darcy priced Roy way to high, while the Sabres have needs – sometimes you can have addition by subtraction (just hit refresh on last year, the team made that magical run in the second half of the season without Derek Roy). A first round pick and a good prospect were the reported asking prices, and that was a little high. I think you could have dangled Derek Roy for possibly a prospect under contract and maybe a second or third round pick; or maybe a first and a later round pick, but your not going to get a blue chip and a place card in the same deal.
Sabres fans will have to wait until Wednesday to see the newest members of the family. I would look for Sulzer to keep his 52, no other Sabres dons that number. Hodgson was wearing 9 in Vancouver, I don’t see the team taking it from Roy, or Roy giving it up, so Hodgson will probably take 39, the number he wore as a rookie – but that number may have a asterisk in the trainers room, so he could don 19 again which he wore in juniors; or 18 which he wore in a team Canada uniform.
Darcy gets a B+ and earns a little Buffalo street cred back again. Would have been an A had he moved Derek Roy, even if it meant bringing back Raffi Torres.
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