With the NHL Draft and free agency period fast approaching, the off-season hype and rumors will be kicking into full gear very shortly. That being said, if I was able to make some moves, here are some of the changes that I would try to bring to fruition for the Buffalo Sabres…
The idea last year was to bring in 3 players that had gotten to a Game 7 in a Stanley Cup finals, but fell short of the glory: Robyn Regehr, Ville Leino, and Christian Ehrhoff. This year, why not bring in 3 players that have actually captured the NHL’s top prize? 3 players that have won it all, and know what it takes.
1. Sign Dominik Hasek.
Yes, Hasek is 47 years old. Yet, even to this day, he keeps himself in impeccable physical shape. I believe he could still play goal on a superb level, although maybe not as a full-time starter. His presence, experience, and leadership qualities would instantly and significantly improve the Sabres locker room. Hasek could also serve as a wonderful mentor for Jhonas Enroth. The guy spent some of his best seasons, 9 of them, in a Sabres sweater, and left the NHL as the all-time save percentage leader with an astounding .922.
Hasek earned 2 Stanley Cups after we sent him to Detroit.
2. Trade Ryan Miller for Patrick Kane.
The Chicago Blackhawks are in need of a proven NHL starter in goal, and Miller fits that bill perfectly. Whispers around the league have suggested that the Hawks are willing to listen to offers for anyone not named Toews or Seabrook.
Kane is only 23 years old, and is already a 5-year NHL veteran, with 369 points in 399 regular season games. More importantly, he has 52 points in 50 playoff games, including the overtime game-winning goal during Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. His future is bright, he has many playing years ahead of him, and he is already an NHL star. Some feel that bringing the Buffalo native home might lead to more infamous partying from Kane; I feel that he is on the cusp of growing out of this youthful phase. Hey, at least when Kane parties, he is able to stand and pose for photos. When Derek Roy parties, he rolls around on the sidewalk and loses his mandals.
The tough part of this equation, is parting with Ryan Miller. Miller is the face of the franchise, and has been with the Sabres organization for 11 seasons. Questions arose this past season following the Lucic incident - does the team respect him? Do they have his back? The more important question is whether Miller can stand on his head in the playoffs, as Jonathan Quick did this season, and Tim Thomas did last season. Miller stood on his head in the 2010 Olympics, but will he ever be able to do that with the Sabres? If he has not done it already, he may never do it.
I am a fan of Ryan Miller, but I am also willing to move him if it makes the current team and future of the Sabres better.
3. Trade for Jordan Staal.
Staal is known as “Gronk,” because of his strong and large on-ice presence. He is also a 2009 Stanley Cup winner. Like Kane, Staal is only 23 years old, and already has 6 seasons of NHL experience. When Sabres fans complain that the team needs more size, more grit, and a top-notch center, Staal immediately comes to my mind. Rumors are already buzzing that he could be on the move this off-season - could he end up in the blue and gold? Ted Black and other Sabres brass have a past and a good relationship with Pittsburgh Penguins management. The Pens are in need of help on defense, and Buffalo has an overabundance of current NHL d-men, as well as a bevvy of prospects. Could we send former Penguin Jordan Leopold and prospects? Or how about Pittsburgh native Mike Weber and others?
As part of the roster revamping, it is time to part ways with Derek Roy. With the departure of Tim Connolly, Roy rose to prominence as the new Sabres fan scapegoat in 2011-2012. Is he truly a cancer on the team? He has been one of the most consistent point-producers for the Sabres over the past few years, but last year, Roy’s play was atrocious. I am also unsure if I have ever seen another player that whines and fusses after whistles as frequently as Roy. Time for him to go. Let’s get him to any team that wants him for some draft picks. Darcy Regier was able to swing 4th-line center Paul Gaustad for a first-rounder, what could Buffalo get for 2nd-line center Roy?
Jochen Hecht turns 35 one week from today. He gave Buffalo 8 good seasons, before being riddled with injuries last year. Thank you for all that you have done, Jochen, but it is time to say goodbye.
Cody McCormick has been the Sabres “enforcer” since being a revelation during the playoffs against Boston in 2010. Last season, he was largely invisible on many nights that he laced up the skates. 50 games, 4 points, 57 PIM, 67 hits, -7 plus/minus. As the NHL continues to move towards further diminishing the roles of players like McCormick, he becomes expendable.
With these moves, the roster could look like this:
Jason Pominville-Cody Hodgson-Thomas Vanek
Patrick Kane-Jordan Staal-Ville Leino
Drew Stafford-Tyler Ennis-Marcus Foligno
Patrick Kaleta/Corey Tropp/Luke Adam/Nathan Gerbe
Power Play Unit: Kane-Staal-Vanek-Myers-Ehrhoff
According to CapGeek.com, the salaries would work:
|Roster Size||Salary Cap||Salary Cap Payroll||Bonuses||Salary Cap Space|
NMC/Modified NTC (can provide an eight-team no-trade list)
NMC (only eligible in 2014-15, details TBA)
NMC, modified NTC (not eligible until 2016-17, details TBA)
NMC, Modified NTC
As a final coup, could we swing a deal for Edmonton’s number one pick, and snag Nail Yakupov?
Edmonton, like Pittsburgh, needs help on defense. Again, Buffalo has an overabundance of defensive prospects. We could throw the Oilers our current picks, plus the ones we obtain from the Roy trade, and a blue-chip defensive prospect. Imagine forward lines:
Let’s get this off-season going already!
Leave your comments/complaints/objections/approvals below…