When the Buffalo Sabres traded Derek Roy, a first or second line center to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Steve Ott, a third or fourth line tough guy, a lot of people laughed at the Sabres for not being able to land something suitable for Roy’s skill level. While the Sabres may have lost the goal scoring that comes with a player like Roy, they in turn got a character, team first, leader in Ott.
While Jason Pominville wears the “C” on his jersey he isn’t a really vocal leader, he likes to lead by example and this is where Ott steps up. Ott is more of a vocal leader, when the team was in a slump he was one of the first players to say “We need to be better.” When there’s a problem in the dressing room he’s one of the first players to get involved to smooth things over and from what I’ve heard he’s a fantastic guy to be around in the dressing room. He can be your best friend yet demand accountability throughout the lineup. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ott and he’s a complete gentleman off the ice, one of the nicest athletes and he truly cares about the fans- which is probably why he became an instant fan favorite.
As different as two hockey players can be, Steve Ott and Derek Roy are polar opposites. Ott is willing to do anythingto help his team win, he’s a completely
unselfish player who will hit, block shots, fight and back-check all while giving 100% every shift. When you watch Ott play you can tell he is passionate about the game, he pours his heart and soul into the game and as a result is the type of player you are happy to go to battle with every game. Roy was the type of player who showed up when he felt like it, avoided physical contact as much as possible and wasn’t a team player- it was all about Derek Roy and that’s why he couldn’t find success with any of his linemates.
One of the things that really stands out with Ott is his ability to adapt to whatever role he’s asked to play. If you need him to be a 4th line grinder with John Scott he’s happy to oblige, if you need him to drop the mitts to get the team going or stand up for a teammate his gloves are off before you even have to ask, if you need him to help get a teammate off the schneid, *cough* Nathan Gerbe *cough* he’s more than willing. In addidtion to being a vocal leader off the icem he also goes out and sets a great example for everyone- especially the younger players, by giving it his all every shift. He gels well with virtually everyone on the roster and no matter who he’s playing with he helps bring out their best because of his passion and hard work.
After the trade went down you heard a lot of Stars fans on twitter sad that they were losing Steve Ott and to be honest I didn’t get why they were so upset. I personally didn’t like the trade at first, giving up a 30 goals scorer for a fighter- really? But after having the pleasure of watch Ott play I understand that the Sabres got so much more than just a fighter and why Stars fans were so sad to seem him go.
So while Ott isn’t a 30 goal scorer, he’s the type of depth character player you need to succeed. Ironically despite “giving up goals to toughen up the team” Steve Ott has 3 goals which is actually more than Derek Roy. Besides we have Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville and Cody Hodgson to who are payed the big bucks to score 30 goals, if we get 15 from Ott plus everything else he brings it’s well worth it. Ott is willing to put the teams success ahead of his own, something Roy was unable to do- which makes Steve Ott more valuable to the Buffalo Sabres.
At the end of the day Buffalo Sabres’ fans should be proud to have Steve Ott wearing the blue and gold. Bringing in Ott instantly improved the team, both physically on the ice and emotionally off the ice. I believe Steve Ott is the under dog of the Sabres as he makes the entire team better, when he steps on the ice you know he’s going to give it his all every game. Steve Ott is the type of player you can build a team around, acquiring him may be Darcy Regier‘s best move as Sabres GM.