You know the NHL season is right around the corner when trade rumours are once again gaining momentum. The most popular targets for the pre-season rumours are players entering the last year of their contracts, and for the Buffalo Sabres the most popular target is Ryan Miller. With training camp just a week away, the Sabres goaltender is reportedly back on the trading block as talks between the Buffalo Sabres and Colorado Avalanche heat up.
The rumour on the street is the Avalanche would be interested in dealing their number one centre Paul Stastny to the Sabres in
exchange for veteran goalie Ryan Miller. Sounds like the perfect deal no? The Sabres are in need of a number one centre and the Avalanche need a goaltender to provide some stability on the backend. So why is this trade bad?
First of all, Paul Stastny is not the same centre he used to be. The Stastny that the Sabres would be getting is a far cry for the centre who put up 79 points in 2009-2010. Sure he’s a consistent 20 goal scorer but in all likelyhood Cody Hodgson will also turn into a consistent 20 goal scorer. Not to mention Hodgson is younger, has more upside and would stick with the Sabres through the rebuild. Which brings us to the next point; The Sabres would only have Paul Stastny for a year.
Stastny becomes a UFA after next season and will likely be asking in the neighbourhood of $25 million over 5 years. That’s a pretty hefty price for a player who’s PP% is only 0.600, which translates to just 50 points over a full 82 game season. Stastny will want big money as well as the first line centre position which is currently occupied by Hodgson. Depending on what happens between Hodgson and the Sabres on contract talks, there wouldn’t be room for both Stastny and Hodgson. The Sabres no longer have a hole up the middle. There are lots of centres in the organization, they just need a couple more seasons to fully develop.
While having a veteran first line centre would be nice, it’s not necessary to the Sabres at this point in time. It would only push Hodgson down to the second line, Mikhail Grigorenko to the third line and likely force Zemgus Girgensons back to the Rochester Americans. The Sabres don’t have that need at centre anymore, there’s no point trading a commodity like Ryan Miller for a player who will only be around for one season.
The final reason the Sabres shouldn’t pursue Stastny, he doesn’t fit their game plan. As you’ve read 100 times before, the Sabres are going through a rebuilding process and bringing in Stastny takes away from that game plan. The Sabres are getting rid of veteran’s with large cap hits in order to bring in younger, unproven players who are willing to work hard and earn their paycheque. Darcy Regier wants a young team that can grow together, Stastny is turning 28 and wont want to be apart of a long, painful rebuild.
From the outside a Ryan Miller for Paul Stastny trade makes sense, but when you think of the long-term ramifications and the direction the Sabres are heading they’d be better to trade Miller for young prospects or draft picks that will stick with the team.