Well...it's almost time for the silly season. Where more dough is thrown around than in a bakery. And I have hockey fever. Maybe it's because I detest the Flyers so much. Or perhaps it's because I'm a HUGE fan of how Chicago has built their team. Either way, if I'm Darcy Regier, and trust me I wish I was, the following are moves that I would make to improve this club.
Of course, when you're playing the trade game, you have to have a dance partner. Whether these other teams involved are willing to bite remains to be seen, but nevertheless-let's tango.
Trade Tim Connolly to the Phoenix Coyotes for 2010 2nd rounder (approximately # 52 overall). Why this trade works: It gives Shane Doan the number one centerman he's been lacking. It saves the Sabres some cap space and gets rid of one of our favorite whipping boys. Why this trade won't work: A number two is a steep price to pay for a career underachiever like Connolly. Timmy's $4.5M cap number may be cost prohibitive for a franchise that still lacks an owner. Darcy won't want to admit he was wrong for shelling out big bucks to a guy who rivals the Snuggle fabric softener bear in the softness category.
Trade Drew Stafford to the Edmonton Oilers for a 2010 2nd rounder (approximately # 48 overall). Why this trade works: It gives the Oilers some scoring from the wing, something they desperately need. They're loaded down the middle and I'd love for Darcy to swindle Gagner from Lowe, but that's not going to happen. This trade gives the Sabres flexibility to go and add a piece. Why this trade won't work: I have a feeling that while Lindy is fed up with Staff, Darcy again doesn't want to give up on him. Lowe and Darcy don't play nice. The Oilers probably want to build through the draft ala the Blackhawks and may not want to give up a 2nd rounder-would we take #61 to get it done?
Trade the 2010 2nd rounder from the Coyotes and a 2010 7th rounder (approximately # 203 overall) to the Blackhawks for Dustin Byfuglien. Why this trade works: Two words-cap space. Everyone knows the 'Hawks are up against the cap, of course if they bring home the Cup no one in Chi-town will care. Byfuglien, who counts $3M towards the cap and the picks obviously don't count against the cap for a few years. Big "Buff" would add the smash mouth, in your face attitude that's sorely lacking in Buffalo. Why this trade won't work: Just because Chicago is facing cap problems doesn't mean the Sabres need to oblige their needs. Byfuglien has been a critical part of the Blackhawks playoff run and they may not be willing to give him up. $3M for a guy not much better offensively than Staff?
Unrestricted Free Agent Signings
Kurtis Foster-D from the Tampa Bay Lightning for $7.5M/4 years. Cap hit $1.875M. Foster is flying under the radar. He had a cap hit of only $600K last year and yet had a career year. 8-34-42 with 27 of those points coming on the power play. He's the first UFA I target, because we're losing Tallinder and Lydman. Foster's first child, a baby girl, died last week after only living for five days. My prayers go out to him and his wife. He's a Carp, ONT native so perhaps he'll want to be closer to home (5 1/2 hours as opposed to 23 1/2 hours).
Tomas Plekanec-C from the Montreal Canadiens for $26.75M/5 years. Cap hit $5.35M. Plekanec will surely be one of the most sought after free agents this offseason. He's has consistently scored 20 goals every year. He's not a huge power play guy but he battles hard in the corners. He would have ranked as the Sabres top point producer. Plekanec could center our other Thomas (Vanek) with Byfuglien on the top line.
Andrew Raycroft-G from the Vancouver Canucks for $1.95M/2 years. Cap hit $975K. Raycroft posted solid numbers last year backing up Luongo. His GAA (2.46) was the BEST among goalies who started in 14 or more games. His Save % (.902) was seventh best. Raycroft is younger than Lalime and the two year contract would allow Enroth to continue getting starting experience in Portland.
Adam Mair-C for $1M/1 year. Cap hit $1M. Mair is a solid, solid role player. He's tough and sets the tone for the 4th line.
Matt Ellis-LW for $675K/1 years. Cap hit $675K. Just like Mair, Ellis loves getting his hands dirty. He does the nitty gritty things a team needs to be successful.
Restricted Free Agent Signings
Patrick Kaleta-RW for $2.75M/4 years. Cap hit $6875K. Locking up Kaleta, as far as I'm concerned, is the Sabres fourth most important "addition" this off season in this scenario (behind Byfuglien, Foster, and Plekanec). The Buffalo boy is an agitator like Byfuglien, but he's even more of a pest. Opponents detest him and fans adore him. Plus, everyonce in a while you'll see him pot a ridiculous goal. (I can't think of the opponent, but I'm thinking of the backhand topshelf goal he lasered in. Was it against the Bruins in the playoffs?) An absolute MUST sign.
Tim Kennedy-LW for $3.15M/3 years. Cap hit $1.05M. Kennedy, another Buffalo kid, had a decent, though not spectacular, rookie campaign. He deserves a raise, but not an exorbitant one. He's actually older than Kaleta by a few months and obviously has played in the NHL less than Kaptain Krunch. This is a good deal for both sides. A good second contract.
Mark Mancari-RW for $615K/1 year on a two way contact. Cap hit unsure. Mancari played well when he saw action. He's a reliable call-up from Portland when needed.
Unsigned Players You know who they are: Torres, McCormick, Lydman, Tallinder, and Lalime. The reasons-they're getting older, cost too much, and/or don't fit the system.
1st Round (# 23)-Brock Nelson C Warroad High, MN. This guy is a BIG kid (6'3" 205) who can really skate. He's been compared to David Backes from the Blues. Nelson is a rink rat who has hockey in his blood. A 70 point producer from the pivot (granted against high school competition-MN high school competition, however) that is desperately needed in Buffalo.
So there you have it. Now don't you all wish I was GM? As always feel free to disagree. God Bless and Go Sabres!