About a year ago now I started my tenure as a writer here at Die By The Blade with a fanpost that was moved to the front page. It was entitled My Offseason Moves. The premise was/is obvious. If I were Darcy Regier, what tweaks would I make to upgrade the roster?
There are three ways in which to build a team in the offseason: trades, free agency (both unrestricted and restricted), and the draft. Last year, I dealt with each of those in one larger post. This year, I'm breaking them down and analyzing each aspect individually. Oh there's one more big difference. Instead of spending Tom Golisano's money, now I'm spending fifteen percent more on the payroll thanks to Terry Pegula.
Though it remains uncertain what that fifteen percent will actually translate to, if I am the GM (and have a $60M cap to work with) these are the following moves that I would make to improve this club. Check out Part Three-Unrestricted Free Agency after the jump.Trades
This is (and truly has to be) the most exhilarating part of being the GM. Trades can improve your team (can you say Dominik Hasek for a 4th rounder?) or they can be the catalyst that causes the dreaded rebuilding stage (captain Michael Peca to the Isles for Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt and a three year postseason drought that followed). Either way, the wheeling and dealing is exciting and is always an integral part of shaping a roster.
Trade 1: Tim Connolly to the Toronto Maple Leafs for their third 6th round selection (#173). Why this trade works: Toronto will be looking for a center this season. They will assuredly go after Brad Richards, but he may end up signing in New York. So the Maple Laughs can hedge their bets and can exclusively negotiate with Tiny Tim. For Buffalo-there's NO way Connolly is coming back. Getting something, anything for (as I put it last year) a guy who rivals the Snuggle fabric softener bear in the softness category would be a major coup. Why this trade won't work: Brian Burke is no idiot. He didn't pick Connolly for the Olympic team for a reason. He likely covets Richards in a BAD way and while they could afford to sign both, why give up an asset when you can get a player on the open market in a week?
Trade 2: Mike Weber and our 4th rounder (#107) to the Florida Panthers for their second 2nd round selection (#48) and RW Zachary Hyman. Why this trade works: The Panthers are desperate for a defenseman. They only have four signed for next year and ZERO signed for 2012-2013. The Sabres are looking to add a 2nd rounder and the addition of Hyman, a big (6'2" 195), Michigan bound, 2010 5th round pick who scored 110 points in 50 games as he captained his OJHL Hamilton Red Wings will help offset other losses. Why this trade won't work: Florida will be hard pressed to give up a 2nd round selection for Weber, especially considering he's a RFA. They have other options, including last year's number three overall pick in Erik Gudbranson and they may choose to spend their #3 overall pick on a D-man again (Adam Larsson). Plus, they may not want to sell off an asset like Hyman so quickly. Darcy usually falls in love with "his" guys and may not want to part with Weber.
Trade 3: Dennis Persson, Zack Kassian, and the recently acquired #48 to the Chicago Blackhawks for Patrick Sharp and LW Philippe Paradis. Why this trade works: Chicago still has cap issues, though not nearly as daunting as last offseason when they were forced to trade away key components from a Stanley Cup Champion team. They could lose Sharp after next season for nothing so they may want to part ways now and get something in return, as well as the freed up cap space to sign the likes of Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolik, and Chris Campoli. For Buffalo, Sharp would upgrade the offense immediately. He would bring the experience of having won a cup as well as leadership, ala Chris Drury. Paradis is a former first round pick of Carolina. He had 53 points last year for the PEI Rockets of the QMJHL. He is built solidly 6'2" 200+ and plays with an edge (104 PIM in '09-'10 and 85 more last year). Why this trade won't work: The Hawks may not be willing to trade away such an important piece of their team in Sharp. Would two former first rounders and a second round selection be enough compensation? Is Buffalo married to Kassian, their consensus best prospect (I actually prefer Luke Adam and possibly even Marcus Folingo to Kassian)?
Well...that's it for the trades. I debated on trading Shaone Morrisonn, but decided against it. Instead, I'll pay him to play in the AHL as an insurance policy should there be a rash of injuries to the defensive corp. So do you think these trades could happen and what kind of trades would you like to see the Sabres truly explore? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section.