FanPost

The "Jaeger" Plan

This is my first fanpost on DBTB.  Some of you may know me from Buffalo Rumblings, but with the NFL in neutral and the NHL in full-stride, I put some thoughts to Terry Pegula's Sabres.  I'm as big of a Sabres fan as a Bills fan, but won't pretend to know as much.  That said, here's how I would progress from Darcy Regier's solid off-season.

Resign UFA's.

Sekera: 3-4 year deal, $2.3 per season.

Gragnani: 2-3 year deal, $750,000 per season.

Enroth: 2-3 year deal, $1,000,000 per season.

Weber: 2-3 year deal, $750,000 per season.

The Anticipated First Line Center Trade

There's lots of rumors about a Stamkos trade, or the Sabres being interested in various centers (Brassard, Spezza, Stastny).  Only one of these options makes sense.  The rest of the options are either bad fits for the team, or too high of a cost.

Stamkos rumors are all over other hockey blogs, and for good reason.  He's a first line center for the next decade.  He's also somewhat of a bad fit for the Sabres.  Stamkos isn't a playmaking center.  He's more of a Jeremy Roenick type of a center that's a goal scorer first.  Don't get me wrong: if Buffalo swings a deal for Stamkos, I'm the first one cheering.  But ideally, if Regier is giving up a boatload of talent for a first line center, that center needs to be feeding Thomas Vanek.  So cross Stamkos off, for now.

Spezza is a good fit in terms of his playmaking.  He's big enough to battle in the playoffs.  He'll also cost a ton since Ottawa is a divisional foe.  I'd rather not play against 3 to 4 ex-Sabres every year, particularly if Buffalo is trading talent that will develop.  Pass.  Cost is too high.

Buffalo has a self-imposed three year window to win the Cup.  Brassard's youth and lack of physical play aren't exactly great fits.  Leaving...

Paul Stastny.  Stastny is good sized, playmkaing center.  He flourished with Stewart in Colorado, with Stewart as the finisher.  A Vanek-Stastny combo would give Buffalo a deadly first line. Now the trick is how to pry Stastny away from the Avs.  Stastny and the Avs management aren't best friend, but the Avs don't need to make a move.  So the deal is going to hurt from a Buffalo perspective.

Buffalo trades:

Derek Roy, Tyler Ennis, Jochen Hecht, and draft choice

Colorado trades:

Paul Stastny

Why this works: Colorado doesn't need to give up Stastny, so there's a reasonable expectation that Colorado would want a top 6 center back in return.  This gives them Duchesne and Roy as 1-2 centers, which is pretty good.  Colorado needs salary to reach the cap floor.  While Roy's contract is a good one at $4M per year, Stastny is making $6.6M per year, which is why Hecht is added to the deal.  Ennis is in the final year of his ELC, and his pay raise will help the Avs reach the cap floor in 2012-13.  Overall, Colorado maintains 1-2 center combo, adds salary, and adds a dynamic young winger.

Buffalo takes a hit with dealing Ennis.  Adding a legitimate #1 center like Stastny is the type of deal where trading Ennis is acceptable.  With forwards like Adam, Kassian, and Foligno due to make the team sometime in the next 1-2 seasons, Buffalo can potentially replace Ennis' scoring and skating with a physical grinder.  Additionally, it seems that the league is shifting to a more physical style of play; this is evident after watching the Bruins pound their way to the Cup.  Buffalo can't afford to have too many mites on the team.  Buffalo adds a good sized first line center while trading two mites.

Buffalo's Opening Day Roster

CAPGEEK.COM CAP CALCULATOR

FORWARDS
Thomas Vanek ($7.142m) / Paul Stastny ($6.600m) / Jason Pominville ($5.300m)
Nathan Gerbe ($1.433m) / Ville Leino ($4.500m) / Drew Stafford ($4.000m)
Chris Drury ($1.500m) / Paul Gaustad ($2.300m) / Brad Boyes ($4.000m)
Cody McCormick ($1.200m) / Luke Adam ($0.875m) / Patrick Kaleta ($0.907m)

DEFENSEMEN
Robyn Regehr ($4.020m) / Tyler Myers ($1.300m)
Jordan Leopold ($3.000m) / Christian Ehrhoff ($4.000m)
Andrej Sekera ($2.300m) / Mike Weber ($0.750m)
Marc-Andre Gragnani ($0.750m)

GOALTENDERS
Ryan Miller ($6.250m) / Jhonas Enroth ($1.000m)

BUYOUTS: Tim Kennedy ($0.166m)

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $63,295,357; BONUSES: $562,500
CAP SPACE (21-man roster): $1,004,643

Buffalo signs Chris Drury to a Grier-esque contract to add leadership to the roster.  Morrisonn is sent to Rochester. Kotalik takes Pominville's spot if/while he's on LTIR, and returns to the Amerks once Pominville is healthy.  This leaves Buffalo a tad bit short on forwards, with Kassian and Foligno being the first call-ups.  Schiestel is the first defense call-up.

Why this works for the Sabres: Buffalo maintains its overall mobility while adding size and talent.  The Sabres lose two of its best skaters in Roy and Ennis.  Stastny is a good skater, and while Leino isn't as straight line fast, he's shifty.  Adam and Drury aren't terrific skaters for different reasons, but Adam bring size and Drury leadership.  For the first time in years, Buffalo won't have a center under 6-foot-tall.  Add in Buffalo's very mobile defense and Robyn Regehr, and the team is as mobile are far bigger. 

The Projected Deadline Deal

Unless Ville Leino pans out a la Daniel Briere, Buffalo is still without a true #2 center.  While Regier addressed the position in the draft, the team could use a steady #2 option while those players develop.  Paul Gaustad is a pending free agent, further adding to the need.

Buffalo trades:

Andrej Sekera, Brad Boyes, Calgary's 2nd round pick

Pittsburgh trades:

Jordan Staal

Why this works: Pittsburgh is in a position to deal a center once Crosby and Malkin are healthy.  The Pens could use a left handed shot from the point, and a right handed shot at right wing to play with Crosby.  Sekera is relatively cheap and still has upside.  A Crosby-Boyes combination could be deadly (really, anyone playing with Crosby).  Boyes represents a significant upgrade over the wingers Ray Shero has been acquiring to play with Crosby.  Plus, if Boyes doesn't work out, he's a free agent.

Note: if Pominville comes off LTIR strong, he could be inserted for Boyes.  Buffalo would be in better shape long-term with Pominville going to Pittsburgh instead of Boyes.  Boyes' expiring $4M contract would then be used to resign Tyler Myers.

Buffalo's Trade Deadline-into the Playoffs Roster

CAPGEEK.COM CAP CALCULATOR

FORWARDS
Thomas Vanek ($7.142m) / Paul Stastny ($6.600m) / Jason Pominville ($5.300m) or Boyes @$4M
Ville Leino ($4.500m) / Jordan Staal ($4.000m) / Drew Stafford ($4.000m)
Nathan Gerbe ($1.433m) / Paul Gaustad ($2.300m) / Chris Drury ($1.500m)
Cody McCormick ($1.200m) / Luke Adam ($0.875m) / Patrick Kaleta ($0.907m)
/ / Zack Kassian ($0.870m)

DEFENSEMEN
Robyn Regehr ($4.020m) / Tyler Myers ($1.300m)
Jordan Leopold ($3.000m) / Christian Ehrhoff ($4.000m)
Marc-Andre Gragnani ($0.750m) / Mike Weber ($0.750m)
Drew Schiestel ($0.750m)

GOALTENDERS
Ryan Miller ($6.250m) / Jhonas Enroth ($1.000m)

BUYOUTS: Tim Kennedy ($0.166m)

CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $62,615,357; BONUSES: $637,500
CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $1,684,643

Buffalo calls up Schiestel and Kassian for the playoffs. 

Why this works for the Sabres: Buffalo has the makings of two very solid top lines for the foreseeable future.  Stastny and Vanek are great compliments.  Staal and Leino have offensive upside, with Staal also playing good defense.  Pominville/Boyes and Stafford round out a good top 6.  Drury slides to the right side, reuniting the Gaustad-Gerbe combo.  Adam, Kaleta, McCormick and Kassian create a tough, physical 4th line.  The defense remains fairly intact, with Gragnani taking Sekera's icetime.  Buffalo maintains size, especially at center, a mobile defense, and still has great goaltending.

Buffalo enters the 2012 off-season with Myers as the major resigning target, and may have to move Pominville to make it happen (unless he's traded to the Pens; then Boyes isn't resigned).  Gaustad may also have to be let go, but Adam may be able to fill his role, and potentially more.  Beyond that, Buffalo is under the cap with an elite roster for the 2012-13 season.

Thoughts?

This is a FanPost written by a member of the community. It does not necessarily express the views or opinions of Die By The Blade.

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