2012 NHL Trade Deadline: Analysis of the Buffalo Sabres' 2/27

For the majority of my Monday, I thought I may not have any trades to write about. Writing a Thesis (a dreary task) and listening to Riter and Duff on WGR 550 (a quite enjoyable endeavor), I was beginning to think that Darcy will keep our players in a consideration that we still had a good chance at making the playoffs. While that still might be Mr. Regier's belief, he definitely did not stay put, trading Paul Gaustad, Zack Kassian, Marc-Andre Gragnani and a 2013 4th round pick in separate deals to acquire Cody Hodgson, Alexander Sulzer and a 2012 1st Round Pick (NSH).

In today's column, some advanced statistics of each player in the deal will be examined, and the market value of the trades will be discussed. Did the Sabres, Predators, or Canucks overpay yesterday? Or were their deals just right? To answer these questions and more, come take a jump. Before you do this, and if you haven't already, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay updated on all of your Buffalo Sabres news.

Similar to my last article, I want to examine our trades using GVT and Point Shares. Each trade will be listed along with the player's advanced statistics (when applicable). To refresh you on what these mean, here is a paragraph from last week:

As was done in previous articles, the Goals Versus Threshold (GVT) stat will be used (explanation here), along with a Point Shares (PS) statistic from HockeyReference.com. The point shares stat will include both an offensive (OPS) and defensive (DPS) statistic, which are an estimate of the number of points a player contributes with their offense or defense, respectively. If you are interested in a more in depth explanation of the point shares stat, you should go here.

Trade 1:

To Nashville:


Paul Gaustad

Center / Nashville Predators

6-5

225

Feb 03, 1982



GP G A P +/- PIM OPS DPS PS OGVT DGVT GVT
2011 - Paul Gaustad 56 7 10 17 -1 70 0.3 0.9 1.2 0.8 2.4 3.2

AND


2013 Fourth Round Pick (BUF)

#00 / Nashville Predators

?-?

???

??/??/199?


To Buffalo:


2012 First Round Pick (NSH)

#00 / Buffalo Sabres

?-?

???

??/??/199?


Trading Paul Gaustad has been considered and discussed quite a bit around Buffalo within the last couple of weeks. Beloved by the fanbase, Gaustad was having another solid year with our team, scoring 17 points in 56 games while winning 56.8% of faceoffs and starting 55% of the time in the defensive zone. Sixth on our team in GVT, Paul's latest contribution was centering Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Kaleta on a shutdown line that played against the opponents top line forwards every night. A solid third/fourth line center and PKer, Goose's UFA status, the Sabres low chance at making the playoffs, and his salary negotiations (agent had been rumored to be asking for 5-6 years, $3 million per) could all have made Darcy Regier decide that it would be best to gain an asset for him instead of lose him on July 1st.

In last week's article, I discussed that Gaustad could possibly return a first round pick if he was traded:

From recent trade talk, Paul Gaustad is probably our most likely asset that will be traded by the 2012 Trade Deadline. To determine his market value, we can compare his current stat line to Dominic Moore; they are both very similar players who are used as defensive zone, faceoff specialists with almost identical offensive output. When examining some advanced statistics, we can see that Gaustad has better offensive point shares, defensive point shares and defensive GVT. Including his size, PK ability, and playoff experience (38 games), Gaustad should fetch at least what Moore received on the open market a few weeks ago. Using current market value, Paul Gaustad should have the trade value of a 2nd Round or late 1st Round Pick.

Either Darcy and I think alike, or he read my article and figured that he should not trade the Goose unless a 1st round pick comes back our way (I am kidding). Some people (many NHL GMs, EJ Hradek and Darren Pang to name a few) had thought the first round pick was too high of cost for Gaustad's services; this could be true at other deadlines, but the lack of sellers in the market worked in the favor of the Sabres this season. To get our first, we needed to give up a fourth round pick next season in tandem with Paul, which is acceptable since it allows the Predators to not lose a draft pick while also acquiring a player with size and a good faceoff ability for the playoffs. This trade was not an overpay; Paul Gaustad was worth a first round pick at the trade deadline market place, and Regier made a good move in holding out to acquire one.

Trade 2:

To Vancouver:


Zack Kassian

Right Wing / Vancouver Canucks

6-3

210

Jan 24, 1991



GP G A P +/- PIM OPS DPS PS OGVT DGVT GVT
2011 - Zack Kassian 27 3 4 7 -1 20 0.2 0.3 0.5 0.0 0.4 0.4

Zack Kassian had limited success in his short time up with the big club this season, yet has shown promise during play with the Rochester Americans (26 pts in 30 GP). While his scoring touch has surprised some in the AHL, there have been statements by the Buffalo and Rochester media that he lacks the physicality that he was thought to have when drafted 13th overall in 2009. Since Hodgson was buried in Vancouver by some very talented/elite centers and Kassian was being overshadowed by the progression of Marcus Foligno, this swap allowed both teams access to something they lack. Hopefully, Kassian can become the "Lucic" that Canuck fans hope he can be; if that does happen, Hodgson better become the #1 center that Sabres fan covet.


Marc-Andre Gragnani

Defenseman / Vancouver Canucks

6-2

205

Mar 11, 1987



GP G A P +/- PIM OPS DPS PS OGVT DGVT GVT
2011 - Marc-Andre Gragnani 44 1 11 12 10 20 0.6 2.5 3.1 -0.1 2.7 2.5

Marc-Andre Gragnani had looked impressive under certain stat lines (4th in team defenseman point shares and 5th in GVT, highest Corsi numbers on the team), yet he seemed to fail the eye test with Lindy Ruff and most Sabres fans. Since our defense has become healthy, Ruff has chosen Weber over Gragnani, making Grags a healthy scratch since the All-Star break. The progression of our defense in Rochester (especially McNabb) also led to Grags being an expendable piece on our blue line. Hopefully, he becomes a better fit in Vancouver, where many of offensive D-men have flourished (Edler and Ehrhoff to name a few).

To Buffalo:


Cody Hodgson

#19 / Center / Buffalo Sabres

6-0

185

Feb 18, 1990



GP G A P +/- PIM OPS DPS PS OGVT DGVT GVT
2011 - Cody Hodgson 63 16 17 33 8 8 3.2 1.1 4.2 5.6 1.1 6.7

Formerly a 10th overall pick in 2008, Hodgson currently is fifth in rooking scoring and GVT, second in goals scored and fourth in Point Shares. When added to the Sabres roster, he will be fourth in scoring, third in goals scored and GVT and sixth on the team in Point Shares; while these stats could be inflated due to him being "sheltered" in Vancouver, it is hard to argue that this will not be an improvement at center for this team. To put it into perspective, Hodgson's GVT numbers for this season are only 0.6 lower than Thomas Vanek, which is quite high for a player on their ELC ($1,666,667 a year until 2013). He is a downgrade in the faceoff circle (42.8% this season) when compared to the departed Gaustad, but that stat should be overcome by the offensive upside that Hodgson possesses.


Alexander Sulzer

#52 / Defenseman / Buffalo Sabres

6-1

204

May 30, 1984



GP G A P +/- PIM OPS DPS PS OGVT DGVT GVT
2011 - Alexander Sulzer 12 0 1 1 6 2 -0.1 0.9 0.8 -0.4 0.9 0.6

With Alexander Sulzer, we acquire a 7th NHL D-man/1-2 AHL D-Man who can play third pairing minutes when needed. His GVT and point shares are not astounding, yet they would rank him higher than Weber and Regehr on our current defense (he is tied with Brayden McNabb). Hockey Reference projects Sulzer to be similar to Brad Lukowich, a 5-7 D-man who played 658 games in his NHL career.

In comparison to the Paul Gaustad deal, this move ran over me like a Greyhound Bus. It was surprising to hear that one of our top prospects in our system (Kassian) would be moved for one of the top rookie centers in the NHL (Hodgson). Personally, I love "hockey" trades, and this move that Darcy made Monday afternoon was exquisite; we were able to reclaim the center depth we had lost in the Gaustad trade while improving our offensive capability by adding a player who could potentially be a top line center in our future. Regier was also able to move an offensive defenseman who has had trouble recently cracking the lineup (Gragnani) for a more "defensive" defenseman (Sulzer).

Overall, trading Kassian for Hodgson does make the Sabres lose size, yet that loss could be sustainable with the progression of Marcus Foligno in Rochester. While Gragnani's GVT and Point Shares were decent, he was not getting playing time on our team when the defense were healthy, therefore he became a piece that could be moved to acquire a better player. Moving Gragnani and Kassian to Vancouver allows them to get a more physical bottom six forward (with potential to be a top 6 winger) and a more offensive 7th Defenseman, while the acquisition of Hodgson and Sulzer gives the Sabres more offensively talented center depth (with potential to be a #1 center) and a more defensive 7th Defenseman. As of right now, this trade was also not an overpay by either team; it is a risk and reward type of deal that fills a big need for both clubs. To know if there is a true "winner" of this deal, we will probably have to wait a few season to see how these players perform on either team.

Conclusions:

Equating all the deals, the Buffalo Sabres deadline trades gave the team an increase in 0.2 Point Shares and 1.2 GVT, respectively. Breaking down further, the team acquires 2.0 OPS and 4.5 OGVT while losing 1.7 DPS and 2.5 DGVT. This does not include the Sabres acquisition of Nashville's 2012 First Round Pick, which will be between the 20th-30th selection in next years draft. The majority of our loses (DPS and DGVT) comes from the trade of M.A. Gragnani who has become expendable due to the health of our defense and progression of prospects in the minors. From this analysis alone, it looks like Darcy did pretty well for himself yesterday.

Overall, this is the most exciting trade deadline Sabres fans have had since Brian Campbell was traded in 2008 (fun fact: first round pick we got in the deal turned out to be Tyler Ennis). The team was able to acquire a high potential offensive center, a reserve D-man, and a 1st rounder for a high potential power forward, a reserve D-man, and a 3rd/4th line defensive center with size. While it is too soon to know who is the big time winner from today, Darcy's deals did give the team some assets going into the off-season and some roster change going forward. Having two first round and second round picks (6.7% of the first 60 picks in next years draft) is great, since they could be:

  1. Used to replenish our minors
  2. Packaged to move up in the draft
  3. Packaged with another player for a better player

This acquisition alone gave the team amazing flexibility for next season. Acquiring Hodgson could be the top line center that Sabres fans have coveted since July 1, 2007, while Sulzer can be a reserve D-man who Ruff may trust with more playing time over Gragnani and can allow McNabb to play and progress for a longer period of time in the AHL. Paul Gaustad can give Nashville that big body faceoff winning center that is vital in the playoffs, while Kassian and Gragnani can give Vancouver a big body and reserve offensive D-man that they lack. In my opinion, all the trades yesterday that affected the Sabres made were equal in terms of market value. The long term effects of each deal will be unknown for a few years, but each team acquired an asset that they needed, which is ideally what a trade should be.

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