I know half of the hockey fan community despises Hockey Buzz, but Eklund and his bloggers have either come close or call their shots more accurately than most media outlets (especially ESPN)... so I give them an ounce or two of my faith when it comes to rumors. Now, in regards to the Sabres
... there are 2 rumors I like and 2 which I do not. The two players I like hearing coming to Buffalo involve Jordan Staal
from the Penguins
and Jarret Stoll
from the LA Kings
. The two I do not like/understand are Ruslan Fedotenko
) and Steve Sullivan
(Penguins). Fedotenko, in my opinion, would only block some of the youth from getting a shot with the team and I'd rather save the money it would take to sign him on more impactful players. Sullivan was quite crafty in his prime, but this team doesn't need another undersized scorer... regardless of how gritty he may be (Gerbe fills those shoes just fine). There are also the rumors that the Sabres are going to bring back Gaustad and Hecht, with Gaustad being the higher likelihood. I would not offer Hecht a guaranteed contract and, I'm sorry because he has his fans in Buffalo, but I feel the ship has sailed in regards to Gaustad. I'd only take him back IF Stoll decides to sign elsewhere, Gaustad agreed to a very reasonable salary (unlikely), AND he played on the 4th line. Gaustad as the 3rd line center means that the Sabres didn't obtain a new #1 center (Staal?).
So, back to the most pressing of the above topics... what will it take to get Jordan Staal from the Penguins. Obviously, you need to give up some talent, but I think the Penquins (crunched by the salary cap and needing to ink Sidney Crosby
and a number of their other regulars (including the fact that Malkin only has 2 years left on his deal... meaning they won't want a contract that complicates matters at that time either). I've heard a range of suggestions as to what the Pens may be able to acquire... what is reasonable from Buffalo's perspective (considering they have their own salary cap issues, albeit not as bad as Penguins). I think if the Sabres deal for Staal straight up, they'll need to unload some top prospects (and/or draft picks) along with Derek Roy
- the Sabres can't make this deal (logically, not mathematically) without parting with either Roy or Leino. I believe the creative approach would be to offer to take Paul Martin
(and possibly Brooks Orpik
) back in return for players on slightly cheaper contracts. Martin has not worked out for Pittsburgh, but he was a stud in the New Jersey system (which just so happens to be more similar to Ruff's system). With Letang becoming one of the top blueliners in the NHL, Martin is excess baggage for them now and they're married to him nearly as long as the Sabres are married to Leino. My suggestion... package Roy ($4 mil, 1 yr), Leino ($4.5 mil, 5 yrs), Weber ($950k, 1 yr) and Sekera ($2.75 mil, 3 yrs) along with either Pick #21 OR the chance for Pittsburgh to swap their pick #22 for our #12... in return, the Sabres acquire Staal ($4 mil, 1 yr), Martin ($5 mil, 3 yrs) and Orpik ($3.75 mil, 2 yrs) If they need to use another pick in the draft to seal deal, then so be it. This deal would free up about $1 million per year for the Penguins, give them a 3rd center (Roy) who can produce and has had better years than Staal in his career already, a winger in Leino who would accommodate Malkin very well, and 2 young defensemen to replace Martin and Orpik. The Pens would either move up 10 spots in the 1st round OR gain the #21 pick. Allowing the Pens to shed Martin's contract while gaining a young puck-moving D-man in Sekera and local product Weber, keep their team 3 centers deep by replacing Staal with Roy, and pairing Leino with Malkin... saving them money in the process AND improving their draft status, it all sounds reasonable to me.
For the Sabres, Staal immediately becomes their #1 Center (with size, pedigree, and skillset to be on the ice at any point in the game), Martin gets a chance to rejuvenate his career in a system similar to the one he formerly excelled in (and although the Sabres pay $500k more for 3 years, they shed the additional 2 years owed to Leino in the process), and Orpik brings his experience as a rugged Cup winner to anchor a bottom-pairing on the Sabres blueline. Only thing missing for the Sabres offseason is another physical winger with offensive talent and a faceoff specialist center (Stoll).
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.