NEWARK NJ - OCTOBER 23: Dainius Zubrus #8 of the New Jersey Devils falls onto the ice in front of Andrej Sekera #44 of the Buffalo Sabres in the second period on October 23 2010 at the Prudential Center in Newark New Jersey. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
The Buffalo Sabres currently have ten defensemen signed to their roster. The team will likely carry no more than seven during the upcoming season. So it makes sense that they should be looking to trade some of them for more help at forward, right?
Not so fast.
Yes, the Sabres currently have more blueliners than they know what to do with. Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr, Andrej Sekera, and Jordan Leopold are locked in to five of the six starting spots. Mike Weber, Alexander Sulzer, Brayden McNabb, Adam Pardy, and TJ Brennan will be fighting for the two remaining openings. However, before you package one or more of those players in a trade for
Rick Nash Shea Weber Bobby Ryan, don't be so quick to throw out the lessons of last season.
Guess how many different defenseman dressed for the Sabres in 2011-12, a season in which the team was devastated by injury? You got it - ten different players. Do you think having an experienced NHLer like Adam Pardy or Alex Sulzer playing in Joe Finley's place might have made the difference on a team that missed the playoffs by three points? No offense to the Legend of Joe Finley, of course.
While the top five are strong, there are many questions about the bottom five players fighting for a roster spot. There's no guarantee that Sulzer or McNabb will repeat their strong initial showings, both of which were born of small sample sizes. Brennan and Pardy both come with significant question marks, and Mike Weber was ranked 878th in the NHL in +/- last season. On a team that relies so heavily on strong defense in front of Ryan Miller, trading away one or more of the team's ten defenders means taking a big gamble that most or all of those question marks will be answered with exclamation points, and that's not a gamble I'm sure the organization wants to make.
Any Sabre fan following the team in 2005-06 knows how precious defensive depth can be. Now that the team has an abundance of riches, what's the rush to make a change?