TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 22: Derek Roy #9 and Jordan Leopold #3 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrates Derek Roy goal against against the Toronto Maple Leafs during NHL action at The Air Canada Centre December 22, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Buffalo Sabres fans have been relatively ecstatic over the past week with the trade of Derek Roy to the Dallas Stars for the physical presence of Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy. The Sabres did get tougher with the deal and after the infamous Bruins game on November 11th, the team needed to make a statement that they weren't going to get pushed around.
All of that said, put me in the small camp that really doesn't like the move.
While universally vilified by Sabres fans no matter what kind of production that he has, Derek Roy still has some offensive skill. On the Sabres roster, he was also the most experienced center the team has. Ott is a decent center, but isn't expected to have more than 15 goals or become a large contributor in the offense. Right now, most fans have him penciled in as the third line center on the team.
Currently, that leaves the top two center spots to two fairly green centers in the lineup. Tyler Ennis was spectacular at center last season, but has only played 15 games at the position in the NHL and his production will slip heading into next season. That is based more on the law of averages than anything else. Remember that Luke Adam was lighting up the world at center at the start of the season last year and look at where he finished. Cody Hodgson will be looked at as the team's first center after being acquired from Vancouver at the deadline. In his only full season last year, Hodgson had 41 points in 83 games. Most of those minutes came on a second and third line roles with a lot of his production being shielded. Can Hodgson handle the tough competition?
Follow the jump on the major reason why the team should have kept Roy.
Most Sabres fans are still looking for that scoring forward to help come in and bolster the offense. After missing out on Parise to the Minnesota Wild, the natural consensus was to go after Bobby Ryan. Because Minnesota wasn't a huge player for Ryan in the beginning, Ryan's asking price has escalated. The other big ticket trade in Rick Nash won't waive his no-trade clause to come to Buffalo. The Sabres could move on to Shane Doan but he is most likely not leaving Phoenix. What does that leave the Sabres with then?
It leaves them trading for another center that will replace the scoring and leadership that Roy brought to the lineup. That's going to cost them more assets and this team isn't that good to keep losing young assets to bring in veterans. There are reports that the team is looking to go after Paul Stastny who has a similar career PPG when comparing to Derek Roy and has a two year cap hit of $6.6 million. Stastny has been bandied about for a couple of seasons now and would be a good solid player. But his cap hit of $6.6 million seems a little steep considering the team had a player with the same attributes for two million less.
The Sabres might have been better served to sit on Derek Roy and his possible locker room malcontent for another year. At that point, they could try and get better replacement value during the next free agent period which looks better than this year's crop and could have even more players when the new CBA cycles in. If you take this line of thought though, the team has to make the decision that they are ready to compete now or later. Looking at this current lineup, there shouldn't be much debate as to what that decision actually is.