One thing we know for sure after a much heated debate on Lindy Ruff, he isn't going anywhere no matter if you love or hate him, so its the best interest to concentrate on the moves that actually have a chance of happening to improve the current situation. As of right now the Buffalo Sabres biggest needs are proven NHL centerman, and a power forward. Neither are easy to find, but there are some intersting names that could be available now, or that could be an option for the Sabres at the trade deadline, and in free agency next year. The following is a list of 10 (well 9 1/2 lol) players who can help the Sabres right now, in the short term, or long term.
Heres the list:
#1.) Shane Doan: Doan is on top of anyone's list, but the question is, at what price? A lot of teams think that they are a Shane Doan away from winning a Stanley Cup, and Shane Doan is everything this team has been missing. They haven't had a legit power forward in quite some time. Although Taylor Pyatt eventually turned into an ok role playing NHL player, even topping 20 goals in Vancouver, he never turned out to be the guy we hoped for in Buffalo. Zack Kassian was shipped off in favor of Marcus Foligno being the teams new young power forward prospect, and obtained a nice player with upside in Hodgson. But think about this: If you're the Sabres and you have high hopes for Marcus Foligno: is there really a better player in the league to learn from than Shane Doan? Doan is not only a tough, rugged power forward, but also a true leader, and example setter. He also has shown he can play center in a pinch. Of course with Doan its all about, is he worth 7.5 million/ year?
#2.) Jarome Iginla: Normally Jarome Iginla would be at the top of my list, but he's not currently a UFA who can sign anywhere like Doan. But, I did say this would be about not just guys currently out there, but guys who could be deadline deals, or 2013 UFAS, and he could be a hot commidity come deadline time, or next offseason. There is absolutely no question that Iginla is worth 7.5 million a year. His goal production over the last 5 seasons has been: 39 (in 70gms), 50, 35, 43, and 32, and I dont think he's slowing down anytime soon as hockey's model power forward. Like Doan, he means everything to his team, but unlike Doan, he also means everything to his city has well (no offense Pheonix, but your most popular Canadian was Steve Nash). If you dont believe me how good this guy is, ask Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold. Darcy Regier and Jay Feaster have now made 2 deals in the past 2 years, so im sure (I hope) Darcy has made an inquire like everyone else has.
3.) Jason Arnott: Arnott is unquestionably the best free agent center available by default, but that doesnt mean he still cant help a team like Buffalo. He's scored 17 goals in 2 consectutive seasons playing mostly 2nd and 3rd line roles. He would be a major help as a 3rd line center with size, who can proivde depth and flexibility to take on a bigger role if needed. Arnott was a great player for Nashville 3 years ago, consistently a 25-30 goal scorer for the Predators, and still is capable of getting 20 goals. He's moved around quite a but over the past few years. The only problem with Arnorr is: this isnt the first time Arnott has been available for Darcy Regier, whether its been free agency or via trade, so something tells me either the GM isnt looking for a player like this, or he doesnt want to be here. He's not a bad move at all, and on the right team, can be a very productive player for the right team
4.) Paul Statsny: Paul Statsny rumors have been linked often to the Sabres, and its not something i'd have an issue with for the right price. I recall one rumor including Thomas Vanek, ....uh no thanks. But, If the Sabres offer some prospects from their impressive stable as well as a couple draft picks, Stastny could possibly be had. It’s also within the realm of reason that Stastny could be had for less than market value. Colorado’s deadline deal 2 yeas ago, sent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and forward Chris Stewart to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Erik Johnson and forward Jay McClement was also head scratching as well. The Avs may not make the same mistake again, but Sabres general manager Darcy Regier is certainly capable of fleecing the opposition as he has shown in the past.
I like Paul Statsny a lot, and eventhough his production has slightly dropped off the last two years from being a 70 point player to a 50 point guy, I still believe he can deliver, especially on a team like Buffalo that is loaded with talent on the wing, unlike Colorado. I think Statsny can work wonders with Thomas Vanek or Jason Pomminville. Statsny will also buy time for the younger centers on this team, as the depth has never been more promising, but we still dont know who's going to workout and who's not going to workout. Keep in mind, often many guys come out of juniors as centers and are converted to wing, because it's a better fit, or because they cant handle the most important position in the game, against the top competition. So in regards to Mikhail Grigorenko, and Zegmus Girgensens, we'll see how the NHL treats them.
5.) Danny Briere: Another poster on Broad Street Hockey wrote a topic a while ago on if the Sabres should try recquire Danny Briere from Philadelphia, who is another team like Detroit that needs defense. I dont have a lot to say on this one other than it'd make things really interesting, and we sure as hell know what he can do in the playoffs. Plus, I wonder if he could recreate chemistry with Villie Lieno. http://www.broadstreethockey.com/2012/7/31/3206457/danny-briere-trade-flyers-sabres
6.) Valtteri Filppula: Motor City Fil' is my absolute favorite on this list, and he's also the most unlikely for a variety of reasons, aside from Briere. Filppula is viewed as the heir to Datsyuk's spot, just as Niklas Kronwall was once viewed as the potential successor to Nicklas Lidstrom's spot. I am a Michigan native, and I am quite aware of what is going on in Detroit, and there is not a team in the league im more familiar with. We all know what happened with Lidstrom, but now the Red Wings have a big decision to make. With the uncertainty of Pavel Datsyuk going back Russia in two years at the end of his contract, locking up Filppula and not trading him for a top 4 defenseman, or in a package for Bobby Ryan seems like the safer move. If your Valtteri Filppula, your looking at this as supply and demand. When you look at the current 2013 list of free agents, Ryan Getzlaf is the best center available. I cant even imagine a situation where Anaheim lets him walk, but never say never. I predict he re-signs, and this will leave Filppula as potentially the #1 centerman on the market next offseason. Filppula is very talented, and if he has a season like he had last year with 23 goals and 43 assists on a Detroit team thats loaded with forwards, he will cash in. And as scarce as centerman are in the league, someone will be giving him a nice 5-6 million per year deal to be their number 1 center if Detroit does not. However, It's more realistic that they try to keep him. Plus, as of right now, Fil's name is only involved in rumors for guys like Yandle, Bouwmeester, and Bobby Ryan, so unless Buffalo offers a hefty package, I dont think this happens this year. The only shot Buffalo would have at him, would be 2013 free agency or if Detroit were to tank next season.
7.) Danny Cleary: Cleary is older, and has had an up down career, but he's only making 2.8 million a year, and would bring another guy who is gritty, and tough, when healthy. Detroit is loaded at forward on the active roster, and they have some of the NHL's best forward prospects. A quote by Ken Holland " We have 16 guys competeing for 14 spots" says it all. He could be available at the deadline, regardless on if Detroit is good or bad. The thing with him is: are you getting the one who scored 26 goals 2 years ago, or the guy who scored 12 last year? He's a 3 time 20 goal scorer, and Stanley Cup Champion. The Sabres also could stand to improve their penalty kill, and he does that very well. So we'll see on this one as a deadline move.
8.) Brendan Morrow: I dont think Morrow gets moved, but god do I love this player, and hits everything that moves. The Sabres could use more guys like this, and better yet, he comes at a fraction of the cost of Shane Doan. The only problem is: What is getting moved out of here for him
9.) Ryan Malone: He's often injured, only good for 60 games, and he's older at 32, but when healthy, one of the best power forwards in the game. He's a very productive player when he plays. He's had 20 goals, 28 assists, and 142 hits last year in 68 just games. He can even play center in a major pinch if your team gets shredded with injuries. Sounds better than Paul Szczechura centering your top line, right? Like Doan, he can play in any situation: great penalty killer, great in front of the net, along the boards, and will make you tougher to play against. Only problem is: he has an undesirable contract for some teams, and therefore his name has come up in trade rumors, particularly to Toronto at one point, not all teams can swing it.Plus, Tampa doesnt have to trade him except, to get younger and save money. But the way I see it, if you're going to get Doan for 4 years and 7.5, why would not try to get this guy at the deadline if you can, who's just as productive and is making 4.5 million
10.) Tim Connolly: just kidding