I think there might be the possibility that Tim Murray might want to explore trading up back into the first round of the NHL draft, and Nashville could be a potential partner to do so. Nashville, with Peter Laviolette, could be looking to bolster their offense this offseason, and therefore, the #11 pick is being dangled by David Poile.
Nashville is not that bad of a hockey team....they won 1 more game in regulation than the team who edged them out of the playoffs in Minnesota, all despite being offensively challenged,. They even scored more goals than the Minnesota Wild, yet their shootout woes (along with their offense) ended up making the difference.
I think Nashville has 2 major needs: Top Line Center, and Right Wing. I dont think they'll land one of the marquee centerman, but I do think they'll sign a second tier guy for sure and trade for one, possibly using their pick 11 to get one.
Reported asking price for Nashville's pick #11 will be a Top 6 Forward .
Buffalo Acquires: A First Round Pick (Pick 11), C Paul Gaustad (2 yrs left, 3 million) and a conditional 2015 3rd or 4th round draft pick (Depending on Stafford's production, if he re-signs, and if Nashville makes the playoffs)
Nashville Acquires: RW Drew Stafford, Pick 39 (WPG) Pick 49 (Min), **Note, Buffalo retains 50% of Stafford's salary for the final year of his deal (it's harmless, he has 1 year left and it helps Buffalo get up towards the cap floor).
I'd like to add a second first round pick myself. This draft may not be as deep as last years, but I do think it is still a decent draft.
This year's draft will be known for two things: #1 all of the American players this year., and #2, I think this will be the year of the Power Forward (Dal Colle, Tuch, Perlini, Ritchie, Virtanen, MacInnis, Kempe,)
Me Personally, I very much covet Alex Tuch, and I would love to add him to my system. Easily a Top 15 player, and he's my primary target to move up for. 3 to 5 years from now, I'd drool over a Top 6 that had Joel Armia and Alex Tuch, both big power wingers on the right wing with Sam Reinhart down the middle and possibly Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel or Matt Barzal.
I envision Alex Tuch will be the long term replacement for both Drew Stafford, and Chris Stewart on the right side.
Drew Stafford is still an asset, and on a better team, he can help the Predators offense. Honestly, it's probably not likely Stafford alone for 11 happens so I want to entice Nashville as much as I can to do the deal, and hopefully the extra picks thrown in, plus taking on Gaustad, and retaining salary gets the Buffalo into the 11 slot.
I don't know if Nashville will bite on a 28 year old Stafford who's coming off a 16 goal in 70 game season, even with all of the extra assets I provided, however, there are alternatives the Sabres can offer:
Chris Stewart, also with 1 year left on his deal, and RFA Tyler Ennis. However, the deal drastically changes, and I dont want to move either one, unless Ennis's contract negotiations go really south.
My preference would be to trade Stafford first however. I think Stafford is worth a second round pick alone on the higher end, and a 3rd on the lower end. Given how Stafford performed last time he was in a contract year, and given how much better he played under Ted Nolan, combined with the flashes of phenomenal play he displays, I think Stafford would be an adequate peice to offer.
Simply put, Drew Stafford needs a change of scenery, and could flourish on another team.
The Trade Aftermath:
Buffalo retains: Pick #2, Pick 31, Pick 61, and obtains a second first round pick (#11).
The Sabres do a 2 for 1 swap and ultimately lose 2 extra draft picks in the 2nd round to move up 28 spots for a second first round pick.
Paul Gaustad is reacquired in a salary dump for Nashville, Buffalo brings home a fan favorite to help them get to the cap floor.
Nashville is out of round 1, but still has 4 Second round picks to work with and maneuver after this deal:
Picks #39 (Wpg via Buf), Pick 42 (Nash), Pick 46 (from Det), Pick 49 (Minnesota), and Pick 72 (Nash).
They could move up into the bottom of round 1 if they desired, or they can stand pat, and go for depth.
The Sabres Target for #11 on Draft Day:
Alex Tuch, RW, USNTDP, 6'3 213lbs
Tuch as an NHL frame right now. Like Reinhart, Alex Tuch has an extremely high Hockey IQ, maybe not as smart as Reinhart, but he's up there, and has a lethal combination of size and skill. Can play a little center as well.
I think he compares very well to David Backes, and he is easily one of my top choices for the Sabres to attempt to go up and grab. He will not fall out of the top 15.
Why? He fits in nicely to a prospect system that has no shortage of big physical Power Wingers:
Joel Armia, Hudson Fasching, William Carrier, Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste, etc.
Alex Tuch will be another nice and physical addition and a great fit for the Sabres System.
Fast Fact on Alex Tuch:
Alex Tuch is from the Syracuse, NY area, and grew up in Baldwinsville. He is a New York Rangers fan. His former Neighbor, and like Tuch, a Baldwinsville native, Tim Connolly can tell him a thing or two about the Sabres.
Robby Fabri, C Guelph Storm
As I said before, the Sabres have NO shortage of Power Wingers in their organization right now. So would it be crazy to think: maybe we should add something different to the prospect pool? Maybe add a skill player to all of the size and power they have in their system.
The Sabres have a desperate need for help down the middle, and I would have no issue taking pick #11 and seeing the Sabres continue to build the middle of the Ice. Robby Fabri would be a great addition to a team that already has: Mikhail Grigorenko, JT Compher, Potentially Sam Reinhart (or Draisatil/Bennett) and Connor Hurley.
"He's never nervous before a game, no matter how big a stage it is — OHL playoffs, OHL finals, Memorial Cup," Rychel added. "He's always ready to play and he's got a smile. It's definitely a good influence to have in the dressing room. Whether it's Game 30 or the Memorial Cup, he's the same way. That is a good quality to have."
"Fabbri was No. 21 in NHL Central Scouting Service's final North American ranking. That was issued before he won OHL playoff MVP honours and helped the Storm come within one win of capturing the Memorial Cup. He's expected to perhaps sneak into the top 10. It's reminiscent of the rise another 5-10 centre from the OHL, Jeff Skinner, had four years ago with the Kitchener Rangers before going directly to the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes"
A guy with all of that poise, and heart, combined with the leadership and extremely high hockey IQ that Sam Reinhart would bring sounds like a fantastic foundation for the Buffalo Sabres.
Fast Fact on Robby Fabri:
In an interview with Yahoo Ca Sports, Neate Sager, he was asked: Who has been the toughest defenceman you have faced in the OHL?
"I saw a lot of [Buffalo Sabres prospect] Nikita Zadorov this year — big, strong, fast defenceman. That's the type of defenceman you see at the next level, so it's great to play against him."