Move #1: Shake up the roster and trade with Chicago to acquire some supporting cast players from the Blackhawks Stanley Cup Roster:
Buffalo acquires: LW, Bryan Bickell, C/W Kris Versteeg, D, Adam Clendening, Pick 27, pick 93 (Top of round 4) Chicago acquires: C, JT Compher, C, Torrey Mitchell, LW Johan Larsson, pick 31, pick 61, 2015 4th round pick
For the Sabres, im looking to add some moderate, yet experienced additions who come from "winning", and preferably guys who have Stanley Cup Rings are a plus.
Bowman was quoted stating new faces will be on the roster next season which leads me to believe he wants to make a big move: maybe for a second line center? Paul Stastny? A trade for Spezza. They also need to sign Kane and Toews long term. Chicago gets 6.5 million freed up from their cap space, 1 of which is a semi-bad contract in Bickell which helps them make a big move this offseason. Chicago also gets Illinois native JT Compher, Torrey Mitchell, Johan Larsson in return. Johan Larsson provides a nice prospect and gives Chicago a great boost on the Penalty Kill which they need and Torrey Mitchell also boosts their PK greatly, Buffalo gets an NHL ready Defenseman and hometown kid in Adam Clendening. Clendening is also something they need, and something that's not easy to find...a puck moving, offensive powerplay QB of the future. Mark Pysyk has the capabilities, but he has yet to show he can be a major offense generator like Brian Campbell was. In fact, Pysyk is going more down the Andrej Sekera route. Jake McCabe on the other hand has generated loads of "O" in college, so it's interesting to see how he will be next year with the Amerks or Buffalo. And of course there's Rasmus Ristolainen, has a lot of promise offensively, but it would be even better to get a more NHL Ready guy on their roster.
I don't think Bryan Bickell will hurt the Sabres at all, 3 years left at 4 million and boat loads of Cap room. For the immediate future, I think we can fit him in. This is not a Ville Leino contract or situation either. Worse case scenario he helps you get to the floor, and if he's awful with Buffalo, we can just buy him out after 2015, or just keep him all the way through. It's not like the Sabres will be in Cap trouble anytime soon.
Kris Versteeg is the guy I really want in this deal. He's the perfect kind of player i'd like to acquire this offseason. He's a modest move, realistic for this team, has experience, has a Stanley Cup Championship, comes from winning, and is extremely versitle. He can play any position on your team, including center for the Sabres temporarily. He's dirt cheap at 2.2 million per season with just 2 years left. Do I want to give up Compher? Hell no, but after this draft, and after 2015, with whats coming and what we already have, does anyone really think JT will have a signifigant spot on this team? I think he's expendable enough. And hopefully after swapping picks pick 31 and pick 27, im in the right spot to take Thatcher Demko if he's still available, or maneuver to take him. And if Chicago is targeting John Quennville, they likely would still nab him at 31
Move #2.) Draft Sam Reinhart #2 overall and then later in the draft move up in the 2014 NHL draft from pick #27 into the 18-20 range (moving up 7 to 10 spots) to draft Thatcher Demko, and giving up an extra second round pick (WPG)
I get my #1 center and franchise building block. I get my Goaltender of the future and a player who is (in a class of his own at the position this year). Makarov and Ullmark are both boom or bust projects.
Demko gives them a "safer" and maybe better prospect long term in goal. Goaltenders still matter in this league. Ask Pittsburgh how much lack of goaltending has hurt them and ask LA and NYR how important Quick and Lundquvist has been during playoff time. Tukka Rask was vital to the Bruins success, and man if you ever get a guy like Patrick Roy in net, you're set. I think Thatcher Demko should be high on the wish list and I don't think he will fall to round 2 at pick 31.
I think if you want him, you need to get him in round 1. I think there will be a glut of teams after pick 20 who will consider him (Pitt, SJ, Stl, Colorado, and a few more). I also still maintain an extra second round selection, and a late 3rd round pick to add to my prospect pool
Move #3.) Free agency and Buyouts Sign Forward Lee Stempniak, Defenseman Sheldon Brookbank. Make a bid for RW, Ryan Callahan. Whether he accepts is up to him and if he accepts proceed to trade Drew Stafford for picks. Finally Buyout Ville Leino Re-Sign John Scott Tender RFA's Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Jamie McBain and Cory Conacher
Justification: Lee Stempniak gives Buffalo a Hometown product for the 3rd line (2nd on this team), and a good two way player and can help provide a veteran presence in the lockerrom Brookbank is strictly a depth guy to replace departing Tallinder and Sulzer if they are not brought back. He's arguably an upgrade over Mike Weber, comes from winning with the Hawks, and is gritty. Good option for a 1 year-2 year short term deal.
Callahan doesn't have to score goals to make him worth what he'll get this offseason, he's very tough to play against, plays in any situation, and is a leader, plain and simple....i'd love to have him on this team. It's a big longshot, but im ok with it.
Overall my additions: Versteeg (+2.2.m) Bickell (+4m with 3 years left) Clendening (+742k) Brookbank (+1.0m) Sam Reinhart ELA(+925k) Lee Stempniak (+2.5m) Ennis raise (4 millionm) Foligno raise (+1.5 million) McBain tender(+2.2million ) Conacher tender (+1.0m) Scott re-sign (+.750k) **Thatcher Demko added to prospect pool
Subtractions C/LW Johan Larsson (-763k) LW Ville Leino (-4.0m) D. H.Tallinder to UFA (-3.375) D. A.Sulzer to UFA (-725k) F. Konopka (-725k) F T.Mitchell (-1.9 million) Buffalo retains some salary for the remaining year) Salary In (without Callahan as im assuming he's not signing) and subtract JT Compher from my prospect pool.
Est. 19-21 million coming in? Salary out: (10.72m) I've roughly added an additional 9-11 million leaving me with around 2-4 million to spend to get to the Floor for next season and around 22 million in Cap Space.
Watch for next season: Drew Stafford and Christian Erhoff, and Chris Stewart.
Stafford i'd hope for a '15 2nd or 3rd and/ or 16' 2nd Erhoff i'd ask for a '16 late first round pick and a prospect and a '15 2nd or a combination of picks/ prospects Stewart: All depending in performance if I want to seem him traded
Lineup (No Callahan):
Captain: Tyler Ennis Alt: Drew Stafford, Christian Erhoff
G: Enroth, Neuvirth