I entered Deadline Day 2011 with cautious optimism. I was sure that Darcy Regier would make a move or two, I just hoped that they would be the right moves.
Over the past few years Regier has made the correct move (Steve Bernier, Dominic Moore, Raffi Torres) but the players haven’t fit in Buffalo. Have no fear, I will explain my evaluation of those pick-ups this week. I was sure with a little more leash that Darcy would wheel and deal a bit more. Don’t forget, this is the GM that flipped players like Mike Wilson, Brian Holzinger and Wayne Primeau for the likes of Rhett Warrenner, Danny Briere and the pick that became Ryan Miller.
So, before I even heard that we snagged Brad Boyes for a second-round pick, I was sure that there would be some new faces playing for the Sabres. Here is how I see it playing out.
Ok, so the Sabres certainly need a center, maybe two. Just about any reliable trade source says that Tim Connolly will be staying put. This is terribly disappointing to hear, but I wonder how much water it holds. After all, it was reported that the Blues were finished dealing.
That being said, I like Boyes on the wing better than as a pivot. However, there may not be much choice. At the very least bringing in Boyes allows Lindy Ruff to take Jochen Hecht out of the top six. I would be impressed if Darcy were to send Connolly for picks (or in a package) while bringing in a top-flite center. The short list includes Stephen Weiss and Paul Stastny, but you would have to give up quite a bit for those guys. Another rental option is Jason Arnott, however, I don’t know id he would be worthwhile. My feeling – after seeing the Boyes trade – is that Regier will move forward with Boyes, Connolly and Hecht and add more in the summer.
You heard it in the Box first, I feel that the Sabres will be a major player for Brad Richards on July 1. They can hang tough with what they have now and make Richards a cornerstone for the future.
The only other needs I see for this team are an additional blue liner and a true back up goalie.
I think it is a very realistic possibility to see one of three defensemen moved by Buffalo. Chris Butler, Steve Montador and Andrej Sekera all seem like realistic possibilities to be traded. Montador has the most value of the three, but most fans (including me) wouldn’t want to see him go. Either way, sending out another defenseman will put the Sabres back to six. The second half of this scenario would see Buffalo bring in a guy like John-Michael Liles. Then you have seven defensemen and you can keep a guy like Butler and Sekera in the press box.
The best scenario would be to trade Sekera. He would likely fetch a strong return and you could keep Montador, a sound stay-at-home player, while adding a great puck-moving cog in Liles.
Lastly, I think bringing in a better backup than Lalime is a true need. There are plenty of names out there but Antero Nittymaki intrigues me. I have always been a fan of his. In the right situation he could really thrive. Just think, you could have Nittymaki in for 25-30 games a year while Miller plays the rest. I would also use Jhonas Enroth as part of my deadline strategy. He could certainly get you a pick to use in another trade.
Just to recap, here is my list of targets I would like to see pursued:
C – Paul Stastny
C – Stephen Wiess
C – Jason Arnott
W – Josh Bailey
D – John-Michael Liles
D – Barrett Jackman
G – Johan Hedberg
G – Antero Nittymaki