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Deadline Preview: Evaluating Brad Boyes’ trade value

February 20, 2012

The first two trade deadline analysis posts focused on Paul Gaustad and Drew Stafford. Today’s will take a look at Brad Boyes and how his final days with the franchise may be spent.

Brad Boyes represents the first major step in the Pegula era. Boyes was acquired at the deadline without needing to send money out. It was a straight acquisition of a player expected to help the Sabres’ playoff push.

Since being acquired, Boyes has enjoyed a terrific early run, a dismal playoff showing and now a nearly invisible regular season. A great many have piled on Boyes, accusing Darcy Regier of acquiring a useless winger who makes too much money. What they are forgetting is how key he was for the team during the stretch run.

Boyes’ contributions played a large role in the Sabres sneaking into the playoffs last season. While his cold streak began at the very end of the regular season – and has continued almost a full calendar year – he was a pivotal player for a good portion of February, March and April. Of course, all of that production has disappeared and he is now an afterthought on a team over-saturated with second-line wingers.

While Boyes possesses some traits that make him an attractive option for many teams, his lack of production has destroyed any sort of value he may bring on the trade market. One way or another, Bard Boyes will be wearing a different uniform next season. The question is; can the Sabres get some return for him before losing him?

It is my contention that grabbing a fourth-round pick at the deadline for Boyes would not only be fair return for the winger, but it would ultimately be an equal trade for everything that Regier has done since last February. Remember, Boyes was traded for a second-round pick which was all but replaced by Calgary in the Regehr trade. The Sabres sent their fourth-round selection to the Islanders for Christian Ehrhoff’s negotiating rights. Buffalo could fill that void if they are able to find a trade partner for Boyes.

Keep in mind that Boyes is not a former 40-goal scorer on the downside of his career. He is caught on a roster with an abundance of offensive talent and has been bumped down the depth chart for a host of reasons. His lack of production is alarming, but putting him in a situation where ice time will not be a premium will surely spark his goal scoring touch.

Teams like Minnesota, Los Angeles, Colorado and Nashville are all in a situation where a scoring winger could do them good. Depending on the type of investment they wish to make will determine what kind of player those teams chase. I would have to assume Boyes is on their radar, at the very least. Given the thin crop of wingers expected to be available, there are surely going to be a few teams seeking his services.

Expecting to receive anything higher than a fourth seems a little foolhardy to me. The market is thin and the potential to steal picks is certainly there, but Boyes’ lack of production this year has to be concerning for any team that will be looking closely. Having the ability to replace the pick they lost to acquire Ehrhoff would not only mean that Boyes helped them make the playoffs, but that brining Ehrhoff on came with a minimal loss.

What Regier will need to determine prior to the 27 is if dropping Boyes from the roster will have any affect on the team as the year winds down. Boyes is getting time on the power play and is seeing time on the wing and at center. With a minimal chance of making the playoffs, there is no reason to hold onto a winger/center who has been forced down the depth chart.

Keep an eye on the playoff teams – or those just on the bubble – who are in need of some secondary scoring. These will also be teams who could be interested in Drew Stafford, but the price for Boyes will be significantly lower than for Stafford.

The Sabres are in a situation to sell an affordable piece (in terms of return) before losing him for nothing in July. Even selling Boyes for a loss will be a small victory.

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