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Don’t call it GM for a Day

June 22, 2012

On the eve of the 2011 NHL Draft, Darcy Regier spurred a deal with the Calgary Flames to acquire Robyn Regehr. Not only was it a trade that no Sabres fan would have seen under the former ownership, it was a trade none were expecting to see.

Regier’s action at last year’s draft set off a month-long string of moves geared towards making the Sabres a Cup contender. Tonight’s draft presents Regier with a very similar opportunity.

This isn’t supposed to be a GM for a Day post. It will certainly be similar to one, but it is more a genesis of the Pegula Puzzle posts I did last year.

If Bobby Ryan is to be acquired, it will likely come via draft day trade.

Considering that Regier has never been one to show his hand with regard to free agents or trades makes the likelihood of acquiring Jordan Staal or Bobby Ryan somewhat unlikely. In fact, there have been plenty who have noted that Regier hasn’t pulled the trigger on any trade that had been widely speculated, rather a trade that few were aware of.  That much was proved last year with the acquisition of Cody Hodgson and Regehr.

I fully expect Regier to make at least one trade this weekend. I also think there is the potential to acquire an impact player. However, I’m not in the position to speculate who he may chase. After all, this isn’t Xbox.

The idea of Bobby Ryan is nothing short of tantalizing. Buffalo may even have the pieces available to get him away from the Ducks. Some reports on Ryan’s availability mention Anaheim’s desire to acquire a number of pieces to help construct their roster. I would venture a guess that any package would require a first round pick and at least one roster player and one prospect. Perhaps two roster players.

If you’re spitballing, a combination of Derek Roy, Jordan Leopold or Andrej Sekera and a pick might be close, but still short on talent. The Sabres would probably need a top prospect to swing the deal.

The main issue with chasing Ryan or jumping in the Zach Parise sweepstakes is the risk over overloading the forward ranks with scoring wingers. The Sabres already have four scoring wingers in Ville Leino, Jason Pominville, Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek. Adding a Ryan or Parise would even more depth.

While it would really be going down the rabbit hole, it is conceivable to think that acquiring someone like Parise or Ryan would make one of the existing wingers expendable via trade.

Personally, I think the most focus should be directed to finding more character and grit in free agency. It is somewhat fruitless to speculating which players may be traded, particularly since I prefer not to like the guy at the bar who traded for Ryan Callahan on NHL 12.

Center of attention

Everyone and their five bros in Buffalo wants to see the Sabres get a big, scoring center. News flash, every NHL team wants a big, scoring center just like I want a date with Miranda Kerr (she scored very high on the strokeability scale). With such a high demand and low supply for centers, I doubt the Sabres end up with an elite centerman this summer.

The female equivalent of a number one center.

However, they happen to have Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis who have proven that they have the skillset to receive top-six minutes. In fact, Ennis did so for much of the final two months of the season. If a solid veteran center could be brought in to play third line minutes, it could potentially be more beneficial than selling the farm for Ryan Getzlaf.

Jason Arnott made $2,875,000 last season and is 37 years old. He is more than capable of repeating his 17+17 performance from last season. Arnott has a Cup ring and has type of intangibles the Sabres locker room seems to be missing. Giving him what he earned last season would only be slightly higher than what Paul Gaustad was being paid for most 2011-12. Arnott’s market value could even be closer to $2.5M.

In addition to Arnott, I would be interested in finding a faceoff whiz to replace the hole that Gaustad left. Now, if Gaustad is willing to take a hometown discount to come back, I’d re-sign him. However, I think he will get offers north of the $2M I would be willing to offer.

Jarret Stoll probably won’t hit the open market and will command at least $4M, making him a no-no in my eyes. Dominic Moore ($1.1M), Jeff Halpern ($825K) and Zenon Konopka ($700K) all win faceoffs and kill penalties. I love Konopka at a $875-900K cap hit for his jam and leadership capabilities.

Assuming Roy is moved, that leaves Hodgson, Ennis, Arnott and Konopka as the top four centers with Luke Adam battling for a spot along with 13th forward Matt Ellis.

Wing Depth

Without having the ability to guess if Regier will do the improbable and find an elite talent via trade or free agency, the Sabres focus should be to add some additional grit to the bottom six.

Names like Travis Moen, Brandon Prust and Brad Staubitz are the type of players the Sabres could be interested in pursuing in free agency. If a player like Bobby Ryan is acquired, I would think that a trade for one of Buffalo’s current wingers could materialize.

Prust is easily my favorite of the bunch, however he is due the largest raise. His cap hit was $800K last year and I would gather he will get at least $1.5 from someone. He would be worth it if Cody McCormick wasn’t already making nearly that much already. While Prust brings a bit more of an all-around game than McCormick, paying more than two million to a pair of four line wingers is a poor use of the salary cap.

Moen made $1.5M last season and would probably end up with a similar pay check in 2012-13. He could certainly fill the same role that Prust would. If the decision came down to the pair, I would go with Prust.

Staubitz probably wouldn’t bring much to the table based on the role he fills. He would do much of what McCormick does for much less money. However, I don’t see him offering what Moen or Prust would.

Based on those moves, next years wingers would be: Vanek, Pominville, Leino, Stafford, Foligno, Gerbe, Kaleta, McCormick and either Prust or Moen. That list would be amended based on any trades that may go down.

Staying static on the backend

Unless Regier really goes crazy and moves a defenseman or one of his goaltenders, there won’t be much change based on the set of players currently on the roster.

Jordan Leopold does have plenty of trade value, has does Andrej Sekera – believe it or not. If a team was looking for a little extra bump for a trade, one of those two could be involved. Any of Buffalo’s defensemen could be moved if the right trade came along.

If Regier moves a defenseman, or a goalie, there would then be a need to fill that hole. Scott Hannan would be an affordable, steady option, as would Colin White. As for goaltenders, Dan Ellis or Marty Biron would be good options as backups. If Ryan Miller would be moved, I’m not sure an adequate replacement could be found to play in tandem with Johnas Enroth. Of course, that type of trade would be a long shot.

Each of these moves would keep the Sabres well under the $11M they have to play with heading into the offseason. That is before Tyler Ennis or Pat Kaleta’s extension would be factored in.

There could be space to bring in an elite talent based on these numbers, but I will leave that part up to Darcy Regier.

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