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Sabres draft opens options for the offseason

June 26, 2012

Based on what Darcy Regier was able to pull off this weekend, there isn’t much debate about the Sabres coming out of draft weekend as winners. Based on a favorable calendar, last weekend’s action may just end up impacting this weekend and Buffalo’s direction for the rest of the offseason.

After snagging two highly-touted centers, one who might just be NHL ready, the Sabres effectively shored up their organizational deficiency down the middle. If Mikhail Grigorenko is to play next season, they will have also potentially found a solution for their immediate need for a number one center.

Terry Pegula welcoming the two newest assets to the Buffalo Sabres. (photo: @BuffaloSabres)

Whether or not Grigorenko will begin his NHL career immediately is up in the air. He is already working out with his team, has expressed interest in wearing number 89 in honor of Alex Mogilny (awesome) and being okay with going back to Quebec if he doesn’t make the big club. It certainly seems like he wants to make the jump right away, and his attitude seems to be right. But that choice will likely be steered by Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier, two guys who aren’t always keen on rushing players along.

However, Grigorenko’s natural ability and perceived skillset could make him a strong candidate for the Sabres roster this fall. Where he may fit on the roster may be determined as early as next week.

The assumed trade of Derek Roy is something just about every Sabres fan has probably thought about or discussed over the past few months. Without knowing if there have been or will be any offers for Roy makes most talk futile, yet there is certainly some flexibility regarding his status on the roster.

As it stands the Sabres aren’t short on centers, they just have short centers. With Tyler Ennis, Cody Hodgson and Roy on the roster, the need isn’t to get another center, it is to get a better center. They might just have that with Grigorenko.

If Grigorenko is to be kept around, he would be filling a spot on a line with scoring punch, which would likely mean moving Roy. The market for Roy is an absolute mystery, but he does have value and a manageable cap hit, which increases his value. If a home could be found for him, it would open things up quite a bit for the Sabres.

I also have slight curiosity to see if Roy might be packaged with another roster player to attempt to score a larger return. For example, if there is a desire to acquire an elite talent on the wing – say, Bobby Ryan, for example – maybe Regier would entertain the thought of putting Roy and another one of the Sabres’ wingers in a package to Anaheim. Mind you, that package could be applied to any team; I just used Ryan because he is the player the Sabres have been linked to the most.

Buffalo doesn’t need to make that exact trade, either. A salary clearing move could give them a shot at Zach Parise, while Ray Whitney will also be on the market for a significantly lower rate. Nevermind about Whitney. Signing either one of those players would actually increase the need to make a move or two in order to keep the roster from becoming an NHL 12 concoction of scorers.

The Sabres could certainly use an effective right wing to round things out, although they would be better suited finding someone for the bottom six as compared to a slick scorer like Ryan or Whitney. If a player like Whitney Ryan was brought on, I could see Drew Stafford become a very attractive trade piece for the Sabres to dangle.

Perhaps the most ideal situation would be to leverage a players like Roy and Stafford – or even Thomas Vanek – for a significant return while using the cleared cap space to acquire an additional piece for the puzzle.

Keeping in mind that chemistry is indeed something that needs to be accounted for, the Sabres wise draft strategy may have given them the ability to be a bit more aggressive when chasing talent outside of the organization.

 

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