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Sabres culture change continues with acquisition of Ott

July 2, 2012

The Buffalo Sabres mission to get tougher took another step forward this evening when they acquired Adam Pardy and Steve Ott from the Dallas Stars for Derek Roy.

After opening free agency with John Scott, Darcy Regier made a major decision in parting with Derek Roy, part of the post-Drury core. Not only does Roy’s departure rid the Sabres of one of their undersized forwards, it rids them of a player whose opinion of the coaching staff and organization seemed to have soured.

Ott is obviously the gem of the trade for Buffalo. He is a gritty center who will fit Lindy Ruff’s system beautifully. Ott hovers above the 50% rate in the faceoff circle, likes to hit and once got in Peter Laviolette’s face. What’s not to like?

Whether or not the Sabres win this trade is debatable. They lose a talented, second line center to pick up a grinder and a fringe defenseman. That isn’t an ideal situation for a team who went through long scoring droughts last season. However, for a locker room widely regarded as stale, mentally weak and in need of a shake up, Ott is exactly the type of player you’re looking for.

Ott adds one more piece of sandpaper to the bottom six and fills the hole left by Paul Gaustad quite well. In fact, Ott presents a more potent offensive option with similar, if not identical, defensive capabilities as Gaustad. Ott certainly shouldn’t be considered as a downgrade, if anything this is addition by subtraction for the culture that surrounds the Sabres. Ott wore a letter in Dallas, led by example and has shown to be more than willing to defend himself and his teammates. That is the type of leader the Sabres could use more of and were lacking with the departure of Gaustad. As for Pardy, he will struggle to break into the lineup and may even be a solid candidate for Rochester based on his $2M cap hit. If he turns into Alexander Sulzer 2.0, more power to Regier for the steal.

Depsite being considered a natural winger, Ott’s faceoff prowess would indicate he will play a third line center role here. Ott’s best season was 46 points (19+27) in 2008-09, he scored 22 goals the following season. The point? He isn’t going to burn up the scoresheet, but he can contribute offensively while providing that much needed level of grit the Sabres were lacking. Expect Ott to play serious minutes on the penalty kill, match the opponent’s top offensive players on a nightly basis.

The reason I like Ott is that he adds another physical piece to the bottom six. As of Saturday afternoon the Sabres were overloaded with finesse players and could only count Cody McCormick and Pat Kaleta as the only players with jam. A short 48 hours later and the Sabres have given that pair some company with Ott and Scott. Perhaps there is still a need for one more physical center (or winger) to completely fill out the bottom portion of the roster.

On paper, the Sabres may not be a better team based on this trade. However, based on the need for a change in attitude and culture, this makes the Sabres much better. I doubt that this is the only move the Sabres make. However, this is one step of many that helps to round out the Buffalo roster.

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