Blah Blah Blah Sabres Blah Blah

I recently read a good post on Black Dog Hates Skunks about the Oilers and how they may or may not handle the trade deadline.  The basic premise of the post is this: If you want to build a better team, keep the good players you have, and get more good players when you can.  This makes sense to me, because it’s logical and sane.  (Incidentally, I really recommend adding Black Dog Hates Skunk to your RSS feed.  Most of his posts are divided into two parts.  The first part is usually a story about himself or his family.  The stories are oddly heartwarming despite the fact that they’re 95% about drinking beer, making babies, or being generally unruly.  The second part is usually about the Oilers, and if you’re like me, and you don’t care about the Oilers, it’s easy to skip.)

I’ll admit, there is a part of me that wants to believe in the “blow it up” philosophy.   Blowing it up sounds satisfying, but what if it doesn’t work?  If you blow it up and you STILL stink, then what?

For the good of the bottom-line, I think it’s important for the Sabres to stay at least semi-competitive.  I don’t think the Sabres would be wise to take the Penguins/Blackhawk route, because, well, sucking that hard would….suck.  No fun.

Anyhooch, Black Dog’s post got me thinking seriously about the Sabres and who I think is realistic trade bait, and who I think the Sabres should keep.  I do think the Sabres should be sellers, but they should sell with the idea of getting better next year.  No need to blow anything up, m’kay Darcy?

We’ve got a few categories of players:

Players that I would consider addition by subtraction:

Hecht
Connolly
Rivet
Grier
Niedermayer
Lalime

The only players on this list that any team would even CONSIDER taking off our hands would be Connolly and maaaaybe Grier.   Trouble is, even when healthy, Connolly has been terrible this season, and his stock may have totally plummeted.  If Connolly is still trade-able it’s because GMs are morons….which, you know….they kind of are.  So, *fingers crossed*.  But let’s err on the side of not-getting-our-hopes-up, and assume that all of these players will finish the season as Sabres.  Bummer.  The good news about these guys is that with the exception of Hecht, all of their contracts are expiring this summer.

Untouchables:

Miller
Myers
Vanek
Sekera
Roy

Yeah, I know.  None one of these guys are having particularly great years, but I have faith that they’ll all be worth it in the end.  Even if Myers and Miller never return to 2009/10 form, they’re still very handy players to have around.  I initially thought maybe Darcy should dangle Sekera, but I think he’s developing into a nice little player.   Why should we assume a draft pick is going to be any better at hockey than Sekera?  All of these guys fall firmly into the category of “keep your good players,” if you ask me.  

Babies we should definitely keep:

Ennis
Weber
Adam
Byron

Ennis and Weber have performed admirably this season, and I was impressed with both Adam and Byron during their call-ups.  I’m looking forward to seeing all of these guys play more. These guys fall into the category of “keep your best prospects”.

Veeeerry Interesting players:

I’ll discuss them one by one.

Montador- I think the Sabres should definitely try to keep Montador.  He’s a solid defenseman, he’s surprisingly points get-y, he gives good interviews, and he somehow manages to be hot even when he’s NOT wearing his teeth.  Plus, the Sabres have been bleeding defensemen every summer for as long as I’ve been a fan, and frankly, I don’t think it’s working out too well.  Montador is pretty good.  He’s thrived in Lindy’s system.  Let’s keep him.  If Darcy is not already trying to negotiate with Montador, he’s stupid.   HOWEVER, if the Sabres already know that Monty wants to move on next year, I have to think he’d have some trade value.  In that case (although I would definitely shed a tear), Monty should be traded.

Gerbe- As recently as three weeks ago we all would’ve happily put Gerbe on a bus to Anywhere-But-Here.  Don’t deny it.  You know it’s true.  But little Gerbs is doing us a real solid by stepping up his game recently.  He’s proving that in the right conditions, he can be a productive NHL player.  I saw enough of him in the first half of the season to be veeeerrry skeptical of his abilities, so, I say let’s try to get something, anything, for this guy while the getting is good.

Butler- Someone took Paehcsehtchesch from us last year, so I think someone will take Butler.  Once upon a time I truly loved Butts, but he’s definitely on Lindy’s “unsalvageable” list, so if he can be traded, he should be traded.

Stafford- If he can stay healthy for the next month, I think Staffy is definitely our most valuable trade asset.  He’s big, he’s shown definite signs of being offensively gifted, and he’s got at least one more year of RFA status after his contract expires this summer.  Plus, he’s having a career year.

Staffy has NEVER played with consistency, in the past he’s PROVEN that he can be lazy and distracted (I mean, he’s said OUTLOUD in INTERVIEWS that he might prefer to be a rockstar.  I love you, but for FUCKS SAKE, Staffy!), plus he’s easily injured.  How would giving Stafford a contract now be any different from when Darcy gave Connolly his contract two years ago?  In reality, it would be worse, because at least Connolly had shown signs of near brilliance in previous years.  All Staffy has shown us with consistency is inconsistency.  Signing Staffy now would be the textbook definition of “buying high”.   (And, again, I direct you towards this post at Hockey Rhetoric which compares Stafford to Kotalik in a MOST unsettling way.)

When we rail against Darcy for overvaluing his draftees, we’re talking about guys like Drew Stafford.  I, for one, feel quite comfortable taking the risk that Staffy will go and be awesome for someone else, because honestly, I don’t think he’s going to be awesome for someone else.  I think he’ll be a 15-20 goal scorer for the rest of his career.  He’s useful, but he’s not special.   If the Sabres want to change, they have to ACTUALLY change some of the players (and not just defensemen).  They have to let players go. I think, for better and for worse, Staffy is emblematic of the post-2007 Sabres.  Stafford is part of the “core” that has proven beyond a DOUBT that they can’t get it done. Let’s move him while he’s hot, get something in return, and never look back.

_________

If there’s a player I didn’t mention it’s because I think he’s providing value to the Sabres in one way or another.  (I wasn’t entirely sure how to categorize Pominville until I remembered how terrible the penalty kill was when he was injured at the beginning of the season.  Remember that?  That was not cool.  We may be paying Pominville too much, but he’s definitely providing value.  I never ever ever ever want to watch the PK without him again.)

And on a sidenote, I have no idea what’s come over me in the last few days and compelled me to write such serious posts.  It’s very unlike me.  Hopefully I’ll return to whimsy and bullhonky in the very near future.  Thank you for your patience.

19 Responses to “Blah Blah Blah Sabres Blah Blah”


  1. 1 Heather B. January 27, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I’m sicking of losing d-men. It really caught up with us this year. Let’s sign Monty forever.

  2. 2 Katebits January 27, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I’m sicking of losing d-men.

    Me too. What’s up with Darcy completely overvaluing middling forwards and completely overlooking solid defensemen? It’s weird.

  3. 3 Heather B. January 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    It’s all you crazy fans going crazy about not scoring goals and crap. I mean, who cares about THAT? :P

    (That’s a general you. Not YOU you.)

  4. 4 Katebits January 27, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    I DO like it when they score goals though. It’s just that Darcy hasn’t really signed goal scorers OR defensemen. (Who IS on the Sabres, anyway?)

    You know what I took out of this post because I was scared of sounding foolish that I initially had in? Imagine a world where none of the players had no-movement clauses, and GMs still made big blockbuster trades- would you entertain trading Crunchy for a proven goal scorer? Just say “fuck it” let’s give Enroth the reigns a few years early, sign a decent back-up and score more goals. I felt foolish for saying it because I’m honestly not sure if Crunchy has that kind of trade value. Like, could we get, say Lecavalier for Crunchy? They have so many goal scorers in Tampa and so few good goalies!

  5. 5 Heather B. January 27, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Earlier this season I would have say that trading Miller was CRAZY, but now, I don’t know maybe you do it. How many teams have been successful with average goalies as long as they can score lots of goals? I think you have to get a SURE THING forward for it to be even slightly palatable. And I don’t know if Crunchy has that kind of trade value or not. Haven’t the last few Cup winners shown that offense can overcome goaltending? Or would those teams have had an easier time with a really good goalie? It’s definitely an interesting scenario.

  6. 6 Katebits January 27, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    I agree, it would have to be a real player, with several years left on a contract in order for it to be worth it, and I don’t have ANY idea if Miller’s got that kind of value on the trade market.

    I think the fashionable thinking right now is that you DON’t need an elite goalie to win big as long as you have good everything else. I mean, the Flyers barely had a goalie at all last year, and they got to the Finals! The Blackhawks won…and then let their goalie walk after arbitration. I think Fluery is comparable to Miller in that he’s above-average, capable of awesomeness, and Osgood is widely considered to be mediocre. So, the best goalie in the Finals in the last three seasons was probably Fluery, and he was playing behind Crosby and Malkin’s offense.

    It’s really quite confusing. But seriously Heather, if you were the Sabres GM, and Yzerman came to you and said Lecavalier for Ryan Miller, straight-up trade (and for the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume they both have the same number of years of their contracts), would you do it?

  7. 7 PKB January 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Remember Butler’s first year how high we all were on him? He’s the odd man out now mostly because Weber and Sekera are playing well and he, Butler, had a bad year last year (playing with Rivet). He’s an example of how quickly a young player’s value can drop. I sometimes think the Sabres should be more open to at least considering the idea of trading a younger player when their value is high. How fast do you think DR is to hang up the phone when these types of inquires are made? “So Darcy, that Mike Weber kid. Uh hello? Darcy?”

  8. 8 Kathleen January 27, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    I’m with Heather. I hadn’t even gotten over losing Spacek and then Hank & Toni on the same day? It’s traumatizing. And let’s keep Leopold too. He’s working out way better than I’d have imagined. And add Gerbs to the “Babies we should definitely keep” list. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be our Marty St. Louis in a few years, only more bite-sized. I feel like some Western Conference GM could be bamboozled into taking Hecht… and then I remember his pricetag. Bummer.

    I mean, he’s said OUTLOUD in INTERVIEWS that he might prefer to be a rockstar. I love you, but for FUCKS SAKE, Staffy!

    HAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is the best and worst and most confusing thing about Staffy. I want to keep him just to see what would happen. And because he’s theoretically, potentially, on paper, exactly what we need. If he feels like it. I do think that Stafford, Paille, & MacArthur had some similar attitude/work ethic/defensive sloppiness issues that were compounded by them being together, and well, that was fixed. And maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see, but I swear Stafford seems a lot more committed and serious this year. And, I mean, we can only get so far when our offensive core is composed of the a bunch of guys Chara would consider a light snack and a high-strung Austrian. (Luke Adam and Zach Kassian are still really REALLY young.) Staffy is surprisingly breakable, though, and that is problematic. And if only it were possible, he should definitely be held to one-year contracts for all eternity.

    And as for the Kotalik comparison – statbits are stabits. I don’t remember Ales ripping it up straight of the injured list like Drew has this year, or getting all clutchy when we least expected it. But most importantly, Ales Kotalik wouldn’t be caught dead in leopard print pants and a fake mustache, much less post it on the internet.
    Intangibles, baby ;)

  9. 9 PKB January 27, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    I just want to say too I’ve really liked the last couple of posts and I think they would blend nicely with the laugher posts if you were to write more like this in the future.

  10. 10 Kathleen January 27, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Holy cow, that was long. And I completely forgot about Jason Pominville… which probably speaks for itself.

  11. 11 Katebits January 27, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Remember Butler’s first year how high we all were on him?

    I thought that exact thing about Butler when I wrote this because I’m pretty sure two years ago I declared HIM an “untouchable”. I remember Mike Schopp suggesting that Darcy should see what he could get for him and thinking it was lunacy. I think you’re totally right, in an ideal world Darcy would be able to trade when the players are at peak value. On the other hand, I don’t really judge Darcy negatively for holding onto Butler too long. Butler looked like he was going to be a cornerstone of the defense for years. It’s guys like Stafford, and Connolly, and IMO Gerbe that I think Darcy has a real knack for overestimating. We’ve seen PLENTY of those guys.

    I like Mirtle’s point that Black Dog lays out in his post: If you trade someone like Weber (a young, relatively cheap player), you need to get someone as good as him in return, otherwise, what’s the point? Why do you want an unknown quantity in a pick over a less unknown quantity in Weber? Weber’s playing well. Why would you assume a pick could do better? Sure, if Darcy had a crystal ball, he would’ve traded Butler at the end of his rookie year, but at the time he was doing well, there was no reason to expect that a pick would bring in something better.

  12. 12 Katebits January 27, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Intangibles, baby ;)

    Look, if Stafford wants to stay on at his rookie-contract (and hilariously less than Drury) prices, I’ll gladly keep him. But I’m guessing he’s going to want a raise. And yes, he has been more committed this year, but seriously SHAME ON HIM FOR TAKING THIS LONG TO PULL IT TOGETHER. And what in his history suggests he’s going to keep this up? I’m over him. TURN THE PAGE, DARCY!

    And Kathleen, you say you want to keep Gerbe. He’s played well for THREE WEEKS. Three. weeks. And he’s three apples tall. I would GLADLY take my chances with a second or third round pick instead of Gerbe.

    I just want to say too I’ve really liked the last couple of posts and I think they would blend nicely with the laugher posts if you were to write more like this in the future.

    Thanks Paul! I have NO idea what’s come over me, but I’m glad you’ve enjoyed these posts. I’ve enjoyed writing them. Definitely more challenging in some ways, but honestly, I just….don’t find the Sabres all that funny these days. Heh.

  13. 13 Heather B. January 28, 2011 at 12:33 am

    But seriously Heather, if you were the Sabres GM, and Yzerman came to you and said Lecavalier for Ryan Miller, straight-up trade (and for the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume they both have the same number of years of their contracts), would you do it?

    I would actually like to say YES, I would, but honestly? No, I probably wouldn’t. Part of the reason that I often end up defending Darcy is because I think I do share at least some of his cautious tendencies. As much of a fad as not needing a goaltender is right now, it just makes too much sense to me that an above average goalie is a good thing to have. He just needs you know, at least a little something to go with him.

    I will admit though, that while I don’t know if I could personally pull the trigger, I don’t know if I would necessarily be unhappy about such a trade. It would give the Sabres a real, genuine number one center to play with Vanek (and also share some of the scoring burden). It would let little Roy-Z be a number two center which is probably good for him. It’s definitely an interesting one.

    Remember when you wouldn’t let me claim Chris Butler as a potential favorite player? Yes, that ACTUALLY HAPPENED!

    Luke Adam and Zach Kassian are still really REALLY young.)

    This is a case where I’d rather go with the unknown than the known. What we know about Stafford is that he’s talented but doesn’t burn with the desire to be great. We need another talented but inconsistent forward like a hole in the head. Start over with Adam and Kassian and see if one of them can be what Stafford should be.

    You know who said the Sabres should keep Stafford? Bucky! In his chat this week. “But this should be his last chance.” For some reason I thought that was pretty funny coming from the guy who’s usually leading the “DARCY LIKES HIS PLAYERS TOO MUCH” charge.

  14. 14 Joe from NYC January 28, 2011 at 2:42 am

    I’m with no one. We need to trade everyone, like now! Ok, we can keep Montador and Myers. However, no one should be off limit.

    BTW, u didn’t mention Pomer… So, I’m assuming he’s already dead to you and doesn’t deserve to get mentioned.

    I also think Vanek should be looked at as trade bait. He’s on pace to get 30 goals again, which would make it really, what? 3 years that he’s kind of stunk since getting his mega deal. Stunk is a little harsh, but for what he’s making, it should go somewhere else. Maybe?

  15. 15 ScottyMCSS January 28, 2011 at 6:55 am

    I am with Joe on this one.

    I would even entertain offers for Miller. Having Vezina goaltenders really isn’t that important anymore, just look at the tenders that went deep in the playoffs last year.

    I like the Red Wings approach: invest most of your capital on defensemen, and let them protect an average crease.

    Whoever comes or goes, it’s the lack of defense – the lack of consistent, determined puck control on offense and defense – that is killing this team and the fans right now. Trades made in the aim to gain chemistry are very difficult, if not impossible.

    But putting this roster on the potty for a giant dump is a start.

  16. 16 Katebits January 28, 2011 at 9:05 am

    I DID mention Pommers, Joe. At the end of the post. But the reason I didn’t put him on a list is because I loathe conversations where people demand trades that are impossible. No one wants Pominville because of his contract. He’s ours. BUT, he’s not worthless, so he’s not addition by subtraction. The last time the Sabres subtracted him from the lineup they basically let in a goal on every PK for three weeks.

    As for Vanek….I’m not sure either of you guys actually read this post. :P Joe, you scoff at 30 goals, like 30 goals are disgusting to you or something. The Sabres offense NEEDS those 30 goals. The only reason anyone has ANY reason to dislike Vanek’s play is his contract- which incidentally, is the reason he’s likely untradeable. Taking Vanek (a good player) off of this roster (of mostly bad players) would be redonk. And let’s say he COULD be traded, what would they get in return? They’d either get a collection of Gaustad/Hecht/Stafford players, or, a few draft picks. If they were lucky, and drafted well, they MIGHT end up with a 30 goal scorer. What would be the point? Also, read this post by Alex at BBG about Vanek’s salary and point production.

    http://blackbluegold.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/vulgar-statistics-who-is-overpaid-part-i-forwards/

    That’s a pretty good evidence that Vanek’s not even overpaid when you consider the minutes he gets. If you don’t like Vanek’s stats, take it up with Lindy Ruff.

    As for Miller, one thing to remember is that the idea that “you don’t need a Vezina winner to win anymore,” only works if the rest of the team is REALLY GOOD. If you put a shitty goalie in front of a shitty team, you’re the Oilers, Leafs, or the Senators. It’s fun to entertain the idea of trading Miller in the comment thread of a blog, but there’s no way we’d get back enough value trading Miller to make this team good enough to withstand a mediocre goalie. Yeah, it’s fun to think about getting Lecavalier for Miller, but a.) I doubt Miller would get a Lecavalier, and b.) even if he DID, I don’t think Lecavalier would be enough to make the Sabres a great team. Seems to me that once you’ve already got the goalie under contract, the best thing is probably to just hold on to him and get what you can out of him. Again, this comes down to the idea that Miller HAS VALUE, as in, he IS a good hockey player. A team WITH Miller is better than a team without Miller. It might have been a mistake to sign him long term, but you can’t fix that mistake by just removing him from the team. You would need something of REAL value in return, otherwise you’re just compounding the mistake.

    And again, this whole post is predicated on the idea that the Sabres can’t afford to suck hard for a long time (think Pens, Blackhaws, Caps). I think the fans would get restless, attendance would go down, and the franchise would become unstable. I do think the Sabres need to be good enough to at least keep it interesting.

  17. 17 Kathleen January 28, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I think being three apples high usually works to Gerbe’s advantage.

    You know who said the Sabres should keep Stafford? Bucky!

    Damn you, Heather!!! You know what, I bet Bucky’s just afraid of being stomped.

  18. 18 Mike in Idaho January 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    If I was the Sabres, I would trade Miller, he is just too inconsistent for me. Plus what if he goes on to have a happy marriage, we have seen what just being engaged has done to his play. And Lindy should never leave, I met him last month at a Sabres Road Crew event in Florida and he was hilarious!


  1. 1 General (Manager) Ruff? | The Goose's Roost Trackback on January 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm

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