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:
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.
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 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.