I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of what we take for granted and what we overvalue as sports fans, especially Buffalo sports fans. Do we take solid running backs for granted because we have a track record of NFL name-value players running through our lines (Thomas, Henry, McGahee, et. al)? Did we immediately overvalue Ryan Fitzpatrick because he’s the anti-Edwards?

In hockey, it cuts even further to the core when you consider the Sabres lack of a No. 1 center and their fans’ fetishisation of trade rumours. Brendan Morrison was rumoured to be on his way to Buffalo so many times you’d think he was a Bass Pro big wig. Steve Bernier’s numbers had fans salivating, but Big Bear’s big inconsistency has him out of the NHL. Raffi Torres danced like sugarplums over the heads of fans 10-20 times as well only to be a tattooed lump of coal when he finally arrived.

So how does it work in reverse, especially pertaining to the Sabres stars or trade bait? When fans are cultivating deals that involve Drew Stafford as the center piece in an offer for Bobby Ryan despite the fact that they lament No. 21′s very existence on the ice most nights, what can you expect in return?

Numbers can be whores sometimes, but they are also pretty reliable when you’re looking at a big picture. Think of it as a Magic Eye: if you look at that bugger long enough, you’ll either go nuts or figure out something oddly revelatory. So let’s get together and find some comparables, then see if we really want to deal Derek Roy or Drew Stafford? We may want to anyway because of the culture of the room, but at least we’ll get an idea of what an opposing fan would see coming their way.

2001 NHL Draft Class, 2nd rd, 32nd overall — Derek Roy — 500 GP, 151 goals, 404 points
.8 points a game is pretty solid for a second-round center. Who else has a similar ‘O’ reputation at center in the ’01 class?

1st rd, 4th overall: Stephen Weiss, 588 GP, 135 G, 365 pts
1st rd, 6th overall: Mikku Koivu, 465 GP, 104 goals, 345 pts
2nd rd, 49th overall: Mike Cammalleri, 523 GP, 183 goals, 400 pts
3rd rd, 95th overall: Patrick Sharp, 524 GP, 176 goals, 348 pts

Cap hits: Roy (4.0), Weiss (3.1), Koivu (6.75), Cammalleri (6.0), Sharp (3.9)

2004 NHL Draft Class, 1st rd, 13th overall — Drew Stafford — 347 GP, 100 goals, 211 points

1st rd, 4th overall: Andrew Ladd, 433 GP, 101 goals, 222 points
1st rd, 21st overall: Wojtek Wolski, 399 GP, 91 goals, 248 points
2nd rd, 53rd overall: David Booth, 328 GP, 92 goals, 179 points
3rd rd, 97th overall: Johan Franzen, 425 GP, 135 goals, 248 points
5th rd, 134th overall: Kris Versteeg, 280 GP, 80 goals, 180 points

Cap hits: Stafford (4.0), Ladd (4.4), Wolski (3.8), Booth (3.88), Franzen (3.95), Versteeg (3.0).

How many of those players would you say are worth more to their teams than Stafford and Roy? What are the relative values? Sharp is a budding star, but third fiddle. Franzen is a proven playoff vehicle. Ladd and Koivu still wear C’s if I’m not mistaken, et cetera, et cetera.

The debate is interesting, which obviously doesn’t say anything definitive — it’s more an exploratory journey through numbers. If I had to sum it up in a certain fashion, I’d say that dealing either of these players would be a message to the locker room about attitudes than numbers. Both players will be getting you someone else’s problem, not an answer. That’s why I’m relaxing despite my desire for a trade.

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