It’s so easy, even Bucky can do it.
The title of General Manager of the Sabres is a hot commodity these days, I guess. Apparently there’s a lot of people who think they could do a better job than Darcy Regier. It seems to be a fun enough gig, anyway.
So, live from my mother’s basement (I am, in fact, writing this from my mother’s basement. It’s nice and cool down here), I decided I’d join in on the fun with a little GM series of my own.
Last week, I previewed the Sabres’ options for this past weekend’s draft.
Now that the draft is in the books and Regier has yet to make any significant alterations to the Sabres’ roster, it’s time to highlight a few potential trade options leading into July 1 (Which is already this Sunday. Holy crap).
I don’t know about you, but for as interesting as the Sabres’ draft was, I’m still left wanting more. Lots more.
In fact, if the offseason ended today, I’d be among the thousands of fans calling for Regier’s head. Patience is a virtue, though, I guess. And Regier has proven — especially recently — that sitting back and waiting for that perfect deal to fall into his lap will only pay off in the end. We saw it at the deadline twice, and it feels like Darcy’s about to test the nerves of Sabres fans once again this offseason, kicking back in his chair waiting until the last minute only to pull off a shocking deal as if he knew it were going to happen all along all while sporting his “I told you so” grin.
Darcy’s “I told you so” face.
Of course, Darcy’s passive trading approach could very well hurt the Sabres every bit as much as it could benefit the club, as it probably has on more than one occasion throughout his career. Over the weekend, we watched as the Hurricanes, Flyers and Maple Leafs each got better right before our eyes while Regier and Co. left Pittsburgh without that promised difference maker to add to the team’s top six.
It’s been reported numerous times that Regier went into the weekend hoping to make a splash. This is discouraging news if you’re a Sabres fan, because, once again, Regier failed to orchestrate the big trade.
This isn’t the usual case of a bunch of fans sitting around aimlessly demanding their favorite team make a trade. It’s different this year. The Sabres have assets. Lots of ’em.
Regier left a few of those assets in Pittsburgh over the weekend in his four draft picks in the first two rounds. He missed out on Jordan Staal, although it turns out that probably wouldn’t have been the greatest move for the Sabres, anyway. And although he turned those picks into some really good looking prospects, including the talented Mikhail Grigorenko and gritty Zemgus Girgensons, perhaps a few of those picks would have been better served in a package to acquire one of the league’s big fish being dangled around in trade discussions.
And there are some pretty big fish to be had on clubs who presumably have plenty of interest in what the Sabres have to offer, too.
It’s time for a deal. One that will define Regier as a GM — that elusive blockbuster trade Regier has always seemed so reluctant on making.
If Regier doesn’t act soon, the Sabres might be left at the altar when it comes to to acquiring some of the league’s marquee names.
So does he have the intangibles to pull off a deal of that magnitude? That remains to be seen. But if he doesn’t, it won’t be long before he’s shown the door.
It’s do or die time now, Darc. With the way the Sabres finished last season, it’s unacceptable to head into October with the roster assembled as it is currently — it’s a common belief, I think, that the current roster just isn’t capable of getting the job done. Under an owner like Terry Pegula, the Sabres need a GM who’s not affraid to take risks and swing a big deal. So if Regier can’t be that guy, the Sabres will need to find someone who will.
Anyway, lets get to the good stuff. Below is a little sneak peek into a few of the names the Sabres could be looking to swing a deal for. Yes, some are admittedly outlandish, but while it might be highly unlikely a trade is made for a few of the said players, it’s still fun to talk about. Each name below has been mentioned in trade rumors with the Sabres in one form or another.
In a few instances, I reached out to fellow writers from across the hockey blogosphere to get a feel for what their team might be looking for in return for the player in question. We traded emails and executed our own fantasy trades. In other cases, my calls went unreturned (now I know how Darcy feels), so it’s just my own thoughts on what it might take to bring that specific player to Buffalo. Enjoy.
Bobby Ryan, RW, Anaheim Ducks
We’ll get right to the good stuff, as Bobby Ryan is really the player I’m basing this entire post off of. From a hockey standpoint, assuming all the reports are true, trading for Ryan just makes way too much sense for it not to happen.
A lot of things feel right here. For one, the Sabres and Ducks seem like optimal trading partners. It’s reported that in return for Ryan, the Ducks are desperately seeking a second-line center to play behind Ryan Getzlaf. Just as desperately, the Sabres are hoping to rid themselves of disgruntled Derek Roy.
Roy, I would think, would be a perfect fit to play behind Getzlaf. He’d thrive in the shadow of Getzlaf without the burden of first-line minutes or expectations.
As for Ryan, well, do I really need to explain why he’s a great fit for the Sabres? Sure, he plays on the wing. But it’s not every day a four-time 30-goal scorer hits the market at age 25. He’d be a great piece to build around for the future all while stepping right into the Sabres’ top line to contribute immediately. Not to mention, his $5.1 million cap hit over the next three seasons is extremely friendly.
I could be blinded here, as I’ve always been a huge supporter of Ryan’s, but I’m certainly not in the minority. Also said to be on the Ducks’ wish list is a young yet NHL-ready defenseman. After trading Lubomir Visnovsky to the Islanders over the weekend, this need may be even greater now. Maybe this is where Andrej Sekera comes into the mix to give the trade a little extra oomph.
One thing is certain: Regier will have to present the Ducks with an extremely competitive offer they can’t turn down, and soon. With most of the top teams vying for Rick Nash, the time is now for Regier to nab Ryan before it becomes a bidding war between the losers of the Nash sweepstakes. Hell, I wouldn’t even be opposed to offering up Ryan Miller, rekindling the reported deal the two teams had lined up back in November before Milan Lucic crushed all our hopes and dreams.
Deal or no deal?
Bobby Ryan for Derek Roy, Andrej Sekera and Buffalo’s 2013 first-round pick
Bobby Ryan and Jonas Hiller for Ryan Miller
Other tradable options: Drew Stafford, Luke Adam, Mark Pysyk
Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks
This is one of those crazy deals that likely originated on the always interesting HFBoards.com. You’re kidding yourself if you think the Blackhawks are actively seeking to trade Kane, but I suppose anything is possible if the offer is right.
This rumor originated around the trade deadline this past year when ‘Hawks fans realised Corey Crawford isn’t really all that good. Shocker. This is where Ryan Miller comes in. I reached out to Andrew Bernier of Blackhawks Down Low to join in on the fun. Initially, he pitched me this offer:
Patrick Kane and Chicago’s second-round pick (No. 48) for Ryan Miller, Brayden McNabb and Buffalo’s first-round pick (No. 21)
Obviously this was done prior to the draft, so it renders the picks useless. I liked the deal,, though, as I place Kane on a slightly higher level than Miller when it comes to talent. Andrew also said the ‘Hawks would be looking for an young defenseman who’s ready or near ready to contribute in the NHL, hence McNabb.
Of course, you have to take Kane’s tumultuous personality into account, but returning to his hometown might counteract that a bit (or send it spiraling out of control, who knows?). Much like Ryan, Kane is everything the Sabres are missing right now: a tenacious star player who is capable of scoring upwards of 30-40 goals. Likewise, Miller solves the Blackhawks’ goaltending woes.
What threw me off was the inclusion of McNabb. I’m not sure the Sabres are willing to part with McNabb any time soon, even if it is for someone of Kane’s stature. I’d think he’s as close to “untouchable prospect” status as you can get at this point. With that in mind, I sent Andrew this counteroffer, to which I never received a response. Oh well.
Deal or no deal?
Patrick Kane and Chicago’s 2013 second-round pick for Ryan Miller, Mark Pysyk and Buffalo’s 2013 first-round pick
Other tradable options: Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Jhonas Enroth, Drew Stafford
Rick Nash, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets
What kind of trade rumor piece would this be if I didn’t talk about Rick Nash?
This offseason’s biggest fish has been the topic of discussion since the trade deadline, and while the Sabres aren’t ever really mentioned in the Nash sweepstakes, I have read, on a few occasions, pundits suggesting not to sleep on the Sabres when it comes to Nash.
It’s going to take a boat load of talent to pry Nash from Columbus, as has been on display over the past few months of stalled negotiations for the star forward. Scott Howson isn’t budging anytime soon, either.
It’s doubtful the Sabres could put together a package greater than the Rangers or Sharks could, but lets throw around a few names.
Any deal for Nash would begin and end with Jhonas Enroth. Even though Columbus acquired Sergei Bobrovsky from the Flyers over the weekend, Howson said, “We need to add more goalies. We need two more pros and we certainly need another goalie that can play in the NHL but not necessarily an NHL goalie yet.” Enroth is a better prospect than Bobrovsky, no doubt, and probably better than Steve Mason, at least in the long run.
To inquire about what other pieces the Blue Jackets may look to grab from the Sabres in a Nash deal, I contacted Matt Wagner of The Cannon for a little insight. After a short back and forth, this is what we settled on:
Deal or no deal?
Rick Nash for Jhonas Enroth, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia and Buffalo’s 2013 first-round pick.
It’s giving up a lot, for sure. And Nash’s contract could certainly be a hindrance for the Sabres going forward, but it’s something to consider.
Other tradable options: Derek Roy, Luke Adam, Brayden McNabb, Mark Pysyk
Paul Stastny, C, Colorado Avalanche
Ideally, this is my second favorite option next to acquiring Bobby Ryan.
In many regards, trading for Paul Stastny might make even more sense than a deal for Ryan. He’s a center. He’s a “playmaker.” He’s everything we once wished Derek Roy would be. Granted, his point production over the past few seasons hasn’t been much higher than Roy’s, and his $6.6 million annual cap hit through 2013-14 might not be ideal, but a trade for the Avs’ star would still qualify as enough of a splash for Regier to remain in the fan’s good graces.
Heading back to Colorado in a deal for Stastny would have to be a few things. One, I think it would probably be essential Derek Roy is involved. And two, the Sabres would likely have to ship out either a Stafford or a Sekera to balance out the cap intake.
If you’re Colorado, you’re probably looking for another pick or prospect in the deal, so here’s what I came up with:
Deal or no deal?
Paul Stastny for Derek Roy, Andrej Sekera and Luke Adam
Other tradable options: Drew Stafford, Mark Pysyk, Mike Weber
Nick Foligno, LW, Ottawa Senators
With Jordan Staal joining forces with his brother, Eric, in Carolina and Luke Schenn headed to Philly to suit up with Brayden, it’s only natural that rumors pop up about the Sabres’ interest in Nick Foligno.
It’s been talked about time and time again. Even before Marcus was a known commodity with the Sabres, fans have been clamoring for his older brother to join the Blue and Gold because of his obvious bloodlines to the franchise.
It is cool to think about — the Foligno brothers playing side-by-side in the same city where their father inspired cheers for so many years. Nick is a gritty, in-your-face forward, much in the mold of his father, who is good for 40 points a season. Not to mention, he’s still just 24 years old. Players like Nick are valuable to any team.
While I’m not sure as to why the Senators would part with Foligno, they might if the offer is right. Maybe it would make sense for the Sabres to deal away one of their extra defensemen for Foligno’s services. They already have plenty of young prospects, so I would think the Sens would be looking to make more of a hockey trade involving a Sabre who can contribute right away.
Recently, Foligno has been thought of as one of the central pieces involved in a deal that would bring Rick Nash to Ottawa if the team was to be added to the star’s list of possible destinations. In the meantime, we’ll speculate what it would take to bring Foligno to Buffalo.
Deal or no deal?
Nick Foligno for (Ville Leino. Haha! Yeah right) Andrej Sekera and Buffalo’s 2013 fourth-round pick.
Jordan Staal, C, Carolina Hurricanes
I know Staal was dealt already, I just wanted to clear up a few points for some of you who were disappointed that Sabres didn’t come away with the former No. 2 overall pick since it was reported that Regier did indeed inquire about the now-former Penguin.
First, knowing that the Pens fetched a package of Brandon Sutter, the No. 8 overall pick and a very good prospect, the Sabres equivalent offer would have had to have featured something along the lines of Tyler Ennis, the No. 12 overall pick and a Mark Pysyk or a Jerome Gauthier-Leduc. Sure, that’s not a terrible asking price for someone of Staal’s stature, but consider this: For the deal to be worth while, Regier would have had to have been absolutely certain he could re-sign Staal long-term.
After Staal turned down a 10-year deal to stay in Pittsburgh, there’s no reason to suggest he would have re-signed here. All he wanted was to play with his brother in Carolina, and it certainly wasn’t worth giving up top talent for one season of Staal.
Rights to Zach Parise or other top free agents
As a final note, I think it’s interesting to touch on any trades the Sabres may make to acquire the negotiating rights to some of this year’s top free agents.
If Regier fails to pull off a big trade over this next week, this may be the only avenue left to explore before the frenzy begins on Sunday. And with the success of the trade and signing of Christian Ehrhoff last offseason, you’ve got to think the manuver is at least on Regier’s mind.
We’ll start with Parise.
Make no mistake, the Devils are going to do everything they can to convince Parise to stay this week. But, if all else fails, I’m sure there will be a bidding war for the captain’s negotiating rights. Ray Shero has already said the Penguins would be out if that’s the case, as they’re willing to take their chances with him on July 1 (Imagine if the Pens managed to sign both Parise and Suter, as is their reported objective. Now that’s scary), and the Rangers would be out, too, since Parise won’t sign there.
So, with two big players out, would it be worth it for the Sabres to try and obtain some exclusive time with Parise before he hits the open market? Absolutely, but who knows if the Sabres are really interested in pursuing him. The deal would make sense, and Stafford could aid in keeping his good friend in Buffalo once he’s here, but another trade would need to be made to accommodate the expected $8 million-plus Parise is expected to command once he hits the open market.
The rest of the free agent crop is thin. Perhaps the Sabres have their eye on another player or two (more on that later this week in my free agency preview), but it’s not likely someone they would need to acquire exclusive rights for.
As I’ve said all along, the trade route is and will be the Sabres’ best option to improving the team this summer. Now it’s just up to Regier to get it done.
You almost certainly don’t agree with Brandon’s opinion on this matter, so please, let him hear about it in the comment box or be sure to follow him on Twitter @B_Schlag and express your distaste.