Trade Chips

First off, let me say that everyone on this roster is movable in the right deal. These are just some guys I feel could be deadline bait in the coming weeks leading up to February 27th.

 

Brad Boyes: Remaining cap hit- $1,254,054 (Pending UFA)

-When the Sabres brought him in at the trade deadline last season, they were expecting Boyes to come in and contribute on offense in a meaningful way. In 61 games with Buffalo, he hasn’t really done that. He’s only amassed 27 points (8 goals, 19 assists) in those games and so far this season (41 games), he only has 13 points ( 3 goals, 10 assists). Furthermore, Boyes has put up a pathetic five points at even-strength. In short, Boyes has essentially become a power play and shootout specialist.

All that aside, only one team (Vancouver) can’t afford to take on his cap hit at this point and there will be at least one team out there looking for a spark up front. I’m not saying that those teams have Boyes as their first option, but he will definitely be an option. At this point, he’s probably only worth a mid-round pick, but if he can somehow rediscover his scoring touch a bit, perhaps Regier could swing a move for a draft pick as high as a 2nd rounder on deadline day.

 

Jordan Leopold: Remaining cap hit- $940, 541 ($3,000,000 cap hit through 2012-13)

-Here’s a guy that the Sabres should be shopping hard at the deadline and I’m not saying that because he’s been bad. Actually, it’s been the opposite. Here’s a guy who can log 2nd pairing minutes and step in on a top pairing when needed, contribute on offense, and play pretty well in his own end most of the time. Throw in the cheap cap hit through next season and you’ve got yourself a very valuable commodity. Leopold might be one of the most sought after players at the deadline if Regier decides to make him available.

Now you may be wondering why the Sabres would move him if he’s been that good. The logic behind this move is that they already have Regehr, Myers, Ehrhoff, and Sekera locking down their top-4. I’m not sure if it’s in Buffalo’s best interest to have him take up $3 million in cap space when they’ve got young defensemen knocking on the door who could play on the 3rd pairing for a fraction of the cap hit. Obviously, losing Leopold would make things a little tougher on their playoff push this year, but let’s be honest here: this team isn’t a cup contender. If they were, I’d say keep Leopold for this season, but they aren’t so it’s time to move him.

 

Derek Roy: Remaining cap hit- $1,254,054 ($4,000,000 cap hit through 2012-13)

-Much like Leopold, Roy would be very valuable and could arguably be the most valuable player on deadline day if he’s available. Prior to this season, Roy had put up high-end #2 center/low-end #1 center numbers while being pretty responsible in his own end of the ice and playing on both the PK and PP. I’m not really sure what’s been his issue this season. It could be that he’s still trying to figure out how to play the game post-knee surgery, a mental issue, or perhaps a bit of both. Regardless, smart GMs will take a look at the total body of work and realize this is a guy that’s still is in his prime years. I highly doubt that his subpar season has lowered his value that much.

The difference between moving him and moving Leopold between now and the deadline is that losing Roy will all but end their playoff hopes whereas losing Leopold now would only marginally affect them. With Roy out of the picture, you’ve got Tyler Ennis as your top center and while he’s been surprisingly strong there so far, I don’t think you can rely on him being the only offensive center for a playoff push. Based on what I’ve seen from this group in these past few games, they want to be in the playoffs. If the team keeps playing this well and they’re within reasonable striking distance, I say keep Roy and shop him in the offseason. Trading him at the deadline after the team had worked so hard to get back in playoff contention would not resound well in the locker room. If the Sabres start to slide and are looking like a long-shot come February 27th, then I think Roy should be moved right then and there.

 

Drew Stafford: Remaining cap hit- $1,254,054 ($4,000,ooo cap hit through 2014-15)

-”Fu Man Drew” is coming off a 31-goal season which got him a nice 4-year, $16 million deal last offseason. The contract he received was certainly fair value for that kind of production. The problem though is that he hasn’t been anywhere near the level he was at last season and he’s showing no real signs of improvement. Stafford’s on pace for 14-15 goals this year, a goal total that’s more line with what he’s produced in his career. Last season is looking more and more like an outlier.

Like the rest of you, I would like to see him get moved, but I don’t think it will be at the deadline. Right now, his value is probably as low as it’s ever been, given his production, his body of work, how mediocre the rest of his game is, and the length of his deal. If there is some GM out there that is willing to give good assets to acquire what they think is a good goal-scorer at the deadline, that’s great. Regier should pull the trigger on the deal immediately. Like I said before, I don’t think that’s very likely to happen. What I think is best for the team is to hope that Stafford rekindles some of what he had last season to help the team for the rest of the season and then move him in the offseason after he’s reestablished some confidence in other GMs that he could provide similar production from the 2011-12 season for the foreseeable future.

 

Paul Gaustad: Remaining cap hit- $721,081 (Pending UFA)

-Up until these past handful of games, I wasn’t very happy with the way Gaustad had played. For a good chunk of this season and a lot of last year, Gaustad was only good on faceoffs and the PK. The physicality and the strong defensive play at even-strength wasn’t there. Recently, Gaustad has started to play like the Gaustad of old. He’s chippy, he’s hitting, and he’s not floating out there. Those are positive qualities that have been there along with the faceoff prowess and PKing ability.

Still, the consistency in his game is a big concern, as are what his contract demands might be. I don’t think Gaustad’s worth more than a $2 million cap hit. Regier should be proactive and see what Gaustad’s camp is looking for. If he’s looking for anything that will take him above that $2 million number, then I think Regier should move him, no questions asked. Even if his contract demands are reasonable, Darcy should still keep shopping him. If he could get a pretty high draft pick (2nd or 3rd rounder) for a 4th line/low-end 3rd line center, Gaustad should be shown the door. I’ll drive him to the airport myself if I have to.

 

Mike Weber: Remaining cap hit- $297,838 ($950,000 cap hit through 2012-13)

-Had it not been for the emergence of Brayden McNabb, I probably wouldn’t have listed Weber here. He’s a physical defenseman who can hit, block a lot of shots, and is capable of playing 2nd pairing minutes. The problem with Weber is that consistency has been a big issue. On some nights, he looks great while on other nights he looks awful, constantly coughing up the puck to the other team. Overall, he’s at his best when he’s keeping it simple out there and playing within himself. It’s when he tries to do too much that gets him into trouble.

With that being said, I don’t want him moved unless he can help the Sabres get a significant piece at forward in a packaged deal. What Weber brings now and what he could bring to the team in the future outweighs whatever pick/prospect he’d fetch by himself at this point.

 

Marc-Andre Gragnani: Remaining cap hit- $172,432 (Pending RFA/UFA)

-Gragnani is what he is: a spare part. That does have some value to a team that’s up against the cap like the Sabres. I wouldn’t have bothered listing him were it not for the possibility of him losing his RFA status at the end of the season if he plays in 15 more games.  Since there is the very real possibility of him playing in 15 more games this year, I think it’s reasonable to think that someone as risk-averse as Regier would want to put him out on the market and get something for him now instead of taking the chance of him becoming a UFA.

Personally, I think getting anything for Gragnani is a win. He’s a horrible defenseman who won’t take the body and exclusively plays defense with his stick. Find another team who’s looking for a spare part and move him because as far as I’m concerned, he’s no longer needed for that role here. The Sabres have defenseman they can call-up who are better than him and they can always sign another cheap #7 defenseman in the offseason.

 

If you’re wondering why Hecht isn’t listed here, it’s because his injury issues have all but eliminated any chance of him being moved between now and the 27th.

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