Darcy Regier Must Get It Done at the Trade Deadline or This Season Is Done
It is not a secret that the Buffalo Sabres are in a tough spot come March 4. The NHL trade deadline is when teams make or break their season, especially for a team like Buffalo that is clinging to that last playoff spot in the East.
I think it is obvious to everyone in the front office they need to make a move or two to make sure this team is competitive. But it isn’t just about being competitive this year, the team must look long term.
The first player on the agenda must be Tim Connolly. Here are the facts on Connolly; he is a talented player that has great potential, but has yet to put up more than 55 points in any of his NHL seasons. He is a fairly injury prone player, but not all of his injuries are preventable injuries. He is a minus-48 for his career, but is a great special teams player.
The biggest factor with Connolly is he is an unrestricted free agent come June 1. Another well known fact is, he has value on the market, and that makes him movable. The Buffalo Sabres have made a contract offer to him, but if it isn’t signed by March 4, they have to get something in return for Connolly, a man they spent over $9 million on over the past three years.
Another player the Sabres have got to be concerned with is Maxim Afinogenov. He’s not played most of the season, but is a fairly dynamic player when he is playing with open ice. A great place for him to land at the deadline would be a team with strong powerful forwards, that would give him that open ice. Colorado and Calgary are both ideal places for him to play. In return the Sabres would probably be looking for little more than an average prospect, or a mid-round draft pick.
Other players that should be shopped are Jochen Hecht; a great penalty killing, and defensive forward, but he isn’t a big point producer, and the Sabres need to put up some goals to win games. Especially with Miller being out, and Vanek slowly recovering from an injury to his jaw. This list should also include Daniel Paille, and Henrik Tallinder. Both ample NHL players, but not putting up production in their respective areas of the ice.
Ideally the Sabres would work out a deal for a second line kind of guy. A good scoring winger that can provide 25 to 30 goals a season, and still help on the back check. Players mentioned to be traded that fit this mold are, Jordan Staal from the Penguins, Mike Cammalleri from Calgary, and Petr Prucha from the Rangers.
Some more help on the defensive side of the ice would be welcomed as well. Although it may be harder to trade for defensive men this year, especially due to the vast amount of injuries that many teams have seen on their blue line. Realistic candidates here would be Jordan Leopold from Colorado, Rostislav Klesla from Columbus, and a stretch, but Adrian Aucoin from Calgary.
It is quite obvious that the Buffalo Sabres with their current roster may not go far in the playoffs, but with a few additions, and their stars getting healthy, who knows? Anything is possible once you reach the playoffs.
The key for the Buffalo Sabres is to look long term, and ensure they put a team on the ice that is a quality product for several years to come. Rental players will not do that for the Sabres, they must stay the course, and make viable moves for the future come March 4.