The Draft, UFA’s and Sabres Quick Hits


Edmonton/Boston: Will A Trade Be Made?

As draft day approaches, the question remains: Taylor or Tyler? Edmonton has given no hints as to whom it plans on taking with the first overall pick, but most analysts concur that Taylor Hall will go first overall in the 2010 draft. This is despite the fact that the Central Scouting Bureau ranks Seguin number one. It seems that raw offensive skill is just too sexy to pass on.

Taylor Hall is one of the most electrifying and dynamic forwards in years. He closely resembles Zack Parise of the New Jersey Devils. Expected to go second overall is Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall’s equal in the OHL. Seguin is a hard working and high scoring two way centerman in vein of Stevie Yzerman. The closest modern day example of Tyler Seguin would be the most recent Conn Smythe recipient, Jonathan Toews.

Here’s where the plot thickens: While both players should develop into excellent NHL’ers, Boston is said to have its eyes on Taylor Hall. The Bruins, already deep at center, would love to draft Hall, not Seguin, to replace high scoring winger Phil Kessel (whose 30+ goals were greatly missed this season.) Add into the equation that Hall is a self proclaimed Boston Bruins fan, and it seems like a match made in heaven for the B’s.

Edmonton is fully aware of Boston’s desire to draft Hall over Seguin, and may be willing to wheel and deal. Look for Boston to attempt a draft day splash; trading the second overall pick (Tyler Seguin) and All-Star goalie Tim Thomas to Edmonton for the 1st overall pick (Taylor Hall). This could pay huge dividends for Edmonton, a team which currently has no legit starting goaltender.


Anton Volchenkov : The biggest defenseman in this year’s UFA list is Anton Volchenkov. A hard hitting, shot blocking rock at the blueline, Volchenkov is exactly the type of defenseman teams on the cusp of a cup run look to acquire. Volchenkov is said to be greatly desired by both Pittsburgh and Washington, two teams which were bounced out early in the playoffs due to a lack of physicality and size. Washington was said to be the front runner to sign Volchenkov on July 1st, but has since backed away. Look for Pittsburgh to take a strong run at him.


Lydman, Tallinder, Or Neither ?

It would be in the Sabres best interest to take a serious look at their defense this summer. Both Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman are UFA’s . The Sabres should attempt to bring back one of the pair, preferably Lydman. Lydman is a more physical dman, and has been known to elevate his game during crunch time. Tallinder, a more finesse dman, played well last season for Buffalo, but shouldn’t be resigned. Look to Toronto and GM Brian Burke as a hint to where the NHL is heading in a few short seasons: big, mean physical defenseman will be all the rage. Keep Lydman over Tallinder.

Powerplay QB

Look for Regier to try and fix the busted Sabres power play by acquiring a power play specialist. Two power play specialists will be available this summer (albeit at very different costs): Tomas Kaberle and Sergei Gonchar.

Kaberle has a year remaining on his contract in Toronto, but GM Brian Burke is looking to move him due to a glut at the defense position (Burke acquired Dion Phaneuf in a blockbuster trade at the deadline in March.) Thus, the only way to acquire Kaberle is via trade. The Sabres would need to surrender their 1st round pick in this years draft, combined with a NHLer and possibly a prospect as well. Our 1st round pick, Drew Stafford and Grangani could get it done. It could be an expensive trade for Regier though; after Kaberle’s contract expires, there’s no guarantee he resigns with the Sabres. Kaberle’s cap hit would be a reasonable $4.25 million.

Sergei Gonchar will most likely be available this summer as a UFA. Word out of Pittsburgh is the Pens are ready to part ways with their longtime PPQB. At 36 years old, Gonchar is entering the twilight of his career.  Signing a player at his age is risky business; there’s no guarantee that the wheels wont fall off half way through the new contract. However, if the Sabres are prepared to take the financial risk to acquire Gonchar, they won’t have to surrender any draft picks or players to acquire him.

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