Buffalo Sabres Offseason: How the Steve Ott Trade Impacts the Sabres in 2012-13


Ladies and gentlemen, Sabres general manager Darcy Regier has done it again. 

Regier sent town pariah Derek Roy to the Dallas Stars for centerman Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy on Monday evening and ended the speculation as to whether or not Roy would be in a Sabres jersey next season (via Sabres.com).

Speculation has been swirling around Roy since the beginning of last season and reached a fever pitch at the NHL trade deadline this past February. It has been no secret that Roy and head coach Lindy Ruff had not been on the same page the past few years, with Roy’s erratic playing style earning him the ire of Ruff both publicly and privately.

By the end of the season, Roy’s role on the team was made irrelevant by the amazing chemistry of Cody Hodgson and Thomas Vanek and the Drew Stafford – Tyler Ennis – Marcus Foligno line. This led to a very public attack on Lindy Ruff in the team’s locker room cleanout interviews and also to Buffalo fans calling for his exit. 

So Regier has delivered as he did at the trade deadline with Cody Hodgson. 

With Ott, the Sabres get something they are sorely lacking: toughness up the middle. Ott is the definition of an agitator and racked up no fewer than 135 penalty minutes in his seven full seasons with the Stars. 

Ott is also an adept faceoff man and fills a hole left by the departure of Paul Gaustad when he went to the Nashville Predators at the trade deadline. According to Kevin Snow, a member of the Buffalo Sabres New Media staff, Ott won almost 56% of his faceoffs last season, an excellent number for a full-time center. 

So what does this do to the Sabres’ lineup?

First, assuming the status quo, it takes the pressure off of Cody Hodgson and/or Tyler Ennis and enables them to play against the opposing team’s top lines. Ott will handle those duties and will handle them well. This opens up the ice for the speedy playmakers and gives them even more of a chance to succeed. 

Second, it makes them tougher. Yes, this has likely been overblown by most Buffalo sports pundits, but it is an objective fact. Derek Roy did not care much for the dirty areas of the ice. Steve Ott will live in those places. He is a pest in the best sense of the word and will make playing against the Sabres a little tougher than it was last year.

That being said, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Yes, coupling this acquisition with the signing of John Scott last night is a clear message to the Boston Bruins that it’ll be harder to push them around on a nightly basis, but that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) change who the Sabres are. 

The Sabres will still be an up-tempo team that wants to play two-way hockey. If anything, Ott is a more talented version of Paul Gaustad; he is a grinding center that can play the penalty kill, win faceoffs, shut down the opposing team’s top line and occasionally put a goal in here and there.

What isn’t Steve Ott? He certainly isn’t the guy that’s going to run around and scrap with Shawn Thornton, Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic every Bruins game (nor do I blame him).

Ott also is not the first line center that the Buffalo fans have been clamoring for since the departure of Chris Drury and Danny Briere. He does, however, open up the ice to give Ennis or Hodgson the opportunity to become that guy.

So where do the Sabres go from here?

According to the @HockeyyInsiderr on Twitter, Buffalo is still firmly in the Bobby Ryan sweepstakes. This is somewhat surprising seeing that many believed Roy to be the centerpiece in a package going back to Anaheim, but that likely means Ennis is the new focal point of the Anaheim brass. 

Realistically, I do not see Darcy trading Ennis, but he has surprised us before. 

The addition of Adam Pardy is also nothing more than a defensive depth move, but it could also signal the departure of a defenseman in a trade to Anaheim or another club for another piece. With the likes of Brayden McNabb and Mark Pysyk rising up the ladder for the Sabres, Pardy’s inclusion into the deal is certainly curious, possibly signaling an immediate need for a depth defenseman.

Overall, this is a great step for the Sabres next season. Ott gives them a piece they did not have and it removes Derek Roy from the equation, which may, more than anything, become more of an addition by subtraction move.

What makes it even more exciting is that Darcy may not be done yet, leaving Sabres fans to wonder what other changes are to be made in the upcoming days. Once Zach Parise’s decision has been made, the teams in on Nash and Ryan will likely make their big pushes, so, as it has been since the clock struck zero in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup, all eyes are on Parise. 

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