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The trade deadline: will the Sabres shock us all? January 14, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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I know the trade deadline is still more than two months away, but since one of my loyal readers requested this topic, I’m going to tackle it now (and probably later too when/if the Sabres actually do something). So, how many of us think the Sabres, as presently composed, are a Stanley Cup-winning team? Yeah, me neither.

What do they have to do in order to get there? How many moves do they need to make?

My opinion: not as many as some people say they do.

Let’s break the team down by position…

Forwards

The struggles of the “Top Six” forwards are well-documented. But how much are they REALLY struggling? As of today, Wednesday, January 13, 2010, here are the stats breakdowns for each of the “Top Six” forwards:

Name                Gms             Goals           Assists          +/-        Total Pts

Tim Connolly 44                       11                      26                  9                37
Derek Roy 42                       10                      23                  1                 33
Jason Pominville 44                   11                      18                   6                29
Thomas Vanek 39                      12                      13                  -1                25
Drew Stafford 41                      11                       11                  -1                22
Jochen Hecht 44                      10                      11                   7                 21

At the current pace, no Sabre is on pace for more than approximately 25 goals, assuming they all stay relatively healthy. While I agree that’s not good, there are currently seven players on the roster with 10 or more goals. On a 23-man roster, that’s not bad, especially when you consider only 21 of those players are point-producing players. If the “Top Six” forwards continue at their current pace, their point totals will range from 42 to 74. While that’s off-pace for several players, some of their production is being made up for by players like Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Myers, and Mike Grier. While I would never call the offensive output of the Sabres outstanding, I don’t think the situation is as dire as others have said.

Defense –

The defense corps has an overabundance of players. That’s not a bad thing, considering how many injuries our defensemen seem to have. The defense is not the reason the Sabres won’t win the Cup. Between the actual defensemen and the team defense concept, in addition to the Vezina Trophy-winning season Ryan Miller is having and the solid backup goaltending by Patrick Lalime, the team goals-against is quite good. As of today, the Sabres are ranked third, behind only New Jersey and Chicago.
We all know Tyler Myers has been a revelation, but he’s not the only one carrying this defense. Henrik Tallinder is like a different player, and Steve Montador has been a pleasant surprise. You haven’t really noticed Toni Lydman, have you? That’s not a bad thing – it means he’s doing his job and not making the egregious errors he’s been famous for the past couple of seasons. Craig Rivet is slowing down, but he’s still a pretty dependable d-man, and he’s willing to stick up for his teammates and be a leader – both things this team needs.

Goaltending –

Ryan Miller has been at or near the top of the league-wide stats for Goals Against Average and Save Percentage since the beginning of the season. For a while I feared Ryan would never be the elite goaltender we’d hoped, but at least so far this season he’s shown he can be. Patrick Lalime was also a concern when the season started. Hip surgery for a goaltender is serious stuff, and I thought he’d never be the same. Fortunately, Pat has been a very capable backup to Miller and I hope Lindy continues to rest Miller when he can.

So, given all that analysis – whew – what does the team need? Here’s my list, in order of importance:

  1. A center who can either put the puck in the net himself or get it to others to score. I’m talking about an elite center, not some $1 million player. Examples of the type of player I am referring to, and that the Sabres have some hope of trading for, are: Patrick Marleau, Nathan Horton, Mikko Koivu, and Vincent Lecavalier.
  2. Someone with enough playmaking skills and experience to legitimately quarterback the power play. We all love Tyler Myers on the point, and Tim Connolly and Derek Roy are, well, serviceable on the half-wall, but it would be nice to have that one guy who could stay out there and move the puck around.
    That being said, the power play doesn’t suck. As Paul Hamilton said on WGR this morning, the Sabres power play is ranked 17th. That’s not bad. When you look at goals scored on the PP rather than PP percentage, the Sabres are fourth with 33 goals. Not too shabby considering Vanek isn’t potting them on the PP like he usually does.

That’s about all I think they need. Want to argue? I welcome it – leave me a comment.

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Comments»

1. Chris Wassel - January 14, 2010

If only Vanek would wake up a bit. That would help as well but the Sabres clearly need a PP QB and another scorer.


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