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Sabres to trade Connolly and Stafford? Yes, please! May 2, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,

According to the Edmonton Journal (h/t to Nick Mendola on Twitter for the info), the Sabres were not happy w/Connolly’s performance (or lack thereof, as the case was) in the playoffs. They obviously haven’t been happy with Stafford’s play lately either. Without those two players, and without including any of our current UFAs on the roster, the Sabres have approximately $16-17 million in cap room. This amount of cap room assumes we’ll sign the RFAs – Kaleta and Kennedy for $1.4M each.

Let’s assume Mike Weber will make the roster next year at his ’09-10 salary (.56 million). Let’s also assume they bring back Mike Grier at his ’09-10 salary ($1.2 million) and Matt Ellis at his ’09-10 salary (.5 million) – that makes the cap number $14-15M before we start our shopping spree.

Where does that leave them as far as bodies are concerned? Before any additions, there would be eleven forwards, six d-men, and one goaltender. Teams normally carry 12-13 forwards, 6-7 d-men, and two goaltenders. To fill out the roster, the Sabres would need to sign or bring up 1-2 forwards, one d-men, and one goaltender.

Ok, still with me? By the way, I’m doing the best I can with the numbers available to me and by making what I consider to be reasonable assumptions. Don’t sue me if the math isn’t quite right – this is all just for argument’s sake.

Let’s go shopping for one or two forwards. We’ll look at some notable UFAs this summer, their ’09-10 compensation, their position, and the likelihood of 1- the Sabres wanting him, and 2- whether the player would be willing to come here. For those two parts, I’ll use very unlikely, somewhat unlikely, somewhat likely, and very likely. The explanations at the end are why I rated them the way I did.

TOP 20 UFA Forwards

Ilya Kovalchuk, $7.5 million, left wing, very unlikely – expensive and Russian
Patrick Marleau, $6.3 million, center, somewhat likely – expensive but worth it
Paul Kariya, $6 million, left wing, somewhat unlikely – old and injury-prone
Olli Jokinen, $5.5 million, center, somewhat likely – old, had trouble lately finding his game, but could be a good fit
Pavol Demitra, $4 million, right wing, somewhat likely – old, but could be a good fit
Alexander Frolov, $4 million, left wing, somewhat unlikely – Russian
Slava Kozlov – very unlikely. ‘Nuff said.
Ray Whitney, $3.55 million, left wing, somewhat likely – the Sabres have expressed strong interest in Whitney before
Fredrik Modin, $3.5 million, left wing, somewhat likely – decent price, could be a good fit
Lee Stepniak, $3.5 million, right wing, very likely – he’s a Buffalo boy, and we know how the Sabres LOVE the locals
Saku Koivu, $3.25 million, center, somewhat likely – decent price, good leader
Markus Naslund, $3 million, left wing, somewhat unlikely – old, losing his game
Matt Cullen, $2.8 million, center, somewhat likely – the Sabres have expressed interest in Cullen before
John Madden, $2.75 million, center, somewhat likely – good price, good fit
Owen Nolan, $2.75 million, right wing, somewhat likely – old, but good leader, tough
Tomas Plekanec, $2.75 million, center, somewhat unlikely – his stock is going to shoot up based on his playoff performance
Raffi Torres – very unlikely. ‘Nuff said.
Fernando Pisani, $2.5 million, center, somewhat unlikely – injury-prone: some of them potentially career-ending
Alexei Ponikarovsky, $2.5 million, left wing, somewhat unlikely – Russian
Alex Tanguay, $2.5 million, left wing, somewhat likely – decent price, had trouble lately finding his game but could be a good fit

Now let’s shop for a defenseman:

Top 20 UFA Defensemen

Nicklas Lidstrom, $7.45 million, very unlikely – unfortunately, not gonna happen
Scott Niedermayer, $6 million, very unlikely – again, not gonna happen
Sergei Gonchar, $5.5 million, somewhat unlikely – Pitt will try to keep him, Russian, but would be GREAT fit for the Sabres
Kim Johnsson, $5.3 million, somewhat unlikely – expensive, coming off an injury that caused him to miss 20+ games in ’09-10
Pavel Kubina, $5 million, somewhat likely – expensive but a good fit
Paul Martin, $4.5 million, somewhat likely – expensive, but brings toughness, still has a lot of good years ahead of him
Rob Blake, $3.5 million, somewhat unlikely – old, not a good fit for the Sabres (too slow)
Brett Clark, $3.5 million, somewhat unlikely – hasn’t played a full season since ’06-07
Willie Mitchell, $3.5 million, somewhat likely – big, coming off major injury in ’09-10
Andy Sutton, $3.5 million, somewhat likely – big & tough, but slow, might be a good fit for the Sabres
Derek Morris, $3.3 million, somewhat likely – lot of good years ahead, decent stats, decent price, decent size
Ruslan Salei, $3.275 million, somewhat unlikely – hasn’t played a full season since ’06-07
Adam Foote, $3.25 million, somewhat unlikely- old and slow, but has toughness
Anton Volchenkov, $3.2 million, somewhat unlikely – Russian, but great shot blocker (if Lydman not re-signed), stock has risen
Randy Jones, $3 million, somewhat likely – never played a full season, but decent stats
Joe Corvo, $2.75 million, somewhat unlikely – slow, injury-prone
Jason Smith, $2.6 million, somewhat unlikely – old, slowing, but a good leader
Dan Hamhuis, $2.5 million, somewhat likely – lots of good years left, good price
Brian Pothier, $2.5 million, somewhat unlikely – has never played a full season
Aaron Ward, $2.5 million, somewhat unlikely – slow, journeyman, injury-prone

What have we learned? According to my completely unscientific analysis, to address the needs at forward the Sabres should make a play for Marleau if they are serious about change and want to make a splash, and for Whitney, Modin, Stepniak, Koivu, Cullen, or Madden if they can’t land Marleau. I don’t know if Rivet and Marleau or Grier and Marleau are friends or not, but it might help if either talked up the Sabres to him.

As for defensemen, if they go for the power play specialist they need so desperately, they should look at Gonchar or Kubina. If they’re looking for a younger guy, try Hamhuis. If they’re looking for toughness or shot blocking, Volchenkov or Martin would work.


Now, to goaltenders. It would be nice to find a backup who the team could actually count on. Of course, I don’t think Lalime was as bad as it seemed like he was, but no matter how righteous a guy the players thought he was, they didn’t play well in front of him. Let’s see who can fill our goaltender shopping cart:

Dan Ellis, $2 million – great choice if the cap money is available
Ray Emery, $1.5 million – I think not
Martin Biron, $1.4 million – another great choice: stuff him in the cart and promise him pancakes
Peter Budaj, $1.25 million – decent choice for a good price

And that’s really it. Three choices isn’t bad though.

You’ve seen who I think the Sabres should focus on. Who would you put on your wish list?



1. Richard - May 3, 2010

Anyone that can win a face-off would be welcome.

2. Dave - May 2, 2010

I was honestly amazed that Buffalo didn’t show more interest in Hamhuis at the trade deadline. He’s a great fit for the Sabres “system” and as a proven young player, someone who can sign a decently long term deal at years end without becoming too much of a liability ( Sekera… cough cough…)…

3. Richard - May 2, 2010

I would not include anyone who is slow, and preferably no one who is old. I would be looking for leadership and grit. Toughness counts, but I would not like to see someone who headhunts or makes plays such as Adams did today or Cooke apparently favors. No OV for me. Kubina, Mitchell or Morris maybe on D, but I really don’t know much about them. Maybe Marleau, Whitney or Stepniak for forward, but I don’t know much about them either. Grit and desire to win are the keys.
In goal, I don’t like Emory and I don’t know why Marty would be happy back in Buffalo playing second fiddle again, unless he thought it was a stepping stone to an announcer job.

manda903 - May 2, 2010

Marty is already a back-up, so that role wouldn’t be new. Plus, his wife is from here, he knows everyone, and has a house here. I think it would be a great fit.

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