The NHL trade market is beginning to heat up as the NHL draft approaches on Friday. This is the last major trade day before July 1st. Many general managers are going to try to improve their teams and with a weak draft class it is easy to see a scenario in which many swaps are made. Darcy Reqier has already told the press that he is going to be looking for deals, so the Sabres roster may look a bit different after the draft.
There have been tons of rumors flying around. Some are plausible, some ridiculous. I will attempt to break down some draft day ideas that I have heard so far.
“Derek Roy will be traded.” We’ve been hearing it for years and it does seem rather likely, but let’s look at the facts. In the past Buffalo has shied away from trading away established enigmas at the draft. (see Connolly, Tim or Afinogenov, Maxim) Consider also the Regier has openly expressed a lack of confidence in this year’s draft class and you have some obstacles.
The whole idea do trading at the draft is for draft picks to be involved. That isn’t always the case, but can be used as a guideline. That means Roy would have to be exchanged for a similar player in cap space and career trajectory or packaged with a pick for a player with slightly better stock. Neither seem likely although I will outline a possibility later in this article.
“Buffalo will trade up to get into the top-5.” the consensus is that Sabres fans want Alexander Galchenyuk in the first round and would have to jump ahead of Toronto to get him. (5th overall) Galchenyuk has ideal center size and could be a game changer as early as 2013 so he fits.
The problem would be what it would take to get into the top 5. Edmonton will not be trading the number 1 pick. Columbus too has expressed interest in keeping their pick at number 2, especially if they give up Rick Nash. This leaves Montreal and the New York Islanders. Montreal likes their high draft picks, but might be willing to deal. The Islanders have had plenty of top draft picks recently and may be willing to make a swap.
So the targets are there, now the problem becomes what it will take to get those picks. The consensus among fans is that a package of Derek Roy and Andrej Sekera would be enough to entice any NHL GM to wet the bed and trade away their top asset (be that draft pick or player). This is nowhere near the case.
Both have value, but neither will get you into the top 5. Montreal and New York will likely demand a valuable prospect (think Pysyk, Gautier-Leduc or McNabb valuable) and a 2013 1st round pick or both 1st round picks in 2012 and a 2013 1st round pick. That last part is the deal breaker.
2013 is already being lauded as one of the deepest draft classes ever assembled. Scouts and GMs are already salivating over many of those players. In the 2013 draft Buffalo may be able to grab a top-5 caliber pick with picks 12-15 so why give that up for a higher pick in a weak draft class?
“Andrej Sekera is a trading chip that the Sabres can use to ‘spice up’ a deal.” This one, to me, is the most ridiculous. I may be a Sekera fan, but can anyone honestly tell me that Buffalo will be better without Sekera next season? McNabb may be ready and Sulzer showed well in a small sample size, but they still have Mike Weber.
If Mike Weber doubles his speed he might be a valuable defenseman and the other two are unproven. Meanwhile Sekera has done nothing but establish himself as one of Buffalo’s top defenders over the last two seasons and continues to show promise of an even higher potential at the international level.
Why move Sekera? Mike Weber, Jordan Leopold and T.J. Brennan are much less costly than Sekera and Leopold’s cap hit is only $250,000 more.
“Thomas Vanek may be on the move at the draft.” This one, for whatever reason, has a ring of truth to it. I have suspected the Regier has been secretly shopping Vanek on a limited basis for a couple of year. Mind you this proves nothing, but it is encouraging to hear other people mention this.
Vanek has moderate value right noes, but my thought is that a change of system will turn Thomas into a superstar. I’m confident there are GMs who share my opinion. Who might the Sabres cut a deal with? My first hunch is Minnesota. He played his college hockey for the Golden Gophers and there has been a revolving door of talented wingers for the Wild the past few years.
Other potential destinations include Florida, Washington and Colorado. If Vanek is traded it won’t be for picks. His departure would leave a huge production hole that would need to be filled in order to win now.
“Ryan Miller can be traded.” No, he can’t. Fans may be starting to notice the flaws in his game, but Miller put the team on his back in the second half of the season. The free agent goalie market is weak and Jhonas Enroth is unproven. Like it or not Miller is the starter for the foreseeable future.
“Patrick Kane is available.” We all got our hopes up for this the last time he punched a cabbie. If Chicago can stick with Kane through that, this won’t worry them much at all. In fact, it may be a sign of maturity.
“Drew Stafford’s stock is high, trade him.” If you know his stock is high, then you saw him play with Foligno and Ennis. Why would you mess with that!? Plus we would miss out on his hilarious training camp videos.
“Brandon Dubinsky is being shopped. Hey, we need a center!” This is true, in fact Dubinsky may just be an ideal fit. He adds skill and toughness and can fill a scoring or shut down roll depending on how the rest of the team plays. I’ll admit, the thought of Dubinsky in Blue and Gold is interesting to say the least.
The problem once again is the cost. Roy will not get the job done. It will likely take a proven player and a draft pick, potentially in the 2013 draft. The asking price for Dubinsky will probably be too high at the draft, but don’t forget his name if he lingers on the Rangers roster nearer to July 1st.
“Paul Stastny would make for a good target.” Okay, maybe that was just Bucky (but dear God, I’ve never been more grateful for Darcy). This one, surprisingly, isn’t completely silly. Stastny is young(ish) and falling down the depth chart in Colorado. Many point to their young RFAs as a need for some cap space.
The Sabres could use a center. On the surface, yes this makes sense. Dig a little deeper and it falls apart. Stastny on a line with Pominville and Vanek may be the most vanilla top line I can imagine. Add to that the extreme youth already on Colorado’s roter and the idea of exchanging a veteran for draft picks/prospects suddenly doesn’t sound so enticing anymore. A Vanek-Stastny swap looks okay on paper too, but Buffalo then loses some major power on the wing to add extra depth up the middle.
“The Sabres have tons of defensive prospects so they won’t draft one with their 1st round picks.” First off, you can never have too many good defensive prospects. They can always be traded at some point when their value has increased. The most common player I have seen mock drafted by the Sabres is Cody Ceci, so a defenseman is not out of the question.
“Pittsburgh is willing to trade Jordan Staal.” They are not. Why would they be? He’s a top player and is still under contract. If they really want to trade Staal they can sit on him until the trade deadline when some desperate-to-improve team will pay a king’s ransom to acquire him. This move just doesn’t make sense.
Here are some things I will predict for the draft:
1. If the Sabres move up in the draft it will be no higher than 10. If they see someone the like about to go they may leapfrog a couple of spots, but likely will take the best player available when it’s their turn.
2. Buffalo could move back in the draft. Regier isn’t enamored with this year’s crop and with the 21st pick who could blame him? There won’t be a ton of talent available this late in the first round so move back and stockpile later picks. It makes more sense when you read my next prediction.
3. Regier may swap Day 2 picks for the role players that Buffalo so dearly needs. Personal targets would include Joey Crabb, Kyle Chipchura and Justin Abdelkader. Grabbing some NHL ready talent for some draft picks during a questionable draft year would be a big victory in my book.
4. The only Derek Roy trade scenario I can imagine involves three teams. A winger or defenseman (Stafford, Vanek, Leino etc.) would be flipped for prospects/draft picks and a lesser wing/center. Then Roy would be packaged with some of the assets and some extra Sabres assets in a blockbuster to acquire a top wing/center and another second tier player. Sound a little far fetched? Yeah, it sounds that way to me too, but that’s really the only way I see Roysie on the move on Friday.
There you have it. My two cents on the draft. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments section below.