Kukla's Korner Hockey
by @DaveDavisHockey on 12/28/10 at 05:57 PM ET
With all of the media and fan obsession in this town over where the Buffalo Bills will be slotted in the NFL draft order this spring, Sabres fans might be interested to know that their hockey team is currently in line for a top 5 overall pick in 2011. The last time Buffalo was in such a position, they drafted a guy named Thomas Vanek.
With leading scorer Derek Roy likely done for the season, and with the gap from here to eighth place in the East ever so painfully widening, it might be time to start habitually looking down on the standings page instead of up.
News of the severity of Roy’s injury certainly felt like a skate boot to the stomach. And in timely fashion, disillusioned armchair GM’s are now calling for Darcy Regier to make a trade to bring in a top line center to replace him. You know, something similar to all of the other trades for top line centers that have been made around the league recently.
Even in the unlikely event that such a deal could be made without gutting a busload of assets from the farm, where exactly would such a move get us? To the stage of effectively replacing one point-per-game guy with another, so that the Sabres can maintain their status as the 26th best team in the league?
What this team will need going forward is draft picks, and the higher those selections are the better. And if the Sabres finding themselves in April in the same spot where they are now in the standings turns out to be the best way to get a top 5 overall pick, then so be it.
Sorry if this philosophy isn’t sexy enough for you, but in the salary cap era the draft creates the lifeblood of your team. Take a look at the top of the standings where you’ll find the likes of Pittsburgh, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington and Vancouver. The top 3 scorers on all of these teams are Grade A homegrown talent.
Regier hasn’t publicly conceded the season, and that’s to be expected. We’re not even halfway in and you can’t expect him to declare that he’s throwing in the towel already. Besides, the optimal time for deals isn’t until 2 months from today, when the NHL trade deadline comes on February 28.
New ownership is apparently on the way, the Sabres have one of the worst records in the league, and they’re carrying some dead salary weight. That’s not a formula for being a buyer in the market. If your unwarranted optimism has conned you into thinking that way, it’s time to turn your standings page upside down.
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