The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 02/24/12 at 05:00 PM ET
If Paul Gaustad wants to be a big help to his team in the next few hours, punching Milan Lucic and/or Brad Marchand in the face tonight is only the second best thing he can do.
If the gritty forward really wants to be part of a winner in Buffalo, as he has stated, then there is no better way for him to do that than by signing an extension at his current annual salary today.
I realize that many Sabres fans and media pros are wishing Gaustad out of town to adhere to the culture change agenda, but I say not so fast.
While he’s obviously not much of a scoring threat, there are traits and intangibles in Gaustad that are sorely needed on this team. Unfortunate inaction during the Lucic-Ryan Miller incident notwithstanding, Gaustad is a standup character guy that you don’t find everyday. I think the Sabres will miss his physicality a great deal if he leaves.
Isn’t it more important to induce a shift in the attitude and mentality of this organization by sending Derek Roy on his merry way? There’ve been enough reports since last summer about Buffalo shopping Roy to make you think there is validity to them. But I just don’t see Darcy Regier making two deals before the deadline that will leave his club with no true centers on his roster.
If Buffalo is serious about retooling up the middle, one of these two will almost certainly be gone. I can envision a Sabres championship-caliber team in the next few years with Gaustad centering the third line much easier than I can with Roy pivoting the top line. Some elite teams are interested in Gaustad for good reason.
Things with Roy have gradually deteriorated to the point where he is considered to be part of the problem and not the solution, so the search for a true top center in Buffalo continues. Maybe at the draft the Sabres somehow land themselves a Russian prize in Mikhail Grigorenko or Alexander Galchenyuk and the pick comes up aces. Perhaps they surprise us and acquire a proven talent like Paul Stastny.
Whatever the case may be, I have to think Regier won’t be able to unload Roy until he knows he has Gaustad in the fold. Of course, if he can deal someone like Drew Stafford in one of his self-proclaimed “transfer of assets” trades to land a center then all bets are off.
Whether Gaustad remains a Sabre is mostly his decision. Regier will likely offer him a market value contract and put the ball in his court. If the seven-year veteran wants a big raise, you’d have to think he isn’t going to get it in Buffalo.
This is why that grand scheme you may have heard about that calls for trading Gaustad and bringing him back in July is flawed.
Do you really think, after spending a few months with a world-class organization like Detroit or a loaded lineup like San Jose, that he’s going to want to come back here? What happens when a GM gets dopey and offers him $15M for 4 years?
If Gaustad were traded, I would consider him to be gone for good. And that would leave a hole to be filled on a team that already has a few too many of them.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]