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The Sabres Observer

Don’t Confuse Sabres Blue Line Depth With A Logjam (Again)

“I think if you’re going to be successful as a club, you have to have a lot of defensemen and you have to have the depth. Anyone that can think back a few years knows that if there’s a position to have numbers, it’s on defense. I think it’s a good thing.” - Sabres GM Darcy Regier

If there’s one thing that history apparently hasn’t taught some residents of Sabres Nation, it’s that there’s nothing wrong with having an abundance of defensemen on your team.

Please forgive me, but every time I hear the word “logjam” used to describe the situation on the blue line, it gives me the same reaction as fingernails on the chalkboard.  Would people really rather have six quality defensemen than eight?  Where’s the championship mentality in Buffalo?

I get that you want to use this purported bounty of defensive riches to upgrade at forward.  Fine.  But keep two things in mind.  First of all, about one-third of teams in the league just drafted top defensive prospects whom they’re likely much more excited about than Mark Pysyk or T.J. Brennan.

Secondly, it’s apparent to me that some folks are overvaluing how good this Buffalo defense from top to bottom really is.

This mistake was made last year, when predictions were flying that pending breakout seasons of Marc-Andre Gragnani and Mike Weber would force Buffalo’s hand to avoid suffocating some good young talent.  Darcy Regier instead refrained from wheeling and dealing, but the Sabres between poor play and injuries never seemed to have six guys going well at the same time.

Here’s what you have for 2012-13: Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold, Andrej Sekera, Alex Sulzer, Weber, Brayden McNabb, Brennan, and Adam Pardy.  Sure, I like my top four.  But take a long look at the entire list and tell me, with your blue-and-gold colored glasses off, how many of those guys are legitimate top-six defensemen on a Stanley Cup contending team?

Assuming Tyler Ennis and Patrick Kaleta get signed, the Sabres at 24 players will have one too many on the roster.  Unless Pardy in camp looks like he’ll be something more than he was last season, he’ll likely be demoted.  McNabb can play in Rochester until there’s an injury.  Brennan, now in his fourth year as a pro, has to earn a spot on the team or he’ll be waived. 

Logjam?  Hardly.  Competition is good.

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Comments

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Here’s the problem with your position: too many assets in one area likely result in too few, elsewhere.

There is a certain logic to the idea of the 6 best dmen being better because they were playing for 8 spots.  However, why not package the 2nd, 3rd and 4th best dmen for a much better #1 or 1a?  Or why not move a couple of those 8 to upgrade the forwards?

That’s the problem with having a bunch of players at one position.  Yes, competition is good… but the point ought to be trying to make the best team possible, not just the best blue line.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/31/12 at 04:18 PM ET

@DaveDavisHockey's avatar

That would make sense except that Buffalo doesn’t have 6 guys back there that are proven, consistent NHL performers.  The whole point here is that having a high draft pick wearing a jersey doesn’t automatically make him a desirable asset.  Quantity doesn’t mean quality.

Posted by @DaveDavisHockey from Buffalo, NY on 07/31/12 at 04:32 PM ET

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That would make sense except that Buffalo doesn’t have 6 guys back there that are proven, consistent NHL performers.

Would people really rather have six quality defensemen than eight?  Where’s the championship mentality in Buffalo?

Therein lies my confusion.  If your point is that only 4 of the 8 guys are good, then fine.  It’s not a logjam it’s a twigjam.  If your point is that the team should have 8 quality dmen instead of 6, then my previous post stands.

They shouldn’t.  8 quality dmen is a waste of assets that could be used to improve the team elsewhere.

Having 8 dmen and not being sure most of them are any bleeping good is a wholly different situation.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/31/12 at 05:44 PM ET

@DaveDavisHockey's avatar

If I had 8 guys whom I thought were good enough to be top 6, I wouldn’t feel that I absolutely had to wheel and deal.  When a couple of them get hurt and/or have down seasons, you’re hopefully still covered.

Posted by @DaveDavisHockey from Buffalo, NY on 07/31/12 at 06:04 PM ET

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If I had 8 guys whom I thought were good enough to be top 6, I wouldn’t feel that I absolutely had to wheel and deal.

Depends if you have holes in other places.  If you have 8 guys who are good enough to play every day then your team is wasting their money and the players’ talents by having two of them sitting on the bench every game.

Posted by Garth on 07/31/12 at 06:19 PM ET

@DaveDavisHockey's avatar

Sure, if all of them stay healthy and never slump during an 82-game season.  Which happens, like, never.

Posted by @DaveDavisHockey from Buffalo, NY on 07/31/12 at 06:28 PM ET

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If I had 8 guys whom I thought were good enough to be top 6, I wouldn’t feel that I absolutely had to wheel and deal.

I disagree.

First, roster rules.  Are all 8 of these guys already on the NHL roster?  If not, if you call them up to just fill an injury need are you accelerating their RFA clock?  If they are, that’s 8 dmen out of 23.  Plus 2 goalies and you’re only carrying 13 forwards.

Secondly, unless your forwards and goalies are pristine you are wasting assets by not making a move.

Thirdly, even keeping these 8 guys doesn’t help you all that much.  It assumes significant enough injuries to your top 6 so that you’re going to get at least 40 games out of each replacement… which is a lot of injury.  If your other top guys are getting hurt so much, maybe they shouldn’t be your top guys any more.

I mean, 40ish games out of a solid #8 dman compared to 40ish games out of a lesser dman?  I don’t see the big upside there.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/31/12 at 06:31 PM ET

@DaveDavisHockey's avatar

With my specific example (Buffalo), they could keep 7 guys up, waive Brennan & Pardy if they don’t make the team, and let McNabb (the true 8th guy and who still has options) dominate in the AHL to start.  Sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

Posted by @DaveDavisHockey from Buffalo, NY on 07/31/12 at 06:36 PM ET

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With my specific example (Buffalo), they could keep 7 guys up, waive Brennan & Pardy if they don’t make the team, and let McNabb (the true 8th guy and who still has options) dominate in the AHL to start.  Sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

Well, now it just sounds like you’re talking about what every other team in the NHL does.  They have some guys, some make the team and some don’t, and the world turns.

It sure sounded like you were talking about the Sabres having 8 NHL ready guys they need to keep, it appears the reality is they’ve got maybe 4 NHLers, a couple depth guys, and prospects.  Again, that’s like everybody more or less.

And not exactly an inscrutable lineup situation.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 07/31/12 at 10:00 PM ET

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Being a season ticket holder, it is important to the fans that Regier should do something before the season starts. One of the most important thing is trade two of their veteran defencemen like Sekera (who played well at the World’s) and Leopold who are worth something at this time. Play McNab and Grigorenko for 9 games and then evaluate if they should stay. Weber is friends with Ott and Regehr is friends with Pegula so they won’t be traded at this time. Trade two defencemen (except McNab and Myers), two forwards like Kaleta, Stafford, Adam, Gerbe for a top two center or top 6 forward. If Grigorenko makes the team, waive Ellis or McCormick. Time is now and they can adjust before the trade deadline.

Posted by Vic from London from London Ontario on 07/31/12 at 11:08 PM ET

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You really want to put grigorenko on 4th line cuz that’s where mccormick plays id rather to have him grow into the offensive powerhouse that he has the potential to be than have him on a bottom line like that.he wouldn’t touch the ice enough for it to help his style of play at all

Posted by kevin from rochester ny on 08/01/12 at 11:27 PM ET

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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: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]