Thread: Speculation: #1C no longer a top priority?
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03-28-2012, 09:53 PM
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Now, I have not been much of a Roy fan, in fact, the large majority of my posts on HF have been looking for ways for us to get rid of the guy. BUT, I've come to realize a few things over the course of posting here on these boards...

A) Acquiring a center that's considered a current "#1 center", including guys like from Crosby & Sedin to Kopitar and Richards, to Kreji & Bergeron, these guys are EXTREMELY difficult to acquire. These players would all take an overpayment unless something is awry (like Richards and Carter supposed party attitudes and whatever it did to their lockerroom).

B) Acquiring a "potential" #1 center, seems easier, but that potential needs to come to fruition. Hodgson COULD become a #1, he COULD become a #2, that remains to be seen. These guys are easier to trade for, due to their lack of a proven track record, but are still costly and would require heavy payment.

C) Depth at center is key. I won't quote the exact post, but I believe joshjull posted that part of the recent success of the Sabres is due to Ennis, Hodgson, and Roy sharing the duties of two scoring lines between 3 scoring lines. The pressure isn't there. I don't know if this is the entire reason for the success (IMO a big part is Hodgson gaining chemistry, Ennis' conversion to center is a much better spot for him, and Roy just seems to be putting it all out there on the ice right now, especially defensively), but it certainly helps.

D) Trading Roy for an upgrade (something I think I've even had wonderful dreams about on occasion) at center, seems unrealistic. He's got one year remaining on his deal, albeit at a great price, but that won't last past next season. No one wants to trade young players/prospects, or guys signed to fair 2-5 year contracts, for a guy on a good contract that is up after one season. As much as I'd love to do it, I doubt it could happen. Maybe for a downgrade (Bolland +?), but it's not likely to happen.

E) The Hecht situation remains unclear. If we keep Ennis, Hodgson, Roy as is, Hecht may be re-signed, especially if he plays during the playoffs. He doesn't want to move his family, and I think if he wants to come back for a one year deal, Regier has the respect to say "ok, let's sign a fair 1-year deal, because we are uncertain about the science of concussions, but you are at risk, and we want you to retire here, and believe you can add leadership, defensive ability, and depth to our roster". I know a lot of people are against it, but I doubt you'd find a better 4th line center for Buffalo in the league if he can play 50-60 games next season.

F) Drafting is a very unpredictable practice, so I'd rather get more centers than move up. Grigorenko may have attitude issues (this is just what I've heard posted, no idea if it's true), Galchenyuk may have injury issues, Faksa may not develop properly, Gaunce may not be fast enough, Girgensons might not be as good when he starts to face better talent. It's a total crapshoot. I'd rather keep all of our 1st and 2nd round picks, try to take at least 2 centers (which will take Galchenyuk and Grigorenko out of it likely, and maybe Faksa as well), and get as many as possible. Giroux, Getzlaf, and others, are all "elite" centers who have been drafted outside of the top 10 in their respective draft years. Plus, you can always use the organizational depth. It's how we got so deep on defensemen, now it's time to do the same at forward.

G) Lastly, let's take a look at the lines as currently constructed...

Line (R)-Leino-Roy-Pominville
Line (H)-Vanek-Hodgson-Tropp
Line (E)-Foligno-Ennis-Stafford

Mainly focusing on the top-3 lines, I named them so that we don't say Lines "1-2-3" etc. we can see line "R" has been playing more of a shutdown role. Pominville is likely our best defensive forward without Gaustad, Roy is our best defensive center, and Leino is pretty solid in his own zone, and is good at controlling the puck in the offensive zone.

The "H" and "E" lines focus more on offense, but are responsible defensively (as all forwards are supposed to be in Ruff's system). But I believe a key for their success has been the play of Foligno and Tropp. Now granted it's not only them, but the way they play allows the more offensively gifted players (Hodgson, Vanek, Ennis & Stafford) room to roam in the offensive zone. This allows for greater playmaking ability, especially I believe for Stafford, who was forced to try to be more of a power-forward, but is more of a sniper who can make some pretty passes on occasion.

All this being said, I admit I've gone a bit on a tangent.

The needs for the Sabres, in my opinion, are these...

1. Draft centers- hopefully two with our 1st 4 draft picks, and maybe one replaces Roy after his contract is up, because he is extremely unlikely to be dealt.

2. Find another, more proven power forward- Possibly to put with Roy-Pominville, or to put with Vanek-Hodgson, and move Tropp to the Roy- Pominville line. That way, if they re-signed Hecht, you could have...

ex. Kaleta/McCormick/Ellis

With XXXX hopefully being a guy like Ryane Clowe, or Dustin Brown. Maybe Luke Adam & 2013 1st? for either, or, if necessary, Nashville's 1st this year. I know I said to use those picks on draft players, but sometimes you have to give to get (ala Kassian-Hodgson).

3. Watch the young guys in Rochester next year. Not only forwards, but defensemen as well. Does McNabb continue to develop, what about Brennan & Finley? Pysyk and maybe Gauthier-Leduc will be in the AHL next season, how do they look? Because after next season, Regehr & Leopold will be free agents, and Weber looks to be a 7th defenseman and not much more for the rest of his career. Will they need to look outside the organization for those replacements?

Also, look for Roy's replacement within the organization. If Adam stays, how does he develop? Or Catenacci, Sundher, Shipley, whoever we draft. Do they look ready to take on a 3rd line role if Ennis and Hodgson continue to take over the top 2 lines? Or do they need to look outside? And if they look outside, is it for a 3C, or possible 1/2C?

-This all remains to be seen. I think they'll keep Roy into next year, keep him all the way through if they're looking like contenders, see what he wants for a contract extension and decide then if they need to look for a #1 or #3. My guess? Hodgson develops into a solid #2, capable of 30-30-60 seasons, or somewhere around that. Ennis becomes a #1. I just believe he has the skills, and is way to similar to Briere, especially around this age, being moved from wing to center, etc. and will be a 30-50-80 type guy, going up and down. Adam will eventually be dealt for a big winger with experience and grit for a playoff run. They'll draft 2 centers with their first four picks in the 2012 draft. Roy will leave when his contract is up, and they will find a replacement in free agency for a year or two, until one of the guys they drafted in 2012 is able to step up and play a consistent game on the 3rd line, with one of the guys like Sundher/Catenacci/Shipley, taking over the 4th line.

Center remains the biggest priority, but size on the wing, and development of defense prospects into NHL'ers are also key priorities. Also, one I didn't mention that I believe is right behind those... draft a goalie in the 2nd round please. Miller and Enroth are solid, Lieuwen and Knapp are interesting, but don't have "future NHL starter/good backup" written on them.

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