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Fixing Team Defense...

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Old
03-11-2013, 11:14 AM
  #1
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Fixing Team Defense...

So we've seen the horror...the... horror... of this Sabres team in their own zone all season. The Sabres have two high-value expiring contracts in Leopold and Regehr and yet they also have a lot of 6/7 types (if that) populating their blueline as well as the unheralded Sekera, the under-appreciated by national press Ehrhoff, and the under-a-microscope Myers. Aside from the pandemic lack of intellegent play from the forwards on the backcheck or with the puck in their own zone, they have three or four positions to fill for next season. Since we're going to have a long, long time before camp opens in the fall, we could spend some time speculating on what they could do to fix things in terms of personnel, blueline or otherwise.

Selling Leopold and Regehr ought to be priority 1a/1b for this coming trade deadline. Finding a contender for Regehr, who at this point they should've asked for a list of possible destinations, and moving him on for another crack at playoff glory could yield them a solid return. As well, it's a nice gesture to a well-respected player. With how d-men get value at the deadline, something in the 2nd round+ or a possible late 1st rounder from a team banking on Regehr's history more than his recent play on this crap team is possibly. Leopold has frequently been a deadline day acquisition over his career. With yet another hand injury, I don't expect his value to be more than his previous benchmarks (2nd rounder).

That said, taking a pair out of the Sabres blueline when they are already awash in middling talent like Brennan, Softzer, and Pardy is going to be an opportunity for someone (McNabb or Pysyk) or a further nightmare for the goaltending. Probably both. McNabb would add a physical element they lack, and can pass the puck, but his plodding skating will be an issue. Pysyk's still growing up. Neither have exactly set the world on fire in the AHL this season, but they are available in the short-term. Do they make the moves and let these guys have OJT as part of the overall youth movement the team has going for it? Or do they look to augment come summer?

Part of their next moves will be dictated by who they have running hockey operations this summer and who is behind the bench. And they clearly need either a system to cut down on chances against or more buy-in from the forwards they have OR simply more defensively capable forwards who aren't going full-Luke Adam on them nightly. They could certainly use a center who can slot in as a defensive zone guy, someone who is above 50% on faceoffs and good at actually shutting down his opposite number. In fact, they could probably use two centers like that and another winger.

Thoughts? Can you tell this has been one boring-ass call I'm on at work?

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03-11-2013, 11:21 AM
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There is no quick fix here, but I think a lot of this is on the forwards. This team is the worst breakout team I can remember. A two-way center and some wingers who can receive and make a pass would take this team a long way.

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03-11-2013, 11:22 AM
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Regarding team D in the center department...

From my perspectives, it seems like on the NYR board that people want to trade Boyle. (I don't know why. They say cause JT Miller is running the show at 3C but still.) Boyle has around a 53% Faceoff rating right now I believe. If he was to be traded, he's a big body and a faceoff beast. Good forechecker too.

I'd ship one of Regehr or Leo out for a trade at the deadline, but not both. Seems like Regehr has regressed a little bit and Leo isn't that good in D zone but adequate in the O zone... or has been/was. I'd give the rookies/kids a shot...

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03-11-2013, 11:22 AM
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The first thing they need is a new scheme to play. Something that has structure, but also allows for creativity and transition.

There stiff as a rock, conservative defensive zone exits are a problem of scheme, not players.

It's a good thing we have all the mobile defensemen whipping the puck around the boards for a winger to chip out....

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03-11-2013, 11:24 AM
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Trade regher and leopold. Sign smid and white.
Myers-Smid
Sekera-Hoff
White-Weber
McNabb

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03-11-2013, 12:02 PM
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The whole system needs to change. The d-men get pinned down for shifts at a time, and they rarely attempt to skate the puck out. Like Jame said it's too much passing the puck around to FWs that get trapped on the wall.

Regehr and Leopold need to go anyway. They won't be useful by the time this ship gets turned around (or now actually) so get the standard draft picks for them. I'd like to try and get a d-man prospect but it's probably more practical and likely to take those picks and package them later for the player you want. Go with 57, 10, 44, 52, 6, 33, 27 and bringing up McNabb only in case of injury.

An evaluation will have to made about the prospects. McNabb and Pysyk probably don't end up being difference makers for this organization, just younger versions of a physical and a steady two-way d-man. Difference makers will have to come through trade, so that means 26/29/30 or high draft picks to get them...likely lateral moves. I'd rather collect picks and prospects and put a huge focus on scouting and drafting the right players, and hope they pan out in 2-3 years. There's not much more option with little cap room and few players with high trade value.

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03-11-2013, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheyAreGoodScaryGood View Post
Trade regher and leopold. Sign smid and white.
Myers-Smid
Sekera-Hoff
White-Weber
McNabb
Like the first part but not the 2nd, white and weber would be slow as hell as a pairing. Plus I think white had a really bad eye injury that's impaired his vision...can someone confirm this?

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03-11-2013, 12:11 PM
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Some forwards that can play some D as well, would help out greatly.

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03-11-2013, 12:14 PM
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Not enough players with good defensive hockey sense. It probably doesn't help matters that most of the guys don't trust their teammates to be where they're supposed to be, which further exacerbates the problem because they're all cheating to cover up for others' anticipated mistakes.

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03-11-2013, 12:15 PM
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I really don't think Edmonton would let Smid test free agency. But if he does we should be all over that.

As of right now, I really don't understand why McNabb hasn't been recalled yet. Are they waiting until they are mathematically eliminated? He's a good player, smart and physical.

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03-11-2013, 12:18 PM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jame View Post
The first thing they need is a new scheme to play. Something that has structure, but also allows for creativity and transition.

There stiff as a rock, conservative defensive zone exits are a problem of scheme, not players.

It's a good thing we have all the mobile defensemen whipping the puck around the boards for a winger to chip out....
Yup. Never have I seen so many above-average transition defensemen play so ******* poorly in transition.

As for personnel, the forwards should've been something like this after the summer:

Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville
Foligno-Ennis-Stafford
Ott-X-Y
Z-W-Kaleta

With the consonants being above average defensive forwards (McClement, Glass, etc). They didn't, and Ellis, Grigorenko, McCormick, Gerbe etc have largely been black holes where possession goes to die.

On D, they needed to jettison Leopold, who sucked in his own end last season before sucking everywhere this year, and use that cap/roster space to stabilize the Myers pairing and entire blueline with another capable shutdown defenseman. We all see how that went.

As for next year, Grigs throws a wrench in the above structure, but given no blockbuster deals:
Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville
Penner-Ennis-Stafford
Ott-Bozak-Zubrus?
Foligno-Grigorenko-Tropp/Thompson

Smid/Scuderi-Myers
Sekera-Ehrhoff
McNabb-White
Loods?

Don't get too caught up in the specifics, Penner is a general "buy low depth forward" and pretty much could turn into anyone between here and now. I'm generally just pouring over the UFA list, and a lot of these spots could be filled via smaller trades rather than a relatively weak UFA class.

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03-11-2013, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by kirby11 View Post
Like the first part but not the 2nd, white and weber would be slow as hell as a pairing. Plus I think white had a really bad eye injury that's impaired his vision...can someone confirm this?
I think we're talking Ian White, Colin is the one with the eye injury, and isn't an NHL defenseman at this point in his career.

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03-11-2013, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by struckbyaparkedcar View Post
Yup. Never have I seen so many above-average transition defensemen play so ******* poorly in transition.

As for personnel, the forwards should've been something like this after the summer:

Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville
Foligno-Ennis-Stafford
Ott-X-Y
Z-W-Kaleta

With the consonants being above average defensive forwards (McClement, Glass, etc). They didn't, and Ellis, Grigorenko, McCormick, Gerbe etc have largely been black holes where possession goes to die.

On D, they needed to jettison Leopold, who sucked in his own end last season before sucking everywhere this year, and use that cap/roster space to stabilize the Myers pairing and entire blueline with another capable shutdown defenseman. We all see how that went.

As for next year, Grigs throws a wrench in the above structure, but given no blockbuster deals:
Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville
Penner-Ennis-Stafford
Ott-Bozak-Zubrus?
Foligno-Grigorenko-Tropp/Thompson

Smid/Scuderi-Myers
Sekera-Ehrhoff
McNabb-White
Loods?

Don't get too caught up in the specifics, Penner is a general "buy low depth forward" and pretty much could turn into anyone between here and now. I'm generally just pouring over the UFA list, and a lot of these spots could be filled via smaller trades rather than a relatively weak UFA class.
I'm not going to get caught up in the specifics, but Bozak isn't the type of center they need. For some reason, he seems to have developed a reputation as a good defensive center around here when the numbers don't really support that conclusion (high GA/60, middling qualcomp, ambivalent Corsi). Good at faceoffs, but he's never jumped out at me subjectively or objectively with his defense.

I truly think they have to trade one of the Offensive Three (Ennis, Hodgson, Grigs) for an elite, two-way center, and then add a 4C who can eat up defensive-zone starts, thereby allowing the remaining Offensive Two to play cushy offensive minutes. They also have to add some better defensive defensemen. I wouldn't hate Scuderi.

They also need a new defensive system implemented.

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03-11-2013, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by struckbyaparkedcar View Post
Yup. Never have I seen so many above-average transition defensemen play so ******* poorly in transition.

As for personnel, the forwards should've been something like this after the summer:

Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville
Foligno-Ennis-Stafford
Ott-X-Y
Z-W-Kaleta

With the consonants being above average defensive forwards (McClement, Glass, etc). They didn't, and Ellis, Grigorenko, McCormick, Gerbe etc have largely been black holes where possession goes to die.

On D, they needed to jettison Leopold, who sucked in his own end last season before sucking everywhere this year, and use that cap/roster space to stabilize the Myers pairing and entire blueline with another capable shutdown defenseman. We all see how that went.

As for next year, Grigs throws a wrench in the above structure, but given no blockbuster deals:
Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville
Penner-Ennis-Stafford
Ott-Bozak-Zubrus?
Foligno-Grigorenko-Tropp/Thompson

Smid/Scuderi-Myers
Sekera-Ehrhoff
McNabb-White
Loods?

Don't get too caught up in the specifics, Penner is a general "buy low depth forward" and pretty much could turn into anyone between here and now. I'm generally just pouring over the UFA list, and a lot of these spots could be filled via smaller trades rather than a relatively weak UFA class.
I'm not good with short form/nicknames, are you talking about J-G-L (not Joseph Gordon-Levitt ) or Visnovsky?

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03-11-2013, 12:45 PM
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zip15 View Post
I'm not going to get caught up in the specifics, but Bozak isn't the type of center they need. For some reason, he seems to have developed a reputation as a good defensive center around here when the numbers don't really support that conclusion (high GA/60, middling qualcomp, ambivalent Corsi). Good at faceoffs, but he's never jumped out at me subjectively or objectively with his defense.

I truly think they have to trade one of the Offensive Three (Ennis, Hodgson, Grigs) for an elite, two-way center, and then add a 4C who can eat up defensive-zone starts, thereby allowing the remaining Offensive Two to play cushy offensive minutes. They also have to add some better defensive defensemen. I wouldn't hate Scuderi.

They also need a new defensive system implemented.
He would be one of if not our best defensive foward and is very good on face offs, something we could use if the price is right. Elite 2 way forwards dont grow on trees and if a team has one I doubt the have any interest in moving one.

He also plays with Kessel who is putrid defensively.

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03-11-2013, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zip15 View Post
I'm not going to get caught up in the specifics, but Bozak isn't the type of center they need. For some reason, he seems to have developed a reputation as a good defensive center around here when the numbers don't really support that conclusion (high GA/60, middling qualcomp, ambivalent Corsi). Good at faceoffs, but he's never jumped out at me subjectively or objectively with his defense.
That's a fair assessment. He's definitely not elite defensively, but he's good at faceoffs and intelligent enough to be a placeholder while we wait for either Girgensons to develop or that trade you mentioned later to come along. Besides, when that does happen, it's not like we couldn't just trade Bozak out west for picks at the deadline. I'd say Antoine Vermette is a pretty decent comparable, and he's consistently garnered seconds. Same with Matt Cullen. Those type of players don't really lose value unless they really, really fall off a cliff.

Also, we haven't had three NHL centers on the top three lines in years. Simply having that depth is a huge difference.

Quote:
I truly think they have to trade one of the Offensive Three (Ennis, Hodgson, Grigs) for an elite, two-way center, and then add a 4C who can eat up defensive-zone starts, thereby allowing the remaining Offensive Two to play cushy offensive minutes. They also have to add some better defensive defensemen. I wouldn't hate Scuderi.
I don't disagree, but I don't see that deal immediately available with O'Reilly off the market, even in the offseason. Phoenix did well to lock up Hanzal for like 15/5. I'd also put Pominville in play for that sort of player.

Quote:
They also need a new defensive system implemented.
Yerp.

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03-11-2013, 12:56 PM
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I'm not good with short form/nicknames, are you talking about J-G-L (not Joseph Gordon-Levitt ) or Visnovsky?
Lydman, Toni. He's having a good year in Anaheim, but they have bunch of defensemen and he'll be 35. Perhaps he comes back here for 3/1 or 4/2 or something like that. I think he's got at least a year left as a #3 shutdown guy, and can play another couple as a stabilizing presence and vet 5/6.

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03-11-2013, 01:01 PM
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I'm not good with short form/nicknames, are you talking about J-G-L (not Joseph Gordon-Levitt ) or Visnovsky?
How do you not know who Toni Lydman is.

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03-11-2013, 02:15 PM
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How do you not know who Toni Lydman is.
Never caught on to "Loods", sorry fellas

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03-11-2013, 02:44 PM
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He would be one of if not our best defensive foward and is very good on face offs, something we could use if the price is right. Elite 2 way forwards dont grow on trees and if a team has one I doubt the have any interest in moving one.

He also plays with Kessel who is putrid defensively.
Throwing Money at Bozak could be Leino 2.0. I would rather go after a sure thing than take a risk on Tyler only to be suck with another bad contract for the next few years.

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03-11-2013, 03:13 PM
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Move Regher & Leo at the deadline.

Then, play Brennan, McNabb, Pardy the rest of the season.
Sign Shaoeaone Moorrissonn if we need to.
(Do not call up Pysyk - spare him from feeling the heat of this Viking bonfire that is the 2013 Sabres.)

Play Enroth instead of Miller, to be kind to Miller.
Put Vanek on IR, to be kind to Vanek.

Finish season,
Obtain lottery pick,
Profit.

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03-11-2013, 03:15 PM
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My recommendations,

Trade Regehr and Leo for some type of return. Target defensemen who have a Dan Hamhuis skill set...aka,

Decent mobility
Highly intelligent
Good outlet passer
Decent shot
Good shot blocker
Can cover for his partners mistakes
Not overly big, but still physical.

I've always liked Kevin Klein out of Nashville...even if he doesn't quite live up to the standards of a Hamhuis.

Smid might be the only guy available via UFA this summer. Others will need to be acquired via trade. If none are available, or the asking price is too much, stay pat and give McNabb and Pysyk some OTJ training. This team likely is not going to win anything next year.

I see the team having 3 defensemen that are worthy of being in the nhl next year....Myers, Ehrhoff, and Sekera with Weber being the 7th man. They need to find 3 additional players who can complement the top 3 better than what they currently have.

They also need to let certain guys play to their strengths.

Ehrhoff needs to be allowed to pinch/join the rush. He should not be killing penalties nor put out against the oppositions top line. He needs to be more active on the point on the PP.

Myers - Similar to above. He needs a partner who will cover for his gaffes and needs to be given the green light to join rushes/move down low in the offensive zone. When he is active in the offensive zone he is engaged...when he is engaged he plays better defensively and appears to have more confidence with the puck. Unlike Ehrhoff, he should be getting PK time but he cannot be relied upon to be the anchor on the PK.

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03-11-2013, 03:21 PM
  #23
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Throwing Money at Bozak could be Leino 2.0. I would rather go after a sure thing than take a risk on Tyler only to be suck with another bad contract for the next few years.
Hence "if the price is right"

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03-11-2013, 03:53 PM
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zip15 View Post
I'm not going to get caught up in the specifics, but Bozak isn't the type of center they need. For some reason, he seems to have developed a reputation as a good defensive center around here when the numbers don't really support that conclusion (high GA/60, middling qualcomp, ambivalent Corsi). Good at faceoffs, but he's never jumped out at me subjectively or objectively with his defense.

I truly think they have to trade one of the Offensive Three (Ennis, Hodgson, Grigs) for an elite, two-way center, and then add a 4C who can eat up defensive-zone starts, thereby allowing the remaining Offensive Two to play cushy offensive minutes. They also have to add some better defensive defensemen. I wouldn't hate Scuderi.

They also need a new defensive system implemented.
#1 on my list

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03-11-2013, 03:58 PM
  #25
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the truth is... there isn't single player on the Buffalo Sabres roster, that I want on the ice against, Giroux or Crosby

and until we have at least 4 guys (any positions, duplicates is fine) that I would be comfortable with on the ice against those guys... then we are no where near where we need to be.

we need to suck it up and wait for the 2014 free agent class... hopefuly a 3rd of those guys make it to market

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