The Buffalo Sabres’ annual trade deadline blowout bonanza is upon us.
As has been the case for nearly a decade, the Sabres find themselves approaching the deadline with one goal in mind: offload as many assets as possible for as much as possible.
The problem this season is that the expiring contracts they have available have put them in a difficult position. They are, in essence, trying to sell snow tires to Floridians- what they have is not generally viewed as necessary, interesting or beneficial.
Be that as it may, the Sabres should be pushing to squeeze whatever they can out of these players before they are gone. Doing so will not be easy. It will require some creativity. That is exactly what we are going to do today.
We’ll look at some sales pitches general manager Jason Botterill should be using when trying to sell his players off over the next couple weeks. Hopefully, we can strike a chord with a rival general manager to help move on from some of the dead weight.
Let’s sell some tires!
Michael Frolik Brings You Legendary Status
We in the Sabres organization don’t want to offer you just any Joe Shmoe to enhance your Cup run. No, we have something much more enticing.
How would you like to add one of the most legendary players of all time with some of the most legendary hair of all time? We’re talking “second-place-all-time-scoring” legendary. We’re talking about the big six-eight…Jaromir Jagr!
Well…not the Jaromir Jagr. But, stay with me, this is even better. We have the man they call ‘Baby Jagr’. That’s right, a younger, fresher version of an all-time great. Well, at least someone who came from the same town and played for the same junior team as a legend.
Michael Frolik will bring veteran leadership and experience to your lineup. Heck, he was the first player to ever score more than one penalty shot goal in the playoffs. So, you know, you have someone pretty solid for all of the penalty shots you’ll receive this postseason.
And let’s not forget just how valuable he was for the Sabres this season. We entered the campaign with a literal dump truck load of defencemen that we could not bear to part with. There was speculation all summer that we could and should move some defence for help up front but we couldn’t find anything enticing enough. That all changed Jan 2. When we knew he was available, we had to pounce.
Although we won’t be playing in the postseason, you will be and you can bring Frolik along for the ride. All the Sabres will need in return is something resembling a fourth-round pick and Baby Jagr could be all yours.
Conor Sheary Gives You Stanley Cup Experience
What is one of the most coveted things a contending team wants when they approach the trade deadline on their quest for the Stanley Cup? Someone who has been there, done that.
My fellow general manager, look no further than Conor Sheary. He has not one, but two Stanley Cups. Not with us, of course. They were from his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This leader of men helped propel a team that also featured Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury to back-to-back Cup wins.
Now don’t get me wrong, those teammates certainly helped Shaery along the way. But make no mistake, without Sheary on either of those teams… someone else would probably have their name engraved on the Cup.
Sheary isn’t just living in the past. No, he can still bring blistering shots from high-danger areas, as evidenced by this goal from earlier this season.
If you want to be serious about the Stanley Cup, Sheary needs to be part of your plans. Sure he only has 16 points on the season, but he’s been saving himself for a big playoff run.
His golf game was getting rusty with all those pesky playoff games he had to play for the Penguins. Now that the Sabres organization has helped him get his handicap back down, Sheary is ready to get his playoffs on and can be yours for a fifth-round pick of the season of your choosing.
Jimmy Vesey Provides NHL Pedigree
Another envied trait that NHL general managers cannot get enough of are players whose fathers played in the NHL. These players have been around the game their whole life and know what it takes to win.
Fellow GMs, I give you Jimmy Vesey.
The son of 15-game veteran Jim Vesey, Jimmy has had a newsworthy career to this point, characterized by good decision-making. He opted to spurn the Nashville Predators after they drafted him in order to become a free agent and choose where he would begin his NHL career.
Who cares if the Predators play in arguably the best market in the league in front of some of the best fans while usually contending for long playoff runs? Not Vesey. No, he smartly opted for the glitz and glamour of playing for the New York Rangers, scoring 16, 17 and 17 goals over three seasons.
This season, Vesey has amassed six goals in 48 games for our organization. Now, six-goal scorers don’t just grow on trees. Normally they grow on bushes and shrubs and those typically have thorns. Don’t worry about the thorns, we’ll deliver him right to your door. The price? Well, because our organization ended up paying two third-round picks, simple math would lead to a fair value of a sixth-round pick. If you pony up, he’s all yours.
Zemgus Girgensons Adds Swagger
Don’t want a player with a legendary status, Cup rings or NHL pedigree? Everyone wants a former All-Star for their Stanley Cup run. Stop where you are and pick up the phone. Zemgus Girgensons is on the market.
Girgensons, a first-round pick in 2012, was the highlight of the 2015 NHL All-Star game, leading the league in votes. Obviously, fans around the league were beginning to recognize the true talent the Sabres had found. It may have also helped that he was basically a god in his native Latvia.
Additionally, former coach Jim Montgomery revealed the meaning of the name Zemgus as being ‘one who eats lions’ in Latvian. Of all the micro stats that are not fully being tracked yet, lions eaten per 60 has to be one of them. In any event, Girgensons is no doubt toward the top of that leaderboard.
Girgensons could conceivably match his career-high 15 goals this season. His offensive skill is as undeniable as the Anchor Bar having the best wings in Buffalo. It’s time for him to spread his wings and unleash the full scope of his game on the league.
To put a value on Girgensons is difficult. Can you really put a price on all the good times that were had? Can you truly quantify each of those sub-10-goal tank seasons into one, neat value? If the Sabres are faced with the reality of a lion attack heading into our next game, what will we do? Considering that your team will be receiving a former All-Star and will now become the next hot thing in Latvia in addition to immediately becoming the top of the food chain, setting the bar at a fifth-round pick could possibly seal the deal.
Johan Larsson Contributes Consistency
If you are going to trade an asset for a player to contribute to your postseason campaign, you want to feel confident in exactly what you are getting. Johan Larsson can bring you consistency every night.
Over the last five seasons, Larsson has accumulated 16, 17, 11, 17 and 14 points and 12 points so far this season. Never will you be burdened with worrying about an offensive explosion that you will eventually have to pay an expensive price for. Rather, you can confidently depend on fewer than 20 points year in and year out. The great thing is it doesn’t matter whether your team is tanking or actually trying to be good, Larsson will be his usual predictable self.
Now don’t be alarmed by his current 21 points in 82 games pace. This is certainly just an aberration and he will cool his jets soon. In fact, in each of his last five seasons, Larsson has fallen short of his expected goals pace every time. He skates hard but won’t encumber you with all of that pesky skill that some teams seem to be so fond of.
To earn the privilege of having this model of consistency on your squad, you best be prepared to part with a draft asset. Not something in the early rounds as we don’t want to get stuck with an over-achieving point producer. If you could part with a fifth-round pick, that should provide us with suitable currency to replace everything we’d be losing by trading Mr. Consistent.
Zach Bogosian Is Your “Good in the Room” Guy
The final element that contending teams are looking for is a player ironically lauded for what they do when they’re not on the ice. The guy who can bring teammates together and unify the team. The “glue guy”.
My fellow general manager, please take…errr…look at what you can get from Zach Bogosian.
Bogosian possesses the innate ability to build friendships off the ice. Jack Eichel was quoted earlier this season saying “Zach’s been my best friend since I met him”. Eichel couldn’t imagine life without Bogosian.
As the Sabres’ locker room DJ, Bogosian has been able to run some sweet tunes that have spurred the Sabres to where they are today. The players and coaches all love him. Your fans? Well, they may struggle at first, but when they see how much he really wants to be on your team (or, rather, any team besides us) I’m sure it will be a match made in heaven.
Don’t worry about his on-ice product. Our best players don’t. Utilize him properly by drawing on his strengths in the locker room. While his teammates are throwing hip-checks, he can be preparing some hip tracks for the intermission.
While he may be a tad on the expensive side, I’m sure we can work out a deal. We can stomach half of his salary so long as you can send us a seventh-round pick and a link to hockeyreference.com to help us with the names of our alumni. Those names can be pretty tricky after all!
Botterill Can Make the Deadline a Success
With time ticking away on another wasted season of Sabres’ hockey, the time is now upon us to move on from those who won’t or shouldn’t be back. As discussed, what the Sabres have to offer may not seem enticing. When you look closer, however, they really can put some lipstick on this pig.
Botterill, it’s now time to make it happen. Don’t go into the deadline trying to sell Frolik, Sheary, Vesey, Girgensons, Larsson and Bogosian. Go sell ‘Baby Jagr’, Cup rings, NHL pedigree, swagger, consistency and glue! You have to get a little creative with the demolition of this lineup.
Maybe one day be creative with the construction of it.
I’m a die-hard Buffalo Sabres fan living in the heart of Maple Leaf, Canadien and Senator Country. While I don’t get to make it to many Sabres home games, I follow all things Buffalo at a distance. I eat, sleep and breathe hockey (just ask my sons, Bauer and Calder). I look forward to sharing my thoughts and opinions and maybe cheering for a winner one day.