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Vulgar Opinions: Looking Back On Trade Deadline Day (NSFW)

02/27/12

You probably want analysis, some sense of who the new acquisitions are as players and how the shape of the team changes with their arrival and other players’ departure.  That is not what I do.  These are my completely uncensored, possibly horribly inaccurate thoughts on what went down for the Sabres on this random Monday at the end of February.

The first move was trading Paul Gaustad and a fourth round pick to Nashville for their first round pick in next year’s draft.  I like the addition of the fourth because it allows Nashville to say, “hey look, we’re not morons, we got a pick!” even if it isn’t true.  In what universe is Paul Gaustad worth anywhere near a first round pick?  Even better, in what universe do we get to pick which first round pick we take for him?  (There were reportedly two teams willing to throw their first rounder away like they were virginity on prom night.)  I have a few thoughts here.  First of all, I genuinely liked rooting for Gaustad.  He was the kind of guy where it was really fun to watch him play well.  Secondly, I was a bit dismayed to see us trading the second least dickbrained of our dickbrained assisting captains.  Thirdly I realized that the move makes our tough guys Patrick Kaleta, Robyn Regehr, and the punching bag that is Mike Weber.  Finally, when I put it all together, I realized that we lost a player who was paid too much, had expectations that were too high and really should only be a fourth liner on a contender, and got in return a pick that will probably turn into something better than he ever was.  Awesome.

Then the Sabres traded Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani for Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer.  I knew nothing about Hodgson before today so you can take my opinions of his as veritable fact.  I don’t hate Kassian, but I hate what some Sabres fans have made him out to be, a sort of Super Hero who can score 40 goals and beat up The Hulk.  I personally see a marginally better Paul Gaustad with fewer intangibles at a less valuable position.  Okay.  I hate seeing people talk about potential because it means absolutely nothing and has burned us so, so many times.  Need I bring up Dmitri Kalinin?  I think that to a large extent you already have what it takes to be a premier power forward when you come into the league.  You don’t magically learn how to score a few years in.  And while I think Kassian will develop into something eminently productive, I don’t think he will ever be the monster that fans had slated him to be.  I actually think Hodgson is better now than Kassian will be at his peak.  Win.

I don’t like trading Gragnani, which I realize puts me in the minority.  I hate Mike Weber, he just seems to look up and pass the puck at the nearest body, friend or foe, so I hate that his importance has increased because of Gragnani’s departure.  However that will probably be moot in the near future with Brennan, McNabb, and Pysyk in the system.  So it may be a slight decline in the short term, but the effect should be non-existent in the long term.  I don’t know anything about Sulzer other than that his last name sounds like a pretty refreshing soft drink so I don’t have much to say there.

Overall I think the day was a success and surpassed my expectations.  The Sabres now hold two firsts and two seconds in next year’s draft and can use them to trade up for a pick that is more NHL ready, or even for a current player already playing awesome  in the NHL.  Given that the management seems to think that a Cup run is imminent, one of these two seems likely.  It would be nice to add a big scary guy who can also play hockey, but I can live without that for the time being.  And perhaps Marcus Foligno is that player sooner rather than later.  Another downside is making an already mediocre faceoff team worse, but I’m comfortable that Hodgson can be decent in time.  Faceoff acumen, unlike being a top talent, is something you can figure out as your career progresses.

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