Here we are, almost 2 weeks into free agency. The Sabres have lost two top four defenseman(Tallinder, Lydman), added one(Jordan Leopold). We’ve signed a 3rd or 4th line Center(Rob Niedermayer). We’ve signed a backup goalie(Lalime). Those are all topics by themselves. Whether the team is better or worse off than at season’s end is not even an interesting debate right now. However, what cannot be ignored is what the Sabres front office has ignored; the top 6 forwards.
A friend recently alerted me to the availability of Bruins Center, Marc Savard. Here’s an excerpt from the email I received.
Guest Comment: So the Bruins have been shopping Marc Savard to make room for Tyler Seguin, right? And Savard has a no trade clause, so he gets to pick the team he goes to. And his sons live 3 hours away in Peterborough, Ontario which makes Buffalo a very real option for him to approve a trade. Plus, he only costs $4.2mil against the cap for the next 7 years (which will be a cause for concern in 4 years as Savard reaches his later 30’s).Even if Savard won't go to Buffalo or the Bruins won't deal him within the division, why haven't we heard anything from Regier about kicking the tires and doing some due diligence? Why hasn't someone in the front office purposefully leaked that at the very least, that Savard and the Bruins turned down the Sabres' offer of a 2011 2nd round pick and "a former 20-goal scorer" for the point-per-game Center? I completely agree. The Sabres haven't done anything to their top 6 this off-season. The same top 6 that needed overachieving seasons from the 3rd/4th line to make the playoffs and then failed miserably once the playoffs arrived. Marc Savard would be a nice shake up to the top 6. Not to mention it'd push the depth chart & improve the 3rd line because Tim Connolly would likely have to center that 3rd line.
Now the fact remains that despite obvious efforts to trade him, Savard remains a Bruin. Let’s examine why Savard is not yet in the Blue & Gold. Looking at Marc Savard, there's several defenses that the Sabres could use for being uninterested. He's 32 years old. For a forward, that's old. The Sabres always claim they want to 'go young'. I agree that younger is better, but a couple vets sprinkled in there doesn't hurt. The only Sabres forwards over 30 right now are Mike Grier, Rob Niedermayer, and Jochen Hecht. The fact that Hecht is still on the team is a mystery in itself. Moving on… Savard would hardly make the Sabres roster too old. He's never been a huge goal scorer. He's more of an assist man. His last few seasons have been his biggest. Seems like he's really 'come into his own' in his later 20's and early 30's. The Sabres could say that they already have two top centers in Derek Roy and Tim Connolly. I think we all know this is a joke. Savard is clutch, even if his regular season stats aren't out of sight. The Sabres are insane if they think they don't need a player like Savard.
Guest comment: Can you imagine what a Savard/Vanek/Pominville line could do? Savard would create space for Vanek to pick up a dozen even strength rebounds alone in front of the net or set up Pominville for wide-open one-timers from the face-off circle. Plus, like you mentioned, Connolly most likely moves to the third line and instantly improves that group. And if all Savard does is rack up assists, I think Vanek can thank Savard in advance for handing him another 40+ goal season. In theory, the Sabres don't need a goal scorer, they just need their "established scorers" to score to their reasonable potential (i.e., Vanek 30+ goals, Pominville 25+, Kennedy 15+ (or is it too soon to expect that out of him?, Hecht and Connolly 20). Adding a player like Savard redistributes the lines and gives all the underachievers a better chance at meeting their potential.
Injury concerns. Savard sustained a concussion and missed about half the NHL season last year. Each time a player gets a concussion, he is more likely to receive another concussion in the future. As we know from our experience with Tim Connolly concussions mean long absences.
Money. Even at the bargain price of $4.2M per season, the Sabres would still need to find cap space. Can I suggest leaving Jochen Hecht by the side of the road and using his $3.5M cap space? Crying poor is an easy out for Darcy Regier. Just point to the salary numbers and the fans will have to accept that we just can’t make this trade. But how can other teams make signings and trades? I’m not buying it.
As far as possible trades go; there’s always a cost. The big question is what IS the cost? I doubt the Bruins want Stafford. If they're (Bruins) looking for cap space they'd probably want a prospect and a pick; Tyler Ennis perhaps. I'd make that trade and if the Sabres are serious about winning they'd make that trade. The thing is I have big questions about whether the Sabres are serious about winning NOW. By their recent actions (or inaction) they seem to be content with the status quo.Guest Comment: there's too much that Savard could bring to this team right now to pass on him. I understand not pulling the trigger on Kaberle - Regier came into the offseason determined to find a top six center and to get Kaberle, they'd have to trade Connolly or Roy so they would be in worse shape there than if they stood pat. But a Savard trade makes rational -- not sports talk radio-delusional -- sense and I think management owes us at least a veiled explanation as to why it's not happening.
…in other news, Ottawa's Mike Fisher married Carrie Underwood. That's a victory for Hockey over Football (Tony Romo). We may not get the TV ratings, but we got the girl.