Now that the NHL and NHLPA have found a way to make the numbers work for both sides, itâ€™s time for the Sabres to make sense of some numbers of their own. Roster numbers.
A cursory glance at the Sabres roster shows two obvious problems.
Problem 1: 3rd line center
We all know that the Sabres donâ€™t have the prototype-kingpin-number-one-center, but letâ€™s call Tyler Ennis â€ścenter 2â€ť and Cody Hodgson â€ścenter 2a.â€ť Cody McCormick fits in as â€ścenter 4.â€ť
That leaves Ville Leino and Mikhail Grigorenko as the possible options to center the 3rd line. Leino has proven he’s not interested in playing center and that he’s a much more effective player on the wing. Given the abbreviated training camp and 48-game season, Grigorenko is probably a long shot to even make the team full-time.
None of these five players are particularly strong in the defensive zone.
Itâ€™s clear the Sabres need the a veteran two-way center to plug into the 3rd line that can win faceoffs, kill penalties, and match up against their opponent’s top scorers.
Problem 2: Too many defensemen
The Sabres defense pairings could look like this when camp opens:
- Myers and Sekera
- Ehrhoff and Sulzer
- Regehr and Leopold
That leaves Mike Weber and Adam Pardy (acquired in the Roy for Ott trade) on the NHL roster. Â T.J. Brennan, who can’t stay down in Rochester any longer without clearing waivers. AndÂ Brayden McNabb, who hasn’t set the world on fire in the AHL but will be due a promotion in short order.
That’s TEN DUDES who can play.
Solution: Trade veteran defenseman for veteran center
With one-year and $3 million left on his contract, Jordan Leopold seems like an attractive piece for teams looking to add an affordable veteran defenseman with some good offensive skills.
Here are three centers that could fit the bill for the Sabres.
Matt Cullen – Minnesota
Versatile player who has played more than 1,000 NHL games
Age 36, Contract: 1 year $3.5 million
Jarret Stoll – L.A. Kings
A good faceoff man and strong on the penalty kill.
Age 30, Contract: 3 years $3.25 million/year
Antoine Vermette – Phoenix Coyotes
Effective two-way player and penalty killer with contract that outweighs production.
Age 30, Contract: 3 years $3.75 million/year
Hockey is backâ€¦ Letâ€™s make a deal!