By most accounts, trade deadline day was declared a Festivus miracle. Like most trades, we’ll have to wait a few years to really see how things shake out, but on the surface – on paper, the Sabres appear to be big winners.
Heading into the day, only the most foolhardy optimists could have thought the Sabres would get a 1st for Gaustad (well plus that 4th we had to throw in, but still). Then the Kassian & Gragnani for Hodgson & Sulzer trade …. well, wowser. Darcy must have been feeling the heat of the hashtag and indeed #didSomething, using his Jedi mind tricks to bend other GMs to his will. (I like to think he’s a Sith, using treachery, intimidation and over-the-phone Force chokes.)
Or, more likely this was the Sabres’ plan all along: don’t do anything drastic and sell the farm now just to try to make the playoffs, but instead stay the course and do what we can to improve for the long haul, slowly building towards being a championship-caliber team.
I’m certainly sad to see Kassian go, not just because I have a Badassian t-shirt from Hockey Heaven. (Which, incidentally they’re so cool they’re offering 50% off the purchase of a new Cody Hodgson #19CoHo shirt.) I love me a good power foward with grit, who is hard to knock off the puck and will fight – it’s perhaps my favorite type of player. We haven’t seen that in B-lo for some time and Kassian had/has that potential.
But of course, potential is just that and we needed a center. It was the right thing for the Sabres, and Sulzer for Gragnani seems like an upgrade for us as well. Even if Sulzer doesn’t improve much, he won’t be the meek turnover machine that MAG was. Plus, Ehrhoff will have a German buddy who played in Vancouver to hang out with. Maybe those two will synergize into something stronger than the two of them individually, like a monstrous German-speaking Voltron-like robot that smashes anyone who crosses our blue line into a thin paste yet has a (literal) rocket slapshot. Sorry, I was daydreaming a bit there, but I do believe the possibility for them to both improve in each other’s presence is there.
Of course I have to type the obligatory “sucks to see Gaustad go” that every Sabres blogger has had to do. I don’t think I need to expand on that much, but for some reason I didn’t realize he was 6’5″ until today. He didn’t seem that big on the ice and knowing that makes me think that he could’ve (and should’ve) played a little bit tougher. Yes, he’s awesome at faceoffs and plays center against the other teams top line and all that – but for his asking price, it was the right move. The worst thing about that is breaking up the oft-used Gaustad/Kaleta/Gerbe line. I loved that line: high energy and tenacious as all get out. And no, I don’t think there’s a snowballs chance in hell that we’ll be able to get Goose back in the offseason.
So the Sabres are in a better place and geared up for the future. We’ve taken more steps in the right direction and yet we can still take a run at the playoffs this year. I now feel less apprehensive about having to make the playoffs now and more secure in the fact that we’re on our way to greatness.
Now the bad news: Washington is 7 points ahead of us. Damn you Dale Hunter! Perhaps we did ourselves a disservice by lambasting the Caps earlier this year and helping to get Bruce Boudreau fired.
Ah well, Go Sabres and remember to grab some powernaps for the upcoming late games on the slate!
Possible topic of discussion for the comments: Do you feel more comfortable with the team now after these trades? Do you feel like we still have to make a push for the playoffs? Or are you more relaxed and ok with not making the playoffs as long as we’re building towards a much better team?