It was a rather quiet day on the trade-front for the Buffalo Sabres until close to 3pm. As panicked fans sat in front of their computers or attached to their phones tweeting something along the lines of, “DARCY, DO SOMETHING!” — news was announced.
Paul Gaustad (and a 4th round pick) have been traded to the Nashville Predators for a 1st round pick.Some fans, like Corey Griswold (@Corey_GPG) were excited to see him shipped off. Others, myself included were a bit sad to see him go. For me, I knew this had to happen for the Sabres to get better in the long run, but Goose was the first player I ever really liked enough to want to purchase their jersey. Let there be sad honks around the world, if you wish.
Gaustad will help most likely on the 4th line in Nashville with their push towards the playoffs as the Predators currently sit in 5th place in the Western Conference with 79 points. His success in faceoffs will be one portion he can directly affect, with the Predators currently 23rd in the league in that aspect. He’ll be a good fit to an “OK” penalty killing team, too. Gaustad’s size can’t be overlooked as an addition to the roster, plus his experience in the playoffs, regardless of how far the Sabres have gone in previous seasons.
On the bright side, the Sabres acquiring that first round pick is incredibly important. How important? Well, out of the top ten picks in each of the past three NHL drafts, four picks from each year played a considerable amount in the NHL their first season. For the most part, the others were in the NHL by their second seasons, if not third (for those in the 2009 draft). Also, let’s look at a few previous, memorable first rounders the Sabres have drafted: 2009 – Zack Kassian, 2008 – Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis, 2004 – Drew Stafford, 2003 – Thomas Vanek. Having two first round draft picks in the 2012 draft is a good thing, I promise.
As soon as we were starting to settle down after hearing about the Gaustad trade, another broke loose.
Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani to Vancouver for Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer.
Let’s get to the exciting stuff — what players the Buffalo Sabres acquired themselves.Cody Hodgson’s family should be a little bit excited about this trade if they’re still living in his hometown of Toronto. At 22, he’s a previous first round draft pick from 2008 (10th overall – remember what I said earlier about first round picks?) and has been playing his first full NHL season this year. He’s a center, though a small one at 6′ and 188 lbs; for those of you who can’t picture that, it’s similar to Jason Pominville at 6′ and 185 lbs. As a basic stat line for this season, Hodgson has played in 63 games, has 16 goals and 17 assists (33 points, 10 of which came on the powerplay), +8, just 8 penalty minutes, 25 hits, 21 blocked shots, and 103 shots on goal. In some more good news, he’s fifth among rookies for points – 3rd for goals, 6th for assists and was the NHL rookie of the month for January 2012. Averaging 12-13 minutes per game with Canucks, I’d expect a slight increase in ice time with the Sabres. Alexander Sulzer is a 27 year old, 6′ 1″ 198 lbs. German defenseman who has previously spent time with the Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers, and Vancouver Canucks. He has also played for Team Canada in 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, and also the German National team in 2005 and 2006. He isn’t a very offensive d-man, with just one point in his 12 games this season and also hasn’t played since January 15th – though this is not due to injury, rather he’s been a health scratch. In his career, he hasn’t played a full NHL season; his most being 40 games between the Predators and Vancouver Canucks in 2010-2011. It was also his most productive season to date.
In terms of the salary cap and future of the Buffalo Sabres with these two guys (who ironically were walking together when Hodgson received the news of the trades, per Hodgson’s call will TSN this afternoon), both are relatively minimal cap hits. Sulzer’s contract expires July 1st and with the depth in Rochester, I wouldn’t expect to see him offered a deal with the Sabres, despite his low price (currently a two way deal at $105,000/$700,000). Hodgson, on the other hand, is currently involved in an two-way, entry-level contract through next season with a cap hit of $1.6 million ($65,000/$787,500). He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer and can definitely be a key factor in the Sabres moving forward. We’ll have to see how the rest of this season and next season plays out, but as of right now the Sabres have three first round draft picks from 2008 on their roster. You have to like that, don’t you?
Although Derek Roy is safe through the rest of the season, I’ll consider this trade deadline a success. Despite the rumors, Paul Gaustad was not in talks regarding a new contract with Regier, and people panicked for no reason. There is still a chance to upgrade at center, we lost a bit of bulk in Zack Kassian, but we gained something we desparately needed (read: scoring center). We’ll have to see how the team looks Wednesday without Gaustad, Gragnani (who wouldn’t have played anyways, most likely), and Kassian but with Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer (who might not be needed Wednesday, either). For future reference, Hodgson is expected to wear #19 and Sulzer #52.
This trade deadline might have just made Saturday’s game in Vancouver a bit more interesting, no?