Now in the middle of August the Sabres continue their search for a top Center/Playmaker. Bobby Ryan's name continues to be connected with Sabres, as well as other players like Sam Gagner and Paul Stastny. Let's take a look what each player could bring to Buffalo along with what it may cost to acquire each player.
The 23 year old center really made a name for himself last season with his 8 point game. Gagner was one of the hottest players in the NHL for about a two week span last year. The former 6th overall pick in 2007 has struggled to live up to expectations so far in his NHL career. He has struggled with injury problems and production. Last year Gagner had a career high in points with 47 in 75 games. The two years prior Gagner put up 42 and 41 in 68 games. At only 23, Gagner still has a lot of potential. He has become expendable in Edmonton with Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Hall, and Yakupov expected to lead the young Oilers squad. Gagner just recently signed a 1 year extension with Edmonton and would be a RFA again next season. The Oil are in desperate need of help on their blue line and the Sabres have a crowded blue line. Buffalo has a glaring need up the middle still, so this seems like a perfect match. The Oilers are said to be very interested in Jordan Leopold and have had prior interest in Drew Stafford. A potential deal that has been mentioned is Leo and Adam for Gagner and a pick. Personally I am a huge fan of Gagner and would love to see the Sabres make that deal.
Stastny's name has been on the block for a while. He may have lost his role as a top 6 center in Colorado with Ryan O'Reilly and Matt Duchene now occupying those roles. Also Stastny's contract of two more seasons at 6.6 million makes him expendable to the Avs. They do no want to pay their third line center, first line center money. Stastny started his career on fire with 70+ points in three of his first four seasons (injury short season in third year). However the last two seasons he has been a disappointment with 53 points in 2011-12 and 57 in 2010-11. A change of scenery could do a lot of a good for Stastny. The issue with this match is the Avs do not need defense, it would likely cost the Sabres a top 6 winger, a pick, and a prospect. The Avs have set the price for Stastny high. Some players that would need to be involved in any deal could be Vanek, Stafford, or Foligno to name a few. To me Foligno is a conversation ender, trading Vanek defeats the point of getting him a true # 1 center, and Stafford may not be the type of player that the Avs want in return. I think Stastny is long shot of the group.
Ryan is now the top dog that could be available with Doan likely headed back to the Desert. Ryan has been on and off the trade block since the beginning of last season. Buffalo has been racking up the long distance phone bill trying to work a deal with the Ducks for the young power forward. Ryan voiced his displeasure with the Ducks in the beginning of the offseason. He has grown annoyed with the constant trade chatter. However I think the Ducks still look at it as they don't have to trade Ryan. Which is the reason the price is so high. However on the other side of the coin the Ducks may have to unload Ryan and his favorable cap hit to resign Getzlaf and Perry who are UFA's after this season. It's hard to read the exact plan the Ducks may have for their three star forwards. Getzlaf's name has been floated out in the rumor mill as well as Perry's around the deadline last season. Right now Murray is in a position to be patient and as the summer comes closer to an end I think it is very likely Ryan starts the season with the Ducks. However Murray's power position starts to decrease as the season wears on because teams know he has to make a decision. So now may be the prime time to get the highest value for Ryan. The Sabres would likely have to include Ennis, Sekera, and a pick for Ryan.
The rumored idea around Buffalo is that Regier is first trying to acquire a center to replace Ennis and then he will flip Ennis to Anaheim for Ryan. Also this could be the reason why Ennis has yet to sign a new deal with the Sabres. There's still a chance we could see some fireworks before August ends.
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