The Devils are in essence a rich man’s version of the Buffalo Sabres. They believe in their youth and their goaltending. They don’t go out of there way to sign high priced free agents, and believe in their boring ass defensive system (Like Lindy believes in playing two way hockey). However, the Devils haven’t won the cup since 2003. So guess what they did? They changed their methods.
The Devils biggest problem over the years has been their offense. If you look at the last two Stanley Cup Champions, it’s been about star players putting the puck in the net. The days of Devils hockey being able to suffocate elite offenses just doesn’t work in the post-lockout era (or in the playoffs).
Now,it’s a gamble, and whether or not Kovalchuk can mesh into the Devils system is a big question. But here’s the bottom line: Did you really think the Devils were going to win the cup before the trade? I sure didn’t. I thought they would win a first round series and lose against a team that had good goaltending and a superior offense. Kind of like what they do every year. It’s a smart move because the Devils have a reputation of being able to draft good players and should be able to make up for the loss of their prospects.
I know Sabres apologists will come out in droves and mention that the Sabres have exceeded expectations and are in first place, so I shouldn’t mention trading or criticize Darcy. They will also mention the notion that a huge deadline deal has never propelled a team to the Stanley Cup. They will also mention that teams like the Devils and Leafs have paid a king’s ransom for new talent. I guess they’ll tell me next that Lou Lamoriello is an idiot and doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Well, how about teams like the Thrashers and Oilers, who have dealt guys like Ryan Smith, Chris Pronger and Martin Hossa. Yeah, those teams really turned their franchises around with the king’s ransom they got. I guess Hossa had absolutely nothing to do with the Penguins making the Finals two years ago. I guess that Chris Pronger didn’t help the Ducks win the Stanley Cup. I guess Patrick Roy going to Colorado in 1996 was a terrible in-season deal.
If Reiger and the Sabres video scouting department are such masters at finding prospects, why can’t they just trade some of their youth and just recoup prospects down the road? Here’s why: Darcy is scared. He’s scared to give up on any prospect who may be the next star for the Sabres. My problem with that is in the 13 years as the GM, how many great homegrown players have the Sabres produced? Vanek, Miller, Myers and Campbell come to mind. But after that, it’s kind of been mediocre.
Regier is someone who doesn’t know when to hold them or when to fold them. He’s a GM whose had a history of holding on to guys way too long. Darcy doesn’t view his prospects as future Sabres, who can bring the team to another level. Instead, he views them as prospects that could save his ass when players like Max or Kotalik have finally fizzled out in Buffalo. People always say that Darcy falls too much in love with his own players. I actually think he’s just an indecisive GM, who feels that he needs to have a bunch of cheap options at his disposal. He’s a guy whose in love with his way or the highway. Well, his way hasn’t produced a Stanley Cup.
As for the present, would you have missed Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis and Chris Butler leaving the Sabres for Kovalchuk? I would have came back to Buffalo and drove the car to the airport to drop off those guys. If Darcy is so good at finding talent, then why wouldn’t you make that deal? It’s not every year that you have a shot at winning the cup.
You have two players in Miller and Myers who are the cornerstones for the future of the team. Hell, they account for 75% of the reason why the Sabres have been in first place all season (Maybe not after this weekend). Wouldn’t you want to give them a little help?
As of now, the Sabres have lost 7 of their last 9 games. Besides the Carolina disaster, the Sabres have been playing against top tier competition and have failed. Sorry, but I can’t buy into the notion of Ryan Miller stealing 4 rounds worth of playoff games with the way the team is built. But hey, Darcy will tell us that the team has to look from within. Sorry, but I’ve been listening to that line for the last 13 years. Time to adjust, Darcy. Better yet, go from being a conservative to going to the right..as in a new right winger.