Friday, January 15, 2010

Moving On

Can I be honest? Every season there comes a point where I just want to fast forward 10-15 games. That time has come. I think tonight's game was boring, and as much as I love defense, even I can only take so much penalty killing, but even if it'd been a little more fun, I'm just ready to get on with it. This impatience has hit me a little earlier this season because of the Sabres place in the standing. I know some of the more superstitious among you are going to gasp in horror when I say this, but the Sabres are making the playoffs. They are. They're up by 12 points in the division. They're second in the conference. There will be playoff hockey in Buffalo this spring. I've been thinking about that a lot lately - the buzz in the city, the all day nervousness, the holding of breath for every shift, every shot - and I can't wait for it to get here. I can't.

That said, I am looking forward to the west coast swing. It'll be nice to see some different teams, and I'm a night owl so I love, love, love late night hockey. Every year I argue for Center Ice, but it's probably a good thing we don't have it. If we did I would be falling asleep on the couch, hockey on the television, pretty much all season.

During her game diary tonight, Amy mentioned John Buccigross's latest column (Bucci, quit trying to make "blogumn" happen) and it sounded interesting so I went to check it out. It's all about Ilya Kovalchuk, and he suggests a trade for every team in the league. Here's an edited version of what he says about Buffalo (you can follow the link above for the whole thing - some of them are doozies):

Proposed trade: Kovalchuk and Kubina for Thomas Vanek, Zack Kassian and a first-round pick

Even if the Sabres didn't re-sign Kovalchuk, which they probably wouldn't, they would get a player who would electrify the city and team and could be a difference-maker for the playoffs. They'd also get depth at defense in Kubina, and they'd have the cap room for the summer to add a free agent or trade for Brian Campbell! Kassian, the Sabres' first draft pick in June, is off to a slow start.

There are a few problems in here, I think (our defensive depth is actually pretty good, there's no one in the free agent market this off-season of Vanek's caliber), but he hits on my biggest concern about a huge trade - losing too much for a player who won't be here next season. Despite his quiet performance so far this season, Vanek is arguably our best offensive player. You wanna give that up for an impending free agent who almost certainly won't re-sign with the Sabres?

I guess my biggest problem is that I just haven't decided yet how good the Sabres are. They're good. If Ryan Miller keeps playing like he has all season then they're very good. The Eastern Conference, with the exception of a few teams, is pretty average. The Sabres have looked good against some of the best teams in the Western Conference. If things line up right, the Sabres could make a lot of noise. But I don't know. Maybe I've been soaking up too many interviews with Darcy Regier, but I need to be more sure of their success before I go trading Vanek or Derek Roy or Chris Butler. Stay tuned on that, I guess.


Mark B said...

Would I do that trade if someone guaranteed me the Stanley Cup? Maybe.

But just looking at the face of it, it sounds too risky. Especially with throwing Kassian in there. Slow start or not, he could be the true power forward we've been begging for all these years.

Anne M said...

The biggest problem with any Kovalchuk-to-Buffalo scenario is that Kovalchuk almost certainly won't play well for Ruff. I think Kovalchuk's comments about how Max Afinogenov is different now that he's in Atlanta are indicative of his feelings about the Sabres' system and about Ruff personally. He is not the type of player who will succeed in Buffalo in the long term, and I would question his value as a playoff rental. It really seems like every guy on this team is buying into the idea that he's accountable for his play in both ends. Adding a player who is never going to give a shit about accountability in the defensive zone could really wreck havoc with the rest of the team. NO NO NO to Ilya Kovalchuk the Sabre.

I hit my annual hockey wall over the holidays. The compressed schedule makes it seem like the Sabres are playing every freaking night and it gets to me. Even though I will watch other teams play with no problem, I get a little sick of the Sabres. It was nice to have four days off from them earlier this week and I'm sure the Olympic break will be another nice vacation from the Sabres.

Vanek's Hair said...

I am in total agreement with fast forwarding the season. I would fully support the NHL scaling back to 72 games, perhaps even fewer. I also know that will never happen because owners need 82 games of ticket receipts.

As for trading for Kovalchuck, put me in the category of 100% against. With the disclaimer that I have a Thomas Vanek jersey hanging in my closet, I think the idea of trading Vanek is ridiculous. Yes, he is in a slump. So what. All players have slumps. Is Vanek a better pure hockey player than Kovalchuck? Probably not. But Vanek works better in Lindy Ruff's system. Kovalchuck never will. I complain a lot about the system, but it is definitely working this season, and Kovalchuck is way to much of a free-wheeling, puck hogging, shot loving player, even for me. Plus giving up a draft pick and a Kassian who has been with the team for about 3 minutes. SOmetimes I wish I could be a sports writer. Because apparently you are allowed to drink heavily while working.