NHL Rumors: Does the Buffalo Sabres’ Defensive Depth Mean a Trade is Coming?

The Buffalo Sabres have a problem a lot of NHL teams would love to have: too many NHL-ready defenseman.

As it stands right now, the Sabres have 10 defenseman that could play in most NHL teams’ top-six: Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr, Jordan Leopold, Mike Weber, Alexander Sulzer, Andrej Sekera, Adam Pardy, Brayden McNabb and T.J. Brennan.

The top three are pretty well settled, with Myers, Ehrhoff and Regehr a lock to log the most minutes in the upcoming season. Leopold is an early favorite to be the fourth defenseman, but Ehrhoff’s chemistry with Sulzer last season could see him pushed down to fifth.

So that leaves five bodies for the sixth and seventh spots.

Lindy Ruff’s love affair with Sekera seems to make him the logical choice to start on opening day. Weber’s familiarity with the system and inability to go down to Rochester without clearing waivers puts him in the best position to lock down the seventh spot in the press box.

This leaves Pardy, McNabb and Brennan the odd men out.

But with McNabb and Brennan’s strong play last season in their short stints with the big club, it’s completely possible that both Ruff and Darcy Regier want to see what they can do with a bigger role.

All of this doesn’t take into account the Sabres have a first round pick in Mark Pysyk and an offensive dynamo in Jerome Gauthier-Leduc ready to start in Rochester this season.

So what could be done about this glut at the back end?

First, don’t get me wrong, bodies do not equal talent. But the logjam at D gives Regier options that other general managers may not have. The promise shown by McNabb and Brennan and the expectations on Pysyk certainly makes things a bit easier as well.

So if I were Darcy, I’d be on the phone with the Philadelphia Flyers’ general manager Paul Holmgren offering my apologies for losing another defenseman, and letting him know that you’re there to help if need be.

The Flyers’ defensive situation is approaching DEFCON 1, with Chris Pronger unlikely to play anytime soon, if ever again, Andrej Meszaros lost for the season, and Matt Carle signing a rich contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Flyers’ position of strength is the Sabres’ position of weakness: top six forwards.

With the coming out parties of Matt Read and Sean Couturier, the Flyers’ top six is probably the deepest in the league. Brayden Schenn’s development also gives Holmgren more options as well.

A package of Leopold and one of the young prospects could net the Sabres one of the Flyers’ young centerman in desperation, but the swap would likely involve a veteran like  Danny Briere (who has a no-movement clause via CapGeek) or Scott Hartnell (who also has a no-movement clause).

So as the season inches closer, the Sabres’ defensive depth may open doors for them for a top six forward, and with the Flyers’ situation nearing panic mode on defense, there may not be a more perfect trading partner.


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  • http://Bleacherreport.com Jake

    Insightful article I was just saying today how philly would be a perfect trade partner. Any thought on bringing in a guy like wayne simmonds? We are trying to get bigger tougher faster. I think he fits the bill

    • Matt Clouden

      I would love Wayne Simmonds, as he would be a great compliment to Pominville or Vanek on their opposite wing. He bangs and can pot 25-30 goals too, and would allow the two to play in the “nicer” areas of the ice where they thrive. I just think that it would be tough to pry him out of Philly, especially losing the physical presence Pronger brought.

  • sean buffalo

    I would love to peddle leopold for a top forward from Philly. However,,, Darcy is just to stubborn to pull the plug. I mean come on!! Pegula has given his blessing to make the Sabres a contender again… Come on Darcy… cut out the waiting for the 2nd coming of Gretzgy in return. Its not going to happen. Time is ticking and before you know it.. it will be too late. Soooo aggrevating

    • Matt Clouden

      I don’t think it’s as much Regier not wanting to pull the trigger as it is the asking prices around the league being so high, especially given the CBA uncertainty.

      • sean buffalo

        Hmmmm. Theres the chance that you may be right but based on Regiers’ history… im thinking hes still got alot to do with it. Yes asking prices are high… but theres no reason Buffalo can’t spend big bucks and still stay under the cap. You have to give quality to get quality