The Sabres' acquisition of left wing Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy for center Derek Roy was essentially about swapping grit for playmaking. Ott won't put up nearly a point per game like Roy did, but he also won't put up with opponents getting out of line or teammates taking nights off.
Another aspect of the trade is it seriously altered the Sabres' depth chart.
The Sabres are extremely thin at center, overflowing on defense and well-stocked at left wing. Here is The News' analysis, based on the organization's use of the players. The skaters are listed in terms of ranking at position, not by potential linemates:
Left wing Center Right wing
Thomas Vanek Tyler Ennis Jason Pominville
Marcus Foligno Cody Hodgson Drew Stafford
Steve Ott Matt Ellis Patrick Kaleta
Ville Leino Cody McCormick Corey Tropp
Nathan Gerbe Luke Adam
Left-handed defensemen Right-handed defensemen
Christian Ehrhoff Tyler Myers
The middle is definitely concerning for the Sabres, who are open with their desire to add another center. Ennis and Hodgson have talent, but they are just 22 years old and have no experience carrying an NHL top line. For anyone who doesn't think that matters, just look back to the Sabres' struggles at filling the No. 1 role once Chris Drury and Daniel Briere left.
Luke Adam might rebound from his post-All-Star Game benching and second-half demotion, but he is also just 22. Leino has little to no desire to play center. Ott took the second-most faceoffs for Dallas last season, but he has spent nearly all of his career at left wing. He can step into the circle, but he's more comfortable returning to the boards after the puck drops.
"I’ve played 90 percent as a winger in the league, and since junior I’ve been a left winger," Ott said by phone. "Taking faceoffs is obviously adjusting and learning more of the game and finding ways to be on the ice more. If it’s taking faceoffs in the last minute or important draws on penalty kills or power plays, those things add up to being a more versatile player, and that’s something that I’ve always envisioned myself as being more a more complete player as I adjust my career."
Buffalo has extra depth at left wing with the addition of Ott. Vanek is a top-line talent, while Foligno showed top-six status with a stellar run at the end of last season. Ott will get substantial minutes. Leino and Gerbe will need to rebound from disappointing seasons. Scott will dress when the Sabres face the Boston Bruins and other physical teams.
The Sabres seem to have the right mix of skill and truculence at right wing with Pominville and Stafford being complemented by Kaleta and Tropp.
Obviously, left-handed D-men play on the right side, but overloading the left was just to give you a look at the actual depth. The top six figures to be Myers, Ehrhoff, Leopold, Sekera, Regehr and Sulzer. That leaves Weber and Pardy as two reserves. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Buffalo would send Pardy and his $2 million salary to Rochester like the team did with Shaone Morrisonn last year. Darcy Regier says McNabb is penciled in for the Amerks, but he has the talent to play in the NHL and makes players in the top six expendable.
Given the obvious holes and surpluses, it's unlikely the Sabres are done remaking their roster.