Lord of the Underworld

By Chris

Perhaps I’ve just been caught up in “Lost” finale excitement over the last week or so, but I really hadn’t thought much about Tim Connolly until Mike Harrington tweeted about him today.

In response to it being a good thing Connolly only has one year left on his contract:

@Katebits yep…but 19 can’t be here by training camp. no way..fan revolt

Now there’s no question that the Sabres need to make a few changes if they want to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. Maybe trading Tim Connolly is the best move Darcy Regier can make.

But I don’t see fans revolting if a a player entering his walk year is skating in a Sabres uniform when camp opens.

Personally, I can deal with Connolly for one more season, good or bad. Harrington later tweeted that the fans’ discontent will really show if he starts the season in a slump. However, Connolly is the type of player that could start a season with eight points in 20 games or he could go on a tear and score 22 in 20. So if he’s chipping away at a point per game pace, the only thing to knock him for is his play in the upcoming postseason, when he’ll surely disappear again.

There are two problems with trading Tim Connolly. The first is finding another player who can replace him on the top two lines. Teams win with depth down the middle and trading Connolly away (there’s no way they buy him out) means the team’s scoring stats could take a real nosedive. Can a team that has struggled to score timely goals afford to ditch their most talented playmaker? Maybe Tyler Ennis can be that guy, but how much pressure should be on him as he enters his first full year in the NHL? Regier and Ruff won’t even commit to Ennis being on the team yet, let alone rely on him to solidify the top six.

The other problem with trading Tim Connolly is the return. If the Sabres trade him before the start of the season, they may get their best value for him. They can clear $4.5 million in salary and get some valuable assets for him, whether it’s a few draft picks and/or a regular player. You may be losing out on 95 points (and you could miss the playoffs), but moving him in the next two months is like taking one of those anti-hangover pills before a kegger. You’re avoiding a major headache.

If you hang on to Connolly with the intentions of trading him later, a few other problems may arise. If he plays like garbage, then you may not be able to even get a draft pick for him and then you lose him for nothing come July 1, 2011.

And if he tears it up all season, then maybe his trade value will never be higher than at the trade deadline. If you don’t want Connolly on your team come playoffs, this is the best case scenario. Another team may be willing to give up a lot for his skill set and Regier would have every intention of milking them for all Connolly is worth and more.

However, there’s always the chance that Regier will look at him and say “Hey, there’s no way I can trade this guy. He’s having a career season. He can help us moving forward. He’s due for a big playoff.” That’s the danger of keeping him on the team so that you can be in the position to make the playoffs.

Would Regier be willing face the heat from fans and the media (and his bosses) for trading one of his top three scorers just a few weeks before the postseason?

I won’t be heartbroken if Connolly stays or goes. I certainly won’t “revolt” if he’s still on the team in March, let along September. It’s probably best that the Sabres cut ties with him, but I’ll put some faith in the front office when it comes to when that should happen.

5 Comments

  1. Ogre39666

    I’m thinking he’s the type of guy who gets moved on Draft Day.

  2. I felt that he looked really good this (regular) season.

    I can overlook a six game bad stretch even if it was at an important time…

  3. ScottyMCSSProSportsDaily

    This was TC’s year to prove to the organization that he is the pivot needed to wina Cup. He finally enjoyed a full season of health, but at 100% in the playoffs, he only gave about 75%.

    After all those injury plagued years, I was shocked at his lack of effort.

    The return on him won’t be great, but it can be good. There are teams out there desperate for scoring depth and to just MAKE the playoffs (Edmonton, Florida).

    As for timing, I say move him for cash room on July 1st. The Sabres need to land Marleau or Kovalchuk if they want to be true contenders.

  4. Wally

    I will not revolt if tc is still on the roster. I will contend that neither he nor Roy are 1st line centers. So the sabres either need to get a 1st line center in fa or through trade (I personally don’t think that happens) or they need to improve the 3rd and 4th lines so they can very effectively roll 4 lines. With the roster the way it is now and the way Darcy conducts business I think they will try to upgrade and then roll out 4 lines.

  5. Mike

    Tim Connolly was hurt in the playoffs. No matter what he says. Maybe I’m giving him a pass because of the Ottawa series in 05-06 that he singlehandedly almost won for the Sabres. I will not be sad if he is on the team, but as Wally said, neither he or Roy are first line centers and ever will be, period end of story. The Sabres have almost never drafted first line centers throughout their history other than Perreault and Turgeon, and that I think is one of the biggest reasons they’ve never won a cup. Shit, Michael Peca was the Sabres first line center at one point. Was he good back then? Yeah, but not a first line center good for most teams. With that having been said, I don’t want Marleau or Kovalchuk. Lindy will destroy them and Kovalchuk showed up for Jersey as much as Connolly did for the Sabres. We need to trade for someone else rather than overpaying a free agent.