Questions Abound for Buffalo Sabres as NHL Trade Deadline Looms

Robert FischerContributor IFebruary 14, 2009

As the March 4 trade deadline rapidly approaches plenty of questions will be on the minds of Sabre fans everywhere.  The one topic that will be closely followed by fans is whether the Sabres will be buyers or sellers this season. 

The answer may come in the form of one player's future status in the organization: Tim Connolly.

The center will certainly cause a debate within the organization and its followers as to whether or not to re-sign, trade, or let him walk at the end of the season.

If the Sabres do decide it is best to acquire value by trading Connolly, whether it be in the form of players or picks, it will speak volumes of what the organization thinks of its playoff chances. 

To deal a playmaking center while within striking distance of home ice in the first round would suggest that Larry Quinn and Darcy Regier are of the mind that the team cannot lift Lord Stanley's Cup this season. 

You simply can not weaken yourself up the middle, which you would have to do as Connolly as a rental will garner a draft pick or prospect, and still sell to the fans the Cup is within reach. 

Connolly's impact on the team since his return is undeniable, and the team simply cannot contend against the Washington's and Boston's of the East without his services.

The next scenario is one in which the Sabres re-sign him.  Some believe that the Syracuse native has an obligation to give the Sabres a hometown discount since the team has clearly overpaid for the amount of games that his body was able to play.  Everyone who is a fan of sport know that this is rarely the case. 

The popular notion is that a one-year deal at his current salary is reasonable given his injury history. 

But it stands to reason that an athlete with an injury history would look for a multi-year deal with guaranteed money, especially since another concussion could shelf the playmaking center permanently, that's Athlete Economics 101. 

This makes waiting until after the season to negotiate a dangerous proposal for the club.

The final scenario, and I believe is most likely, is that Connolly walks at the end of the year. 

The Sabres have always been a forward-thinking organization and with a logjam of forwards, taking one off the cap seems to be Darcy's No. 1 choice (see Briere, Danny or Drury, Chris).

We would then be treated to another Darcy or Golisano speech about economic viability. 

If this occurs, this talented playmaker will either make the front office look like fools or visionaries.