An Answer to The Oiler 3rd Line Centre Question

We've talked about Malhotra, Betts, Steckel and others... even names as off the grid as Prospal, and Peca of all people have come up in conversation. One name that has yet to be mentioned (or at least that we've caught wind of) might be available and should be of real interest to the Oilers if he is. His name is Paul Gaustad from the Buffalo Sabres.

By quick glance, his stats make him the perfect 3rd line centre. His salary is a bit higher than you'd like for a 3rd line guy, but definitely within reason and there is a lot you can get out of him for the extra $500,000 or so you'd have to spend to feel good about putting him in your bottom six. Furthermore, if you go beyond a quick glance, you'll see some signs that Gaustad is more than a good fit, he's ideal.

Profile: 6'5" 225 lbs and 27 yrs old

He Plays Both Ways:

His short handed TOI was 4th among Sabres at 135 minutes, which would have also been 4th amongst Oilers and an area where improvement is drastically needed. Buffalo wasn't shy about using him on the power play either.

Faceoff %:

2008/09: 52.7% (2nd on the team)
2007/08 54.9% (1st on the team)
2006/07: 52.8% (4th on the team)

Hits: In 2006/2007, Gaustad led Buffalo in hits with 105 hits. The kicker is, he only played 54 games that year. That's more than anyone on the team, with at least 25 games less than his teammates. That's not rare either. Last year he played 62 games and led the team again with 141 hits. When he's healthy, he blows the rest of the team away in that category... and oh yeah, leads them in blocked shots too, which is no small feat.

He has leadership skills and a good contract:

Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said the team moved quickly to sign Gaustad back in 2008 because of his leadership abilities. ''The focus was on him being somebody that we felt was really important to the team in order to move forward,'' Regier said. ''He is someone who we expect to take a leadership role with this team from the standpoint as an example for younger players and his peers.''

So why, if Buffalo is so high on Gaustad might they consider moving him? Simple. Tomas Kaberle -- or the inability to land Tomas Kaberle. The Sabres wanted a puck moving defenceman, and he was tops on their list. However, as of August 15th, Kaberle's no-movement clause kicked back in the with Toronto and Buffalo was left without their guy.

What does this have to do with Edmonton? Buffalo still wants a puck moving d-man, something Edmonton has a lot of. The beauty is, Buffalo has additional cap space which allow them to make room for a Gilbert at $4 million or a Grebeshkov at $3.15 and move the less expensive Gaustad at $2.3 million.

You have to give to get and Buffalo might be willing to give a little since the closest thing they have to a reliable defenceman is Craig Rivet, who to say the least is not the most offensive threat. It's no wonder, since losing Spacek, Buffalo is feeling some pressure to get something done.

Giving might come in different forms. Maybe they'd be willing to take some contracts the Oilers don't want. Sure Gilbert for Gaustad seems harsh and a lot of Oiler fans will suggest it's a lot to give up. I could throw out some ideas to make the trade more sizeable but still workable under the cap.

My point is, both teams could get what they want and need. Sure you're giving up pieces you wish you could hang on to, but for the sake of your team and it's improved all around line-up, sacrifices must be made. Gaustad seems like the perfect sacrifice.


I do not believe they would trade Guastad he seems to be part of their core of players that they have no intention of trading. Buffalo may trade some of the smaller players but they are in the same situation as the Oilers in wanting to get bigger so I would have to say that Guastad is not going anywhere.

August 18, 2009 at 6:38 AM comment-delete

Based on your numbers on Guastad, he is the PERFECT fit for the Oilers. I have always felt that the last two years of dissapointment could have been resolved with a team that was better in the dot and a team that wasn't such a pushover on the PK.

Guastad brings all of that to the table plus brings in the team toughness that the Oilers desperately need. I'm not sold on Stortini as our 'intimidator' so we either get a Smackintyre back on the ice or sign George again or get real on this 'team toughness' idea. When KLowe was trying to sell me on the team toughness concept, it didn't quite fly ... our fowards are much too small for the team toughness game.

Anyways, Guastad would be fantastic in our lineup. The kicker is who do we give up in our puck moving defencemen? It can't be Sheldon ... though I would love to get rid of that gay follow-through of his. It's definitely not Lubo. Gilbert ... too early to give up on ... Grebs? Just getting good. So our top 4 are not what I would give up straight up for Gaustad so Buffalo would need to throw something else in ... maybe a first or second rounder? Maybe Montador? Cheap at $1.55M and good plus/minus as a d-man ... I know the Sabres signed him in the offseason as a free agent but maybe they would give him up ...

August 18, 2009 at 7:57 AM comment-delete

I think as the post before you stated, Buffalo doesn't want to move Gaustad. I suggest they only may be willing because their need for a puck moving d-man is stronger and to do so they'd require someone a bit more established.

I think a trade of this kind would be more than just a straight across one for one type deal because it's more complicated knowing contracts, vs fair value vs cap comes into play.

To me, if the trade were bigger, I would get rid of any one of those 4 if there was fair value coming back.

August 18, 2009 at 8:11 AM comment-delete

I love the idea of Gaustad coming here. I hate the idea of trading either Gilbert, or Grebeshkov for the simple fact that they are young, constantly improving, and have oodles of potential. I think if Buffalo is looking to replace Spacek....Visnovsky would be the guy to go. It would free up some more of our cap space. Of course it couldn't be a staight accross trade....any suggestions, comments?

August 19, 2009 at 12:15 PM comment-delete

If you're trading Visnovsky, who I think is the Oilers best defenceman, you are correct that it moves salary, but leaves a huge hole as I saw a lot of the problems Edmonton had last year started when he went down to injury.

I don't see a lot of interest coming from the Oilers in terms of other defencmen, but Buffalo has some interesting forwards namely Jason Pominville who I like.

August 19, 2009 at 4:47 PM comment-delete

well, it's like you said, "you've got to give to get". lol Pominville would be nice, but he is another right the way, so is Penner...we need a lefty, badly. Maybe we could coax Paille, or MacArthur out of Buffalo.

August 19, 2009 at 10:48 PM comment-delete

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