Archive for February, 2011

Will the Sabres be buyers or sellers?

February 22, 2011

Now that Terry Pegula has officially been sworn in as king of the Sabres’ throne it’s time to start thinking about the future. The NHL trade deadline is only six days away and it will certainly be interesting to see what approach Buffalo takes. Darcy Regier has come out publicly and said the team isn’t interested in acquiring expiring contracts and if they do make any moves it will be to solidify the future.

I believe the Sabres should attempt to do two things at the deadline: Sell off some stale players and make one significant splash for the future.

The time has come Darcy. It’s time to admit mistakes of the past and shake up this core. Trading away Tim Connolly and Craig Rivet should be no-brainers, but how about someone like Jochen Hecht or Paul Gaustad? What about Jason Pominville? If a team comes calling on any of these players I would sincerely hope Darcy gives it a lot of thought. In order for Buffalo to get to the next level it’s going to need to change the make-up of the team.

It’s no secret that the Sabres lack a true No. 1 center. It’s been that way since Chris Drury and Danny Briere left and no matter how well Derek Roy plays he isn’t on that level.  With a weak 2011 free agent class, a trade may truly be the only way to address this need. Another area I think the Sabres are lacking is a top defenseman to play along side Myers. Pairing him with a proven player could be the best thing for him. Below is a list of players I have heard mentioned in trader rumors (not all with Buffalo) and ones I think the Sabres should take a look at. The one thing to take from the Erik Johnson trade last week is that no player is untouchable.

1. Paul Stastny C: He makes 6.6 million per year and is signed through 2013-14.

2. David Backes RW: He’s going to make 4.5 million starting next season and is signed through 2015-16. The Blues have already shown they’re sellers this year.

3. Stephen Weiss C: He makes 3.1 million and is locked in for two more seasons.

4. Brad Richards C: He makes 7.8 million and is a free agent after this season. He doesn’t fit the description of the player Regier is looking for, but he would fill the No. 1 center role.

5. Dustin Brown RW: An Ithaca native, Brown makes 3.175 million and is locked up through 2013-14.

6. Alexander Semin RW: He’s slated to make 6.7 million next season.

7. Zach Parise LW: He’s going to be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but he’s going to be a star in the league for a long time.

8. Pat Kane RW: He’s going to make 6.3 million and he’s locked up until 2014-15. Bringing back a Buffalo kid with his talent would have all the makings for a great story.

9. Brent Seabrook D: He’s going to be a restricted free agent next season, but it’s hard to think the Blackhawks are going to be able to sign him to a long term deal.

10. Robyn Regehr D: A solid veteran defenseman that is locked up for the next two seasons at 4.02 million.

Although there is no way most of these players get moved at the deadline, these are the type of players the Sabres should be inquiring about when the season ends. With the weak free agent class, trades may be the only way to make a significant roster move.

(Cap numbers provided by capgeek.com)

A new era of Buffalo hockey

February 22, 2011

As I shared a few tears with Terry Pegula this morning, I couldn’t help but think back to how I developed my love for not only the Buffalo Sabres but for the sport of hockey.

For years I’ve listened to my father share stories about the likes of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Danny Gare etc…Now at the age of 23, I can join in and reflect on watching the teams of the 1990s and 2000s with him. His passion for the sport carried over to me and we continue to share this bond today.

As I sat listening to the press conference today I couldn’t help but think that Mr. Pegula is just like my father and I. He’s a passionate fan that has a love for the team that goes beyond the sport.

Terry made this very evident in the first minute of his speech when he thanked Tom Golisano for “saving his team”. His genuine demeanor stole the room and when he thanked his hero Gilbert Perrault it was one of those wow moments that will forever be remembered in Sabres’ history.

Pegula and his new regime made it quite apparent that there will be no financial restraints hindering the team in the future. He even went as far to say as the sole reason the Sabres exist is to win a Stanley Cup.

I wasn’t sure what to expect heading into this morning, but as I sit here reflecting on Mr. Pegula’s words I am now confident that I will be able to one day share a Buffalo Sabres’ championship with my father. I know things won’t happen over night, but never has the future looked brighter as a Sabres’ fan.

Photo provided by Harry Scull Jr.

Buffalo Bills Draft Needs

February 22, 2011

Go to Mocking the Draft to check out my most recent article on the Bills’ current draft needs.

February 17, 2011

Stroud Released:Positive or Negative Move?

February 16, 2011

The Bills announced today that they have released DE/DT Marcus Stroud. Buffalo acquired Stroud in 2008 from the Jaguars and signed him to a four year contract extension after the 2008 season. He amassed 150 tackles, 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in three seasons with the Bills.

When the Bills acquired Stroud in 2008 he was still a dominating force in the middle of the defensive line but his play has tailed off somewhat over the last few years. The 10 year vet really seemed to struggle with the switch to the 3-4 defense, accumulating over four tackles only twice in the 2010 season.

The Bills signed Stroud to a four year, $28 million dollar deal in 2009 and he would’ve been owed $10 million over the final two years of the contract so the move makes fiscal sense. The thing that makes me scratch my head though is the lack of proven depth at the 3-4 defensive end/4-3 defensive tackle position on the Bills roster. With Dave Wannstedt essentially taking over the defensive scheming responsibility and his history favoring the 4-3 scheme, the lack of proven defensive tackle depth could be a serious cause for concern. Even if Wannstedt favored Dwan Edwards over Stroud, he could’ve at least given the Bills a solid veteran option in the event that Edwards or Williams needed a blow or god-forbid succumbed to injury. This move really speeds up and steepens the learning curve for guys like Torell Troup and Alex Carrington.

There are some positives to go along with the negatives however. Losing Stroud’s contract does give Buddy Nix more financial flexibility if there is indeed a free agency period. It also opens the door for the aforementioned second and third round picks from the 2010 draft to get more playing experience and hopefully develop into solid contributors on the defensive line. My only hope is that Nix and the Bills don’t rest on their laurels and assume that what they currently have on the defensive line, whether it is a 3-4 or 4-3, is sufficient. Buffalo definitely need upgrades across the d-line and can’t be satisfied with assuming that Troup and Carrington are the immediate answers. Hopefully with the financial dexterity that this move creates, Nix will not only look to the draft to upgrade the d-line but will seek help from established veterans hitting the free agent pool as well.

Extended Draft Coverage

February 14, 2011

For the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft we will be doing extended draft coverage on www.mockingthedraft.com. For the next several weeks we will be analyzing the top three needs for each team doing one division per week. Follow our progress and feel free to leave your comments and criticisms!

While we give a broad focus of draft needs on a team-by-team basis at www.mockingthedraft.com we will also be digging in deep to analyze the Bills’ needs at BleedBuffalo. Stay tuned for an in depth position-by-position Buffalo breakdown over the next few weeks.

A Winter of Despair

February 10, 2011

The Packers are Super Bowl Champions signifying the end of the 2010-2011 NFL season and now it’s time to face reality. With the expiration of the CBA less than a month away and what seems to be an impasse between the owners and Players Association, it looks like football fans are in for a winter of despair. Being a tortured Buffalo Bills fan already, I’m used to disappointment but the offseason is usually like Christmas for me. Every year I look forward to watching the NFL Combine to see the next crop of NFL talent and the hope of “maybe next year.”

Although a Lockout (it feels like a knife to the stomach every time I say that) wouldn’t affect the Combine and the NFL Draft, it would end any hope of free agency. Even though the Bills haven’t been major players in the free agent market over the past few seasons, unless you consider Dwan Edwards a major signing, I felt that signing Shawne Merriman may have signified a changing of the tide at One’s Bill Drive. If the CBA doesn’t get done by March 3rd that point will be moot however. It’s hard to debate that a 4-12 team is that close to becoming a playoff contender but after watching the Bills this season it was clear that they have taken several steps in the right direction and a solid offseason could put them very close to where they need to be.

Losing the offseason would pale in comparison to losing the actual season but the thought of not being able to follow the free agent and trade transactions for the next few months really churns my stomach. Since I can remember I would stay up until the wee-hours of the morning the day that free agency would open and follow the transactions on NFL.com, ESPN, various chat boards and more recently twitter. As pathetic or borderline insane as it may sound I’ve missed classes, work and family gatherings to stay up to date with NFL transactions. Not being able to look forward to that is borderline depressing.

Thinking optimistically, the NFL is by far the highest grossing sports franchise in the U.S. and I can’t imagine the powers that be allowing a lockout to happen and I do believe Roger Goodell is the best person to mediate a solution. Also, many NFL players are horrible with their money and shockingly enough live paycheck to paycheck so once they feel that financial pinch they should cave. For all of our sakes let’s just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

Parting thoughts on Golisano

February 3, 2011

With Terry Pegula getting ready to take the reigns of the Sabres in the coming weeks, I wanted give a few thoughts on Tom Golisano’s final press conference today.

First I would like to thank Mr. Golisano for everything he’s done for the organization. Buffalo was on the brink of bankruptcy when he took over in 2003 and apparently the situation was a lot worse than we thought. On WGR this morning, Paul Hamilton talked about how the NHL had a disbursement draft set in place in case the Sabres folded. So Tom, thank you for stabilizing the organization!

One of the main things that stood out to me at the press conference was the fact the ownership regime was happy with the progress they made. Golisano boosted at the fact that Buffalo was the sixth in the NHL in win percentage during his tenure (.590). The thing he failed to mention was that the team only made the playoffs three times out of those seven seasons. The Sabres have had some success under Golisano, but they’ve become complacent.

Reflecting off that last point, Golisano spoke about parody in the NHL and how tough it was to compete year in and year out.  My biggest problem with that point is that after a few years of struggling, most teams make significant changes. After its post-lockout success, Buffalo failed to keep the proper core of players around and the team suffered greatly from it. What did the Sabres do to fix this problem? That’s right, nothing. Golisano was making a profit and fans were coming to games so why shake up the organization. This season is the perfect example of why changes need to be made in both the front office and to the roster.

The final point I took from the press conference is that Pegula has already sat down with Quinn and established a group of players that can’t be moved at the trade line. Why is this significant? To me this means that Pegula already has formulated an initial plan for the future, which is great news for Buffalo fans.

The ownership change can’t become official soon enough; the Sabres desperately need a new set of eyes to guide them into the future.


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