Here’s a few thoughts. As always, please forgive me if I make a comment or remark that one of you had already...
I still can’t believe the number one, two, and three seeds in the Eastern Conference got knocked out. It makes me all the angrier that Buffalo caved in against the Bruins. Ugh.
The organization made a nice move putting on the Ruff/Regier/Quinn show days after the season ended. They didn’t do that last year, and many accused them of running and hiding, which I think was deserved. Picking up the option on Ruff’s contract was also a smart move, and it leads me to a few questions.
When are they going to start contract negotiations with Ruff? Picking up his option is great, but if you don’t do anything with it, you’re just leaving him with lame duck status going into next season, and that’s not good for anybody. The way I see it, a lot can be told about their off season intentions by following this.
If Ruff is extended soon (and I’m thinking by next month’s draft when saying “soon”), then I think it’s safe to say he’ll have a lot of input (maybe more than ever) on roster moves. This could mean more of an effort/willingness to part with some of the “core.” [editor’s note - am I the only one sick and tired of hearing the term “core” when talking about some of the vets on this team?]
I’d wager that an extension now would mean we’d have a better chance of seeing guys like Timmy, Roy, Pominville, and Stafford go elsewhere. And make no mistake about it - those are the four guys everyone is talking about when it comes to off season moves.
If Ruff isn’t extended anytime soon, I think we’ll be “stuck” with most of the aforementioned, and I’d start betting on when the “Bring Back Nolan” fan posts start. I’ve read a few things out there (one from Jim Kelley of CNN - I wish he was still the beat writer for the Buffalo Evening News) saying Ruff might like more GM type duties, if not taking the roll altogether. I’m all for taking away some of the decision making from Regier to be honest. As a Lindy fan here, I’d do anything to make sure he’s with the club for at least the next three to four years, roughly the time that Miller has left in his prime.
This kind of brings me to Regier. Not a fan. He’s made some nice moves…but I also see some of the lousy ones too, and to me those might overcome the good ones. Aside from the bonanza he hit with the Myers/Ennis/Adam draft, he hasn’t been very good in that aspect. The 1st round picks in the beginning of the decade were for the most part, awful. Heisten, Kryukov, Novotny. Yuch. Then you move to the middle part of the decade and get Stafford, Zagrapan, and Persson. Ouch. Granted, he had some quality picks in the middle rounds, but to miss on five guys completely doesn’t bode well for his next set of contract talks.
To top it off for Regier, he’s given out some horrible contracts that handcuffed this team. Many will beat him up for the contracts he didn’t give out (Peca, Drury, Briere, Dumont, Soup), but I won’t. I think he deserves a round of boos for the contracts he has given out as of late (Max, Kotalik, Hank, Timmy, Pominville, the butchered Vanek deal, Goose, and Hecht (to an extent)).
So then, does this make it up to Quinn to decide how to move forward with the two major heads of your front office? I’d say so. We really haven’t heard much from him as of late, which I don’t think is a bad thing. His job is to attend to the business side of the organization, and from all accounts, he’s doing rather well there. That’s a healthy organization they have going on, and in my book Quinn should get a lot of credit for it. He’s got a tough decision though now - how does he move forward with Ruff & Regier? Ultimately, this decision will have an affect on the business side of the organization. Here’s to hoping he makes the right moves.
Okay…enough Coach/GM speak. Onto to some player talk…
Some knuckle headed friends of mine are clamoring for a buyout on Rivet. I get the sense that some of you are angry with him as well. Myself, I don’t think he’s been deserving of the seven million dollars he’s been paid so far, or will be of the 3.5 he’s going to get next season. But buying him out costs you two thirds of the remaining contract spread out over two years. It’s foolish to let him go. That’s giving up cap room, and it’s dumb. To defend my stance, I point out the recent surgery he’s had (or will have?) will set him back about six months, taking us well into the beginning of next season. That means he can be IR’d for that time, meaning he doesn’t count toward the cap. Am I correct on that? I thought that’s how the Flyers saved cap room this year, by placing several guys on long term IR. Anyway, getting him back totally healthy for the first time since the first month he was here would help. He’d be like a playoff rental, except you’ll get him earlier than the March deadline.
Holy Restricted Free Agents. I think this is an overlooked worry going into this off season. There are several guys that need to be resigned, and although they’ll come relatively cheap, they’ll still be an expense towards the cap next season.
Now before I fret more over this, I wish someone could explain to me how it works when you have a RFA, sign him, and then throw him down to Portland. That money can’t count towards the cap, I’m sure. But I know it’s got to be accounted for somewhere, and that is what I don’t know. Back to fretting…
I forgot Kaleta only signed a one year deal prior to the season. He made around a half a million and change this season. As a RFA, some team could offer him up to 1.3, and all Buffalo would get in exchange is a 3rd rounder. If I were another team, I’d offer a million a year. Giving up a 3rd for a ten goal scorer and an agitator with potential would be worth it to me.
Kennedy, Weber, Gogulla, and Gragnani are all RFAs as well who made about 800 grrr last year. Buffalo is going to have to re-up with these guys. In the case of the first two, I would easily throw 1.3 at these guys (that’s the number where RFA compensation bumps up from a #3 pick to a #2 pick). Kennedy looks to be a keeper, and Weber played very well in Portland this season. I’d like to picture both of them in Sabre uniforms next season, but I’m worried another team might pounce on them. I would. As far as Gogulla and Gragnani go, I don’t see another team making a run at them. They’ll still cost some loot though to keep ‘em in the organization.
Some will argue Mancari deserves to be resigned and given a chance to make the big squad. You won’t see me in that group. To me he’s the B-rate version of Kotalik, and that’s not a compliment. The one thing I’ll never understand, ever, is a big, talented guy (ala Stafford) who won’t punch people in the face or take a punch. Being able to do so can earn you millions. Let me repeat…millions.
I wonder what happens to Grier. From my point of view, I’d say it’s a no-brainer to resign him. He shouldn’t cost much at all. Mike Grier made 1.2 last season. Would two years at a total of 2.5 be fair to him? Throw in some team bonuses, and I think he’d bite. It may end up being expensive for a 4th liner (which he will be next season), but I think his leadership is worth it. How was he not at least an “A” this year?
I’m letting Hank and Toni go as well. Capgeek.com is a great site for playing around with salary(s). Never could I justify resigning either of them using that site. For the Hank guys who say he played so well with Myers, I say this - won’t Myers play just as well with anyone? Hank has pulled this on us before, having a solid season going into a contract year. I’m not getting fooled twice.
Lydman is a harder loss for me. He got buried by a bunch of people this year. Yours truly was not in that group; I like Lydman. I wouldn’t mind seeing the following pairings next year (for now): Myers/Butler, Lydman/Montador, Sekera/Weber. Sure these could be improved on, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing happening.
Speaking of D, how big of a deal was it this year that the Sabres ran with 3 right handed defensemen? I remember when they traded for Rivet, signed Montador, and brought Myers on board, they made mention of it. I can see where it helps, and I don’t think this was mentioned enough this past season. Maybe it’s not that important?
Am I the only one who remembers Derek Roy coming in as a feisty little [insert your own adjective here]? What happened? Everyone talks about what a team friendly contract he has (and it is). But is that same contract partially responsible for him losing some fire in the belly? He got 24 million guaranteed over six years. I wonder if he would have stuck to Ruff’s “system” a little more if he were only on a three or four year deal.
It was either Sullivan or Gleason from the Buffalo Evening News who suggested some guys on the team aren’t found of Timmy. Who were those guys, and do they have any sway with the teams roster decision makers? I’m hoping Miller steps up behind the scenes. Imagine “growing up” with a few guys, reaching the NHL, and then having to tell your boss that one of your friends isn’t “cutting it.” Not fun, but a necessary act by your defacto team captain.
Did Luke Adam do anything in Portland once he was signed? I never followed that much. In any event, if he lights it up in Portland next year, Darcy will look like a genius with his video scouting/no scouts draft of ‘08.
Zach Kassian worries me. He is a man amongst boys, and will probably have won the OHL championship with Taylor Hall by the time this is posted. Another season in the OHL is not going to help this kid. Neither is making the Sabres roster as the 13th/14th forward. This is a kid absolutely made for the AHL, given his developmental status. The next CBA has to address this. Who does this currently benefit? It makes no sense to me at all…
One of the things they say about professional tackle football is that a guy makes his most improvement in the off season between his first and second season. It makes sense. You get the first season under your belt, and you know how to prepare for the next season. You’re not working out now for numbers sake; you’re working on game muscles, and there is a difference. I want to read articles from the team’s webpage that say “Myers, Ennis, Gerbe, Sekera, & Butler pack on Muscle this off season.” Is that a lot to ask of each of them and the training staff to pack on ten pounds or so? If it is, it’s time to get a new training staff….
What’s the 3rd jersey going to be next year? Anyone have a link to a potential design?
Does Cody McCormick really have a chance for next season? What about Mair and Ellis? I figure two of the three have a good chance. It’s an early question, but which two will stick?
The Party In The Plaza is a great success. From what I’ve heard, it sucks to attend, but is a great thing to be at. Does that make any sense? Doesn’t matter. It makes me think of future stadium designs. I can picture stadiums being built with outdoor plazas to efficiently host an extra five thousand or so fans, if not more. Outdoor “seats” may become this decade’s version of SRO tickets…
Is it fair to call Tim Connolly this decade’s Pierre Turgeon? Both uber talented, both never accepted as “true hockey players.”
Whatever happened to Dimitri Kalinin? I saw him in the Olympics, and that’s it. How can a guy be good enough to play for Russia in the Olympics, and not be good enough for the NHL? He’s just another example of guys who played well under Ruff, but didn’t meet expectations once they left.
I don’t like MSG, at all. If I had money and/or brains, I’d start a new local sports channel.