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Best reasons why the Sabres won’t suck forever December 29, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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I know we’re all very down on the team right now, and with good reason. But I’d like to offer some hope to you, the downtrodden fans.

Hence, here are some reasons the Sabres won’t suck forever (in no particular order):

  • Tyler Ennis – even though I see shades of Maxim Afinogenov in him, at least his “give a damn” isn’t broken.
  • New owner Terry Pegula – not only does he have the money to field a competitive team, he understands hockey and appears to have a competitive spirit.
  • Tim Connolly/Jochen Hecht/Mike Grier/Craig Rivet/Rob Niedermayer/Patrick Lalime – all are set to become UFA’s at the end of the season.
  • The new kids on the block: Luke Adam, TJ Brennan, Marcus Foligno, Zack Kassian, Drew Schiestel – they’re looking good and getting more experience with every game.
  • Ryan Miller – is not an unrestricted free agent until after the 2013-2014 season.
  • Possibility of a new GM – Pegula hasn’t said whether or not he’ll keep the current management team around, but I have a feeling at least some of the front office will be cleaned out.
  • Draft placement – if the team continues to struggle they’ll get some good early draft picks.

Do we all feel better now?


I’ve figured Darcy out… September 2, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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So Darcy has been stockpiling defensemen, and no one has been able to discern his reasoning. But I think I know what’s up! Darcy is obviously waiting for the NHL to nullify the contracts of Kovalchuk, et al, and then once the fines are handed out and the caps are shrunken, leaving the Devils, Blackhawks, and Canucks in serious trouble, he’ll swoop in with his cheap defensemen and offer to take Hank, Soupy, and Kevin Bieska off the teams’ hands.

Because, you see, he can’t bear to part with players he’s drafted, so he needs to find a way to get them back! This is brilliant! And Bieska is a bonus! Plus, all of this only helps advance his ultimate role of fielding an all-defensemen team.

When you think about it, the answer was there all along. We just had to look for it.

Sabres to trade Connolly and Stafford? Yes, please! May 2, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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According to the Edmonton Journal (h/t to Nick Mendola on Twitter for the info), the Sabres were not happy w/Connolly’s performance (or lack thereof, as the case was) in the playoffs. They obviously haven’t been happy with Stafford’s play lately either. Without those two players, and without including any of our current UFAs on the roster, the Sabres have approximately $16-17 million in cap room. This amount of cap room assumes we’ll sign the RFAs – Kaleta and Kennedy for $1.4M each.

Let’s assume Mike Weber will make the roster next year at his ’09-10 salary (.56 million). Let’s also assume they bring back Mike Grier at his ’09-10 salary ($1.2 million) and Matt Ellis at his ’09-10 salary (.5 million) – that makes the cap number $14-15M before we start our shopping spree.

Where does that leave them as far as bodies are concerned? Before any additions, there would be eleven forwards, six d-men, and one goaltender. Teams normally carry 12-13 forwards, 6-7 d-men, and two goaltenders. To fill out the roster, the Sabres would need to sign or bring up 1-2 forwards, one d-men, and one goaltender.

Ok, still with me? By the way, I’m doing the best I can with the numbers available to me and by making what I consider to be reasonable assumptions. Don’t sue me if the math isn’t quite right – this is all just for argument’s sake.

Let’s go shopping for one or two forwards. We’ll look at some notable UFAs this summer, their ’09-10 compensation, their position, and the likelihood of 1- the Sabres wanting him, and 2- whether the player would be willing to come here. For those two parts, I’ll use very unlikely, somewhat unlikely, somewhat likely, and very likely. The explanations at the end are why I rated them the way I did.

TOP 20 UFA Forwards

Ilya Kovalchuk, $7.5 million, left wing, very unlikely – expensive and Russian
Patrick Marleau, $6.3 million, center, somewhat likely – expensive but worth it
Paul Kariya, $6 million, left wing, somewhat unlikely – old and injury-prone
Olli Jokinen, $5.5 million, center, somewhat likely – old, had trouble lately finding his game, but could be a good fit
Pavol Demitra, $4 million, right wing, somewhat likely – old, but could be a good fit
Alexander Frolov, $4 million, left wing, somewhat unlikely – Russian
Slava Kozlov – very unlikely. ‘Nuff said.
Ray Whitney, $3.55 million, left wing, somewhat likely – the Sabres have expressed strong interest in Whitney before
Fredrik Modin, $3.5 million, left wing, somewhat likely – decent price, could be a good fit
Lee Stepniak, $3.5 million, right wing, very likely – he’s a Buffalo boy, and we know how the Sabres LOVE the locals
Saku Koivu, $3.25 million, center, somewhat likely – decent price, good leader
Markus Naslund, $3 million, left wing, somewhat unlikely – old, losing his game
Matt Cullen, $2.8 million, center, somewhat likely – the Sabres have expressed interest in Cullen before
John Madden, $2.75 million, center, somewhat likely – good price, good fit
Owen Nolan, $2.75 million, right wing, somewhat likely – old, but good leader, tough
Tomas Plekanec, $2.75 million, center, somewhat unlikely – his stock is going to shoot up based on his playoff performance
Raffi Torres – very unlikely. ‘Nuff said.
Fernando Pisani, $2.5 million, center, somewhat unlikely – injury-prone: some of them potentially career-ending
Alexei Ponikarovsky, $2.5 million, left wing, somewhat unlikely – Russian
Alex Tanguay, $2.5 million, left wing, somewhat likely – decent price, had trouble lately finding his game but could be a good fit

Now let’s shop for a defenseman:

Top 20 UFA Defensemen

Nicklas Lidstrom, $7.45 million, very unlikely – unfortunately, not gonna happen
Scott Niedermayer, $6 million, very unlikely – again, not gonna happen
Sergei Gonchar, $5.5 million, somewhat unlikely – Pitt will try to keep him, Russian, but would be GREAT fit for the Sabres
Kim Johnsson, $5.3 million, somewhat unlikely – expensive, coming off an injury that caused him to miss 20+ games in ’09-10
Pavel Kubina, $5 million, somewhat likely – expensive but a good fit
Paul Martin, $4.5 million, somewhat likely – expensive, but brings toughness, still has a lot of good years ahead of him
Rob Blake, $3.5 million, somewhat unlikely – old, not a good fit for the Sabres (too slow)
Brett Clark, $3.5 million, somewhat unlikely – hasn’t played a full season since ’06-07
Willie Mitchell, $3.5 million, somewhat likely – big, coming off major injury in ’09-10
Andy Sutton, $3.5 million, somewhat likely – big & tough, but slow, might be a good fit for the Sabres
Derek Morris, $3.3 million, somewhat likely – lot of good years ahead, decent stats, decent price, decent size
Ruslan Salei, $3.275 million, somewhat unlikely – hasn’t played a full season since ’06-07
Adam Foote, $3.25 million, somewhat unlikely- old and slow, but has toughness
Anton Volchenkov, $3.2 million, somewhat unlikely – Russian, but great shot blocker (if Lydman not re-signed), stock has risen
Randy Jones, $3 million, somewhat likely – never played a full season, but decent stats
Joe Corvo, $2.75 million, somewhat unlikely – slow, injury-prone
Jason Smith, $2.6 million, somewhat unlikely – old, slowing, but a good leader
Dan Hamhuis, $2.5 million, somewhat likely – lots of good years left, good price
Brian Pothier, $2.5 million, somewhat unlikely – has never played a full season
Aaron Ward, $2.5 million, somewhat unlikely – slow, journeyman, injury-prone

What have we learned? According to my completely unscientific analysis, to address the needs at forward the Sabres should make a play for Marleau if they are serious about change and want to make a splash, and for Whitney, Modin, Stepniak, Koivu, Cullen, or Madden if they can’t land Marleau. I don’t know if Rivet and Marleau or Grier and Marleau are friends or not, but it might help if either talked up the Sabres to him.

As for defensemen, if they go for the power play specialist they need so desperately, they should look at Gonchar or Kubina. If they’re looking for a younger guy, try Hamhuis. If they’re looking for toughness or shot blocking, Volchenkov or Martin would work.


Now, to goaltenders. It would be nice to find a backup who the team could actually count on. Of course, I don’t think Lalime was as bad as it seemed like he was, but no matter how righteous a guy the players thought he was, they didn’t play well in front of him. Let’s see who can fill our goaltender shopping cart:

Dan Ellis, $2 million – great choice if the cap money is available
Ray Emery, $1.5 million – I think not
Martin Biron, $1.4 million – another great choice: stuff him in the cart and promise him pancakes
Peter Budaj, $1.25 million – decent choice for a good price

And that’s really it. Three choices isn’t bad though.

You’ve seen who I think the Sabres should focus on. Who would you put on your wish list?

Demystifying NHL Rules, Part, um, three? March 28, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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I’m not sure where we are in our continuing saga of trying to figure out what the heck is going on with the NHL rule books. Today I thought I’d take a look at the special rules that come into play after the trade deadline.

“The 23-man roster limit is in place from the conclusion of the preseason until 12:01 am on the day of the NHL’s Trade Deadline. After that teams are allowed to have an unlimited active roster at the NHL level, provided players are signed to one of their 50 contract slots. NHL teams are only allowed to dress a maximum of 20 players – 18 skaters and two goaltenders – for any given game, but those 20 must come from the 23-player active roster.” Source: NHL Rulebook

However, there are only a certain number of roster MOVES a team can make between the trade deadline and the end of the season. I don’t know what that number is, but that’s why Tyler Ennis was classified as an “emergency call-up”. He has to be returned to the Pirates in a certain length of time or his call-up is considered a roster move. Again, I don’t know what this timeframe is.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “Well, that’s helpful… not.” I tried to find out how many roster moves can be made and how long it was before an emergency call-up is classified as a roster move, but I couldn’t find the information. If you know where to find it, let me know in the comments section and I’ll update the blog post.

So, in conclusion, the Sabres could conceivably have 50 players on the current roster from now on, but 1 – that would leave no one in Portland, and 2 – that’s an awful lot of guys using a folding chair as their locker. This lack of a roster limit does explain why minor-league players hang out with their NHL big brothers during the playoffs. If you’ve got the cap space and the roster space, why not have a few extra players sitting around just in case Pat Kaleta decides to break his hand on a guy’s face again or Paul Gaustad… well… breathes.

Well, that didn’t really demystify that rule, did it? Oh well, I tried.

Are deadline trades worth it? March 6, 2010

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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I often wonder if trades made at the deadline are really worth it – at least in the case of rentals. Right now there are only five weeks left in the regular season. Is that enough time to integrate a rental player into your lineup and build the chemistry necessary for him to really make a difference?

If the team goes far in the playoffs there’s obviously more time to develop chemistry, but I wonder what percentage of rental players go beyond the first round or two of the playoffs… I wonder, and yet I’m not going to actually figure out the answer to that question. I’m not good at math and that sounds like not only math, but hard math.

People ask me why I’m so “easy” on the Sabres when they don’t go for it at the deadline, and the above is the reason. I’d rather trade for someone who is going to be with the team in future years than to mortgage a lot and hope for the best.

That being said, welcome, Raffi Torres. Sabres fans love shiny new toys, so enjoy your popularity while you can.

He's like a shiny penny, but not.

The Sabres play the Rangers tomorrow. Typically, I don’t mind playing the Rangers since the Sabres tend to do well against them, and tomorrow shouldn’t be any different. Hopefully the boys can find chemistry with their shiny new toy and stay in first in the division. I hope they also did some more shooting practice – this whole “missing the net” thing is getting ridiculous.

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