Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hockey in Iowa

A lot of craziness has been going on in Iowa with their AHL team. After changing their affiliation this season from the Dallas Stars to the Anaheim Ducks, their name of the Iowa Stars, just didn't make too much sense, so they changed it. They did however get a tad bit carried away.

They renamed their team to the Iowa Chops, which well a bit cheesy really isn't too bad. Then they made their logo the head of a roasted pig. Then as if the team wasn't getting enough attention despite being a minor league team out of season, they then offered a contract to Brett Favre. Now Favre has had an odd enough off season to begin with, but nobody (including those who offered him a contract) have an clue how his skating ability is. Suddenly Jagr going to Russia isn't the oddest story of this off season.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jordon Southorn and Jay McKee

Die By The Blade has an excellent interview with recent Sabres draftee Jordon Southorn. Southorn was taken by Buffalo in the fourth round, and is a defenseman for the PEI Rockets.

Former Sabre Jay McKee however, was busy dressing up as Marilyn Monroe. Honestly, he was at the Wedding of teammate Dan Hinote where for some reason, everyone was asked to come in a 1950's era costume. The party also featured Jim Carrey dressed as Fidel Castro.

Back to hockey, the Goose's Roost has picked out the five worst valued Sabres games of the season. In short, they are charging big money for the Friday night games regardless of who the opponent is (and the platinum games are all overpriced, but that is only to take away money from those Canadians).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where is Michael Ryan?

Michael Ryan is an unrestricted free agent, and while he hasn't resigned with Buffalo, he hasn't signed elsewhere either. While he is not going to be the top forward for any team, he is definitely good enough to sign somewhere, but there has been no word about his off season at all. The assumption is that Buffalo would resign him for about the same amount he made last season, but there has been no news on this front. Even My Safety is Harvard has nothing to report. So what is the deal here? I assume that Michael Ryan will be in the NHL, but he has to sign with a team first to do so.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Platinum Games

The Sabres have added another layer of complexity to their pricing schedule, adding Platinum games to the current Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Value levels. This should actually help fans, as it will result in the prices for Gold games to actually drop a little. The Platinum games are mostly designed to suck the money out of Canadians visiting HSBC, with the four platinum games consist of three matches against Toronto, and a Friday night game against Montreal. I'm not sure why people get excited about Maple Leafs hockey, but I'm glad to see that the Sabres are willing to take their money.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cunneyworth leaves the Sabres organization

Randy Cunneyworth has long been the coach of the AHL’s Rochester Amerks, but this coming season will instead be working as an assistant in the NHL with the Atlanta Thrashers. While Cunneyworth had always been viewed as a potential candidate for NHL head coaching jobs, it appeared as if he would have rather stayed on as head coach in the AHL. However, the Buffalo Sabres split with Rochester would have uprooted him anyways, so he took the job with Atlanta instead.

His departure will be a huge blow to the Sabres organization. Buffalo has long depened on Cunneyworth to train and prepare their young players on the farm team. His similar coaching style allowed players to easily transition to playing under Lindy Ruff, and to prepare themselves for the NHL. Almost the entire current Buffalo roster played for him in Rochester, and his help was critical to forming the current team.

Hopefully the Sabres current high profile prospects such as Nathan Gerbe, and Tim Kennedy will be able to adapt to Buffalo’s system just as well playing for a different coach in Portland Maine. Kevin Dineen is expected to be offered the coaching job after coaching in Portland for Anaheim the last few seasons. Still it is a huge loss to no longer have Cunneyworth as the mentor for this young team.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sabres sign Mathieu Darche

Left wing Mathieu Darche has signed a one year, two way contract with the Buffalo Sabres. This is an interesting singing as the Sabres appear to anticipate using Darche mostly as a leader for their AHL team. Yet Darche played 73 games last season with Tampa Bay, and earned 22 points. While not quite an all star, he is an NHL quality player and will be hoping to get some ice time with Buffalo, perhaps even displacing Nathan Gerbe as a call up.

On his side Darche stated that he was mostly attracted to Buffalo, because of coach Lindy Ruff, with who he feels he will be able to earn a good amount of playing time in Buffalo's system. Either way this is nothing more then a temporary depth signing and is nice, but not really a big deal either way.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Miller signs five year extension

Ryan Miller has agreed to a five year contract extension, which will result in him staying in Buffalo for the next six years. The contract is for an average of $6.25 million per season.

This is good as not only do we have the 2008-09 Sabres pretty much set, but the 2009-10 team is pretty much in place now as well. Jason Pominville being the obvious exception there.

At $6.25 million a season, Miller is slightly overpaid, but not too much, so it shouldn't create any problems for the team down the road. The real question mark is the length of the contract. It is a tad bit risky to commit to a single goaltender for the next six years based only on the play of the last three. While Miller is a solid number one right now, there is no guarantee that he will be in the future, so Sabres management is taking a bit of a gamble on that front. Still it could pay off for them.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sabres Schedule

The NHL's schedules have all been released. After looking over Buffalo's there really isn't too much of interest there. The first game of the season in October 10th against Montreal. There are apparently no home and homes this year, or at least the Sabres are not involved in any. The three wildcard games that Buffalo has are against Detroit, Phoenix, and Anaheim which may be a tad bit difficult, but doesn't appear to be over the top.

Elsewhere, the season is opening in the Check Republic and Sweden, with two games in each country. Also Detroit and Chicago, are taking over the winter classic this season, playing in Wrigley Stadium. Game pricing and the like hasn't been announced yet.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Paille (and MacArthur) resigned

Restricted free agent, Danial Paille has resigned for two more years with the Buffalo Sabres for an average of $1.125 million a season. The Sabres other restricted free agent Clarke MacArthur has also resigned, by accepting a qualifying offer.

With these two signings the Sabres have more or less set their team for next season. The only question remaining at this point is if Numminen will be coming back for another season or not.

The NHL's schedules are released today, more on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Should Buffalo sign Brendan Shanahan?

The Sabres have not exactly made a name for themselves in the free agent market, but they still have an opportunity to. While the list of available players is getting short, there is one big name that sticks out. Brendan Shanahan.

Obviously Shanahan is no longer the absolute top of the line player that he was in his time with Detroit, but he is still a solid player who can provide leadership and strength on the powerplay. Furthermore he only made $2.5 million last season, so bringing him in wouldn't exactly break the bank either. While the Sabres certainly are not short on forwards, most of Buffalo's players are on the right wing, while Shanahan plays on the left.

Is this a deal that is likely to happen? No, but it would be cool if it did.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Nashville's Portability

A lot of news over the fact that Boots Del Biaggio was partially motivated to buy the Nashville Predators for their Portability Value. Now that a man known as "Boots" (so much so that the legal documents even refer to him as William "Boots" Del Biaggio) who was financially backed by an organization with an empty arena in anther city had an interest in moving the team should come a surprise to no one.

Still looking at the numbers it's hard to say that Nashville is not portable. While they had a pretty good season last year, the team is not making it financially. A team not making it financially is bad for the league as a whole. It's going to become harder, and harder to ignore Jim Balsillie's money and the fact that Canada does love hockey more than Tennessee does. If the New York City area can support three NHL clubs there is no reason to suspect that Toronto would have any trouble at all with two. Furthermore this current mess is going to hurt AEG's standing in the league and reduce the possibility of a new team in Kansas City (which never really looked like a better option then Nashville).

Still the Nashville is still better off then the Florida Panthers, and the Phoenix Coyotes, but the NHL's expansion to non-hockey markets has to come to a decision sooner or later.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lecavalier under contract until 2020

Vinny Lecavalier has just signed a contract extension to keep him in Tampa Bay through 2020, and most likely the end of his career. While the rate of $7.72 million a season is a bit high, it isn't unreasonable and it appears clear that Lacavalier wants to stay with the organization for some time.

Despite this huge contract, the Lightning have actually been more fiscally responsible, and balanced this season. Tampa Bay still has Martin St. Louis on the team, but have traded away Brad Richards and the overpaid Dan Boyle and are actually in a better position because of it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What is going on with Bernier?

Steve Bernier has been getting quite the tour of the NHL lately. After playing for a number of years in San Jose, he got traded to Buffalo last spring for Brian Campbell. Most analysts felt that a change of location would do Bernier good, and that Buffalo was a good fit for him. After finishing out the season for the Sabres instead of being resigned as a restricted free agent, he was traded to Vancouver for draft picks. Before he could get a deal done in Vancouver, he signed an offer sheet from the St. Louis Blues, but later had the offer matched by Vancouver.

Either Bernier is the most wanted player in the league, or the least wanted. Still Vancouver at least seems committed to him, and playing on a line with the Sedins should be a good fit for Bernier.

Had Vancouver not matched the deal he signed with the Blues, the team would have only received a second round pick as compensation, which is less then the second, and third rounders that were traded to Buffalo for him in the first place.

His contract is $2.5 million for one year, and while he is a good player, I'm not sure he is worth that. As such I'm glad the Sabres had traded him out for the two draft picks instead of the one we would have received instead. With the mass amount of right wingers that made trading him possible to begin with there is no way that Buffalo would have signed him for more than Gaustad is making.

Buffalo and Bernier both appear to have made out nicely from all of this. However if this is how the restricted free agent market is going, I want Paille signed as soon as possible, and am really glad that Paul Gaustad is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why I will not be rooting for any team in the West

Cheering for an eastern conference team, leaves you with a lack of knowledge about what is going on out in the western conference. However come playoff time you have to pick a few teams to root from on the other side of the country.

After watching his team get eliminated in seven games after earning three shutouts in the series, I got over the whole no-goal thing, and started rooting for Marty Turco and the Dallas Stars. Given how much they rely on their goaltending they had a decent postseason this year. And then this offseason they sign free agent Sean Avery. It's already hard enough to root for a hockey team in Texas, and with Avery now in the equation I don't think I can do it.

So out west I then have to turn my attention to the Calgary Flames. The Flames have Jerome Iginla as a captain, who is probably the best and most classy player in the league. Given that Kiprusoff and Phaneuf are both likable enough, and being in Canada, the city has no below the frost line reasons to dislike it. Then what does my beloved western conference team do? They sign Todd Bertuzzi. I'll still have a problem rooting against Iginla, but this isn't going to have me rooting for the Flames this season. Even without the whole Moore incident there are plenty of reasons to not like Bertuzzi. It's sad to see a class organization like Calgary go down like this.

Next thing you know the Chicago Blackhawks will be trading hard working Buffalo boy Kevyn Adams to Ottawa in exchange for Chris Neil. Then I really would have no use for any team not in the East.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Craziness in Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks have not shied away from big money free agents this season, and as a result currently have a bit of an odd roster. The team should be a favorite to make the playoffs next season, but they still need to clean up their roster a bit.

First the did sign former Sabre Brian Campbell. At $7.1 million per year for the next eight years, Chicago entered a contract that was way high on the money side. As good as Campbell is, there is no way to justify spending that much money on just him. The upside for Chicago is that Campbell does fill an actual need. Instead of this being the Blackhawks overpaying just to get someone, they are getting the offensive defenseman that there team needed last season.

Of course they could still end up regretting the decision. The team is currently just shy of being two million over the cap at $58.608 million. Furthermore they still have to resign a few support players such as Buffalo native Kevyn Adams.

Part of their salary cap problems come from the fact that they currently have $12.375 million of cap space tied up in their goaltenders next season. Nikolai Khabibulin who has been Chicago's goalie for awhile now still has one year left in his contract. Meanwhile the team has signed unrestricted free agent Cristobal Huet to a four year deal. Huet had a good year last season playing with both Montreal, and Washington. He is a solid number one goaltender, but Chicago now clearly has a problem, and needs to find a place to move the Bulin-wall to.

Chicago will be a real good team this year, but will have to sign lots of important free agents over the next two seasons with little cap room to work with.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sabres get trading

The Sabres made two trades today, in the first one giving away Bernier for two draft picks, and in the second landing Craig Rivet from San Jose for two draft picks.

The first trade with Bernier makes perfect sense. While his first game in town went very well, he fell off the radar a bit after than. I think he would have made the top fifteen forwards, but only just barely with Kaleta, MacArthur, and Gerbe all close to pushing him out. If this trade puts Gerbe in the starting lineup, I'll be happy.

The second trade helped fill out our need at Defense by bringing in Craig Rivet from the San Jose Sharks. Rivet still has three more season under his contract, at $3.5 million a year, which seems very reasonable. I think it is safe to assume, that he will be put on the second line with Spacek. While I feel this gives us three solid defensive lines, with Nathan Paetesch as a very capable seven defenseman. Still the Sabres are still in talks with Numminen, and that's not a bad thing at all.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Some big names sign (elsewhere)

First Brooks Orpik signed a six year deal for $3.75 million per season with the Penguins. This is a real deal for Pittsburgh. It would have been nice if he extended his hometown discount to his actual hometown, but its understandable that he wanted to stay in Pittsburgh. The team has Crosby under contract for a number of years, just signed Malkin to a four year extension, and went to the finals last year, and look to be one of the best teams around for a few years to come. While I would have loved for him to come to Buffalo, I'm also not going to rip on him for wanting to stay with the Penguins. In fact choosing to stay with that group for that price is a real class move.

One former Penguin who did jump ship is Marion Hossa who surprisingly signed a single year agreement for $7.4 million. It had widely been speculated that Hossa who was this years most sought after free agent would be looking for a long term deal for around $10 million a year. In fact it is expected that he was actually offered that much in some places, but turned it down to play for Detroit instead. Perhaps every European player just feels required to play for the Red Wings.

I was just starting to like the Marty Turco lead Dallas Stars these past two seasons, overlooking the whole foot in the crease deal in order to root for an awesome goaltender. However the team has gone ahead and signed Sean @#%&-ing Avery for $15.5 million over four years. Why a team would waste that much on a player like that is beyond me. It's times like this when I love Buffalo for doing absolutely nothing...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A new backup goaltender

For all the hype going into the start of free agency, the Sabres only managed to sign a back up goaltender, and while it was something that needed to be done it was less then spectacular. That said we still got a few months till the season starts to make a few more moves.

So we signed Patrick Lalime to a two year, one million a year contract to be the back up to Ryan Miller. I watched a number of Chicago games last year where Lalime got a good number of starts due to injuries to Khabibulin. As such I'm not to confident about Lalime, as whenever he was in net I was always a little more worried, and wondering when Khabibulin would get healthy again. All in all, I guess he looked a little shakey. However taking a more objective approach and just looking at the numbers, Lalime went 16-12-2 despite playing for a team that failed to make the playoffs. As such, perhaps he isn't that bad, and the games I happened to watch were just his off days.

I would have preferred to sign Andrew Raycroft or Curtis Joseph, but they have both already signed elsewhere.

Well the Sabres still have a hole to fill at defense, both Teppo Numminen and Brooks Orpik are still unsigned. However the rumors about Orpik are not good.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Gaustad signs for four more years

Paul Gaustad has avoided restricted free agency by signing a four year, $9.2 million deal. That comes to a yearly cap hit of 2.3 million a year, which is about right. Gaustad was actually grossly underpaid last season making under a million, but a little over two million a year is closer to what he deserves, and doesn't leave the Sabres paying too much for him.

The next player the Sabres now need to focus on is Dan Paille, who is restricted, but has been playing very well.

Free agency starts today at noon, but the Sabres won't be too into it. Speculation has been surrounding Brooks Orpik, but that may or may not happen (although if the money is right I hope it does). Campbell will get to sign for billions, and perhaps the Sabres can pick up a back up goalie (Andrew Raycroft may be signable for a reasonable amount).