Monday, June 30, 2008

Round three of the draft

In the third round of this year's NHL draft the Sabres picked Corey Fienhage with the 81st overall pick. Of all of the players the Sabres drafted after the first round Fienhage may be the most promising.

As a recent high school graduate, it may still be a while until he makes it with the Sabres, but he is on track to get there. Next season he will play in the NCAA at the University of North Dakota. As far as hockey schools go, UND is one of the best in the nation, and is often the favorite to win the frozen four (even if Boston College has a history of beating them).

Current Sabre Drew Stafford attended North Dakota, as did Calder runner up Toews, and Ottawa's young (and very good) defenseman Brian Lee. The current crop of players leaving UND include Ryan Duncan, TJ Oshie. So while going to North Dakota is no guarantee of greatness, the school has a very solid program, and the odds of Corey Fienhage resulting in being a complete player are fairly good. So good in fact that five other players who will be first year players at UND were also drafted this year.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Draftee Luke Adam

Luke Adam was drafted by the Sabres in the second round this past week, and currently plays for the St. John's Fog Devils. This has been a popular team with the Sabres front office as of late, as they have also drafted both of Luke's current linemates, T.J. Brennan and Jean-Simon Allard. The Goose's roost has got a full interview with Luke.

Buffalo native and Sabres prospect Tim Kennedy has been posting a blog on how training camp has been going for him.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Needing to resign Clarke MacArthur

Mirtle has two posts on free agents, and it appears as if MacArthur is statistically one of the best. The Sabres would do well to get him resigned rather soon. Well he is a restricted free agent, there is only upside to his future, and it would help the organization if we had him locked in for a few more years.

Also any time they want to resign Paul Gaustad would be nice as well. Once again a restricted free agent, but an invaluable leader as well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The other Tyler

The Sabres second pick in the draft, like their first is named Tyler. Unlike the 12th overall pick Tyler Myers, the 26th overall pick, Tyler Ennis is a full foot shorter than Myers. While this is partially due to Myers being huge, Ennis is a bit of a small guy himself. That really shouldn't be a problem as the Sabres have a history of having smaller guys on the team. The Sabres have also previously drafted both of Ennis' current line mates, so should they all make it to the NHL, they will have plenty of experience together. The only real concern is that Ennis views himself as a Briere like player, which we hope doesn't mean slacking on defense. His references to himself as a stick handler, and a goal scorer would be more welcome if he also viewed himself as a passer, and a two way player. Still it will take a few years to see.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Buffalo's top draft pick

Buffalo traded their 13th overall pick for the 12th overall pick, and wound up with
Defenseman Tyler Myers. Notably, he is tall, at 6'7" he is taller than every single player currently in the NHL not named Chara. Still despite the comparisons he gets with Chara due to his height, he appears to play more like Pronger in his style. It will be a few years before he has a chance with the Sabres, but as a first round pick his odds of eventually making the team are pretty good.

Despite playing internationally for Canada he was born in Texas (opposite of Pominville's switch), and Mirtle seems to like him so all should be good.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Copy the Champions

The Draft was this past weekend, and as has become a custom in the NHL, all of the teams are trying to emulate the most recent Stanley Cup Champions, the Detroit Red Wings. Of all the Europeans drafted, over a third of them were from Sweden (17/45). Well Canadians and Americans still remanded the most popular, many of the GM's are taking the imitate the Red Wings approach to drafting Europeans.

The Sabres however took all north americans in the draft this year, (and no goalies).

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's not that Campbell is a bad palyer...

I don't mean to be hating on Brian Campbell. Really I don't. In fact I would love to see him come back to Buffalo for next season, and sign a contract for a reasonable amount. It's not going to happen though, because apparently Campbell is the most overrated player in the league, and will sign for billions elsewhere.

The Norris voting has been revealed and Campbell came in fifth in the league in voting. Ignoring for a second the fact that he was only the third best defenseman on the Sabres, that is still way to high. He came ahead of some of the top guys in the league such as Duncan Keith, Mike Green, and Tomas Kaberle, who all had very good seasons.

One voter even decided that Campbell was the number one defensemen in the league. That is just insane. Remember I'm not saying that Campbell is bad (he's not), but top of the league honours are not where he lands. The spin-o-rama is cool, but you need to block shots in order to be the best defenseman in the league.

Buffalo's top two defenders didn't get a single vote. Everyone in Buffalo knows that the top two Sabres on the blue line are Lydman and Tallinder. Henrik Tallinder is easily on of the best players in the league, but he didn't get a single vote. Not one.

The only conclusion that I can come to is that none of the voters ever watch the Sabres play. Two of the best defensemen in the league get ignored, and a flashy player gets loads of votes. Has nobody watched Buffalo since the 2005 playoffs? That would explain this odd voting. Campbell was terrific that spring, Tallinder and Lydman (and pretty much everyone else on defense) was injured. In fact when he was traded, lots of people talked about how Soupy has a "hard hitting defenseman" which if you watch him, you'll see is really not his style (nothing wrong with how he does play though). But back in the 2005 playoffs, he did have one pretty good hit on Umburger, and nobody can figure out that is the exception rather than the rule.

Not to take anything away from Patrick Kane, but the voters are clueless.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kane wins rookie of the year

Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks won the NHL's rookie of the year award over teammate Toews and Washington's Backstrom.

This was the right decision to be made. Well Toews had more goals, Kane proved himself to be a better all around player. Backstrom on the other hand lacked the leadership Kane showed, and got to play on a line with league MVP Ovechkin. Some people also considered Montreal's rookie goalie Price for the award, but given the limited number of starts he had in the regular season, and how poorly he did in the playoffs, he didn't really deserve this award.

Congratulations to Patrick Kane. At this point Sabre Nathan Gerbe should be the favorite to win rookie of the year for next season.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

This Off Season's Most Coveted Free Agent

Marián Hossa was a critical part to the Pittsburgh Penguin's run to the Stanley Cup finals this past season, but now he is the most sought after unrestricted free agent in the National Hockey League.

Hossa had a very good post season, earning 26 points in 20 games for Pittsburgh, and ten points in the 12 regular season games he played with the team. However, the Penguins are already pretty close to the salary cap, and are approaching an off-season in which half of their roster (10 players including Hossa) will be unrestricted free agents. Given that this doesn't even include the fact that Malkin is still on his rookie contract with only one season remaining, there is no way they can afford to resign him.

Marian Hossa earned seven million last season, but due to the nature of his contract only counted six million against the cap. His value is only going up, and to see him sign for five years at ten million a year is a very real possibility. This is big money, but any team with room would be willing to add a player of this caliber to their lineup.

Besides Pittsburgh the other two teams Hossa has played for are the Ottawa Senators and the Atlanta Thrashers, but he is unlikely to return to either of these teams. It seemed all season as if he wanted out of Atlanta, and after being traded for Daniel Heatley it remains unlikely he would want to return to the team that drafted him. Both teams could use him, but as a free agent the choice really belongs to Hossa.

The two teams most likely to pick Hossa up this summer are the Dallas Stars, and the Washington Capitals. Both teams made the playoffs this past season and are expected to next year as well even without any big moves this off season. They would give Hossa the chance not only to be the star, but to actually play for a good team as well. Dallas has relied to greatly on their goaltending to win games for them, and could benefit from the additional talent up front.

The Capitals on the other end already have plenty of talent up front with Alexander Ovechkin, but are still a young team and could use the added depth and leadership that Marian Hossa could provide. The Capitals have a good amount of cap space, and only really need to resign Huet in goal. Their long term big money commitment to Ovechkin shows that they aren't afraid to pay their top guys well either. This is also the potential downside of this match, as Washington my be wary of committing too much money to their top two guys, which is a strategy that has backfired greatly in Tampa Bay.

A few other teams such as the Wild, and Boston Bruins, but that's less likely. At the end of the day Marian Hossa can go to wherever team he wants to, and the whole league wants him for their own.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Portland deal becomes final

The Buffalo Sabres have officially announced what has long been speculated in that their AHL affiliate will no longer be in Rochester, but in Portland. Now all of those awesome signings the Sabres have made in the last few days will have to go to main instead of right down the Thruway in Rochester.

Well it is obviously not as convenient as the close team in Rochester was, the financial situation with the Portland Pirates is much more stable. Despite the fact that Portland has been repeatedly changing their affiliation, there is no reason to expect the organizations to but heads as much as Buffalo and Rochester did last year.

The deal however is for three years, so if the Amerks are forced to sell the team and Golissano buys them, it won't be until at least 2011 that the team would be able to move back.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hasek retires again

Hasek has retired for his third or fourth time. However, at this point any comeback is likely to be in a backup position so it may actually be permanent. He hasn't played since a loss in game four of the first round, but was dragged along for a Stanley Cup by Detroit.

While in Buffalo, he was an excellent goaltender, but at this point is well past his prime, and really shouldn't have been playing ever since his first retirement from Detroit.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Defense wins championships

The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley cup against the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. The sixth game wasn't all that close for the first two periods, and then down 3-1 the Penguins only managed to get one shot on goal in the first 16 minutes of the third. They really did try hard for the final few minutes of the game, but thats a strategy I've seen fail for the Sabres time and time again these past two seasons.

Henrik Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe, and Crosby and Hossa also did very well for their team as well. It should be interesting to see where Hossa ends up during the off-season. For the Red Wings both Cleary, and Lindstrom had very good series as well.

Hasek got another cup as he put up a 2-2 playoff record for his team. Osgood was probably the biggest surprise player of this post season, but he did get plenty of help from his defense. Marc-Andre Fleury played well for the Penguins especially in game five where he had 50 saves. Still he let in to bad goals in game six, and wasn't the overwhelmingly dominant player that Pittsburgh needed to be to bail them out at that point.

Given how flat the Penguins were in games one and two of the series, it's hard to say that the best team didn't win. Crosby will have to wait another year.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sabres sign Dennis Persson

The Sabres signed Dennis Persson to a three year contract. Persson is a prospect that has been playing in the top two leagues in Sweeden the past couple of years. Still one point in 30 games in the Swedish Elite League isn't overwhelmingly impressive.

This signing isn't quite on the same level as getting Gerbe, Enroth, or even Kennedy. Still it should give the Sabres some depth on defense, especially as it looks as if Sekera and Weber will be on Buffalo's third line every game this season.

Still I think Buffalo has enough rookies signed now. We need to get Gaustad, Numminen, and Pominville under contract now.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fleury keeps the Penguins alive

The Penguins won game five of the Stanley Cup finals in triple overtime thanks to the excellent goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury. He made 55 saves and was easily the best player on the ice all game long.

The Penguins were carrying a slim 2-1 lead through most of the second period and the beginning of the third. While it looked as if they would win it was only because they were being bailed out in goal, because the Red Wings were dominating the play. In the third period Detroit finally broke through and scored two goals to take the lead. Talbot however saved the day, scoring a goal with only three seconds remaining in regulation.

Fleury once again bailed the Penguins out again and again, until Sykora scored midway through the third overtime period with a secondary assist from Gonchar, who had been on the bench since midway through the third period.

Game six is back in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Another college player signed

The Sabres have signed Buffalo native Tim Kennedy to a two year deal. Kennedy spent the last three years playing for a very good NCAA team in Michigan State, where he won the championship a few years ago.

Unfortunately because of the depth the Sabres have a forward (especially with Gerbe also recently signed), it is a tad unlikely that Kennedy will see much playing time this season.

In the Stanley Cup Finals the Red Wings won game four to take a 3-1 series lead over Pittsburgh. At this point there isn't much chance of the Penguins coming back to win this one.