Archive for the ‘Buffalo Sabres’ Category

Northeast Division Roundup

November 11, 2009

Greetings, hockey fans. This is Meaghan from the illustrious (humour me) Ottawa Senators blog known as Sens at Land’s End with the first of what should be many whirlwind tours of blogs covering the NHL’s Northeast Division.

Without further ado:

Let’s begin with one of the teams furthest from my heart, the Montreal Canadiens. Topham over at Habs blog Lions in Winter has thoughtfully taken on the now infamous Allan Walsh-Jaroslav Halak vs. Carey Price Twitter incident in a post puntastically titled “The Price of Being a Twit.”

Over in the Barilkosphere, Down Goes Brown claims to have revealed the NHL’s top secret flow chart for handing out suspensions. I’m not sure I believe the document posted is authentic, but it seems quite accurate. (This isn’t strictly speaking a story about the Leafs, but I imagine a team that truculent will at some point encounter Colin Campbell and his magical wheel of justice.)

With the Sens being the best the most interesting my favourite team in the league, I was able to find a huge amount of fascinating, high quality material about them. It was hard for me to narrow it down to just one story to post here, but in the end I thought The 6th Sens’ piece about the potential ripple effects of the Steve Yzerman to Ottawa trade that never happened was the most timely, with Yzerman’s well-deserved induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame having taken place on Monday.

Most Bruins blogs appear to be focused on happy things this week. David Krejci has recovered from the dreaded swine flu, and everyone is generally feeling joyful because the Bruins have won their last two games and may finally be getting on track. However, According to Cameron Frye uncovers the darker side of Boston, making the disturbing discovery that Patrice Bergeron may have been replaced by his evil twin.

Finally, the entire Buffalo Sabres blogosphere is evidently too shocked over the fact that Adam Mair was placed on waivers this week to write about much else.

And that’s what’s what in the Northeast this week. If you have any suggestions for posts I might link to in next week’s roundup, shoot me an email at sensatlandsend [at] gmail [dot] com and let me know. I’m sure there are tons of worthy blogs I’m not aware of, and I’d appreciate any tips pointing me in the direction of great material.

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Vance from Bangin Panger wants at least one Sedin to cycle in Buffalo

June 30, 2009

Every contribution is special and snowflake-like, but it always brightens our day when someone takes the time to throw in a Photoshop for good measure. Our buddy Vance did just that.

We have his partner in crime Denson from Bangin Panger providing some Penguins thoughts later today. You can also check out Vance’s other Buffalo Sabres-related views at his new Sabres blog, Double Edged Sabres.

1. Which player, for the love of God, do you NOT want to see in your team’s sweater in the 09-10 season?

Daniel Sedin, but I want Henrik. But is Henrik Henrik without Daniel? If separating Henrik from Daniel makes Henrik turn into [insert overpaid pivot here] than can Buffalo not only afford (of course they can’t) but be willing to cope with such an unmitigated disaster? We’ve already got our soft LW in Vanek, we don’t need Daniel. Oh but Henrik, how I covet thee. If you rode into town on an iconic American Bison, Sabre held high, oh the joy it would bring.

Click to enlarge. No, seriously, you should.

Daniel? Sorry, only one ginger allowed. (Editor’s Note: this is generally a good policy.)

2. Conversely, pick a potential move by another team that would just crush your soul/favorite team’s chances.

Anybody worth anything signing with the Penguins. Don’t you realize you still have to live in Pittsburgh? Sheesh. Pissin’ me off.

But in reality, I absolutely hope Bryan Murray gets fleeced by the team that eventually takes Heatley off their hands. Even if Spezza is the Sabre killer, Heatley needs out of our division, for Wyshynksi’s book, driving lessons, and 17 dollars.

Vance from Bangin Panger shares his thoughts on the Buffalo Sabres’ draft

June 17, 2009

Bangin Panger is one of our favorite blogs and Vance is one of our favorite bloggers. We consider BP something of a cousin to CLS: where we have gigantic, excessively long diatribes the BP crew typically rocks efficiently. They’re the Queens of the Stone Age to our spacey prog rock. Or something like that.

Along with pulling down his BP duties, Vance is also covering the Buffalo Sabres at his new blog Double Edged Sabres. Make sure to throw Vance your support, particularly if you are a fan of the Buffaslug bunch.

Thanks, Vance!

1. What direction do you expect the Sabres to go in with their draft pick? Would you prefer they drafted for a specific need? Does any prospect (who could reasonably be had at no. 13) capture your fancy?

The Sabres are stuck between a rock and a hard place; too good to make a run at a game changer, not good enough to reach playoff glory. Here’s my best take a trying to discern some sense at what’s going to happen between 1 and 12, and how Buffalo can take advantage.

Sitting 13th in the draft isn’t the greatest position in the world, but it’s not as if there isn’t a number of guys who aren’t worth that pick, let alone the potential for those who could fall…i.e. Cherepanov, Esposito, etc. But as for need, what exactly are the Sabres looking for? Offense? Defense? Goal? Let’s answer that for y’all.

Need

It’s an interesting dilemma that faces the Sabres, as a young team, they already have a stable of prospects ready, or almost ready, to take a spot in the big time. Let’s take a look at the Sabres future and see where they should draft based on need.

Defense

John Moore

With only 2 regular blueliners signed through 201o-2011, it would seem thats a point of interest for the Sabres scouting office. But not necessarily, Tyler Myers (12 overall) will battle for a spot this coming season, while Mike Weber, Marc Andre Gragnani, and TJ Brennan (31st overall) will join Chris Butler and Andre Sekera up in Buffalo sooner than later. Would any 1st round pick do anything but wallow in the AHL conceivably for a number of years until breaking into the lineup? Conceivably yes. Die By The Blade does a nice piece on perhaps drafting John Moore and why that wouldn’t be the best idea. With so many high round picks taken early, and a lot of depth already in the system, look for any blueliners to be later round picks, that is of course, unless a guy like Cowen, Kulikov, or maybe even Ryan Ellis falls.

Offense

Finally, the Sabres have locked up their core. Now they need to find the right depth players to fill out the roster. You can’t honestly say that Vanek, Roy and Pominville don’t make up a formidable top scorers, with Connolly, Stafford, and ummmmm, filling in secondary numbers. Well, I suppose I just made my point. The Sabres have some guys like 2007-2008 Hobey Baker Award Winner Nate Gerbe and Michigan State star Tim Kennedy waiting for a shot, as well as perennial AHL all-star (and hardest shot champ) Mike Mancari and Tyler Ennis (26th pick, 2008) waiting in the winds. Outside of that, the frontlines are thin. In my opinion, the Sabres need to fill out their roster in Portland, and target who’s going to fill out that 2nd and 3rd line moving forward, especially with only having the 13th pick.

Goal

Between Ryan Miller, Jhonas Enroth, and Nick Eno in the system, the Sabres are set for goaltending, and certainly wouldn’t “waste” a high pick on a netminder.

Targets (based on need and unfortunately, reality)

1. Zach Kassian (RW)

Honestly, this is my pick. The Central Scouting Bureau has him the 10th North American skater, while TSN’s Draft Lottery Special has him ranked 15th overall, but I think he’ll fall right into Buffalo’s hands. Why do I think Kassian is the right fit for the Sabres? Well, a number of reasons. The Sabres are a small team, with Paul Gaustad being the only forward truly willing to throw his weight around in the corners. The 6’3”, 205 lb. Kassian would bring a dimension to the Sabres forecheck that they’ve been missing, a dimension that he brought to Peterborough with Style. 24 goals and 39 assists in 61 games (don’t forget about those 136 PIMs), so it’s not as if he doesn’t have hands, the type of hands that are willing to get dirty, and the type of hands the Sabres need. I, for one, vouch heavily for Kassian.

2. Ryan Ellis (Def)

Since the departure of Brian Campbell, the Sabres haven’t had a true “puck moving” blueliner. Andrej Sekera was hoped to develop into that role, and he very well still may, but he didn’t last year. The 5’10” 173 lb Ellis could be exactly what the Sabres speedy forwards need to get going. This year for those Windsor Spitfires he played 57 games, potting 22 goals and 89 points altogether. The Sabres need a PP quarterback, Ryan Ellis could be that guy.

3. Nazem Kadri (C)

After exploding onto the OHL scene in his 2nd year with the Kitchener Rangers, well, he proved it was no fluke during his 3rd year with London Knights. He notched 25 goals and 53 assists in just 56 games. He’s not the biggest guy at 6′ but I think we’ll let the 18 year olds grow into themselves a little bit more. Kadri is a top flight centre, who could very well make his mark with the Sabres. Would he fall to 13? We will find out.

Others worth mentioning: Best Player Available over 6′, Jared Cowen, Louis LeBlance

2. The Sabres have had to let some borderline stars leave (Briere, Drury) but have been able to retain a lot of homegrown talent (Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville). Is that the key for Buffalo to keep players: by developing them and bringing them up through their system? How important, overall, is the draft to this franchise?

Let’s be honest, Darcy Regier simply does not throw money at free agents. The low ball offers cost them Drury and Briere, while the tertiary UFA’s are the usual targets. Recent free agents include Craig Rivet, Jaro Spacek, Patrick Lalime and Teppo Numminen. Their core is all made up of home grown talent; Pominville, Miller, Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek, and Tim Connolly. In the 2008 season, 9 of the 10 top Sabres scorers were brought up through Rochester (now Portland), that should give you a sense of how important smart drafting is to this organization. Note: However to say that isn’t necessarily true, due to a cost cutting measure, the Sabres eschew eyes and ears throughout the small arenas across the globe, and exclusively utilize video for their scouting needs.

3. Looking back, describe some of your favorite Buffalo Sabres draft memories and picks. Are there any players that stand out as true “steals”?

I’d like to say that the Nate Gerbe pick, regardless of his current standing (or lack thereof), in the middle of the 5th round will turn out to be a steal of Henrik Zetterberg proportions, but obviously it’s far too soon to see if he’ll turn into the next Marty St. Louis. (Editor’s note: it’s crazy to think that St. Louis wasn’t even drafted!)

You’d have to think at this point current Chicago Blackhawk Brian Campbell was the greatest steal in Sabres history as the 156th pick in 1997, however maybe Bruins fan’s would argue that Dennis Wideman at pick number 241 was a greater steal.

But in all honesty, Ryan Miller, 5th round, 138th pick in 1999 takes the cake here.

4. On the other hand, what are some of the memorable gaffes made in the entry draft? Talk about some of the “if we had only realized …” type moments that stand out to you.

The Sabres have not had the best of luck when it comes to 1st rounders, which kills all of us fans. Obviously the draft is always a gamble, but when you’ve been kicked when your down for so long, it’s hard to keep it together when you see this stat. Since Darcy Regier took over the GM position in 1997, only 2 1st rounders (Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford) have made a top line impact on the Sabres, while only 2 others remain in the NHL (Dmitri Kalinin, Keith Ballard). Others are now in Russia, others I’ve never even heard of. Tough.

The other thing that pains me to see? How bout this kick in the gonads? Coming out of the lockout, 4 teams had 3 balls for the top spot in the 2005 draft lottery; the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, and the Buffalo Sabres. They were going to presumably, well, to obviously, pick Sidney Crosby 1st overall. In that same 2005 draft lottery, the Sabres didn’t get a top 3 pick, they didn’t get a top 5 pick, they didn’t even get a top 10 pick, they received the 13th, where of course, they picked Marek Zagrapan, who just recently, left the Sabres for the KHL. No Crosby, no Bobby Ryan, no Jack Johnson, no nothing. Just another notch in the belt of Buffalo heartbreak.

Soap box time

Feel free to take the floor and discuss some Sabres issues. What kind of outlook do you have for Buffalo going into next season and beyond?

Now looking forward, the Sabres aren’t going to sign anyone, or make the “big move” to get them over the proverbial hump. That’s why the draft is so utterly important to this organization. As I pointed out earlier, the Sabres need size and grit up front and a puck moving defensemen immediately up on the big club. Can that be addressed here and now? Doubtful, as the Sabres usually like their prospects to learn the system before being thrown into the fire, but that’s definitely far more true for defensemen than forwards. If a guy like Kassian, Kadri, or Scott Glennie falls into the Sabres laps, look for them to get a look.

And as always, let’s go Buffalo!

The hockey media’s curious love affair with Chris Drury

May 6, 2009

What, exactly, has Chris Drury done to cause so much of the hockey media elite to swoon like high school girls over their prom dates? Do we all love former Little League stars that much? Has the mainstream media’s obsession with “clutch” scoring bubbled over into insanity?

The funny thing is that Puck Daddy’s absurd Marleau for Drury fake trade proposal wasn’t even the original reason this post came to mind. Here’s what actually stuck in my craw (from John Buccigross’s mailbag last week):

Dear John,

Do you think the Buffalo Sabres will ever win a Stanley Cup? If so, what’s it going to take?

Scott
Virginia

Personally, I don’t like the mix of personalities on the Sabres’ roster right now. Perhaps some players will mature quickly into serious and committed professionals and give the rest of the team a lift. The Sabres give off the vibe of a boorish frat party at times. Buffalo gave a lot of money to Jason Pominville and Derek Roy. Pominville’s contract goes to $5.3 million next season! He had 20 goals in 2008-09. He has to score 35 to 45 at that cap number. These high-paid, young players have to be the most committed and mature players on the team along with Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller. That’s how they will make the leap to an upper 90-point team.

What they lost in Daniel Briere and Chris Drury was so much leadership and direction. The young players have not stepped up to fill the void. They also are not tough enough. They need more tough players or they need to have their current players play tougher. Ryan Miller seems like a consummate professional and his injury really did hurt the Sabres. I’ve written in this space for much of the season that Buffalo would be a great market for Jay Bouwmeester; a small, passionate hockey market. Plus, the Sabres need help on the blue line.

So, by Bucci’s standards Pominville is an albatross. Then what does that make “hockey god” Drury?

It’s stunning that Buccigross (who I generally like, although his Mike Myers/music referencing/lazy Hakan Loob humor is getting repetitive enough to be its own drinking game) follows the Pominville bashing by mentioning Drury and Briere, aka the guys who signed the worst contracts of the post-lockout era.

C’mon, Bucci, that’s like deriding fake breasts and then making a segue to Pam Anderson‘s run on Baywatch.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at what Drury (god) and Pominville (CANCER!!!111) have done since Drury signed his Rangers-killing contract:

Chris Drury

OK!! OK!! We GET it! He was in the Little League World Series! Uggggh.

2007-08 season: (82 GP: 25 goals, 33 assists for 58 points, -3 rating, 7 GWG)
2007-08 playoffs (10 GP: 3 goals, 3 assists for 6 points, +3 rating, 1 GWG)
2008-09 season: (81 GP: 22 goals, 34 assists for 56 points, -8 rating, 2 GWG)
2008-09 playoffs (6 GP: 1 goal, 0 assists for 1 point, -5 rating, 1 GWG)
Overall: 51 goals, 70 assists for 121 points in 179 games or about $117,000 per point ($14.2 million cap hit for two seasons).

Stereotypical Mainstream … “Expert” response: B-B-BUT HE’S GOT A FUCKTON OF INTANGIBLES!!!

Jason Pominville

2007-08 season: (82 GP: 27 goals, 53 assists for 80 points, +16 rating, 1 GWG)
No playoffs
2008-09 season: (82 GP: 20 goals, 46 assists for 66 points, -4 rating, 2 GWG)
No playoffs

Overall: 47 goals, 99 assists for 146 points in 164 games. Even though he hasn’t started his supposedly misguided next contract yet, he would be receiving a little more than $36,000 per point if he scored at that two-season pace under his next contract.

Stereotypical Mainstream … “Expert” response: B-B-BUT HE NEVER STOMPS AROUND THE LOCKER ROOM AFTER A LOSS!!! No “Any Given Sunday” speeches. You can’t put a price on that (spits while screaming)!

They both signed ludicrous deals, but only Briere is PhotoShopped as a pregnant woman.

OK, there’s no doubt that Bucci likes Drury personally. Maybe at some point, Bucci was doing post-champagne interviews when the Colorado Avalanche won a Cup and they simultaneously made a tired Mike Myers joke … locked eyes … and it was hockey love forever. But, c’mon Bucci, Pominville is producing more points in less games for less money than Drury. Derek Roy also produced 151 points in the last two seasons, so you cannot really get much wiggle room there either.

The funny thing about the Sabres is that they are damned by the correct decision they made to allow Daniel Briere and Chris Drury to go. Both players have been roundly panned for having contracts that were very optimistic regarding the two of them continuing to be successful into their mid-to-late 30’s.

No one hesitates to butcher Briere and it’s easy to see why. But it boggles my mind that hockey media members aren’t comparing Drury’s contract to the all-time worst ones.

Sorry, everyone, but Drury’s contract might just be “Yashin bad.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Drury is a bad player. No doubt, the guy has an uncanny knack for scoring pivotal goals, he’s a very good faceoff guy and plays with plenty of heart. It just seems amazing that a nice complimentary player can get this sort of obscene praise.

He started off as an over-qualified depth player who had great success because opposing teams had to worry about Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg, then he floundered in Calgary. His best run might have been in Buffalo, but that team worked so well because they had a seemingly un-ending group of forwards who could score by committee. He didn’t have to be “the man” so he thrived.

Now he’s in New York, a team rendered completely dependent on Henrik Lundqvist since they put their superstar money in solid/second line/awful players like Wade Redden, Scott Gomez and Michal Rosival. This team will have a second round ceiling for the rest of Drury’s stay, barring miraculous goaltending from Lundqvist.

Let’s cut the crap. Drury is the second coming of Bobby Holik – a nice enough player who can fill a role but somehow became worthy of a GIGANTIC contract in MSG land. (To be fair, though, he at least doesn’t look like a neanderthal.)

So, I give up. You tell me. What makes Drury so good? How far can intangibles and likeability take one person? Maybe there’s something I’m missing … something only an “expert” can see.

Living GM vs. Blogging GM: Northeast division

March 10, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look at the Pacific division:

Real Life: Montreal Canadiens do nothing (except for, of course, the firing of Guy Carbonneau)

HF29 of Four Habs Fans said:

“If I were Bob Gainey, I’d stick my finger up my ass and not do anything. We are not in a position to win a cup with the addition of a rent-a-player, we are about to lose half our team to free agency this summer, and we can’t dump all our great prospects who will be replacing the UFA’s. So I’d go find a beach that has no Blackberry service.”

No reports available regarding digital penetration, but Gainey mentioned that he canceled his trip to Florida once he realized that his coach’s execution was imminent. So Four Habs Fans nailed this one pretty impressively.

Real Life: Ottawa Senators trade Antoine Vermette for Pascal Leclaire and a second round pick
Dany Heatley Speedwagon from Scarlett Ice said:

“If I were the Sens GM right now… I’d start filling out job applications.”

DHS might be more right than we can know. That being said, getting Leclaire might be worth the risk but the second round pick makes the move more salvageable. So much for the Sens becoming less of a big salary no depth team, though.

Real Life: Boston Bruins trade three prospects in two trades that brought in Steve Montador, Mark Recchi and a second round pick

Evan from Stanley Coup of Chowder rightly predicted that Manny Fernandez would not be moved and the Bruins would not trade for Erik Cole or Keith Tkachuk. He didn’t predict the mid-level moves, but let’s just say 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Real Life: Buffalo Sabres shuffle second round picks, move Ales Kotalik and acquire Mikael Tellqvist to give Patrick Lalime a backup while Ryan Miller heals up.

Vance from Bangin’ Panger said:

“1. Trade Maxim Afinogenov for anything…anything at all. At this point, I would accept “Future Considerations.”

2. Trade Nate Gerbe, Drew Stafford, & a 1st for Olli Jokinen, Derek Morris, and a 3rd. Oh wait, that’s too serious.

3. Sign Tim Connolly. Then in turn, announce that the “Future Considerations” is in fact the purchase of a Chinese facility which genetically engineers single body parts for the recently signed Tim Connolly. Win – Win situation.”

This trade rumor mongering is too much for me, Let’s leave it to the experts…like Eklund.”

The Sabres could not find a bag of pucks for Afinogenov and didn’t make a big splash trade, but they did sign Connolly to a contract extension. One of our three … isn’t awful? This is why I’m not the next “Weird Al” Yankovic. Though I do love puns.

Real Life: Brian Burke makes very few changes with the Maple Leafs, except for that wacky trade that brought in Olaf Kolzig. The one “real” trade was Nik Antropovto the New York Rangers for a second rounder and a 2010 conditional pick.

While Loser Domi of Pension Plan Puppets spoke of boozing, while Bitter Leafs Fan said the Leafs should have a fire sale.

Just about everyone was fooled by crazy old Burkie’s “move” but few were surprised by the Antropov trade.

If you were the GM (Northeast division)

March 4, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Psh.)

Montreal Canadiens

HF29 of Four Habs Fans

(submitted: March 2)

“If I were Bob Gainey, I’d stick my finger up my ass and not do anything. We are not in a position to win a cup with the addition of a rent-a-player, we are about to lose half our team to free agency this summer, and we can’t dump all our great prospects who will be replacing the UFA’s. So I’d go find a beach that has no Blackberry service.”

Chris Kontos: This is the easiest move for any NHL GM to make. Suspend the entire team for 2 games. They’ll come back and the team will go undefeated into the playoffs.

James O’Brien: It almost seems like the Habs are in a comfortably uncomfortable spot. They’re not the not new thing this year. But it still looks like they should make the playoffs. The obvious move is simply to stay put. They traded for Mathieu Schneider. That should be good again.

Let that whole scandal “blow” over. Ha ha. Ho Ho. *wipes tear*

***

Ottawa Senators
Dany Heatley Speedwagon from Scarlett Ice.
(March 1)

If I were the Sens GM right now… I’d start filling out job applications.

Chris Kontos: If laughing at the misfortunes of Bryan Murray is wrong… then I never want to be right.

James O’Brien: You know, Jay Bouwmeester for Jason Spezza might just be idiotic enough to not work for both parties. So maybe, give that 10-1 odds? (I mean, if you trade a first-rounder for Chris Campoli and Mr. Hillary Duff, why start making sense?)

***

Boston Bruins
Evan from Stanley Cup of Chowder
(2/24)

Manny Fernandez:

Chiarelli has indicated that Manny won’t be moved, which I think is the right move. I’m a lot more comfortable with the Bruins having two veteran goaltenders heading into the playoffs. We have seen so many goalies get injured around the league this year, so depth at the goaltending position is always a plus. Some B’s fans have lobbied for Fernandez to get traded and promote Tuukka Rask to be the backup, but I don’t see how having Rask rot on the bench while the Bruins take on his $3.2 million cap number for a few months helps him or the organization.

Cole or Tkachuk?

Neither. I think both of those guys will cost the Bruins too much, both in terms of player assets and the cap hit. The B’s want to keep as much of the current big league roster in place and I’m not sure they could do that and still bring in either of these guys. I’m not sure Cole is the answer for the Bruins. He was struggled out in Edmonton this season and appears to be in the decline stage of his career at only the age of 30. As for Tkachuk, a return to his hometown would make a great story and all but I’m not sure it is the best move for the Bruins. I would rather see them make one or two smaller deals. Ideally one for a big winger with a left-hand shot and one for a puck-moving defenseman. The more I look into Nik Antropov, the more I like him as an option. I think he has a lot of what the Bruins are looking to add at the deadline. Someone like Jordan Leopold would also be a nice addition to the Bruins blue line.

Chris Kontos:Tkachuk to the Bruins would be a major get. But I don’t think the Blues are giving up Uncle Walt. The Bruins are a fantastic team, I would keep both goalies and look forward to battling Washington in the semi-finals.

James O’Brien: If the Bruins can make a Chris Pronger deal work, then do it. This is a fantastic opportunity for the Bruins to make a Stanley Cup run and let’s face it: there’s going to be a bit of a drop off since it would be hard to keep David Krejci, Phil Kessel, Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez under the cap next year.

Somehow, if the B’s were the team with the two biggest meanest D in the league … they would probably be OK. Do it!

***

Buffalo Sabres

Vance from Bangin’ Panger
(Mar. 2)

1. Trade Maxim Afinogenov for anything…anything at all. At this point, I would accept “Future Considerations.”

2. Trade Nate Gerbe, Drew Stafford, & a 1st for Olli Jokinen, Derek Morris, and a 3rd. Oh wait, that’s too serious.

3. Sign Tim Connolly. Then in turn, announce that the “Future Considerations” is in fact the purchase of a Chinese facility which genetically engineers single body parts for the recently signed Tim Connolly. Win – Win situation.

This trade rumor mongering is too much for me, Let’s leave it to the experts…like Eklund

Chris Kontos: Sign Tim Connolly and then put him in a plastic bubble to be worn at all times, especially on the ice. This is the same Buffalo team we’ve seen for the last few years except for one. They are going to do anything to change it.

James O’Brien: Something needs to happen to the city of Buffalo, already. They had such a great run but of course … it’s Buffalo. Heart break was inevitable. Here’s a dream scenario that would restore some harmony to the universe:

Flyers put Danny Briere on waivers. Briere comes back up and is claimed by the Sabres. The Sabres get one half of their likable-before-their-idiotic-contracts duo at what Briere should make in a season. (Half of what he’s making now, you see.) Make it happen, universe.

***

Toronto Maple Leafs

Loser Domi from Pension Plan Puppets
(2/27)

If I were the Toronto GM, stock in vodka would go through the roof. You may also find me passed out in the sewer (like a boss).

From Bitter Leaf Fan
(3/03)

Under the current CBA, it strikes me that teams have a limited window to compete before increasing player compensation makes it a challenge for teams to hold on to the requisite pieces to remain among the elite (Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Tampa have all had to shed key parts in order to retain their top tier players).

If I was Brian Burke, pretty much the entire Leafs roster would be for sale. In return I’d put an emphasis on getting back prospects over picks. Prospects are a bit more of a known quantity, are further along in their development and therefore closer to stepping up to the NHL.

The Leafs have a very small nucleus (of sadly moderate talent) to build around: Schenn (’89), Tlusty (’88), Stralman (’86), Pogge (’86) and Mitchell (’85), Grabovski (’84). It’s this sad sack lot that the Leafs need to build around by acquiring more players born between 1986 to ’89. Players who are still three or four years removed from RFA status and five or six or so from UFA status.

By building around cost-controlled, younger players the Leafs can hopefully dip into the UFA pool in a few years when they’re competitive again (fingers crossed) for a star or two to help push them over the top.

Chris Kontos: Guaranteed, Brian Burke turns this franchise around in a season and half. I saw it with my own eyes across town. I hate you Brian Burke. He will pounce on any other GM who is willing to overpay in the slightest… and then get him to overpay even more. This is a man who found a way to get rid of Fedorov and that horrible contract.

James O’Brien: Getting out of that Fedorov contract was quite masterful, indeed. If Tomas Kaberle, Nik Antropov and any plus-$3 million isn’t in danger of being moved, then check Burke’s pulse.

Although I will say: Kaberle’s contract is a steal. (Also: there is not a single Burke photo that fails to make me laugh. That’s pretty impressive)

Dance partners: Boston (plus a quick note)

February 18, 2009

Before delving into this fun little diversion, a quick announcement: the individual posts for the All-Decade team will sprout up starting tomorrow. So far, there are three contributors, plus myself and two possible late additions. Send me an e-mail if you’re a blogger and want to send your picks (OK … OK … if you only comment but happen to harness a hidden mine of snark gold, then maybe we’ll make an exception). Please do not get huffy if your e-mail doesn’t make it.

(E-mail: jamestobrien@hotmail.com)

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The playoffs are reaching the “can almost smell it” level of close-ness now. Here’s a fun new running feature, then: Best Dance Partners. It’s better than it sounds (so stash that White Man’s Underbite in your closet of shame along with your Snuggie, Creed CDs and mistress). Basically, the feature boils down to the three teams that would make the most entertaining matchups for the NHL team in question.

This week’s installment is the Boston Bruins:

1. Montreal Canadiens (the fifth seed with 66 points, but tied with four other Eastern teams so this isn’t as improbable as it sounds)

Last year’s Montreal – Boston seven-game series brought enough intensity to start a Montreal riot (as Rocket Richard shook his head in shame from Hockey Mount Olympus).
Interestingly enough, this hypothetical series would be quite the role reversal (Boston and Montreal switching no. 1 and no. 8 seeds along with traditional favorite-underdog positions). Plus, the Bruins’ breakout season would crash head-on with what currently is a free-falling centennial edition of the Habs.

Oh yeah, also, both teams can bring plenty of speed, depth and a traditional hatred marinated in decades of bad blood to yet another playoff series. Surely, the journey to shake that Montreal monkey off the Bruins’ back would cause blood pressures to rise in both Original Six markets.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (currently in 10th place, would need considerable good fortune to make it to the playoffs)
NBC would rank this potential series WAY ahead of a series with Montreal. But a Pens-B’s match brings a lot to the table for more than just casual hockey fans.

It would really allow the Boston Bruins “brand” to grow as bigger audiences would finally get to see the best team in the Eastern Conference take on Pittsburgh, the team with the highest hype-per-win-capita in the NHL. Either that, or the Bruins would be upset by the Penguins leading Gary Bettman, Versus and NBC to jump for joy (while wishing the Penguins knocked off a Canadian team instead of the big market Bruins).

The more likely Bruins-crush-Pens scenario is oddly similar to that time Andre the Giant “put over” Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III. If, you know, Andre the Giant really sucked that year.

3. Buffalo (currently the seventh seed with 66 points)

Buffalo vs. Boston would be a battle between a small market obsessed enough with hockey to produce huge local ratings and a huge market with other sports on the brain. Even though the Bruins aren’t a perpetual Goliath like Detroit, Buffalo’s underdog factor would be pretty appealing in this one.
Plus, the hockey would probably be very good and Buffalo brings some similar strengths (deep scoring, good goaltending) so the series could even generate a few nail biters.

One bland pairing that would make fans yawn and TV execs drool

Boston vs. New York Rangers

Are we the only people with a slight urge to see the Rangers miss the playoffs? They’re such a mess of a roster, with four HORRIBLE contracts (Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Wade Redden and Michal Rosival) and a limp lifelessness to their recent play.

Sure, they are two big markets. Sure, the networks would probably show Boston Red Sox/Yankees montages. And, sure, Sean Avery would bring lowbrow attention to the series (predicted Avery quip, spoken in typical monotone: “Zdeno Chara is a tall glass of ugly.”)

But what’s in it for, you know … hockey fans? Not as much as those three other matches, to be sure.