Posts Tagged ‘Sabres’

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For the past five years, the NHL has hosted regular season games with 17 teams (and the Ducks, Kings and Rangers a second time) taking part.  Host cities have included Berlin, London, Helsinki (three times), Prague (twice), Stockholm (four times).  The past three Stanley Cup champions have started their season overseas.  The NHL is going global, with an increasing number of players coming from the other side of the world.

The Kings and Rangers tangle in Stockholm.

So why is it a bad idea?

The team’s fans get screwed.  Okay, so the NHL gets exposure to overseas fans, but each team that goes over loses a home game.  The Kings will actually lose two home games this year, as they “host” both the Rangers and Sabres in Europe.  So for any Los Angeles season ticket holders, they go from seeing their team 41 times to 39.  With some teams struggling in their own markets, it seems odd to try and promote teams with only ties to (maybe) a couple players of the participating teams.

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Last season: 43-29-10, 96 points. 7th in the East, lost in the first round to Philadelphia (4-3).

Key Additions: D Christian Ehrhoff, RW Ales Kotalik, F Ville Leino, D Robyn Regehr

Key Losses: D Chris Butler, C Paul Byron, C Tim Connolly, RW Mike Grier, G Patrick Lalime, RW Mark Mancari, D Steve Montador

Offense: The Sabres offense is led by former 40 goal scorer Thomas Vanek. The Austrian only had 32 goals last year, but tied a career high with 41 assists. Derek Roy missed more than half of 2011-12 with a torn quad, but still picked up 35 points in 35 games. He’ll be ready for the start of this season. Newcomer Leino (14 goals, 53 points with Philadelphia) should fill the void of Tim Connolly nicely. Drew Stafford missed 20 games and still was able to register 31 goals. The population continues to increase in Pominville, as Jason was able to notch 20 goals for the fifth straight year. Tyler Ennis (5’9) and Nathan Gerbe (5’5) may be short, but both can play. They should both score 20 while playing with the Sabres’ top 9. Brad Boyes, acquired at the trade deadline from St. Louis, had 14 points in 21 games with the team. Versatile veteran Jochen Hecht can play any forward spot and is trusted on the penalty kill. Paul Gaustad was among the league leaders in faceoff percentage (59.6%). Pat Kaleta is the team’s main agitator and Cody McCormick is the enforcer (16 fights, 142 PIM).

Defense: (more…)

In this roundtable, Realdeal, Cujo and Joey discuss many topics on the NHL’s offseason.

RD: So who did the best this offseason?

Cujo: I would say the CBJ but that would be very homerish of me.

Joey: I like what CBJ did, Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski fit two points of weakness.

Cujo: They got the #1 center they have always wanted, that was the biggest piece it has taken 11 years to get.

RD: They also got the top pair d-man they desperately needed.

Cujo: But you cannot rule out what LA has done this offseason.

RD: They got that #2 center that they needed, even if they gave up the best prospect in hockey.

Joey: Washington had a solid offseason. Beyond just additions but the picks they got for Seymon Varlamov were huge.

RD: I really like Washington’s moves; they got some sandpaper.

Cujo: And Tomas Vokoun cannot forget him, a solid net minder.

Joey: Yeah when I heard Vokoun signed in Washington I hung my head and said ‘oh crap’.

RD: I think people are sleeping on the effect Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer will bring.

Joey: I really think Brouwer was a good pick up, I am a little on the fence on Ward just wondering if he is riding off a playoff showing.

RD: He’s overpaid but he’ll be a solid 2nd/3rd line producer.

Joey: Speaking of overpaid is Brooks Laich worth all that money? I think time will tell on that one.

Cujo: You’ve got to pay for potential, but he nearly had his 3rd straight 50 point season. He missed it by 2 points.

RD: Is he going to get much better? I think 50-55 points is what we’re looking at.

RD: So who’s a team whose moves were puzzling or needed to do more? I’m kind of curious to see how San Jose’s plan works out.

Cujo: I think San Jose thinks they have most of the pieces they need to make a big run at the Cup.

Joey: Buffalo giving 10 years to Christian Ehrhoff, someone who has never played a game in Buffalo?

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Some quick hits from the first two days of free agency:

-The Brad Richards saga is finally over, as he chose to sign with the New York Rangers for 9 years (and $60 million).  According to reports, he turned down more money from other teams (Calgary, Los Angeles and Toronto).  The Rangers have themselves a big money center to play with Marian Gaborik now.  They also added tough guy Mike Rupp from the rival Penguins.

-Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they added Tim Connolly for two years.  Connolly has averaged .83 points per game since the lockout, but has only played in 302 games in that time.  When healthy, he can form a nice duo with Phil Kessel, but how many games he plays is the question.

-Not going to go into much about the Flyers, who were very active on Day 1, as this post sums it up pretty well.

-The Panthers were also very active, adding over $31 million in salary for 2011-12 in the since the draft.  This includes over $21 million to 6 players in free agency the last two days.  They aren’t done yet, as the team is still $1 million under the salary cap floor. (more…)

While few knew what the Flyers were going to do coming into July 1st’s free agent frenzy, Paul Holmgren had a plan. The rumors that were going around had Jaromir Jagr signing with Pittsburgh or Detroit, but both teams dropped out of the bidding this morning, leaving the Jagr Sweepstakes open for business.

With the biggest shocker of the day, Holmgren signed Jagr for $3.3 million, stunning the hockey world. The 39 year old future Hall of Famer has a career 1599 points in 1273 NHL games. He’s spent the last three years playing with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. The 1999 Hart Trophy winner has played for Pittsburgh, Washington and the Rangers in 17 NHL seasons. He’s 12th all time in goals (646) and 9th in points.

Speaking of former Penguins, the team also added C Max Talbot for 5 years, $9 million. Talbot had 21 points last year in 82 games with Pittsburgh, who he has played for the last six years. In an interview with TSN, he said, “I think it is [treason to go from Pittsburgh to Philly], but it’s the right thing to do.” He also added that players have told him “how great it is to play [in Philly]” and it’s a “great chance to win, with a great fit for me.” Talbot also said he believes in the changes the team has made over the last couple weeks. He should help the Flyers’ penalty kill, which took a few hits when the team traded both Mike Richards and Darroll Powe. The team views him as a replacement of Ian Laperriere.

The Flyers weren’t done (more…)

In 2006, Ryan Kesler signed a 1 year, $1.9 million offer from the Flyers.  Then-GM Bob Clarke was crushed by the hockey world for violating a “gentleman’s agreement”, in which teams wouldn’t sign other team’s restricted free agents.  Fans were calling for their team to try and poach a young player from the Flyers.  People were wondering if the Canucks would match $1.9 million for a kid who only had 23 points in 82 games in a new, unknown, salary cap era.  (Hindsight would show it was a good move by Vancouver.)  It was the first offer sheet to an RFA in almost eight years (Carolina’s offer to Sergei Fedorov in 1998).  In 1997, Clarke also signed Tampa’s Chris Gratton to a 5 year, $16.5 million offer, with a $9 million signing bonus, fully knowing that Tampa did not have the finances to match that type of offer.

As years passed, more players have been tendered offer sheets.   There have been six players to sign offer sheets since the lockout, with only one (Dustin Penner) changing teams.  Yet, people still believe signing Restricted Free Agents is an unwritten no-no.  The rule has been in place for over 25 years (with changing compensation), and if it is so unpopular, it would have been repealed by now.

So why is this relevant today?   (more…)