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“The Finnishing Line”

You heard it here first (unless you follow me on Twitter, then you heard it there first).

That could be the most excellent name for a line including the Sabres newest Finns, Ville Leino and Joel Armia. Of course, the Sabres need to complete a transfer and a contract to get Armia across the pond, but he’ll be here sooner rather than later. 453w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Is it October 7th yet?

As we mused earlier, an addition of fellow Finn Teppo Numminen to the coaching staff could complete the trifecta, and give Lenio and Armia perhaps their best chance to succeed in Buffalo.

Get that "Armia's Army" banner ready for the 300 level.

As Regier has stated, we’re likely done in the UFA market, so we can all settle in and get ready for next season. Oh, and as for next season, I think Leino said it best as to what we are in for:

“To be honest with you I think they (Sabres) deserved to win (the playoff series). It will be a good fit for me. I think it’s going to be a good team in the future, a lot of young guys. They made some good adds, good defensemen lately. It’s a great hockey town, and I think we have a good chance to win next year. I’m really excited.”

Meanwhile, the Sabres’ additions of Regehr, Ehrhoff, Leino, and their re-sigining of Cody McCormick, puts their salary cap number at $66 million, above this year’s set limit of $64.3 million. They can remain over the cap by 10 percent% until the season opener. So maybe, we’re in for some more summer surprises through the trade market.

Darcy – well done, sir!

Go Sabres.

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Leino Stone Unturned

You say goodbye, and I say hello.

It seems the Sabres are parting ways with center Tim Connolly, and saying “Hello, hello!” to his replacement, Ville Leino. (Sorry, the Beatles annoy me too. But TC annoyed us, so it seemed appropriate.)

Timmeh, thank you for your efforts. You fought through a lot of injuries in this town. Good luck to you.

Meanwhile, the Sabres also seemed to have passed on the perhaps mega-overpriced Brad Richards. That is probably a good business decision, considering the fact he is 31, coming off a concussion, and could undermine the Sabres ability to re-sign Myers and Ennis next year. 575w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Photoshop this image into a blue and gold uniform, and add flames to the beard, and tell me you ain't excited.

Leino’s dry stats: 801w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

LW? WTF? (Click for larger image.)

53 points ain’t nothing to write momma about, if you want to talk #1 center – but Leino’s got game. Ken Holland (that GM who has won Detroit the Stanley Cup) called Leino one of the hardest cuts he ever had to make from the roster after training camp (citation required) before Ville was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sabres fans would be wise to remember that Leino scored the OT winner in Game Six of the 1st Round of the 2011 playoffs between the two teams, a goal from which the Sabres never recovered.

Until now.

Leino is now ours. He may not be Brad Richards, or Spezza, Stastny, or even Joe Pavelski – but he is a Sabre. We now have our 1a and 1b centermen in Derek Roy and Ville Leino. But Pegula and the Sabres may not be done turning over stones to find their gems.

While the defense already features:

  • Regehr-Ehrhoff
  • Myers-Weber
  • Leopold-Gragnani
  • Sekera/McNabb/Pysyk/Schiestel

And the offense features:

  • Stafford-Roy-Vanek
  • Boyes-Leino-Ennis
  • Gerbe-McCormick-Pominville
  • Kaleta-Gaustad-Hecht

We might not be done yet, folks.  Note that glut at defense (which we’ve touched on before).

If you’re not convinced that we are now icing an upgraded unit at center, then look no further than to the trade fodder that is our crop of young stud defensemen to lure another body in.

For now, we already have Regehr, Ehrhoff, and Leino to celebrate and welcome. (Am I dreaming?) Oh, and it never hurts to add another Finn in Leino when you just drafted the Finnish Phenom-duu-jooouuur Joel Armia.

Tomorrow, well, who knows what to expect anymore. This whole Pegula-era has my head spinnin’ in his tail-winds. Still, I can smell another name coming our way in those cool breezes.

Go Sabres.

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Lindy Ruff is the Clear Winner on UFA Day

Regehr. Ehrhoff. And…?

Sabres fans are in a tizzy over the delivered promises of Pegula and Black. It’s finally July 1st, but the new ownership group didn’t wait until today to direct this team towards that Cup. A passionate pitch and draft day flight convinced Robyn Regehr to bring his defensive shut down skill set to Buffalo. A similar pitch, and a contract loaded with massive bonuses, added the fleet feet and sweet slap shot of Christian Ehrhoff.

Yea, fans are pretty darn pleased, and they should be – but they can’t possibly be as happy as Lindy Ruff right now. 200w" sizes="(max-width: 214px) 100vw, 214px" />

He went to Napoli's!

Ruff was named the 15th coach of our beloved Buffalo Sabres on July 21st, 1997. There’s a good chance that some of you reading this might not have been born yet at that time.

He’s been patient, and has worked well with what Darcy Regier has been afforded to give him (and Darcy had really done a bang-for-your-Golisano-buck job for him).

When Pegula came into town, most of the media-mob-mentality was that Pegula should run Regier out of town, and take (Canada’s Assistant Olympic coach) Lindy Ruff with him. Pegula let us all know at his first presser that he did his research – Darcy was staying, “the shackles were off,” and added “Lindy ain’t going nowhere.”

The fact is, even without a wallet, Regier and Ruff lead the Sabres to the brink of a championship in the 05-06 and 06-07 season. Most would agree that the Cup would have been ours without the absolute decimation of our defensive corps in 2006. But that success, and all the failures and frustrations of the past, are, well, in the past.

The future, so far, contains a beefed up defense – arguably, one of the best in the league. We have yet to see what might be added during the coming UFA frenzy, but we’re all smiling already. Just not smiling as much as Ruff. 505w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

The frustration is over.

He finally is getting the tools to finish the job.

Go Sabres.

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Will the Sabres be able to Sign Ehrhoff?


In a little over 24 hours, we’ll all be a little crazier here in Hockey Heaven, as the UFA frenzy kicks off (noon, Friday).

Until then, we have much to Tweet about, as the Sabres have acquired the rights to negotiate with Christian Ehrhohfhfh Ehrhoff. Let’s take a look at his dry stats: 803w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

226 points in 500 games really leaps off the page. (Click for full size.)

He will come at a hefty price, and will likely price us out of the Brad Richards sweeps. I’m ok with that however, for two reasons.

First, here’s a look at how our defense could pair up on October 7:

  • Regehr-Ehrhoff
  • Myers-Leopold
  • Weber-Gragnani
  • Sekera

That gives us five guys who can really dish the biscuit offensively, in Ehrhoff, Myers, Leopold, Gragnani and Sekera, and three guys who can really dish out the lights-out hits in Myers, Regehr, and Weber. This defensive unit would immediately be one of the best in the East, and would fulfill that glaring need to veteranize the defense in order to make a true run at Lord Stanley.

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Sabres Free Agency Madness and Wishlists

[Note this was written before the Sabres signed the rights to Ehrhoff. That doesn’t change a whole lot, but it might affect the ability to afford Brad Richards and make it more likely that the Sabres have to trade for a center or two. Read on…]

So, we’ve landed our dream top defenseman, the grittiest of the gritty. We love Robyn Regehr and can’t wait to see him smash some opposing forwards into the boards. 650w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

He doesn't need to eat food for he feeds on the fear of his opponents. Until the season begins he may have to learn to adapt his digestive system to accept chicken wings and bleu cheese.

Now Sabres fans thoughts turn towards Christmas Day, a.k.a. July 1st, otherwise known as Brad Richards Lottery Day. If you’re tuning in late, live under a rock, or have just been too busy to keep up, Friday, July 1st is the date that unrestricted free agents can sign with other teams.

And who might the Sabres go after? The aforementioned Brad Richard is one possibility, and despite the high demand for a player of his caliber, there are many knowledgeable people who think the Sabres have both the gumption and cap space to go after him.

Posted in: Free Agency, NHL, Sabres

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