Leino Stone Unturned

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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.

ville leino 300x189 Leino Stone Unturned

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:

VLstatsties 300x112 Leino Stone Unturned

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. ┬áNote 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

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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.

LindySuitedUp1 Lindy Ruff is the Clear Winner on UFA Day

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.

AngryLindy 300x225 Lindy Ruff is the Clear Winner on UFA Day

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?

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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:

LakeEhrie 300x131 Will the Sabres be able to Sign Ehrhoff?

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. (more…)

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Sabres Free Agency Madness and Wishlists

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[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.

regehr nasty 300x230 Sabres Free Agency Madness and Wishlists

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. (more…)

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Posted in: Free Agency, NHL, Sabres

Coach Teppo?

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Coach Grier. Coach Drury. Coach… Nolan?

NO. (Sorry, Teddy, we still love you).

Since the dismissal of Brian McCutcheon from the Assistant Coach ranks of the Buffalo Sabres, there’s been a lot of chatter about his replacement. Chalk me up for “Team Teppo.” Before we get down to the nitty gritty though, first, let us take a skate down memory lane.

TinyToonsTeppo 285x300 Coach Teppo?

From this...

BlueSteel 263x300 Coach Teppo?

...to this... (Hey! Isn't that "Blue Steel?")

TeppoWentToNapolis 300x168 Coach Teppo?

...to this?

The Sabres, of course, already enjoy picking the brain of the defensively minded James Patrick behind the bench, but there is no denying the “calming effect” Teppo had on the defensive troops when he wore Blue and Gold. He is also one of the best (and one of the most cerebral) defensive dynamos to ever come out of Finland.

Oh, and the Sabres just picked up Joel Armia in the first round – one of the better offensive phenoms to come out of Finland since Teemu Selanne (according to Armia’s coach in Assat). If the Sabres want to garner Armia’s full potential, it sure would help to have a fellow Finn around, and one who has already been through national stardom in Finland and North America.

Patrick 300x212 Coach Teppo?

And as more than one female associate of mine has pointed out, A Numminen-Patrick tandem would be one of the more pulchritudinous in the NHL. (Look it up kids, that's a SAT word.)

Be it for Rochester, or for Buffalo, Darcy Regier must have Teppo at the top of his list of coaching interviews.

Your move, Darcy.

Go Sabres.

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