The Brad Boyes Bind

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What is this salary cap thing, again?

This isn’t a problem that Sabres have had to deal with before. We were all a little giddy when Darcy Regier blew his first official wad of Pegula Bucks when he traded for Brad Boyes at the trade deadline this year, and eagerly awaited July 1st like a new hockey X-mas.

boyes3rdjersey 300x242 The Brad Boyes Bind

Do jersey sales count to lower the cap hit? If so, buy, fans, buy!

July 1st has come and gone, and goodness, those Pegula Bucks must have really been burning a hole in Regier’s wallet. Suddenly, we’re at the top of the league in salary.

CapGeek 300x273 The Brad Boyes Bind

Great. As if bloggers didn't have enough work to not get paid to do - now we are expected to do math, too?

Count me as not one of those in town that are labeling Boyes as a bust – yet. He did have 14 points in 21 games as the new kid, though his 1 goal on 14 shots in the playoffs really left him wanting, say, about 13 more goals there.

Remember, folks, that Boyes also plays his best when on the wing. He kept finding himself forced into the center position by Lindy Ruff, whose bench was already overflowing with wingers. Boyes is simply not effective pivoting around the offensive zone, and racing back to cover the slot in front of Miller. He’s a sniper, and his best shots come off the wing.

CookieJar 300x300 The Brad Boyes Bind

Top shelf! I want one of these cookie jars, and I want Boyes back on the wing.

But then again, we now have to do math problems, and Brad Boyes salary hit stinks like long division. Boyes accounts for a cool $4mil of the monstrous $63,945,357.   That is roughly 6.25%, according to my accounts payable research study. It’s a big hit, but if he blossoms with the new offense, he might be worth it.

Unfortunately, my accounts payable research also shows that our Buffalo Sabres are going to be very much in the red after they eventually sign RFA’s Andrej Sekera, Jhonas Enroth, and Marc-Andre Gragnani. There is simply no way to fit all these guys in.

We’ve got the money – finally we’ve got the money – but the miserly NHL won’t let us spend it.

The good news: if the last 10+ years have taught Darcy Regier anything, it has taught him how to dump players. Whether through trade, through AHL ceremonial burial, or through a “strange accident in the fancy new weight room,” he’ll find a way to put an audit-worthy squad of NHLers on the ice come October 7th.

ChalkOutline The Brad Boyes Bind

"Ales ran into a cabinet."

The vast majority of Sabres fans on the Twitter are still not convinced that we have enough guys in Blue and Gold yet – primarily, we need to add a bona fide or at least better #1 center. That could work out nicely. Unless the trade partner wants prospects and picks, we could ship out some larger salaried and quality NHLers for a nice return.

As for Boyes, well, we’ll see what fate brings him, and the other Cap offenders – Pominville (5.3), Shaone Morrisonn (2.075), and Ales Kotalik (3). And dare we include Vanek (7.142) or Miller (6.25)? Nope. Those guys are safe. For now.

Well, good luck Darcy. Oh, and if you need an alibi, hit the “contact us” button at the top of the screen here.

Go Sabres.

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The Sabres Are Good Enough Offensively

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Show me a Sabres fan who’s not thrilled with the moves the Sabres have made defensively and I’ll show you the most negative grumpy bastard in the world. You have to love what the Sabres have done to bolster the D. The offense, however, is a bit more of a question mark.

Yes, we got Ville Leino, the Finnish Finisher (ok, so he needs a better nickname, shoot me), and well, that’s it so far. Please don’t say we also got Kotalik. Many fans are rightfully a bit sad the Sabres didn’t land Brad Richards, a clear cut #1 center rather then the question mark of a center that Leino is.

110797860 display image 300x205 The Sabres Are Good Enough Offensively

When Leino scores, the MK sound clip of "FINNISH HIM!" should play.

While I would have loved it if the Sabres signed Richards, I believe in Regier, Ruff and Pegula. If they think Leino can play center on the 2nd line, I believe ‘em. But the overall perception seems to be that the Sabres need to make another move to bolster the offense. I’m going to say they don’t need to.

Let’s look at last year: the Sabres were 9th in the league in scoring with 245 goals, just 17 goals behind league-leading Vancouver.  Those 245 goals were also good enough for 4th in the Eastern Conference.  What assets did we lose that would have contributed many goals? Why should we worry that we’ll slip very much?

Sure, we lost Connolly who has never had more than 18 goals. Last year he pitched in with 13 goals and 29 assists, a mark that Leino should be able to surpass.

We “lost” Niedermayer who we could have absolutely counted on to not score a goal most of the year and then score 5 at the very end of the season. Let’s say we might have gotten 5 goals and 14 assists (his 2010-2011 totals) out of him again next year.

4d77b8a53c719.image  300x236 The Sabres Are Good Enough Offensively

Perhaps the first and only shot of Rob Niedermayer scoring a goal to be shown on this site. We'll miss you, Rob. Or at least, we'll miss being amazed that you can actually score goals.

Then there’s Mike Grier, who has never been a real goal scorer and has been slowing down with age. Of course, it’s possible the Sabres re-sign him, but assuming they don’t, he had 5 goals and 11 assists last year. Sure, he’s a great grinder and a guy you want on your team during the clutch, but he ain’t getting any younger.

Defensively there are still a couple of question marks. I love Sekera’s potential but it looks like he may be the odd man out. But that’s really ok, because for all his offensive flashiness (at times) he only had 3 goals last year. In fact he’s never had more than 4 in a year for the Sabres.

I’m hoping the Sabres sign Gragnani because it looked like he really matured down the stretch and in the playoffs but we don’t have enough sample size to go on. But scoring-wise we don’t lose much even if we do lose Gragnani – the defense is just so vastly improved. Ehrhoff’s production alone should cover for losing MAG AND Sekera.

So really, that’s about 26 goals worth of production we could potentially lose from last year. Not a whole lot, and not much that can’t be made up elsewhere.

Granted, every single team in the league gets better every year, so it’s not enough just to tread water. The Sabres need to keep up with the Joneses and improve offensively just to stay at #9 overall.

But then again the Sabres don’t NEED to improve or even stay at 9th overall in scoring. Their much-improved defense should be enough to get them into the playoffs and make a run. Slipping a little bit in the the scoring department wouldn’t hurt that much.

On offense, the Sabres (like the Goonies) are good enough. Pegula realizes that not only do you need a good team to win an NHL championship, you also need a good bit of luck, whether that’s staying healthy or getting some breaks and pucks bouncing your way in crucial moments. It’s sort of like my theory of playing in a dynasty fantasy football league: EVERY year is a year to go for it all. There should never be a rebuilding year. Assemble the best team possible, get in the playoffs and you never know what can happen.

PEGULA 222 300x251 The Sabres Are Good Enough Offensively

No witty/cheesy caption here. Just a mission statement.

Now, Pegula & Co. probably aren’t done working their mojo, and they’ll likely pull off a trade. But even if they stay pat from this point forward, they’ll be just fine.

That said … please go out and get us another center. Pretty please?

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Mike Weber Signs, Defense Gets Scarier

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I’m a fan of Mike Weber.

Anyone familiar with my old blog, “buffalo74,” may remember a picture of his smiling mug on the sidebar. Under said mug, I started posting his stats after a game. Keeping track. Taking notice. At the time, it seemed no one else was.

TheMikeWeberWatch Mike Weber Signs, Defense Gets Scarier

He even looks ready to kick some butt when he is smiling.

My public service is now officially at an end, as Weber has signed onto a two year deal. The Buffalo News was wise to point out that those team-leading 158 hits were chalked up in only 58 games. That’s a pretty scary stat. Speaking of scary, here is how the defense is now shaping up:

  • RegehrSMASH!-MyersSMASH!
  • Ehrhoff-WeberSMASH!
  • Gragnani-Leopold
  • Sekera
  • Morrisson

Yes, I spelled Morrisonn wrong there, but why bother correcting it? He wants out of town, and he’ll be moved. Also, don’t take these pairings as predictions – Lindy Ruff will work that out, and likely change it up 12 times a week/game. Meanwhile, holy hell, look at that defense!

I very rarely use expletives, and I even more rarely use exclamation points, but this lineup looks very, very good.

Think of Ehrhoff as a younger version of Brian Campbell who scores and hits more, Regehr as a younger version of Toni Lydman and hits more, Myers as a vastly better Hank Tallinder, and Leopold a steady and smooth Kalinin. Add the dynamo that is Gragnani, and the sometimes-Bobby Orrish rushing ability of Andre Sekera, and this unit is something to behold, especially if you are on the opposing team.

WeberSMASH 300x225 Mike Weber Signs, Defense Gets Scarier

Some players, of course, will be taking notice more than others.

Did you want Brad Richards? Not sold yet on Ville Leino? Take a breather.

Lindy Ruff said the #1 priority this offseason was putting together a “lockdown pair.” Our own study here revealed how our goal scoring prowess was already near the top in the East (4th overall) before the addition of Leino, and frankly, a true Cup run was dependent on upgrading and veteranizing the defense.

Missions accomplished.

Go Sabres.

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Have the Sabres put the Bills “On Notice?”

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Are you ready for some hockey ?”

Many sports fans in WNY are marking the days off their calendar in anticipation for October 7th, when the rebuilt, refreshed, and Pegula-powered Buffalo Sabres take to the ice. As we’ve discussed before, Pegs did a whole lot for his team and its fans long before the most recent upgrades of the roster.

sabreslockerroomplaque Have the Sabres put the Bills On Notice?

Oh yea, and he says things like this.

For Bills fans, lately, it has felt like the reason for existence of the Buffalo Bills has been to just keep them in town. It’s not like Ralph Wilson is suddenly going to change the way he does things – at 200 years of age, he’s pretty much set in his ways. Yea, he put a team in Buffalo (because his first choice, Miami, didn’t pan out). And yea, he’s kept the team here. But that’s about it for Bills fans. They’ve got a team – a middling team, a team that has gone from the glorious stat-sheet days of the Superbowl 90’s to the ever-lengthening joke-sheets of NFL analysts.

Bills fans, praise their thick Buffalo hides, will never give up on their team. Heck, this is Buffalo. This is what we do. Still, there has been a slight change in attitude that has been picking up around the football fan base as they’ve seen what some other rich guy with deep pockets can do for a small market sports franchise.

Pegula has set that standard pretty darn high, and the way the Bills are run, it simply can’t be ignored. We’re not elitists, but we have pride in this town. We want to win.

RalphieInduction 300x225 Have the Sabres put the Bills On Notice?

"...and remember, don't take any wooden nickels!"

We deserve to win.

Of course, this is pro-sports – deserve ain’t got nothin’ to do with it. One thing that does have a lot to do with it is putting your self on notice for the team that you own. That is what Pegula did. We’re on a three year Cup mission right now, and it is on his name that the end result of that quest falls.

As the Sabres surge forward by Pegula’s lead, Wilson has also been inadvertently been put on notice. Again, he won’t shake things up at One Bills Drive. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll learn a thing or two from Pegula and turn Buffalo into a football destination again.

Right now, we’re in Hockey Heaven, and Football Hell.

Go Bills.

Go Sabres.

*For a incredibly wild ride through the historical antics and let-downs of Ralph Wilson, check out the article “Ralph Wilson is an Odious Taint,” over at “Dear God Why Us Sports. It’s a fine, fine piece by “The Yachtsman.” You’ll either laugh until you burst, or get incredibly offended, or if you’re really lucky – both. (NSFW, kiddies.)

 

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A BSN Contest: Win some “Hockey Heaven” Gear – and a bit-o-Publicity!

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We really, really love our readers.

In appreciation of all of you, we’re launching our first-ever contest here at Buffalo Sabres Nation. Here’s the challenge (and painfully wordy legalities), sports fans:

  • Send us a quick essay on “What Hockey Heaven Means to Me” (send through the “Contact Us” tab).
  • Essays must be kept to a maximum of 150 words.
  • Essays must be original work of the contestant, may not have been previously published, may not have won previous awards, must not infringe upon the copyrights, trademarks, rights of privacy, publicity or other intellectual property or other rights of any person and must not violate any law.
  • There will be two winners!
  • The winning essays will be chosen by our sponsor, Hockey Heaven.
  • Entries will be accepted until 11:59pm, Friday, July 8th.
  • Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any Entry for any reason, in its sole and absolute discretion.
  • Odds of winning depend upon number of entries received.
  • Winners will be determined after the Contest’s end date and will be notified by email.
  • Employees and their immediate families (spouse, parent, child, sibling and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) or those living in the same household (whether or not related) of BuffaloSabresNation.com, HockeyHeavenBuffalo.com, or Store716.com (“Sponsor”), and their respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, prize suppliers, distributors and advertising and promotion agencies (collectively, “Contest Parties”) are not eligible to enter or win.
  • CAUTION: Any attempt by a contestant to deliberately damage any website or undermine the legitimate operations of the Contest is a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, the Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such contestant to the fullest extent permitted by the law and to disqualify such contestant from the Contest.
  • Entry into this Contest constitutes your acceptance of these Official Rules.

Sorry if some of that was a little heavy, but we gotta’ keep our noses clean. Now, on to the prizes! These will include:

  • A t-shirt from Hockey Heaven. (The winners will get to choose which tee they want.)
  • Publication of your essay right here, on Buffalo Sabres Nation – just like a regular post.
HockeyHeavenTee A BSN Contest: Win some Hockey Heaven Gear   and a bit o Publicity!

This is going to be fun.

Are you a blogger, or an aspiring writer? Do you carry that die-hard passion for the Blue and Gold? Is it time to update your Sabres wardrobe with some sweet new merch? If so, this contest is perfect for you.

Again, thanks to all of our readers for your continued interest and support of Buffalo Sabres Nation. Now, we finally get the chance here to see what “Hockey Heaven” means to you. Let us know, folks.

We’re dying to find out.

Go Sabres.

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