A new crew at the helm will try to better steer the Sabres.
The Buffalo Sabres are a completely different team for the first time in a long time. Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff are both gone. Their presence in Buffalo will still be felt for a long time, but those two architects are gone.
In their place are two names Sabres fans know well. Pat Lafontaine is the new Director of Hockey Operations and will be bringing in the next general manager. Ted Nolan is back in Buffalo to take over the head coaching gig for the also departed Ron Rolston.
In displaying my toughness as a blogger I will attempt to give some thoughts on this while fighting through the run of my school's musical and a broken computer. It's all about those blogging intangibles, right?
Sabres Deal Vanek for Matt Moulson and picks.
The Buffalo Sabres finally made one of the moves that everyone was expecting this week. They shipped forward Thomas Vanek out in exchange for some assets. It is who Vanek was shipped to and what GM Darcy Regier got in return that has many surprised.
Vanek was traded to the New York Islanders in exchange for a 1st round pick in 2014, a 2nd round pick in 2015 and forward Matt Moulson. The Islanders have the option of deferring the 1st rounder to 2015 if it is a top-10 pick. The Sabres have also agreed to retain about 20% of Vanek's salary to get the deal done.
Sometimes is isn't the worst to be the worst.
I had a chance to see the Sabres for the first (and possibly only) time this past Saturday. They were playing in Chicago against the defending champs and like a good fan, I took the trip down to see them play. I also brought along a friend and fellow fan to the game so I wasn't alone amongst the sea of red.
I would like to say thank you to the fans and crew in Chicago. I went last year and it was fun, but this year was even better. First of all, the fans were much more aware than I expected. My Andrej Sekera jersey was immediately recognized by one fan, who wondered aloud why I would have one of those. They pretty much knew what was going on at all times short of a few bandwagoners in the row behind me.
The presentation was pretty great too. It was working smart that made it effective. They didn't go out of their way to over promote the asinine things that some many rinks do. The music was a mix of standards and solid tunes that are sure to become staples of rinks. The intros were great and the clapping/cheering during the National Anthem is growing on me.
Now on to the game:
A look at the preseason and what it all means. Brian Flynn fight Phil Kessel during the 2013 preseason.
The preseason ended last night with a snoozer against the Carolina Hurricanes, but in just a few short weeks we have learned an awful lot about the Buffalo Sabres.
I will give short recaps for each game and then get into what it all means for the roster. Who is in? Who is out? And who still has a chance to make their presence felt for the blue and gold?
Updates from a busy week as camp begins.
The Buffalo Sabres are back at it and so am I. I will be recapping some precamp happenings and then get into some issues that affected today's first official day of training camp.
Traverse City Tournament: Buffalo was able to walk all over the Baby Canes to secure a spot in the tournament championship for the second year in a row. Zemgus Girgensons had a goal and two assists and Johan Larsson also recorded a goal playing on the top line with Joel Armia. Nick Baptiste continued his tear with a goal and two assists to take the tournament lead in scoring. Jerome Gautier-Leduc had a very good game and scored a goal. Also scoring were invitee Peter Trainor, Eric Locke, and Justin Bailey. Dan Catenacci had two assists and Connor Knapp became the third Sabre goaltender to record a win in the tournament.
In the second game the team didn't fare as well against the "home town" Detroit Red Wings. A repeat championship proved out of their reach as the fell by a score of 4-2. Nathan Lieuwen played in his second straight championship and gave up 3 goals in the loss. Buffalo struggled on the penalty kill and took a ton of penalties throughout the tournament. It proved to be their downfall in the end. Frederick Roy and Peter Trainor scored for Buffalo in the loss.
Camp Roster/Dates Announced:
The Sabres announced their camp roster and dates soon after the tournament ended. The roster included 36 players (or three teams). Undrafted invitees were the same as in the prospects tournament with forward Peter Trainor and defenseman Connor Bolland. There was one surprise player on a PTO, but I'll get to that in a minute. Camp opened up today with physicals and will commence in full starting on the 12th of September. Players will be on the ice right away for three straight days of scrimmaging.
Hodgson Signs Before Camp:
Cody Hodgson signed a long term deal with the Sabres on the eve of on-ice sessions for camp this year. He will be a full participant when the team hits the ice on the 12th. Hodgson is now under contract in a similar deal to the Adam Henrique signing earlier this summer. He did not sign the expected bridge contract that Nazem Kadri did with the Leafs. Financial terms of the deal have not been discussed.
Vanek Trade Update:
Reports are coming out that state that Buffalo would be willing to eat part of Thomas Vanek's insane salary in order to facilitate a trade to a more cap-strapped franchise. This should increase the market for Vanek quite a bit, especially as stars get hurt and need to be replaced for similar cap hits. Buffalo meanwhile isn't all that close to the cap ceiling. The reports are also stating that nothing has surfaced about whether this is an option with Ryan Miller's contract as well.
Gillies Gets PTO
The surprise player I mentioned above is none other than former Wild and Blue Jackets player Colton Gillies. A former first round pick in 2007, Gillies has been unable to stick in recent years. He is a big body and has been a depth player for a number of years. He will try to define a role for himself in the Buffalo organization and hope to build himself back into an NHL regular.
As camp approaches, here are some happenings.
I know, I know. It's been forever since the last post. I get it, I'm lucky you're still here reading. There have been some important changes in my life recently and I didn't have any time to post. I recently got a full-time teaching job and had to uproot my life to move to Milwaukee and because AT&T sucks, I haven't had internet access for the last two weeks. So, long story short: I'm sorry, I'm back, here's some info on the recent Sabres happenings.
Traverse Prospects Tournament: Fresh off the news that Mikhail Grigorenko had played too many NHL games to participate in the prospects tourny - which should have been obvious, because 25 games made him ineligible for rookie status next year, but somehow wasn't - the Sabres have begun to defend their prospect crown.
They started off strong with several 2013 draft picks leading the way. Buffalo beat the Columbus Blue Jackets prospects 3-1 on Thursday. They had goals from Nick Baptiste, Justin Bailey and Rasmus Ristolainen, who certainly helped his roster push with the early offense. Another 2013 acquisition, Johan Larsson, factored into the scoring with an assist on Ristolainen's goal. Nathan Lieuwen got the win for the Baby Sabres.
Third Jersey: A lot of people have been hating on the Buffalo Sabres new third jersey which was unveiled this week. Yes, my first opinion of it wasn't great either, but we will have to wait and see what it looks like on the ice. The Sabres are taking a chance. It may not work. The good news: if it doesn't, they won't be wearing them very often.
Cody Hodgson: The young centerman is still unsigned with camp knocking on the door. It begs the question on where negotiations currently are. We know talks are ongoing, but is there currently a hang up? Hopefully we get more information soon as we collectively hold our breaths for a nice new CoHo deal before camp opens.
Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller Are Backtracking: Both players had a foot out the door before the off season started. Now they are telling reporters that they are comfortable sticking around. I think this is a backtrack of necessity. Darcy Regeir isn't going to make a foolish deal, he's going to do his due diligence. That means that Vanek and Miller may have to tough it out for a few more months with the Sabres before ultimately moving on to "greener pastures".
Sabres Fill Assistant Coaching Vacancies: Former Avalanche coach Joe Sacco has been hired by the Sabres to serve as an assistant to Ron Rolston. Sacco brings head coaching experience and another academic mind to the Sabres bench. Jerry Forton, a Buffalo Native and former assistant at Niagara University and Harvard was also added, bringing the total number of assistants to the standard three. It is assumed that Forton will be the box coach, while Teppo Numminen will move down the bench, but nothing has been announced as of this writing.
Until next time (which should be much sooner than the last layoff) let us know what you think in the comments section.
A signing for Rochester and Tropp continues to hope for a roster spot.
The Buffalo Sabres have made two minor moves as a boring summer moves on. Late last week they signed minor leaguer Jamie Tardiff to boost their depth in Rochester. On Monday they re-signed restricted free agent Corey Tropp to a new deal.
Tardiff has spent most of his career in the AHL as a member of the Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins organizations. He has played in just two NHL games, both coming last season for the Bruins. He has spent 9 professional seasons in the AHL recording 438 games played with 123 goals and 229 points. He scored 30 goals in 2012-2013. Tardiff’s deal is 1-year for the league minimum.
Tropp was drafted by the Sabres in 2007. He managed to get some serious NHL playing time in 2011-2012 where he impressed with his blend of grit and skill, even spending time on the first line late in the season.
Tropp was injured in Rochester’s very first game of 2012-2013 and was expected to miss the entire season. Tropp did return late in the year and is hoping to be fully healthy for a run at the Sabres opening night roster in 2013-2014.
Tropp’s deal is for 1-year, the financial terms have yet to be announced. Buffalo has one remaining restricted free agent left to sign before the end of the summer. That player is Cody Hodgson and will assuredly be the most expensive of the bunch.
The Buffalo Sabres have signed two more of their restricted free agents to qualifying offers. Luke Adam and Matt Hackett have both signed their offers for 1-year, 2-way contracts. This just leaves Cody Hodgson and Corey Tropp without deals for the 2013-2014 season.
Luke Adam was once one of the Sabres most highly touted prospect at the center position. He began the season with Buffalo in 2011-2012 and played in 52 games while recording 20 points. He has played in 75 career NHL games and recorded 18 goals and 38 points. His deal will be worth $735,000 in the NHL next season or $65,000 in the AHL.
Matt Hackett was a key piece in the Jason Pominville deal with Minnesota. If/when Ryan Miller is traded, Hackett will become the defacto backup in Buffalo behind Jhonas Enroth. In 13 NHL games Hackett has a save percentage of .913 and a goals against average of 2.64. His pact is worth $715,000 with the big club or $65,000 on the farm.
Flynn (65) with linemate Kevin Porter (12)
and fellow rookie Chad Ruhwedel (5).
The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed right wing Brian Flynn to a two-year contract. Flynn was a pleasant surprise for the Rochester American's last season, which led to a call-up to Buffalo.
Flynn's ability to play up and down the lineup allowed him to stay with the team for the remainder of the season, mostly in a third line role. Flynn played well with Marcus Foligno and Kevin Porter while posting 11 points in 26 games.
Flynn is expected to earn a spot on the opening day roster in 2013-2014, although it isn't assured that he will. He will need to fend off the now healthy Corey Tropp as well as highly-touted prospect Joel Armia to maintain his role with the club. Flynn will hope to build on his rookie season and add continue to move up the depth chart on the right side.
The Buffalo Sabres have signed Rasmus Ristolainen, the 8th overall pick in the 2013 entry draft, to a 3-year entry level contract. With bonuses, Ristolainen's contract will be worth a hit of $1,775,000 (essentially the ELC maximum). Ristolainen's contract can slide if he doesn't stick with the Sabres this season. Buffalo has signed the big Fin in order to give him the best chance of making the team this season.
Buffalo has also re-signed Nick Crawford for the league minimum of $550,000. Crawford was a restricted free agent and will likely spend most of the season continuing to hone his game in Rochester with the Americans. Crawford was a 6th round pick by the Sabres in 2008 and this is his first contract since signing an entry level deal with the Sabres in 2010.