If you are a Sabres fan who is excited for Thursday and expecting Darcy Regier to open the wallet to bring in a big time free agent, think again. That is not how the organization operates and most Sabres fans have come to that realization in the past few years or so. As much as I hope I am wrong, second and third tier free agents will be on Darcy’s agenda, while attempting to bring in some much needed change via trade.
History shows that Darcy Regier and the Sabres are awfully quiet on July 1st. In 2008, the Sabres signed Goaltender Patrick Lalime to a two-year contract. The signing of Lalime was the only July 1st move the Sabres have made in recent years. However, there is something about July 4th that gives Regier the need to make a move. Here is a recent history of Regier’s July 4th resume.
July 4, 2006 – Sabres sign Teppo Numminen to a one-year contract
July 4, 2007 – Sabres sign Teppo Numminen to a one-year contract (This is not a typo. Numminen was re-signed on the same day, two years in a row)
July 4, 2008 – Sabres trade for Defenseman Craig Rivet
July 4, 2009 – Sabres sign Defenseman Steve Montador to a two-year contract
What does that mean for Sabres fans this coming Thursday? It means do not expect much from the team in regard to signings. However, I do expect a back up goalie to be signed. If Patrick Lalime does not retire, expect for that back up goalie to be a re-signing of the soon to be 36 year old netminder. Ryan Miller enjoys having Lalime as a teammate and the organization will do anything to make the Vezina Trophy winner happy, while not spending as much money on another back up option.
There have been rumors of the Sabres being interested in bringing back Martin Biron. I loved Marty as a Sabre, but I believe his asking price will be too high for a guy who will be riding the bench most of the season. The extra money needs to be spent elsewhere.
The first glaring need would be a #1 center. However, while many Sabres fans are ready to move on from Tim Connolly and Derek Roy, Darcy Regier does not have the same feelings. In a recent pre-draft interview with local radio here in Buffalo, Regier stated “We have two of the top 20 centers in the entire league”. I was hoping for the radio host to ask if Regier was kidding, but unfortunately the question was not asked. Since it appears that a center will not be on the agenda, the next need moves to the blue line.
A puck moving defenseman who can quarterback the power play will move up to the top of the list. The power play or lack thereof, was personally responsible for the Sabres’ first round exit from the playoffs against the Bruins. Not to take anything away from the Bruins, but going 0 for 19 on the power play will result in any team’s demise.
Yes, everyone has heard of the Tomas Kaberle rumors, but I think it is time to move on from Kaberle. As much as I would love to see Kaberle wearing the blue and gold, I believe Brian Burke’s asking price may be too high for Darcy Regier. Regier is a patient GM and will never over pay for any player. This may upset many Sabres fans, but in the long run, the Sabres are never forced to make a move they don’t want to because of salary cap issues. Plus, if the Sabres are serious about acquiring Kaberle, Regier will want him signed to an extension before and deal is completed. Would Kaberle sign an extension in Buffalo?
A name to look out for would be Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles. Going back to my comment about making Ryan Miller happy, Miller personally asked for the Sabres to trade for Liles a couple seasons ago, but the Sabres were unable to swing a deal with Colorado. Liles was a teammate of Ryan Miller at Michigan State and have remained close friends every since. I am not starting a rumor, but simply stating a name the Sabres may be looking at.
A player I would love to see in Buffalo is Anaheim winger Bobby Ryan. Ryan, who was Ryan Miller’s teammate for Team USA in Vancouver, has 131 points (71 goals, 60 assists) in 168 games for the Ducks. The second overall draft pick in 2005 is a restricted free agent who appears to be far apart on an extension with Anaheim. Would Darcy step up and put in an offer sheet for the 6-2, 210lb winger? One would hope, but not likely.
Thursday may not be the most fun day for Sabres fans, but it is a great day for hockey fans in general. Hockeyindependent.com will be holding a LIVE CHAT beginning at 11am eastern. Feel free to stop by and get the latest news on the Sabres and the rest of the NHL. See you Thursday!
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About the Author: Sabres Hockey blogger, Passionate fan of all Hockey, Sport Management major, Buffalo Bills fan/season ticket holder, father of my beautiful daughter.