Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sabres/Canes could swap bad contracts

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Before we go on, I'll preface the following by saying I know full-well that Carolina Hurricanes RW Alexander Semin isn't exactly the most industrious, hard-working forward in the NHL. And I'll also add that at 31 yrs. old, Semin isn't exactly in Tim Murray's wheelhouse age-wise as the Sabres GM is geared more towards younger additions to the team.

That being said, there are few things that would make trading Buffalo Sabres forward Cody Hodgson to Carolina for Semin a legitimate move:

--both have bloated contracts with term on them. Hodgson has four more years left at $20 million while Semin has three left at $21 million.

--both are coming off of career lows in production. Hodgson had 13 points (6+7) in 78 games while Semin had 19 points (6+13) in 57 games.

--both are potential buyout candidates as we speak

--both could use a change of scenery.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Is Kerby Rychel a good fit for the Buffalo Sabres? And...

Reprinted with permission from they have a player the Columbus Blue Jackets would be interested in?

First off, hockeybuzz colleague Todd Cordell alerted us to the possible availability of Rychel (citing Elliot Friedman, via today' by saying:  "The Columbus Blue Jackets recently made Kerby Rychel available for trade in hopes of bringing in some help on defense.

"It doesn't sound like that will be much of a problem for [Jackets GM] Jarmo Kekalainen and co., as Rychel is generating a lot of interest around the league."

Columbus is loaded for bear up front and as Friedman pointed out, three youngins--Boone Jenner, Marko Dano and Alexander Wennberg--are in the top-nine mix going forward with Oliver Bjorkstrand not far behind. It's a bit of a quandary for Kekalainen, and as was mentioned by Rick Gethin of FOX Sports Ohio, the Blue Jackets at one point had five free agent forwards to make a decision on.

One of the youngins, RFA Cam Atkinson, was kept in the fold with a three year contract extension signed on March 2nd. Heading into the off season Columbus now has 14 forwards signed with decision to be made on UFA's Mark Letestu and Jack Skille as well as arbitration-eligible  RFA Matt Calvert.

“Everybody knows the roster only holds 23,” Kekalainen said via the Columbus Dispatch back on May 9th. “When you count the guys and see the young guys pushing, you know we need to do some planning with that."

Friday, May 22, 2015

The end of the Babcock saga. Plus, reactions to reactions

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You could lay out 50 million reasons why it didn't work out between Mike Babcock and the Buffalo Sabres. A contact worth $50 million over eight years was reportedly offered by Sabres owner Terry Pegula and their GM, Tim Murray, and it was something Babcock's team took back up the QEW to Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan. The Leafs ponied up and Babcock is now the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The process is done, and for a lot of people, there's a bit "Thank God" that can be placed a the end of that sentence.

Interesting to see the reactions from various sources out there, but all of them pretty much mention the Buffalo Sabres as the "jilted lover" in all of this. Which is fine, because the Pegula and Co. pretty much gave Babcock all they could offer him and in the end he chose the Queen of Hockey over the Queen City. "When you think about the Toronto Maple Leafs -- the most iconic franchise, in my view, in the world -- I think that that had an appeal to Mike Babcock that other markets just couldn't match," said TSN's Craig Button on  ctv

“I wanted to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs," was what Babcock ultimately said about his final decision.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The final word on Mike Babcock until....

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...his presser in Buffalo introducing him as the next Buffalo Sabres head coach.

Purely speculative? Yes.

Optimistic? Very.

A reach? Maybe.

Here's the deal.

The Detroit Red Wings ain't what they used to be. Back in the day, before the salary cap was introduced, the perennial Cup-contending Wings had it all. They had money, Hall-of-Famers and a reputation for being the place a free agent could go for a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup. Although Wings owner Mike Illitch had (and has) the wherewithal to compete financially with the Toronto's and NY Ranger's of the league, he rarely had to do it on financial terms. Players like Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull and Dominik Hasek (to name a few) would gladly play for less money to get their name on the Stanley Cup.

But times have changed.

"Relationships and geography have always played a role in where a free agent will sign," wrote Puckdaddy's Greg Wyshynski last July 2nd, "but it’s now become overriding factors since the money’s become equal. Predicting the next home for a free agent used to be as easy as predicting who could give him a max contract; now it comes down to whether his father’s cousin’s son’s sister’s friend’s former roommate is the assistant general manager."

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tyler Ennis and Jack Eichel displayed some world-class talent in Prague

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Buffalo Sabres forward Tyler Ennis was somewhat lost in all the star talent Team Canada iced at the 2015 World Championships in the Czech Republic. Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Claude Giroux and Tyler Seguin are just a few of the names that carry much more weight around the National Hockey League than his.

Ennis had back-to-back 20 goal seasons on a Buffalo team that scored 303 goals in 164 games (a measly 1.85 goals per game.) Although he's shown time and again that his abilities shouldn't be taken for granted he still doesn't get the respect he deserves, even within the ranks of Sabres fans and even after he continually proves that this highlight reel goal against probable 2015 Vezina and Hart Trophy winner Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens wasn't a fluke.


Monday, May 18, 2015

On Mike Babcock and a possible Johnson/Bird-type rivalry with McDavid/Eichel

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Although I won't say that I wasted 25 minutes of my life watching TSN's Darren Dreger interview Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland and his coach (as of now) Mike Babcock. But I will say that I could have waited for the highlights and have gotten as much from it.

Yes, one construct a myriad of opinions trying to read between the lines or focus upon body language and other forms of non-verbal communications, but why bother?

It's well known that Babcock likes being a part of the Detroit Red Wings family. It's also been made known that his wife likes where they are right now. We also know that the team is going through a transitionary period where the old guard is nearing the end of the line and the young turks are expected to step into those roles by carrying the weight of the franchise.

That's the Detroit Red Wings way.

One would be better off going to the roulette wheel and plunking a stack on red or black--as in Detroit or Buffalo--when it comes to where he'll end up. Sure there's the aught and double aught of the green spaces to take away the true 50/50 odds, but in this blogger's opinion, it's either sticking with the Wings or guiding a young Sabres squad.

Much respect for Dreger and the work he does for TSN. Thanks to his interview we now know that Babcock will be making his decision by May 20th instead of the 25th.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Suffering be gone. The state of the Sabres transitions to build-mode.

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Back in early April, 2014 I was asked by hockeybuzz to do a "State of the Buffalo Sabres" piece as a guest writer. The theme I came up with was "Reset, Redefine, Rebuild." It's been a little over one year since that piece and the ride that we Sabres fans went on over the course of that time worthy of a full day at the "Rollercoaster capital of the world," Cedar Point.

Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray was at the controls and was forced to apply the brakes on a number of occasions last season when things began slipping out of control on the side of winning. True to his words when he took the reigns of the franchise in January of 2013, Murray kept the team focused on the long-term and in the end the Sabres, despite losing the lottery again, are set to bring Boston University center Jack Eichel into the fold with the second overall pick in this year's draft.

In any other year dating back to Sidney Crosby, it's arguable that Eichel would be the top-overall prospect. This year he'd have been the consensus No. 1 overall pick had it not been for the presence of some guy name Connor McDavid, who is roundly considered the best prospect, bar none, since Crosby. A consolation prize in Eichel? You could say that. But it's more like winning a Lexus instead of a trip to Hawaii.