Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Don't discount the Sabres in the Rick Nash sweeps


First off, owner Terry Pegula and his charges are not afraid to "go big" while in pursuit of talent for the team. Last year they were prepared to make a significant offer to Brad Richards. Granted, it didn't work out as Richards basically pulled a Lebron James--entertaining offers, yet pretty much having his mind made up.

Pegula has the financial wherewithal to go toe-to-toe with the big boys. Whether the player actually wants to head to Buffalo is another thing.

Which brings us to Rick Nash. The big Cam Neely-type power forward is ready to move on. Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson is ready to move on as well as evidenced by Nash being shopped at the deadline.

The problem for the Sabres at the time was that they were not on Nash's short list of teams he'd be willing waive to his no trade clause to go to.

According to Chris Nichols of sportsnet.ca, the short-list of five teams, apparently, "has expanded," although Nichols admits that neither Howson or Nash's agent, Joe Resnik, had confirmed this.

There are quite a few no trade clauses out there, and for the most part, the number of teams on the list is closer to 10. That gives the host team more of an opportunity to get fair value.

Would Buffalo be on the list?

Why not? It's not like the team is a Siberian outpost of the NHL. They have a good team that's in the process of a retool and have some excellent young talent emerging. They also have an owner in Pegula who is commited to winning and has shown that he'll put his money where his mouth is.

Going back to last off-season, the Sabres made some moves that got the attention of the league:  they convinced veteran d-man Robyn Regehr to waive his no-trade clause to come to Buffalo and they landed top free agent defensman Christian Ehrhoff by trading for his rights and signing him to a deal that worked for both sides.

The Sabres could also put together a package of picks, prospects and maybe even a vet or two to make a serious pitch for the right winger.

But, maybe more importantly, they also have an "inside connection" in Columbus Senior Advisor Craig Patrick.

Patrick was the former general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that Pegula is well acquainted with. And, when Pegula made his $88M donation to Penn State for the foundation of a Division-1 college hockey program, Patrick was there. It was enough to have this blogger speculate that Patrick might be a part of Pegula's inner-circle with the Sabres.

Pegula has shattered any preconceived notions as to the Sabres and how they'll be run. He's all-in and has directed his charges to do what's necessary to build a Stanley Cup winner.

And if he and his team feel Nash would bring them closer to their stated goal, there's no reason to think that Nash to the Sabres is impossible.

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