Tuesday, November 26, 2013

News and notes

Terry Pegula bought the Buffalo Sabres from Tom Golisano for roughly $180m back in February, 2011.

Every year Forbes magazine comes out with it's NHL franchise valuations.

Last year the Buffalo Sabres franchise was #22 on Forbes list with an estimated value of  $175m or basically what the new owner had paid for them. Interesting to note that the Toronto Maple Leaves became the first NHL franchise to be valued at $1B that year. (for more info and a link to the 2012 Forbes piece, click here.)

Well, the boys and girls at Forbes are at it again and this year the Sabres came in...22nd once again.


This time the estimated value of the Buffalo Sabres has grown to $250m, or a 43% year-over-year increase in valuation. (for a breakdown click here.)

Said the magazine about the Sabres, "The Sabres failure to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season did not stop owner Terrence Pegula—who bought the team in early 2011—from jacking up ticket prices. Following the 2011-12 season, the Sabres increased non-premium seat prices by 26% and instituted a 4% price hike before the 2013-14 season. To be fair, the Sabres are still in the bottom half of the NHL in average ticket price. Pegula is also financing a multimillion dollar renovation to all 80 suites at First Niagara Center."

Good for Pegula. 

The old adage is "you need to spend money to make money," and there's no question he's spent some money.

Let's hope that he takes heart to another old adage, "it's not what you spend, but how you spend it." (See Leino contract.)


Mikail Grigorenko approaches Nolan and LaFontaine

Director of Hockey Ops Pat LaFontaine and his interim head coach Ted Nolan have been in charge for five games and the team's record is 1-4. After winning the first one against Toronto, they're back to their losing ways having scored a grand total of five goals during their four-game losing streak.

As shown above, the financial side of the organization is doing well as they've just added 43% to the team's valuation but getting the on-ice product up to snuff is a monumental task for LaFontaine having just been handed a shit sandwich.

Nolan is in charge of evaluating the players and soon the chaff will be separated from the wheat.

This process just went full gear as the team sent three youngin's to their respective leagues:  Nikita Zadorov went to his junior team while Rasmus Ristoalinen and Johan Larsson were sent to Rochester.

A fourth, Mikhail Grigorenko, was slated for a "conditioning assignment" to Rochester but the NHL rejected it.

Grigorenko is too good for junior and has had trouble adjusting to the NHL game. Unfortunately because of an agreement between the NHL and Canadian Juniors, at 19 years of age, Grigorenko is not allowed to be on an AHL team.

So he was stuck.

Grigorenko had fallen out of favor with the previous regime and had seen spotty ice-time hovering around the 10 mins/game mark. He had a two goal game in Anaheim, then played 9:33 in the Sabres SO win in Los Angeles.

When the new regime took over, he was parked on the bench, then designated for the "conditioning assignment" then found himself on the bench once again when the NHL nixed that.

Finally he'd had enough and approached LaFontaine and Nolan saying, "You never saw me play."

And he was right.

He was rewarded with a regular shift with two young players, Zemgus Girgensons and Luke Adam.

Although they haven't hit the scoresheet, Nolan likes what he's seen of Grigorenko during those two games, "So I like what I saw," said the interim coach, "and we’ll continue to evaluate.”

"Since we put him with Girgensons and Adam, they seem to be age group where they feel comfortable with one another. So I like what I saw, and we’ll continue to evaluate.”

“He’s competing. He’s trying,” Nolan said. “As long as you compete and you try, you got to like it.”

From this layman's eyes, "Grigo" seems to be improving and his confidence is growing. Although his skating needs a lot of work, one cannot deny his skill-level.


Sabres prospects are doing quite well thus far

WGR is sporadic in it's coverage of the youngins, but Howard Simon came up with a pretty good article about a pretty good draft class--2013--that's off to a rukus start this season.

Rightfully so, Simon credits Kris Baker and sabresprospects.com when the GR jock goes "Inside the numbers" for a look into the 2013 draft class.

He points to JT Compher, a freshman at Michigan, as having a real good start to his college career:  2g, 6a in 10 games including a shorty.

Compher's compete-level is way up there and he has the skills to go along with it. He was taken 35th overall with the pick that Carolina gave up in the Andrej Sekera trade.

But there are two picks who are of to flying starts.

One of them, seventh rounder Eric Locke has eight goals and 22 points in 15 games. Locke was mentioned by Baker as someone to watch.

The other is Nicholas Baptise, picked 69th overall.

Baptiste is on a tear with 17 goals and 13 assists in 23 games.

Baker, who does a weekly prospect report for sabres.com, just did a piece on Baptiste and his drive to make Canada's World Junior team, and put together a video of all Baptiste's shifts during a tilt with Russia in the Subway Super Series.

Both Locke and Baptiste lead all the Sabres prospects in points/game (for a full list of stats, visit Baker's prospect stat page.)


And finally...

The Sabres wore their third jersey's for the first time this season and they didn't look bad.

Brian Stubits of cbssportsline, uses "Turd" jersey to open his piece on the debut of the Sabres rather confusing jersey.

There's way too much going on with different colors on the front and back as well as an introduction of gray to the color scheme.

But one thing I did come away with was the Buffalo in the crest. With it being white, it glowed.

A little light in the midst of a pretty dark season thus far.

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