Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sworn depositions in the Evander Kane case not good for the Sabres forward

Evander Kane was arraigned in City Court on charges of disorderly conduct, harassment and criminal trespass last week after turning himself in to Buffalo police. As time goes on, more and more is being released about the incident including sworn depositions from those who filed complaints.

According to Buffalo News writers Lou Michel and Dale Anderson the four--three women and a bouncer--"describe a series of aggressive incidents including grabbing women by the neck and pulling their hair." Each woman, according to the News, said that "Kane grabbed them by "forcibly by the hair" and two of them said "he put his hands on their throat" to the point where they felt like they couldn't breathe."
Kane was playing celebrity bartender at Bottom's Up on Chippewa St. in downtown Buffalo that night and the event seemed to center around "hooking up," according to the depositions of two of the women.

"He came up to me like he always does,” one woman said. “He said, ‘You’re coming to my house with me and you’re going to like it.’" Another was quoted as saying, “It came out of nowhere,” she said. “I was surprised. I don’t really know him. He kept after me about hooking up. I kept telling him no. He pulled my hair and went off.”

The bouncer at the club said "he got a text message with complaints about you grabbing girls inappropriately."

"I told him to leave," claimed the bouncer. "He pushed me against the register and he was grabbed by me and another security guard. We took him out from behind the bar. He resisted us all the way to the middle of the dance floor. He broke free ... and pushed me again. ... Someone else grabbed Kane and walked him out the back.”

There is a surveillance video of the incident which other employees watched that morning to corroborate the bouncer's statement. Attorney Paul Cambria, who is representing Kane, said that he's seen the video telling the News, “There is more to this than meets the eye.

“I’ve seen the video and, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t support these statements,” Cambria said.

This is an extremely murky situation for Kane, the Sabres and General Manager Tim Murray. The GM traded for Kane aware of the controversy surrounding Kane when he was a member of the Winnipeg Jets. In doing so he put himself on the line and thus far Kane really hasn't done his boss any favors.

It's the third time Kane has found himself in the news. The first centered around an incident with a female but was never charged then in February he overslept and missed practice after hanging in Toronto during the NBA All-Star Game.

This latest incident still needs to play itself out but it doesn't shine a very good light on the 24 yr. old, his bosses, the team or ownership. Kane is a young, talented forward who's just entering his prime and on the ice he's widely considered to be all-in yet off-ice issues continue to plague him. Rumors of Buffalo entertaining the thought of trading the troubled forward began at the draft that was held in Buffalo the same weekend of the Kane/Bottom's Up incident.

It's hard to believe any team would be interested in trading for Kane at this juncture unless it was at a steep discount to his talent which puts Murray on the spot. At the time of the incident Murray was ready to wait until figuring out what the next step would be.

“I don’t know all the details. I don’t know what’s right or wrong," said Murray at the time. "I’m sitting right here, and you can come in and say ‘I’m over there banging my head against the wall,’ I don’t know. The police will investigate. There will be evidence or there won’t be evidence. And it’ll either go forward or it’ll go away.

“If it’s true then we have to deal with it. If it’s false again, then I guess we have to come up with a different plan of attack to make sure that these accusations that may not be true, how do we stop them [from happening]?”

On thing Murray can be pretty sure of, in light of Kane's past, this won't simply "go away."

Thx to the Buffalo News.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Danny DeKeyser inks primo deal. Will it affect Ristolainen negotiations?

Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser is widely viewed as a solid top-four d-man who'll give you 20+ minutes of pretty solid defensive play while contributing a decent amount on offense. The former undrafted college free agent who signed with the Wings in 2013 has 14 goals and 65 assists in 234 games played for Detroit. It comes out to just about five goals and 22 assists for the 6'3" 190 lb. Macomb, Michigan native.

For his efforts, the 26 yr. old DeKeyser just avoided arbitration and landed himself a 6yr/$30M contract courtesy of Wings GM, Ken Holland, complete with "a no-trade clause from 2017-18 through 2019-20 and a modified no-trade clause the last 18 months of the contract," according to the Detroit Free Press.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is coming off of his entry-level deal and will be entering his fourth season with the Buffalo Sabres. Last season he was the Sabres workhorse logging over 25 minutes of ice-time, good for 10th in the league in ATOI. In 2015-16 he had career highs in goals, assists and points after finishing with nine goals and 32 points in 82 games.

For his career Ristolainen has 19 goals and 46 assists in 194 games which averages out to eight goals and 19 assists per 82-game season. Those numbers are very similar to DeKeyser's five goals and 22 assists per 82 games.

In addition, they're right on par with fellow defenseman Zach Bogosian. For his 478-game career, Bogosian has scored 47 goals and added 111 assists for the same 8g/19a average that Ristolainen has. Even recently acquired defenseman Dmitry Kulikov is in that range averaging five goals and 19 assists over his 460-game career.

With DeKeyser making $5M/season, Bogosian at $5.14M/season and Kulikov with a cap-hit of $4.33M/yr. the price of defensemen has gone up.

How will this affect Ristolainen and his contract talks?

I'm pretty sure every Sabres fan felt that his cap-hit would be at least $5M on a longer term contract and in light of the DeKeyser contract, that will likely be the minimum. We should probably expect a long-term contract in the $5.5-6M range. Something like an 8yr./$44M deal would probably work.

Hopefully they can get 'er done soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Goaltender Steve Racine ready to chase a pro career

For free agent goalie Steve Racine his immediate future really seemed take shape and shine through in a matter of a few months at the end of his senior season at Michigan. Perhaps it was the feeling he had after the Wolverine's Big-Ten Hockey Championship win or the bond he formed with his volunteer goalie coach, former Sabres goalie Steve Shields, that sharpened his focus on the upcoming summer. Or perhaps it was putting on a strong performance at this year's Buffalo Sabres Development Camp that locked him in on the immediate future. Or maybe it was a convergence of all three for the soon-to-be college graduate as he hits the off-season with ton of confidence. But regardless of who, what or where, Racine is ready to get his professional goaltending career moving. Right now.

Racine has already positioned himself for life in the real world via college and I caught up the political science major after class at Michigan last week as he's finishing up his undergraduate studies this summer. Last year, as mentioned in a article by Steve Kornacki at, Racine interned at J.P. Morgan's Cash Equities Sales Trading Intern Program on Wall Street and was invited to return again this summer to continue his internship. When I asked him if he was headed over there again this summer he quickly said, "No, no, no. I'm playing pro."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

NBC shows Buffalo some love, will televise eight Sabres games.

The NBC Sports Group released their television schedule for the upcoming 2016-17 NHL season touting a record 106 games (up one from last season) to be aired on NBC and NBCSN and the Buffalo Sabres will be a part of that.

Thanks to Yahoo's Greg Wyshinski a breakdown of the schedule shows that NBC has the Chicago Blackhawks on tap for 21 games and the Philadelphia Flyers with 20 to lead the way amongst appearances. With 17 appearances, the Boston Bruins surpassed both the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the Big Apple's NY Rangers who both have 15 as well as and the Washington Capitals who are on tap for 14 games.

This year the Buffalo Sabres are scheduled to be on national TV eight times. Last year with Jack Eichel in the fold after bottoming-out the prior two seasons, NBC tapped the Sabres for five appearances on their network which included a March 1st, post trade-deadline day meeting with Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers at First Niagara Center. Buffalo would end up finishing 1-3 in primetime NBC/NBCSN matchups last season with an OT loss vs. Edmonton in a game that was yanked from the national schedule.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Is this the year we see the real Robin Lehner?

Robin Lehner did not have a poor first season with the Buffalo Sabres by any means. However that his 2.47 goals against average and .924 save percentage did come in an injury-shortened season was a source of consternation for many. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the second period of the very first game, missed 39 games, played, re-aggravated the injury then was officially shelved after having season-ending ankle surgery March 30th. He appeared in 21 games total for Buffalo after returning to the lineup on January 15th posting a 5-9-5 record.

After a somewhat shaky return against Boston, Lehner got up to speed and proceeded to play stellar in a five game stretch where he stopped 178 of 188 shots (.946 sv %) and allowed only two goals in each of those games but ended up with only a 2-2-1 record. After that the bottom fell out and although re-injuring his ankle probably had much to do with his decline later in February and into March, missing huge chunks of time over the course of the previous 12 months did not help either.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Buffalo's Murray chippin' away--only Ristolainen and Girgensons left to re-sign

With the re-signings of G, Jason Kasdorf and F, Daniel Catenacci Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray only has two of his own free agents left to sign--D, Rasmus Ristolainen and F, Zemgus Girgensons--both of whom are restricted free agents.

Although both are first round picks and started their NHL careers the same year, the Sabres approach to re-signing them is decidedly different.

Ristolainen is a cornerstone top-pairing/No. 1 d-man that will anchor the Sabres defense corps for years to come. Murray and Company--most notably Mark Jakubowski his main contract negotiator--are focusing on extending Ristolainen and whether it's a bridge contract or long-term is a question that will go a long way in determining his cap-hit. Regardless, as of right now Ristolainen seems to be Priority-1 for Buffalo.

The Sabres went long-term on 2009 Calder Trophy winning defenseman Tyler Myers a few years back, going with a 7 yr./$38.5M contract for the lengthy defenseman with a scoring touch. It was a departure from the old way of doing business for that regime as they transitioned to a new era under new owner Terry Pegula. The 2011 off-season saw the team break free from the financial chains of former owner Tom Golisano and strike anew with a commitment to acquiring and keeping players deemed important foundational pieces.

Ristolainen is in that vein. He was the 8th-overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and hit the ice with the Sabres beginning that very same year. When the front office and coaching staff were dismissed, Ristolainen would eventually be sent to the "safe-haven" that was Rochester as Buffalo was about to embark on an ugly drop to the bottom of the league.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Does the signpost for Evander Kane point to Vancouver?

When Buffalo Sabres LW Evander Kane is on the ice, his power forward game is enviable. He's an extremely fast north/south skater who's not afraid of contact. He's also a very gifted pugilist as we saw when he knocked out noted pest Matt Cooke back in 2011 with a stunning right cross.

Sabres fans saw first-hand what he brought to the table in his first season in Buffalo as he racked up 20 goals and added 15 assists in 65 games. Although it's not eye-popping numbers, he was coming off of season-ending shoulder surgery in February 2015, plus six months of rehab, not to mention he was starting fresh with a new team, a new coach and system and different linemates on almost a nightly basis early in the season.

In an end of season impression and questions piece concerning Kane I wrote of a "duality" with him and that it will always be there with the real question being "how much can he keep his off-ice image, and the baggage that comes along with it, in check?" Well, apparently not that long as two months later he was in the midst of an altercation at a Buffalo bar in which he would eventually be face non-criminal charges.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Takeaways from the Vesey vid. On the Foligno signing. Plus...

While Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray isn't losing any sleep knowing that the team made a solid pitch to Jimmy Vesey, the hockey world is still interested in the 23 yr. old who is locked in on an August 15th date with free agency. CSN Boston's Joe Haggerty met with a somewhat uncomfortable Vesey for a nine minute interview yesterday after a workout session in Foxboro.

Haggerty tried to keep it light throughout, but it's a pretty heavy subject for a guy who shunned the team that drafted him (Nashville) and has the most important career decision of his life coming in mid-August. Vesey touched on free agency, his respect for the Buffalo contingent he met with, on Boston definitely being on his short list of teams, and how he's taking advantage of a loophole in the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows him this unique opportunity.

Being in Boston with a Bruins beat writer naturally brought out the homerism as Haggerty asked Vesey if there were any favorite players he'd heard from to, you know,  give Bruins GM Don Sweeney a heads-up on who he might want to attend the eventual meeting. Haggerty even invoked the name Tom Brady, the patron saint of chowdah heads, as a reference point. Vesey could've gone  number of ways from Milan Lucic to Raymond Borque to Team President Cam Neely but none of those were came out.

Vesey mentioned Joe Thornton as his favorite Boston Bruin and that he wears No. 19 because of him. That had to be a bit awkward.

Other than that, the only other thing worth noting is that Vesey likes Italian food. It's a homebody staple.

Just a head's up to the Sabres, should they get another sit-down with Vesey this time in Buffalo, they might want to reserve a table at Chef's in Buffalo or Como in Niagara Falls or a homey spot like Frank's Sunny Italy. You know, just to make Vesey feel at home.


The Sabres signed forward Marcus Foligno to a 1 yr./$2.25M contract yesterday which is the same salary he had last season.

Foligno came on rather strong later in the season while playing on the team's most consistent line with Johan Larsson at center and captain Brian Gionta on the other wing. It's pretty obvious this is a show-me year for Foligno as he'll need to start bringing every facet of his power forward game to the ice night-in/night-out.

As mentioned in his player re-cap for 2015-16, "Foligno is what he is, so there aren't too many questions save for, how far can he take his role? Can he become like a "Mule," ala Detroit's Johan Franson, and up his intensity-level to the point where he and his 6'3" 222lb. frame simply won't be denied? Will his stick-work around the net improve to the point where he can reach and maintain a 15-goal/30-point level? Is he prepared to take on more of the big bruisers in the league like Radko Gudas and Tom Wilson when necessary? "


I'd assumed he'd get a raise, but the contract Murray and assistant GM Mark Jakubowski signed him to is even better as it helps the team with their cap this season. As mentioned before, the Sabres haven't had to keep the NHL's salary cap in mind for quite some time but this year, they'll be butting up against it.

A quick take on their status using various cap-sites put them at just under $60M before the Foligno signing. With him in the fold the Sabres have two more restricted free agents to sign--Rasmus Ristolainen and Zemgus Girgensons--and are now at about $62M, or $11M under the league's $73M salary-cap ceiling.

Which leaves plenty of room to sign Risto, Gus and Vesey and add two depth players at the league minimum.

Friday, July 15, 2016

2016 Development Camp in the books. Notes plus Murray on Vesey

Published by 7-13-2016

Sabres LW, William Carrier came to Buffalo in the Ryan Miller trade with the St. Louis Blues on February 28, 2014. It was Tim Murray's first trade as the Sabres new GM and his focus seemed to be on "bigger, faster, stronger" players with skill and the pugnacity to go to the dirty areas of the ice to score. Carrier was originally touted as a late first-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft because of his size, skating and hands as well as an all-in mentality. An injury caused him to miss half the season his draft year and he dropped to the second round where the Blues took him with the 57th selection.

Carrier's first two seasons as a pro began with struggles and an injury. Mid-way through last season, however, he was ready to break out. In a stretch beginning in January, Carrier posted a line of nine goals and 11 assists in 24 games before an injury sidelined him for the final 12 games of the season. Not only did the injury derail a strong finish to his second Amerks season, it also kept him off the First Niagara Center ice as he surely was ticketed to make his NHL debut for the Sabres last season.

With that done, Carrier came into Sabres Development Camp this season and was by and large considered the best player on the ice. Although he didn't register a point during the Blue and Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, he was noticeable for his physicality and his edge while being strong on the puck. He continued with that theme during the annual French Connection 3-on-3 Tournament, which closes out D-Camp, as his team took home the trophy.

As he enters the final year of his entry-level contract, Carrier moved himself up the prospect depth-chart to a spot where he could get the call to Buffalo sometime in the first half of the year. But, like Kris Baker of stated after the scrimmage, "if he can stay healthy."


LW, Brandon Hagel was a 6th round pick of the Sabres in the draft this year. He came into camp as an unknown and left a huge impression. Not bad for a 17 yr. old who was the youngest player on the ice.

As noted after the Blue and Gold Scrimmage, the 6'0" 160 lb. Hagel played big in that came as a tenacious contributor to the best line on the ice. He's a long shot to make it to the NHL, but you know what they say about first impression. WGR 550's Paul Hamilton quoted Murray as saying about 159th pick in the draft, "he was almost transparent, he’s competitive, he’s got better instincts than I was led to believe, so he’s got skill, he’s got good instincts for the game, he’s highly competitive, I liked his game.”

The development curve for Hagel will be a long one, which is fine for both player and team but being an intense puck-hound with skill and "good instincts for the game" should keep him on the Sabres radar for the next few years.


Buffalo had a number of lower-round picks like Hagel at D-Camp who looked like they could be quality contributors in the future. Having assets like that will allow the team to move towards the Chicago Blackhawks model for sustainable contention. The Hawks have an extremely talented core locked up for big dollars long-term but are able to maintain a championship-caliber team through a farm system that keeps them stocked with quality.

With their core of Jonathan Towes, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Keith Seabrook taking up a huge chunk of their cap-space (a total cap-hit of $36.65M or just over 50% of the salary cap this year,) it's inevitable that quality players will be squeezed out in a cap-crunch. Yet they manage to fill those roles with players in the system, Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin being the exception.

Obviously the Sabres aren't anywhere near the Hawks, but as they build for the future with 38 players drafted over the course of the last five years who are still with the club, picks outside the first round become extremely important not only to nearer-term success, but sustainable success down the road.

Players to keep an eye on:

D, Jake McCabe (2012, 44th-overall)--solid NHL'er with No. 2/3 upside
G, Linus Ullmark (2012, 163rd)--has the size and showed well as a rookie last year No. 1 potential
C, Judd Peterson (2012, 204th)--in a quality NCAA program on a long curve, got noticed at camp
C, Connor Hurley (2013, 38th)--highly-skilled play-maker, top-nine potential, gaining confidence
RW, Justin Bailey (2013, 52nd)--powerforward w/speed ready to make the jump to the NHL
RW, Nicolas Baptiste (2013, 69th)--looks to be a solid bottom-six NHL'er with more seasoning
G, Cal Petersen (2013, 159th)--tops Sabres goalie prospects
D, Anthony Florentino (2013, 143rd)--could make for a very solid depth defenseman with bite
F, Eric Cornel (2014, 44th)--two-way acumen places him in bottom-six/top-nine role
RW, Victor Oloffson (2014, 181st)--just gets better every year, top-six skills and potential
D, Brendan Guhle (2015, 51st)--top-four NHL d-man, question is, when?
D, William Borgen, (2015, 92nd)--quietly learning his trade, lower-pairing NHL'er might be his floor
C, Giorgo Estephan (2015, 152nd)--his NHL-caliber skills are starting to shine through
C, Rasmus Asplund (2016, 33rd)--Johan Larsson with much more to offer on offense

There are a few others (like Hudson Fasching who was traded for and has top-nine potential) and undoubtedly there will be surprises along the way but this is a group that the Sabres will be tapping into over the course of the next three or four years for sustainable contention. Whether it's contending for a playoff spot, conference supremacy or a Stanley Cup is to be determined, but this is what the scouting staff brought in and what the coaches will develop for the Blue and Gold.


Murray addressed the Jimmy Vesey question at the end of camp this week and seems to be tired of talking about it. "I’ve talked about this literally less than anybody else in Buffalo," Murray told the gathered media. "I hear the guys on the radio and people are mad and this is like top end news and I’m like, it is what it is."

It's not only the guys on the radio, but in print as well and us bloggers too.

Murray has always understood the media and it's role and has always been accommodating. Oft-times he'll qualify a statement by saying something like "I know you guys have a job to do," before offering what information he can and setting the record as straight as he can set it. It should be a very endearing quality to not only those whose livelihood is directly tied to the team he runs, but to us fans who are left with a sense of sincerity coming from his matter-of-fact approach.

The whole Vesey saga makes for a lot of hypotheses and plenty of speculation, but the simple fact of the matter is, said Murray, "we traded one of our four 3rd round picks to be able to talk to him. If he doesn't [sign with Buffalo], it's going to be obviously not the decision we want and you guys will call me a dummy for trading away a third-round pick. I've got all the scenarios and I'm ready for it all but it's up to him. It's his time."

Vesey's time indeed. He finished his four years of college and opted to become a free agent on August 15th as per NHL rules. The Sabres feel as if they have a very compelling situation for Vesey to fit into and presented it as such when they met with him last week. It's assumed that they did so in a very matter-of-fact way as well, leaving the bells and whistles to another organization in the hope of landing Vesey.

"We went down there. We spoke to him," said Murray. "I told him he doesn't owe anybody anything. He went to school for four years and he became a free agent so now he's got to make the right decision for him. There's no timetable.

"If he wants to come in here or he wants to reach out to us and have another meeting then we're there. But for me, this is in his court."

I'm still of the opinion that it's 65/35 he lands in Buffalo. Although I highly doubt they offered him an iron-clad guarantee he'd be in the top-six for the Sabres, I'm pretty sure offered him the opportunity to play on Ryan O'Reilly's or Jack Eichel's wing and what he does with that opportunity is up to him. He'll be surrounded by a core group of players very close to his own age on an up-and-coming team with at least one superstar (Eichel) in the mix.

"I don't sit at home and speculate about this," Murray said. "He's either going to sign here or he's not.

End of story...for now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ryan O'Reilly acquitted--comments from the peanut section

Ryan O'Reilly was acquitted of an impaired driving charge stemming from an incident that occurred last summer when a pickup truck slammed into the storefront of a Tim Horton's doughnut shop.

It's taken a year to bring this incident into the courts and the trial was expected to last two days. But with only one witness at the store and said witness unsure of who was driving the vehicle, the case against O'Reilly was dropped in the early afternoon of the first day.

Fans are usually quick to judge the off-ice antics of professional players, and to most said player is "guilty until proven innocent." And even when the player is found to be innocent of the charges against them, he's still guilty because of a payoff and/or a corrupt police dept. and/or corrupt judicial system.

After the incident last summer, O'Reilly hit the ice in Buffalo for his first season with the Sabres. He had an outstanding year for the club and was a model player both on and off the ice. For his work he was nominated for the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is given annually to the athlete “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”

It was a very fitting nomination considering everything he'd done for the Sabres that season, but there was outright consternation and scorn at the nomination as seen from some tweets (via USA Today's Hemal Jhaveri, March 28):

Ian McLaren (the Score)--Looks like Buffalo is choosing to double double down on Ryan O'Reilly. Sad. Frittering away a nomination, glazing over the facts imo

McLaren--Ryan O'Reilly is so dedicated to hockey, not even a donut shop can stand in his way.

Jeff Veilette (the Leafs Nation)--What is it this season with the media fawning over all over players who do things that are detrimental to society?

Veilette--The Masterton is great because its nominees act as a list of role models.
Ryan O'Reilly overcame drunkenly crashing a car into a Timmies.

Those were some of the milder ones.

Upon O'Reilly's acquittal, social media is a back at it.

Comments from a Jared Clinton piece in The Hockey News:

--I guess if Tim Horton dies drunk driving, it's cool to drive drunk into his restaurants?

--And there ya go everyone. The justice system for you.
These are the guys kids take as their models growing up. "Hey if you play in the NHL and you do some stupid s... you'll be alright cause you make millions and you're famous!!
Twitter is the scorn of modern day society as people are allowed to shoot their mouths off without repreucussion.

--O'Reilly bought off the witness through a third party intervenor. O'Reiily had to to blow over on the breathalezer(sic) if he was pulled over. The charges should've stuck with the science proving him to be legally drunk. Ray Bourque got pinched and he admitted to his crime. The OPP in the south western Ontario region have a history of corruption. I know this from first hand knowledge.

--O'Reilly was never pulled over. He was walking when he was approached by the police. I have no use for O'Reilly or any other useless drunk behind the wheel of a vehicle but I'm not going to make things up to try a prove something. Are the South West Ontario OPP the only corrupt police force in NA? There isn't a police force on the planet that isn't corrupt. If I was the owner of the Sabres, I would be dumping players with low morals and character like O'Reilly and Kane.

Comments from an AP piece as published at Sportsnet:

--Corruption all around from judges, police, etc. etc. Was the lack of evidence lacking or was the bribes greater. Evidence: Truck hit the building while being driven. Who was the driver? If it was the NHL hockey paper he must have came up with a lot of lies (money-bribes) to get charges dropped. We know the building did not lie. The damaged truck did not lie. Not enough evidence is a bunch of bullbribes. The prosecutors must be looked at very closely in this incident.

--WOW... lesson here kids... if you drink and drive... leave the scene of the crime and sober up before you see the cops... you'll leave scott FREE... pretty disgusting....
But he's a millionaire... he can afford a good lawyer...

And, a little satire from this Yahoo commenter:

--Drunken hipster. Was probably taking selfies before, during & after the crash

From everything I've gathered since O'Reilly came to Buffalo, he seems like an outstanding individual and that Masterton Trophy nomination given by local chapter of the Pro Hockey Writer's Association was completely warranted. What happened on that early summer morning in Ontario will never be known, but there was never enough concreter evidence provided by the prosecution to convict him and unlike social media, he's innocent until proven guilty.

As for social media, momma alw

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Buffalo, and anyone outside the hockey dept., needs to chill on the Vesey courtship

A Die By the Blade blog posted a picture of a billboard in Buffalo that was eventually picked up by Yahoo's Sean Leahy and spread to a much larger audience. On it were the words "Buffalo Loves Vesey." The Vesey, of course, is in regards to Jimmy Vesey, the recent Harvard graduate whom the Sabres own the rights to until August 15 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

A lot has been said and written about the left winger with an NHL-ready frame and two strong developmental years for the Crimson that lead to 56 goals and 104 points in his last 70 games as a junior and senior. There's no question that he'd fit right into what Buffalo is doing and spot in the top-nine is legit at this point in time with the strong possibility that he'd have an opportunity as either Jack Eichel or Ryan O'Reilly's wingman in the top-six.

The Sabres just met with Vesey in Boston last week as Sabres GM Tim Murray, head coach Dan Bylsma and assistant director of scouting Jerry Forton, who helped recruit Vesey when he was an assistant coach at Harvard, all headed to Beantown to make their pitch. The trio represented hockey and the organization and presumably had answers to the questions Vesey had concerning where he fit into the grand scheme of things.

That was important as Vesey is looking at the next two years, his entry-level contract years, as a springboard to a longer, and presumably a more lucrative, NHL contract coming out on the other side. One of Vesey's agents, Peter Fish told the Buffalo News that "the meeting went very well" while also telling WGR550 that Vesey felt "very comfortable" with Murray and Bylsma. "However," continued Fish, "until we sit down with Jimmy and fully digest everything we heard [Thursday], I can’t really comment on how it might affect Aug. 15th.”

The Sabres did well in their sales pitch. Murray, whose known to keep it brief and to the point, said of the meeting to The News, “We went down there, we talked to him about the city and the organization, then we came home.”

That would be the proper amount of pitch without any overwhelming pressure being put on a young man staring down the first big decision of his professional career. What's not proper is the over-the-top "Buffalo Loves Vesey" billboard from Northtown Automotive. Although it attracts attention, in the end, smothering affection like that hurts the process.

As an example, take the Toronto Maple Leafs pitch for then unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos, a Toronto-area native.

Rare is the time when a free agent of his caliber hits the open market and there was no small amount of interest from a number of teams including the Buffalo Sabres who talked with the Stamkos camp during the open period on draft weekend. The Montreal Canadians were also said to have talked to them and Stamkos also had meetings with Toronto and then Detroit lined up.

But Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun wrote today that the heavy hand of the Leafs soured Stamkos not only on Toronto, but on the process as well. Simmons cites "numerous NHL people who attempted to woo Stamkos" as the basis for his piece.

"The availability of [Stamkos] all but ended after a Monday night meeting in Toronto that included Maple Leafs ownership, front office executives, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Canadian Tire CEO Michael Medline and others from the corporate community," wrote Simmons. "It was apparently an impressive sell with all kind of bells and whistles — just not impressive to Stamkos."

Even though the 26 yr. old Stamkos is an eight-year NHL veteran, facing that kind of crush from Toronto had to be startling. I'm not sure any player could come out of meeting like that expecting to perform even to the lowest of his own expectations were he to sign with any team much less his hometown team. According to Simmons, "He left the meeting with the Leafs, and apparently turned to his advisors and said: 'No more meetings.'"

Sorry Detroit.

The gist of this, other than the utter absurdity at the Center of the Hockey Universe for deploying an army like this to woo Stamkos, is that players want to play hockey where they feel comfortable and the best pitch is simply to lay out what there is to offer and let the chips fall where they may. No amount of bells and whistles and/or socio-political dignitaries and/or money-figures and/or billboards will change a player's perception of what's inside the hockey department and how he'll reach his potential as a hockey player.

The Northtown Auto Group, the Mayor of Toronto and others outside the hockey community needed to back off and let hockey people do their jobs. Although Vesey is no Stamkos, they are both humans and will go somewhere else if the pressure's too much. That's what free agency, or in these two cases, impending free agency, allows a player, the choice of where he wants to play.

Why suffocate them?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Blue and Gold Scrimmage Notebook

Published by, 7-10-2016

The annual Blue and Gold Development Camp Scrimmage took place at HARBORCENTER yesterday afternoon before an estimated crowd of about 1,600 hockey fans. It's a far cry from the 17,000+ that watched Jack Eichel last season at First Niagara Center but, then again, none of the youngins on the ice had Eichel's stature so it was to be expected.

After spending years in a rather secluded area of Niagara County at Dwyer Arena on the campus of Niagara University, Sabres Development Camp was moved downtown and has become an event beginning in 2014 just after the Sabres drafted Sam Reinhart with the second-overall pick in the draft. From the sleepy twin rinks at Dwyer to NHL ice of F'N Center the scrimmage that year boasted 8,725 fans in attendance on a hot day in July. And with last year as it's apex, the event now gets back to it's roots in an intimate setting at HARBORCENTER.

Logistics prevented me from going to the scrimmage but the Sabres streamed the game live at We were greeted with the legendary voice of Rick Jeanneret, who was in mid-season form, nailing names and numbers as if he'd been watching these newbies for years, on play-by-play and Sabreland's most trusted man in Brian Duff who's smooth delivery and quick anecdotes kept things rolling throughout the commercial-free game.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Jeanneret on the call and a live stream for today's B&G scrimmage

Published by, 7-9-2016

Broadcast legend Rick Jeanneret will call today's Blue and Gold Scrimmage at HARBORCENTER. The youngins are in Day-4 of the one-week camp and after three days of going through drills they'll finally be able to have some fun in a live-action setting. Jeanneret will be joined by Brian Duff in the booth for the 1p.m. start.

Names of note for Team Blue include Williamsville native Justin Bailey (2013, 52nd-overall) who finished strong in Rochester last season while also getting an eight-game taste of the NHL with the Sabres in his first professional season. Joining him is fellow 2013 draft pick in RW, Nicolas Baptiste (69th) and 2016 second-rounder center Rasmus Asplund (33rd) whom the Sabres traded up for at this year's draft.

Player to keep an eye on--G, Cal Petersen.
The Notre Dame junior carried a huge work-load for the Fighting Irish as a sophomore last season and made huge developmental strides in the process. Petersen is positionally sound and tracks the puck extremely well and he hates to get scored on. It's what he does after a goal against that he's been working on and from all reports that aspect is coming along swimmingly.

Team Blue Roster:

Number/Name (Draft)/Age/Notes


13--C, Christopher Brown (2014, 151st,) 20. Will be a sophomore at Boston College
17--F, Judd Peterson (2012, 204th,) 22. Was one of the youngest players in his draft class
34--RW, Daniel Muzito-Bagenda (FA,) 20. Amerks signee played for MODO
36--LW, Brandon Hagel (2016, 159th,) 17. Youngest of the youngins. Had 47 pts for Red Deer
41--Vasily Glotov (2016, 190th,) 18. Last pick for Buffalo this year. Good camp thus far
56--Justin Bailey (2013, 52nd) 21.
61--Cliff Pu (2016, 69th) 18. Played understated role for London, one to keep an eye on
65--Rasmus Asplund (2016, 33rd) 18.
71--Evan Rodrigues (FA,) 22. Former Eichel linemate ready to make some noise this year
73--Nicolas Baptiste (2013, 69th,) 20.
86--Eric Cornel (2014, 44th,) 20. Ready for full-time duty with Rochester this year


5---Jalen Chatfield (invitee,) 20.  Had 37 points (10+27) for Windsor (OHL)
6---Nolan Gluchowski (invitee,) 20. Had 16 points (6+10) in the ECAC
8---Daniel Brinkley (invitee,) 21. Utah native played with Casey Nelson at Minn. St.
10--Paul Geiger (invitee,) 24. The elder statesman just graduated from Clarkson.
27--Frank Hora (invitee,) 20 Amherst native played for Kitchner of the OHL
33--Philip Nyberg (2016, 129th,) 19. Played for Linkoping (Sweden-Jr.)
49--Austin Omanski (2016, 189th,) 18. East Aurora native has raised eye-brows thusfar
54--Brycen Martin (2014, 74th,) 20. Will be making the pro jump next season in Roch.
78--Mike Campoli (invitee,) 18. The youngest invitee is a USNTDP (USHL) product


30--Cal Petersen (2013, 129th,) 21.
31--Antoine Samuel (invitee,) 18. Young pup got his feet wet in QMJHL playing 43 games

Team Gold boasts highly skilled left-winger Alexander Nylander up-front as well as 2015 second round pick Brendan Guhle, who was the surprise of training camp last year until he was felled by a rollicking check from Dion Phaneuf, on defense. Also in the mix are stand-up d-man Anthony Florentino, who will be a senior at Providence this year and Hudson Fasching, who scored his first NHL goal on his first-ever shift and is ready for full-time duty with Rochester this season.

Player to keep an eye on--C, Giorgio Estephan. The Sabres plucked Estephan with a 6th-round pick last year as turmoil within his Lethbridge Hurricanes team sent his stock plummeting. After things stablilized he responded with 74 points (30+44) in 59 games, most of it coming in the latter half of the season. Although he got a taste of Rochester last season, he'll be back in Lethbridge next season, hopefully terrorizing the league.

Team Gold Roster


37--C, Connor Hurley (2013, 38th,) 20. Youngest player in 2013 draft looking to build confidence
48--LW, William Carrier (2013, 57th, STL,) 21. Had a strong season with Amerks. Watch injuries
52--RW, Hudson Fasching (2013, 118th, LAK) 20.
58--C, Giorgio Estephan (2015, 152nd,) 19.
67--F, Max Willman (2014, 121st,) 21. Bang, Bang Maxwell needs to bring a bigger hammer
72--C, Jean Dupuy (FA,) 21. Tough and gritty. Played well for Rochester as a rookie last year
74--RW, Vaclav Karabacek (2014, 49th,) 20. Stocky winger had six goals in the QMJHL playoffs
75--LW, Alexander Nylander (2016, 8th,) 18.
84--LW, Victor Olofsson (2014, 181st,) 20. MODO product seems to surprise every year
85--LW, Brett Murray (2016, 99th,) 18. Penn St. recruit has the eye of alum Terry Pegula


3---Will Borgen (2015, 92nd,) 19. St. Cloud State raised some eyebrows as a freshman last year
38--Casey Fitzgerald (2016, 86th,) 19. Had 27 points (4+23) for Hockey East powerhouse BC
42--Ivan Chukarov (2015, 182nd,) 21. Will continue developing at UMASS (NCAC)
45--Brendan Guhle (2015, 51st,) 18.
46--Anthony Florentino (2013, 143rd,) 21.
51--Vojtech Budik (2016, 130th,) 18. Czech plied his trade with 16 points for Prince Albert (WHL)
53--Devante Stephens (2015, 122nd,) 19. Shutdown d-man for Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
81--Ryan Mantha (invitee,) 20. Big d-man (6'5" 225 lbs.) had solid numbers for Niagara (OHL)


35--Steve Racine (invitee,) 24. Williamsville native gets the call for a sick Linus Ullmark
50--Jonas Johansson (2015, 61st,) 20. The big Swede put up good numbers for Almtuna (Sweden)

The Outlook:

This looks to be a mismatch as the Sabres brass pooled a bunch of invitees on defense to take on a pretty stacked Gold lineup. Team Blue will be besieged by Gold and they'll be counting on Petersen and Samuel to hold the fort in net. Unfortunately the Blue net will resemble Fort Knox as Team Gold makes fills it in a 7-4 win. Olofsson with a pair and Murray with three assists.

The game will be streamed live at beginning at 1pm.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

On Rasmus Asplund's leadership and , of course, Jimmy Vesey

Buffalo Sabres prospect Rasmus Asplund was a projected first-round draft pick in the 2016 who fell to the second round. As the 5'11" 176 lb. native of Flilipstad, Sweden fell Buffalo GM Tim Murray kicked it in gear and made a trade that moved the Sabres up to the third pick at the top of the second round and with that pick they took Asplund.

The deal Murray made with Florida centered around Panthers d-man Dmitry Kulikov and Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk. "I knew it was going to be Mark [Pysyk] as the main component of the deal," said Murray to the gathered media post-draft. "It was originally going to be our first 3rd-round pick. We continued to negotiate and I went back to them told them we need to flip-flop our second round picks because Asplund was still on the board."

The Sabres went heavy with skill and speed at this year's draft. In the first round they selected Alexander Nylander, a highly-skilled Swede whom Central Scouting's Dan Marr described as "a dynamic player who is an elite skater with a creative skill-set." Marr had Asplund ranked as the fourth best European skater in the draft while the Sabres, according to Murray, had him ranked as the only '5' left on the board in their rating system that goes as high as seven.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Okposo meets the media, Murray jet-sets, Kane's non-criminal charges

New Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo met the media today sporting his new No. 21 jersey. If that number sounds familiar it recently belonged to Okposo's friend Drew Stafford, a much-maligned right-winger who played all or parts of nine seasons in the Blue and Gold before becoming a part of the Tyler Myers/Evander Kane blockbuster deal in February, 2015.

When asked by a member of the local media if he talked to Stafford about the number Okposo said he had then quipped, "I told him I'd take it down from the rafters for him."

This is a man in his prime, fully confident in his capabilities with a keen eye towards the future, one that he believes will be a Stanley Cup during his tenure. "There's so much skill [on the Sabres] and their future is bright," he said this morning. "I really believe we can win here and that's what sold me.

"That's why you play the game. To win a Stanley Cup, to win a championship, to raise banners and I think this team has the ability to do that."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A numbers breakdown. Buffalo will be butting up against NHL cap.

It's been a while since the Buffalo Sabres been close to the NHL's salary cap ceiling. The last time was when a 2011 shopping spree brought the team to within $1.836M of the NHL's cap that season. After a ignoble run to 9th place Buffalo blew the whole thing up giving way to the rebuild, the trades for young-vets, and most recently the July 1 signing of free agent Kyle Okposo.

In 2011-12 the Sabres had a cap-hit of $65.492M, according to but the team fell way short of expectations and they began to dismantle. With the scorched earth rebuild set to begin their salary cap number would be reduced to $63.792M in 2012-13 and would hit a low of $59.211M in 2013-14 when they finished last in the league.

The Sabres would finish in last place again the following season with a total cap-hit of $62.340M yet they were $9.586M under the NHL salary cap. In 2015-16 Buffalo came in at $61.725M.

Heading into the 2016-17 season the NHL has set the ceiling at $73M and it looks as if the Sabres will be right up against it barring anything weird happening between now and the October 13 opener vs. the Montreal Canadiens. Buffalo GM Tim Murray has three restricted free agents who were on the roster last season to re-sign in forwards Marcus Foligno and Zemgus Girgensons and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen with about $13M in cap-space as of this juncture.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

On new Sabres goalie, Anders Nilsson

Reprinted with permission from

He's big, he's Swedish and since he was drafted by the NY Islanders at the top of the third round in 2009 he's managed 52 NHL games while playing for three different teams the last four seasons.

Goalie Anders Nilsson came to Buffalo in a July 2nd trade with the St. Louis Blues for a 2017 fifth-round draft pick, the day after Sabres GM Tim Murray watched as last year's backup goalie Chad Johnson took his talents to Calgary. Murray thought he had a deal done with goalie Jeff Zatkoff, a 29 yr. old Detroit, MI native who spent last season with the Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins, but he was played and Zatkoff ended up with the LA Kings. Enter Nilsson and his 1yr./$1M contract.

Nilsson has been bouncing around the last couple of seasons. In 2014 he bolted the Islanders organization as a restricted free agent to sign a deal with Ak Bars Kazan of the Kontinental Hockey League. While Nilsson was busy putting up stout numbers in the KHL--1.17 GAA and a .936 Sv%--NHL teams were busy trading his rights. First Chicago traded for them in the October 4th Nick Leddy deal then less than a year later the Blackhawks traded his rights to the Edmonton Oilers where he restarted his NHL career in 2015.

And restarted it he did. Nilsson had a brilliant preseason with the Oilers then played well enough in his first two regular season starts for Edmonton to the point where Nilsson was now said to be pushing Cam Talbot for the starters role. When head coach Todd McLellan started Nilsson over Talbot after the latter was named first star in the previous game against Detroit, Nilsson had his chance to bring "goaltender controversy" into the conversation. It was not to be, however, as he got lit up by the Washington Capitals for six goals on 17 shots.

Nilsson did recover and he went on a pretty good streak for the Oilers--one which included winning five in a row and six out of seven from November 28th to December 11th. In those 15 games he went 9-5-1 with a goals-against average around 2.50 and a save percentage of .919. But the bottom dropped out after that and he would not win another game in Edmonton. On February 27 Nilsson was traded to the Blues for goalie prospect Niklas Lundstrom (2011, 132nd-overall) and a 2016 fifth-round pick (#149) which the Oilers turned into LW, Graham McPhee, son of former Capitals GM, George McPhee.

The overall numbers for Nilsson's NHL career are not all that great. He's appeared in 52 NHL games going 19-22-4 with a 3.09 GAA and a .900 Sv% and one should wonder what Murray was thinking when he made the trade, especially when there was a known quantity in Jhonas Enroth on the market who was said to be interested in returning to Buffalo.

Size does matter when it comes to Murray and his goaltenders and Murray likes big goalies. Nilsson chimes in at 6'5" 229 lbs. whereas Enroth is 5'11" 185 lbs. and with the change in goalie equipment on the immediate horizon a smaller goalie like Enroth will have even more to overcome.

The Sabres had a big goalie in Nathan Lieuwen but chose not to qualify the restricted free agent. Lieuwen has the size (6'5" 189 lbs.) but he's dealt with concussion issues the last two seasons which have put a hurtin' on his career. He's not Swedish either.

Buffalo's starting goalie is Robin Lehner is also from Sweden so he and Nilsson can now swap stories in their native tounge. Lehner had a rough start to his Sabres career as he hit IR after playing only two periods of hockey for his new team. When he came back, he came back pretty strong, but may have come back to early and the team shut him down in mid-March. Although Lehner's 5-9-5 record with Buffalo isn't anything to speak of he posted a 2.47 GAA and a .924 Sv%.

The addition of Nilsson does a number of things for the team even though fans will need to keep up on their high blood-pressure medication whenever he's in net. With him on board, Lehner will be the undisputed starter and will also have a homeboy with him in case he needs a hug. It also places goalie-prospect Linus Ullmark in Rochester for a full year of AHL development with Jason Kasdorf as his back-up for the Amerks. Should Lehner get injured again, unless Nilsson pulls a rabbit out of his hat, Ullmark will probably get the nod while Nilsson retains his back-up role.

Murray has said he wants to get better every day and many aren't sure how the signing of Nilsson as a back-up makes them better. Regardless of those thoughts, Buffalo's goaltending hierarchy is in place and if they plan on making the playoffs next season a healthy Lehner will go a long way in achieving that goal.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Why I think Jimmy Vesey ultimately signs with Buffalo...after August 15.

Reprinted with permission from

I'm putting the odds of LW Jimmy Vesey signing with the Buffalo Sabres at 65/35.

That said, if he wants to stay in his hometown and play for the Boston Bruins, good luck. If he wants to spend his first couple of years in a metropolis like Toronto, go right ahead. Or even if he ends up in Detroit or, God forbid (being a Boston-boy,) in New York with the Rangers, have at it. The Sabres took a shot and may have thrown away a third round pick, but they'll still have 26 forwards in the system right now and five picks in the top-three rounds of the 2017 NHL Draft should they not be able to sign him..

Vesey has said all along that he wants to explore his options and that means heading towards August 15th when he will become a free agent. The biggest option he's considering is where he'd slot into on an NHL lineup. He's looking to land with a club that will give him the opportunity to play in a top-six role for the length of his two-year, entry-level contract.  Money's no object in the matter as he'll be getting a maxed-out contract from whomever signs him so his focus is on playing time and the opportunity to put up big numbers for his next contract, "one that will be all the more lucrative if he has goals and assists as bona fides," wrote Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe in a recent article.

Vesey spoke to Dupont prior to the opening of free agency last week saying that after the dust settles he'll be able to "really sit back and start looking at roster depth charts" to figure out which team he thinks will meet his needs. The big reason he wants to go to August 15th is to be able to discuss his options face-to-face with teams other than the Buffalo Sabres, who own his rights. "I’ll talk to the coach, the GM, stuff like that, then weigh my options," he said in the piece.

He also said he's got it down to a select few teams. "I have a couple of teams in mind, but my dad’s said he is going to let me make the decision," said Vesey to Dupont. “I think that’s fair. I am 23 years old at this point, so I am a man on my own."

Monday, July 4, 2016

It wasn't "The Big Fish" but landing Kyle Okposo is big for Buffalo

Reprinted with permission from

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos did the right thing by agreeing to an 8 yr. extension with the club. A premier free agent of his caliber doesn't hit the market all that often and he did listen to a what a few teams, including the Buffalo Sabres, had to offer but in the end Tampa has all the elements he was looking for.

With the Stamkos Sweepstakes over all eyes turned toward the opening of free agency at 12-Noon yesterday and teams turned their attention to the next tier of unrestricted free agents. For Buffalo that would have been NY Islanders winger Kyle Okposo.

Many considered Okposo the best of a solid, yet unspectacular (in light of Stamkos) group of UFA's hitting the market and surprisingly it only took a 15-minute phone call sell him on Buffalo. At the post-FA news conference Sabres GM Tim Murray said landing the free agent wasn't so much about selling the city of Buffalo, Murray had to "sell him on the organization" and the direction the team is headed. For those who'd been spitting on Buffalo calling it "the armpit of America" it might come as a shock that there are many, many players and coaches out there both past and present who like the city of Buffalo and have no qualms about planting roots there.

Murray didn't even need to do a whole lot of selling Okposo on the direction the team is headed in. At yesterday's media conference call, he was asked right off the bat what sold him on Buffalo and the Sabres. "First and foremost, I've been saying it kind of all day, is the chance to win the Stanley Cup," he told the media members, "and I think we have a lot of pieces in play that can help us achieve that goal.

"I looked at their forwards especially their top two centers with [Ryan] O'Reilly and [Jack] Eichel and those guys are only going to continue to get better, especially Jack. He's got superstar status and you definitely need that to win a Stanley Cup, I think."

Jake McCabe signs. "Crazy money" for Okposo? The Evander Kane debate

Reprinted with permission from

Having defenseman Jake McCabe in the fold for three years is a good thing for the Buffalo Sabres. Having him re-sign at a $1.6M cap-hit is even better.

McCabe played on the second pairing with the Sabres mostly with young-vet Zach Bogosian as probably Buffalo's most consistent pairing for the better part of last season. McCabe, who was taken with the 44th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft played in 77 games his rookie season recording 14 points (4+10) while leading the team in plus/minus with a plus-6 rating.

With only full season under his belt, McCabe has established his floor as a gritty, positionally sound second-pairing defenseman with a high hockey IQ who will stand you up at the blueline and harass you in his own end. He has the remarkable capacity to regroup after a poor shift, period or game and come back with a strong performance. McCabe also has untapped offensive upside as he has a penchant for finding that soft spot in the offensive zone (especially sneaking in from the left side) and has a shot from the point that regularly finds it's way through to the net.

It's not surprising that he seemed to spend most of last season focusing on defense, nor is it surprising that he found himself way down the powerplay depth-chart under head coach Dan Bylsma, who was in his first year behind the bench for Buffalo. However, with his smarts and shot a real shot on the second power play unit could yield some very positive results.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Sabres on the sidelines for yesterday's fireworks

Reprinted with permission from

For those on the sidelines yesterday, a group of NHL teams put on an impressive display of fireworks with some stunning moves:

--Steven Stamkos agrees on a contract  extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning
--the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators pull off a trade of top-notch defensemen
--the Columbus Blue Jacket extend defenseman Seth Jones
--and Peter Chiarelli drops a huge bomb trading Taylor Hall to New Jersey


For the Buffalo Sabres, the Steven Stamkos deal had the most significance as Buffalo GM Tim Murray and the Brinks truck were said to be rollin' hard and fast to Toronto to try and land the prized free agent. Stamkos did the right thing in staying with the Lightning as they have everything he said he wanted including an eighth year on his contract. The $68M total value of the deal was a final offer by GM Steve Yzerman and Stamkos took it.

With the Lightning coming of back-to-back deep playoff runs--one of which brought them to within two wins of the Stanley Cup--that part of Stamkos' equation seems to have taken a front seat to finances in the matter. The $68M was significantly less than what he could have gotten on the open market considering that the Sabres were rumored to be headed into the $12M/year area which would be $84M on a seven-year deal. A $68M payday is nothing to sneeze at, and it goes a little farther in a state tax-free state like Florida, Stamkos left a lot of money on the table.

Although it's not good news for the Sabres either short-term or long-term, good for him. Quality move by a quality individual.