Saturday, December 22, 2007

by Ark

It’s theday after Daniel Briere got absolutly owned in HSBC with the rematch set for tonight. Briere made an embarrassing return to town for the first time after bolting for free agency this last off-season and signing an 8 year, $52 million deal. Since that deal and Chris Drury’s heading home to his beloved NY Rangers for 5 years, $35.25 million, the Buffalo Sabres “faithful” have been handing it to this team and this organization for the better part of the year, sans the winning streaks. People have called for Regier’s head numerous times, and it sometimes seemed justifiably so. Ruff has been the coach of the year, and Mr. Quinn and Galisano are nowhere to be heard, so Regier took the heat for much of the “downfall” of the 2006-07 Sabres team.
With that in mind, let’s look at how these Sabres (the players filling in for key spots, and the organization as a whole) look right now, moving forward this season and into the future.

First of all, everyone cried when “Danny boy” left. How could we ever replace him? Well, look at Derek Roy’s numbers compared to his. He has 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points with a plus (+)10 which is one of, if not the best on the team. Mr. Briere on the other hand has 15 goals and 20 assists for 35 points but has a minus (-) 8, the worst on his team. Then you can think about the contracts. Roy is on the books for 6 years and $24 million. Briere, as mentioned is on the hook for the previously mention 8 years, $52 million. Here’s the kicker... Roy is 24 years old, Briere is 30 years old. Who would you rather have now, all things considered?
Now let’s take a look at Mr. Clutch, Chris Drury. He’s making $7.05 million a year for the Rangers. Our big signing was Vanek at $7.14 million a year. Right now, Vanek is the only player on the Sabres roster making more than $4 million. By comparison, Drury has 8g, 15a and is a minus(-)4. Vanek has played one less game and has 10g,11a, to go with a plus(+) 6. The best part of these deals is that Vanek is only 23, turning 24 in a month while Drury is 31. That means that Vanek will finish this contract out before turning the age of 31. He has way more upside than Drury does. Hopefully his leadership can somehow catch up to Drury’s to make it really worth our while.

Miller (2.58) has a better GAA than Biron (2.69). Biron (.921) has a better Sv% than Miller (.910). Both have 2 years remaining according to on their deals but Biron makes almost $1million more/year. I thought miller signed an extension so I’ll look into it, but I will most certainly take these numbers, especially considering that Miller is 3 years younger. He’s an American boy and has seemingly embraced Buffalo and shown leadership qualities for this young team. I just hope that they can lock the guy up for the foreseeable future.
So with the Flyers losing here Friday, the Sabres now have 2 more points with 33 games played. The Sabres have more Goals For, and fewer Goals Against than the Flyers. The Rangers have 37 points with one more game played and have around 25 less goals but have allowed around 14 less goals because they play a terrible brand of hockey.

So just think about that for a minute Sabre “fans.” Look where the golden boys are now with their new teams, and look where we’re headed. The only players that the Sabres need to worry about resigning are Campbell who is steadily earning more money and then Gaustad, Paille, and MacArthur. You have to figure that unless something drastic happens for Kalinin, he’s coming off the books at $2 million. Then Teppo is off the books at $2.6 million. There’s the money you need to add to Campbell’s $1.5 million salary to resign him. Then you have youngsters that have played in the system early on this year in Weber and Sekera. We’re $3.77 million under the cap as it is right now so I think we can bring back 2 of the other 3 forwards mentioned. Then next year you have almost the same team with the possibility of a free agent or two and a little “hunger in their bellies” of a lot of players who will be playing for contracts .

By contrast, the Rangers have 5 guys making over $4 million, 2 guys over $7 million and Lundqvist is going to be a RFA. Half their team will be unsigned including Shannahan (no big deal) Avery and Straka.

Philly isn't looking too smart for signing Richards to a 12 year deal, $60 something million. Briere on the books until the little dude is 38 years old at $6.5 million. Other guys like Umberger are getting new deals this year; they’re up against the cap this year and are going to be in trouble. So if you’ve somehow read all the numbers, made it this far and are looking to understand everything I’ve said, then listen to this:

The Sabres are just as good as Philly and NY, with a better outlook for the future. We are balanced all over the board. Our best C right now numbers-wise makes $4 million a year which helps set a precedent when negotiating with future players in the organization. We made some tough decisions with players this last off season. I know Sabre “fans” feel cheated but if you don’t want to support the team now, you don’t quite meet up to fanatic standards. We didn’t beat Ottawa with Briere and Drury, and we didn’t win a cup. They had 2 phenomenal years here for us, made a lot of people get on the bandwagon but they didn’t get it done. Love him or hate him, Regier brought us here and has us in good shape for the future yet again. Whether that crystal ball shows a cup in the future is yet to be seen.

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