Hostile Takeover

This blog has been part of a hostile take over merger!  Please check out www.buffalopp.com for the new site.  Buffalo Power Play will include the same Bills and Sabres analysis along with in depth looks at the NHL and sports as a whole, and some references to pop culture.

I want to thank anyone and everyone who has ever taken the time to check this site out.   I started blogging because when I moved to Syracuse I felt a little disconnected with “die-hard” sports fans and this space allowed me to convey my thoughts.  Great things to come at www.buffalopp.com.  Check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Free Agent Target: Brad Richards

With free agency looming and the question of the Sabres potential pursuit of Brad Richards, I reached out to Dallas Stars blogger Stephanie from Dallas Stars 4 Life for some perspective.  Check out the sites twitter feed  @SLSportsfan

1. What are the biggest strengths in Brad Richards’ game? Is he a top tier center in the NHL at 31?

He has the most amazing senses on the ice. Meaning, he always knows where his teammates are, especially when he has linemates that he’s comfortable with, as in the case with Loui Eriksson. Loui’s a great player, but you can’t deny that Brad Richards can make anyone look better than they really are.  It’s almost like telepathy. He knows how and where to make the play, and that’s how he’s been so successful on the Stars.

He’s also got a great shot. While it seems like he doesn’t use it a lot, he’s actually led the Stars in shots over the past few years (at least in the years that he didn’t suffer injuries).

Richards is also a fantastic power play quarterback. After Sergei Zubov left for the KHL, Richards easily filled his shoes as the point man. He was among the top power play point-getters last season. 

At 31, he is indeed an elite center. In 2009-10, he tied his career high in points (91) and he was on track to surpass that number in 2010-11 until he suffered a concussion.  As with any concussion, there’s no telling if he’ll ever regain his form he had before. When he returned for the Stars, he struggled a bit, even though he still produced. I think that that injury would be more concerning than his age. The only way that age really figures in is that he’ll be looking to finish his career wherever he goes. I would be very surprised if his eventual deal is short-term.   

 2. What are the biggest weaknesses in Richard’ game?

Well, obviously there’s the concussion he suffered. Like I said, you can’t really predict how that will affect him in the years to come. I think that having a long summer to recover will help his health immensely. For his actual game, I’ve noticed that he gets tired. If it’s a back-to-back, he’ll be great for the first night, but he might not show up for the next night. I believe he’s been working on conditioning and such during the offseason, so that may help him there.  His defensive abilities have also been called into question. He’s certainly not the type of player to go onto the penalty kill. Defense just isn’t his area of expertise. 

3. How much do you think age should factor into his next contract?

Like I said, he’s looking to finish his career in whatever place he signs with. I think the first few years of his deal will be in the $8-9 million range, and then they’ll cut off for when he’s older. That’s just how I think it’ll play out. 

4. In what type of system or what type of team would Richards most likely fit for the next 3-6 years?

Richards is the type of player who can do well in any system he plays in. He flourished in Marc Crawford’s offensive attack system. However, in Dave Tippett’s defensive system, his production wasn’t quite as big.

5. Five years from now Dallas fans will look at the day that Brad Richards left and think __________?

Until the Stars prove us otherwise, fans will look upon that day with despair and gloom. We’ll know it’s not B-Rad’s fault, but that of Tom effing Hicks. Honestly, we were incredibly lucky with the Richards trade. We gave up very little for what turned out to be a huge addition. No one regrets the trade. We just regret that we have an idiot owner.

Brian Bund is a Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills fan currently residing with his family in Syracuse, New York. He is a contributing writer at Hockey Heaven, Buffalo Wins and the author of the The Buffalo Sports Fan blog. You can reach him on Twitter at: @brianbund

Leave a comment

Filed under Sabres

Glory and Turmoil for Derek Roy

The Ascent

Derek Roy broke onto the Sabres scene during the 2003-04 campaign with a modest 49 games and 19 points.  Then came the lockout.  Players struggled to find places to play hockey, but Roy was merely delegated back to spending the 2004-05 season with the Rochester Americans.  He put up another good season with the Amerks scoring 61 points in 67 games. With the return from the lockout and the start of the 05-06 season Derek Roy was fortunate to not have any pressure placed squarely on his shoulders.  He was a young player on a team full of veterans that included Mike Grier, JP Dumont, Chris Drury and Danny Briere who were expected to do most of the heavy lifting.  Roy played a significant amount of that season with Chris Drury and Mike Grier on what became a line that consistently matched up against the opposing team’s top line.  They were not expected to do the bulk of the scoring but Roy managed 46 points in 70 games for his first full season.

With the departure of JP Dumont, Mike Grier and others after that season there was an expectation that some of the Sabres younger talent would emerge, including Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek and Roy.  Roy has a fantastic year during the 2006-07 season, during which he saw a return back to the middle and registered 63 points in 75 games and an astounding +37 rating.  Roy was the benefactor of still being on the team’s third line nestled behind Chris Drury and Danny Briere.  He was able to out skate most team’s third lines which in many instances are a checking line used to raise energy. Often they didn’t match Roy’s skill level.  By the end of the 2007 NHL playoffs there was an overwhelming optimism about the Sabres.   Fans were pretty certain that Chris Drury OR Danny Briere would exit, but that Roy would then make his move up to one of the top two lines to complement the returning player.

The Moment

It seems to go without reason that any blog post about the Sabres recently can’t go without mentioning 7/1/07, however when the Sabres failed to re-sign both Danny Briere and Chris Drury the immediate backlash of expectations fell squarely on Roy’s shoulders.  Roy was the newly anointed #1 center on a team that had come over back-to-back conference finals runs and seen essentially every veteran leader from those two seasons leave town.  Darcy Reiger anointed both Roy and Tim Connolly as two of the top 20 centers in the league and that the Sabres were on solid ground with the center position.

Much like Thomas Vanek, the contract Derek Roy became inflated by the pressure the front office felt after letting their two captains walk out the door.  Roy received a six year contract for$24m and the heightened expectations had arrived.

The Aftermath

The Sabres struggled during the 07-08 and 08-09 seasons and missed the playoffs both times.  Roy however, did not struggle as much registering 81 points in 78 games in 07-08. His total would fall in the following season but still marked his second best season.  The 2009-10 season saw his point total dip a single point, but the Sabres returned to the playoffs.  During the playoffs however, Roy only registered 2 assists in the six game series against the Bruins and rumblings began.  In the ensuing offseason fans began to question whether Roy and Tim Connolly were good enough to carry this team like their predecessors.

At the beginning of the 2010-11 season Derek Roy proved he belonged.  He proved the worth of his contract and was the Sabres best player.  He averaged 1 point per game while registering 10 goals and 25 assists before being injured.  The problem for Roy was he was the best player on the worst team in the league.  He had no help.  Tyler Myers had entered the season on a sophomore slump and Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford were non-existent through those opening months of the season.  After Roy’s injury the sentiment was that the season was a wash and that the front office needed to oversee wholesale changes to the lineup and position themselves for 7/1/2011.  It was then that the team went on a remarkable post January 1st run that saw them post the 2nd best record in the league and make the playoffs as a six seed.  The series battled for six games and the Sabres became decimated by injuries.  The prevailing thought was that if the Sabres had advanced to the 2nd round that Roy would be in a position to return.  Instead his hard work and determination to return was bumped up 1 game.  Roy returned, but was not in game shape nor in position to carry the team offensively and defensively with the absences of Jason Pominville and Tim Connolly.  The season was over, but the questions lingered.

Here and Now

Due to the remarkable second half run, fans began to question Roy’s value to the team and what he was actually contributing.  People questioned whether he was a team player or merely looking to fill his stat sheet at the expense of the team.  Fans wondered if his $4m cap hit was justified and whether he should be part of the team going forward.  As we approach July 1st, those questions are going to weigh heavily on the minds of fans while waiting on news of what prized free agents Darcy Regier can attain or what trades he can swindle.  The fact remains though that Derek Roy has incredible value to this team going forward in a multitude of ways.  First, he’s a player that has averaged 0.82 points per game for his career (Danny Briere’s is 0.80) and that at $4m per year is a relative bargain as a potential top two center.  Secondly, if the Sabres decide to pursue a center through the trade market, Derek Roy may need to be a key ingredient to achieve that.  Teams are most likely going to be reluctant if not, unwilling to part with a top center or top center prospect without receiving someone to fill that spot in the roster.

The Sabres would be best served by keeping Roy if possible and preserving his spot on the team and still trying to land a top tier center.  Depth down the middle is paramount in this league and if Derek Roy and say Brad Richards/Paul Stastny/whoever are the Sabres first and second line centers, I think it makes them a much more formidable opponent not only in the regular season, but also in the playoffs.  The talent pool of younger NHLers and AHLers is extremely deep for the Sabres organization and its time that Darcy starts playing some of his poker chips for the here and now of the organization rather than hedging his bets.

 Brian Bund is a Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills fan currently residing with his family in Syracuse, New York. He is a contributing writer at Hockey Heaven, Buffalo Wins and the author of the The Buffalo Sports Fan blog. You can reach him on Twitter at: @brianbund

Leave a comment

Filed under Sabres

Player Profile: Jason Pominville

Jason_Pominville

2010-11 Regular Season stats:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

29

R

Jason Pominville

73

22

30

52

1

15

5

1

2

215

10.2

2011 Postseason stats:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

29

R

Jason Pominville

5

1

3

4

0

2

0

0

1

9

11.1

Career:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

29

R

Jason Pominville

459

145

213

358

47

127

33

7

14

1,277

11.4

Look Back: Pominville is one of the more under appreciated players on the team, and I think a sense of his value was felt during the playoffs in his absence.  In the five games he played, he contributed four points and was crucial to the penalty killing unit that helped stall the Flyers attack.  He reached 20+ goals for the fifth straight season, but his total point production dropped below 60 points for the first time in that stretch.  Fan frustration stems from the contract Pominville signed in 2008, allowing him to make $5m a season. In many ways Pominville was a benefactor of the July 1st, 2007 debacle that forced the front office to lock up some of their younger players.  While Pominville’s contract may be slightly high for his production, he still remains one of the more valuable components for the Sabres on the ice.

Look Ahead: According to Cap Geek, Pominville is locked up through the 2013-14 season and based on the aforementioned salary, he is highly unlikely to be anywhere else other than Buffalo.  He’s a two-way player from which the team needs consistent 20+ goals and 60+ points.  Over the last five seasons, he has averaged over 80 games per year and recovery from the severely cut tendon in his leg is on schedule.  Pominville is and will remain a crucial part of this team going forward at only 28 years of age.

Fake Darcy’s Take: The baby-faced assassin, that’s the meaning of the“A” on his chest.  At the draft, we were torn between him and Matt Keith. We drafted Pommers because he had a cool name. There’s your peek into the inner-workings of draft night.  He’s our perennial Lady Byng candidate. We all cringe in the box when he accidentally trips someone.  It displays an incredible amount of self-discipline for a player to take part in 82 games and amass only 18 PIM. Discipline, yeah that’s what we’ll call it.

Follow us on Twitter: @brianbund & @fakedary

Leave a comment

Filed under Sabres

Q&A with Painting the Black

With free agency looming and the question of the Sabres pursuing one of the two free agent defensemen from Vancouver I reached out to Vancouver (and all around) sports blogger Chris Ross from Painting the Black. Check him out on twitter as well @paintstheblack (he’ll follow back)

1. What are some of the key differences in Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehrhoff’s games?

 Bieksa and Ehrhoff have very different styles. Bieksa is more of a hard-hitting, puck moving defencemen who is grown into a shutdown defenceman this year with Dan Hamhuis. Bieksa has had his quesiton marks in his time in Vancouver but this past year he has shown that he is very reliable defensively. Bieksa is more offensively minded than the average defenceman but isn’t nearly the offensive player that Ehrhoff is. Ehrhoff is one of those few defenceman who have the skating ability and vision to rush the puck up the ice. Ehrhoff is more offensively minded than Bieksa but not nearly as defensively reliable. Ehrhoff isn’t as strong or as physical as Bieksa. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Sabres

Player Profile: Brad Boyes

Brad_Boyes

2010-11 Regular Season stats:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

22

R

Brad Boyes

83

17

38

55

13

36

6

0

3

178

9.6

2011 Postseason stats:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

22

R

Brad Boyes

7

1

0

1

-2

0

1

0

0

14

7.1

Career: 

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

22

R

Brad Boyes

493

150

199

349

-13

169

44

1

31

1,187

12.6

Look Back: Fans were once again disappointed with the production of this year’s trade deadline deal. Boyes had 5 goals, 9 assists in his 21 games as a Sabre, which would be on pace for 55 points for a 82-game schedule.  It was Boyes late season slump and non-existent presence against the Flyers that had fans irritated.  To Boyes defense, the team asked him to play out of position down the stretch and into the playoffs out of necessity.  Boyes is a more natural winger and as long as the team addresses depth at center this offseason, it should allow Boyes to work along the boards more and hopefully gets him close to returning to the two-time 30 goal scorer that fans are hoping.

Look Ahead: The Sabres roster seems to have an extensive list of players that could and should be scoring 20+ goals and 60+ points. This team needs Boyes to be one of those contributors.  Many people, myself included, believe that the Boyes deal was much more about this coming season than last season.  Given a full offseason to learn the system and a return to his natural position at wing, I have moderately high expectations for Boyes.  The question is going to be what line should he play on?  With Pominville, Stafford and himself, the Sabres have a number of right wingers. Does Lindy Ruff get creative or is one going to be moved out of position?  If Tim Connolly is re-signed and ends up being the 3rd line center, it could be fun to watch Connolly and Boyes on a 3rd line, no?

Fake Darcy’s Take: Boyesy was arguably the greatest trade deadline deal I have ever made. He actually scored some goals. With that being said, I wouldn’t buy any green bananas if I were him.  I would trade him for the flu right now. I’d love to free up the cash owed to him.

Twitter: @brianbund & @fakedarcy 

Brian Bund is a Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills fan currently residing with his family in Syracuse, New York. He is a contributing writer at Hockey Heaven, Buffalo Wins and the author of the The Buffalo Sports Fan blog. You can reach him on Twitter at: @brianbund

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What the Sabres need is Zack Kassian

A lot has been made about what the Sabres need to do this offseason in order to make themselves into a Stanley Cup contender.  Essentially, all the fan sentiment revolves around two thoughts.  First, adding a top-tier center to most likely play on a line with Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek that is going to (hopefully) have perennial 80-90 point producers on it.  Second, adding a stay-at-home defenseman that will likely pair with Tyler Myers as the Sabres #1 option for lockdown pairing against opposing teams top lines.  Pretty simple to add the final pieces for a #1 defensive pairing and #1 line, no?  (Note: That last line was sarcasm)  Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Sabres