Tag Archives: Buffalo Sabres

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

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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

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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

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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

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What Rob Ray meant to the Sabres

This post was originally on Hockey Heaven and you should all be so kind to check out the stuff that Matthew Stewart is pumping out there.
 
A look back at Rob Ray

QUICK HITS

Last week Rob Ray turned 43-years-old. Earlier this week, we took a look at the role of Patrick Kaleta on the Sabres, and so we thought it might be interesting to take a look back at one of the premiere agitators and enforcers of Sabres past in a quick hit. What Ray has contributed to the Sabres organization?  Ray made his debut for the Sabres in 1989-90 becoming a steady ice time contributor throughout the remainder of his career.  Ray was the proverbial tough guy ‘enforcer’ every NHL team needs to guide themselves through an 82 game schedule.  He was listed at 6’0” 220 lbs and played much bigger.  As his playing career ended in 2004, he came back to the Sabres organization shortly thereafter to contribute to the television broadcast. He certainly wasn’t the best player to ever wear the Sabres sweater, but few alumni are more recognizable and adored by fans.  Rob Ray is a synonymous name and face with the Buffalo Sabres. Continue reading

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Hey Hockey Fans, relax!

Recently there has been a lot of momentum building around hockey due to the fantastic playoffs.  When Matthew Stewart and I debated the whether Buffalo was a hockey or football town, it really started to make me wonder why I thought Buffalo was clearly a football town. Then I started to read Bill Simmons’ site Grantland (don’t judge), and his article about people labeling him a NHL front runner.  It all became so obvious to me why football has grown in ridiculous fashion while hockey has stayed where they are.

1. The new NBC/Versus deal.  Don’t get me wrong: I think this is a great deal for the NHL and if NBC actually plays this right could, it really help build the brand.  What I thought was a problem was a lot of fan’s reaction to the notion that ESPN would merely offer one game a week or whatever the case may be.  The reaction of anger and spite towards ESPN was comical –  that the NHL didn’t NEED ESPN.  Sure they didn’t need ESPN, but wouldn’t it be a lot easier to build awareness for the sport if it were involved, if it were on Sportscenter a little more often?  Wouldn’t it be a little better if they nudged a ridiculous Sidney Crosby goal to #1 on Top 10 plays as opposed to some run-of-the-mill fast break dunk? Continue reading

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Player Profile: Shaone Morrisonn

Shaone_Morrisonn

2010-11 Regular Season stats:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

27

D

Shaone Morrisonn

62

1

4

5

-2

32

0

0

1

44

2.3

2011 Postseason stats:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

27

D

Shaone Morrisonn

1

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0.0

Career:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

27

D

Shaone Morrisonn

480

11

64

75

34

455

0

0

4

293

3.8

Look Back: Morrissonn was one of the two free agent signings on the blue line to replace the departed Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman. It was the level of his play with Mike Green of the Capitals that brought hope for stability to the blue line, and hopefully help develop Tyler Myers.  Morrissonn’s production was extremely limited and his spot in the lineup was shuffled throughout much of the season. He only appeared in one game against the Flyers and wasn’t able to contribute much in a positive way to slow philly’s attack.  For a season that started with modestly high hopes, Morrisonn was not able to live up to those expectations.

Look Ahead: Morrissonn has one year remaining on his contract before becoming a RFA and turns 30 in December.  His $2mm salary isn’t a back-breaker for the team, but with the likelihood of the team adding a high cost defenseman, as well as the hope of adding a #1 center, it is a $2 million contract I think they would like to live without.  The Sabres’ farm system and current NHL roster is filled with other defensemen that can contribute to what Morrissonn was suppose to add in 2010-11.  If the team is able to find a trade partner, I would think they would jump at the opportunity, or they may send him down to whoever the AHL affiliate ends up being.

Fake Darcy’s Take: Shaone is one of the rare free agent misses of my career. And by rare, I mean typical. I guess he wasn’t carrying Mike Green in Washington, after all. Shaone is the reason there are “mulligans” in golf. Although, if he makes our 2011-2012 team, I will talk him up again.

Up Next: Chris Butler

Twitter: @brianbund

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Player Profile: Mike Grier

 Mike_Grier

2010-11 Regular Season stats:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

25

R

Michael Grier

73

5

11

16

0

12

0

0

0

107

4.7

2011 Postseason stats:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

25

R

Michael Grier

7

0

1

1

-3

0

0

0

0

5

0.0

Career:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

25

R

Michael Grier

1,060

162

221

383

-9

510

16

20

26

1,643

9.9

A Look Back: Mike Grier ended his season playing through a knee injury and was obviously not his normal self in the Game 7 performance against the Flyers.  For the season, Grier was a huge component to the Sabres penalty killing unit.  Registering just 16 points in 73 games, Grier saw his production per game drop from .36 points per game down to .22 ppg.  Grier is a consummate professional that no doubt had a positive impact on players like Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford this year, but his on the ice performance definitely declined. 


A Look Ahead: Grier completed his 14th season in the NHL and is 36 years old.  As well as he played in the series against the Flyers delivering punishing checks and solid penalty killing it was evident that his game just isn’t quite the same.  The Sabres are going in a direction of building towards a Stanley Cup in the near future and I still believe Grier has a place in the organization, just not on the ice.  He has stated his desire to only play if it is in Buffalo, but I think Ted Black and Terry Pegula will find a place for him within the organization.  Players respect Grier and he can still have a positive effect on a relatively young core group of players. 

Fake Darcy’s Take: I have never seen a player with less goal scoring skills get himself into more goal scoring situations.  We don’t call him “Hands of Stone” because of his fighting ability.  As opposed to Mancari, Grier is an NHL journeyman with great grit and determination. I expect to offer him a low-ball contract with the hopes he signs. I think he might retire.

Up Next: Shaone Morrisonn 

Twitter: @brianbund

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Player Profile: Marc-Andre Gragnani

 

MAGs

Regular Season (Second line in Portland)

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

17

D

Marc-Andre Gragnani

9

1

2

3

0

2

0

0

1

11

9.1

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

17

D

Marc-Andre Gragnani

63

12

48

60

22

51

4

1

0

90

13.3

 Playoffs

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

17

D

Marc-Andre Gragnani

7

1

6

7

0

4

1

0

0

9

11.1

 Career:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

17

D

Marc-Andre Gragnani

15

1

2

3

0

8

0

0

1

15

6.7

Look Back: The 2010-11 season for Marc-Andre Gragnani will almost exclusively be reflected for his performance in the postseason.  After playing in just nine regular season games this year, injuries forced Gragnani’s insertion into the lineup late in the year and into playoffs.  In 7 games against the Philadelphia Flyers, he posted 1 goal and 6 assists and lead all Sabres in points. He, along with several of his blue line partners, were at times overmatched in their own zone, but Gragnani’s offensive lift to the team set him apart from the group, aside from Tyler Myers.  Gragnani put up huge numbers during the regular season while in Portland with 60 points in 63 games.

Look ahead: Gragnani is a restricted free agent this offseason and it is hard to believe that the Sabres are not going to move swiftly to secure a deal with him after his playoff performance.  He is 24 and as he progresses, he should see more time on the power play and work his way into the regular blue line rotation next season.  Pairing him with Myers seems unlikely, which means that the Sabres are going to have young depth along the blue line going forward.  As an ‘offensive’ defenseman, it will be interesting to see how the organization decides to handle the rest of the blue line this offseason.

Fake Darcy’s Take: We love Gag’s ability to carry the puck and we plan on him being a quarterback for our power play for the next few years.   But more importantly, he will serve as team translator for trips to Montreal and possibly Quebec, if they get another team up there. We don’t want to have another incident at a French restaurant like the time when Myers ordered a heaping bowl of animal private parts.

Up Next: Mark Mancari

Twitter: @brianbund

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Player Profile: Luke Adam

Luke_Adam

2010-11 Regular Season (Second line in Portland)

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

72

L

Luke Adam

19

3

1

4

-6

12

0

0

1

31

9.7

72

L

Luke Adam

57

29

33

62

18

46

8

0

0

155

17.5

Career:

#

Pos

Player

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

PP

SH

GW

S

S%

72 

LW

Luke Adam

19

3

1

4

-6

12

0

0

1

31

9.7

Look Back: Luke Adam played in 19 games for the Sabres and registered the game winning goal on January 6th against the San Jose Sharks.  At the time it seemed insignificant, but in reflection helped kick start the Sabres post January 1st run.  He spent most of the second half of the season down in Portland where he averaged more than a point a game and was named AHL Rookie of the Year.  Although his production stalled while with the Sabres, his performance in Portland bodes well moving forward.

 Look Ahead: Given the uncertainty of some of the Sabres lineup heading into this offseason it is hard to believe that Adam will not be given every opportunity to compete for a position on the parent club for the 2011-12 season.  He will need to become a more consistent producer to maintain his roster spot, but even if he enters the season like Nathan Gerbe with a slow first half of the season, fans will need to be patient with the young player while getting acclimated.

Fake Darcy’s take: Luke has scored everywhere he’s played, except for us.  I expect that to change if he can compile a ton of garbage goals in front of the net. He comes from a hockey lineage as well.  His dad played a total of 8 games in the NHL for the Leafs.  I love that his career was only 40% of mine, a fact I will drill into if he comes on of those dad’s trips.

 

Twitter: @brianbund

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