Tag Archives: nhl

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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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

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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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