Summer Bummer – Post #1: So, uh, what happened back there?

The “Summer Bummer” post series will consist of a series of posts (duh) throughout the summer as the Sabres offseason progresses. They could be very structured and make a good amount of sense OR they could just be random incessant ramblings that fall out of my brain in a more awkward fashion than Zdeno Chara trying to skate backwards. Some posts will be written by your’s truly and (hopefully) some posts will be written by guest writers. This could be great. Or not.

500 Days of Summer Bummer. PS Zooey Deschanel is amazing.

So, uh, what happened back there? Well, I will tell you what happened. It’s been about a month since the Sabres made their glorious first round exit and I, like most unhealthily committed Sabres fans, have still not gotten over it. However, such is life. You can’t always get what you want. Crystal Bowersox can’t win American Idol, Jack Sheppard can’t live if the island is in trouble and the Sabres can’t win a playoff series if no one (not named Grier) scores. That’s what happens, it’s just the nature of being a sports fan. I’m still young and I realize I have a lot to learn. This playoff series taught me a lot.

The main thing it taught me is that the Sabres won’t always win. I know that sounds stupid but it’s true. Until this year’s playoffs, the only REAL playoff series I had experience with were the ’06 and ’07 playoffs. As most people know, the Sabres were pretty much invincible during those playoff runs up until the Conference finals. Back then I just knew the Sabres would go far. It was practically assumed that if the Sabres faltered in one game, they would come back with a vengeance in the next.  Briere and Drury would pave the way on offense with grinders like Grier picking up the slack. Throw in the occasional stroke of awesomeness by the young guns and you have a pretty good formula for success. This year’s team had a very similar formula. Young guns like Tyler Myers and Tyler Ennis would make plays well beyond their age and experience. Mike Grier, Matt Ellis and even (dare I say it) Adam Mair stepped up big time and contributed both on offense and defense. However, the first (and most important) part of the formula was missing: Top Six Scoring. Both Tim Connolly and Derek Roy combined for a total of zero goals over six games. I know it is like beating a dead horse at this point but still. That is pathetic.

I’m aware that I’m about a month late but I really don’t care. After watching both the Blackhawks and Flyers dismantle their respective opponents some things clicked for me. Both the Hawks and Flyers have an awesome core of players. One team (the Hawks) built their core through high draft picks such as Patrick Kane, Johnathan Toews and Duncan Keith. The other (the Flyers) built theirs through trades and offseason acquisitions with guys like Daniel Briere, Chris Pronger, Daniel Carcillo. The Sabres have tried to do what the Hawks have done but have not been as successful. Derek Roy and Jason Pominville were supposed to be our Kane and Toews. The major difference between these sets of players is drafting. In my opinion, players are drafted high for a reason. Jonathan Toews was selected 3rd overall in the 2006 draft. A year later, Patrick Kane was selected 1st overall. The story with Roy and Pommer, however, is a bit different. Derek Roy was selected in the 2nd round at 32nd overall in 2001. Jason Pominville was selected 23 picks later at 52rd in the very same draft. 32nd and 53rd ain’t exactly 1st and 3rd. So if you’re wondering why our highly touted core isn’t as good as other teams, the proof is in the pudding. Or in this case the draft rounf.

However, that being said, the Sabres next generation core is actually shaping up to be something special. Instead of letting players take forever to develop, the team is drafting more naturally talented players and giving them professional experience at a younger age. The difference between our up and coming young core (Myers, Ennis, Kennedy, Gerbe) and our current core (Roy, Pominville, Stafford, Connolly) is natural ability and dynamism. Guys like Ennis and Gerbe have the potential to be game changers. Don’t get me wrong, back when Roy and Pominville were developing, they seemed like they had the potential to be something really good. However, they never had the raw talent that the current young guys have.

Yes, we may have heard this story before. We’ve heard Darcy and Lindy tout the next generation of talent. We’ve watched with optimism hoping their talent would pan out. And overall, we’ve been disappointed when their play turns out lackluster. This time, however, will be different. The next set of guys have surprised us with their fast development. Instead of management rushing the players into professional play, the opposite is happening. Tyler Myers developed ridiculously well and forced management to put him on the ice. The same can can be said for Tim Kennedy and even Tyler Ennis.

Speaking of prospects, last year’s first round draft pick Zack Kassian was arrested after a bar fight in Windsor. Apparently Kassian was involved in an altercation and ended up getting arrested. Kassian left his “opponent” (for lack of a better word) with minor injuries. If he wants to compete at the professional level, Kassian needs to mature greatly. It is great to have a player who is willing to get down and dirty and even have a bit of a mean streak. It is not great, however, when said player is immature and can’t control their own emotions. Remember, this is the same player who was suspended for 20 games after a viscous open ice hit in his first game with Windsor. Kassian better mature or all of his highly touted potential will be for naught.

In other news, the Sabres resigned Mike Grier to a one year deal. I’m about 3 weeks too late on this one but it’s still good to see a hard working player return to the Sabre’s roster. Not too much to analyze on this one. Grier plays hard and fits his niche well. A one year contract is the perfect time frame as well. With Grier getting older, his play will slowly start to deteriorate. Grier likes to go hard in the corners and that gets tougher with age. It is good to take it year by year with a player like Mikey G.

On a final note, game two of the Stanley Cup finals is tonight at 8:00 on NBC. I’m pulling for Chicago because they play a style of hockey that I really like. Also, they have Buffalo’s own Patrick Kane so that’s a plus. Also, they aren’t the Flyers so that’s a plus.

Until next time…


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About AndrewTRW

Sabres blogger with a propensity for music and sarcasm. The Ruff Writers dot Wordpress

6 responses to “Summer Bummer – Post #1: So, uh, what happened back there?”

  1. Philip says :

    A strong center corps is what the Sabres need to focus on building. Trading some players (specifically Roy, Stafford, and Butler) to Dallas for Brad Richards, throwing a pile of money at Saku Koivu, and a prospect (Gerbe or Kennedy) and picks to Chicago for Patrick Sharp and you’ve got the Sabres strongest line-up at center for years.

    Sending Connolly, Montador and a pick to someone could open up cap space for signing Gonchar. This opens up room to promote Weber and re-sign Lydman.

    It’s going all in for next season but it’s a strong line-up at almost every position.

  2. Andrew Meyer says :

    Phil, I couldn’t agree more. We need strong Centers and a little star power wouldn’t hurt. Ya know, a big ticket player. I like where you’re going with Richards/ Sharp. Both are great players who I definately wouldn’t mind seeing in Blue and Gold.

    Unfortunately this is the Sabres. As much as I would love to ship off Roy, he ain’t going anywhere. The way the mgmt has acted recently (like the past 5 years), I don’t for see us ditching many (if any) players. Darcy has stressed he wants to build from within. Even though I hate the idea of doing that, I really don’t want to get my hopes up.

    You are correct in saying that we need a bit of help everywhere to be super strong. Most any team would try their hardest to go that help too. Sadly, I don’t see that as something that Darcy is going to do this off-season.

    It would pretty awesome if he did though… I love all of the players you mentioned.

  3. Phil says :

    Oh, I agree about Roy not going anywhere and that there won’t be a big turnover of players. It IS Darcy, after all.

    This summer, I’ve been more active as an armchair GM than probably ever before, and it’s been a lot of fun.

    My idea above was only half-realized because I was mobile when I commented (WordPress has an awesome fast-loading mobile theme), so I’ll finish it here. The problem with Brad Richards is he has a huge cap hit – $7M+ or something like that. That’s why I’ve found it so necessary to dump a ton of salary by getting rid of a ton of expensive Sabres. The holes created are solved by fast-tracking Kassian, promoting Weber, and moving McCormick up into the big club with another cheap deal. As much as people talk about Biron coming back, at this point, him signing here for cheap as a back-up really IS the best option. With how the spots are already filled and with my signing ideas, the roster would look like this.




  4. Andrew Meyer says :

    Ah, now I see where you are coming from. Playing Armchair GM is something that I haven’t done in a few years (mostly because I’m the type who tends to get my hopes up way too much and only get disappointed). You can come across some really cool ideas/ line schemes by playing GM.

    That being said, the lineup you just presented is AWESOME. It is a great mix star talent with veteran experience. Having Saku and Hecht feed him the puck would be awesome for Pommer. If it were my roster I would probably find somewhere for Ellis to fit in there, too. Where that is, I don’t know. Maybe even in place of McCormick. Good call on throwing Gragnani in the mix. If he can find his professional footing, he could still be something special.

    All in all, I do really enjoy playing GM. We’ll see what happens this sumer in terms of picking up players. I could definitely see Koivu on this team.

  5. Phil says :

    One option is to find some dense enough to take Goose’s contract on and put McCormick or Ellis as the fourth line center and the other as the winger. Yea, Goose is a fan favorite, but he’s showing he really is just a gifted fourth liner, and $2.5M is way too much for him to be paid. (Don’t get me wrong, I was all about him proving us otherwise)

    • Andrew Meyer says :

      I agree, I really wouldn’t mind seeing him go. He gets the job done sometimes but doesn’t produce enough to really be that effective. Hell, the man barely ever drops his gloves. McCormick could easily pick up his slack in terms of muscle and Ellis could pick up the slack in terms of hard work. It’s a win-win in my mind. Try and get a 2rd or 3rd rounder for Goose and see what happens.

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