Summer Bummer – Post #3: TRW’s Official Guide to Free Agency Part 2
Okay, so now that I have broken down who is staying and/ or leaving for the Sabres let’s take a look at the available free agents. Just because a player is available, however, does not mean that the Sabres will pick them up. Remember we live in a world controlled by Darcy Regier. Those who follow the Sabres know that Darcy likes to build from within. The Sabres are a team based around draft picks and prospects. Any big name player on the Sabres was either acquired as a prospect or went through the draft and prospect system. Listen up, because I’m only going to say this once: THE SABRES ARE NOT A TEAM THAT WILL MAKE A SPLASH ON FREE AGENCY. We never have been and likely never will be. Darcy likes to pick up players that will complement his team well. Guys like Steve Montador and Craig Rivet are the types that Darcy likes. Just deal with it.
Again, I’m aware that there are guys like Illya Kovulchuck available. However, it is very unrealistic that the Sabres will get him. I’m just being realistic here. If you want someone to tell you that this is the year the Sabres will make all of your unrealistic dreams come true, go read Bleacher Report or Eklund on HockeyBuzz. Here at The Ruff Writers, we live in the real world.
Alex Tanguay – Although his production has slipped in the past few years, Tanguay still has quite a bit of life left in him. He could be a much needed spark for this team. Couple that with the fact that he plays left wing on a team that majorly lacks left wingers and Tanguay looks even better. Tanguay, a Bryan Sibbitts approved player, scored only 10 goals last season but had 27 assists last season. It should also be noted that Tanguay spent the last two seasons playing for the Lightning who were quite mediocre. Tanguay could use a nice change of scenery to find his scoring touch again.
Alexei Ponikarovsky – Another left winger, Sabres fans know Alexei well from his years with the Maple Leafs. Ponikarovsky spent the last season in Pittsburgh but only played 16 games. He did play a bit in the playoffs but was a healthy scratch. He just didn’t quite fit with the Penguins it seems. The Post-Gazette is reporting that Ponikarovsky will not re-sign with the Pens which leaves the door open for the Sabres. He still has a lot of potential and can score if need be. Maybe a change of scenery is just what Alexei needs.
Lee Stempniak – WNY Native Stempniak would be a welcomed addition on this team. The Sabres are looking for a natural scorer and Stempniak could complement our young talent like Ennis quite nicely. Stempniak still has yet to find
a perfect fit in the NHL after being shipped around from the Blues to the Leafs in ’08 and then from the Leafs to the Coyotes this past season. I wouldn’t mind seeing another Buffalo native on this team.
Paul Martin – Though Martin may not exactly be the dynamic offensive defensman this team needs, he is quite good. At 28 years old, Martin still has a ton of hockey ahead of him. The New Jersey Devils D-Man can also move the puck quite fluidly which is something our defense lacks miserably. Martin would be a great compliment to this team and would definitely help spark some offense on our defense.
That’s really it in terms of UFAs for the Sabres. I honestly don’t see the Sabres doing much in free agency. It’s just how the team operates. Get better through draft picks, compliment said draft picks with veteran talent. Small acquisitions, big results. For as much flack as it gets, the system can work quite well. Would I like to see the Sabres go out and get Kovulchuck? Of course. Would I love to see the Sabres make a splash a grab Olli Jokinen? Why not. But that just isn’t logical. You have to look at the Sabres with perspective. We have some GREAT young talent that, if the pan out, will be phenomenal. Patience is the key with the Sabres. Let the pieces fall into place. Trust the management. They actually know what they are doing… sometimes.
Don’t be disappointed tomorrow when the Sabres don’t get some big-ticket UFA or trade around for a name everyone knows. Heck, I’ll be through the roof if we even get someone like Saku Koivu but even that is a stretch. That’s not how the team operates. Never has been, never will be.