Hello everyone! Hope you’re all having an excellent summer. For those of you living under a rock since April, the Sabres were ousted in game 7 in Philly by a score of 5-2 (The staff was too distraught to write a game recap, which is why this is the first post since April). Lockers were cleaned out, and the team was sent home for the summer disappointed, but excited for the 41st season of Buffalo Sabres hockey.
Prior to Hockey’s Christmas (AKA: The Opening Day of Free Agency), there was the NHL Entry Draft to attend to. Terry Pegula, Ted Black, Lindy Ruff, Drew Stafford and Kevin Devine, head of scouting, all headed to Minnesota. The players that were selected are as follows:
RD. PICK PLAYER
1 16 Joel Armia (RW)
2 STL* —
3 77 Daniel Catenacci (C)
4 107 Colin Jacobs (C)
5 137 Alex Lepkowski (D)
6 167 Nathan Lieuwen (G)
7 197 Brad Navin (C)
*Pick 2 went to the Blues to complete the Brad Boyes deal back before the Trade Deadline.
However, before the draft commenced, news broke that the Pegula, Regier and Ruff had traveled to Calgary to speak to defender Robyn Regehr. The team announced that they had made an offer to Calgary, which was Paul Byron and Chris Butler for Regehr, Ales Kotalik and a 2012 2nd Round pick. The only hitch was that Regehr would have to waive his no-movement clause in order for the trade to be completed. After less than 11 hours of waiting (and several Twitter rumors regarding the specifics of the trade (ie: trading Tyler Ennis and a back of pucks)), Regehr waived it, and now wears number 24.
After making this trade, the Sabres were FAR from complete. They resigned forward Nathan Gerbe for 3 years at $1.43 million per season. After that, they traded a 4th Round pick to the New York Islanders for the rights to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (who sent a 4th Round pick to Vancouver for his rights initially). On Thursday, the team agreed to a 10 year contract worth $40 million. (This is the largest reported contract in Buffalo sports history). Ehrhoff was one of the biggest free agents this offseason, and continues to excite fans in spite of the contract being finalized.
Friday afternoon, the Sabres went to work on signing a free agent. The top prize in this years class was Brad Richards, center formerly with Dallas. After that, there was a pretty big dropoff. The Sabres were reported to be in talks to sign him, but first resigned forward Cody McCormick to a 3 year deal worth $3.6 million. After that, they set their sights on the free agent class. Their first big move (which turned out to be their only move) was to sign forward Ville Leino. All Sabres fans should remember him for wrecking Easter Sunday with his OT Winner in Game 6 of the Sabres-Flyers series back in April. The contract is worth a reported 6 years and $27 million, proving once again that Darcy Regier’s hands have been untied from behind his back and is now able to make signings as he sees fit. So far, so good. Following the signing of Leino, the team held a conference at which it was announced that the team was out of the Brad Richards Sweepstakes. Richards would eventually reunite with former coach John Tortorella and the New York Rangers.
The news of signings meant that former Sabres would also find homes. The team said goodbye to Mark Mancari, who landed in Vancouver for 1 yr and $525,000. The team failed to resign Tim Connolly, who fled to rival Toronto for 2 yrs and $9.5 million. It’ll be nice to beat him 6 times per year. And finally, before the market opened, the Sabres sent defender Steve Montador to Chicago for a 7th Round pick, where he signed a 4 year contract worth $11 million. And today, Rob Niedermayer signed a deal with Sweedish team Lugano.
At the press conference, Regier said that the team was all but completed, and that no more drastic moves would be made via free agency. Whether or not that statement is true, time will only tell. However, Regier said that the team would turn to trades to improve the team, particularly the depth at center (which is lacking significantly). All that aside, it’s been an excellent start to the summer for the Buffalo Sabres.
The NHL better watch out in 2011.