Sabres make monster shuffle before Waiver Deadline

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Chuzwazza, Nov 18, 2003.

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  1. Chuzwazza

    Chuzwazza Registered User

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    After three months of silence, the Buffalo Sabres suddenly broke out with a handful of deals that could seriously shake up the lower half of the playoff picture in the east.

    The team brought in a few veterans just before the draft to try to help the younger players develop and to improve the teams performance, but many felt the Sabres were still on the outside looking in.

    Then came the announcement that the team had made a deal. The first one didn't really make much more than a ripple, but by the time the third deal was complete, the ripple had become a strong current, one of those nasty ones that seem to always cause people a lot more trouble than they expected when they went in.

    The team's first deal was to send Alexandre Daigle and young and feisty enforcer Andrew Peters to Tampa Bay for former Sabre Robert Reichel (who despite being dealt twice in the last couple of months, still hasn't played for anybody but Buffalo since signing as a UFA over 12 months ago) prospects Patrick Bartschi, Martin Cizek and a 4th round pick in the 2004 draft.

    While the team did take on some extra salary, many felt it was a good move by the organisation, getting one of the most gifted scoring prospects going around, and a solid 3rd line center in the process.

    Robert Reichel seemed happy with the chance to play in front of Sabres fans again. "I was upset when I was traded a few months ago, particularly when I realised how much talent was leaving Tampa Bay, but it's nice to know that I was wanted here, and then the organisation went so far as to buy my house back for me, as a show of good faith. All I've been told I have to do in exchange is set up Rick Nash for 20 goals this year." He said with a grin.

    Part of the motivation to make the trade lay in the rumours that Ulf Dahlen, who had turned up for training camp, had decided that he really didn't have what it took to get up for another season. That turned to fact later on in the week, when Dahlen announced his retirement.

    "He's a veteran guy that we were hoping could be a key part of our playoff drive this year" Sabres GM Joshua Pitt said. "It took a lot of guts for him to come to us and say what he did, and we appreciate him doing that, rather than taking the money and someone else's roster spot in the process and underperforming.

    That somebody was likely to be Rick Nash. Nash was a probable to make the roster, but Pitt was evidently hesitant to pay the youngster the million plus a year contract he wanted when he wouldn't be able to contribute more than a 3rd line role, exploring options on better ways to spend the money this season. Now with Dahlen gone, Nash may even get a top two line spot, and some PP time as well, giving him a legit chance at the Calder.

    To make up for the loss of Dahlen's solid intangibles, the Sabres contacted out-of-contract Marty McInnis about coming to Buffalo. McInnis gladly accepted and signed a 2 year 1.4 million dollar contract with the team.

    Knowing that some veteran scoring punch was also missing, the team then went about getting it from the fiscally challenged Maple Leafs, who are still trying to get back on track after the financially devastating reign of previous GM Joe Vales. The Sabres sent two veterans in winger Slava Kozlov and D-man Steve Staios to the Leafs along with prospect Jay Harrison in exhange for Adam Deadmarsh, Jaroslav Spacek and a 3rd round pick in the 2005 draft.

    The deal is a double edged sword for the Sabres. The move is a clear win in the talent department, but there is an increase in salary. The increase can be off-set by the loss of Dahlen, but there is that tricky matter of Deadmarsh's concussion problems.

    "We felt Adam could help us make the playoffs THIS year." Pitt said. "That was very important to us. He's a leader on and off the ice, and a great player as well, who will be a fantastic mentor for Scott Hartnell."

    Spacek gives the team another effective puck mover, and should help springboard the Sabres into one of the league's most underrated PP teams.

    "You look at the guys they have on that team, and they're stacked with great 5 on 4 guys. Hull is one of the great PP finishers of all time, and Oates is one of the greatest set up men with the man advantage. Throw in a couple of guys who had become the resident PP specialists on the team's bluelines in Tarnstrom and Spacek, and throw in a couple of quality offensive players in Deadmarsh, Briere and Hamrlik, and these guys could really surprise some teams. I wouldn't want to give them too many tries on the PP if I was playing them." said one scout.

    Essentailly, the #1 criticism that remained of this team was that they weren't good enough in goal. Snow is a decent caretaker #1, but he's not a guy many see as someone you can ride into the playoffs. Legace is a great backup, but that's all he is....a backup. So what did the Sabres go and do? Fix the problem of course.

    The team sent Manny Legace, Luke Richardson, prospect Pat Jarrett and a 6th round pick in 2005, plus an option in the waiver draft to the San Jose Sharks for Roman Turek. Turek had been on the block for some time, with little interest, but he fills the Sabre's need for a solid #1 without being likely to cut into the development of youngsters Ahonen and Miller.

    The dealing of Richardson now guarantees a spot for Jay Bouwmeester on opening night, and the Sabres are expected to negotiate a contract with both he and Nash in the next few days.

    "I'm happy with the deal" Coach Craig McTavish announced at the team's combined press conference. "We were at the point where we didn't wanted to add any more salary, but wanted to improve, and we didn't want to sacrifice any of our top prospects. It almost seems like an impossible dream, but I think we've achieved this, and this deal is the perfect example. I'm looking forward to seeing what Jay can do out there on the ice in a game that counts...he's already been great at camp, and it wont hurt have a very solid tandem in goal behind him either. We're going to play some free-flowing hockey this year, so a goalie who has been a little inconsistent over his career, but is a great athlete and someone who can make the tough saves is a much better fit for us, than a methodical and unspectacular netminder, even if he is a little more reliable."

    While Buffalo is no lock to make the playoffs in the talent loaded East, the team has certainly improved its chances. They might not have the same firepower as the Penguins, but they're much better balanced as a team. The Flyers are arguably more talented with Hasek in goal, but how long can the Flyers keep the team together with their purse strings getting tighter by the day? Especially when he's an aging vet on a young rebuilding team? The Islanders are a certainty to move into the playoff picture, but the Lightning are a certainty to fall out, and the Rangers missed on their home run when LA matched NY's offer for the RFA, so they seem to be in that 4 team dogfight for the last spot in the East.

    And with the seemingly lopsided strength of conferences, the call for a top 16 instead of just 8 from each conference gets heard again, but none of that matters for this season. In the mean time, the Sabres will just have to deal with it, and with Drew Bledsoe and the Bills getting worse as the weeks pass, the Sabres might be the most entertaining team in town this year, and it's been a while since anyone has said that.

    That's all...for now

    Buffalo Bill,
    Hockey Editor for The Buffalo News
     
  2. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    Top 16? Imbalance between the conferences? I assuming you're suggesting that the West is the stronger conference, right?

    The Western Conference has a few dogs, true, but not as many as the East (Toronto, Tampa, Florida and Carolina spring to mind), and the competition for a playoff berth in the West will be just as fierce as the East - if not more so.

    When it comes right down to it, we'll see how many points the teams that finish #9/#10 in each conference had, and use that as a barometer for the relative strengths of East vs. West!
     
  3. kasper11

    kasper11 Registered User

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    No mention of my Devs there Douglas? I must be making some progress :handclap:
     
  4. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    My bad, Rich - I was working from my rather porous memory, and your Devs had been so forgettable, well, I forgot them! ;)

    Yet more evidence that the East sucks! :D
     
  5. Donga

    Donga Registered User

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    Doug,

    Watch your words buddy coz I wouldn't want to say those words down Raliegh way if youi want to come out that town alive :yo:

    Playoffs may not come to the Canes/whalers franchise but we'll have a lot of fun this year creaming whoever comes to our ice.
     
  6. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    Why? Should I be afraid your fan might hear me? (Note that I say "fan" in the singular...)

    Your "all-thugs, all-the-time" team does not intimidate me, boyo. Bring it on!
     
  7. Donga

    Donga Registered User

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    A fan don't hear things you know. They only spin around in circles making everyone cool in the stadium. Hang on... there is such a thing called air conditioning. They'll be plenty of that.

    If you are wondering what the atmosphere is going to be like, its going to be rowdy. I'm going to open the doors and give free tickets to the poor in Raliegh. I'll introduce them to the game of hockey free of charge. Add to that lots of free beer and a few of my favourite classics from Metallica or panthera or KISS will be given to the game day announcers. Hows that for atmosphere!!

    It all adds up... Everyone is going to have a great time including families. :p
     
  8. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    You're right - nothing says "Fun for the whole family" like dishing out free beer to itinerants while pounding out thrash metal on a stadium sound system! :yo:
     
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