Buffalo Sabres Need Big Moves for Bigger Push
There's no confirmation on whether or not Tom Golisano is chewing a microphone right about now, but the man sure has some answering to do with that statement right before the 2008-2009 season last year.
For the second year in a row, the Sabres find themselves on the outside looking in as they watch their playoff counterparts battle their way for the coveted Stanley Cup.
This, after two straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances.
It's clear that the group that they have now is a talented one. Whether they produce or not is one thing, but the most important thing is that they are surrounded with the correct supporting talent in order to succeed.
The problem starts from up top. B. Tom Golisano is clearly not a hockey man, but that's not something I want to get into at this point, as it's been an argument ever since the guy bought the team. Until he decides to sell the franchise, most of us will just have to deal with the hit-or-miss seasons.
The next problem is right under that man's nose. Besides Larry Quinn (obviously, another non-hockey man), the people the Sabres actually have to make hockey decisions have not performed their duties well.
I've said this once, and I'll say it again: Darcy Regier lucked into the team Buffalo fans saw come out of the lockout, making the man look like a genius.
But ever since, key players of this high-caliber team left for better dealswe've been left to wonder how much of a hockey genius this man could be.
Free agency seemed like a necessary tactic in order for this Sabres team to continue to succeed, however, the fans of Buffalo were assured that they had up-and-coming talent on which they could count.
No offense, but the Sabres are not the Detroit Red Wings, a team who continues to draft diamonds in the rough and put out a great on-ice product. That being said, the Sabres draft very well, as shown by how much talent they put out on the ice year after year.
However, we are still left with a team with potential. That is all.
The one and only way that this team will ever succeed again, is to surround all the young players they have with at least two decent, leading veterans.
All the pieces are there. They have two arguably top-line centers, plenty of good wingers, and a decent enough defensive corps, not to mention an All-Star goalie in Ryan Miller (and I can say that whole-heartedly now).
However, there is still much left to be desired, as shown by their absence in the playoffs for the past two years.
Unfortunately, the Sabres are tied up in cap space, having a lot of dead weight in players like Jochen Hecht and Henrik Tallinder, two players who have not lived up to the potential in which the brass is paying them for.
We look at Detroit, also tied up in cap space for next year. But then again, look where Detroit is right now. Their only worry is not having the ability to bring back one of their many superstars that they carry on their team.
That being said, the Sabres do not need to bring in any superstars to this team. It is believed that this team has plenty of young, potential star players in this league, like Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek, and Jason Pominville.
However, these players are still young and have not reached their prime, and unfortunately, unless something happens, their talents will most definitely not be maximized at their prime unless management decides to bring in more veteran leaders around here. Good veteran leaders will cost some money, though.
The plan of action should be to get rid of any dead weight lying around on this squad, whether that be through fully getting rid of those contracts by trading, or by buying out and only paying a fraction of that salary counting against the cap. The latter is the more likely of the two options.
Along with getting rid of the dead weight, it may be necessary to get rid of a player who actually plays to his potential. I see Derek Roy as a nice guinea pig due to his production and bargain of a contract.
Getting rid of this money gives help in the area of getting a good veteran leader like Sergei Zubov, who would really maximize a defensive corps considered weak in the past.
What may be a relatively cheap (in my standards) pickup, would be a guy like Todd Marchant. He made about $2.6 million last year, and may take a nice hometown discount (doubtful) for a team he most likely supported growing up in Williamsville, NY, a suburb outside of Buffalo.
Only time will tell. With the Conference Finals underway, the playoffs will be ending shortly. The only thing Sabres fans will have to wait for, then, is July 1st, when the free-agency period begins.
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