Is Jay McKee A Possible Short Term Solution in Buffalo?

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Is Jay McKee A Possible Short Term Solution in Buffalo?
(Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Andy Strickland has reported the St. Louis Blues have bought out the contract of veteran defenseman, Jay McKee, who had just one year left on a four-year, $16 million deal.

McKee, who will turn 32 in September, battled through many injuries while in St. Louis, including a fractured leg during the 2006-07 season that caused him to miss 59 games. Last season, McKee played 69 regular season games for the playoff-bound Blues, his most since his final season in Buffalo a few years previous.

The Kingston, Ontario native is a very sound, physical defenseman who can also accommodate any team in the leadership department.

Known for his shot-blocking ability, McKee was among league leaders in the category in 2005-06. 

McKee was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres 14th overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He spent 13 seasons in Buffalo before the Blues signed him as a free agent after the 2005-06 season.

During the off-season, he spends much of his time living in the Western New York area and I'm sure if Sabres' General Manager Darcy Regier came calling, McKee would be glad to return to his former club.

He never wanted to leave Buffalo in the first place, but the team was unwilling to spend the money. Next season, he would likely take a dramatic pay cut from his previous salary of $4 million per.

The Sabres could definitely use his services. Besides Craig Rivet, the team lacks a gritty defenseman who is willing to drop the gloves and stick up for his teammates.

Yes, the Sabres have a couple defensemen in their system ready to be called up to the big leagues, but it is unknown if they're ready to take on a full NHL season.

Mike Weber and the recently signed, Tyler Myers, are the two likely candidates to step in and anchor the Sabres' back end in the next couple years. Weber is obviously closer than Myers.

When McKee left via free agency a few years ago, it can be argued that a piece of the Sabres locker room was lost. The heart and intensity McKee brought each night was rarely exemplified since his departure (except for maybe Chris Drury, who we all know left a year after).

It can also be argued that if McKee wasn't sidelined with a staph infection (which resulted from blocking shots) for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus Carolina, the Sabres may have found their way past the Hurricanes.

At two years, around $4 million, why not? He would be a very welcome addition to a rather soft Sabres blue line.

***

WGR 550 Sports Radio in Buffalo reported today that the Sabres have extended qualifying offers to three of their current restricted free agents. The team's current restricted free agents are Drew Stafford, Clarke MacArthur, Mark Mancari, Pat Kaleta and Andrej Sekera. Regier would not comment on the players they chose not to extend qualifying offers to.

MacArthur is scheduled to have a salary arbitration hearing sometime in the near future.

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