We’re Still Talking About HIM?

Tim Connolly.  Say that name near Sabres fans, and you’ll get a reaction.  Largely, a negative one.  Maybe a few will reminisce about when he was ‘good’, recall his play in the playoffs after the lockout, but then they bring up the injuries, the concussions, and you end up back at the same place – good riddance!

Except…have you seen the other options for centers out there?  You’ve got Brad Richards on the radar (you and every other team that is), but then what?  For UFA’s, the field is pretty bleak.  Jason Arnott?  Eric Belanger?  Brooks Laich?  Laich might be the best bet, but nobody out there is screaming Number ONE center loudly (or Number TWO for that matter).  RFAs aren’t happening either.  Offer sheets for the good ones will be matched, and if they aren’t ‘good’, see above.  You aren’t finding Danny Briere on the scrap heap every year.  Though if they could pull it off again…well, we can dream.

So that leaves trades.  The trick here is having what others want, and the other team needing to make a move for some reason.  The fact that the salary cap went up as much as it did complicates that – not as many teams need to shed salary to keep their best players.  There are some targets out there (Stephen Weiss?  Paul Stastny?) but their are complicating factors (for Weiss, the Panthers are barely hitting the floor, and Weiss’s cap hit is over $3mil, and Stastny has a big money deal on another team near the floor).

That brings things back to Tim Connolly.  He’s a known quantity, for better or worse.  He’s had productive stretches, though not in the playoffs lately.  He’s been brittle.  He infuriates you with his potential.  He doesn’t talk to the media very much, so despite the fact that he’s been here seemingly forever, we don’t really know him.  At least for Max, he had the language barrier, but Timmy is from this very state.

Look, we all know the Sabres NEED a center for one of the top two lines.  I don’t think TC can do that anymore.  However, this year is not a year with an easy solution to that problem.  Sign Brad Richards! but for how much and how long?  Despite the loosened purse strings and Darcy flexing his deal-making muscles, you still don’t want to kill your flexibility.  Especially with Tyler Myers coming due for a pay upgrade.  Timmy might just be the only feasible option (at a much lower price than the last contract) while we wait and see if someone else comes available, or someone like Luke Adam takes hold of a spot.  I’m not sure I like it any more than you do, but what I am saying is, don’t be surprised if it does happen.

One Reply to “We’re Still Talking About HIM?”

  1. Tim Connolly, Tyler Ennis, Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Myers (Thomas Vanek, except his job is to set up close to the net) have been by far the best sabres at carrying the puck over the blue line, creating space and setting up another sabre in a position for scoring with enough time to shoot before the opponents close it off. This is no small skill. We are loaded with players that cannot do that unless its a break away. Sometimes, dump and chase method is the only choice, but when the sabres have been able to find open players and make good passes on a power play is when they score the most. I’ve watched a lot of sabre games in which the sabres have had one or two weak, long shots on goal or having carried the puck over the blue line, quickly turn over the puck during power plays. I would guarantee that this happens less when especially Connolly and Enis are playing.

    So, the fact is that with Brooks Laich gone from the UFA list and Brad Richards having Toronto and NY not only ready to fully join the feeding frenzy for his talent but also providing big city entertainment, schools, restaurants, culture, and, not the least, advertising income, choosing Buffalo would take an alignment of stars (actual stars, not players) never seen before. Tim Connolly is the best choice of the rest of the centers who are UFA’s.

    With the meager choices in UFA’s that leaves trades. I’m glad the sabres got Regehr when they did because the prospects for good trades doesn’t look good. Other than, as it turns out, Philadelphia, who is going to trade two of their three forward stars? Colorado says trading Stastny is and always was out of the question.

    How about coming back to reality and adapting to it. If Brad Richards is your standard in Buffalo, you’ll always be a disappointed fan. Winners build on strong points within the context of real possibilities. If you look around at this point, unless you’re just stuck in negativity, barring Richards, you should be able to recognize that Connolly has more value as a free agent in the NHL than any likely replacement for him, at least as far as we know, and, at least for now. If we are lucky and he isn’t fed up with all the negativity he gets in Buffalo and decides he needs to move on. If he does, Buffalo loses his value as a player and as a future trade, getting nothing in return. The current environment with a raise in the cap, makes this a very tough market. This is not the time for good deals, or, perhaps for any deals depending on the team situation. If I’m wrong, I’ll be happy. If I’m not wrong, I’ll feel smart, even is displeased with Buffalo’s situation. In any case, I’m not going to blame Connolly for it.

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