Buffalo Sabres Roster Set For Opening Night

The Sabres open their schedule tomorrow night, hosting Montreal, and announced their roster just before the deadline yesterday.  Notable keeps are Derek Grant, Hudson Fasching and Casey Nelson, who have all had good camps.  Though some of that may be the fact that both O’Reilly and Okposo are still hurting and questionable for tomorrow.

The other huge news of the day was Rasmus Ristolainen finally signing a new 6 year deal, with a $5.4 million cap hit.  A very solid deal for a player who still has room to grow.  I’d like to see him take a step defensively this year, while still managing 10+ goals/45+ points.

I’ve seen a bunch of talk about the Sabres being picked to finish last or nearly so in a few publications.  I’m with the rest of you that it seems unlikely, but I can’t fault them too much.  Most of our “FUCK YEAH PLAYOFFS” feelings come from the idea of all the young kids getting better and progressing at a steady rate.  I’d like that to be true, but it just doesn’t happen.  No one was more positive about Tyler Myers than me, starting out with 2 solid years, thinking he was going to keep progressing into superstar status.  It hasn’t happened – he’s more Bouwmeester than Chara.  I’m hyped, but I’m okay with people outside of Buffalo not buying in yet.  Still, I kind of want to re-do Prediction Watch for this season so I can revisit it after the season.

(10/13 Update) Well THAT escalated quickly.  I wrote this yesterday before Eichel’s high ankle sprain came to light.  I don’t think it greatly affects the season, barring some weirdly lingering issue, but you have to laugh at the luck here.  “Hey, at least we’ve got some great young players to watch!”  “LOL NO sorry you don’t.”

Girgensons Back For Another Year

The Buffalo Sabres announced yesterday they have signed Zemgus Girgensons to a one-year deal.

The Sabres didn’t announce it, but it’s apparently worth $1.15 million this year.  I’m happy to see him back, hopefully he can get back to the 15 goal mark again.  I can definitely see Gears filling that Jochen Hecht role of just being a generally all-around good player that can be relied upon anywhere in the lineup.  He’s still an RFA too, so there’s not a huge downside to giving the one-year deal in hopes that he plays his way into a long-term deal.

Dynamic Pricing

The Sabres announced they are implementing a “Dynamic Pricing” structure for their tickets, with a higher base price (quite a bit higher in some cases) but the ability for the pricing on games to be adjusted on the fly as demand dictates.  Like airline seats, but I’m not sure that’s an association I’d want if I was a business.

As you can imagine, that went over like the proverbial lead balloon, especially with a fanbase that’s been suffering through some tough years to try and get better.  I’m more curious than anything, as I can’t afford to spend big on tickets no matter what, but if this can get me in cheap on a non-marquee matchup, dynamic pricing might actually benefit me.  The difficult aspect is not knowing what to budget to go.  Is my ticket going to be $30, $50, more?  I’m afraid that if the team is performing well the “dynamic pricing” will price us right out of the arena.  There’s already plenty of reasons to stay home (more comfortable seats, my own food, no commute), and the Sabres don’t need another reason on top of that.

But I’m willing to see how it works here before I go out and set fire to my Sabres gear.  How the pricing scheme is implemented is the key point, I just wish I had more more faith in the parameters that the people in charge in Buffalo will put in place.

Jimmy Vesey? Sure, why not?

Tim Murray has it exactly right.  You trade for the rights to a player who played with your hot young player, Jack Eichel.  You’ve successfully negotiated with his agent in the past, as he also reps Eichel.  You had an abundance of picks in the third round, which only produce NHL players (50 games or more in a career, so a low bar at that) at about a 30% clip.   GMTM takes a small risk that he and Jack Eichel will be more persuasive than David Poile.  No matter what happens, it’s worth it to give it a spin.  Something else that might help is using all of that cap room to snag one of he biggest trade targets/free agents coming up.  Since the exclusive negotiating period extends after July 1, Vesey seeing Buffalo making more savvy moves at the draft or in free agency could be the tipping point in his decision, no matter what he says now.

The Sabres in 2016

Tanking is done.  Suffering is out the window.  Your Buffalo Sabres are now at peak ‘put up or shut up’.  Eichel is here and seems to be exactly as advertised.  While there are guys yet to sign, there is room to maneuver, with a GM willing to do it.  The draft is approaching, and that’s the perfect time to stop coasting on the goodwill generated by drafting a possible generational talent, and to make the moves that will put this team back in the playoffs where they belong.

Am I back blogging the Sabres for good?  That remains to be seen, but I want be able to be excited again this year.

A New Season, A New Hope

The Buffalo Sabres open camp today with three sessions open to the public.  The Sabres site has your full details, but it feels too soon, strangely.  There’s been some turnover in players and coaches – Miller’s really gone? – and there’s a new hope in Sam Reinhart.  Despite all the change (and Darcy Regier being gone) many expect the Sabres to have another year of suffering, to get a shot at Connor McDavid.  Though presumptive captain Brian Gionta and other players say the right things about wanting to win and sneaking up on teams, but they are in an odd spot where many fans would be cool with it if they just didn’t.

For my part, I just want to watch fun hockey games.  I can see the draw of tanking for McDavid, but if this team gels and makes a playoff run, I’d be happy.  Here’s to fun, and a return to blogging activity this season.  Go Sabres.

An End to Suffering?

So the Sabres season is finally over.  It’s a relief, to be honest, even for someone like me who had tried to keep a lighter level of interest.  John Vogl’s column has the grim details – 2-16-2 through the last 20, 150 goals on the season, clear of the 29th place team by 14 points – but to hear the media tell it, it will never be so bad again.

Will that be true, though?  The turnover will be immense, especially if you count the moves going back to the deadline.  Captains, goaltenders, coaches, execs, nowhere has been immune to the tectonic shifts in the Sabres franchise.  That’s not a recipe for success.  Next season is going to involve a large number of new players which will need time to gel.  The main thing going for them is it would be nearly impossible to be this bad again.  You could just about accidently score more than 150 goals if you swap in a few players that actually shoot the puck.

What does that mean, though?  26th place next year?  A slight chance at a playoff spot?  It may not be suffering, but it isn’t exactly set up for a season of joy.  I’m curious to see how attendance works out next season, whether fans can get excited about seeing more of the young kids, or if there are any new surprising vets to watch.  We’ve got a non-Darcy offseason to look forward to – we don’t know much about Tim Murray and what’s going to happen, so this might just be the most interesting part of 2014 for the Sabres as a team and fans.  See you at the draft lottery.