The Sporting News has rated Buffalo as the number one NHL city. This is amazing considering only a few years ago there were only 8,000 people at home games and the team was in the middle of bankruptcy. But a likable team that ws very good made the Sabres the darling of Buffalo and hockey was now the number one sport since the Bills had been struggling. There were thousands of people standing outside in the rain watching the playoff games, and there are currently approximately 8,000 people on the waiting list for season tickets. The city has been rewarded with a probable outdoor game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. This truly shows that they are great, because it is amazing that a small market team would get this type of game. Jersey sales were extremely impressive and television ratings were great as well. Sabres fans even voted 3 starters into the all-star game. I am proud to be a Sabres fan.
The Buffalo Sabres signed their seventh defensemen Nathan Paetsch to a very good deal in my opinion of just around $850,000 per year for 3 years. If Paetsch can develop into a solid top six defensemen, this contract is a steal for a quick defensemen who can run the powerplay and who has a bit of a mean streak to him. Paetsch will bring a lot of energy to the team. I also feel that this deal may make room for a trade of either Dimitri Kalinin or Jaroslav Spacek. I would definately prefer Spacek going as he makes more money and doesn’t add much value in terms of the powerplay, while atleast Kalinin is good at killing penalties and has a much better all-around game. Only about a month til training camp begins.
Derek Roy will be here for 6 more years after he signed a 6 year $24 million dollar deal. This deal to me tells me that the Sabres now believe that Derek Roy will continue to progress, but even further than that is that the Sabres believe that the NHL salary cap will continue to rise. I like Roy a lot, an even though he is small and complains alot, I think that is good for his game. He will be able to play with his linemate Thomas Vanek for that that time and I feel those two will have success. This deal is much different than any 2 and 3 year deal that the Sabres were giving out last year. If you look at what Derek Roy did last summer, he decided to accept his qualifying offer of only around $650,000. He played well and was rewarded with a huge contract. This is different than what Jason Pomminville did, taking a 3 year, $3.5 million deal. This was quite a difference in salary. This is the same thing that Paille did this year and while I love Paille, I would have liked the Sabres to have locked him up long-term as well. This contract probably means that the Sabres are going to start the season with either Mike Ryan, Clarke McArthur, Andrew Peters, or Marek Zagrapan.
Not related to the Sabres, but isn’t something that the NHL is the only one of the four major American sports not currently being investigated by the federal government. MLB has steroids, especially surrounding Barry Bonds. The NFL has dog fighting relating to Michael Vick, and the NBA has a new scandal involving referees betting on the games that they are officiating. It’s time for people who complain about how bad professional athletes are to take a look at the NHL.
I would love the idea of Michael Peca being signed by the Sabres if it is around $1 million or less. He would bring toughness and leadership to the team. He fits the bill exactly for the third line center that the Sabres need. I do not feel that he would bring any harm by overshadowing the younger players. If anything, I feel his toughness, hard work, and ability to do all the little things would show players like Derek Roy to be even better. If he wants to come here, which it seems like he does, then the Sabres should definitely sign him.
I am very happy that Daniel Paille signed. He is going to be a very good player, especially defensively. He has Selke Award candidate written all over him if he can learn to finish offensively. I am sure he took the qualifying offer because he saw how Derek Roy will cash in this year after just taking a qualifying offer last year. I hope he plays very well for the Sabres.
I visited the Sabres rookie camp and really liked what I saw, especially the turnout from the fans. Some guys that I thought stood out were Drew Stafford, who obviously was the best player on the ice. He played with such control, paitence, and skill. He is certainly ready to be an NHL regular. Another guy I really liked was 2005 first round draft pick Marek Zagrapan. He was so much bigger than I expected him to be, and it is clear that he will be a star one day in the NHL if he continues to progress. Pat Kaleta was really physical out there and I liked it. Philippe Gogulla liked like he could be a good player one day. Nathan Gerbe, the smallest guy on the ice at only 5’5″ was so skilled. He looked like a small version of Daniel Briere and I believe that he could definately play in the NHL. On the back end, I really liked how Sekera skated with the puck. I thought T.J. Brennan definately looked like he could be a good player. I thought that Mike Funk and Mike Weber could definately dominate a game physically. I liked what I saw overall.