It is coming at no surpirse anymore, that the Buffalo Sabres will be under new management, and this season could be the last for many of our favorite players, coaches, and other members of management. There is little that management can do to control their fate, but the players should all be playing like it is a contract year in order to ensure that they are at least considered for a roster spot on the 2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres.
Nathan Gerbe is going to be one Buffalo Sabre that might not be wearing Blue and Gold next year, as his first pro contract is set to expire, and he will head into the off season as a restricted free agent. At 5’5″, and 173 pounds, the only difference between Nathan Gerbe and Tim Kennedy is the five inches that separates their height. If the Sabres were quick to be done with home town kid Kennedy, especially after an arbitration hearing in Kennedy’s favor, don’t think that the Buffalo Sabres are going to be reaching out to Gerbe in any other fashion.
Gerbe will, without a doubt take the team to arbitration if the team gives him a qualifying offer of less than a million a season – its just the standard way of doing business, and if he kept track of the Kennedy sitaution, its exactly what Tim’s agent went for. If the Buffalo Sabres don’t just walk away from Gerbe by not qualifying him (which would make him an unrestricted agent, able to test the free agency waters throughout the league) they could get stuck walking away from an unfavorable deal that has them paying for another player that is not playing in Blue and Gold. Again, Nathan Gerbe should reference the Tim Kennedy case just in case his agent has dreams of millions of dollars for an NHL player who has not been pulling his weight in an NHL environment.
Consider the numbers, in 79 games with the team, Tim Kennedy put a whopping ten goals on the scoresheet across two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. Despite his success at lower levels, it was apparent the kid was not going to develop in the Buffalo system. I am not saying that he doesn’t deserve a chance elsewhere, but it is going to be very difficult for him to find an NHL suitor.
Nathan Gerbe, on the other hand, has only played in 47 NHL contests, and has four goals. If he remains on that pace through the same number of games as Kennedy, he will only have eight goals. On a team that is struggling for offense – eight goals from a player of Gerbe’s type is not enough.
I am in no way saying that I don’t like Gerbe’s game. He is a speedy player, but he either needs to find the back of the net more, or refine his role so that he is not vacant on the scoreboard; or let it be a surprise to people that he is on the ice. He might make a great career in the AHL – and even find his niche in the NHL, but I do not think it will be wearing Sabres Blue and Gold.