Timely First Goals

Marc-André Gragnani has been touted as a dynamic offensive defenceman. Chris Butler has been a defensive and shot-blocking defenceman who has had issues staying in the lineup this year (sorry, that is obligatory to point out). It was these two who came up big when the Buffalo Sabres needed a win in Raleigh.

These last couple months it’s been the kids’ turn to give this team the extra push. Sure, Ryan Miller has been solid and Paul Gaustad has turned up his engines. But it’s been Nathan Gerbe, Jhonas Enroth, Andrej Sekera, and other players just finding their own that have made the difference. For the most part the Sabres veterans have been hurt, frustratingly denied, or they’ve vanished all together. Even those who have been producing steadily, such as Jason Pominville and Tim Connolly (though to be fair, “steady” looks “red hot” for Timmy when you consider his stats this year), have not been what has pushed this team from the bubble to knocking on the door of 6th place. It’s been the kids.

On one hand, this is really exciting. Yay! We have young players that are rising to the moment! We have kids that are turning “potential” into “clutch.” On the other hand, chances are we’re going to see a couple of them walk this summer. Terry Pegula’s pocket book can’t overcome the league salary cap, and here’s a look at the upcoming UFA’s and RFA’s:

  • Tim Connolly
  • Drew Stafford
  • Mike Grier
  • Rob Niedermayer
  • Nathan Gerbe
  • Cody McCormick
  • Mark Mancari
  • Matt Ellis
  • Mark Parrish
  • Steve Montador
  • Andrej Sekera
  • Chris Butler
  • Mike Weber
  • Marc-André Gragnani
  • Patrick Lalime
  • Jhonas Enroth

Now obviously there are some names that we can safely assume won’t be returning. Still, that’s a daunting list to look at, especially when half of the defense core is on it. These kids that have been pushing this team to look dangerous, to be taken serious in a first round matchup, are each looking to get a raise at the end of the year.

So, with the good comes the bad. The Lion King told me that was the circle of life, and I do derive all my philosophies from animated movies about anthropomorphic animals. I can speculate, I can wonder, but I’m not going to. Right now this Sabres team is really fun to watch and I think they’re going to be a threat in the first round. Once the playoffs are over I’ll probably do some sort of analysis of who should be kept, and my predictions will probably be about 20% correct. But for now I’m going to get some Labatt, watch these last 3 games, and hope that the Sabres don’t leapfrog Montreal. After all, if you face Washington, you’ve got a 1-3 chance that they’re going to choke against you.

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Tags: Boston Bruins Buffalo Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes Chris Butler Darcy Regier Drew Stafford Eastern Conference Fansided Free Agency Hockey Jason Pominville Jhonas Enroth Lindy Ruff Marc-andre Gragnani Montreal Canadiens NHL Northeast Division Patrick Lalime Portland Pirates Ryan Miller Sabres Stanley Cup Stanley Cup Playoffs Terry Pegula Thomas Vanek Tim Connolly Trade Tyler Myers Washington Capitals

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