Well, that was a bust.
Or was it?
The first day of free agent availability in the NHL came and went with a consistent stream of news and Tweets involving pretty much every team outside of the 716.
Meanwhile, fans of the Buffalo Sabres who were expecting General Manager Darcy Regier to do ANYTHING – to land even ONE free agent – were sadly disappointed on Friday, due to the absolute lack of activity on the part of the Sabres. And when I say “lack of activity,” I’m not talking about the Sabres quietly signing one or two of the less-coveted free agents on the market; I’m talking no activity at all, to the point where I have to wonder if the Sabres organization didn’t give everyone the day off today, due to a comedy of errors that resulted in the wrong date for free agency being printed on all of the calendars in the First Niagara Center.
By my count, 27 out of the 30 teams that make up the NHL acquired a new player in this latest round of free agent insanity, leaving only the Winnipeg Jets, the Washington Capitals, and the Buffalo Sabres as teams who added no new players yesterday. Despite the fact that this wasn’t a particularly strong crop of free agents, many Sabres fans took to Twitter, the phone lines, and all available telegraphs to lambast Darcy Regier and the Sabres organization for being either lazy, incompetent, afraid, incompetent, too despised for any team to want to deal with, incompetent – you get the picture, yes? The bottom line: Sabres fans wanted to see the organization go out and get SOMEONE they could cheer for, someone who might help speed up the rebuilding process. More importantly, those fans simply wanted to see the Buffalo Sabres act as if they actually gave a crap about the fans who were told not too long ago that they would be suffering a 3-4 year rebuilding process.
For those fans, no free agent acquisitions is unacceptable. I would argue a different point: the Buffalo Sabres actually did themselves a favor by not being sucked into the free agent free-for-all. (Notice: I am only discussing free agency here, not trades. I am less forgiving when it comes to trade activity – hold that thought for now).
For starters, I know many of you would have liked to see Mike Ribeiro sign with the Sabres – but he clearly wasn’t interested. Even if he had been offered five boatloads of cash by Terry “Deep Pockets” Pegula, and had signed, would you really want him playing in Buffalo solely because he received a king’s ransom? Don’t you want players who respect the franchise, admire the history, and truly want to help build something great?
Besides, the Sabres would have been forced to shell out a disproportionate amount of money to lure a quality free agent into the fold. Did you check out some of the contracts? Valtteri Filppula to Tampa Bay for 5 years and $25 million? Ryane Clowe – he of 3 total goals last season – to New Jersey for 5 years and $24.25 million? Nathan Horton to the Columbus Blue Jackets for 7 years and $37.1 million? None of those guys did anything to earn those contracts. Good players they may be (with Clowe getting the “highly overrated” tag in my book) – but not that good. Would you really have wanted the Sabres trying to get in a bidding war with those sorts of numbers being tossed around?
I’m disappointed this morning – but with the market, not with the Sabres’ unwillingness to play with Monopoly money. It’s your call now – how do you feel about it?