Derek Roy and the Sabres came to an agreement, 6 years/24 million dollars. That's a lot of money right now, but I think Derek is going to be worth it, particularly by the middle of the contract. I was cruising message boards this morning, trying to see if the arbitration hearing had taken place and I was genuinely surprised at how much fans seem to be underrating Derek. One criticism that kept popping up over and over is that he had the luxury of playing with two of the most offensively gifted players in Thomas Vanek and Maxim Afinogenov. While it's true that they're gifted, I think sometimes those kind of players are tough to play with. They're quick and creative and not always easy to keep up with. During his time in Buffalo, Max has frustrated more linemates than he's flourished with. Plus that line stayed productive even when Max was out and Stafford was in so really folks, let's give Derek a little bit of credit, okay? I think his versatility - he can play on an offensive line or a defensive line - makes him more valuable then some of the younger forwards. He has the capability of being a strong two-way player when he's using his brain and he's already one of our better penalty killers. He's scrappy and doesn't shy away from hitting or being hit the way some guys of his size do. He totally gets under the opposition's skin. And for a team that is allegedly dying for leadership, he has a lot of potential in that area. He captained the Kitchener Rangers to a Memorial Cup in the OHL and is clearly an important part of the core group of guys. Don't get me wrong, Derek could definitely do with some maturing. I think he dove a lot less this past season than he did the previous season but he still goes down a little too easily sometimes (although let's also keep in mind that he is tiny and sometimes tiny people get knocked down). And he definitely needs to quit with the whining about every call/non-call he doesn't like. He lets that stuff bother him too much and he starts taking stupid penalties. But I think maturity will come. He's 24 years old and he's only been in the league for three years. He's gotten noticeably better every year and I think he still has some room to grow. If salaries keep going up or even stay where they are now, four million for Derek is going to be a good deal. As much as he frustrates me sometimes, I love watching Derek play and I'm glad he'll be around for a while.
After putzing around on the ol' internet for a few minutes, I can't believe how many people are complaining about this deal. People were moaning and groaning about the lack of foresight management had about Briere and Drury but now that the ownership is taking a chance on a young player and locking him up long-term, the same people are moaning and groaning about it. What exactly will make you guys happy? Anything? Is every deal from here on out going to be greeted with complaints like, "I can't believe they wouldn't give Briere 5 million/5 years in the off-season before the 2006-2007 season but they're going to give this yahoo this contract!" Everyone agreed last off-season that 5 million for Briere was ridiculous. Everyone agrees this off-season that 7 million for Briere was ridiculous. Derek's deal in the current market is much more reasonable and has far more upside that either of the Briere contracts did in their markets. I really feel like it's time we moved past comparing everything to two guys who are not on the team anymore. Is Buffalo always like this in the off-season or am I just noticing?