It's 2:16 in the morning. I'm in Ottawa. But here I am, blogging for you the people, because I know you're all dying to know what I have to say about Bucky Gleason's latest column. (That's a joke.) I worked today and then drove to Williamsville, Niagara Falls, and Ottawa so I'm pretty tired. Here are some bullet points. (Minus the actual bullet points since I don't know how to make them.)
- Hey, we all make mistakes. I blew it big time with Derek Roy. My blunder last year was listing his suggested salary ($800,000) on a chart without explanation.
While I appreciate that he's acknowledging that he made a mistake with Derek Roy, I'm not sure you can just toss that particular mistake aside. Bucky did exactly what he's accused management of doing and misread the market and in real life, it never would've worked. If he had called Roy's agent and offered $800,000, his agent would've hung up the phone. And if Bucky tried to protest that Roy was going to be his third line center, the agent would've said Roy was too talented for that and then hung up the phone. Players get paid for their production, not how you use them. No matter where he plays Roy was a 24-year-old who scored 68 points and showed the ability to play in all situations. That's worth something.
I think last off-season was really a time of serious decision for the Sabres. They had to either sink a whole lot of money into their centers or they had to cut Drury, Briere, or Roy loose. They chose Roy over Briere and I think they made the right choice. This past season would seem to prove them right. Roy had more points than Briere, was much better 5-on-5, killed penalties, and is already a better two-way player than Briere will ever be. On top of all that, he's a good deal younger and probably has a little more room to grow yet.
- Other things Bucky misjudged include Thomas Vanek's offer sheet and Jaroslav Spacek's performance. Now I don't really blame him for not expecting Kevin Lowe's crazy ass offer because I don't think anyone did. But the difference between what he was going to pay Vanek and Roy and what Vanek and Roy actually ended up making is huge. Enough of a difference to throw his planned budget completely out of whack.
- Also no mention of the fact that his co-captains and top two centers made a lot of money and had pretty average regular seasons. Based on last year I'm not sure I'd say either Drury or Briere was worth what he was paid. That could change over the course of the next 5-6 years but let's at least acknowledge that neither of them exactly carried his team's offense.
- I don't disagree that the Sabres should be fielding trade offers for any combination of Afinogenov, Connolly, and Kotalik. I understand why the Sabres held on to Max - he was coming off two good seasons (77 points in 73 games, 61 points in 56 games) and was signed to a reasonably priced contract - but I'd be fine with him moving on.
- The only thing Bucky says that I vehemently disagree with is this: Numminen shouldn’t have been re-signed, not at $2.6 million, under any circumstances. Everyone spent all season bemoaning the lack of leadership on the team. Teppo was a veteran the other players on the team already knew and respected and he would've provided steady if unspectacular defense. All that for $2.6 million seems like a pretty good bargain in the current market to me. The Sabres probably could've found another veteran for cheaper but I think the team's familiarity with Teppo - the knowledge that he was absolutely going to mesh with the players here - was worth a little extra. Obviously, the season-ending-except-for-that-one-game surgery makes all the above a moot point but still. I think it was a good deal. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Teppo's loss and the affect it had on the team has been vastly underrated by just about everyone.
- Ryan Miller's negotiations are definitely going to be the most interesting but come on... He's not getting anything less than $6 million a year. He just isn't, not in this market. Bucky says that there are plenty of good goalies out there for less than $5 million but I would've liked to have seen some names because I'm not sure who he's talking about. Goalies also have to fit the system they play in. Not every goalie is going to play well behind a team that is still mostly offense first. Despite a rough season, Ryan has shown that he is capable of handling defensive breakdowns and odd-man rushes. You're not going to pull a journeyman goalie off the street, plug him in, and have him be successful in every situation. I don't know, I hate to overpay anyone but if you're going to do it, it should be your goalie. Ryan had a terrible season but he also went to the ECF his first two years as a starter, the second year doing it practically on his own at times. That's worth something on payday.
Two side notes: One, I don't think it's entirely fair to use Martin Brodeur's salary as a comparison. He has repeatedly given New Jersey a hometown discount, sometimes to the disgruntlement of his peers. His contract is fabulous and I would love it if Ryan signed something similar, but it's not representative of market value. Two, I love that Bucky suggests the Sabres sign Ryan to a three year contract which means Ryan "gets back to the bargaining table sooner and can make his case for more money." I think that makes wonderful sense but when a certain other former Sabre was offered a three year deal everyone ranted and raved about how INSULTING it was that a YOUNG, TALENTED PLAYER was offered such a MINUSCULE number of years even though Darcy Regier expressed exactly the same reasoning. He can make some money now and get another kick at the tires in a few years.
- I think 3.6 million/3 years is probably underpaying Gaustad. 5 million/4 years for Paille isn't an overly impressive offer either. I'll be pleasantly surprised if either guy's extension is that low.
All right, that's all I got for now. I'm sure later I'll think of something I missed or forgot but I'll take a look at it again later. I need some friggin' sleep.