Buffalo, I love you but you're crazy. You know that, right? Darcy Regier all but told you that most of what the Sabres did this year would probably be done via trade, he told you that they had a certain number of dollars they were willing to spend and they wouldn't go over it, he told you he thought it was a fairly weak UFA market this season, and he told you they had two very specific needs to fill. And even after all that - and even after they filled one of those needs - you still freaked out when the Sabres hadn't signed a big name by the end of the night.
Listen, I get it. Every hockey fan wants to wake up on UFA day and unwrap the shiny new toy. You know, that really cool toy that has the bright, running lights and the realistic sound effects, the one that everyone is grabbing for and only one or two lucky people get. But we all know what happens. You play with the toy for a few months and then the batteries start to run down. A speaker busts and the sound gets really tinny. The lights still run but only every other one blinks because the bulbs, on closer inspection, are really cheap. One of the plastic arms breaks off, making the toy kind of useless and ugly and you suddenly realize, "Wait a second! This toy doesn't play enough defense or kill enough penalties for the price I paid for it!" And then you're stuck. You can't sell the thing on eBay because no one wants it and you can't talk one of your buddies into making a trade, not even for the cheap action figure that doesn't bend at the knees and elbows. You have to either buy some other toys to pile around it and hope they hide it - although good luck because unfortunately you spent a huge chunk of your toy budget on that P.O.S. - or you just have to toss the friggin' thing in the garbage. And really, who wants that?
Here's what some other teams did today.
Toronto gave their fans the Finger (sorry, sorry) and signed a 28-year-old who's played in 94 NHL games to 3.5 million for 4 years.
The Rangers paid 6.5 million for a defenseman who didn't do well under pressure and was such a disappointment in the last two seasons that his team was desperate to get rid of him.
Tampa Bay signed, by my unofficial count, 18 forwards. They also signed Olaf Kolzig, which would be fine if they weren't already talking about shopping Mike Smith, their other (younger, potentially very good) goaltender. They've evidently decided their defense is in fine shape which is... not what my assessment would be.
The Capitals went from Cristobal Huet to Jose Theodore in net which seems like a serious downgrade to me especially for the money involved. Oh, sure Theodore has played well for at least one stretch in the past few years. Not sure that's really what a young, up-and-coming team needs.
The Chicago Blackhawks decided Brian Campbell should be paid almost as much as Nicklas Lidstrom. Granted, I think he actually will fit in with the players they have pretty well - okay, that's what I hear, I haven't watched Chicago recently and wouldn't know anyone who plays defense for them if Brent Seabrook hadn't been on my fantasy team last year - and I can see him being one of those rare guys who plays better once his contract is settled than while he's trying to earn said contract but seven million dollars? For EIGHT YEARS? Brian Campbell's not a baby anymore. He'll be 37 when that contract is done. The Blackhawks also have major cap issues though they do admittedly have some time to address those.
My point? Most of this is crazy. And this isn't even including the alleged 10 million per offer made to Mats Sundin, the alleged 9 million per offer made to Marion Hossa, and whatever ridiculous contract The Shift is going to earn Brooks Orpik. Seriously, what was the last huge UFA signing that really made a difference the following year? This is madness.
For all the crap, Darcy Regier takes from Buffalo, I like him and would take him over most of the yahoo GMs out there.
I like that he's too smart to get into bidding wars with other GMs or smart enough to bow out of them at the right time.
I like that he's put some thought into what he wants to spend where and then sticks to it.
I like that he's more likely to go out and find someone like Toni Lydman or Teppo Numminen or Nolan Pratt who isn't a huge, flashy name but who fills a need and does it for a much more reasonable price.
I like that he's not afraid to ignore the UFA market and focus on trades. You do remember how Chris Drury and Danny Briere got to Buffalo, right?
I like that when it comes to big money and years, he seems to be focusing more on players who are already in Buffalo and already an important part of the team. (Yeah, yeah, Drury and Briere. Moving on!)
I like that while everyone is freaking out about UFAs, he's slowly pulling together a good core of players. Right now we have Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Jochen Hecht, and Paul Gaustad for four years or more with Ryan Miller and Jason Pominville hopefully soon to follow. Maybe it's just me but that doesn't seem like too bad a group.
I like that he seems to realize that signing a load of expensive UFAs isn't the only way - or even a good way - to build a winning team. I like that he realizes the problems that do exist don't have to all be fixed TODAY RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND OH MY GOD PLEASE HURRY UP!
I like that when we're all watching paint dry in three years because there's another lockout, my GM won't have had anything to do with it.
Buffalo, take a chill pill, okay? Believe it or not, you're in pretty good hands.