Thursday, March 5, 2009

Further Thoughts on the Trade Deadline...

Just a few thoughts about Bucky Gleason's column today which, shockingly, did not include a single reference to James Wisniewski. (You'll be happy to know he more than made up for it in his chat.) Again, I won't argue too hard with the opinion that re-signing Tim Connolly at his price was a bad move. I can't certainly understand feeling that way. But I do have a few smallish things to address.

In the days leading into the deadline, talk around the league was that Connolly wasn’t interested in returning to the Sabres.

I have to admit to being very curious about this and who exactly was talking. Connolly has never struck me as the kind of guy who would go out of his way to say nice things just to say them. Let's face it. He comes across as a major prick sometimes. But he said a number of times in the past few weeks that he really wanted to stay in Buffalo and he sounded very sincere which is something else he does not exactly specialize in. Yesterday he also sounded genuinely pleased that it worked out here. Granted, he had just signed a nine million dollar contract. I just think it's intersting that the league was evidently talking about this and yet the only place I heard anything like this was from Bucky. In no way am I accusing Bucky of making something up. I'm sure he does have his sources. And lord knows pro athletes occasionally say things they don't actually mean. I just think it's interesting.

Nobody would deny Connolly’s talent, but Roy is a better center and will make $1.5 million less in the next two years.

I've seen Bucky use Roy's contract as a measuring stick a few times now and I think that's a little deceiving. One, Roy's contract was signed two years ago now. The cap has gone up every year since then and when the cap goes up, salaries go up. I think a rising cap makes it very hard to compare salaries from year to year. I'd say that Roy is more talented than Jason Pominville too and Pominville is making more as well, partly because his deal was signed a year later. And two, Roy's contract is an amazing bargain and has been pretty much from day one. He's underpaid and that makes it a little bit of a cheat to use his price as a comparison, I think.

Signing him was their big move on a day in which their rivals in the Eastern Conference playoff race made stronger attempts to get better. The only team that didn’t make a key trade before the deadline was Florida, which kept defenseman Jay Bouwmeester with the idea it was better with him than without him.

I think this is overstating things a lot. All the other teams made moves but I don't know that most of them were particularly strong. Most of them were smallish moves made by teams that are in a good position and just need some tweaking. I don't know that there's a huge difference between Pittsburgh addressing a need for tough wingers by getting Bill Guerin and the Sabres addressing the need for some depth in the middle by getting Dominic Moore.

Essentially, the Sabres traded away a rental free agent who should have been gone two years ago in Ales Kotalik for a rental free agent who will be gone after this season in Dominic Moore.

Darcy Regier danced around the question about the team's plans for Moore beyond this season but I think it's natural to assume part of the reason they made the deal is because they like him and want to get a closer look at him. I'm not saying that means he'll definitely be back here next year. I have no idea how he'll work out and what kind of contract demands he's making. But Bucky doesn't know those things either. His assumption that Moore definitely will not be back next season bugs me.

Henrik Tallinder, who acknowledged a few weeks ago he needed a change in scenery, is still here.

This bugs me too. The only exchange I've seen any record of regarding needing a change of scenery is Jerry Sullivan's column last weekend. In that column, Sully said he asked Hank if a change of scenery can be good for a player and Hank responded with, "Oh, yeah." Sully was interpreting that as him suggesting he could use a change of scenery and I'm okay with that interpretation especially since Sully made it clear that it was his interpretation. But that is decidedly not the same thing as Hank saying, "I need a change of scenery," which is what Bucky is implying here. Unless he's talking about a different conversation, he's veering awfully close to putting words in someone's mouth.

That aside, hello, Hank is still here because Darcy didn't like anything that was offered for him. Pretty simple. I can understand dumping Max for nothing - although I think the alternative of trying to get something out of him first is better if there really were no offers - but Hank is more valuable than that. He's one of the teams best trade assets and if getting good value for him means waiting until the off-season than I think that's what you have to do. We're already looking at a very young defensive corp next season with Chris Butler, Andrej Sekera and Mike Weber. Pull out Teppo Numminen and maybe Jaroslav Spacek and that's even more experience gone. I would feel much more comfortable having another veteran d-man in place before we deal Hank. I mean, really. I think in this area I'll trust the judgment of the people who actually know what all the offers were rather than someone who's listening to rumors.

Tellqvist didn’t cost more than the change in your ashtray. The Sabres didn’t give up any extra draft picks or any warm bodies under the age of 25.

But that's... good, right?

I guess part of my problem with this column is that I'm just not sure what Bucky really wanted the Sabres to do. He's been saying for months that the Sabres aren't good enough to make any kind of playoff run this season and they should focus on being better for the next couple of years. Outside of re-signing Connolly, I don't really see why what they did at the deadline flies in the face of that enough for Bucky to be such a pompous grouch the last couple of days. Is his complaint that they didn't do enough to get better for this season? Or that they didn't do enough to get better for the future? Because if it's the latter, the trade deadline is not the only time you can work on building your team. I would actually argue that it's probably not a very good time to do that if you're not either selling everything off or close enough to winning that you can do some tweaking. Half the teams in the league are still in the playoff hunt right now. There were very few big, future impact deals made. It's during the off-season, once the playoffs are over, that teams are really going to be examining their rosters and deciding what to do with various assets. I would think the off-season is also better suited to someone as deliberate as Darcy. I just don't get the level of outrage and disgust he's shown the last few days in his writing and in his chats.

But again, what do I know? I'm just a blogger.


Anne said...

This whole happy Timmy thing is really unsettling.

I think the Timmy we saw in his interview with Kevin Sylvester was genuinely happy to be in Buffalo. Yes, he just guaranteed himself $9 million but he also acknowledge that there was always the chance he could've gotten more or even less on July 1. I agree that he's being overpaid but that happiness to stay in Buffalo is definitely winning me over.

My wild Timmy mood swings have gotten worse over the last two days.

Of course Darcy isn't going to make any grand statements about Moore or his future as a Sabre, he's never played a game for us. He wouldn't even make grand statements about Miller's future until the season was over and we all knew that was a priority. That being said, I'm eagerly awaiting Moore's debut tonight.

double d said...


I think that bucky is just pissed that pretty much everything he wrote on deadline day turned out to be wrong. Both he and Sully went out of their way to say that the Sabres "caved" to Connolly and his agent when the real term for it is negotiation. Timmy gave up one to two years of term and the Sabres increased the short term money to mitigate the long term risk. Pretty standard stuff in pro sports these days. I think Kevin had the best take on it yesterday on his blog. How does it affect the team's ability to keep the young guys that are RFA's this year? Those are the types of questions Bucky should be raising.

Meg said...

I have to agree with double d: Bucky is pissed because as usual he didn't know what the Sabres were doing and winds up looking, well, like he doesn't have inside sources that are any good.

Also as usual, he came off as an unprofessional, petulant snot at the press conference when he was asking Regier questions.

I am just never going to understand why the man is employed to write about hockey.

dave in Rocha said...

It's pretty simple to me: Fans/media in general seemed enthused by both the Timmy extension and the Moore trade, so he felt the need to piss on everyone's parade. Because as everyone knows, unless you've won the Stanley Cup there's no justification for any joy, hope or enthusiasm about your hockey team because otherwise you're "content with mediocrity".

Gambler said...

His assumption that Moore definitely will not be back next season bugs me.

Not to mention the assumption that he'll definitely walk away for nothing. Does he not remember how Darcy turned Bernier into Rivet?

The Connolly signing strikes me as completely insane (not the fact they signed him so much as for how much), but then again, I think the last time I actually got to watch a game he was still injured, so I have little to no sense for how good he's been.

Vanek's Hair said...

Put me in the category of being satisfied with the Connolly signing. He is, without question, the most talented and gifted (from the redundant department of redundancy) Sabre. It really isn't close. No other player has the ability to back a defender off when he has the puck. He has proven over his career that he is a point per game player. Of course, that is a point per game, in limited appearances.

Seriously, what would Mr. Gleason prefer the Sabres do? Pay a talented center $8 million per season and only play in 9 games? Pay another center about $8 million to produce, at today's count 17 goals? That same player so good at being a leader, his team felt it necessary to bring in Sean Avery to get things turned around?

Obviously, the signing is a gamble, because Connolly is a hit away from a career threatening/ending injury. By that same token, every signing is equally risky because hockey is a violent game. EVERY player is a hit away from the same fate. If Connolly can play 60-70 games per season, it is a steal.

As for Bucky possibly making up information from his sources, I will not be so kind. It seems that his "sources" always have the same information: (Insert player name here) hates it in Buffalo and wants to be traded because the team sucks. After (Insert player name here) signs a free agent contract or is traded, (insert player name here) loved it in Buffalo and wanted to stay, but was forced to leave because the front office was not proactive enough.

In short, every one of his "scoops" appear to me to be the same dance, different song.

Mark B said...

I also think he's dead wrong about Derek being a better Center than Timmy. As much as I like Derek, when Timmy is healthy, he is far and away our best player (with all due respect to Thomas Vanek).

John M. said...

What did he say about Wisnewski in the chat? He made a snarky comment to Darcy about Wisnewsky during Darcy's presser on deadline day about knowing something Darcy didn't about the Sabres being interested in him. He just loves those "gotcha" moments.

Anonymous said...

Admittedly I don't read Bucky often, but it seems to me that his biggest problem is that there isn't anything to be pissed about. Keeping Connolly is a good idea and the money really isn't outrageous, just a bit high.

He can't argue against Tellqvist when the only option is Enroth either. Enroth's not even close to ready and it puts the development of a lot of players on hold if you tear him out of Portland with no backup there either.

I'm pretty certain the only thing that would have made Bucky happy would have been to see Max leave for a late-round pick or 2, or have a tie-in on the Moore deal that lands Yo-Yo somewhere out west. He's lost at sea right now because the Sabres are good enough to not be missing major pieces, but bad enough that maybe tweaking isn't enough.

On the Hank comment though, I'm pretty certain I saw a video clip of him talking about changes in scenery. I can't remember where I saw it, but the extended clip had him saying things like "Sometimes it helps me to change it up for a while." Though I think it's a stretch to interpret it as a call for a trade, I can see how it could be...

Heather said...

Anne, I'm with you on the Timmy mood swings and have been that way for the last year or so. But all the Bucky griping is pushing me more toward loving him again. Yeah, I'm full of spite :P

I think that bucky is just pissed that pretty much everything he wrote on deadline day turned out to be wrong.

double d, I think there's definitely some of that going on. And I'm glad you brought up the slanted wording Bucky and Sully have been using. I think it's fine since it is their opinion being expressed but it's definitely there. I almost mentioned how Bucky said J.P. Barry "snowed" the Sabres into offering Connolly a new contract. Come on. The Sabres have been saying for weeks that they were interested in talking to him.

Meg, I totally agree on the press conference. I don't mind the occasional pointed question but his questions and remarks always have an underlying tone of "You're an idiot, I couldn't have done that much better." I think it reflects poorly on him and TBN.

Because as everyone knows, unless you've won the Stanley Cup there's no justification for any joy, hope or enthusiasm about your hockey team because otherwise you're "content with mediocrity".

Heh. I'm just repeating that because it made me laugh. And yeah, that's totally the attitude certain writers seem to have.

Pay a talented center $8 million per season and only play in 9 games? Pay another center about $8 million to produce, at today's count 17 goals? That same player so good at being a leader, his team felt it necessary to bring in Sean Avery to get things turned around?

Oh, Vanek's Hair. You must not read Bucky's chat archives. It's not about what the unnamed centers have done with their new teams. It's about what they would have done here and it's about the price the Sabres could have had them at if they'd been just a little less stupid. Because that one center's groin/abdominal area would have been much sturdier in Buffalo. :::Heather B. rolling her eyes:::

That same player so good at being a leader, his team felt it necessary to bring in Sean Avery to get things turned around?

Wait a minute! We're not talking about hypothetical centers here, are we?! (Also, ahahahahahahaha!)

I will not be so kind. It seems that his "sources" always have the same information: (Insert player name here) hates it in Buffalo and wants to be traded because the team sucks.

You know, it does bother me that Bucky's information/opinion always involves people hating Buffalo. In a chat a few weeks ago Tomas Kaberle came up and he made a really snotty remark about how he couldn't imagine why Buffalo would be on Kaberle's list of teams he'd waive his NTC for. Except whoops, Buffalo WAS on the list. Because as it turns out, some people don't share Bucky's opinions.

Mark, I almost argued about Connolly and Roy but they're close enough in my eyes that I decided not to go there. If Timmy would shoot more, that would be great. I think he has the skill to score more than he does. (On the ice, Timmy.)

John M, Bucky just said again that he really liked Wisnewski and thought he'd be great here and that the Sabres should have gotten him. I'm not going to pretend I know anything about him because I really don't but I am going to assume that the GM knows more about the details of all the offers actually on the table than the local columnist.

Heather said...

Matt, I didn't see that Hank video so I'll have to poke around. Bucky, if Hank did indeed say that, I happily take back my displeasure about your remarks. (You're still a doof though.)

Ebscer said...

Thing is I think bucky might actually be right about Moore being gone come summer. Still Kotalik may very well have been gone summer anyhow, and we don't need a shootout specialist in the playoffs...

Heather B. said...

Ebscer, Bucky may well be right about Moore being gone at the end of the season but it's far from a foregone conclusion. That's all I'm saying. And even if he is, like you said, Kotalik evidently wasn't going to be back anyway. The team dealt from a position of strength (wing) to shore of a position of weakness (center). We already saw the effect of that tonight with Lindy rolling all four lines more consistently, something he can do now with more options. If Moore helps us get to the playoffs and then walks, I'm fine with that.

Becky said...

Thought to ponder: With money being tight at TBN and talk of layoffs in the air, would you be happy, from a hockey standpoint, if Bucky got laid off? Face it, after reading one of his columns the blog post almost writes itself.

Think of him as the Kaleta of Buffalo sportswriters, always saying something to piss people off. Not that I'm sticking up for his ignorant points of view or anything, just saying...

Heather B. said...

Becky, he drives me crazy and I don't think he's a particularly great writer but I'm not sure I want to live a hockey life without Bucky Gleason in it. Go figure :P