Happy Henrik Tallinder Is Still a Sabre (For Now) So Heather B. Doesn't Have to Change the Banner on Her Blog (Yet) Day, everybody!
:::throws dimpled confetti:::
Well, clearly the Sabres are as relieved as I am that Hank wasn't traded. Take that load of stress off their shoulders and look what happens. Easy wins. I suspect the "Hank is still a Sabre" bump will carry them all the way now.
Okay, seriously... let's discuss some things.
Obviously the big move today was re-signing Tim Connolly. I'm not completely sold on this move - I was perfectly fine with letting him walk at the end of the season - and when I got the text with details my initial reaction was horror. That's... a lot of money for a guy who hasn't played much in the last few years. Even in retrospect I'm okay with the first contract. I think the Sabres had to take a chance on Connolly. He was too dominant in that postseason to not hope he'd put the concussion troubles behind him. But to take that chance again? That seemed excessive.
But you know... I might have come around a little bit at least. Darcy Regier made the point in his press conference that there aren't a lot of short-term contracts in the league any more and he's right about that. Two years is really not that much of a commitment. If it doesn't work out, it's not something that's going to bury the team for the next 5-7 years the way some of the contracts signed by other teams over the last couple of years are going to. And there's no doubt Connolly is super talented. If he does stay reasonably healthy, 4.5 is going to be a bargain. I've seen other people make this point around the internet but where are you going to find another point per game player for that price? You're not going to. It's pretty hard to wrap your brain around the idea of someone who hasn't played that much getting a raise but you know, pro sports don't work the same way as the real world. They never have and they never will. Guys are always getting paid for potential and always getting more than they should. Tim Connolly is hardly a first.
I was going to link to Bucky Gleason's "Sabres likely to trade Connolly" story here but boy, TBN dismantled it. The latter half of the column is untouched but the headline has changed and the section about the Sabres trading Connolly has been replaced with news of the extension. Eager to make us forget that Bucky was wrong, I guess. Normally I wouldn't care. It's trade deadline day. Everyone's wrong about something, usually wrong far more often than right. I do delight a little in Bucky being wrong however because he's so friggin' pompous and self-righteous about everything. I can't wait to read his story tomorrow in which I'm sure he'll mention once again that if he were in charge, the Sabres would've made a trade with Chicago for that d-man he's been obsessing over. I was going to point out that one of the criticisms he makes of Connolly is that he only has 8 assists in the last 9 games which is, by my count, still almost a point per game and about what you'd want from a playmaking center. But hey, what do I know? I'm not a columnist.
I was also disappointed in Jerry Sullivan's blog about Connolly's re-signing. I have no problem with him being down on the signing - like I said, I can definitely see why people think it's crazy - but I think he misfires by accusing Regier of re-signing Connolly in an effort to justify the original contract. That's pretty contradictory of everything we've seen of Regier over the years, I feel. If you want to accuse him of getting overly attached to players sometimes, well, guilty as charged. But I really don't think there's anything more here than him liking Connolly and believing that he's a special talent.
I also don't get Sully's fixation on Connolly's game being all finesse like that's a bad thing. Yeah, the Sabres definitely need some grit and toughness but you have to have skill too. A team full of Paul Gaustads would be hard-working and likable but also (sorry, Goose) not particularly good at hockey. I'd also hesitate a little to call Connolly soft. No, he doesn't fly around the ice smashing players into the boards but he doesn't shy away from contact and he doesn't hesitate to jump into little scrums. That's one thing I've always had to give him credit for. For a guy who's had so much trouble with injuries the last few years, he's not gun shy at all. He doesn't play like a guy afraid to get hurt. So injury prone? Certainly. Soft? Eh. I don't know.
So over the course of the day I've gone from horror and slight disgust to extremely cautious, hesitating hope. It's definitely a high risk, high reward signing.
More on other trade related things tomorrow.