Wednesday, June 30, 2010

24 Hours and Counting

I was going to write a "What I'd Like to See in Free Agency" post, but come on, I think we all know I'm only concerned about one thing when it comes to free agency.  I don't really care about anything else.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

GM for a Day

Oh, happy day!  Bucky's GM for a Day column has arrived.  Patrick Sharp for unnamed prospects (and picks)?  Check!  Sheldon Souray?  Check!  I should probably be frightened at how well I know Bucky's thought process.

I hit on my problems with Sheldon Souray last post but one line in Bucky's column really stuck with me.  "Dependable when healthy."  I'm not sure that phrase even makes sense.  The fact that he's been so unhealthy the last few years is what makes him the opposite of dependable.  I also get the feeling every time Bucky talks about Souray (he's come up in previous off-seasons) that he thinks his size automatically makes him a big, physical defenseman and I really don't believe that's the case at all.  Maybe I'm mistaken, but I don't think Souray plays very much defense either.  Which is scary in light of his whopping 4 power play points last season.  Maybe - just maybe! - there's a reason Edmonton would love to get rid of him.  Bucky uses the word "unload" to describe Edmonton's desire to move him.  That's a bit of a red flag word, isn't it?

My main problem with Bucky's proposed roster is the defensive corp: Tomas Kaberle, Sheldon Souray, Tyler Myers, Craig Rivet, Steve Montador, Chris Butler, and Mike Weber.  That doesn't seem like a very good defensive corp.  He removed two of the biggest minute eaters and the two primary penalty killers and replaced them with two guys who don't play particuarly good defense.  The other defensive options - Pavel Kubina, Joe Corvo - aren't much better.  And while I would take Paul Martin, I think Bucky is wrong that he isn't going to get a raise from someone.  One season of playing less than 73 games isn't going to undo his reputation.  That's crazy.  For all the talk over the last few years about the Sabres misreading the market (and there's some truth in that for sure), Bucky consistently does the same thing.  When he's attempted to pin an actual number on a player, he's often way off which just goes to prove that this really isn't that easy.

I'm also a little surprised that Bucky went on and on about gamers and then lumped Jochen Hecht in with the deadweight.  Okay, he's overpaid for a 20 goal scorer.  But with the exception of one season, he's been one of the  most responsible, hardest working players on the roster.  I won't harp on it too much since Bucky didn't push for it hard but still, I'm not sure how you even come up with that idea.  (On a side note, I don't think his ending works as well as he probably thinks it does.  He spends the whole column talking about how the Sabres need gamers and then ends with, "Adam Mair is a gamer.  (Get rid of him!)")

For the record, I tried to punch the numbers into Cap Geek's salary cap calculator to see if Bucky ended up within his $57 million target, but I kept losing track of his moves. Even though I kind of called it, it was pretty lame of him to trade Sharp for unnamed picks and prospects.  And at the end of the column he just started throwing names out there so I have no idea who he was really adding to his total and who he wasn't or if he was even keeping a total or just hoping it all worked out. I know he didn't account for Mike Weber needing a new contract.  I'm assuming it won't be a huge bump but still something that needs to be taken into consideration.  I'm sure he doesn't know anything about Cap Geek, being scared of the internet and all which is too bad because it's an awesome tool and pretty fun to just play with..

I don't know, I guess the bottom line is that I'm not sure how much better Bucky's proposed roster is than the one we had last season.  Patrick Sharp would be a definite upgrade at center.  Kaberle does probably make the power play better which would be very nice.  But is that enough offense to compensate for a defensive corp that seems more likely to leave Ryan Miller out hanging more than this past season's did?  And what about the penalty kill?  Will it be worse?  Or would an improved power play balance that out?

Let's hear some opinions.  What do you think of Bucky's plan?  What do you agree or disagree with?  Who do you really want to get rid of and who do you really want to pick up?  Am I worried too much about the defense and penalty killing?  Is it okay to get a little worse there if it means getting better on offense?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

I've been pondering the Stanley Cup Finals and what it all means, and the truth is, I don't know.  While it would certainly appear that a team doesn't have to have a star goalie to win it all, wouldn't it have been a different final if one of the teams involved did have a great goaltender?  Or even a very good one?  Philly got there with a bunch of big free agents but Chicago had mostly guys still on their first or second contracts.  (On a side note, how much do you think they regret Brian Campbell's contract right now?  If they didn't have it, they'd be in better shape cap-wise and they'd probably be okay on the ice since he's not in their top pairing or on their first unit PK.)  I do think the Blackhawks worked the current system just right.  They won when their best talent was still young and cheap.  Most of their roster has signed extensions but most of them haven't kicked in yet which means they still had money to fill out the rest of the roster.  Unfortunately, that's not an easy method to execute since players talented enough to build a team around while they're still babies don't exactly grow on trees unless the team is bad enough for a lottery pick or two or three. 

So yeah.  Overall I was pretty ambivalent about the post-Sabres playoffs.  But let the off-season begin!  When I saw that Halak had been traded I was sure I was thinking about the wrong guy.  Surely, that wasn't the guy who not only didn't get benched but stormed through the postseason?  Oh, wait!  It totally was!  I suppose it could partly be a sign that, in light of how well teams without big money goalies did this season, GMs might be more reluctant to spend a lot of money on the position but I still don't get it.  He was only an RFA so it's not like the Canadiens had to pay him huge gobs of money right now, right?  And it seems like Carey Price is a little bit of question mark.  Hopefully this is a sign of many crazy things to come in the next few weeks.

I'm going to assume that the upcoming draft and the opening of free agency means that Bucky Gleason's GM for a Day column is right around the corner.  Now I could pretend that I'm not going to read it, but the truth is, despite cutting back on my Bucky intake, I wouldn't miss this one for the world.  I love it, and I'll admit, in Bucky's shoes I wouldn't even attempt to write a column like that.  Everything is either so specific (Tim Connolly, a second round pick, and three sticks for Kris Versteeg!) or so general (unnamed prospects for Patrick Sharp!) that it all seems a little silly.  And while Bucky usually cushions the column with some line about how he knows it's not that easy in real life, I always get the idea that he thinks it is and that if he were GM he'd have the team straightened out in no time.  Or maybe I'm just reading into things too much there.

I will tell you this: If the name Sheldon Souray pops up - especially if he drops Henrik Tallinder first - I'll break out the Buffalo News dartboard.  I've seen Souray's name come up in a few places around the internet, and I am not feeling that one at all.  In his three years in Edmonton he's missed half the season or more due to injuries twice.  He was a -19 last season and his much ballyhooed shot netted zero power play goals.  That's right, last season Souray - a PP specialist according to his reputation - scored as many power play goals as I did.  He's not a great skater, he's not all that physical for his size, he's poor on the defensive side of the puck, he's injury prone, and at almost 34, he's not getting any younger.  And on a personal level, he's greasy and seems like a bit of a douchebag.  I could deal with one or two of those things maybe but all of them?  No thanks.  If the Sabres are going to make a run at Tomas Kaberle, they shouldn't touch Souray.  I'm not down with dropping two defensive d-men in Hank and Toni Lydman and replacing them with two offensive d-men who don't kill penalties and are average or worse on the defensive side of the puck.  One, fine.  Both, no.

Whoops.  Got carried away there.  Maybe I should wait until I actually read the column before I go too crazy, huh?

Anyway, bring off the offseason!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bring on the Soccer!

Okay, so I lied about posting every day this week.  I'm sorry!  Sheesh!  It's the end of the school year which is always a busy time and for reasons I can't really go into publicly, the end of this particular school year has been a little more challenging and wearing than many others.  I will have some kind of thoughts about the Stanley Cup Finals, free agency, and all that good stuff later, but for now, I'm off to babysit and then off to Allentown.

For now, let me just say that like a lot of the blogosphere, I'm going to attempt to get into the World Cup.  And I'll admit here this morning that at least at first, I'm cheering for England.  Why?  For one simple, very scientific reason.  I thought Wayne Rooney was awesome in that Nike spot that's been all over the internet for the last few weeks.  (I'm not going to embed it since YouTube eats my blog, but if you haven't seen it - or haven't seen it lately - you should follow the link and check it out.)  Rooney has my favorite part of the game sequence with the awesome, full-out backcheck and my favorite part of the fantasy sequence with the hugging of the queen, the nursery full of Waynes, and the calm, debonair defeat of a panicky, sweating Roger Federer.  And how awesome would it be if we could make say, Derek Roy paint the lines on the ice every time he turned over the puck?  As silly as it is (because hey, why get serious about this now?), I also adore the fact that "Wayne Rooney" is one of the lamest pro athlete names I've ever heard.  It makes me think if Mickey Rooney which makes me picture Andy Hardy at the World Cup.  I love it.

I've been told by Pookie and Schnookie, my World Cup fan friends, that cheering for England is akin to cheering for the San Jose Sharks.  They always come in with one of the most talented rosters and always come up short.  I'm not attached to England or Rooney though.  I'm just starting out there.  I'm ready to happily hop to whatever player or team strikes my fancy in the moment.  I figure I'm not watching soccer again for another four years, you know?  So hey, bring it on!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Proud Member of the Robot Skeleton Army

So what, you ask, have I been watching these last few weeks if I haven't really been watching hockey? Well, there are a couple of answers to that question, but I'll get the big one out of the way first. I've been watching pretty much all the Craig Ferguson I've been able to get my hands on.

Back when the Late Night Wars were going on with Conan and Leno, I watched everything regularly for the first time in years, and while I was mostly on Conan's side there, I came away from those couple of weeks thinking that Craig Ferguson was the smartest, funniest, most endearing guy in late night. Even after that, it took a while for him to really take hold though. It was during the last few weeks of the college semester and the long, late nights of studying when I fell in love with him and while I try not to stay up as late now (emphasis on try), I did add him to the DVR and usually have a Craig-a-palooza at some point on the weekend.

His show is just wonderful. Ferguson has a super easy-going and likable presence and he's a really interesting and entertaining mix of sincere and irreverent. (He's also good-looking. And speaks in a Scottish accent.) I'm currently reading his autobiography, "American on Purpose," and so far it's been a good read. He seems like a thoughtful guy with some hard-earned wisdom. Success didn't come early or quickly and he has a good perspective on himself and what he does. Somehow he's able to speak sincerely and beautifully about things like the privilege of voting and the good in America one night and then turn around and use a cranky alligator puppet to host an entire show another night. And he makes both work.

If you've never watched Craig Ferguson, I beg you to give him a try. It's an easy and comfortable hour of TV, and I always feel happy when it's done. Which reminds me, one of my very favorite things about the show is the theme song which is one of the best things on TV period. I never, ever fast forward through it and I sing along every time, much to Mark's chagrin, I think. And he sings it himself! And I think he co-wrote it! Come on, if this doesn't make you smile, well, you have no soul.

While we're talking about TV, I've also been cranking through Simon & Simon, courtesy of Netflix on Wii which might be one of the greatest things ever created. Simon & Simon is an old favorite - I had a mad crush on Gerald McRaney's Rick and named my dog after his TV dog, Marlowe - and I've actually been looking at buying the DVDs so imagine my pleasure upon discovering that all 8 glorious seasons were available to stream right into my home. When I broke my ankle a couple years ago, I discovered the joy of sitting down and watching an entire season or series at one time (at the time I caught up on Battlestar Galactica), and now that there's not much new TV and no hockey, I'm hoping to tackle some shows I've been meaning to get around to. This is not the final list but I'm thinking Sports Night, Burn Notice, and The West Wing for sure. If anyone has any other recommendations feel free to share please!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Only Mostly Dead

I've been trying, you guys.  I really have.  All week I've been writing a post about Danny Briere and Brian Campbell, and how I was going to ignore the bitter and no fun "Too bad they're not still in Buffalo!" people and be happy for whichever one of them wins a Stanley Cup, but it just hasn't been sounding as good on screen as it has in my head, and I finally decided last night that it's because I don't care.  I don't care at all about hockey right now.  I don't know if it's the Sabres flame-out, weariness of all the second-guessing that followed, the seemingly endless break between the Conference Finals and the Finals, or a Finals match-up between two teams that not only do I not care about but that I actually kind of dislike, but I don't care.  I don't even care enough to pretend I care.  So I'll be happy to see Danny and/or Soupy lift the Cup, but that might be the only time I really and truly tune in to what's going on on the TV for the series.  (I wrote that paragraph after Game One, but it's proven to be true.  The TV has been on, but I couldn't really tell you much about what's been going on.)

But while I don't particularly miss hockey (how can I miss you if you won't go away?), I have missed blogging.  I have no definitive plan for the summer.  I'll probably do what I do every off-season and just blog about whatever pops into my head.  Some of it will be hockey related - I mean, of course I'm going to respond when Darcy trades for Jarome Iginla which I'm sure will happen within days of the end of the season - but some of it, probably a lot of it, won't be.  Like last year, we plan to see some things in Buffalo and the Buffalo area but there are also a few other trip planned including my very first visit to Fenway Park which I'm super, super excited about.

For now, let's just get back into the swing of things, shall we?  I promise you at least one post every day this week.  Really!  And I promise none of them most of them no more than one of them will be about Henrik Tallinder.