It's that time of year again ladies and gents. No, not for ridiculously wordy blog post titles, but it's the dreaded off-season. The Sabres are out of the playoffs, the draft is over and the Bills are awaiting the beginning of their upcoming season (if it ever happens), and I'm forced to watch baseball again because IT IS ALL THIS CITY TALKS ABOUT MAY THROUGH OCTOBER!!!!!!!!!
Alright, now that I have got that off my chest, here is your DGWU sports guide to the 2011 Buffalo off-season. Note that nothing about the NBA will appear here because of the Apologist's excellent post from yesterday. I Could not have done it better myself....because I'm an idiot who still thinks Theo Ratliff and Adonal Foyle have potential. I also have a bizarre hate for Tim Legler.
Where dreams come true? Or where the Sabres draft guys that will never play for them named Marek Zagrapan or Phillip Gogulla? I kid, I kid. We all know that drafting happens to be one of Darcy's strong suits, so make sure to tune into the entry draft on June 24th to see the magic happen. The Sabres pick 16th overall in the first round, but of course traded their second round pick to St. Louis for late season/playoff disappearing man Brad Boyes. Let us hope Darcy keeps his hot streak alive with prospects like Gerbe, Ennis, Myers, Adam, Enroth, and Butl....nope, not hyping that guy again.
Other top prospects include Swede D-man Adam Larsson and on the rise Center Sean Couturier. Check out mynhldraft.com for some great up to date mock drafts. They have Buffalo taking the top USA prospect Brandon Saad with their pick. He stands 6'2", 200 lbs, is a Pittsburgh kid, and doesn't look like he just graduated Junior High.
(Totally off-topic: SportCenter's Top 10 of the day is the greatest post-season comebacks of all time. The Buffalo Bills coming back from down 35-3 with Frank Reich to beat the Houston Oilers was #2, to Boston coming back from down three games to beat the Yankees in 2004. I haven't cursed on here in awhile, but Fuck. Fuck you Boston in your stupid A-holes.)
I was going to put up a picture of Brad Richards to the right, but with all the talk of Pegula's deep pockets and the cash he is willing to spend to win a cup, I switched it up. There is a lot to talk about here, but I will do my best to keep it fairly limited, because as we all know, much more will be said as the big day approaches.
First, the Sabres have many RFA's they need to deal with. Besides the obvious Drew Stafford, there are six other players they need to re-up with; Nathan Gerbe, Mike Weber, Reggie Sekera, Mark-Andy Gragnani, Chris Butl....still not saying his name, and the Demon Swede himself all need new contracts. Most likely all of these guys will be in a Buffalo uniform next year, but you never know. Leopold and Morrisonn are still under contract and there are some solid UFA D-men available (more on that later).
With the RFA's handled accordingly, we can then look at our own UFA's. Most of which stand little to no chance of returning. As we all know, Timmy Connolly has most likely played his last game as a Buffalo Sabres. Early rumors have him heading to Atlanta or BAAAH-AHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH the New York Rangers. Mike Grier, Steve Montador, and Mr. Playoff Rob Niedermayer are also all currently rumored to be on their way out. No surprises there. After that, you have Yachtsman favorite Cody McCormick, and AHLers Mark Mancari and Matt Ellis, all of which will most likely be resigned on the cheap. Oh yeah, and god-willing, Patrick Lalime won't be back (*shutters*).
Finally the fun stufff! New UFA's for the Sabres to compete for. Word has it that no player is untouchable for Darcy and Sabres' Management. Brad Richards is of course the big veteran leader that many teams are drooling over. Apparently the early frontrunners could again the Rangers, as well as the Sabres and Leafs. So weird to see the Sabres as a frontrunner for a major free agent. But if Bradley doesn't join the blue and gold, many other online sources (which of course are ALWAYS legit) have talked up the Sabres possibly bringing in (back) Chris Drury, as well as D-men James Wisniewski (Montreal) and Eric Brewer (St. Louis), Simon Gagne (Tampa Bay), and Alexei Ponikarovsky (Los Angeles). I also would not be the Scizz if I didn't bring up my former favorite Sabre, J.P. Dumont, who is owed 4 million by Nashville next year and barely played at the end of the season and playoffs. If Nashville buys him out and Buffalo can get him for next to nothing, tell me you wouldn't mind seeing J.P. back in a Sabres uniform running? Or is it just that I want my old, all red 3rd jersey to be legitimate again? Could be.
No reason to go into this too much right now, but it will definitely be a fun time to watch this franchise. Besides any new UFA's that walk into the newly painted arena, Derek Roy and Jochen Hecht should be healthy, young guns like Myers, Ennis, and Gerbe will officially start a new season in their dominant roles, and of course a new crop of prospects will attempt to make the team. Will Enroth officially be the full-time backup goalie? Will AHL rookie of the year Luke Adam join the team permanently? And will other past call-ups like Paul Byron and Dennis Persson have a legit shot? It will also be interesting to see how close guys like T.J. Brennan and uber-filthy Zack Kassian make an impact. Can it get more exciting? I submit that it cannot.
Yeah I almost totally forgot these were happening right now. Paul Gaustad is playing on Team USA (who is I was writing this was in battle with the Czechs) and DGWU fave Mark-Andy Gragnani is playing for Team Canada. Also some guys named Ovechkin, Gaborik, and Tavares decided to show up and play. And remember Phillip Gogulla from the beginning of this post? He is playing with another former Sabres Prospect, Felix Schutz on Team Germany. Their Coach? Former Sabres defenseman Uwe Krupp. It's a small world after all.
Also for Buffalo Sabres News during this off-season, make sure to check out former Buffalo74 site-runner Scott Michalak's new site Buffalo Sabres Nation. I spent over an hour after work reading everything on the site and it is phenomenal. Congrats goes out to one of my personal favorite blogger/tweeters in Buffalo sports. Here is hoping we can book him on the podcast sooner rather than later!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post on Saturday, which will feature the Buffalo Bills, FC Buffalo, NASCAR, Baseball, and some cool guys who run a podcast called the CrapTastiCast.....weird. You can also look forward to more basketball chat from the Apologist, an angry rant about the city of Buffalo's new slogan from the Yachtsman, solo NASCAR-related posts from yours truly and the Barrister, and Friday check out my account of forcing myself to watch a full baseball game (hint: the girlfriend worked late and booze and Matt Garza were involved). Until next time, I leave you with future Sabres bad-ass Zack Kassian.