I took another break over the summer, but holy hell Sabres hockey did not! So let’s recap this summer. Pretty much one minute after the horn went off at the end of the 3rd period of Game 7 between the Sabres and Flyers our minds shifted straight to July 1st. We wondered just what kind of magic Pegula and Darcy had in store for us. Well, we didn’t even have to wait until free agency to start to get some new faces on the team.
In late June we heard word that the Calgary Flames had asked defenseman Robyn Regehr to waive his no trade clause to come to Buffalo. This naturally got us all sorts of excited. Regehr is a tough, hard hitter. I’m sure all of the players on the Sabres are glad he’s now on their side. I’m also sure the West Conference is breathing a little sigh of relief as well. Especially Ales Hemsky. REGEHR SMASH!
Now we were all a little scared at what we might have to give up for him. It turns out that it was an awesome deal for our side. We acquired Regehr, along with former Sabre Ales Kotalik, and a 2nd round pick for Chris Butler and Paul Byron. Butler was considered one of our weaker defensemen (and was my most disliked player, so I was ecstatic). Byron would have had quite the hard time trying to crack the Sabres lineup, so I hope he can have better luck on the Flames. I wish them both luck and can’t wait for Butler to undoubtedly score a hat trick his first game against the Sabres for karma against me.
Two days before free agency the Sabres acquired the rights to Christian Ehrhoff. This is the one defenseman I wanted the Sabres to pick up. I think I was running around my house doing cartwheels. That same day they traded Steve Montador’s rights to Chicago for a 7th round pick. I didn’t think he was coming back, so I’m glad they got something in exchange for him, unlike recent years. The next day Ehrhoff was signed to a ten year – $40M contract. My jaw dropped when i heard that, how about yours? He has a great offensive upside to him, and I think he’ll fit in quite well here.
Fast forward to the next day: Free Agency!!! What else could we possibly do!? All the talk has been about getting a true number 1 Center. Naturally everyone’s heads turned directly to Brad Richards, the best Center (or FA for that matter) on the open market. We kept our eyes tuned into Twitter and TSN to see where he and everyone else was going. Then finally at 4 pm the Sabres had news. They had signed Ville Leino, the villain from Game 6 who scored the OT winner. My thoughts went from “First off, FUCK YOU for that” to “OMG please do that here! Welcome to Buffalo!” Richards wasn’t coming to Buffalo, and I was perfectly fine with that. And then the next day he signed with the Rangers, and I automatically hated him anyways.
Cody McCormick was also re-signed to a multi-year deal.
With that ended all of the UFA signings. Now they had to focus on re-signing all their RFAs.
- Nathan Gerbe was the first to be signed. He got a 3 year deal for 1.4M per.
- Mike Weber was the next, signing a two year contract worth$ 1.9M.
- Matt Ellis and Andrej Sekera were up next, with Reggie thankfully avoiding arbitration. Ellis signed for two years at $525,00 per year. Sekera signed for 4 years for $11M.
- That left two of the biggest pieces of the puzzle, Jhonas Enroth an Marc-Andre Gragnani. Enroth was proving himself to be quite the reliable backup. We could sense that Ruff was putting some trust into the young goalie. Yes, you read that right, Ruff trusting a backup goaltender. We had to get him back. He signed a couple of days later for $1.3M over two years. What we didn’t know is how close he came to signing with the KHL. Thankfully he didn’t.
- Around 3 weeks went by until the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. Grags signed for one year at $550,000. I’m hoping to see him really blossom this year. He was very impressive down the stretch last year, especially in the playoffs.
Now all of the signings put us about 3.5 million over the cap. The easiest solutions to that are to bury Shaone Morrisonn and Kotalik. That will free up $5 million in cap space. Will this happen? Only time will tell.
Patrick Lalime said farewell to the NHL this summer. He had a great career, and his last couple years shouldn’t overshadow it. Thank you Patrick, you were the best teammate anyone could ask for. I’ll miss seeing your yellow beanie on the bench.
The Sabres also parted ways with the Portland Pirates this summer, and welcomed back the Rochester Americans. This benefits both sides greatly, as the trip between both cities is only an hour car ride away. I’m so excited to see the Amerks be a part of this organization again.
That about sums it up for this summer so far. Training camp is only a few short weeks away and I know we’re all ready for a great season this year! Let’s go Buffalo!