Now that the anger and confusion surrounding the latest Tim Kennedy arbitration fiasco has begun to subside, I think it’s time for the team and city to move on and forget about the whole ordeal. It stings to see a young, home grown player with such a feisty game be thrown to the curb, especially in the midst of an uneventful off-season that saw no major changes to a team that crumbled in the post season, but there’s still an awful lot for Sabres fans to be excited about come this October. Here’s a little dose of optimism — even if it is Friday the 13th.
First and foremost, the personnel losses the Sabres incurred this summer are not going to make the team worse. They’ve all been replaced with players of similar or greater skill sets. Toni Lydman and Hank Tallinder are probably the most notable departures, which should be enough to tell you we didn’t lose much. They both had solid careers in Buffalo — at one lowly point in history Toni Lydman was our best defenseman, and I’ll never forget when Tallinder deked out his now-teammate Martin Brodeur to win a shootout at HSBC Arena — but to say that they were anything more than average defenders would be a lie. Tallinder’s psyche hasn’t been the same since breaking his arm in 2006, and both players have balked at opportunities to elevate their physical play. Neither possesses much of an offensive upside to their game, either. Enter: Jordan Leopold and Shaone Morrisonn. These guys aren’t going to be major game breakers that you’ll notice every night, but both can be seen as improvements over Lydman and Tallinder. Leopold is more offensive minded and likes to join the rush and has had some success quarter-backing the power play in the past. Meanwhile, Shaone Morrisonn plays a stay-at-home style defense and adds another physical presence — something the Sabres have desperately lacked the last few years. He also spent time paired with Mike Green in Washington, though I’m not really sure how much of Green’s success can be attributed to Morrisonn. Regardless, the two of them should prove more than capable of filling the hole left by Lydman and Tallinder.
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