Yet another UFA day is rapidly approaching, now just a measley week away.
As usual, hockey fans across North America are gaining excitement as this day approaches and the calendar is about to flip July.
And from a personal point of view, I couldn't be more excited - as usual - to see what my beloved team, the Buffalo Sabres, will do.
A year of disappointment, only a few points back of a playoff spot after winning the President's Trophy, the general expectation around Western New York and among Sabres fans across the world is that Darcy Regier and Company will restock the cupboard and launch this team back into the playoffs. That defensemen will be the priority, but never put anything past this organization to do something unexpected and grab a forward or a goalie who can contribute right away and whenever needed. That, in other words, this will be an active offseason for the Blue and Gold.
I have to brush all of that aside for just a moment. Because there's 29 other teams. Hope doesn't spring eternal in this business, and let's be an honest, it's a business. Instead of just getting disappointed once again that my Sabres (probably) won't grab a big-time name on UFA day, or (probably) won't make a big-time trade to improve the team, this year I'm going in with a different approach.
If we do improve the team on 7/1, great. More likely, based on past Sabre offseasons, UFA Day will be quiet in Buffalo. But that isn't such a bad thing either, and here's why:
While lucrative contracts are awarded and the puck-moving defenseman disappear from availability one-by-one, as they're in such demand right now, don't be surprised to see Buffalo stay put - watching the insane money being thrown around to the UFAs.
As teams drain themselves of $$$...as Sundin lands, as Hossa lands, as Campbell lands, etc.... the Sabres will be gearing up for their "big moves."
Perhaps they'll have a much closer eye on the RFA list.
Perhaps they'll make some moves for solid AHL/on-the-edge of the NHL prospects.
Perhaps they'll put their pennies together to make extensions within the current team and invest from within.
Perhaps they'll wait to see what UFAs are left when everyone is spent, and grab some decent names remaining who team's just don't have room for.
Perhaps they'll do something else.
That all important CAP SPACE could be what turns Buffalo's patented patience - because that's really what it is, it isn't being inactive, but it's being patient as dumb contracts are thrown around - into a gold mine. As Sabres fans watch names go off that UFA list one-by-one, and perhaps see Buffalo make an unexpected signing of a middle-of-the-road player (in fans minds anyway) - who they could make into someone great with their system, like they did with Briere - Sabres fans must remember - it could be for the better.
And that's why Buffalo could be quiet on 7/1. And that's why - if that's the case - Buffalo fans shouldn't be concerned in the least.
The moves will be made. And it's not a matter of when. It's a matter of them being the right moves. After all, don't we just want to make the playoffs and give ourselves a chance at Lord Stanley's Cup? Why overspend on a few when we can continue the philosophy we always have, build from within, and make the moves that move our TEAM from pretender to contender? After all, the core is already there, and we may not be as far away as some people think.