Well, it was inevitable. Any legit Sabres fan knew our biggest flaws running into these playoffs. Sure, we didn't have our "#1" center in Derek Roy, we had an injured Tim Connolly, Brad Boyes; who shouldn't ever play center, Robbie Neidermeyer, and Paul Gaustad up the middle. Compare that to Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, and Blaire Betts (a less talented Goose). Yikes. Remarkably, the boys in Blue n Gold held their own out there, until that last eyesore of a game. The injuries to key players were piling up, and the replacements were simply out of gas. Personally, it was a bittersweet boot out of the playoffs for me. Do we really have the talent and energy to fight off the likes of the Bruins, Lightning, Sharks, Nucks, or even the Wings? I love these boys as much as anyone. But, after almost breaking a chair after game six, I thought to myself. Does this team really have what it takes to go all the way? Doubt it. But, ladies and gents, there's a redeeming factor to these Sabres. They've got heart and soul. And they've got a lot of the right pieces. Look at the amazing strides this young defense took this year. Gregnani surely turned heads during the series, along with Myers' fantastic shut down play. He's really starting to develope into that Pronger-Chara type of player everyone said he would be. Which brings me to my next point.
The other flaw on this team is the defense. Don't get me wrong, these boys have skill, but they're still young. The Sabres are going to have a great core of defensmen in the upcoming years, with shut down D like Myers and Weber, and hopefully Butler, along with point grabbing D like Gregnani and Sekera (Myers could also fit here.) But at the moment, we were a bit overwhelmed taking on an elite depth that is Philadelphia.
Our young guys are coming along great, and with guys like Stafford, Ennis, Gerbe, Myers, Kaleta, McCormick, and Enroth, this team has some serious promise for the future. Our RFAs are deserving of new contracts. This is what every team wants. Quality RFAs they can sign without much competition.
On the other hand, you have our UFAs. Grier, Neids, Timmy, and Monty. Do any of you really want any of these guys back? If I were to choose one, it'd be Grier. I hate to agree he's past his playing age, and should retire. I love the guy and all he's done for us and the young guys, but I think it may be time to hang em up. I'd like nothing more than to have him come back as an assistant coach. Neids is in the same boat as Grier, but I doubt he means nearly as much to this team as Grier. So long and thanks for the five goals. Timmy...well, everyone knows the deal with Connolly. The "top center" doesn't have it in him anymore. Those knocks to the head did him a number. Keeping Tim Connolly would be a great replacement for Grier. He's a fantastic penalty killer, and if we buried him on the third line, and could sign him for about 2 mil, I'd actually be happy. That leaves us with Steve Montador. Before you say to yourself, 'well, he was mostly solid during the season,' think again. He's come pretty cheap, especially after his half ass season this year. But, why would you want him? We have Butler, Myers, Leopold, Sekera, and Weber as a top five. I'm betting Morrisonn finds himself in the minors next year. He's aweful. Was it just me that cringed everytime Monty touched the pucks during the playoffs? Why keep an unreliable playoff defenseman? Especially when we can find a veteran defensemen through the free agency, which has a few highly touted defensemen like last year. Now that I summed up our two biggest flaws on how we left the playoffs early, I'll write another blog on our options for free agency and trade to try and patch up the center position and top 4 D position.