Yet again we find ourselves four days beyond the start of the NHL Free Agency period, and yet again Sabres fans find themselves with very little encouragement to purchase tickets for the next season.
The story in previous years was that the Sabres need to not only make it to the playoffs, but also go multiple rounds for it to be possible to break even or potentially profit. Well either the front office is not intent on being in the black financially or there is apathy over having the franchise exist on a long term basis along Lake Erie. Day one of the 2009 Free Agent "frenzy" saw the signing of Steve Montador to a two-year deal. While I like the toughness and work ethic Montador brings, I am not sold this is a player that takes us to Cup contention, let alone the first round of the playoffs as an 8th seed.
There is work to be done with a roster that was inconsistent and oftentimes soft in games falling two points short of the playoffs in 08-09. I'm not saying we need to make moves that are on par with Les Habitants, because that would be fiscally irresponsible, but they do need to effort some skill sets to the Queen City before the team finds the basement of the Northeast Division.
Saku Koivu - the Blue and Gold has played against him forever, do not need to say any more than that. Good leader and has playmaking ability.
Marc-Andre Bergeron - the Sabres cannot bank on the current group to be the puck-toting PP quarterback. Bergeron is smallish for a defenseman but may have the offensive upside to be of benefit to Buffalo. At this point the PP could be handled by Sekera, but that would be no different from last year, and that is too big of a gamble.
Peter Schaefer - Bruins bought him out and he could be one of those players that fits what the Sabres need. Hated playing him when he was with Ottawa. Seems like he would be a decent fit with Mair. Slightly more skilled Matt Ellis.
Jochen Hecht- high salary makes it a tough sell to suitors, but no use for him on the roster. Played with little heart too often in 08-09 to keep around.
Lydman/Tallinder- one or both could be dealt. Good players, just possibly in need of a change in scenery to regain their form of a few years back. I only put them on the block because you can get a decent return for them.
Acquire Patrick Kane. Anyone who has followed Kane since his days as a London Knight will know the Sabres have been pumping him up. The groundwork laid by Quinn and company has been obvious to many. Why do it unless you want the hometown boy in the Queen City? Do a sign and trade with Chicago. With the Hossa deal and impending RFA status next season of Kane and Toews, and many more; the Hawks may have 'screwed the pooch' so to speak on this one. If they can't afford him beyond next year, why not entertain an offer that could bring in NHL-ready talent to help continue the momentum as opposed to draft pick compensation next offseason?
It appears the Sabres are holding their purse closed until next offseason to reload the talent pool to a much better competitive position, with Kane as a target....if that's the case make that push for Kane now. If there is no plan to spend on acquiring talent after this coming season, then the Sabres just don't care and I would suggest becoming a fan of the Erie Otters just down I-90...at least those kids try night in and night out and you will save yourself some dough to go see them in these tough economic times.