Biron Signs With Islanders, 1 YR at 1.4 M. Sabres Management Caught With Their Head In The Sand
Going into the summer, the Sabres had two glaring issues to deal with:
First, the Sabres desperately needed to acquire a few veteran defenseman. The Sabres took their first crack at fixing their defense by signing former Boston Bruin Steve Montador, a gritty stay at home defenseman. This was a good, cheap signing. It doesn't completely solve the Sabres blueline troubles (that would at the very least require getting Henrik Tallinder off the team), but it's progress in the right direction. While Regier should be applauded for bringing in a physical defenseman, he should also be criticized for failing to woo former Buffalo Sabre Jay McKee back to Buffalo. Jay McKee signed with the Pens for 800K, a genuine steal for any team looking to buff up their defensive end. Jay McKee would have been the perfect addition on the Sabres blueline; a gritty, stay at home puck blocking defenseman with outstanding leadership skills. Rumor had it McKee was in contact with Buffalo upon being cut loose from St. Louis. Apparently Darcy was unable to make a compelling offer for McKee to return. Adding both Montador and McKee to the Sabres roster would have made GREAT strides in putting together a mean defense to make Ryan Miller's life easier in net.
Second, whether Sabres management wanted to admit it or not, the Sabres needed to find a better back up goaltender for All-Star Ryan Miller. When Miller went down late last season from a "questionable" behind the net play by Scott Gomez, the Sabres season effectively went down the toilet. Buffalo had to depend on the "35 years old and still aging" Patrick Lalime. While Lalime did the best he could the first few games, he simply couldn't keep up with the workload of being a starting goalie in today's NHL. The Sabres had to acquire Mikael Tellqvist at the trade deadline to relieve Lalime, who played till a hip injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
When the Sabres missed the playoffs by 2 points at the end of the season, it should have been PAINFULLY evident to any Sabres fan that Lalime's age affected his play negatively, played a major role in his hip injury, and effectively cost the Sabres the playoffs. 2 Points. A single win. That is all that separated the Sabres from reaching the post season. It could be a similar fate this year. With current backup goalie Patty Lalime, if Miller goes down again (hockey gods forbid), the Sabres will not reach the playoffs.
The Sabres had a great chance to rectify this weakness by signing former Buffalo Sabre Marty Biron. The Sabres should have been actively communicating with Biron throughout free agency. He was a well loved and well respected player in Buffalo. He brought a certain amount of "swagger" to the team, and was loved by his fellow players. He was a leader in both the locker room and on the ice. Watching Biron sign to the last place Islanders for a paltry 1.4 million dollars should be seen as a HUGE missed opportunity for Buffalo. Biron is NHL starting goalie material, one which led the Flyers to the post season two years in a row. To have him back in Blue and Gold would have been a soothing presence. He would be there if the Sabres needed him, and he would likely also light a fire under Miller (a goalie with NHL starting goalie skills acting as a back up can have that effect). And to think the Sabres could have had that at the price tag of 1.4 million dollars...Wow. Lalime costs the Sabres 1M in cap space; last season he went 5 and 13. Biron would have cost the Sabres 1.4M in cap space; last season he went 29 and 19. So, that's a difference of 400K in salary and 25 Wins in a season; Which would you say is the better deal?
Did the Sabres miss a huge opportunity by failing to sign Biron? Would have have resigned to Buffalo at that price? Do you have faith in Lalime if Miller goes down again? Did the Sabres miss the boat on the Jay McKee sweeps?
Leave me some comments.
James The Dominator