Sabres make deadline moves, prepare for playoffs.

Chuzwazza
04-16-2004, 01:56 PM
The day Sabres fans have been waiting for could be rapidly approaching. With a 10 point lead over 9th place Atlanta, and with only 15 games left on the season, the team could be looking at a post-season appearance for the first time in years. Should they make it, it will be the first appearance in the Joshua Pitt era, but the GM isn't exactly eager to talk about a successful season just yet.

"Since when is the NHL season 67 games?" Pitt snapped at reporters. "we can talk about playoffs the day we are guaranteed a place in the post-season, but until that time, we have to continue fighting."

That task will be made tougher by the departure of veteran goalie Garth Snow and future Hall-of-Fame forward Mark Messier, who were both dealt at the deadline. Snow was sent to San Jose, along with Ottawa's 4th round selection in 2005, for Milan Hnlicka and San Jose's 3rd round pick in 2005. Messier was shipped to Pittsburgh for Pitsburgh's 3rd round pick in the upcoming draft.

Given the team looked likely to participate in the playoffs, many fans were surprised to see that the club didn't add any talent at the deadline. Those fans were then outraged to see a pair of players who were likely to play a serious role in the playoffs (especially Messier) moved to other teams.

Pitt did give a few reasons as to why the moves were made......

"Truth is...we are still a mile behind Ottawa, Boston, Washington etc. in talent, and as good as mark and Garth are, they were not going to get us to the level of the powerhouses in the conference. Both of them were likely to leave the club, either through free agency, or as a result of retirement, and we felt that our priority is still to build towared an exciting future. Many people may not agree, but those people may not know everything that we know within the organisation."

Rumours have surfaced in recent weeks that would indicate another motivation for moving the two veterans. Word is, that right now, the Sabres are on pace to lose over $15M this season. Even with the endorsements, and playoff revenue cutting that down a bit, it's still a massive hit for the team's financial reserves. With messier and Snow in line to make roughly 700K over the rest of the season, the Sabres should also be able to save some cash.

So it looks like the Sabres might be in for a fight down the stretch, but with any luck, they'll be able to hold on. Remember, after a horrid first 15 or so games, this team is playing at near .650 pace!


WHO'S HOT:

Roman Turek (G): Started the year with a 1-4 record, a GAA of over 4.80 and a sub .880 save%. Since then has been worthy of the Vezina. Leads the league with a .922 save%, and has an impressive 2.09 G.A.A and a 28-11-2 record with 4 shutouts.

Rick Nash (LW) Last year's #4 overall selection in the HFNHL draft is already starting to make people wish they hadn't passed on him. The 19 year old is currently riding a 7 game scoring streak, and has posted 13 goals and 32 points while playing a large chunk of the season toiling on the 4th line, where he averaged about 5 minutes a game. Wht might be most impressive, is that the Calder candidate is tied for the team lead in +/- with +19. Not too shabby for a rookie who has been assigned to a checking line featuring Yannic Perrault...who, while gifted, might be the worst defensive 3rd line center in the league right now.

WHO's NOT:

Garth Snow (G): Ok, he's been dealt, but Sabres fans probably won't lose a whole lot of sleep over it. After battling so hard in the early stages of the season with little reward, Snow seemed to fall apart after the all-star break. His performances were shaky at best, and there's little reason to doubt that now back Milan Hnlicka will at least play as well.

Josef Vasicek (LW): Has played better of late, but is still a -14 on the season whilst everyone else (except for Daniel briere and minor leaguer Troy Milam) has put up positive numbers. needs to find the back of the net a little more, and be more creative for his team-mates.


ON THE FARM:

Don't look now, but the Rochester Americans may make yet another serious run at the AHL's Calder cup. They're still stacked with all of the key players from last year's team, and with a few Europeans (most noteably Tuomo Ruutu) jumping across from Europe, the team is looking as strong as last season...if not stronger.

The top line of Frolov-Ruutu-Chistov has been giving teams fits all season, and with the performances of Frolov and Ruutu this season, look for them to be in a Sabres uniform on opening day next season. On the blueline, Brooks Orpik has already established himself as a veteran like presence . He might not be as ready as the Sabre's had hoped by now, but he still might make a push for the opening day roster next season, depending on moves over the off-season.


thats all.....for now

Buffalo Bill,
Hockey Editor for The Buffalo News

Donga
04-19-2004, 09:46 PM
Frolov-Ruutu-Chistov

Is this line possible?? Because technically, these guys haven't been signed yet. I don't think they would like to sign an AHL contract when they could be earning a lot more not to mention a lot more attention in their native homeland. Also, Frolov and Ruutu would not jump the pond anyway unless they were guaranteed a two way contract at least. :)

Could the HFAHL administrators look into this. Have they been using illegal players throughout the year?? :help: If so, can you remove all points that the players have played in. :teach:

Anything to get the Monsters will the Calder cup... :banana: :lol

Donga
04-19-2004, 09:58 PM
Frolov-Ruutu-Chistov

Is this line possible?? Because technically, these guys haven't been signed yet. I don't think they would like to sign an AHL contract when they could be earning a lot more not to mention a lot more attention in their native homeland. Also, Frolov and Ruutu would not jump the pond anyway unless they were guaranteed a two way contract at least. :)

Could the HFAHL administrators look into this. Have they been using illegal players throughout the year?? :help: If so, can you remove all points that the players have played in. :teach:

Anything to get the Monsters will the Calder cup... :banana: :lol