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04-11-2012, 12:15 PM
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Some odd arguments from Kilgore - but the bit about Kassian was interesting:

My gut tells me Pegula is just as frustrated and disappointed as most Sabres fans are after a late and exciting late season charge fell 3 points short of a playoff spot in a league where more teams make the playoffs than don't. But my gut also tells me Pegula's life experiences and ups and downs make it unlikely he will follow the advice of many by "blowing things up" in the off season. It might be tempting to fire gm Darcy Regier and even coach Lindy Ruff for a "fresh start", but that would be foolish and he knows that.

Foolish, because there simply isn't a better coach out there, and as one NHL executive told me late in the season "if anything, Ruff deserves a ton of credit for keeping the team focused for a late season run when just about everything that could go wrong went wrong". As for gm's, Regier has had more hits than misses, and it is now quite obvious he's been given unfair blame for some previous ownership shortcomings. There simply are no Stanley Cup winners who lack GREAT ownership, no matter WHO the gm or coach might be, and the Sabres now have that ownership in Pegula.
Ryan Miller will not be one of those changes, nor should he be. Forget all the rumors about how his mid season struggles were due to the fact his movie star wife lived out west, which is where his heart really was, etc. Moving past a concussion or two had everything to do with his slump, and that slump also dragged the team down with him.
We can argue all day about whether or not Miller is the best, or one of the five best, etc., but we can't argue that acquiring a better goaltender than Miller is a virtual impossibility.

Miller isn't the only untouchable Sabre, although there aren't many I would put in that category.
You might be surprised at my second most untouchable Sabre, but that would be Tyler Ennis. Ok, he's not very big at 5-9, 157 (holding a bag of pucks), but Ennis PLAYS big - and FAST.

One NHL scout pointed out to me from the press box one night how opposing defensemen begin backing up the moment Ennis is anywhere near the puck, which is respect not shown to many players of any age. He's smart, and he doesn't mind sticking his nose into the traffic around the net, and whether he's a #1 center or not, he'll be a very large part of the Sabres of 2012-13.
As far as Kassian was concerned, the "inside" story I've gotten about him from a veteran NHL scout is that the Sabres and virtually everybody else thought he was a big, physical player with a "mean streak" that could give the Sabres some physical toughness they'd been lacking. As it turns out, that player in juniors was not the real Kassian. He was bigger and stronger at that level and used his size to be noticed, but in reality, Kassian (I'm told) viewed himself as a skill player who simply knew he had to be physical to get noticed. The Sabres figured this out after he all but disappeared in Rochester.

Kassian scored a goal against the Sabres in the first game after the trade, and a lot of folks thought maybe the Sabres had made a big mistake. Well, it turns out that was the ONLY goal Kassian scored in 17 games with the Canucks. Wonder if the Canucks would make that deal now?
This will be a very interesting off season, because Pegula will be emotionally and financially ready to pursue players who'll improve this team, and Regier and his staff will have the green light to go after them.

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