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Sabres' Ellis in a battle for last spot

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Old
09-25-2011, 11:14 PM
  #1
earthwindmyers
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Sabres' Ellis in a battle for last spot

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It takes a lot to get Matt Ellis down. About the only things that match his work ethic are the frequency of his smiles and the positivity of his attitude.

Right around this time last year, however, he was crushed. He was the Buffalo Sabres' final cut of training camp. While the team was preparing to face Ottawa in the season opener, the heartbroken forward who had spent all of the previous season in Buffalo was packing for Portland.

"Last year didn't go the way I hoped," said Ellis, who was in the Sabres' lineup Sunday for a 4-1 loss in Columbus. "It was an up-and-down year. I spent some time here. I spent quite a bit of time in Portland.

"But the way I've been throughout my career is I try to take a positive out of everything. ... My focus while I'm here is that I'm a member of the Buffalo Sabres. Until I'm told otherwise, that is where my focus is going to be."

Once again, Ellis' fate is expected to come down to the final days of camp. He's essentially fighting Luke Adam and Cody McCormick for the last forward starting job, with a second player taking the reserve role. The third choice will start in Rochester.

"I'm just trying to bring what I bring to the table and do what I do best each and every day, work hard and don't leave anything in the tank," Ellis said. "It's been pretty good so far."

No matter the result, Ellis is feeling better than he did last fall. He and his wife welcomed their third child this month, a baby girl to go with two boys, a 4 1/2-year-old and another who turns 2 in December. Ellis also has a new contract.

The Sabres and Ellis agreed to a two-year deal worth $1.05 million. It's a two-way deal this season, meaning he'll make less in the minors, but the final year becomes one-way, with Ellis guaranteed $525,000.

Ellis would have to clear waivers if the Sabres send the 30-year-old to Rochester, but it's less likely a team would claim him knowing he has the second contract year locked up.

"My heart's been here," said the native of Welland, Ont. "This is the organization that I wanted to stay in. Knowing that I'm going to be a member of the Sabres' organization is something that I'm proud of and extremely honored to be part of for the next two years. It's exciting not only for myself but the family as well."

Ellis isn't as offensively gifted as Adam, and he's not as menacing as McCormick. He's as dependable as they come, however, and he perfectly fits the fourth-line grinder role.

"We know his compete level is real good," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's the type of guy that just supplies some good veteran depth to our organization.

"He's a professional. He knows how to prepare, he knows how to play, he knows how to train. He's a real good influence on the younger players, and he's a strong voice when it comes to talking to players inside the dressing room."

Those traits made Ellis the Portland captain, which put him in an interesting spot.

"It's almost like I'm a bridge between the two groups," Ellis said. "It's a pretty easygoing group where everyone kind of intertwines on their own, but I'm the guy that can tell all the vets about what all the prospects in the minors bring to the table. Likewise, I'm the guy that can tell all the younger guys what it's like to play up here and what these guys bring to the table. It's a unique position."


http://www.buffalonews.com/sports/article571231.ece

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09-25-2011, 11:50 PM
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All those positive attributes Ellis brings to the rink night in and night out is the reason -- even if he fails to crack the roster opening night -- that he'll likely play 30-40 games with the big club as injuries take their toll during the course of the season. The fact that he'll bring home close to a mil over the next two seasons is testament to the fact that hard work and a good attitude do pay off in the end.


Last edited by slip: 09-26-2011 at 12:11 AM.
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09-26-2011, 10:27 AM
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Once again, Ellis' fate is expected to come down to the final days of camp. He's essentially fighting Luke Adam and Cody McCormick for the last forward starting job, with a second player taking the reserve role. The third choice will start in Rochester.
Not sure if this is just another example of a TBN opinion or if it's based in fact around something Ruff and Regier said but, if the latter is true, it seems the Sabres will carry a 13th forward on the roster to start the season - some of us agreed with, some of us didn't - which will make the cap hits of the 3 respective players a factor.

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that McCormick is even a question mark at this point, given that they played him all season last year and then handed him a 2-year deal with a notable cap hit. I'd also be surprised if Adam were kept as a spare in Buffalo when his development would clearly benefit more from ice time as Rochester's # 1 center.

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09-26-2011, 11:19 AM
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I find this strange as well.

It doesn't make much sense to have Adam sitting in the press box because of his development, and it doesn't make much sense to have a relatively expensive McCormick sitting either.

Ellis is better off working with the kids than he is sitting as well.

So to start the season (with a possible exception being the overseas trip), my opinion is we should have McCormick playing, and have Adam/Ellis in Rochester.

If Ruff is hell-bent on having Adam playing, well, that's another issue. That means McCormick is the box and Ellis in Rochester.

So I guess it boils down to (for me):

Adam: either playing or ROC
McCormick: playing (or if Adam is playing he goes in the box)
Ellis: ROC either way

If Adam is playing we carry a 13th, if not we don't.

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09-26-2011, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by gregor View Post
So to start the season (with a possible exception being the overseas trip), my opinion is we should have McCormick playing, and have Adam/Ellis in Rochester.
I'm guessing that's exactly how it's going to go down, assuming we have a healthy roster. All three of these guys are going to get their chances this year when the injuries inevitably roll in.

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09-26-2011, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Sabretip View Post
Not sure if this is just another example of a TBN opinion or if it's based in fact around something Ruff and Regier said but, if the latter is true, it seems the Sabres will carry a 13th forward on the roster to start the season - some of us agreed with, some of us didn't - which will make the cap hits of the 3 respective players a factor.

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that McCormick is even a question mark at this point, given that they played him all season last year and then handed him a 2-year deal with a notable cap hit. I'd also be surprised if Adam were kept as a spare in Buffalo when his development would clearly benefit more from ice time as Rochester's # 1 center.
He's not. Ellis isn't in a battle for anything. He'll be an injury callup for the Sabres, nothing more and nothing less.

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09-26-2011, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Myllz View Post
He's not. Ellis isn't in a battle for anything. He'll be an injury callup for the Sabres, nothing more and nothing less.
I think you are probably wrong.

I think Ellis grabs the 13th forward spot. Adam starts in Rochester.

I think the Franchise values Ellis, and putting him on waivers to start the year puts him in a more likely to be claimed position. Waiting a few weeks into the year, ensures that most other franchises will have their NHL Rosters set, and limits the possibility he gets claimed.

While sending Adam to Rochester, allows the FAK line to continue developing together, and makes Adam earn his callup rather then riding the press box in Buffalo.

Keeping Ellis over Adam saves cap space as well.

Vanek-Roy-Pominville
Ennis-Leino-Stafford
Hecht-McCormick-Boyes
Gerbe-Goose-Kaleta
x - Ellis

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09-26-2011, 12:16 PM
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I think the organization values him more as a captain in Rochester and a positive influence on prospects than a guy sitting in the press box most nights. And with his 2 year deal, with 1 year being one way, he's extremely unlikely to be claimed.

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09-26-2011, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jame View Post
I think you are probably wrong.

I think Ellis grabs the 13th forward spot. Adam starts in Rochester.

I think the Franchise values Ellis, and putting him on waivers to start the year puts him in a more likely to be claimed position. Waiting a few weeks into the year, ensures that most other franchises will have their NHL Rosters set, and limits the possibility he gets claimed.

While sending Adam to Rochester, allows the FAK line to continue developing together, and makes Adam earn his callup rather then riding the press box in Buffalo.

Keeping Ellis over Adam saves cap space as well.

Vanek-Roy-Pominville
Ennis-Leino-Stafford
Hecht-McCormick-Boyes
Gerbe-Goose-Kaleta
x - Ellis
Its highly unlikely he gets claimed regardless of when/if he gets waived because of the 2nd year of his contract (one way at 525k). Even if he didn't have that I doubt he would get claimed. Every team had a shot at him before last year and passed. What makes him more desirable for a team to claim him now?

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09-26-2011, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
Its highly unlikely he gets claimed regardless of when/if he gets waived because of the 2nd year of his contract (one way at 525k). Even if he didn't have that I doubt he would get claimed. Every team had a shot at him before last year and passed. What makes him more desirable for a team to claim him now?
I don't think a 2nd year, at 535K makes him less likely to be claimed. You are talking about a near minimum salary.

Team needs in the offseason (when others had a chance to sign him) and at the end of training camp/preseason... are different, and change.

Whatever chance you think there is of him getting claimed... you have to admit that it's more likely if he's waived before the regular season starts, then he is if he is waived a few weeks later.

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09-26-2011, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
Its highly unlikely he gets claimed regardless of when/if he gets waived because of the 2nd year of his contract (one way at 525k). Even if he didn't have that I doubt he would get claimed. Every team had a shot at him before last year and passed. What makes him more desirable for a team to claim him now?
And it also illustrates the wisdom in the structure of the deal Darcy offered. The organization values Ellis (maybe almost as much as Jame does) for the effort and leadership he brings.

Regardless of how the final cuts pan out, and who the 13th F is, I find myself satisfied with the bottom end of this roster. In past years, we'd be debating the merits of Jiri Novotny, Mike Ryan, Dan Paille, Tim Kennedy, etc. I've boatloads more enthusiasm for Buffalo's prospects this season if the bottom end of their roster includes #37, #8, #72 than some of the others mentioned above, and no slight intended towards them.

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09-26-2011, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Jame View Post
I don't think a 2nd year, at 535K makes him less likely to be claimed. You are talking about a near minimum salary.

Team needs in the offseason (when others had a chance to sign him) and at the end of training camp/preseason... are different, and change.

Whatever chance you think there is of him getting claimed... you have to admit that it's more likely if he's waived before the regular season starts, then he is if he is waived a few weeks later.
Every NHL team has players like Ellis on waivers. Dozens of them throughout the league. Rarely do they get claimed. Ellis likely isn't any different. He's a pretty safe bet on waivers.

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09-26-2011, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Sabretip View Post
Not sure if this is just another example of a TBN opinion or if it's based in fact around something Ruff and Regier said but, if the latter is true, it seems the Sabres will carry a 13th forward on the roster to start the season - some of us agreed with, some of us didn't - which will make the cap hits of the 3 respective players a factor.

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that McCormick is even a question mark at this point, given that they played him all season last year and then handed him a 2-year deal with a notable cap hit. I'd also be surprised if Adam were kept as a spare in Buffalo when his development would clearly benefit more from ice time as Rochester's # 1 center.
I think your surprise is due to not readjusting to the new financial realities of this team. Having a cap hit like his will in no way guarantee him a starting 12 roster spot.

They are going to eat 5mil in salaries this year (Kotalik/Morrison), they spent 7-10mil on a lockerroom, they spent several million to buy an AHL franchise, the actual salaries of this roster will exceed the cap by several million and they've recently handed out two contracts with 10mil signing bonuses.

With the above as a backdrop, there should be nothing surprising about McCormick potential ending up as the 13th forward even with a 1.2mil cap hit. That is a drop in the bucket relative to all the money they've spent to develop a winning product. They want the best team possible on the ice. If they feel they need to sit a 1.2mil player to do that then they will.

Also Adam will be in the starting 12 if he stays not as a spare forward.

Its fairly simple. If Adam makes the team and the team is healthy at the start of the year. Then McCormick goes to the pressbox and Ellis goes to Rochester. If Adam doesn't make it then obviously Adam goes to Rochester and Ellis likely goes to the pressbox. Thats of course if the team is healthy. We all know the odds of us having a healthy roster for any length of time are slim to none and there is no guarantee Adam makes it either. I'm guessing even if Cody starts of as the 13th forward he will still play in 70+ games.


Last edited by joshjull: 09-26-2011 at 04:10 PM.
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09-26-2011, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jame View Post
I don't think a 2nd year, at 535K makes him less likely to be claimed. You are talking about a near minimum salary.

Team needs in the offseason (when others had a chance to sign him) and at the end of training camp/preseason... are different, and change.

Whatever chance you think there is of him getting claimed... you have to admit that it's more likely if he's waived before the regular season starts, then he is if he is waived a few weeks later.
But nevertheless, it is a slight "poison pill" - and may deter a fraction of the other 29 clubs. Your other points are well taken.

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09-26-2011, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by sabrefan27 View Post
Every NHL team has players like Ellis on waivers. Dozens of them throughout the league. Rarely do they get claimed. Ellis likely isn't any different. He's a pretty safe bet on waivers.
like when the Sabres claimed Ellis on waivers from LA ?

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09-26-2011, 01:31 PM
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like when the Sabres claimed Ellis on waivers from LA ?
Like I said.. rarely.

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09-26-2011, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by joshjull View Post
I think your surprise is due to not readjusting to the new financial realities of this team. Having a cap hit like his will in no way guarantee him a starting 12 roster spot.

They are going to eat 5mil in salaries this year (Kotalik/Morrison), they spent 7-10mil on a lockerroom, they spent several million to buy an AHL franchise, the actual salaries of this roster will exceed the cap by several million and they've recently handed out two contracts with 10mil signing bonuses.

With the above as a backdrop, there should be nothing surprising about McCormick potential ending up as the 13th forward even with a 1.2mil cap hit. That is a drop in the bucket relative to all the money they've spent to develop a winning product. They want the best team possible on the ice. If they feel they need to sit a 1.2mil player to do that then they will.

Also Adam will be in the starting 12 if he stays not as a spare forward.

Its fairly simple. If Adam makes the team and the team is healthy at the start of the year. Then McCormick goes to the pressbox and Ellis goes to Rochester. If Adam doesn't make it then obviously Adam goes to Rochester and Ellis likely goes to the pressbox. Thats of course if the team is healthy. We all know the odds of us having a healthy roster for any length of time are slim to none and there is no guarantee Adam makes it either. I'm guessing even if Cody starts of as the 13th forward he will still play in 70+ games.

For me it's less the cap hit than the duration. Clearly the Sabres have no problem burying salary (though I don't think they should be making a habit out of it down the line). If McCormick was on a one-year deal I would agree he's potentially at risk.

They made a three year commitment to him. To me that means a lot more than $1.2M/yr. I would be shocked if his roster spot isn't a virtual guarantee. In the end I guess we're basically saying the same thing here, though.


Last edited by joshjull: 09-26-2011 at 04:10 PM.
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