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Old
11-30-2003, 06:13 AM
  #1
Chainshot
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My Concern of the Day

More than the day really... and this is long so for those with ADHD/ADD or just don't want to read, be warned.

So Buffalo sports a relatively young defense with three guys who have yet to fill their full potential in Kalinin, Tallinder and Campbell. The also have an anchor in Zhitnik who is close to free agency, a lock-down defenseman who's regressed in the last two years in McKee and a couple of steady but somewhat flawed righties in Patrick (age) and Fitzpatrick (skating) filling out the remaining spots. Oh, and that powerplay shooter who hasn't scored a goal a third of the way into the season in Delmore. Taking a closer look is none to pretty for team who's fans want them in the playoffs...

Zhitnik is in a contract year and is again playing to his talents nightly. A stick change has him hitting the net and a danger to the other team rather than to his 'mates. He's still logging high-quality minutes, still a pain to play against, and has again been rushing the puck and leading rushes that lead to chances. And he's gone at the end of the year under the old model CBA and he might not be back under the new. Oh, and there is still no one who can fully replace him.

McKee has slipped to the point that he's moved from untradable lock-down guy to fan trade-bait. Yes, his physical game has disappeared and his offensive game in junior has never surfaced as a pro. Making him a non-hitting, non-mobile version of Mike Ramsey, which means he's the current version of Darryl Shannon, without the fight every 15 games or so. McKee is only 26 however, and could rebuild his repertoire as an occasionally fierce hitter, vigorous penalty killer, and general stalwart defensive defenseman who was once invited to fill in at the Canadian National selection camp after Adam Foote hurt himself. But will he?

Dmitri Kalinin has 226 games under his belt as a 23 year old (which we seem to often forget). He's starting to show all of his abilities each night---joining the rush late, jumping into the slot, using his somewhat surprising speed at both ends of the rink, and as Nathan Horton can attest putting his shoulder and hip to good use in the corners. IF his progression and development continue, he's the guy who'll inherit Zhitnik's minutes and responsibilities. Yet... he's been scratched 5 times this season, most recently 7 games ago. Is this guy the "future" of the blueline?

Tallinder is rangy, a swift skater, and has a long reach. I've seen him lace a hard shot through traffic, low and easily deflectable by a teammate. He can feather a nice pass and certainly use his considerable skating talent to get the puck to safety. However, that has mostly been in practice and before his rash of injuries last season. He still doesn't protect himself very well and while he can efficiently rub someone out he seems to get blown through far too often for someone of his size and reach. I see the skills, but I also see him loping through the neutral zone and the other team already pulling up to check him at his point position---the guy never uses his speed to drive anyone off the blueline when in those rare instances he leads the rush since everyone knows he's going to lamely curl up at the point and look around. Even when he has a guy beat. Grrr... And at 24, he's got to start putting it all together. Yes, Regier has said he's less likely to trade this guy than Kalinin and reportedly told Jim Kelley he expects him to be better than Kalinin. But at some point the guy has to use those skills in some fashion---show a real commitment to either being <i>the</i> guy in a shut-down role, or else bring those skills to playing a 2-way game. As it is, he's not "not noticeable" in the way I like defensive defensemen to be not noticeable, i.e. you don't remember them for the night but you don't remember their opponent either.

Patrick gives them savvy minutes and a veteran presence they need. As a rightie, it’s even better. However, he’s also 40 years old and noticeably slower than in year’s past. His games played need to be regulated to be most effective. But Ruff seems content to throw him out their every night, since he hasn’t had one off since Nov 7th, a span of 11 games, even with 7 healthy defensemen on the roster. He’ll give what he can, but how much more is that going to be? At this point he’s a great guy to have as a 6 or 7 and virtual coach, but to be third on the team in ice time among defensemen?!? WTF. Yeah some of it has to do with how well he works with Zhitnik on the first pair, but still that is a recipe for burning him out. Eh, if he’s worn down to a nub again if they make the playoffs it’ll be a convenient scapegoat target we all love in WNY. *sigh*

Fitzpatrick has done yeoman’s work breaking through as a 28 year old to garner quality minutes on the top pair opposite Zhitnik. He’s played well as a PKer, does an effective job putting his body on his man when needed, can have a little edge which is surely missing in most of this list, and has decent puck skills. However… journeymen AHL tweeners who finally get their break are usually a sign of a team without much quality on their blueline. I don’t see Fitzie as a long-term solution, nor as a reliable “#2” as some have called him. He might make a fine 4-5-6 for a couple seasons; he might fade back into the minors. I’d love to see it be the former, I dread it being the later.

Campbell... Greg Brown Part II. I once compared him to the Gregs, Brown and Hawgood. I was hoping for Hawgood, a dynamic little powerplay specialist who put up about a point every two nights in his NHL career. What we seem to have currently is Brown II, a guy without size but with great skating and passing ability who just can't get anything done with the skills he has at the NHL level. Time is running out on him, even at 24.

Lastly is Delmore, or ersatz powerplay specialist who has all of 1 point after the team has played 25 games. He's gotten the most PP time/game of any Sabre defender, but precious little to show for it so far. One assist, 20 shots, and a -2 but a growing reputation (well-deserved) of handing the puck to the opposition at just the wrong time. Thankfully he has over 50 games to get things in gear, but it's also a good thing Regier's attempt to upgrade his powerplay only cost him a third round pick.

So that's some slim pickin's for any serious playoff contenting team. They lack any sort of physical edge, have a couple of guys who are not effective with the skills they have, a couple playing well beyond their age or ability as of right now, and a couple who are nightly question marks.

Oh, did I mention that there is nothing on the horizon, no defensive stalwart or new version of any of these guys even remotely close to breaking through? That the cupboard isn't thin but it's downright bare with nothing but "dust", slim chance hopes like Denis Denisov, Tom Morrow, and Calle Aslund; Doug Janik, Ryan Jorde and Denis Ezhov. There isn't a potential top 3 in the bunch. And that's my concern of the day...

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Old
11-30-2003, 07:16 AM
  #2
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My $.02

The Sabres are loaded with complimentary players. The types that play on second and third lines, and second and third pairs. Some of their players are first line and first pair types, but their is no centerpiece forward or defenseman.

Just talking about the defense, my feeling is that everything would fall into line if they had a bonafide #1 d-man. Not that Zhitnik hasn't been playing well... I think he'd be a better #2 riding shotgun on the first pair, or cementing the second pair.

Hypothetically, let's say the Sabres trade from their forward and goaltender depth to get an impact defender, say Ed Jovanovski. Our pairings would look like this, IMO:

McKee-Jovanovski

I think playing with a physical partner would revive McKee's game.

Kalinin-Zhitnik

Solid pairing, especially considering Zhitnik would be on the Sabres second pairing.

Tallinder-Campbell-Patrick-Fitzpatrick-Delmore

Third pairing could be mix and match, with Tallinder, Fitzpatrick, and Patrick playing more than Campbell and Delmore.

The team is sure to lose Zhitnik as an UFA, IMO. The team would need an older, defensive-type through UFA. Let's say that guy is Richard Matvichuk. Pairings:

McKee-Jovanovski
Kalinin-Matvichuk
Tallinder-Fitzpatrick-Patrick


If we go heavy on defense in the draft, to include our first pick, then that would shore things up.

But, the first move is the most important. Jovanovski might be a pipe dream. Gonchar probably is as well. Have to find the right guy for the right price.

Opinions and options?

 
Old
11-30-2003, 10:01 AM
  #3
billsandsabres
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i would say that jovanovski leaving couver is as likely as noronen scoring a hat trick on wednesday
i think gonchar would be a possibility if washington keeps losing
but keep in mind that gonchar is really a 4th forward on the ice, isn't the whole package like jovo cop

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11-30-2003, 10:54 AM
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billsandsabres
i would say that jovanovski leaving couver is as likely as noronen scoring a hat trick on wednesday
i think gonchar would be a possibility if washington keeps losing
but keep in mind that gonchar is really a 4th forward on the ice, isn't the whole package like jovo cop

I think if you put Gonchar on the point with Delmore, you would see a major resurgence in Demore's PP numbers (mostly goals). He's not very good at creating his own scoring chances. In Nashville, he had a Timonen who would draw in the forwards and create lanes for Delmore to shoot. I just don't see that from Zhitnik. If you had a PP pointman who was very adept with the puck and can suck in the opposing PKers, then you'll have a very good PP. Delmore needs a lane. He has a wonderful, wonderful shot but it doesn't do any good when it's getting blocked by the opposing PKers. He stops shooting and stops scoring. He's not going to create those lanes, that's where Gonchar would come in.

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11-30-2003, 11:01 AM
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billsandsabres
i would say that jovanovski leaving couver is as likely as noronen scoring a hat trick on wednesday
i think gonchar would be a possibility if washington keeps losing
but keep in mind that gonchar is really a 4th forward on the ice, isn't the whole package like jovo cop
Which is why I posted that getting Jovanoski was likely a pipedream. Just using him in a hypothetical situation.

 
Old
11-30-2003, 03:48 PM
  #6
LALALALALALAFONTAINE
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billsandsabres
i would say that jovanovski leaving couver is as likely as noronen scoring a hat trick on wednesday
i think gonchar would be a possibility if washington keeps losing
but keep in mind that gonchar is really a 4th forward on the ice, isn't the whole package like jovo cop
If you can swing Gonchar, I think you can and should flip him for Morris.

Morris is RH and young. Gonchar is better, but LH and near free agency.

Zhitnik and Morris is your first pairing.

Kalinin and Fitzpatrick is your second pairing.

Tallinder and a big physical RD is your third pairing.

Patrick is your spare defenseman.

You trade McKee, Delmore and Campbell. Kalinin and Tallinder are better than McKee or Campbell. You deal Delmore because he doesn't fit. The defense needs a physical presence. Delmore isn't necessary on the PP with Morris around.

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11-30-2003, 07:16 PM
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Man...you guys are crazy. There's no way we're going to get Morris, even if we flip Gonchar over for him. We'd have to trade either Satan, Miller, or Vanek to even think about getting a guy like Morris. Anyways, I'd rather have Klesla or Pitkanen before Morris.

That said, I don't think Gonchar fills a need. I'd rather see the defense get tougher before it scores more.

I think we should really look hard to see what it'd take to pry Regehr away from Calgary.

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12-01-2003, 08:52 AM
  #8
LALALALALALAFONTAINE
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How is Gonchar not approaching fair value for Morris? For a team whose approach has to be this year or bust, like Colorado, it is a perfect deal to make.

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12-01-2003, 09:01 AM
  #9
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Originally Posted by LALALALALALAFONTAINE
How is Gonchar not approaching fair value for Morris? For a team whose approach has to be this year or bust, like Colorado, it is a perfect deal to make.
The Avs don't need the slight upgrade in offensive production this year that they would get from a deal involving Gonchar for Morris.

Morris will give the Avs about as much as Gonchar will this year, and he'll be around for a much longer time.

Skoula for Gonchar, sure. But, Morris is too good right now to make that deal.

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12-01-2003, 09:20 AM
  #10
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Originally Posted by lecherous
Man...you guys are crazy. There's no way we're going to get Morris, even if we flip Gonchar over for him. We'd have to trade either Satan, Miller, or Vanek to even think about getting a guy like Morris.
If we got Morris for Satan, I'd be skipping around like a little school girl.

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12-02-2003, 09:16 AM
  #11
LALALALALALAFONTAINE
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Originally Posted by Jim Bob
The Avs don't need the slight upgrade in offensive production this year that they would get from a deal involving Gonchar for Morris.

Morris will give the Avs about as much as Gonchar will this year, and he'll be around for a much longer time.

Skoula for Gonchar, sure. But, Morris is too good right now to make that deal.
Gonchar would definitely get them talking. Remember that the Avs have their goal like the Sabres do. Their goal is to win the Cup this year. Forsberg is likely going back to Sweden. Blake and Sakic may retire. Kariya and Selanne are free agents. They don't have the great stopper in Roy anymore. Foote may be a year away from retirement.

The Avs have traded exactly in line with this goal. They've given up youngsters to get Battaglia, Worrell and Konowalchuk. The only exception I can think of was dealing Reinprecht to get Ballard. Arguably, Reinprecht was not the third line player (like Konowalchuk is) so it was not dealing away today for tomorrow.

Would Gonchar give them a better chance than Morris to win the Cup this year? I think so. That's the Avs goal, period. Would this trade hurt them in two years? Probably. But if the Avs are left with the following two scenarios, which do you think they choose:

1. 45% chance of Cup this year, 1% chance of Cup in two years, 75 point team most likely.
2. 35% chance of Cup this year, 1% chance of Cup in two years, 82 point team most likely.

I think they choose #1, and they get that by dealing Morris for Gonchar.

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12-02-2003, 09:26 AM
  #12
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If the Avs want Gonchar they'll just cut out the middle man and talk to the Caps about a deal centering around getting Gonchar and Kolzig for Skoula and a pile of dung.

They can get Gonchar without giving up Morris.

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12-02-2003, 05:11 PM
  #13
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Originally Posted by Chainshot
So that's some slim pickin's for any serious playoff contenting team. They lack any sort of physical edge, have a couple of guys who are not effective with the skills they have, a couple playing well beyond their age or ability as of right now, and a couple who are nightly question marks.

Oh, did I mention that there is nothing on the horizon, no defensive stalwart or new version of any of these guys even remotely close to breaking through? That the cupboard isn't thin but it's downright bare with nothing but "dust", slim chance hopes like Denis Denisov, Tom Morrow, and Calle Aslund; Doug Janik, Ryan Jorde and Denis Ezhov. There isn't a potential top 3 in the bunch. And that's my concern of the day...
Thanks for an interesting, thoughtful analysis. Sad that there is no physical edge to the defense. Part of me thinks Mckee may find it again, but I really dont think he will. Scary that there doesnt seem to be much in the pipeline for the future. I cant wait for your concern of the day dealing w/ the forwards on this team. goaltending is in the middle of the pack (GAA and save %). Offense is near the bottom.
I dont know if this team will go to the playoffs. I agree a physical edge is needed (the forwards can help in this dept too), the offense needs to get going. If the dumont-briere-hecht line is for real and Miro-Drury-whoever can play well, the 3rd and 4th lines (brown, mair, taylor, boulton...) will be fine. And lastly the goalie situation needs to clear up. the stats are ok, but the abnormal amount of really soft goals have to go. On paper I think there is enough talent to make the playoffs, but can they pull together as a team, and play consistent over 60 minutes, and then over the course of several games???? It seems to me that there are still too many questions about this team to tell where they are headed.

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12-02-2003, 07:24 PM
  #14
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Here's a name to think about: Daryl Sydor. I watch almost every CBJ game. He'd go a long way to bringing stability to our blueline. His salary is comparable to Zhitnik's, so it would be unreasonable to think about getting him without a trade to free up resources.

 
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12-02-2003, 07:33 PM
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabot55
Here's a name to think about: Daryl Sydor. I watch almost every CBJ game. He'd go a long way to bringing stability to our blueline. His salary is comparable to Zhitnik's, so it would be unreasonable to think about getting him without a trade to free up resources.
If Biron and Connolly go we can free up about $3.5m...

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12-03-2003, 02:12 AM
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Originally Posted by lecherous
If Biron and Connolly go we can free up about $3.5m...
Good luck getting two teams to take those contracts off the Sabres hands without sending back an equal, or greater amount, of salary back to the Sabres in the deal.

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12-03-2003, 02:17 AM
  #17
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For this year I think it's more likely that the Sabres go after a pending UFA like Keith Carney, Todd Simpson, Bob Boughner, Brad Bombardir, or Mike Rathje as a temporary patch for the remainder of this season.

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12-03-2003, 03:04 AM
  #18
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Connolly is untradeable.

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12-03-2003, 03:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim Bob
For this year I think it's more likely that the Sabres go after a pending UFA like Keith Carney, Todd Simpson, Bob Boughner, Brad Bombardir, or Mike Rathje as a temporary patch for the remainder of this season.
Wouldn't mind Carney or Boughner. Especially Carney. Young guys could learn a bit from someone like him.

 
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12-03-2003, 04:37 AM
  #20
LALALALALALAFONTAINE
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If the Avs want Gonchar they'll just cut out the middle man and talk to the Caps about a deal centering around getting Gonchar and Kolzig for Skoula and a pile of dung.

They can get Gonchar without giving up Morris.
That's why the Sabres should be the middleman, and offer the Caps more. I don't think they'll be getting Gonchar and Kolzig for Skoula and crap. Gonchar will be tough to get out of Washington, because his contract is actually a bargain. I wouldn't be surprised to see him wind up with the Rangers or the Queefs, as part of a trade where Jagr gets dealt. Nobody will take Jagr's contract straight up. Gonchar may be the incentive to do that.

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12-03-2003, 04:39 AM
  #21
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Originally Posted by Takeo21
Connolly is untradeable.
Once his concussion problems are solved, he's very tradeable.

Biron, OTOH, may not be. $2.2M for a goalie with a .900 save percentage? He looks great next to Salo, but that's about it.

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12-03-2003, 04:59 AM
  #22
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Originally Posted by LALALALALALAFONTAINE
That's why the Sabres should be the middleman, and offer the Caps more. I don't think they'll be getting Gonchar and Kolzig for Skoula and crap. Gonchar will be tough to get out of Washington, because his contract is actually a bargain. I wouldn't be surprised to see him wind up with the Rangers or the Queefs, as part of a trade where Jagr gets dealt. Nobody will take Jagr's contract straight up. Gonchar may be the incentive to do that.
Gonchar is affordable now. But, he is a Group II RFA after the season.

And since he's 29, he could very well be an UFA after the CBA is settled.

And while Gonchar may be used as sweetner in a Jagr deal, the same could be said for any potential Kolzig trade as well since Kolzig's contract goes beyond this season and will be hard for any team to swallow.

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12-03-2003, 08:34 AM
  #23
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The difference is that ownership clause in Jagr's contract. Granted, Washington may be taking the approach of making life hell for Jagr to get him to waive or negotiate a buyout of that clause, but that's an impossible contract to deal. If he was waived, I doubt he gets picked up. If Kolzig was waived, he'd be picked up by 15 teams.

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12-03-2003, 08:40 AM
  #24
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Originally Posted by LALALALALALAFONTAINE
Once his concussion problems are solved, he's very tradeable.
Nope. He's already earned himself the bust/underachiever reputation around the league. Now that gets compounded by the dreaded "consucssion history." "Very tradeable"?? Not even close.

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12-03-2003, 08:46 AM
  #25
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If Kolzig was waived, he'd be picked up by 15 teams.
Not at $6.25 million this year and with at least another season beyond that on his deal. Especially with his 2.95 GAA and .892 Save% this year.

He'll be about as tough to move as CuJo.

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