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Free Agency: The Buffalo Sabres and the Pegula Factor

The off-season can be just as tumultuous as the regular and postseason, and as these teams have been reminding us, free agency is just around the corner.  So what´s their situation?

Sabres-pegula-0222 The Sabres have been consistently consistent, which unfortunately doesn´t include a Stanley Cup.  Lindy Ruff has the proud title of "longest-tenured coach in the NHL" which is great for loyalty, but under that tenure Buffalo has missed the playoffs five times, yet has reached the Conference finals three times and the Cup finals once.

The team has seemed somewhat stagnant recently, as Ryan Miller star from the Olympics dimmed in the past season, and the depth, both offensively and defensively, is questionable.

But with new owner Terry Pegula, there appears to be a new, more aggressive mindset, which is buoyed by the afore mentioned stability.

Pegula and GM Darcy Regier made the first big move by unloading some youth in the form of center Paul Byron and defensman Chris Butler in exchange for the Calgary Flames´ Robyn Regehr and Ales Kotalik as well as a second round pick in next year´s draft.

The next step came suddenly, as Christian Ehrhoff became available after both the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Islanders were unable to finalize deals with the almost-championship defenseman.  True, projects it to take $4 million away from the bargaining table, but it was a move the Sabres badly needed.

Steve Montador was the next defensive maneuver as he was moved to the Chicago Blackhawks for a seventh-round pick in either next year´s draft or in 2013.  Though a considerable blueliner, Buffalo doesn´t exactly lack in depth in that department.

All three of the Sabres´ free agency defensman on the current roster are restricted; Andrej Sekera, Mike Weber, and Marc-Andre Gragnani.  Sekera is probably the strongest candidate of the three, but with only about $7 million to play with under the new salary cap of $64 million we may anticipate more trades than signings for Buffalo.

Tim Connolly and Mike Grier hold the offensive spotlight in terms of the six unrestricted free agents up front, which also include Rob Niedermayer, Matt Ellis, Mark Mancari, and Cody McCormickMcCormick is my personal favorite, though that´s more because of his reputation as a fighter, but Grier and Connolly are really the ones to look out for. 

Connolly proved his worth with 42 points (13g, 29a) last season, and Grier gets a shot of adrenaline every now and then that is worth a few bucks. 

But with the money situation and the prospects in the field, I´m sure Pegula and his team are looking more outward than in.


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i knew they would have a big off-season. didn't know it was going to be THIS big. after signing ehrhoff to that humongous contract, i wouldn't be surprised if they go after richards or stamkos tomorrow. if they don't land either of those two, i'd be extremely surprised. pegula is giving buffalo fans the dream ownership we've been waiting for pretty much forever.

tomorrow is going to psycho for sabres fan.

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