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Overreactions: There actually was a hockey game tonight

475668991_slideIt’s hard to sum up this game tonight. There was a game. It was an NHL regular season hockey game. It counted in the standings, but no one who has a twitter or was around people likely got invested in this game. It was a sideshow.

The impending trade of Ryan Miller finally happened. The impending trade of Steve Ott finally happened. And in one instant, the sense of dread on the horizon became a reality. And the Sabres played on.

While the team out on the ice walked away with a 4-2 win over the visiting San Jose Sharks, there’s not much to take from it. Jhonas Enroth was sensational. Brian Flynn scored again. Tyler Myers actually had a really good game.

And now, two points later, everything is different. The fact the team is currently riding a three game win streak out of the Olympic break is completely irrelevant. The soul of the team is forever changed. And even while Cody Hodgson, Matt Moulson, Flynn and Myers scored in a Sabres win at home on a Friday night, it doesn’t seem quite right. You don’t normally spend the third period’s television timeouts applauding for guys who aren’t on your team.

But the game’s a final, and Sunday, the team will take off out west for a roadtrip, and some of the guys on the plane may not be coming back to Buffalo on the same plane. They may have played their last game here. Matt Moulson, who scored the game winner tonight in maybe his last game as a Sabre (god, we can do this for everybody) wasn’t a story tonight.

There was a game. And I don’t think it matters too much right now.

  • Picked a hell of a game to show up late. Team was already out for warmups by the time I got to the press box.
  • Funny that you naturally didn’t want to put two and two together when Tim Murray missed his WGR spot at 5:30. It’d be too easy to assume there’d be a trade. Turns out, there was.
  • Good to see Enroth step up and have a game like that when he needed to grab the reins and earn a shot at being the #1 guy for the rest of the way. He will be. He’ll get his shot. Read the rest of this entry

Instigator Podcast #26: Cool Draft

Yes, I’m not dead. The NHL dDaft was a good enough excuse for my and my man Chris to get together and do a podcast. This is it. Listen to it.

Hit us up on twitter, @3rdManIn or @2ITB_Buffalo with comments.

Sabres trade Jordan Leopold to St. Louis


Only days away from the NHL trade deadline, the first domino has fallen at First Niagara Center.

Just hours before the Buffalo Sabres would drop the puck against Washington, the team announced they had traded defenseman Jordan Leopold to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for their 2nd round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, as well as a conditional 5th round pick in 2013.

The conditional pick is contingent on the Blues’ postseason success, as it is upgraded to a 4th round pick should St. Louis advance past the first round of the playoffs.

Leopold is in the last year of his three-year contract he signed with the Sabres as an unrestricted free agent in 2010. He registered 67 points in 174 games with Buffalo, and his 25 goals in Buffalo rank 18th among defensemen in franchise history.

“The first couple deals set the market,” [Blues GM Doug] Armstrong said on a conference call Saturday afternoon. “Pittsburgh set the market for defensemen when Murray went for a second [round pick] and I think a third that goes to a second based on a certain number of things…

“[Sabres GM] Darcy [Regier] might have been able to hold and see if the market goes up, but with that you’re always in the risk of an injury and getting nothing for the player. Everybody has to weigh the proper time for their team, and I know it was the proper time for us.”

Read the rest of this entry

Sabres deal T.J. Brennan to Florida

brennanThere had been discussion arguments on twitter about the roster moves the Sabres would have to make before Saturday afternoon’s game against Ottawa. Forwards Ville Leino and Tyler Ennis were ready to come back from injury, and the Sabres needed to make room for them in the 23.

First thing they did was send Mikhail Grigorenko back to Quebec, his junior team in the QMJHL. Then, Darcy Regier got his trade shoes on.

Defenseman T.J. Brennan, who’s struggled to get in the lineup all season, was dealt to the Florida Panthers in exchange for New Jersey’s 5th round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Brennan, 23, had played in just 10 games with the Sabres this season, registering a goal in a loss to Carolina on March 5. He registered just one goal in 11 NHL games last season well, when he scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game against Boston on Thanksgiving Eve 2011.

The offensive production expected of him never consistently materialized at the NHL level. He had been tearing it up in the AHL, with 14 goals and 35 points in 36 games this season before the lockout ended and he was forced to be recalled to the NHL due to his contract. While other players were safely waived and reassigned, Brennan, who was the Amerks’ leading scorer and one of the top scoring defenseman in the AHL, had no chance of clearing despite not being able to crack the top six in Buffalo.

In the end, Regier decided it was time to cut the cord and either waive or trade him, and they got a draft pick in return instead of letting him go for free. Read the rest of this entry

Derek Roy dealt to Dallas as Sabres pick up Steve Ott

Well, it was never a matter of if Derek Roy would ever be shown the door, but when. Turns out when was today.

The maligned center, who had spent his entire career in Buffalo, was sent to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy.

Roy, 29, had been with the Sabres since being drafted in 2001. A pending unrestricted free agent next season, the team’s desire to move him was evident.

While saying he “can’t wait to get started” with his new team, Roy admitted during a conference call that he was shocked when learned of the deal.

“It’s weird because I’ve never been traded before,” he said. “It was a weird situation, very emotional. I’ve been playing here my whole career. It was an emotional day for me.”

In return, Buffalo added even more toughness in Steve Ott.

Ott, 29, is entering his 10th season in the NHL after spending his entire career in Dallas. Known for a physical presence and as more of an agitator than an offensive threat, the former 1st round pick has 1,170 penalty minutes in 566 career games. His career high in goals was 22 in 2009-2010. With two years remaining on his contract, Ott will be looked to for some edge.

“I think more than anything else we needed to move the balance of skill versus the physical nature of our game, and become a tougher team to play against,” said Regier, who made the deal one day after signing 6-foot-8 forward John Scott as a free agent. “Steve can play and complement the higher-skilled guys and contribute in a lot of different ways. I think that he will be very valuable for us.”

“You need a blend of skill and grit and we were heavy on the skill side. The adjustment we wanted to make was to add to the grit side.”

Ott was fourth in the NHL last season with 278 hits in 74 games.

Also included in the deal was Pardy, 28, who spent parts of three seasons with the Calgary Flames before playing for the Stars last season. He added three assists in 36 games for Dallas.

The fact that the Sabres were able to part with Roy and yield a significant return right now was somewhat surprising. I had written off the idea of a move being possible thanks to two numbers: 4 and 5.5. Read the rest of this entry

Sabres pick up Cody Hodgson, ship Kassian & Gragnani to Vancouver

Hey, Darcy… good work, pal.

While many fans were pulling out the pitchforks with 3:00 approaching, Regier was making moves, and while many might’ve been fine with the previous trade with Nashville, he had something up his sleeve.

Buffalo sent rookie Zack Kassian and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani to Vancouver in exchange for Calder candidate Cody Hodgson and German defenseman Alexander Sulzer.

Hodgson, 22, has 16 goals and 33 points in 63 games for the Canucks. He has worked his way into “rookie of the year” talk after playing eight games last season for Vancouver. He made 12 playoff appearances in their run to last season’s Stanley Cup Finals, picking up one assist.

Sulzer, 27, has played just 12 games this season. In 74 games with Vancouver, Florida and Nashville, he has one goal and seven assists. He takes over Gragnani’s role as the team’s #7 defenseman. The Kaufbeuren, Germany native has been on Team Deutschland for the last two Olympic games.

The return was solid, but it was still a shocking move for the Sabres to give up on Kassian, who’d quickly become a fan favorite with his alleged physical play.

In 27 games for Buffalo, Kassian picked up three goals and added four assists. His legendary physicality was largely absent, as he proved to be a more passive big body than people expected. He was the Sabres’ first pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, 13th overall.

Vancouver also gets Marc-Andre Gragnani, a once promising young defenseman who had fallen out of the lineup. In 44 games, the guy who had been penciled in as a powerplay quarterback had just one goal and 12 assists. He had been the team’s leading scorer in last year’s first round series against Philadelphia, and it was his overtime goal against Carolina in April 2011 that helped secure a playoff spot.

Hodgson is currently signed to his entry-level deal, which expires after next season at a $1,666,666 cap hit. Sulzer is a pending unrestricted free agent at $700,000 for the season.

Sabres ship Gaustad to Nashville

As first reported by USA Today’s Kevin Allen, the Sabres were indeed active prior to the NHL’s trade deadline.

Buffalo traded pending unrestricted free agent center Paul Gaustad and a fourth round pick to the Nashville Predators for their 1st round pick.

Gaustad, 30, is on the verge of hitting the market on the expiry of his current deal, which has a cap hit of $2.3 million. The Fargo, North Dakota native spent his entire career with the Sabres after being drafted in the 7th round of the 2000 NHL Draft.

In 479 NHL games, he accumulated 71 goals and 181 points over eight seasons. He grew into a leader on the team, filling a key role on the team’s penalty kill unit while being a faceoff ace.

There was much debate heading towards 3:00 eastern about Darcy Regier seeking too high of a return on Gaustad, but in the end, he got his pick.

The Preds, who are likely going to battle for home ice in the 4/5 matchup out West, are getting a key faceoff guy to fill out their bottom six. With other pending free agents such as Ryan Suter and pending restricted free agent Shea Weber, Nashville’s going for it now.


Steve Montador dealt to Chicago

Darcy’s still dealing, apparently.

Just hours after the Sabres acquired the rights to pending UFA Christian Ehrhoff, Buffalo dealt defenseman Steve Montador to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Buffalo receives a conditional seventh round pick in either 2012 or 2013 in the deal, as explained here:

The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired the rights to defenseman Steve Montador from theBuffalo Sabres in exchange for the conditional seventh-round pick which Chicago will receive from Florida as part of the Tomas Kopecky trade…

…In exchange for Kopecky, the Blackhawks were due to receive the Panthers’ seventh-round selection in the 2012 Entry Draft, presently conditional to Nashville. If that pick is not available, Florida will transfer its own seventh-round selection in the 2013 Entry Draft.

Montador was signed as an unrestricted free agent in 2009. In two seasons, the defenseman scored ten goals and added 39 assists in 151 games as a Sabre. A physical presence on the blueline, he racked up 158 penalty minutes in his time in Buffalo.

Possibly the biggest goal Montador scored in the blue-and-gold was a second period goal against Boston in Game 4 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Putting the Sabres up 2-0 at TD Garden, with Buffalo at the time down 2-1 in the series, the goal was answered by two Bruins goals in the third period before Miroslav Satan ended the game in double-overtime.

This season, Montador had an assist on Tyler Ennis’ game winner in Game 5 against Philadelphia, his last point in a Sabres uniform. He was scratched for the Game 7 loss to the Flyers.

Should the Blackhawks not come to terms with the rearguard, he will be hitting the open market on Friday.

Sabres acquire rights to Christian Ehrhoff

Did anyone see this one coming? Didn’t think so.

In a surprise move, and an encouraging one, word broke tonight that the Buffalo Sabres have acquired the rights to pending unrestricted free agent Christian Ehrhoff.

Ehrhoff’s rights were acquired from the New York Islanders in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. The move comes after the former Canucks defenseman was acquired by the Isles Tuesday from Vancouver. The Islanders, not exactly a premier destination, tried in vain to sign him before Friday when he hits the market, but could not get a deal done.

Snow would not divulge to Newsday how much he offered Ehrhoff, but the number was “well north” of the five-year, $23 million contract Vancouver gave to defenseman Kevin Bieksa, according to the newspaper.

“We made a significant offer,” Snow told the newsaper. “I don’t want to get into specific numbers, but I felt like we made a good offer and a good run to get Christian to sign.”

Snow added: “We took a step in the last 24 hours to get a quality player signed. It didn’t work in this instance, but we’ll keep trying to get top talent here.”

Now the clock is running for Darcy Regier to get the German-born defenseman to sign. Ehrhoff had a solid season for the Western Conference champions, registering 14 goals and 50 points in 79 games. He was key for the Canucks in their run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, but had a rough Finals, going -7 over the seven games. In his two seasons with Vancouver, he was +55 in 159 games.

Obviously the move indicates that the Sabres have had their eye on him. The question is if they can convince him to join the roster. The Isles’ offer of approximately $33 million over 6 years wasn’t enough to convince him, but possibly a similar offer along with the prospect of playing with a fellow countryman and opening next season in his homeland might be enough to sway him.

Robyn says ‘Yes’, Sabres acquire Regehr, Kotalik & pick

It’s official.

After word leaked out Thursday that Calgary Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr was asked to waive his no-trade clause to clear way for a trade to Buffalo, the wait for an answer has dominated Sabres talk. When it appeared early Friday evening that he wanted to explore other options, the deal appeared D.O.A.

But, now, it’s done.

Announced officially this morning, the Sabres have acquired Regehr, as well as former Sabre Ales Kotalik and a 2nd round pick in 2012 from Calgary in exchange for Chris Butler and Paul Byron.

Regehr finished with 17 points and a plus-2 rating in 79 games this season. The 31-year-old defenceman has 163 points in 11 seasons.

The 32-year-old Kotalik spent last season between Calgary and the Flames’ AHL affiliate Abbotsford, recording six points in 26 games in Calgary.

Big shoutout to Joe Pinzone over at Buffalo Wins for being the first to break the details of the deal, even when it looked like Regehr wasn’t going to waive.

Buffalo now has an elite shutdown defenseman in Regehr, something they lacked last season in the absence of Toni Lydman. With Tyler Myers on record as saying the former Canadian Olympian was his favorite player as a kid, one would have to think this will help the big guy grow as a player. Read the rest of this entry