Which Defensemen Should Tim Murray Target This Offseason

By John Barrett

It’s a very interesting time to be a Buffalo Sabres fan. With the NHL Draft in spitting distance, and perhaps the most interesting free agency period in two decades, the Sabres have positioned themselves well for both regards eleven picks and loads of cap space.

The biggest hole on the Sabres roster is, as Tim Murray puts it “a power play quarterback,” defenseman that can be paired with budding star Rasmus Ristolainen and be a big-time point producer with the man advantage. There have been a few defensemen around the NHL whose names have been linked to the Sabres, via restricted free agency, unrestricted free agency and cap motivated trades.

I examined the stats of a handful of these potential targets, that focus on two major areas; puck possession and power play production. I focused on these two areas because they were two key focus points that came right from the horses mouth when Murray discussed his blueline. I plotted the two year averages for players on a matrix of 5v5 Corsi For % Relative to the team and points per 60 minutes on the power play.targets Continue reading

Stamkos and the Sabres; Is it a fit?

Steven Stamkos and his pending free agency have been in the news since last July, when he was first eligible to sign an extension with the Lightning. Despite Steve Yzerman’s decision to hang on to their talisman at the deadline in favor of a playoff run it seems that the days of Stamkos in Tampa Bay are coming to an end.

It had always been widely believed that Stamkos would head closer to home and join the Toronto Maple Leafs, but recently that opinion has started to change a bit. Bob McKenzie, Nick Kypreos, and Darren Dreger have all discussed possible destinations for the Tampa Bay captain, and all three have Buffalo in assorted positions on the list of potential suitors. As recently as this week the Sabres were given the highest odds outside of Tampa Bay to sign the former 60 goal man. Stamkos to Buffalo talk dominated local sports talk both through main stream media and the Twitterverse for a solid period of time, and it is sure to heat up again as we inch closer to the draft and July 1. While measuring the likelihood of a player to sign with odds may be strange, I don’t think that Stamkos to Buffalo is a slam dunk. There are a number of pros and cons to consider as it pertains to the Sabres and this summer’s biggest free agent fish. Continue reading

Roadtrip Recap: Columbus and Nationwide Arena

When I penciled in a trip to Columbus to catch the Sabres-Blue Jackets game I had no idea the implications that night would hold.

At the time I decided to add Nationwide Arena as my next NHL road trip, the Sabres were wallowing through a franchise-record losing streak and April 10 looked like a great chance to see the Sabres in a new building in a cool arena district when the weather was nice. I figured any concerns about 30th place would have been locked up and the game would be easy to enjoy.

Obviously that wasn’t the case, as the Sabres put up a strong fight but ultimately succumbed to the Jackets in regulation, locking up a top two pick for June’s draft. That didn’t make Friday’s game less enjoyable, however. While the final period was nerve racking, I loved the arena district, arena and the atmosphere inside Nationwide Arena.

Our trip to Columbus was enjoyable. I took a road trip to Nashville last spring and took in the sights of the city along with a Predators game. I was very impressed by Bridgestone Arena, Preds fans and the overall atmosphere of the building. Nashville, as a city, is loads of fun and I can’t wait to return. Nationwide landed on my list for this season thanks to its proximity and the potential for a warm-weather game in a different locale than Buffalo. It certainly didn’t disappoint. Continue reading

Dreaming Up a Legends Plaza for the New Bills Stadium

A new Buffalo Bills stadium is coming, there’s no doubt about it. While there are still some pushing for a renovation or construction of a new stadium in Orchard Park, it appears all but assured that the Bills will be calling downtown Buffalo home in the near future.

Here’s the template for the Jim Kelly statue.

The most recent chip to fall in the Bills’ stadium saga was the release of the State report detailing the recommended sites based on the opinion and expertise of the New York State commissioned report. Of the four sites they mention, three are in downtown Buffalo and two of those are located a stone’s throw from the front door of First Niagara Center.

While the State’s report does not need to be taken as gospel, there is clear momentum building towards a downtown stadium that will more than likely join with First Niagara Center, HarborCenter and Coca-Coal Field in creating a cohesive arena/entertainment district. Coupled with the revitalization of Ohio Street and the riverfront and the continued growth and success of Canalside, Buffalo will have the opportunity to have a phenomenal entertainment district situated right on the waterfront.

There are still plenty of hurdles to clear in terms of getting a stadium built. There’s no guarantee that Terry Pegula or anyone else involved in the financing and construction of this project will choose one of the four sites the State selected. Nor is there any official word on what the stadium will ultimately look like. But I have one idea to make the exterior of Buffalo’s new downtown stadium stand out.

Depending on logistics, infrastructure and general design constraints, I’d love to see some sort of fan plaza or grand exterior entryway factored into the design of the new stadium. Something similar to the mezzanine area at Gillette Stadium or even the oft-photographed plaza at AT&T Stadium in Dallas is what I have in mind. Continue reading